Jul i Blodfjell
When you’re done watching the usual stuff, consider one of these very bizarre attempts at holiday cheer.
When AMC released their holiday programming lineup this year, it seemed like an attempt at a joke: in addition to a handful of aging comedies that have nothing to do with Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter), like Uncle Buck and Caddyshack, the now-ubiquitous Elf was scheduled to air no less than sixteen times in thirty days, and that wasn’t counting the December 2nd “anniversary celebration” marathon. Second to Elf was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, scheduled to air twelve times. Filling out the remaining time not occupied by Elf or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was woeful C-tier fare nobody enjoyed the first time around, like Christmas With the Kranks and Fred Claus.
In the era of streaming, finding Christmas entertainment now requires keeping track of who has the rights to show what special or movie at any given time. Gone are the days of CBS airing A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for decades: now it's under the sole domain of Apple TV+. Its former companion How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available only on Peacock, and all manner of Muppet-related programming is exclusive to Disney+. If the pickings aren’t slim, then they’re disbursed like so much reindeer feed across multiple platforms. Continue Reading →
When Frasier premiered in the fall of 1993 it had massive shoes to fill. That's probably an understatement. Its parent show, Cheers, was a critical and commercial monster in a way that can only happen when there are only three shows for two hundred million people to choose from. It was nominated for almost two hundred Emmys over the course of its eleven-year run, and its series finale aired to 90 million people (40% of the country’s then population) three months before Frasier’s start. So yeah, expectations were pretty high, and Frasier ended up pretty much meeting them all. While never as popular as Cheers (nothing has been as popular as Cheers since Cheers), it was nevertheless a solid commercial hit that carved out its own identity and won more Emmys than its parent show over the course of its own eleven-year run. A lot of that success was rooted in Frasier’s ability as its own, independent show with its own characters and rhythms instead of being Cheers 2.0. Continue Reading →
From De Palma's series launcher on, Cruise has used the tales of Ethan Hunt to ponder the nature of cinema as performance, perception, and manipulation.
The Mission: Impossible movies begin in perhaps the most inauspicious fashion possible: a computer tech, played by Emilio Estevez, watching security camera footage of clandestine crime scene clean-up. One of the men he's watching happens to be Tom Cruise in heavy prosthetics and a wig. It's an odd opening for an eight-film mega-franchise, a globe-trotting stunt spectacular that has attracted some of the world's biggest stars and most interesting actors—America's answer to Bond movies. But as the opening to a Brian De Palma movie, it's a no-brainer. Of course it starts with a dorky guy in a cramped little room watching unappealing CCTV footage of a crime of passion. That's De Palma.
Though Robert Towne wrote the script (he and Cruise were friends and artistic confidants; Cruise produced his 1998 movie Without Limits), the film is thoroughly De Palma's, never more so than when indulging in its covert operations. He films the opening sting from Cruise's POV, and its dizzying effect is rather like the opening to Dario Argento's Opera or its fellow perverse Italian horror thrillers. It is always disconcerting when movie characters address us but speak to someone else when we see what the hero sees see but cannot control what they do. We are seeing a performance from the inside, knowing that if the scene doesn't go off without a hitch, it could mean death for the man whose eyes we've been given for the duration. The Mission: Impossible movies have since changed directors four times, but their central tenet remains: they are about performance. They are about making movies to make sense of a senseless world. Continue Reading →
Based on a True Story
Delia, oh, Delia, Delia all my life/If I hadn't have shot poor Delia/I'd have had her for my wife/Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone." Continue Reading →
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
The acclaimed documentarian joins The Spool to discuss Brooke Shields, her work, her life, and her relationship to "Brooke Shields" the image.
In 1981, Roger Ebert wrote a profile on Brooke Shields in which he—quoting a press agent—said, “She will be with us for the rest of our lives.” That turned out to be remarkably prescient, but neither the agent nor Ebert could have anticipated the myriad number of ways Shields has been with us in that time. Yes, she is extraordinarily beautiful. But many equally attractive people have come and gone, while Shields remains a consistent part of pop culture’s firmament. From her early appearances in films like Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Endless Love (1981) and her controversial TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans, all of which focused on her sexuality while she was literally a child, to her shift in the later Eighties to become America’s Virgin to her reinvention as a comedic actress in the Nineties to becoming an advocate for those suffering from postpartum depression (and suffering the slings and arrows of Tom Cruise in full asshole mode as a result), Shields has been a persistently relevant figure in the American popular consciousness.
While Shields has lived much of her life in the public eye, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, a fascinating two-part documentary from Lana Wilson now streaming on Hulu, proves that she still has a great deal to say. Given access to nearly a half-century’s worth of archival material, which she presents alongside contemporary interviews with Shields, Wilson paints a fascinating, eye-opening portrait that demands a new consideration of Shields and her career. Much of her story is harrowing, be it specific to her life—her wrenching descriptions of sexual assault and her tumultuous relationship with her mother—or experiences too many young women in the spotlight share. (If you think having someone inquire about the state of your virginity sounds awful, imagine having talk show hosts do so on live television.) And yet, not only has Shields survived, she is thriving. She has found peace with herself and is able to look back on her life with a sense of control over it. Continue Reading →
Viewers expecting the season finale to have an exciting climax will be disappointed, as characters and grim reality drive the ending.
Warning: don’t read until you’ve seen the episode!
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I know I’m going to be a lot easier on “Must/Can’t,” the finale of The Outsider, than other people. With the last few episodes a whole lot of nothing (well-acted nothing, but nothing all the same), expectations that the show would end with a horror movie-like confrontation between heroes and monster were high. Well, surprise -- it’s over barely halfway through the episode, and not the most action-packed ten minutes or so of television you’ll ever see. Despite its spooky, supernatural themes, The Outsider ended up being less about monsters and more about people, for better or worse.
But let’s move on and take a look at the casualty list that’s racked up before we even get to the opening credits. Deader than disco are Alec, Detective Andy (sad face!), Howie, and Seale. So, basically everybody you expected to get killed. Yunis (Yul Vazquez) is wounded, but alive. Also in very bad shape is Jack (Marc Menchaca) who, after successfully killing off more than half the team, is rewarded for his trouble with multiple rattlesnake bites. There are bosses from Hell, and then there’s El Cuco. Continue Reading →