A Spoiler-Free Ranking of the 10 Best TV Seasons Released on Netflix in the Last Two Months

As part of my job for Uproxx, I watch at least the first season of almost all of Netflix’s original series (I do not watch the kid shows), so that I can keep a running list of the Best Netflix Original Series, a list that needs frequent updating (I’m about a month behind now). The period between the last week of April and now has been maybe the busiest Netflix period ever with both new series and their most popular returning series being released at an insane pace. I haven’t gone a weekend in nearly two months now without bingeing a Netflix series (plus I squeezed in one Amazon series), and that streak will not stop this weekend (Gypsy comes out on Friday, and then I get a merciful one-week break before Friends from College debuts).

All things considered, it’s a great gig, really, except for the lost sleep. While I wouldn’t necessarily gorge on Netflix to the extent I have without a job-related reason to do so, I have seen some fantastic television in the last two months.

If you’re in the midst of a glut of Netflix series yourself and would like to prioritize what to watch first, here’s a quick ranking of what I have watched, from worst to first.

10. GirlbossGirlboss was crap, but weirdly watchable, mostly because I like Britt Robertson despite the fact that she’s supremely miscast here and despite little evidence that she’s a decent actress. My two biggest problems with the series were 1) the fact that Sophia Amoruso is a problematic inspiration for the character, especially since the company she founded (which is at the center of the show) has since gone bankrupt because of her reckless management decisions, and the 2) wildly uneven tone. It’s like DeGrassi meets a raunchy Judd Apatow comedy. The show had no idea what it wanted to be, but it won’t have to worry about it anymore because it’s been mercifully cancelled.

9. Bloodline — The first season of Bloodline is legitimately one of my favorite seasons of Netflix television, a really intense, incredibly acted slow burn. There never should’ve been another season. A mediocre second season dovetails here into a pretty bad third and final season that coughs and sputters until the ninth episode, which is actually very good. Unfortunately, the series finale is a cheap, unsatisfying cop-out that left me wondering why I even bothered.

8. House of Cards — The placement of House of Cards on this is list is less an indictment of this season and more a testament to how good everything else has been. The fifth season is something of a mess, but a wildly addictive one that eventually spirals out of control. It wants to one-up our new Trump reality, but in doing so, it becomes even more unbelievable than our new Trump reality. It jumps the track, but Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright will continue to keep me coming back for more.

7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — I liked this season, and I feel bad about ranking it this low, but honestly, I barely remember anything about it, and it’s only been a few weeks since I saw it. Kimmy tried to get her shit together and go to college; Jacqueline spent another season trying to rename the Washington Redsk*ns; Lillian ran for city council; and Titus had a lot of boyfriend problems. There was also a whole episode about Titus trying to use a convenience store bathroom to take care of his business (I also feel like it was one of the better episodes). The best I can say for Kimmy this season was that it was painlessly amusing, but completely forgettable. I am pretty sure that the infectious theme song also doubles as a mind eraser.

6. Orange is the New Black — I didn’t like this season very much in the beginning, and I hated the idea that the entire season was going to take place during a three-day prison riot. Crazy Eyes had a terrible storyline. I didn’t much care for Dayanara and Aleida’s storylines either, and I straight-up hated what they did with Flaca and Maritza until the finale. However, I love these characters. They figured out exactly how much to use Piper (read: not that much), and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) was fucking blow-me-away fantastic. Her and Gloria (Selenis Leyva), actually. Both deserve Emmy noms. Indeed, as annoyed as I might have been with much of the season, I still welled up three or four times in the season finale. It’s not the best season of OITNB, but it’s totally worth the investment.

5. Sense8 — Look: It was a good season. It wouldn’t be this low on almost any other list! It took a while to get going, though, but once it did, it was magical. Cheesy, nonsensical, bonkers, but magical. It really is a remarkably positive, life-affirming sci-fi series, and I am bummed as hell that it was cancelled, because nothing on television wears its heart on its sleeve as much as Sense8, and nothing on television embraces love in all its variations quite like Sense8. It’s a supremely uncool show, but that is part of its charm.

4. The Keepers — All the attention that Making a Murderer got should have been given to the true-crime docu-series The Keepers. Of course, The Keepers didn’t have an abusive white-trash OBVIOUS KILLER as its hero; it had two older women who have made it their life’s mission to discover the murderer behind their Catholic School teacher, a cold case that warmed up after sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church in Baltimore surfaced. This is a really great documentary series that does happen to be hard to watch at times, but it is important. And riveting. And completely fucking harrowing.

3. Master of NoneMaster of None came out on the same weekend as The Keepers, and I watched the doc first and circled back around to Master of None a couple of weeks ago. The reviews — or at least the headlines in those reviews — weirdly put me off, because there were lots of words like «more experimental» to go along with the effusive praise. But, there was no reason to shy away from the second season. It is every bit as good as the first, except that it’s more sure footed. It’s phenomenal, and heart-warming, and adorable and smart and insightful and completely winning. I do not think that Aziz Ansari is a great actor, but he is a fantastic writer and observationalist and performance-wise, he does play to his strengths. Also, the last couple of episodes were heart-wrenching in the best possible way.

2. GLOW — I echo everything that Ryan said about the series, and of all ten of the Netflix series I’ve seen in the last two months, this was the only one I watched straight-through in one sitting. I couldn’t stop. It’s not as smart or insightful as Master of None, not as important as The Keepers, and not as moving as OITNB or Sense8, but it is the most entertaining, addictive series of the bunch.

1. Dear White People — We haven’t written an official review of this series yet, because so far as I know, Lord Castleton and I are the only ones on staff who have seen it and we are white as fuck and this is not a series that I’d feel comfortable with a white dude reviewing. It is frequently funny, it is well acted, it is insightful, and it is entertaining. It’s also incredibly illuminating for the way it explores the social dynamics between Black People and White People, Woke People And People That Aren’t, Light-Skinned Black people and Dark Skinned Black people, and Black people who want to confront institutional racism from the outside and Black people who want to work within the system as best they can. It’s complicated as hell, and it challenges our prejudices at every turn and illustrates maybe better than any show I have ever seen the complexities of race. That’s exactly why all white dudes should be watching this show but none of them should be reviewing it. In series form, it is a textbook example of «Don’t talk, just listen.»

Did not watch: Flaked season two (because it’s the worst series on Netflix, and that includes Fuller House), F is for Family season two (the first season was fine, but not my thing), and The Ranch season two (the first season was better than I thought it would be thanks to Sam Elliot and Debra Winger, but still not very good). I also didn’t watch Anne, because it got terrible reviews, and I wasn’t in the demographic to begin with. I put it in the category of «kid» series.

I should also note that, while I don’t watch all the stand-up specials on Netflix, I have seen quite a few, and Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King has easily been my favorite — the man completely masters a mix of humor and poignancy and delivers the sweetest, funniest stand-up special I’ve seen in years. It is so incredibly good. If all you have is an hour to spare, I suggest putting this at the top of your queue.


Marvel Studios Directors – Joss Whedon

Whether you love, hate, or find Joss Whedon problematic, I think it can be agreed upon that hiring him to direct the Avengers and shepherd «Phase One» of the MCU was the smartest decision Marvel Studios ever made.

Prior to the release of the Avengers, Whedon was known mostly amongst pop culture and television junkie fans as one of the best in the business, having created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity, Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long-Blog. He also created and wrote the Astonishing X-Men (2004-2007) for Marvel Comics, which has become a classic X-Men run, and wrote comic series continuations of his Buffy and Firefly universes after their live-action conclusions. His skills as a writer were also well known in Hollywood, having worked on and written the scripts of Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection, Titan A.E. and Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Whedon’s influence on pop culture and entertainment throughout the 1990s and 2000s was tremendous. His unique dialogue, aka. «Buffy Speak,» forever changed how television was written, the term «Jossed» is now a permanent, indelible piece of vocab in pop culture, and his ability to create awesome, amazing characters and then have horrible, awful things happen to them, stomping on your heart until it is bloody disgusting mush while you feel twitching phantom pains in your chest, set a new bar for emotional torture. In recent years Whedon has received some flack for his portrayal of women, which is deserved, but it still remains that he wrote complicated, layered female characters at a time when such female characters were the exception in the industry rather than the norm. A creator who gave us Buffy Summers definitely did something right.

His ability to write quippy, snarky dialogue and handle an ensemble cast made him the no-brainer choice to direct the Avengers. Whedon also did some uncredited polishes on Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, in particular adding in the heartbreaking «I had a date» ending of First Avenger (Steeeeeeeeeeve!). Avengers came out May 2012 and as the saying goes, the rest was (superhero) history. The Avengers‘s opening weekend of $ 207 million was the first time in my life I had ever seen an opening weekend that gargantuan. I remember checking Box Office Mojo every day to see how much money Avengers made that day. Avengers was the first time I had been cognizant of a full-blown, mega-blowout box office phenomenon that steamrolled everything in its path. With a domestic box office of $ 623 million and worldwide total of $ 1.5 billion, I had never seen a film make that much money before (Titanic doesn’t count because I was only six at the time and only had eyes for Princess Guinevere and the Jewel Riders).

With the Avengers‘ colossal success, the reign of the MCU and Marvel Studios was permanently cemented and for better or worse Hollywood was forever changed. Every studio in Hollywood started combing through their intellectual properties to see what could even peripherally be mutated into a cinematic universe (I SEE YOU HASBRO, EMOJI MOVIE grrrrrr), with Warner Bros., Fox and Sony immediately started getting to work on creating their own superhero cinematic universes with……varying degrees of success/failure. For Whedon fans, his success felt like long-awaited vindication of the special something you love — now EVERYONE knows how awesome and talented he and his work is!!! The irony about the Avengers‘ success was that Whedon’s subversive horror comedy The Cabin in the Woods, starring Kristen Connolly (House of Cards), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth, was released just a month earlier after being delayed for two years. It made $ 64 million worldwide on a $ 30 million budget, but mostly passed under the radar. However, Whedon fans and anyone with even a passing understanding of pop culture and comics knew what was coming down the pipeline, and were probably busting a gut holding in laughter, thinking, «just you wait, just you WAIT muahahahaha!!!!!» I just looooooooooove box office vindication.

Marvel did the logical thing and hired him to direct the Avengers sequel. Prior to starting production on Avengers: Age of Ultron, Whedon directed Much Ado About Nothing, starring Whedon acting regulars Amy Acker (Angel, Person of Interest), Alexis Denisof (Buffy, Angel) and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), which was a shoestring budgeted modern adaptation of the Shakespeare tale filmed at Whedon’s summer house and released June 2013. He also executive produced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and directed the pilot for ABC in 2013, kicking off Marvel Studios’ expansion into television, and wrote the screenplay for paranormal romance In Your Eyes, starring Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) and Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield), which was released in May 2014.

Unfortunately, despite his plans to make Ultron «more personal, more painful» the second time around with Marvel wasn’t as fruitful. Whedon wanted to tell a more intimate, personal superhero story while Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and his committee wanted to focus on setting up Thanos and the Infinity Stones and making Ultron a more boom-boom-boom blockbuster-y product. A messy promotional tour and sky-high fan and box office expectations (which in retrospect were impossible to meet) didn’t help either and exacerbated the whole situation.

Ultron was an enormous success in May 2015, making $ 459 million domestically and $ 1.4 billion worldwide, but its tumultuous tensions behind-the-scenes showed on screen. It isn’t a crappy superhero film in the vein of Green Lantern, the 2015 Fantastic Four, Catwoman etc. by any stretch of the imagination, but lightning definitely didn’t strike twice. However, I stand by my prediction that as Ultron ages it will gain a better rep.

Afterward, Whedon took some much-needed downtime and worked on some smaller projects, announcing a new comic series Twist, in the vein of a Victorian female Batman. He directed Save The Day, a series of get-out-the-vote PSAs in 2016, starring a slew of celebrities and actors from Nicole Byer to Chris Pine to Robert Downey Jr. (it must be awesome having superheroes as friends). His most recent PSA was in 2017, a heart-wrenching what-if/it-possibly-could-happen look at could occur if Planned Parenthood was shut down.

Verdict: 7/10. Whedon is getting back in the creative game after some time away from the pop culture and industry eye. He has been hired by Warner Bros. to write and direct a solo Batgirl film for the DC Extended Universe and stepped up to handle the reshoots and post-production of Justice League in the wake of Zack Snyder bowing out to be with his family in the aftermath of personal tragedy. It is always a good thing to be the talented Switzerland between two industry superpowers (ohhhh the puns!). At this point, DC Films/Warner Bros. needs all the help it can get, with Wonder Woman being the only unequivocally good DCEU film to their name. Personally, I think Whedon has his work cut out for him sifting through Zack Snyder’s very….singular aesthetic and directorial style to try and shape it into a somewhat coherent and not downright depressive blockbuster. But hey, I bet he’s thanking his lucky charms that he’s not dealing with the 60+ character three-ringed circus that is the Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel. Hopefully after completing his DC Comics films, Whedon can work on some of the projects he has in development, such as the Untitled World War II Horror film he has kicking around.


The Infectious Sounds of Magic Giant

As we enter the peak of festival season, it’s time you meet the most festive band in the circuit: Magic Giant. Looking at this three-piece group, I’m not sure if they have just hopped off a bus from Burning Man or if perhaps they were recreating the dirty and beautiful world of Woodstock for the past week. Decked out in bandanas, bracelets, rings, headbands and scarves, I’m definitely impressed that someone has been able to out-do me when it comes to accessorizing. 

Austin “Bis” Bisnow, Zambricki “Z” Li and Brian “Zang” Zaghi are all real names, I promise. Together they are Magic Giant, and they’ve quickly become a must-see in this summer’s festival scene with their buzzy energy and upbeat sound. So far they’ve hit up Sun Drenched Music Festival, LaureLive Festival, Firefly Music Festival and Arroyo Seco Festival. The boys of Magic Giant have an infectious charm on stage, fully immersing the audience in what is essentially a massive “jump and scream and laugh and love” type of dance party. This inclusive energy translates off stage as well. As the band sits in front of me, I can feel the excitement radiating off of them.

“Did you see anyone at the Coffee House yet? I heard it’s a cool vibe, very chillaxed,” lead vocalist Bis comes out of the gate with natural friendly banter. “Kasey, right? Where are you from?” He’s now interviewing me. “Come to our show later, we have someone doing a proposal on stage!” The three friends continue on about how amped they are for the secret proposal and I realize I’ve been taken hostage into a web of hilarious chatter and back-and-forth wit.

“Zam and I needed a guitarist,” Bis says, explaining how the trio was formed. ”We saw Zang playing bass in a friend’s band in L.A. and loved him. We went home and Google-stalked him and saw some videos of him salsa dancing. We don’t integrate salsa dancing into our music at all, but we were fully blown away.”

Zam chimes in, “Hey! With album two, you never know. I wouldn’t say salsa dancing is off the table.”

It turns out that the guitarist of Magic Giant, Zang, wasn’t all too interested in this colorful duo’s offer to join their band. “I wasn’t looking to join a band, but they were persistent,” Zang admits. The alt-folk trio officially formed in 2014 and has recently released their debut album In the Wind.

The album was written during an emotional period for the band and those moments have resonated with fans. “People have reached out to us to let us know that our music has helped with depression and personal issues. On the live side though, the shows have just been about crazy dance-party stuff,” Zam says.

“We just want to make people smile. Something as big as someone losing themselves in a dance or as simple as a smile, we want there to be an underlying feeling of joy in the music” Zang adds.

The guys are feeding off of each other at this point, generating a buzzy conversation about the various meanings behind their music. “We appreciate the levels our music can have. If someone wants to listen to it on the first listen and groove and dance, that’s great. If someone chooses to go to a deeper place with the lyrics, that’s cool too,” Bis concludes. 

Magic Giant recorded In the Wind while on tour last year, in a solar-powered recording studio. “We were touring and tracking in between festivals. We had the freedom to change anything and everything,” Zam explains.

One of the band’s favorite songs off the album is “Jade.” The song had been a work in progress when they first played it at a festival in California, and a fan approached the band afterwards and expressed how spiritually connected she felt with the song. Her friend Jade had passed away at the age of 16 and the girl had felt her presence throughout the entire performance. “The song took on an entirely new shape after that. It evolved into being totally about Jade and we were able to do it on the road,” Zam confesses. 

From emotional moments to bursts of energy on-stage, Magic Giant is an eclectic band with a surprising range. Even more surprising to me are the following tidbits I gathered during my time with them:

1. Zang was once an upright bass player in the Philharmonic.

2. Zam learned how to play the violin, fiddle, viola and cello after being hit by a car when he was 12. After waking up from a coma, he taught himself how to play the violin in just a few days. Later on he learned that this was called Acquired Savant Syndrome. He wasn’t just a genius when it came to string instruments.

3. Bis played Division One football at the University of Colorado. He was a long snapper.

You can catch Magic Giant at Worldfest in California, WayHome Music & Arts Festival in Canada and RiSE Festival in Nevada later this year.

Main image: Brantley Gutierraz

The post The Infectious Sounds of Magic Giant appeared first on DuJour.


‘Okja’ Review: Netflix Delivers A Monster Movie Miracle With Escapism, Daring, And Tilda Swinton

There is a war raging over the future of film. It’s not the first. There have been others at the advent of sound, color, television, and digital cameras. Each time an alarm was sounded by those who guard the old ways, declaring film would be ruined with this new gimmick.

Netflix is at the center of this latest battle, because it dares to premiere movies on its streaming service, ignoring decades of theatrical release tradition. This spurred heated debate at the Cannes Film Festival, where people booed the Netflix banner as it rolled out before their premiere of the fantasy-drama Okja. The controversy burbles forth in think pieces about the importance of the movie house to the experience of cinema, and counterarguments about the access Netflix offers movie lovers who don’t have the benefit of a dedicated art house near them. While I understand the concerns of those fretting over the rise of Netflix, I look to their latest, a Bong Joon Ho movie that’s gleefully outrageous, boasting big stars and uncanny visual effects, and can’t help but celebrate the latest ruination of cinema. In a year where studio tent poles have offered us such big budgeted but bland bombs as Ghost In the Shell, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and The Mummy, it feels like a miracle to find a movie as weird and lushly budgeted as Okja.

Now, admittedly, this quirky adventure is said to cost around $ 50 million, so about half to a third of its big screen competitors. But mid-budget adventure movies like these are a rarity in Hollywood, where costly stars and visual effects are counted on far more than an intriguing story or compelling characters. But Netflix, with its growing bramble of original programming, is willing to take a risk. And with Okja, the audience wins.

Written by Bong Joon Ho and Jon Ronson, Okja begins with a flourish of a chipper and pastel pink CEO who’s promising a newly discovered breed of «super pigs» that will be the future in food. Through glinting braces, a whimsical lisp, and a jarringly broad smile, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) promises the world will be saved from starvation by her publicity stunt initiative to grow the best super pig. She sends off piglets to far-flung farmers around the world, then gives them ten years to mature. In that time, Okja becomes the pride of the litter, having grown big and healthy in the untamed forests of South Korea, cared for by young and spirited Mija (An Seo Hyun) and her old-fashioned grandfather.

Theirs is a simple life. Mija hunts and gathers in the woods for fish and fruits to feed them all. Their house is more a hut, and their refrigerator, broken and outdoors, has become a place to store stinky shoes, while her grandfather’s coveted bottles of soju hide beneath the house’s floorboards as if they are smuggled treasure. Yet, spending her days gathering and gallivanting with her beloved super pig at her side under sun-dappled paths and glistening waterfalls, what more could a girl ask for?


Far from the fast-paced metropolises of the motor-mouthed Mirando, Mija is content. So much so that when time comes to give Ojka back to the corporation that plans to butcher her, the girl begs her grandfather to reject the hefty payout so the super pig can be saved, kept as part of their unconventional but happy family. But Mija’s peaceful plans are shattered when bombastic TV personality turned harried has-been Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) scrambles up to her mountain-top home, prods her friend for the cameras, and rips Okja out of her life.

This will not stand. And so, this tenacious 14-year-old straps on a fannypack of essentials, and races to Seoul to stop Okja from being flown to New York City for a massive celebration that will end in the super pig’s execution. In her journey, Mija meets a band of painfully hipster animal rights activists, led by a perfectly twee Paul Dano. Dedicated to bringing down Mirando for their animal abuse, they join forces with the determined girl, who cares nothing for their cause and only for her threatened friend.

The story unfolds like a modern fairy-tale, with wicked witches (the Mirando twins, both profit-driven, one less overtly sinister seeming), quest-hungry knights (or overeager activists), a mystical beast (Okja, natch), and at its center a self-rescuing princess who has no patience for all their games. Mija’s goal is just to return to the life she once knew. But after seeing the horrible truths that lie behind the glossy walls of Mirando, both she and Okja learn some brutal lessons, leading to a winsome but bittersweet ending.

The idyllic atmosphere of the opening might suggest Okja is a movie appropriate for kids. But the vague threat of butchering soon becomes graphic. Things turn sinister when Dr. Johnny—once a beloved animal show host in the vein of The Crocodile Hunter‘s Steve Irwin—lets loose his rage over being outshone by a beast, by abusing Okja. First, he subjects her to forced breeding with a massive and raging male super pig. (The footage is so disturbing that one spying activist howls for the sound to be muted from the feed.) Then, he uses special tools to sample Okja’s meat while she lives, and wails in pain. Try to imagine a studio making this movie.


Netflix has offered Bong a place to make a monster movie, where the monster is man. And along the way, he smashes to bits the expectations constructed by decades of four-quadrant American-made action-adventures. Okja centers on a child, but not on an English-speaking American moppet with big blue eyes and a fragile smile, on a Korean-speaking farm girl with a steely gaze and no patience for playing to adults’ sympathies. Her disinterest in being charming or easily accessible (through cuteness or English-speaking) makes Mija a standout female character in American cinema. (Albeit, Okja is an American/South Korean co-production.) Then, Bong cast the biggest stars to play silly yet vicious villains, who look comical but commit truly stomach-churning acts. Then, he delivers a finale that’s set in an actual abattoir, where super pigs like Okja are cut to ribbons left and right by bored technicians. This is a movie that risks losing its audience at many turns while bounding through dizzying tone shifts. And this is a key part of what makes Okja so exceptional.

Too often when you go to see a movie, you anticipate a formula. Perhaps there will be some subversions and shake-ups. But Hollywood makes much of its money by playing to audience expectation. Too few dare to rock the boat. But Netflix, with its lower overhead and widely accessible platform, can dare to make a movie that’s an outright boat-rocker. Because Okja is playing primarily to small screens, Netflix probably could have gotten away with turning in a CGI creature a hair more realistic than the sky-surfing beasts of Sharknado. Audiences would have expected little more. But instead, they gave us Okja, whose animation is an astonishing accomplishment in every frame.

There’s plenty of joys to find in this surprisingly dark adventure. The scowling ingenue An is a petite powerhouse, who wins our hearts specifically because she gives no fucks, rejecting adult bullshit and slapping down promotional signs with all the fury you’d expect from a child robbed of her pet/best friend. Swinton and Gyllenhaal revel in playing not only to the rafters, but to the bogeda down the block, and the rundown train yard blocks beyond. And the story—with its wacky turns, wild characters, and big bleeding heart—is enrapturing even at its wonkiest. But Okja herself is its greatest wonder.

Often CGI characters lack a sense of weight. But bounding through brusque brush, racing over slippery rocks or diving into a fish-filled pond, the super pig’s flesh bounces, her feet thump, her ears flap. In motion, she is marvelous. Yet still, she is breathtaking. In one scene reminiscent of Dr. Alan Grant resting on the heaving chest of a dinosaur in Jurassic Park, a gobsmacked Dr. Johnny runs his hand over Okja’s thickly textured and hair-bristled hide. And it looks so photo-real I had to remind myself it isn’t. It can’t be. This is fantasy. And that moment is transcendent, when you have to remind yourself you’re watching a movie. You don’t need a movie theater for it.

Ultimately, Okja offers escapism with a generous dose of politics that makes it fascinating, funky, and fabulous. It’s not for all ages. It’s not for everyone. But to those craving something strange and daring, Okja is a gamble worth taking.

Okja opens June 28th in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide on Netflix.

Kristy Puchko reviews a bunch of movies. Find more reviews of hers here.


Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson’s Romance Is a Lesson in Love For Non-Believers

Natasha Richardson tragically passed away in 2009 from a head injury following a skiing accident, but her romance with husband Liam Neeson is one that continues to inspire people to this day. The two stars tied the knot in 1994 and welcomed two sons, Micheál and Daniel. While they were clearly an adorable couple, the beginning of their love story was actually pretty dramatic. Natasha and Liam first met in 1993 while starring in the Broadway revival of Anna Christie. At the time, Natasha was married to producer Robert Fox, and Liam was known as a Hollywood ladies’ man who had been previously linked to stars like Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts, and Brooke Shields.

Their chemistry was undeniable on stage, and a month after closing night, Natasha ended her marriage. «It was not an easy time when I met Liam,» she later told the Daily News. «Working with him, what happened between us, and that becoming public knowledge in conjunction with my marriage falling apart, was kind of bad timing. So what can I say? Obviously I fell very much in love with him.» She also wasn’t phased by his playboy reputation, adding, «I’m pleased that women fall in love with him, because I know why.»

But despite their obvious affection for each other, they remained in limbo until the actress decided to take matters into her own hands. Liam sent her a note for her 30th birthday while he was away filming Schindler’s List, writing, «You’re catching up with me. Lots of love, Oskar,» referencing his character. Natasha was bummed by the obvious lack of enthusiasm, and reportedly wrote back, «This is like a letter from a buddy. What is our relationship?» Her response lit a fire under Liam, who later said, «That was when I knew I really loved this person. I thought, ‘This is real and genuine and is something that has to be protected.'» Natasha then hopped on a plane to join Liam while he finished filming, and they were married not long after.

POPSUGAR Celebrity

You’ll Tear Up Watching Adam Driver Deliver a Special Surprise to a Military Family

Actor and veteran Adam Driver got emotional while sharing some exciting news with a military family through a partnership with Budweiser and Folds of Honor. In a video of his exchange, Adam visits the home of Hayley Grace Williams, who’s studying to become a nurse. Her father and «everyday hero,» John Williams, is an army veteran who was severely injured during a training exercise before Operation Desert Storm. His injury has taken both a physical and emotional toll, as he’s unable to work full time and struggles with the guilt of seeing his unit shipped off to war while he was in a hospital room. Adam empathized with John’s struggle when he met with the family, and their visit became even more meaningful when he delivered special news. Watch the emotional surprise above.

POPSUGAR Celebrity

Katy Perry Talks About Orlando Bloom’s Nude Paddle Boarding Pics

Glastonbury Festival 2017

The pictures of Orlando Bloom’s paddle boarding dick were some of the most newsworthy images of last year, and so during an interview today with the Australian radio show Kyle & Jackie O ShowKaty Perry was asked about them.

Katy was asked about the pics (this is becoming a regular question on the Kyle & Jackie O show), specifically why Orlando was totally naked and she wasn’t. Orlando has said that he was naked because he’s developed a “good radar” for paps and thought he was safe. It wasn’t a pap thing for Katy; she jokes that she just wasn’t feeling it that day.

“I’ve had lots of therapy about that. He asked me if I wanted to be [naked] and I just like – you know, it was one of those things where it was like ‘Aw, nah.’ You know when you’re dating someone, sometimes it’s exciting to be like, ‘Ooh, should we try and make out over here in this place?’ or what have you. And I was just not in the mood. I saved it for the boat. He was just trying to show off for all the people back at the shore. He thought it was funny.

He was so funny because I was kind of explaining Twitter to him and social media, because he had taken a break on all that stuff. I had been explaining to him for a few weeks, and all of a sudden, he’s like number one trending on Twitter. And he’s like ‘I understand Twitter!’”

I can’t help but think Katy was just being polite for the sake of the radio audience, and she didn’t want to say the real reason why she wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes getting sexy and naked on vacation just isn’t worth the potential sunburn to your pussy area. That’s the sort of place you really can’t skip a thorough SPF application, and if you happen to put it on sloppy and get a burn, you’ll knock it out of commission for the rest of the trip. It’s just not worth the risk.

Pic: Wenn.com


Hey Hollywood, Hire These Women Cinematographers

Did you know that no woman has ever been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars? 80 years of the industry’s most coveted awards and no woman has ever even made the list of nominees for this one award. It’s depressing enough to know that there have only ever been four women nominated for Best Director, but that seems like a veritable feast in comparison to the field of cinematography. I brought up this fact during the 2016 Oscars and was immediately bombarded by inept buffoons who had gotten lost on their way to 4Chan but had plenty of time to read from the Handbook of Misogynistic Douchebag responses to Perfectly Reasonable Questions. Every attack appeared: Stop making this about gender; Maybe there just weren’t any worthy nominees; Women are too dumb to operate a camera; What if women just don’t want to do those jobs, and so on. Such nonsense rarely requires a proper response, but it only highlighted the problem at hand: Why, in 2017, are there so few women cinematographers in the film and TV industry?

Other than the obvious answer of «sexism», there’s a major gap in the field regarding defined competence and the prevalent perceptions over who is best with technology. As described by cinematographer Elle Schneider in a piece for IndieWire in 2014, «because of reinforced gender biases in hiring practices at every level of our industry, men simply feel more comfortable entrusting technology to men.» With industry figures, as referenced in a 2016 Variety piece, showing film schools have student bodies of relatively equal gender balance, it only drives home industry discrimination harder when women make up about 3% of cinematographers in big budget films. A 2015 Deadline article reported that women make up less than 4% of the membership of the American Society of Cinematographers. The bias still remains that working with cameras and major technical equipment is something poor ladies just aren’t strong enough to deal with. In their eyes, women are too meek to work with handheld cameras for long periods of time. Access to the necessary equipment also seems to be a major barrier, as emphasised by Schneider: «Gear is money, and if there’s one thing we know about Hollywood, it’s that money talks.» In a risk averse industry, looking outside the box for rising talent is a no-go area, making the climb all the more difficult for women hoping to catch a break.

If film is the empathy machine as described by Roger Ebert, then cinematography is one of its most crucial, if under-discussed, aspects. The more inclusive your talent pool, the greater level of perspectives and skills available for use. It’s simply ridiculous to assume that an entire gender just aren’t good enough to do this job, or don’t want to. There are many wonderful women working in the cinematography world right now, putting their unique stamp on the field and collaborating with some of the top directors out there. These women aren’t hard to find either, but for those whose heads are still deep in the sand, I have handily provided a list of a few for them to check out.

Aimee Galicia Torres (The Full English)
Agnes Godard (Beau Travail, Let the Sunshine In)
Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow, Claws)
Anna Foerster (Anonymous, White House Down)
Anne Etheridge (Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On)
Anne Misawa (All For Melissa, Jack & Diane)
Ari Wegner (The Kettering Incident, Lady Macbeth)
Ashley Connor (Funny Bunny, Tramps)
Autumn Durald (Palo Alto, Teen Spirit)
Bonnie Elliott (Hunters)
Céline Bozon (Exiles, Madame Hyde)
Charlotte Bruus Christensen ()
Charlotte Champetier (Holy Motors, Of Gods & Men)
Cinders Forshaw (Anita & Me, Poldark)
Claire Pijman (Good Morning Karachi, Echo the Now)
Claudia Raschke (Mad Hot Ballroom, Coup 53)
Cybel Martin (Queen of Glory)
Dagmar Weaver-Madsen (10,000km, High Maintenance)
Dana Kupper (Life Itself, Do No Harm)
Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Jeanne Lapoirie (8 Femmes, 120 Beats Per Minute)
Joan Churchill (Shut Up and Sing, Last Days in Vietnam)
Kat Westergaard (Life is Hot in Cracktown, Love Song)
Kate Reid (Uncle, Trust Me)
Katie Milwright (Looking For Grace, Please Like Me)
Kira Kelly (13th, Queen Sugar)
Kirsten Johnson (Citizenfour, Cameraperson)
Lisa Rinzler (Menace II Society, Pollock)
Lynda Hall (The Imposter, Dreams of a Life)
Magela Crosignani (Hunky Dory, Savage Youth)
Mandy Walker (Truth, Hidden Figures)
Marianne Bakke (Turn Me On Dammit)
Maryse Alberti (Creed, The Wrestler)
Nancy Schreiber (The Comeback, Mapplethorpe)
Nanu Segal (Shrooms, The Levelling)
Natasha Braier (The Neon Demon, The Rover)
Nina Kellgren (Solomon and Gaenor, Wondrous Oblivion)
Polly Morgan (Call the Midwife, The A Word)
Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther)
Rain Li (Paranoid Park, Beijing, New York)
Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandi Sissel (Salaam Bombay, Karaoke Girl)
Sandra Valde-Hansen (White Bird in a Blizzard, Shotgun)
Sarah Cawley (Ringer, Salem)
Sarah Levy (The Office, The Peacemaker)
Sharon Calahan (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo)
Sofia Oggioni (The Towrope, Anne)
Sue Gibson (The Forsyth Saga, Death in Paradise)
Svtelana Cvetko (Inside Job, The Architect)
Tami Reiker (Carnivàle, Beyond the Lights)
Tarin Anderson (Party Girl, XX)
Uta Briesewitz (Hung, Fresh off the Boat)
Valentina Caniglia (Mad Women, Umberto D.)
VanNessa Manlunas (Always Worthy)


Eleven Madison Park’s East Hampton Outpost is Finally Here

This past Saturday, Hamptonites rejoiced in the unveiling of EMP Summer House, a spinoff of Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Spearheaded by OG EMP chef Daniel Humm, the pop-up is designed to be a fun-filled, beachy placeholder while the original undergoes a facelift.

A certified fine dining heavyweight and the current “World’s Best Restaurant” titleholder, the EMP brand brings serious pedigree to its new East Hampton hideaway, previously occupied by the sleepy eatery Moby’s. But the indoor/outdoor outpost is a lighthearted spin on the original Eleven Madison, serving up backyard-inspired creations from black truffle-infused Humm Dogs to garden gnome-shaped cocktails, while a separate indoor menu delivers classics like poached lobster and bouillabaisse.

A collaboration with American Express, the EMP Summer House requires an Amex Card to make a reservation. Fittingly, the opening party drew a crowd of high rollers, from Brad Goreski to Alec Baldwin, with music courtesy of Hannah Bronfman. And while guests may have been swiping Amex cards left and right, the plastic really started flying at the Ping-Pong tables out back, where Vanessa Hudgens and friends were spotted duking it out.

While tables are currently booked through most of the season, the summer fun continues on July 1st when reservations for August 15th through Labor Day will open up. 

The post Eleven Madison Park’s East Hampton Outpost is Finally Here appeared first on DuJour.


Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Getting Celebrities to Sing Hamilton, and We Love It So Much

Image Source: Getty / Kevin Mazur

Leave it to Lin-Manuel Miranda to turn Hollywood into a real-life musical. The former Hamilton star is currently spreading the love (and rhythm) by teaming up with Prizeo in honor of Immigration Heritage Month to benefit the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition. The star has asked his fans to donate $ 10 to the organization and record themselves singing any Hamilton track for a chance to win two tickets to the LA opening night of the hit play, as well as airfare, accommodations, and a hang-out session with Lin-Manuel himself. The challenge quickly inspired some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to get in on the fun (without actually taking home the final prize), and it has already become a viral craze. Everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Eva Longoria to the Harlem Globetrotters shared their videos, and we love it all so very much.

POPSUGAR Celebrity

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