"Who is this Veronica Mars chick and why is she all over Twitter?"
It's a question that must have struck many Internet-savvy folks after Wednesday's Kickstarter project to raise money for the former UPN/CW crime drama's followup film took over social media. But Rob Thomas' Veronica Mars isn't just "some chick" all over Twitter, the teen series is an important piece of television history, and one whose light was snuffed out far too soon after being cherished by too few TV fans back in 2007. To put it simply, Veronica Mars is wildly significant, whether or not you were lucky enough to experience its magnificence.
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I get it. Not everyone was glued to UPN on Wednesday nights, clamoring to see what bad assery Veronica (the impossibly loveable Kristen Bell) would pull this week to solve the next piece of a season-long mystery. If they were, we'd probably still be following Mars through her post-collegiate sleuthing adventures. The San Diego-based teen sleuth wasn't your cheesy caricature of a young detective, like some schlocky version of Harriet the Spy hits puberty. She was a complex, dark character who towed the line between the dark recesses of gang life and petty crime worlds and the equally dark realm of high school, and one who did so with all the pithy charm of Lauren Graham's Loreli Gilmore. In a landscape of teen dramas where the biggest problems were parents' rules and moody boyfriends, Veronica Mars gave us a series about high school that didn't talk down to us, that trusted its young audience with a truer, gritty depiction of the hell that is teen life.
Veronica Mars: Feminist Hero?
It wasn't just the realm of high school drama on television that got a boost from Veronica Mars. The realm of pop culture heroines got a bit of a payout from her entry into the television lexicon too. True, Veronica had her share of boyfriends - including rich boy with a heart of gold Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), rich boy with a penchant for bad behavior Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), and for a short time the persistent young cop Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield) — but even when that romantic drama was drawing us in (and leaving us gasping in terror when the final episode ever left the Veronica-Logan question unresolved), Mars' true draw was her wit, wisdom, fearlessness, and intelligience. Veronica really could do anything, and not because of some super power or element of uncanny access (if anything she had a lack of access as she and her private eye father lived in a cheesy San Diego apartment building on the wrong side of the tracks), but because of her lightning-fast brain and street smarts.
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Veronica is a character who solves the age-old problem of a strong lady sleuth overwhelmed by elements that undermine her abilities in many of the same ways Buffy Summers' vampire aggression did for teens in the horror genre. Even Alias' Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) occasionally fell prey to the sexy femme fatale element of sleuthing that Bell's character manages to sidestep. Yes, Veronica was a sexually active character, but she is truthful to the truth of the teenage experience without wearing her sexuality on her sleeve. Her clothing of choice was a light jacket over a t-shirt and jeans, leather boots and her ever-present messenger bag. Even while her high school cohorts were tempting boys with short skirts and low-cut tops, Veronica was all business. At the end of the day, she was more concerned with helping her school mates and finding the truth than wearing the right clothes to attract some drooling dolt (one of whom was played to perfection on the series by the ever-present Ryan Hanson).
It's an element that allowed Veronica, who was very much a high school student, to feel relevant to more than just teen audiences. The gritty reality of Veronica's character was something that could appeal to viewers from every demographic, even if the cheesy promos didn't do their best to draw those folks in.
Is that Veronica, or Phillip Marlowe?
One thing that drives careful TV viewers crazy is a mystery for the sake of a mystery. With the sheer number of crime shows on television, it's impossible not to be a whiz at solving a CSI or Law & Order mystery halfway through the episode (or if you're really good, five minutes into each episode). The beauty of the season-long and one-off mysteries on Veronica Mars is that they truly were mysteries and oddities. The answers were never predictable, but without the big reveal dropping in like the world's most obnoxious red herring. Mysteries on Veronica Mars didn't carry the schlocky feel that the word itself seems to contain; they felt real and immediate and most importantly, there was never a moment in which Veronica's journey ever felt safe. At any moment, our spunky blonde pixie could find herself in a world of hurt at the hands of Irish gangsters, weathly crooks, or even serial campus rapists. Veronica's uncovering of the truth never stopped short of the uncomfortable reality of her education-adjacent profession, the series consistently presented a more truthful reality for Veronica's chosen life.
Critics and even horror writer Stephen King compared the critically acclaimed series to beloved mystery writer Raymond Chandler and Thomas' teen sleuth to Chandler's hero Phillip Marlowe (famously portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep). For any work of fiction aimed at mystery-solving, this is just about the highest compliment anyone could pay.
Sure, it could be argued that a hell of a lot trouble came upon this teenager, but much like Walter White asks for every bit of drug world drama he finds himself in, Veronica relentlessly goes looking for deeper, darker, and more dangerous mysteries. Also, her father is a P.I., so it's kind of her God-given mode of operation.
Most Importantly: It's Fun
Ideas of feminist progression and the high-minded praise of the series' eye for mystery aside, Veronica Mars is simply the best kind of entertainment: the fun kind. It combined the entertaining class-warfare of Fox's The O.C. with Chandler-level mystery and quippy dialogue that would make Amy Sherman-Pallidino (Gilmore Girls, Bunheads) proud. The audience draws were stacked, so much so that I still can't understand why more viewers weren't tuning into the impeccably-written drama.
Veronica's cohorts including her father (Enrico Colantoni), her best friends (Percy Daggs III and Tina Majorino), her nemeses (Ken Marino, Steve Gutenberg - yes, really - and Michael Muhney), and even guest stars (including Greenfield, Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried, Krysten Ritter, and Dianna Agron, to name a few) were all fantastically complex characters too with their own mysterious backstories and skeletons in their respective closets. And some of them, namely Daggs, Marino, and Greenfield, were almost as hilariously witty as Veronica herself.
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Naturally, when this fantastic, teenage-experience-defining series ended abruptly with a cliffhanger and no hope of future resolution aside from a disappointing faux-trailer on the final season's DVD that teased Veronica heading off to join the FBI, fans were left writhing in withdrawal. If you can't understand the fervor from a place of experience, we understand, many a Veronica Mars fan was lonely in their praise of the short-lived series. But hopefully, with a little context, the outpouring of joy all over the Internet after the Veronica Mars movie met its $1 million goal in just a day finally makes sense. And if we (and Warner Bros.) are lucky, it just might give you the push to accept Veronica Mars, the incomperable spitfire, into your life too.
Of course, if all this pontificating isn't enough to convince you, you could always enjoy this compilation of great Veronica moments, complete with the full Dandy Warhols-provided theme song and everything:
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: The CW]
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
Marshall worked with the Edward Scissorhands hunk on the new blockbuster Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and instantly asked Depp to star in his remake of 1934 thriller The Thin Man.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Marshall revealed he is convinced Depp will be classed in the same category as Hollywood's famed leading men, including Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, long after his screen career ends.
He tells the publication, "He's as vivid as those great stars of the past, Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable and Errol Flynn. Many, many, many years from now, when people look at this generation of Hollywood, he will be considered the great star of this era. He's his own thing and he takes major chances every single time he makes a film.
"He's like a Rudolph Valentino. He has such a command of expression without words. The humour and the feelings he can convey with his face alone is extraordinary."
The American Film Institute's top 100 lists now include the best American screen romances--and Casablanca wins the top honors.
The ultra-romantic film starring Humphrey Bogart as bar owner Rick Blaine and the exquisite Ingrid Bergman as his long-lost love, Ilsa, took the No. 1 spot when CBS aired the special AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Tuesday night.
The rest of the top 10, in order, included Gone with the Wind, West Side Story, Roman Holiday, An Affair to Remember, The Way We Were, Doctor Zhivago, It's a Wonderful Life, Love Story and City Lights.
The oldest film to make it on the list was the 1920 Way Down East, which came in at No. 71, while the most recent film was the 1998 Shakespeare in Love at No. 50.
The range was very broad: from the hilarious, such as Annie Hall (No. 11) and When Harry Met Sally... (No. 25), to the tragic, such as Wuthering Heights (No. 15) and Titanic (No. 37).
During the broadcast, a myriad of directors, producers and actors gave their two cents about the choices on the list and pondered the question: What makes a love story great?
"At the end of the day, it's what happens between a man and a woman on the screen," When Harry Met Sally... said director Rob Reiner , who also had two other films make it to the list, The American President (No. 75) and The Princess Bride (No. 88). "It's a very different approach to that in all three cases with my films."
Director Sydney Pollack, whose film Out of Africa was No. 13 on the list, added, "When there's real closure in a love story and it's resolved in a happy way, it doesn't reverberate as much afterward. That's been true from Greek tragedy on, from Shakespeare on. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Heloise and Abelard. Many great love stories have been about unobtainability."
According to AP, AFI began its tradition of annual lists on different movie themes four years ago. The top 100 screen romances were chosen by about 1,800 directors, actors, studio executives, critics and others in Hollywood, who voted from a field of 400 nominated films.
Rosie O'Donnell reveals in the August issue of her magazine Rosie that she has been depressed for years, according to Entertainment Tonight. She originally resisted taking medication, fearing it was a cowardly way to live, but has now been on antidepressants for two years. The talk show host said she was pushed over the edge by the Columbine shootings and a celebrity benefit she attended, where she found herself sobbing throughout the evening.
Singer Rick Springfield broke his arm during a performance at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, The Associated Press reports. He treated and released Tuesday at University Medical Center. The singer fell from a 20-foot high beam that is used to lower him on to the stage in the show's last scene. In EFX Alive, Springfield takes the audience on a journey to the worlds of wizard Merlin, showman P.T. Barnum, illusionist Harry Houdini and sci-fi writer H.G. Wells.
A park honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, a k a Dr.Seuss, will open in Springfield, Mass., on June 1, AP reports. The Seuss Heritage Park and National Memorial will feature 30 bronze statues of Geisel's literary characters including Horton, Thidwick the Moose and Cat in the Hat. Geisel's stepdaughter, Lark Diamod-Kates, designed the sculptures. Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
To commemorate the comedienne's 90th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Lucille Ball, Reuters reports. The stamp will be the seventh in the Postal Service's Legend of Hollywood Series. Others have included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Ball, who was best known for her 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy, died in 1989 at the age of 78.
William Dail, the road manager for Insane Clown Posse, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for choking an Eminem fan, AP reports. The fan apparently held up an Eminem T-shirt and chucked some M&M candies at two clowned-faced band members following an Insane Clown Posse concert in Omaha, Neb., in May. The 24-year-old man was taken outside where Dail then choked him until he blacked out. Dail agreed to plead guilty of one count of disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said in two magazine articles that his arrest in April was not due to a chronic drug habit but sporadic use, Reuters reports. Sorkin was arrested at a Burbank airport in April after airport employees found marijuana, crack and hallucinogenic mushrooms in his bag. Sorkin told TV Guide that he has broken his sobriety since 1997 by occasional drug use. He said he would smoke pot from time to time to relax, and likened it to having a martini at the end of a long day. Sorkin also said he used crack less than five times in the last two years. In a September issue of Talk magazine, Sorkin said he would used drugs after work to celebrate the pressure being off. "There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know it,"he said.
Robert Downey Jr. was back at work on Tuesday. Variety reports that the actor filmed a music video for the song I Want Love, the first single from Elton John's new CD Songs From the West Coast. Ed Limato, Downey's agent, said that the actor had received several important offers in film and TV roles.
A new biography of Natalie Wood claims the actress was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, the BBC reports. According to author Suzanne Finstad, Woods was 16 when she was raped by a "powerful, married movie star." Finstad chose not to name the actor so that people would focus on Wood's horror and trauma. She also added that Wood's mother conspired to keep the rape a secret. The book also details the events leading up to the actress' drowning in 1981 during a boat trip with actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Wagner has said there are many errors in the book and is upset that the inaccuracies have been published.
Director Steven Spielberg has decided to scale down his plans for a riding ring complex at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Neighbors initially objected to the plan, saying the 27,000-square-foot domed monstrosity would clash with the rustic style of the nearby homes. Spielberg reworked the plans and came up with a smaller dome-less version that has met with local approval. The stable will house four or five horses and be surrounded by a 6-foot high gate.
Mick Jagger will release his fourth solo album in November, Virgin Records has announced. According to Reuters, Jagger, 58, has been recording the album with Pete Townshend, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas.
Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary all-star concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in less than five hours, AP reports. Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years will be Jackson's first with his brothers since the 1994 Victory tour in 1984. Other artists scheduled to appear are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and N 'Sync. Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Willem Dafoe and Macaulay Culkin will also pay tribute to the pop star.