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Film

How Much More Dark Could These ’80s Movies Be? None More Dark

Article: How Much More Dark Could These ’80s Movies Be? None More Dark

Looking back on that decade of excess and contradictions, it’s clear that our art was just as twisted as we were, tapping into the darkest kind of humor behind all that neon. Don’t believe us? Be sure to catch these darkly comedic ’80s films on SundanceTV.

1. Brazil (1985)
Terry Gilliam’s fanciful futuristic comedy takes a wild dive into a land of bureaucracy, terrorism and, in an indelible image, extreme plastic surgery. It’s a fever-dream kind of dystopia that is simultaneously hilarious and horrifying, making Brazil a true dark comedy classic.

Thelma and Louise, Romy and Michele: The Best Gal Pals in Movie History

Article: Thelma and Louise, Romy and Michele: The Best Gal Pals in Movie History

What does it say about a culture when we expect two women sharing top billing in a film or television show to be arch enemies? How about we forget Hollywood’s stereotypes and take a look at the women duos that actually behave well on-screen, and put the fun back into a functional relationship. Vote for your favorite dynamic female duo in the poll below.

1. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Baby Mama
Kate Holbrook: I overreacted earlier. I’m sorry…
Angie Ostrowiski: I’m sorry I farted into your purse…

In short, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler created an uproar when they proved they didn’t need men—at all—to entertain us. They are the ultimate BFF power couple.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President, Ed Harris as an Astronaut… American History as Envisioned by Hollywood

Article: Daniel Day-Lewis as President, Ed Harris as an Astronaut… American History as Envisioned by Hollywood

AMC’s TURN has re-sparked an interest in the American Revolutionary War. Who knew George Washington had a team of spies?
But if you’re a history buff who needs more than a single TV show or historic period to stay happy, you’d do well to consult this list of great historical movies.

1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Yes, the storyline revolves around the rescue of the last surviving son of a grieving mother. Even so, Steven Spielberg’s real accomplishment is in the first half-hour of the film: perhaps the most powerful and accurate reenactment of the D-Day invasion and subsequent battle ever. It’s a crucial chapter in America’s twentieth-century identity, and Spielberg (who won a Best Director Oscar) does little to glorify the tragedies.

Giving an Unsung Decade Its Due: The ’90s in Movies

Article: Giving an Unsung Decade Its Due: The ’90s in Movies

Do the ’90s seem less memorable that the ’80s (so rad) or the ’70s (so groovy) to you? Take a moment and reconsider the decade which features some of the most offbeat characters in movie history. Suddenly, the ’90s seem a bit more memorable, right?

1. The Dude (Jeff Bridges), The Big Lebowski (1998)
It’s hard to imagine a more iconic, more offbeat character from the ’90s—or any era—than Jeff Lebowski, a perpetually bath-robed bastion of chillness in search of justice for his peed-on rug (because, hey, “it really tied the room together”). A fan of weed and White Russians, he made bowling an art form and inspired a subculture of devoted fans who still attend annual Lebowski Fests.

2. Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter), The Piano (1993)
The mute woman at the center of Jane Campion’s extraordinary story is one of the most unconventional heroines in film history: a young mother (Hunter won a Best Actress Oscar) who, despite being shipped off to the wilds of New Zealand for an arranged marriage, manages to fall in love (not with her husband) through a shared passion for music and ultimately receives a most unexpected salvation.

Frank Underwood Aside, Which Kevin Spacey Role Suits Him Best?

Article: Frank Underwood Aside, Which Kevin Spacey Role Suits Him Best?

Both audiences and critics are relishing Kevin Spacey’s performance as the ruthless political climber Frank Underwood in Netflix’s House of Cards. But this role is just the latest success in the Academy Award winner’s eclectic career. Who can forget him as midlife crisis dad in American Beauty or mastermind criminal in The Usual Suspects? In fact, he’s given so many great performances, it’s hard to narrow them down to a top ten. Still, we tried. Vote for your favorite then tune-in to THE WRITERS’ ROOM: “House of Cards,” Fri., May 2nd at 9PM/8c on SundanceTV.

Power Disfigured: The Most Deviant Political Figures in the Movies

Article: Power Disfigured: The Most Deviant Political Figures in the Movies

Corruption and politics go hand in hand. But in the movies, matters get even more extreme with senators who mind-control and presidents who unleash diseases on the populace. Clearly, House of Cards‘ Frank Underwood would fit right in with the top ten deviant politicians ever to hit the big screen. Find out more about Underwood on THE WRITERS’ ROOM: “House of Cards,” Fri., May 2 at 9PM/8c. Until then, consider his back-stabbing cohorts.

1. Adam Sutler (John Hurt), V for Vendetta
By releasing a plague intended to wipe out “social deviants,” Sutler secures power for his oppressive political party and establishes a fascist regime.

2. Bob Alexander (Frank Langella), Dave
It’s not enough that Chief of Staff Alexander replaces the comatose prez with a lookalike. He also frames the dupe for an S&L scandal he orchestrated.

What Does Wes Anderson Owe to “Harold and Maude” and 8 Other Influences?

Article: What Does Wes Anderson Owe to “Harold and Maude” and 8 Other Influences?

Wes Anderson has been making feature films since the ’90s (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore) so needless to say his influences date further back than that. It’s a testament to this auteur’s considerable talent that although he’s supremely nostalgic, he’s by no means derivative. He doesn’t rob his predecessors. He nods to them. So to begin… (Cue the Futura title card bearing the words Chapter 1:)

Top 10 Movie Couples We Want to Double-Date

Article: Top 10 Movie Couples We Want to Double-Date

Double-dating is harder than regular dating. First of all, there’s two of them and two of you. That’s more potential for problems. After all, you might forgive your own date’s annoying habits (chewing with mouth open, laughing too loudly) because you’re going to get some action later on. But your double date? Hell, no. That means, they better be good company. Here are the top ten movie couples worth double-dating.

More Twisted Than Twister…. Ten Tangled Love Triangles in Film

Article: More Twisted Than Twister…. Ten Tangled Love Triangles in Film

The tangled love triangle is such a cinematic trope that we could probably put together a list for each year (or a list of top ten love triangles with bad ‘80s haircuts… or top ten love triangles starring Reese Witherspoon…). We decided to limit this list to love-triangle films we actually enjoyed (and not in a guilty-pleasure kind of way) — which is why you won’t find the Bella-Edwards-Jacob affair here, despite the ubiquity of “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” merchandise. Same goes for Pearl Harbor (2001), which attempted to make the love triangle a heroic response to war; or Wild Things (1995), which accessorized the love triangle with hot tubs and champagne (and was really more of a lust triangle, anyway); or Indecent Proposal (1993), which theorized the love triangle as a financial and real estate decision; or My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), which was a terrible movie despite championing off-key karaoke. Let’s proceed.

The Naked Truth: Some Directors Aren’t Afraid of Nudity… Seriously, Not Afraid

Article: The Naked Truth: Some Directors Aren’t Afraid of Nudity… Seriously, Not Afraid

If you spend a lot of time analyzing movie sex scenes like we do, you might find yourself rolling your eyes at how many on-screen couples manage to have sex without ever showing any skin… or who fall asleep with a sheet covering them just so… or who always put on a shirt and underpants when they get out of bed to pee, no matter how raunchy things just got. Where’s the nudity? Where’s the raunch? For further feverish research on your own time, you might want to look up the work of the following ten directors who are very, shall we say, comfortable with on-screen nudity. And we mean the real kind — not the CGI kind. Only after we finished this list did we realize it was entirely male, which we suppose shouldn’t surprise us — after all, most of the nudity is female. But we dug up male nudity — or, at least, equal-opportunity nudity — where we could. You’re welcome!

1. Edward Zwick
Edward Zwick may not have directed as much on-screen nudity as the other people on this list (unless we missed something in 1989′s Glory), but he takes the number one slot because he is the only director on the list, who got naked himself while shooting a nude scene.

Moviemakers Just Can’t Decide If Dictators Are Funny or Frightening

Article: Moviemakers Just Can’t Decide If Dictators Are Funny or Frightening

Dictators have always made great movie fodder. But whether they’re a source of ridicule or revulsion is another story. Take a look at some of the greatest portrayals of dictators in Hollywood history and you’ll see the interpretations are all over the map! Even Hitler (represented four times in the list below) can span from a buffoon to a holy terror. Don’t believe it? Read on.

1. The Great Dictator (1940)
Charlie Chaplin’s first true talking film stirred the nation, and can be considered a significant cultural reference point that served as inspiration to everything from Mel Brooks’ The Producers to Ivan Reitman’s Dave and even Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. If for nothing else, re-watch this seminal comedy for the climactic speech at the film’s conclusion, a moment when a legendary silent film star steps out of character and truly finds his voice, and a chillingly apt (but sadly ignored) call to action at a pivotal time in history—1940.

Crazy Good! The Top 10 Movie Meltdowns

Article: Crazy Good! The Top 10 Movie Meltdowns

One of the most enjoyable things about movie-watching is that moment when a beloved character loses his/her crackers, even if just for a moment, showing us a whole other shade of person. And as enjoyable as it is for the audience, it’s probably lots of fun for the actors, too. A compendium of raging, comic, emotional and/or heartbreaking meltdowns follows…

1. Entire Cast, Blue Velvet (1986)
As for the best meltdown in this film, take your pick! In the surreal world of David Lynch, every single character seems to be at a different point in his/her own personal undoing, as everyone’s hold on reality becomes increasingly looser. Blue Velvet is the epitome of “on the edge.” As with most of Lynch’s work, this can be considered an exploration of what happens post-meltdown.

2. Hayley Stark (Ellen Page), Hard Candy (2005)
Hayley gives us one long, brutal but very talky meltdown in Hard Candy, a pressure cooker of a flick that never lets up and always keeps you guessing. After a relentless torture scene (not spoiled here), Hayley continues her ravings and revenge fantasy on the roof, literally driving a bland and listless Patrick Wilson to jump clear off it. Can you blame him?

10 Seriously Messed Up Movies

Article: 10 Seriously Messed Up Movies

Spring may seem an unlikely time to crave a messed-up movie marathon, but the trippy films on this list are worth a screening any time of the year. Full of iconic (read: extremely bizarre) scenes and surprising performances from many now “mainstream” actors, these are movies that will get under your skin and stay there. Of course, it’s hard to get too bummed out by a well-told story or a stylishly made film (then again: Dancer in the Dark), but here’s a final warning: these are 10 seriously messed-up stories.

1. Grizzly Man (2005)
Like much of Werner Herzog’s work, Grizzly Man has moments of poetry as well as dark humor. But Timothy Treadwell, the central figure of this documentary, suffers a fate so horrific that it’s shown in the film only via Herzog himself listening to audio of the incident and advising that it be destroyed and never played for anyone ever again. The audio exists because Treadwell documented his life among the bears in Alaskan wilderness; some of the astonishing footage appears in the movie, as Herzog ruminates on the “chaos and murder” he sees in the natural world Treadwell so adores. You may want to chase this experience — or this entire list — with Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World, another nature-related doc with less grisly results.

2. Hard Candy (2005)
Before she was Juno or fulfilling her Woody Allen movie destiny, Ellen Page played a cunning teenager in Hard Candy, which manages to toy with its viewers so much that it appears to tell about five different totally messed up stories before it’s over. It begins queasily enough with Patrick Wilson meeting Page in a public place and bonding over the band Goldfrapp, then gets queasier as he invites her back to her place. But Page, playing on her mini-person physicality as well as her natural ability to seem smarter than her young-looking years, is not who she appears to be. This isn’t a gory horror movie, but your stomach will probably still churn with each plot twist.

Top 10 Movie Gangsters From Real Life

Article: Top 10 Movie Gangsters From Real Life

Where would the cinema world be without gangsters? The gun-blazing standoffs, ballsy bank stickups, mobster massacres 
 They’ve all contributed to some of the biggest moments in movie history. But there’s a special subset of the genre that blurs fantasy and reality, those flicks that portray the bigger-than-life gangsters who were real. Here are ten great…

10 Truly Terrifying Stephen King Fright Flicks

Article: 10 Truly Terrifying Stephen King Fright Flicks

What makes Stephen King movies so scary is how normal their characters can seem at first. They’re writers and doctors, moms and dads, whose lives suddenly take a twisted turn which transforms the familiar into something freakishly frightening. This month, SundanceTV is airing some of King’s creepiest — THE SHINING, CARRIE, CHRISTINE, and CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Below is a top ten list of the horror master’s best.

10 Great Courtroom Dramas Ripped from Recent Headlines

Article: 10 Great Courtroom Dramas Ripped from Recent Headlines

Image from NORTH COUNTRY, featuring Woody Harrelson and Charlize Theron. Some of the greatest movie dramas take place in the courtroom. And some of the best courtroom dramas are based on true crimes. Get inspired (or infuriated) all over again with this list 10 of the best from the last 25 years. Hooked on legal…

Oy! To The World: A Mel Brooks Christmas Marathon

Article: Oy! To The World: A Mel Brooks Christmas Marathon

SUNDANCE CHANNEL TO DECK THE HALLS WITH COMEDY KING MEL BROOKS’ FINESTFilm Series “Oy! to the World: A Mel Brooks Christmas Marathon” Slated for Christmas Day New York, NY – December 12, 2013 – This holiday season, Sundance Channel is learning that it’s “good to be the king.” Starting at 6:00 AM ET/PT on Christmas…

Now Playing: SYNECDOCHE, THE DEER HUNTER and FROM HELL

Article: Now Playing: SYNECDOCHE, THE DEER HUNTER and FROM HELL

This week, don’t miss Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut (and one of his most mind-bending films) along with a classic from the Vietnam era and two bonus films that’ll have you reaching for that record button on your DVR remote. See more of what’s in store!

Now Playing: LAUREL CANYON, THE HURT LOCKER and DINER

Article: Now Playing: LAUREL CANYON, THE HURT LOCKER and DINER

Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale half-naked in a swimming pool. Need we say more to entice you to watch our featured films this week? Well, for those who do remain unswayed, we’ve also got a Meg Ryan/Mark Ruffalo thriller, a realistic war drama from Kathryn Bigelow, and a Kevin Bacon classic.

Read on for more!

Now Playing: LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE PLAYER

Article: Now Playing: LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE PLAYER

Never did Sofia Coppola’s signature formula (angst, angst and more angst) feel so genuine and honest as in LOST IN TRANSLATION, one of our featured films this week. It’s the film that helped bring depth and drama to Bill Murray, and put Scarlet Johansson on the map. Now if only there was some way to have fun while stuck in dull and boring Tokyo…

See more of our featured selections this week below!

Now Playing: BLACK SWAN, KING OF NEW YORK and SHORT CUTS

Article: Now Playing: BLACK SWAN, KING OF NEW YORK and SHORT CUTS

Don't miss one of the most unique and mindbending thrillers of the past decade – BLACK SWAN – this week on Sundance Channel. Nina (Natalie Portman) is perfect for the role of the White Swan in <em>Swan Lake</em>, but when rival Lily (Mila Kunis) arrives, Nina begins to lose all perspective. Don't even blink, because by the end, you won't know what's real and what isn't.

Check out BLACK SWAN and the rest of our featured lineup this week!

Now Playing: KISS OF DEATH, MOULIN ROUGE and THE NAMESAKE

Article: Now Playing: KISS OF DEATH, MOULIN ROUGE and THE NAMESAKE

You like Nicolas Cage? Well, we’ve got Nicolas Cage at his Nicolas Cagey-est this week in two crime thrillers playing slightly off-kilter bad guys on opposite sides of the law (yes, one’s a cop!). If you’re in the mood for something a little more uplifting, we’ve also got a journey of cultural discovery and a Baz Luhrmann musical to maintain balance in our universe.

Now Playing: THE HURT LOCKER, ZODIAC and EMPIRE OF THE SUN

Article: Now Playing: THE HURT LOCKER, ZODIAC and EMPIRE OF THE SUN

This week, Kathryn Bigelow takes us deep inside the Iraq War in THE HURT LOCKER, her tense Oscar-winning thriller that shows the chaos of that conflict. But don’t worry – if watching army grunts doing their army stuff isn’t your thing, we’ve also got Christian Bale’s major debut, Jake Gyllenhaal trying to catch an infamous criminal, and more!

Now Playing: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, MICHAEL CLAYTON and THE DREAMERS

Article: Now Playing: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, MICHAEL CLAYTON and THE DREAMERS

Take a trip through the mind of Hunter S. Thompson this week in Terry Gilliam’s mindbending adaptation of the gonzo journalist’s three day drug-fueled assignment to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas. But have no fear (or loathing) – if Johnny Depp’s not your style, we’re featuring other great films with stars you love to watch from George Clooney to Kathleen Turner.

Now Playing: THIS IS SPINAL TAP, PHILADELPHIA and WILD AT HEART

Article: Now Playing: THIS IS SPINAL TAP, PHILADELPHIA and WILD AT HEART

This week goes up to 11 with the mockumentary – or, if you will, “rockumentary” – that started it all, spawning a new film genre and influencing Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel) to make such later films as WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW and FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. Check it out this Sunday night, and take a look at what else we’ve got in store for our film blocks this week.