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What You Missed in January/February ’15

The highlight of my 2015 was giving a speech at the Smithsonian on the Oscars, but I did a little writing, too. In January and February, I reviewed some terrific independent films and shared my thoughts on the real star of Birdman, negative campaigns in Hollywood, the political controversy over American Sniper, and the feminism…

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An Awful “Rewrite” Tries to Kill the Rom-Com

Twenty years ago, Valentine’s Day at the movies would have been very different. A sexually explicit drama about young lovers who engage in BDSM play would have mustered a niche release, probably straight-to-DVD or late night on HBO following an episode of Real Sex. Meanwhile, an innocuous rom-com starring Hugh Grant would have opened on…

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Cinema in the Age of Stupidity

Although cinema holds many useful purposes in modern society, perhaps its most important function is its ability to generate empathy, and ultimately, to foster social change. In the last century, film has played a vital role in shaping important social movements, from In the Heat of the Night to Philadelphia and beyond. Now, film’s utility…

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Note to Hollywood: Johnny Depp is Not a Movie Star

So Mortdecai had a predictably god-awful opening weekend. We could have seen that coming, as the marketing campaign seemed to be predicated entirely on people wanting to see a Johnny Depp movie. Is there any evidence that people do in fact want that? Or to put it another way: In the wake of Johnny Depp’s…