ISSUE 06 / DECEMBER 2013

“EXTRA! EXTRA! THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE DELIVERS THE NEWS!”

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / SEPTEMBER 2013

CONTENTS
The Front Page THE MOVIES I Have No Critical Resistance To IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE SUPERMAN: Christ Figure Or Ultimate Immigrant? The Two Deep Throats HOME ALONE And One Child’s Fear of Abandonment Be Honest And Unmerciful: Cameron Crowe Talks ALMOST FAMOUS
The Strange And Fascinating History Of Gossip Behind SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

News Team Re-Assemble: Adam McKay Talks ANCHORMAN 2 CITIZEN KANE Is The CITIZEN KANE Of Movies The Top Ten Pop Music Christmas Carols Of All Time

Editor-in-Chief

Devin Faraci Meredith Borders Henri Mazza Joseph A. Ziemba

Managing Editor

Associate Publisher Copy Editor

Art Director/Graphic Designer
George Bragdon

Contributing Writers

Cristina Cacioppo, Todd Gilchrist, Jordan Hoffman, Inkoo Kang, R.J. LaForce, Greg MacLennan, Katey Rich, Robert Saucedo, Tommy Swenson

Public Relations Inquiries
All content © 2013 Alamo Drafthouse

Brandy Fons | brandy@fonspr.com

drafthouse.com

badassdigest.com

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fantasticfest.com

mondotees.com

The Front Page
DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

Print is dead, he said in the introduction to a print magazine. But it’s true -- the world of smoky newsrooms, fast-talking reporters and investigative journalists rushing to beat the presses is a thing of the past. A past we love and hold dear, and are celebrating this month. Our December slate is filled with great journalism movies and, possibly by coincidence, ANCHORMAN 2 is hitting theaters. We have an interview with director Adam McKay to sate your Ron Burgundy needs, but that’s just the lede. This issue is packed with front page thrills, including an examination of why CITIZEN KANE honestly IS the best movie ever, a look at the gossip world of THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS and an examination of both Deep Throats. And as if that isn’t enough, we have an interview with Cameron Crowe, a journalist who made the leap to directing, and whose movie ALMOST FAMOUS is one of the best depictions of the strange dance interviewers do with their subjects. While we’re getting our hands ink-stained with our celebration of journalists, we didn’t lose sight that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. We have a little bit of holiday-themed stuff for you newshounds as well. Helping us make the transition from reporters to Christmas we have a look at why Superman IS NOT a Christ figure. I’m so glad to have this cleared up. Also, we talk about how HOME ALONE has become a way for kids to handle their abandonment issues. You know, happy holiday stuff. If you like what you read here you can find more from many of the same people at BadassDigest.com. You can also read this magazine online at Scribd.com! I don’t know why you would -- this thing looks so sweet in print. And be back here next month as we ring in 2014 with a look at our 100 favorite movies of all time! 6

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Screening In December At The Alamo Drafthouse
Inspired by the upcoming release of ANCHORMAN 2, the Alamo Drafthouse programming team presents a month of screenings on the theme of “EXTRA! EXTRA! The Alamo Drafthouse Delivers The News!” For tickets, showtimes, formats, and a full list of titles, visit drafthouse.com.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1976, R, 138 min
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watches me type every word on my computer I have to keep that lesson in mind. (Devin Faraci)

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN almost plays like a fantasy movie today. Imagine a world where the president being involved in nefarious doings is shocking. And imagine a world where journalists actually get to the bottom of that, as opposed to simply covering the latest celebrity to-do or regurgitating talking points memos. Based on the non-fiction book by Carl Bernstein and Edward Woodward, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN tells the story of how the two young WASHINGTON POST reporters followed a story that began with a hotel break-in and ended with the toppling of an American president. The true story is one of the most important chapters in American history, and the movie version is a wonderful example of the serious filmmaking that came out of major studios in the 1970s golden age of Hollywood. For a movie whose outcome is pre-spoiled, Alan J. Pakula’s ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN still packs in plenty of tension, excitement and delicious procedural investigation. The third film in his “Paranoia Trilogy” (we can’t recommend KLUTE and THE PARALLAX VIEW enough), ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN takes the paranoia out of the fictional realm and places it straight in the real world. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman make a terrific team. Hoffman would follow this up with another great paranoid movie, MARATHON MAN, while Redford was just coming off THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. The ‘70s were certainly the decade to be looking over your back and discovering government agents lurking in the shadows. Yeah, there was a lot of paranoia going around in the 1970s, and ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN proved that it was founded. But it also proved that smart, involved people could make a difference. As the NSA
BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / OCTOBER 2013

ALMOST FAMOUS Dir. Cameron Crowe, 2000, R, 122 min
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Throughout his career Cameron Crowe has made feel good movies. Films that wrap around you like a warm blanket. This is his M.O. He’s obviously not ashamed of it because he continually made project after project that decided to sidestep cynicism and embrace positivity. That’s not to say his films don’t have darkness or sadness or deep emotional truths. In fact, Crowe’s best work has quite astounding moments of honesty. SAY ANYTHING... is about an almost-too-good-tobe-true teenage romance, but the heart of the story lies in a broken father-daughter relationship. JERRY MAGUIRE tries to duplicate another improbable romance, but that film’s emotional impact lies in the deep flaws and insecurities of its characters. ALMOST FAMOUS remains Crowe’s perfect mix of saccharine sweet and melancholy. It’s an incredibly watchable film from start to finish because it’s filled with joy, love and all that mush, but it’s a film worth revisiting because, while its dark moments are sparse, it feels real. The film is a journey following 15-year-old ROLLING STONE journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) as he

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tours with a fictional band in 1973. Crowe based the story off of his own experience covering The Allman Brothers in his teens for the infamous magazine. It’s this type of personal touch that really gives ALMOST FAMOUS that intangible sense of truth. From the moment we meet William and his older sister (Zooey Deschanel) bequeaths onto him her record collection, including Simon and Garkfunkel’s BOOKENDS, we feel like we are in this time. And then Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing William’s mentor Lester Bangs (a real-life rock critic and all-around great writer), cements the era right into our brain as he declares “too bad you missed out on rock ‘n’ roll.” Crowe effortlessly sets the stage for what, for now, is his most personal, funny, moving and best film. And I haven’t even gotten into the meat of everything -- from Frances McDormand’s brilliantly played performance of William’s overprotective mother to Kate Hudson’s starmaking turn as Penny Lane, a kinda amazing, kinda sad queen of groupies, to Billy Crudup and Jason Lee as the talented ying and yang of the band Stillwater. Needless to say you’ll have a good time. The moments when you’re not laughing you’ll be smiling. ALMOST FAMOUS has been billed as a coming of age story, and it is to an extent, but it’s plenty more than that. Filled with amazing music, an endless amount of quotable lines and a big, bulging heart, ALMOST FAMOUS is a loving and nostalgic love letter to a very real time and place. (R.J. LaForce) CITIZEN KANE Dir. Orson Welles, 1941, Approved, 119 min
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than-life tycoon, based loosely on the life of William Randolph Hearst, follows its central character from working-class hero to failed political powerhouse to reclusive newspaper baron. However, the story is as much about the unknowable enigma at the heart of any public figure (or any human being) as it is about the specific psychological bruises and childhood yearnings that make Kane who he is. Structured largely around the fragmented recollections of supporting characters, the film explodes preconceived notions of how time and narrative are represented in cinema while decrying the seductive, corrupting nature of power in America. It’s so rich with themes and ideas that there’s no easy way to do it justice. Ultimately though, what really makes CITIZEN KANE stick in your memory is the visual experience it offers. A compendium of every cinematic trick and technique that had been seen on screen up to that time, and the source of dozens of new innovations, the movie is a technical marvel that today feels more visually daring than anything Hollywood has put out in decades. In the film, Joseph Cotton’s character Bernstein reminisces about the image of a girl in a white dress with a white parasol whom he once saw getting off of a ferry decades past. “I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.” Come behold CITIZEN KANE in its full glory on the big screen and it will fix itself in your memory in the same way. You’d think that a movie that’s been so influential, so widely analyzed and discussed, would have had all the life and vibrancy sucked out of it, its ability to surprise entirely diminished. The most surprising thing about CITIZEN KANE is that it actually lives up to its own myth. (Tommy Swenson) Tough Guy Cinema: SUPERMAN Dir. Richard Donner, 1978, PG, 143 min
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It’s become a sort of dry truism that CITIZEN KANE is the greatest film of all time. It’s so ubiquitously cited and referenced as the pinnacle of cinematic achievement that it’s easy to just write it off. Maybe you’ve known the secret behind Kane’s dying word, “Rosebud,” since you were a kid or maybe you’ve just seen a million excerpts, homages and parodies of fat old Orson Welles that you think you can get by in life without actually sitting down and watching CITIZEN KANE ever again. We don’t blame you. It’s easy to take for granted. But something incredible happens when you do take the time to sit and watch it. Your eyes widen, the hype fades away and you realize that it really is the greatest film ever made. Watching CITIZEN KANE in the twenty-first century is still an impossibly exciting and transformative experience. Time has done nothing to diminish KANE’s power. Welles’ perversely grandiose portrait of a largerBIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

You’ve seen many men don the iconic red cape before, and you will no doubt see more in the future, but in 1978 we were promised that we’ll “believe a man can fly.” No one since has ever delivered quite so spectacularly. Unless you are some sort of strange cave person who has aggressively pursued ignorance, you know the story of Superman. Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will soon destroy itself, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race by sending his infant son, Kal-El, to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth’s yellow sun, Kal-El will become our planet’s greatest champion.

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Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! “Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!” Yes, it’s Superman, the strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman, who changes the course of mighty rivers, bends steel with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way! Christopher Reeves IS Superman. Many men have worn the tights, but none have made themselves seem quite as... well, super. Reeves may look the squeaky clean part and play it to perfection, but were it not for his bumbling, humble, earnest portrayal of Superman’s alter ego I don’t think people would have quite the attachment they do to his incarnation of the caped Jesus. Directed by Richard Donner with a John Williams score fit for a God and featuring a supporting cast of pure excellence, SUPERMAN took flight in 1978 and gave the American people a renewed reason to hope and believe. This is the movie that makes a legend come to life! (Greg MacLennan) SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS Dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1957, 96 min
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measures to turn that around. Tasked with breaking up a romance between J.J.’s fragile sister Susie and jazz guitarist Steve Dallas, Sidney finds their bond is as unwavering as J.J.’s resolve to end it. Sidney’s clients lash out against him, wondering what they are paying him for. Phone calls go unreturned and meetings are refused, with Sidney’s charms only occasionally swaying a secretary here and there. Reeling with desperation, Sidney tracks down J.J. in the middle of a meeting with a senator and the pretty young thing he is trying to help make it, and we get a taste of how brazen and ruthless J.J. can be. He even pals around with a threatening, corrupt police lieutenant who clearly owes him some favors. The poison spreads from character to character as Sidney enlists other creatures of the night to facilitate a smear campaign that paints Steve as a pot-smoking commie. J.J. is then to come to Steve’s rescue, thus absolving himself of being a part of the takedown. Setting up the trap, Sidney knows that Steve’s strength of character breaks apart with his pride, and Steve falls right in with harsh words against J.J. that will make it impossible for him to be with Susie. Hollywood nice guys Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster have their personas inverted here as two morally reprehensible men whose power plays turn them to monsters. As the sycophantic Sidney, Curtis moves quickly through each scene, perfectly filling out a shifty, soulless body. The sharp, cynical dialogue cuts deep, and the moment of redemption that we’ve come to expect may not be reached. Although Sidney Falco does bite back with the line “It’s one thing to wear a dog collar; when it turns into a noose I’d rather have my freedom,” but rather than walking away, he is easily manipulated back into the 21 Club booth. (Cristina Cacioppo) 6

Taking place in the late, desperate hours of the night, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS finds press agent Sidney Falco out of favor with powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker and resorting to increasingly slimy

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I Have No Critical Resistance To IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
MEREDITH BORDERS Badass Digest Managing Editor @xymarla Read more at badassdigest.com

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

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At this time of year, I have one immutable tradition. Between divorced parents, step-families and in-laws, I visit several different homes, all of which celebrate the holidays in various ways, and I’m plenty flexible with that sort of thing. I’ll do whatever, eat whatever, go wherever. But as incontrovertible as time and more reliable than the seasons, I can promise you that I will watch Frank Capra’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE with my step-dad at some point during the holidays. This is a custom more crucial to me than the tree, the gifts, the dinner, the music. We will sit side by side on the sofa and quote our favorite lines together, echoing the same good-natured debates we’ve had every year since I was in fifth grade (Lynn: “That George Bailey sure is a good man.” Me: “Well, Mary Bailey is quite a woman, too, you know.”), and at the end I will cry, cry when Harry Bailey says the words, “A toast to my big brother George, the richest man in town.” I always cry. I just teared up typing those words. There isn’t a moment I would change of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I feel utterly unequal to the task of viewing it in a critical light. I don’t mean in a disapproving light -- obviously, I can’t do that -- but in the way I was taught to view films, equipped with the tools of critical analysis and unbiased appraisal. There is no other film to which I am so unabashedly partial. Ask me about any of my other favorite films, and I will concede that there are minute changes that could be made to improve them to the point of perfection. With IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, I just do not have it in me. Call it saccharine and I’ll call it bittersweet. Call it overlong and I’ll call it thorough. Call it manipulative and I will have nothing left to say to you. What is it about the film that speaks to me in such a fierce way? Two tremendous performances from Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are certainly part of it. Stewart plays George as passionate, ironic, eventually resigned, always flawed and yet ultimately stalwart. He is not a perfect man -- he has a hot temper and he spends much of the film searching for something elusive rather than appreciating his many blessings -- but he sacrifices his own dreams again and again in order to support the community and the people he loves. And yet when happiness sneaks up on George, it takes a near tragedy for him to recognize it. Reed is his steadfast admirer, loving him patiently and selflessly for as long as it takes for him to realize that she is the kindest and most charming woman alive. When they are kids at the pharmacy soda counter, and Mary leans over and whispers in George’s bum ear, I always whisper along with her: “George Bailey, I’ll love you ‘til the day I die.” Theirs is a love story that touches me in a way I cannot and would not shake. It’s both beautifully pure and smoking, scorching hot. Watch the scene where they share a telephone in Mary’s foyer
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and try and tell me that it’s not the most romantic, passionate exchange you’ve ever seen. But IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is more than a love story. It offers a message that I genuinely believe -- that fate often knows better than we do what our dreams should be. We can fight and fight toward a goal we’ve told ourselves since we were kids that we must achieve, but often the life that we never planned for ourselves is the life that will fulfill us in a way no grand accomplishment could. I believe that family and friends and selflessly doing what we believe is right even when it’s inconvenient will satisfy us when financial and professional success will not. I know that makes me a cornball, but only a cornball could love IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE as wholly and happily as I do.

There’s more to the film -- it gives an over-simplified but comfy comparison of “good” capitalism (Bailey Bros. Building and Loan) and “bad” capitalism (Mr. Potter of Potter Everything, Incorporated), and it teaches us that every life, no matter how seemingly insignificant, touches others immeasurably. But what IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE most offers me is harder to define: joy. With every annual viewing, I feel an effortless, uncomplicated joy from the moment we see Clarence and Joseph twinkling in the sky to the moment that George tells Zuzu, “That’s right. That’s right!” The film engages me on a level beyond intellectual that is rather instinctual, and that is something that I will gladly accept without further examination. I believe that the capacity to love a film with pure, thoughtless delight is a gift that we should all receive without question. Oh and one last thing: Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan. 6

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SUPERMAN: Christ Figure Or Ultimate Immigrant?
ROBERT SAUCEDO Alamo Drafthouse Programming Director, Houston @robsaucedo2500 Read more at badassdigest.com

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

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It is not hard to understand why Superman, DC Comics’ man of steel, is so often associated with Christian imagery. The character -- a strong-chested and even stronger-willed superhero created in 1938 -- has in recent years been shoehorned into obvious Christian iconography. Superman died and was resurrected in a massive storyline during the ‘90s that came complete with a trip to Kryptonian heaven. Bryan Singer cast Clark Kent as a messiah figure in SUPERMAN RETURNS -- denied personal pleasures and a family due to his commitment to humanity at large. In the wonderful comic book series KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, the DC Universe was taken on a trip through the Bible’s Book of Revelations, as narrated by a minister who only regains his faith after Superman ditches his retired life as a carpenter and returns to lead the disciples that have sprung up in his absence. Even in the CW teencentric television show SMALLVILLE, Clark Kent was introduced to audiences hanging on a crucifix as part of a high school prank. Despite the many instances of Superman as a Christ figure, the origins of the comic book hero are much more firmly rooted in Judaism. As Larry Tye recounts in his book SUPERMAN: THE HIGH-FLYING HISTORY OF AMERICA’S MOST ENDURING HERO, Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, two Jewish men whose dreams of telling stories brought them together to work on a fanzine while growing up in Cleveland) shows his ethnic heritage in his name itself. Kal-El, Superman’s Kryptonian name, features the suffix El, Hebrew for God. The prefix Kal is very similar to the Hebrew words for “voice” or “vessel.” The Samson-like Superman is one of a long-line of powerful warriors of Hebrew legend. In fact, while many modern writers

have seen Superman’s journey from Krypton as a parallel to God sending his only son to Earth, Kal-El’s journey (cast adrift in a rocket ship from a society on the brink of disaster) has much more in common with the story of Moses, the prophet who as a baby was floated down the river in a reed basket to escape the death warrant of a mad Pharaoh. “Truth, Justice and the American Way”: this is the motto of Superman, but it also closely resembles a line from the Mishnah, a collection of oral traditions from Jewish culture that says “the world endures on three things: justice, truth and peace.” Even the Nazis spotted the obvious ties between Superman and Judaism -- DAS SCHWARZE KRORPS, the newspaper for the S.S., published a tirade against Superman and his Jewish creators -- calling the comic a poison that sows “hate, suspicion, evil, laziness and criminality” in the hearts of American youth. To be fair, Shuster and Siegel denied explicitly creating Superman as a Jewish hero -- though they have admitted they were inspired by the anti-Semitism present at the time of the hero’s creation. Shuster and Siegel would go on to create an explicitly Jewish superhero: Funnyman. A comedian turned crimefighter modeled after Danny Kaye, Funnyman was an attempt by Shuster and Siegel to stage a comeback after being left practically penniless following the retroactively ridiculously low sum they received for the rights to Superman. Almost every religion has attempted to co-opt some aspect of the Man of Steel at one point or another. It’s not hard to figure out why, either. Superman, with his limitless strength and unflinching sense of right and wrong, is more god than man. One of the best Superman stories ever told is the 1979 novel THE KRYPTONITE KID by Joseph Torchia. The book is an epistolary novel told through the letters of a young boy who yearns to worship Superman.

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Set during the late ‘50s, the book’s protagonist Jerry Chariot writes regular letters to Superman, believing him to be a real-life figure. Jerry, raised in a strict Catholic family, writes letters that are near prayers with some correspondences even attempting to trick Superman into revealing he’s really another aspect of God. One letter even begs Superman to use his superbreath powers to extinguish the flames of hell after Jerry is told he is headed to damnation by a nun who discovers a poem about how much better Superman is than Jesus. As the novel progresses, Jerry’s letters become more and more desperate and the book becomes a heartbreaking portrait of a boy struggling with his faith, his sexuality and his future -- with Jerry leaning all the while on the belief that one day Superman will fly down from the heavens and save him. Jerry’s painful pleas to Superman to reward his faith and rescue him from his abusive father perfectly capture the divine context that Superman has adopted during his ascension to pop culture icon. More so than any other instantly recognizable fictional characters, there is something unique about Superman that dissolves the line between entertainment and religion.

Superman, for many children, is an early symbol of an always-caring, perpetually selfless hero. Spider-Man struggles with his purpose and Batman, in his quest to avenge his parents, becomes as totalitarian as a reallife parental figure to a young child. But Superman is sacrifice, strength and salvation rolled into one. He’s a hero who will always be willing to lay down his own life no matter what the cause -- be it an asteroid headed to earth or a cat stuck in a tree. He has a sense of humor and a zest for life. He’s comfortable in his skin and unwavering in his beliefs. Superman, an alien from another planet who has been converted to the ways and customs of his new home, is the ultimate missionary for humanity. Can you blame religion for wanting a piece of that pie? But, in the end, let’s remember that Superman was created by two awkward Jewish youth living in poverty. The character is taken from his home and thrust into a strange new land only to make it good -- sharing his specialized skill-set and being recognized for his talents. He’s first and foremost an immigrant and as such is a reminder that regardless of what background you have or religion you claim, you have a place in America as we strive to live up to the ideals espoused by Superman. 6

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The Two Deep Throats
DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

Who is Deep Throat? The answer changes depending on who you ask. For some people it’s the name of the secret source who helped Woodward and Bernstein investigate Watergate. For some other people it’s Linda Lovelace, whose 1972 porno film of the same title hit pop culture like an asteroid. It’s hard to imagine a time when everybody wasn’t familiar with porn, but that was the world before DEEP THROAT. Stag films and dirty movies certainly existed, and were watched by more people than would ever admit it, but they were underground things. You didn’t talk about them in polite company. You certainly didn’t brag about seeing them, and you didn’t know the names of the performers. That all changed with DEEP THROAT. A 61-minute long film about a woman whose clitoris is located inside her esophagus, DEEP THROAT was an unexpected crossover hit, a movie that somehow cracked Variety’s Top 50 films for the year. Made with Mob money for peanuts, DEEP THROAT earned back hundreds, if not thousands, of times its budget. It ushered in a strange era of ‘porno chic’ when it was actually fashionable to go see porn movies. And this was when you had to go see porn movies -- preinternet and home video -- the only place to catch DEEP THROAT was the seedy theater in the rundown part of town. Surely that was part of the appeal, and celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Johnny Carson and even Jackie O slummed it to go see what the fuss was all about. That era -- immortalized in BOOGIE NIGHTS -didn’t last long, but it did make at least one strange contribution to our national history. In 1974 ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN was published, and the nation met the other Deep Throat. He was a secret source, close to both Nixon’s White House and the Committee To Re-Elect The President (CREEP… how did they allow that acronym to exist?), who spilled all sorts of secrets to Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who became the faces of the Watergate investigation. Deep Throat was so named by Howard Simons, the managing editor of the WASHINGTON POST.
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It was an in-joke name, possibly never meant for public consumption, that riffed on the movie as well as the source’s impeccable deep knowledge. Deep Throat met with Woodward using clandestine spy techniques; the reporter would set a flower pot at a certain place, indicating a desire to meet. If Deep Throat wanted to meet he would make marks in Woodward’s copy of the NEW YORK TIMES. They would get face to face in a shadowy underground parking garage, a bit of iconography that has permeated our pop consciousness. Woodward and Bernstein promised to keep Deep Throat’s identity a secret, and they did -- for more than thirty years. Even after Nixon resigned and Watergate faded into history, they kept schtum. It was Deep Throat who outed himself. Ailing and 91, he revealed his identity to VANITY FAIR. He was Mark Felt, one-time Associate Director of the FBI, who had been compiling information on the investigation that began with the Watergate break-in and reached all the way up to the White House. Deep Throat’s identity was probably known to Nixon, but it was reported that the president believed outing him would lead Felt to leaking even more damaging information. Some claim that Felt wasn’t Deep Throat, and that Deep Throat was actually a composite character made up of multiple sources. Woodward and Bernstein insist it was all Felt, who died in 2008. He outlived Linda Lovelace, who died in 2002 after a major car accident. 6

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HOME ALONE And One Child’s Fear of Abandonment
KATEY RICH Editor-in-Chief of CinemaBlend.com @kateyrich Read more at badassdigest.com

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There are kids who grew up in the VHS era and essentially sent themselves to film school, renting and watching everything they could get their hands on. I envy their time well spent. Most of my VHS-enabled childhood was spent watching HOME ALONE. This is not the story of my HOME ALONE obsession. It is my sister’s. The baby of the family, who was intentionally left behind on vacations when she was too young to go, my sister Kellen spent a solid year of her childhood watching HOME ALONE daily. She was three years old in 1990, and has no memory of ever not knowing the story of Kevin McAllister and his adventures. For her HOME ALONE is not a Christmas movie, or a sleepover movie, or anything associated with a theater. It is a childhood icon, as routine and familiar as a security blanket or favorite toy. Except it’s a security blanket that teaches you that, the moment you are left alone in what’s supposed to be the safest place in the world, you will be threatened and attacked. My family has laughed for years about Kellen’s childhood fear of being abandoned, how she would panic when my mom walked out to the mailbox or call my grandmother if someone was minutes late picking her up from school. It was funny because she, like my brother and I, had a completely mundane childhood, surrounded by parents and grandparents and neighbors and literally dozens of people who would step in if we were stuck home alone for the afternoon, much less targeted by robbers. As a kid, though, you don’t know that; being a kid is about constantly trying to shed that safety net, seeing how far you can ride your bike, how high you can jump, how much you can handle.

You might be taught to run and get your parents when danger comes, but you also want to know what would happen if you didn’t. HOME ALONE is explicitly about childish wish fulfillment; Kevin goes to bed wishing his family would disappear and wakes up to find them gone, celebrating with junk food and video games and all the ice cream he wants. The bigger, much more complicated wish gets answered later, when the robbers start sniffing around and Kevin, the youngest and shrimpiest child, has to stand up and take action. Kellen and I agree that neither of us imagined we could pull off the pranks that Kevin did; even when we would “play HOME ALONE” and set up traps in our house, we never intended anyone to actually step in them. But within the confines of a Hollywood movie with a guaranteed happy ending, Kevin could meet the challenge of the empty, menacing house and chase away what scared us. And it happened every time we replayed that VHS copy. Watching HOME ALONE was a way of turning home into yet another boundary to cross, like taking the monsters under your bed and strategically placing them on the other side of every door. As adults, my sister and I have never quite gotten over that heightened sense of terror inside our own homes; she admits to turning off her kitchen lights at night and then running out of the room, and neither of us can enter a bathroom without checking behind the shower curtain. Plenty of children’s entertainment is intended to alleviate fears, but apparently ours only increased them. It’s okay -every childhood needs a little bit of fear to keep you in line. And Kevin McAllister taught us what to do if that challenge ever arrives. 6

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Be Honest And Unmerciful: Cameron Crowe Talks ALMOST FAMOUS
TODD GILCHRIST Badass Digest Contributor @mtgilchrist Read more at badassdigest.com

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There are few films that capture the experience of being a fan better than ALMOST FAMOUS. There are also few films that capture the experience of being a journalist better than ALMOST FAMOUS. A chronicle of writer-director Cameron Crowe’s fledgling days as a music lover and reporter disguised as a fictional coming of age story, the 2000 opus rests at a crossroads between personal passion and professional obligation, sympathetic complicity and trenchant objectivity. And particularly in an age when social media allows fans to interact with their favorite artists, and the media examines every aspect of their lives, the film’s underlying message about that tenuous relationship seems more relevant than ever: “Be honest, and unmerciful,” as Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) succinctly puts it. Crowe, who’s currently working on a romantic comedy about a defense contractor who falls for an Air Force pilot, generously spoke to BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH. via email to answer a handful of questions about ALMOST FAMOUS. Having carved out a career for himself as a director to whom soundtracks are at least as important as the movies they accompany, Crowe spoke to the film’s authenticity as a portrait of rock journalism in the 1970s, as well as its unvarnished honesty in documenting his own transition from fan to reporter -- and perhaps most importantly, where the lines between those roles continue to blur. Q:  The film is obviously a loving tribute to your experiences -- one which every journalist wishes he or she could have gone through. When was the moment for you when you went from being a fan to being a journalist? Was there a moment, even in retrospect, where you felt you made that transition? A:  There are a couple. One was the first cover story assignment on the Allman Brothers Band, which became the basis for much of ALMOST FAMOUS. On the eve of leaving the tour with a ton of interview tapes and research, Gregg Allman asked for my tapes back, believing that I was actually an undercover cop sent to spy on the band. The band had been burned by a ROLLING STONE reporter before, and he had become worried that this too would be a doomed endeavor. I was incredibly disillusioned, and expected to be banned from writing for ROLLING STONE over the incident. Luckily, Gregg returned the tapes a couple days later, and blamed it on exhaustion and personal confusion. I was grateful, but the lesson was learned -- each assignment would be different, with a different mix of personalities and a standing duty to deliver the story. With the help of Ben Fong-Torres, we put the article in shape, developed a clear-eyed perspective on the band, and I’ve never looked back. Also, at 19, I wrote a story called “How I Learned
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About Sex,” which was hampered by writer’s block until I just gave up and wrote it as if I was writing a letter to a friend. That was another breakthrough. It felt like I had found a writing voice that might stretch beyond rock journalism. The tone of that article is the same tone as the movies I’ve made. Q:  There are so many great conversations between William and Russell where Russell could just as easily be manipulating William as being honest with him. Even if they didn’t realize it at the time, was there ever a moment when you were aware they were using maybe an uncharacteristic “honesty” to try to manipulate you into “making them look cool?” A:  Sure, almost every time. But that is the dance between any reporter and his interview subject. Q:  The “Tiny Dancer” sequence is one of the truly wonderful sequences in cinema of the last few decades. But was there any experience that inspired it? Or even, did you ever experience a moment where a song sort of brought a band together in the way that Elton John’s did there? A: M  any times. Sometimes it was a jam session, sometimes a song on the radio, and sometimes music that a band traveled with -- Led Zeppelin were very enamored of Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley and the Guess Who. Much more than drugs or sex, music was always the baseline passion of the groups I covered. Which is not to say that there weren’t wild days and nights of debauchery, there were, some of which I witnessed and some of which I saw the effects of the next day... but in the years of covering and touring with artists for RS and other publications, I never ran across a single musician who wasn’t transported while talking about or playing music they loved. It was always my common ground as a reporter. I love music too. It wasn’t a job to me. It was a miracle of serendipity. Q:  What to you was perhaps the most painfully honest thing you included in the film about your own experiences? What is the moment where you were the least sure, or maybe now, the most sure, you wanted the world to experience through William Miller’s eyes that you went through yourself? A:  Probably the relationship with Zooey [Deschanel], who plays a character based on my sister. Music was a big common thread in our family, and sometimes our best way of expressing passion and love to each other. Q:  The internet has become a great democratizing force for journalism and writing about art. How do you feel about the divide between journalism and fandom today? Are people closer than ever to the bands that they like? And if so, is that a good thing?

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A:  I think Lennon said it best, paraphrasing, that music is a big rushing river and there are many tributaries that lead into that river. But the river is a constant, it never changes... music will always be a single essential language shared by everybody, and it continues to be, regardless of format, price, social networking, sex, nationalilty, concert tickets or technology. That’s pretty much the inner theme of ALMOST FAMOUS. And thanks to the time and the era in which we made it, we had the money to make the movie correctly. I’ll always be so proud of it. Q:  What ultimately was, is or would be the threshold for you telling a warts-and-all story about your experience with a band? What value do you see in reporting the peccadilloes of a band “struggling with success,” and all of their problems, versus, say, profiling them in a cleaner or perhaps more diplomatic way? A:  I think you have to step back and look at the big picture. What is the mood, the feeling, the truth about the atmosphere and intention of the people you’re profiling? Of course, a twenty minute session

at a hotel ballroom junket won’t get you far. You are a blur to the person you’re interviewing, and they are a blur to you. You are not seeing a person, or even having a conversation, you’re essentially creating content with a mutual understanding that neither of you will ever remember [from] the encounter later that day. It’s a recipe for cynicism, unfortunately. ALMOST FAMOUS was about a time not so long ago, when people depended on each other a little bit more to explain their art and purpose. I always respected J.D. Salinger for walking away from publicity entirely, but I respected John Lennon more for sitting down with Jann Wenner for that first long ROLLING STONE interview. Together they brought a fuselage of truth, letting the chips fall where they might, and they created the modern confessional interview. I was lucky enough to come along in the aftermath, and ALMOST FAMOUS is about the implied contract between a reporter and his subject in the early seventies -- Lennon had set the standard. So now... how truthful are you going to get? It was always a fascinating negotiation... 6

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The Strange And Fascinating History Of Gossip Behind SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
INKOO KANG LA WEEKLY and VILLAGE VOICE Film Critic @thinkovision Read more at badassdigest.com

The surest sign of a gossip columnist’s success is that everyone wants to talk about him. By that standard, J. J. Hunsecker, the iconic villain in the newspaper noir SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, is the king of New York. Played by Burt Lancaster, he’s the first character we see in Alexander Mackendrick’s film, introduced via a poster calling him “the eyes of Broadway.” Before we see him around the twenty-minute mark, he’s called some other names: “the golden ladder to the places I wanna get,” “a man who makes you jump through burning hoops like a trained poodle,” and “some kind of a monster” -- the last, courtesy of his sister Susie (Susan Harrison). The one time anyone has something nice to say about him -- “You’ll find him a real friend!” -- press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is lying through his teeth. If SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS is a compelling portrait of the savagery of yellow journalism, a sensational showcase for stars Curtis and Lancaster, an unnerving snapshot of New York City at its most restless and anxious and a compendium of endlessly quotable put-downs, it’s also, quite simply, a hit job. Upon the film’s release in 1957, everyone and his tabloid-reading mother knew the character of Hunsecker was a barely veiled caricature of professional gossipmonger Walter Winchell. That’s not to say Winchell didn’t deserve the smearing. When he began his career as a newspaper and radio commentator, Winchell was a crusader against the evildoers of the day. From the Jazz Age through the Depression and during World War II, he spoke out against Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan and fascist organizations in the United States. Meanwhile, he virtually invented the language of gossip -- the rat-a-tat
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rhythms and the cheesy puns, the eyebrow-waggling insinuations and the shocking revelations. Even H.L. Mencken credited him with enriching the English language. Along with the rest of America, Winchell turned sharply rightward after the War. Having made friends with J. Edgar Hoover, another powerful and vindictive asshole who strived to know everything, Winchell began championing anti-Communist persecution and conservative values. He ultimate aligned himself with Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the gossip mavens who tut-tutted their way to power and influence in Hollywood. For their favorites, the tabloid queen bees served as PEOPLE; for their prey, Perez Hilton. Their most famous victim was Ingrid Bergman, whose career in Hollywood died a quick death when photos emerged of her extramarital dalliances with director Roberto Rossellini. Hopper and Parsons used Bergman’s affair to outdo one another in pearl-clutching outrage. Winchell couldn’t out-biddy the biddies. In a thirtyyear run at the forefront of the media, he pulled a Glenn Beck by getting histrionic about the wrong thing and lost his sponsors. Social traditionalism was one thing, but his continued association with Joseph McCarthy -- even after the HUAC senator was forced out of office -- and, later, his comparison of Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson to a transsexual woman (“It would mean a woman in the White House”) cost him his career. Notoriety followed him, not just for his ugly smears but also his personal attacks -- “a head for an eye,” he promised. Eventually, he made so many enemies he had only a single attendant at his funeral: Walda Winchell, the daughter he tried to have committed against her will.

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SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS caught Winchell at the beginning of his end. He had just lost his radio show after a quarter of a century on the airwaves. A short stint on TV, hosting a half-hour variety show, proved to be the “worst experience of [his] life.” He was so out of sorts that he pulled a gun on three teenage fans. There would never be a better time to strike. The film liberally stole biographical elements from Winchell’s life -- the power of his poisoned pen, his open condescension toward press agents, and his difficult relationship with his volatile daughter -- to create Hunsecker, the symbol of a corrupt, broken city. “He’s got the morals of a guinea pig and the scruples of a gangster,” says a minor character of Hunsecker, but he could just as well be describing Sidney, or almost anyone else in the film. Sidney and Hunsecker are united by a slightly convoluted scheme: in return for publicity for his clients, Sidney is to get Hunsecker’s sister Susie to dump her fiancée Steve (Martin Milner). Hunsecker disapproves of the beau’s profession as a jazz musician, because he’s a social inferior. When Sidney fails in his first attempt to break up the couple, Hunsecker takes matters into his own hands by slandering Steve in his column as a “marijuana-smoking Red” -- shades of Winchell’s McCarthyism. The contrast between Hunsecker’s public authority and private chaos was also lifted from Winchell’s life, a great portion of which was devoted to destroying Billy Cahn, a seedy lowlife (unlike his onscreen counterpart) who courted the gossip columnist’s daughter Walda. Winchell was, in fact, so determined to separate Walda from Billy that he had her institutionalized in

a psychiatric facility, while using his connections to persecute Cahn so systematically the suitor eventually left America entirely and settled in Israel. It’s no coincidence that Hunsecker is at least two decades older than his Susie -- she’s meant to look like his child. But if SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS is an indictment of Winchell as a man, it’s also an oblique tribute to him as a writer. Initially written by Ernest Lehman and rewritten in a neurotic but creative frenzy by playwright Clifford Odets, sometimes just an hour before shooting, the script takes its cue from Winchell’s flair for original and imaginative insults. When Hunsecker first approaches Sidney, the older man is dismissive: “You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” In a later scene, when Sidney tries to wheedle himself back into the gossip columnist’s good graces, he’s told, “Sidney, this syrup you’re giving out with, you pour over waffles, not J.J. Hunsecker.” To Steve, Hunsecker threatens, “Son, I don’t relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don’t you just shuffle along?” Mackendrick also visually alludes to the might of Hunsecker’s pen by often showing Lancaster sitting with Curtis hovering over him. He is, after all, most dangerous in a seated position. SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS was a cruel takedown of Walter Winchell, a snoop and a gossip everyone loved to hate. Today, though, the film reads like a lovehate letter, written by two writers, Lehman and Odets, to one of their own, a man who may have cheapened what writing could be but created a whole new kind of language -- one we still use today. 6

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News Team Re-Assemble: Adam McKay Talks ANCHORMAN 2
DEVIN FARACI Badass Digest Editor in Chief @devincf Read more at badassdigest.com

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Abbott and Costello. Martin and Lewis. Nichols and May. Ferrell and McKay. While those other great comedy teams performed together, the team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay split their duties -- they write together and McKay directs Ferrell in movies where he creates some of the most indelible comic characters of our time. Together they created FUNNY OR DIE, the online comedy juggernaut. And their list of films is incredible: TALLADEGA NIGHTS. STEP BROTHERS. THE OTHER GUYS. And, of course, ANCHORMAN. In 2004 no one saw Ron Burgundy becoming the cultural touchstone he now is; ANCHORMAN has reached MONTY PYTHON and SIMPSONS-levels of quotability. Yet somehow the movie hasn’t been run into the ground -- it’s just that good. Now the News Team from ANCHORMAN has reassembled, this time in the 1980s during the ascendance of 24-hour cable TV news. We’ve all been excited about the return of Ron and Champ Kind and Brick Tamland and Brian Fontana, but at the same time it’s hard to not be aware of the crummy history of comedy sequels. When I had a chance to talk to Adam McKay about ANCHORMAN 2, I knew I had to jump right in the deep end and find out why this film would succeed where CADDYSHACK 2, BEVERLY HILLS COP III and HOME ALONE 4 had failed. Q:  Comedy sequels almost always suck. Historically, it’s a terrible track record. A:  I think that’s true. Believe me, we talked about it before we went into it. It’s a slaughterhouse when you try going down that road. There’s very few successes. We pegged it as AUSTIN POWERS 2 and you know, a downplayed one is actually WAYNE’S WORLD 2, that’s actually pretty good. Q: I would agree with that. A:  Yeah, I’m not saying it’s spectacular, but it’s pretty damn good for a sequel. Those are really the two I can think of…I’m sure I’m forgetting one. Q:  Well, why do you think that is? Why do you think that comedy sequels have such a terrible track record? What is it that makes them so bad? A:  Well, that was part of the reason we were excited to do this. Because [Will] Ferrell and I always want to do something new and different with everything we do. New world, new character, whatever it is. You know, obviously our sensibilities are the same. So we were excited about the challenge of a sequel and we really looked at it, and we looked at the sequels that worked, which, you know, there are the famous ones like GODFATHER 2 and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and what we found was that it was really
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the ones that failed didn’t continue the story. They kind of repeated the story, and that seemed to be the hang-up that was killing them -- that they’d do their first movie, and all their beats, it would be really successful, and they’d do the second movie and go ‘Well, let’s do that same story structure again.’ And that’s how it had this retread feeling to it, whenever you see those sequels that don’t work. And this applies to dramas and action films as well. So that was the big thing we noticed, was don’t just repeat the same story beats. And then it was kind of a game of you do want to repeat some stuff, there’s some stuff you do want to see again. So what’s the right ratio of that versus new stuff? And we kind of decided to err on the side of new stuff, new jokes, new takes on these characters, that’s the way to go. And then there were a couple of kind of obvious things that we knew we wanted to bring back. That was our theory on it. Whether we’re right or not we’ll see, but that’s kind of how we dove into it. Q:  So you’re not just doing that thing where everybody’s spouting off their catchphrases again? You’ve actually tried to blaze some new ground this time. A:  Well, we’re trying. I mean, he doesn’t say ‘Stay classy’ in this one. That’s probably his most famous line and we got rid of it. I’m trying to think, are there any lines that come back? You know, Champ obviously has that “Whammy” thing that he just pounds into the ground. Part of the joke is that it’s tired, so we do that, but yeah, otherwise we tried to do new stuff. Like I said, there are a couple things that are kind of variations on some jokes that you saw in the first one. There’s three things that we bring back a little bit in the second one where we thought, ‘Well, that’s too much fun. We’ve got to do that.’ I’m hoping it’s not too much. You know, if someone doesn’t want to like the movie they’re going to point those out, but I feel like we did a pretty good blend. Q:  It’s funny because ANCHORMAN has become one of those movies where it’s hit MONTY PYTHON and SIMPSONS levels of quotability. When did you begin to see that happening, the movie taking on a whole new life? It was successful when it came out, but it’s really taken on a much larger life in the nine years since. A:  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, because it was a really demographic, grassroots response to the movie. It had nothing to do with a big opening weekend or marketing, it was just the movie came out, the movie did really well, we got pretty good reviews, made some decent money, okay, we get to go to square two. We get to make another movie. And we were happy, we loved the

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movie, so we felt good about it. And then it was like a year later, I had left my Google Alert for the movie on, and I kept getting hits. And it kept being quoted in sports articles, or articles about the news. And it was really that Halloween about a year after it came out when I saw three or four different people dressed as Ron Burgundy that I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And I remember Bill Simmons, the sports writer, wrote a whole article about ANCHORMAN, he was one of the first people to really jump on it, saying ‘Hey, you should look at this movie again, there is really good stuff here,’ and it was EMPIRE MAGAZINE in the U.K. Those were the two that were out in front of it, and kept saying, ‘I’m telling you, this movie is awesome. I keep watching it, I can’t stop watching it.’ So that was it, it was really that Halloween where I saw three or four people dressed as Ron Burgundy that I said, ‘Wait, something is going on here.’ Q:  You have the crew in this one moving on to cable news, which feels very of the moment, actually, as our own cable news landscape has become so terribly fucked. With THE OTHER GUYS, you worked in some political commentary -- how political is ANCHORMAN 2 going to be? A:  Well, what’s great about this is that it’s so natural to who they are, and the point of view of the first one, which is that the news is kind of entertainment, a cartoon ratings-machine. That was a little bit behind the first one, even. And so when we looked at what the next time stake post was, we realized it was 1980 and that’s when all of this 24-hour news started coming about. It was absolutely perfect. And that’s really when the game started jumping up a notch. That’s when they got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, so people could just do all opinion news, and that’s when they stopped enforcing anti-monopoly laws so suddenly a single corporation could own like five news outlets. So all of this crazy stuff started happening then, and first and foremost, beyond the message of it, we want to make sure that it’s interesting and funny so we realized, ‘Absolutely, that’s funny, when things started to really go down the toilet.’ It was really perfect for us. Q:  This month at the Alamo, we’re showing a bunch of journalism-related movies, and I’m just curious if there are any that are your favorites. A:  Yeah, there are some really good ones. I would argue one of the ten greatest films ever made is NETWORK. That, to me, is an amazing movie. I would put that on my top ten films of all time list. I tell you what I really love was that movie that just came out last year. It’s kind of not fully journalism, it’s kind of marketing/ journalism/ politics, but I love that movie. NO [2012]. Did you
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see that? It’s about the Pinochet Referendum, and I really liked that movie a lot. I thought that movie was incredibly smart, funny, I loved the way it was shot using varied video cameras. But I would say the two granddaddies of them all are NETWORK and BROADCAST NEWS. BROADCAST NEWS I love because all of its commentary is built into the story, so you’re not even really aware what’s going on while they’re firing their news people because the news is becoming entertainment. It’s almost like they’re kind of played to the background while you’ve got these great characters in the foreground. I just rewatched the movie about two years ago, actually when we were getting into this movie, and I couldn’t believe how political it plays now. It’s really the moment where the news, real news, was taken apart. BROADCAST NEWS is a perfect movie. So is NETWORK. Q:  Talking about movies that change now in the modern climate, for a younger person coming to NETWORK for the first time, it might not even be clear that it’s satire. A:  It’s crazy. It plays dry. It actually plays reserved compared to what’s going on now. It’s unbelievable when you watch it now. There’s another movie like that. BOB ROBERTS is like that. When BOB ROBERTS came out it was absurd! When you watch it now, you’re like ‘Oh yeah, of course. Very plausible. I feel like we’ve gone past this.’ With NETWORK, you can very quickly get depressed by that fact, but it’s also remarkable, it’s incredible that they were seeing to do that movie back then. It’s amazing. Q:  Well, Paddy Chayefsky was clearly very, very far ahead of the curve. You know, it took nine years to get this movie made. Paramount was really unsure they wanted to do it. Do you think that gap in time is helpful for you guys, actually, or do you wish you’d gotten to it earlier? A:  In fairness, the first four or five years, that wasn’t Paramount, that was us saying ‘We don’t want to do a sequel.’ And then when we finally decided, it was probably five or six years after the first one, we said, ‘All right, let’s do it. This will be a fun challenge,’ and that’s when Paramount sort of balked a little bit. There was really just a disagreement over the budget. And I do think it was good, because it allowed us to really sit with the idea for a while, and let it go through different permutations and kind of go, ‘Well, what if it’s this? What if it’s this?’ and we had a lot of conversations. And then at one point it really looked like it was gone, it was just completely gone. Which is kind of perfect because that’s really how the first one went. You know every studio said no to the first one, and there was a moment where we both had to go, ‘All right, it’s over. It’s not

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happening.’ So then what happened with the first one was even sweeter, and we had kind of the same thing with this where we were going to go do STEP BROTHERS 2 and we had just one last chance with Paramount and they said, ‘All right. We’ll do it now.’ So it’s kind of perfect in a way. And of course once you jump in the movie Paramount’s been fantastic, nothing but supportive and behind it and excited about it, so it’s all ended really, really well. Q:  So do you see a possibility for an ANCHORMAN trilogy? Could Ron Burgundy get into blogging eventually? A:  [laughs] I like the way the second one happened, which is that the fans of the movie asked for it, so I would not want to shove an ANCHORMAN 3 down people’s throats. If we do the second one, and it goes really well, and it’s a year or two afterwards and people are starting to say, ‘Where’s the third one?’, we would be open to it, I would say that. But we definitely don’t want to railroad a third one right off the second. Something about that just feels kind of wrong, because the whole movie’s developed from fans. So we shall see. We shall see. Q:  Well, speaking of fans, there was an announcement last week that was really interesting, that got a lot of fans excited, the idea that there might be a second version, sort of a 2.5 version of this movie with all different jokes getting a limited release. Film nerds
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like myself decry the end of celluloid, but digital distribution offers really interesting opportunities for stuff like that, doesn’t it? A:  I, no exaggeration, just had this exact conversation with Rob Moore from Paramount about five minutes ago. We talked about the fact that now you can do all these different cuts. The MPAA in America is so conservative, compared to Europe, so now it’s possible to do the more conservative cut for America, and do the less repressed, puritanical version for Europe. Then also there’s non-legacy countries that really haven’t seen the first one; we can do a different cut for them where we’re laying it out a little bit more and it’s a little bit shorter. It’s really insane, so absolutely we are doing this version that has all new jokes in it, 250 new jokes. In fact, we’re screening it today, we’re going to look at it to see how it all holds together and give notes on it, and we’ll see. We’ll see if it gets theatrical. For sure it’s going to be put out, whether it’s VOD or DVD, but there is a chance it could get theatrical which would be fun because I don’t think it’s ever been done before, which is always exciting. Q:  That is exciting. I think the Alamo Drafthouse would be an ideal place to play a movie like that. A:  Ideal place. We’d love to do our premiere there if we do it. 6

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CITIZEN KANE Is The CITIZEN KANE Of Movies
JORDAN HOFFMAN Badass Digest contributor @jhoffman6 Read more at badassdigest.com

For the news-themed issue of BIRTH.MOVIES. DEATH., I offer a news-flash: CITIZEN KANE is terrific. It said so right on the poster. Labeling something “the CITIZEN KANE of X” is by now a worn out punchline. It began, as far as I can tell, with Dann Gire of the CHICAGO DAILY HERALD calling 1995’s BABE the “‘CITIZEN KANE’ of talking pig pictures” -- a wholly accurate assessment, I might add. And Orson Welles’ debut film from 1941 recently took a step down in the once-in-a-decade Sight & Sound poll (VERTIGO topped the list this time, shunting KANE to second best) so there is the possibility that a neophyte cineaste may be reading this thinking, meh, I don’t really need to see this movie. I am here to tell that person he or she is not only wrong, but that KANE is hardly a cultural vegetable. Indeed, so much of its success is that it is a rich, meaty stew bursting with a diversity of flavor. CITIZEN KANE rules because there’s something in it for everyone. CITIZEN KANE As Detective Story Above all else, CITIZEN KANE has a juicy story. Its driving engine, beyond political satire, beyond Welles rolling up his sleeves and playing with the enormous toy chest that is filmmaking, is a quality mystery. Who is Rosebud? We’re gonna sleuth it out and along the way we may just uncover some profound things about American society.
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CITIZEN KANE As Love Story Sympathy for Susan Alexander! Oh, if she just had better dental hygiene her achey whimpers may never have caught the attention of Charles Foster Kane, the charming man who “runs a couple of newspapers,” sweeps her off her feet, displays her in her own opera house and cages her in Xanadu. CITIZEN KANE As Satire There’s an entire (pretty good) movie called RKO 281 all about the battle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst, the main (but not only) inspiration for the Kane character. You can do your own research to find out what parts of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ scripts are veiled digs at the publishing magnate, but some moments don’t bother to be blunt. “You supply the prose poems, I’ll supply the war,” the plucky, boisterous Kane says with a smile -- a direct reference to the manufactured Spanish-American conflict and its Yellow Journalism provenance. CITIZEN KANE As Handcrafted Marvel The kids today don’t know about crafty problem-solving! They just bark a bunch of orders into the UNIVAC and, alakazam, Windows 95 makes all kinds of Orcs and Gollums come out on the screen. CITIZEN KANE is all about clever visual gags. And even though the movie is so old that everyone involved in it is long dead and

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picked apart by worms (when Welles finally went it was like a week long trip to Sizzler for the worms, lemme tell ya!), many of these tricks still dazzle. The camera swoops up to a miniature sign announcing Susan Alexander Kane’s floor show and then moves through it. If you watch closely, you can see a little break between the “X” and the “A” where the bars pull apart. There are dioptic splits for deep focus, the photo of the staff of the Chronicle revealing itself to be live and lighting tricks as Jerry Thompson’s interview subjects come in and out of their flashbacks. Also: the images of Kane after he’s lost the election are shot from below, with the camera in a hole to make the looming figures even more Olympian. This caused a ruckus because they had to show the ceiling. They didn’t show ceilings in those days because that’s where they hung the microphones and lights in a studio. But Welles was insistent: of COURSE there’s a ceiling. So the ceiling in these shots is actually muslin fabric made to look like a ceiling. Why would I lie!? There are also a number of trick shots with perspective, such that Kane’s character is always in the center of frame, even when he is in the background. Then there are the editing tricks. Most famously, of course, the bad marriage summary told through a dizzying collage of breakfasts. It’s a master class in “less-is-more.” My favorite cut of all, however, is “Merry Christmas. . . And a Happy New Year” where decades

are leap-frogged during that ellipses. (The whole movie is as unstuck in time as Billy Pilgrim.) CITIZEN KANE As Ego Boost Listen, we all like to feel smart. So when a “classic” like this has easily interpreted symbolism it’s nice to pluck that low hanging fruit and chomp into it. Charles Foster Kane walking past two mirrors reflecting onto one another, leading off to an inscrutable horizon? In the middle of a quest to understand a man from different observers’ recollections. Okay, cool, got it. Little Charlie Kane playing in the snow and shouting “Union Forever!” as his parents decide to hand him over to his new guardians? Sure, he could be playing at Civil War games -- but that’s probably not what Welles had in mind. (And if The White Stripes can pick up on this, surely you can, too.) But according to Peter Bogdanovich (whose association with Welles has long been a line item on his tax returns) the odd, superimposed image of the exotic bird that loudly SCREECHES toward the end of the film has no hidden meaning. Welles apparently told him that he was worried that the film had already been running for two hours and wanted to make sure no one had fallen asleep. It was a foolish fear. Even ADHD knuckleheads with ludicrous fears of black and white will find it hard to get bored watching this movie. Again, that famous poster: It’s Terrific! 6

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

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The Top Ten Pop Music Christmas Carols Of All Time
HENRI MAZZA Associate Publisher @henrimazza Read more at badassdigest.com

Every year at select Alamo Drafthouses across the county, the Action Pack VJs host a celebration of Christmas caroling classics with their XMAS POPS SING-ALONG. After seven years of hosting these events and working through hundreds of pop music Christmas videos, I feel perfectly qualified to throw down this gauntlet. These are the Very Best Christmas Carol Music Videos Ever: 10. “Silent Night” – Sinead O’Connor Sinead’s voice is gorgeous, and so is everything else about her in this appearance in the made-for-UK-TV movie THE GHOSTS OF OXFORD STREET. Seen without extra context the Dickensian setting and crazy man chasing the vision of Sinead through the streets of modern London adds an extra layer of WTF that just increases the perfection, especially when experienced with a candle in hand and a hundred other fans singing along with you in a theater. 9. “Christmas in Hollis” – Run DMC Over the years there have been plenty of rappers rhyming about the holidays, but Run DMC’s video featuring an elf who tries to steal their presents and a Santa Claus pulled by a pit bull wearing antlers is the O.G. Xmas jam. 8. “Christmas is All Around” – Billy Mack The UK versions of the LOVE, ACTUALLY video releases included an extra music video featuring Bill Nighy’s complete performance of Billy Mack’s holiday hit, and it’s incredible. So what if all they did was take an old song and change the word “love” to “Christmas”? If you really love Christmas, come on and let it snow!

7. “Merry Christmas” – *NSYNC Okay, plenty of you are going to disagree with this one, but that’s because you only listen to the horribly repetitive lyrics and don’t spend your time watching the extras in the music video. Why is Gary Coleman working for Santa, and why does he think that a boy band is the perfect replacement for delivering presents when Santa’s ill? Was the budget for this entire video $6.50 and a green screen? And where did all the hos come from in the wholesome family scene? These questions haunt me every year. 6. “Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth” – David Bowie & Bing Crosby Christmas united the generations when David Bowie agreed to appear on BING CROSBY’S MERRIE OLDE CHRISTMAS for this duet simply because, as Bowie put it, “I just knew my mother liked him.” Then he told the producer of the special, “I hate this song. Is there something else I could sing?” before absolutely nailing this performance. If we wanted to recreate this today, David Bowie would have to be the old man with Miley Cyrus singing with him. Let’s make sure that never happens. 5. “Feliz Navidad” – Charo Paul Reubens loves connecting with other performers who become their characters, and when he welcomed María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, aka Charo, to perform on PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE with him it was the start of a lifelong friendship. In this clip she sings “Feliz Navidad” while a blindfolded Pee Wee tries to hit a piñata, resulting in the perfect moment for an explosion of confetti when we do these shows in the theater.

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4. “Dick in a Box” – The Lonely Island Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg unleashed their alter egos for the first time in this video about giving the women in their lives the one Christmas present they really wanted. Then of course lots of terrible humans turned it into a really crappy costume for frat parties and whatnot, but that’s not this video’s fault. Those people are awful; the original video is the greatest. 3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – U2 The video is nothing all that special -- just a black and white performance of U2 on a stage with Bono bending over to belt out the chorus a lot -- but this song is just so perfect that it really doesn’t need anything else. I’m one of those people that usually kind of hates U2, but this gets me every single time. 2. “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey I think my favorite part about this is listening to the theater

full of people getting really excited and trying to actually sing along and hit all of the notes. It’s impossible. 1. “Last Christmas” – Wham! I could spend four pages writing about how much I love this music video. The song is the catchiest thing ever. It’s a break up song set during Christmas, which is clearly a time when anyone going through a break up really needs something special and just for them. And the video features George Michael and Andre Ridgeley on a holiday with all their friends even though the girl that they’re singing about has apparently dumped George and taken up with Andre. Who would go on the same ski trip with the girl that broke his heart? Someone who doesn’t really care about girls at all… There you have it -- the Top Ten Greatest Music Videos for the Holidays. Check your local Alamo listings to see if there’s an XMAS POPS SING-ALONG in your neighborhood and you can join us as we sing loud and proud to all of these songs and more, and join the discussion online at BadassDigest.com if you want to tell me how wrong I am for choosing *NSYNC over Destiny Child’s “8 Days of Christmas.” 6

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / SEPTEMBER 2013

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BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013

BIRTH. MOVIES.DEATH. / NOVEMBER 2013