Beyoncé and Jay Z may be drunk in love, but this doesn't stop fans from taking sides.
Queen Bey and Hova have dominated their respective fields, and as their recent Grammy performance demonstrates, they have no problem publicly expressing their love for one another. As great as their collaborations are, however, they're both at their best when they perform alone. "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)," for example, is Beyoncé at her most iconic, and Jay Z's Reasonable Doubt remains one of the best albums in hip hop history. So it's only inevitable that we ask: who is better?
It's difficult to choose, but if I were to cast my vote, I'd say that Beyoncé is more talented but Jay Z is more influential. Nothing Jay Z has done can ever compare to his wife's latest album, but Beyoncé is following in the path of many divas, whereas Jay Z had to carve his own path as a global hip hop superstar. I'm fairly confident that pop and R&B music would still exist without Beyoncé, but I can't say the same about hip hop and Jay Z. Does this mean that Jay Z is better because he's had more of an impact, or that Beyoncé is better because her music is more consistently fantastic?
What do you think? Cast your vote below.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Each year, foreign films are among the most critically acclaimed, yet they fail to catch on with American audiences. In 2013 alone, Italy's The Great Beauty, France's Blue Is the Warmest Color, and Romania's Beyond the Hills were praised by critics, but they were overlooked at the American box office. It seems, generally, that American audiences are averse to subtitles, and instead prefer to sit back, relax, and let a film do all of the work. There is a misconception that all foreign films are "artsy" and "complicated," which causes American audiences to ignore them. Not only is this not true, but it's also a shame that leads us to missing out on some of the best films ever made. Below is a list of 10 foreign films that you should start watching immediately. These films don't require an appreciation for art-house cinema nor do they require a film studies degree. All that is needed is an open mind, an ability to read, and a love for the cinema.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)
Directed by Cristian Mungiu, this powerful Romanian film follows a young woman as she tries to obtain an illegal abortion for her friend. Set in the 1980s, the film is situated within the Romanian New Wave, a recent cinematic movement in which filmmakers come to terms with the consequences of the Ceausescu dictatorship. You can stream 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days on Netflix and Amazon.
The Best of Youth (2005)
I ordinarily wouldn't recommend a six-hour film to anyone, but now that we're in the age of binge watching, it's a propitious time for audiences to discover this gem from Italian director Marco Tullio Giordana. The film is an epic narrative of one family over the course of 40 years as they react to personal and political turmoil. Many critics, including A.O. Scott, listed this beautiful film as one of the best of the 2000s. You can stream The Best of Youth on Netflix.
The Edge of Heaven (2008)
Written and directed by Fatih Akin, this Turkish-German drama tells the story of a Turkish man who returns to Istanbul to find the daughter of his father's former girlfriend. It's a moving tale of the binds that tie families together and how they can be torn apart. You can stream The Edge of Heaven on Netflix and Amazon.
Mysteries of Lisbon (2011)
Like The Best of Youth, Mysteries of Lisbon is a long film, but the rewards are endless. Master director Raúl Ruiz has made the ultimate costume drama with this film, and audiences unknown to his work will surely be delighted, amazed, and enthralled. You can stream Mysteries of Lisbon on Amazon.
Jafar Panahi's Offside depicts the struggle women face in Iran through their exclusion from soccer stadiums. The film is often funny and endearing, but it never strays from the political message at its core. You can stream Offside on Amazon.
Oslo, August 31st (2012)
Joachim Trier's second feature film follows the day in the life of Anders, a young recovering drug addict, as he reunites with old friends and family. Olso, August 31st is a bittersweet film about the inevitability of change. You can stream Olso, August 31st on Netflix and Amazon.
The Piano Teacher (2002)
Isabelle Huppert gives a harrowing performance as a masochistic piano teacher in Michael Haneke's French erotic thriller. Haneke is known to most American audiences for his Oscar nominated love story Amour (2012), but it's here where his brilliance shines through. You can stream The Piano Teacher on Netflix.
From South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong, Poetry is a heartbreaking film about an older woman who struggles with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. In order to cope, she enrolls in a poetry class, and what follows is a melancholy meditation on memory and the mind's inability to cope with the past. You can stream Poetry on Netflix and Amazon.
Billed as the first feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and the first feature film made by a female Saudi director, Wadjda is a cultural landmark. Writer/director Haifaa al-Mansour has created an uplifting ode to female liberation in the face of oppression. Despite the film’s charming tone, there is a powerful political message at its core that cannot be forgotten: In many cultures, women remain disenfranchised. You can stream Wadjda on Amazon.
Waltz with Bashir (2008)
This animated documentary from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman comes to terms with the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Waltz with Bashir is a wildly ambitious film about the horrors of war and the ways individuals and nations respond to it. You can stream Waltz with Bashir on Amazon.
Tim Medvetz isn't a Hollywood guy. The former Hell's Angel turned activist doesn't have a head shot or an agent, and refuses to get caught up in celebrity culture. “I'm happiest when my iPhone and Internet don't work,” Medvetz tells Hollywood.com exclusively.
But when Nat Geo WILD approached Medvetz about hosting an adventure series for the network, they made an offer he couldn't refuse. The series, Going Wild, which premieres on Monday, allows Medvetz to inspire and make a difference in people's lives — something he's been doing since he founded The Heroes Project in 2009.
In Going Wild, Medvetz takes ordinary people living miserable, monotonous lives and drops them into some of the most dangerous regions of the United States including Mount St. Helens in Washington, the Owyhee Canyon lands on the border of Oregon, Nevada and Idaho, and the Moab Desert in Utah, forcing them to embark on mental, physical, and emotional journeys. “Society's gotten weak,” Medvetz says, “and the human body and spirit are a lot more capable than people think.” Medvetz pushes his guests to the limit and hopes that by the end of each episode they face their greatest fears and realize their strength.
Unlike the majority of reality television, Medvetz insists that Going Wild is unscripted. In fact, during filming, he refused the same perks the production team enjoyed. “While the crew was sleeping in hotels and ordering Subway, my guests and I were literally living off the land and drinking water from the creek,” Medvetz tells us. This grounds Going Wild in a level of excitement and authenticity that is missing from most television.
Despite the show's adventurous spirit, however, Medvetz believes that viewers will relate to the guests whose lives are stuck in a rut. “It's not about a day in my life. We're more interested in the ordinary people who are desperate for a change. Viewers will get that feeling and will want to better their lives,” Medvetz says.
You can watch the three episodes of Going Wild beginning on Monday, March 3 at 8 PM ET/PT.
Focus Features via Everett Collection
With the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel approaching, it's an appropriate time to look back at Wes Anderson's filmography and rank his contributions to the cinematic medium. An extremely eccentric and divisive filmmaker, Anderson is an uninhibited auteur. Those who love his work admire his quirky sensibility and meticulously designed compositions, and those who loathe his work find his films too precious and pretentious. I'm somewhere in the middle, and it usually depends on the particular project. Below are Anderson's films ranked from best to worst. Where do you think The Grand Budapest Hotel will fit when it hits theaters on March 7?
1. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
This whimsical love story is Anderson's greatest achievement. Like other Anderson films, Moonrise Kingdom contains marvelous set pieces and beautiful camerawork, but it's arguably the only one that makes a case for the preciousness so many people despise. This is a film about children, after all, and Anderson understands exactly how it feels to be young and misunderstood.
2. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
The most Andersonesque film of Anderson's career, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is full of the usual flourishes. It's completely strange, but Bill Murray anchors the film with a deadpan performance for the ages. How can you not love the Sigur Rós scene?
3. Bottle Rocket (1996)
Anderson's debut feature is a wildly funny caper that reinvigorates the heist movie and introduces the world to Anderson, Owen Wison, and Luke Wilson. Martin Scorsese rightfully named Bottle Rocket one of the best films of the 1990s.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums is Anderson's most popular film, with a stellar cast, perfect soundtrack, and a melancholy story of a fractured family. It doesn't quite work as a comedy, but it's a poignant, powerful drama.
5. Rushmore (1998)
This quirky coming-of-age comedy is a defining film of the 1990s and one of the hallmarks of the independent film movement. Bill Murray is terrific and Jason Schwartzman gives a typically off-kilter performance, but it doesn't hold up to Anderson's more recent work.
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2010)
The voices of Meryl Streep and George Clooney couldn't save Anderson's first and only foray into animation. Some fans and critics love it, but it's too odd and quirky for its own good, and the animation doesn't help.
7. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
While Fantastic Mr. Fox can be admired for its boldness, The Darjeeling Limited is a mere rehash of better Anderson films. With the exception of an excellent opening scene, this is the only film where Anderson seems to be slumming it.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
If you're like me, you love going to the movies. You are thankful for the accessibility digital streaming affords, but you can never replace the experience of the darkened movie theater. So let's get one thing straight: too many people simply don't know proper moviegoing etiquette. Not only are there rules of moviegoing, but there are also different rules that apply to different kinds of movies. Below is an in-depth explanation of these rules and why you should follow them.
Don't eat real food, everPopcorn and candy is one thing, but KFC is something entirely different. Chances are if I can smell your food from three rows back, you've gone too far.
Know what kinds of movies you can handleWhen I saw Blue is the Warmest Color recently, a group of teenage boys were laughing uncontrollably during the sex scenes. Everyone else in the theater began to hate them. Don't ever be in that group.
You can only show up late to a children's movieShowing up late to a movie is the most obnoxious thing you can do. If you're going to do it, make sure it's during an animated film that no one really wants to watch but children who are stimulated by anything. The children won't notice and the adults won't care.
Don't ask questionsOne of the actors in The Grand Budapest Hotel looks familiar, and you want to know who he is. It's tempting to ask your friend sitting next to you, but doing so disrupts everyone else in the theater. Just wait until the credits, or when you're back home at your computer. Hollywood.com exists for a reason, after all.
Don't judge a movie by its titleI remember when a mother brought her two young children to a 7 PM showing of Hot Tub Time Machine. She judged the movie by the title. It was the worst decision of her life.
You must always clap when Meryl Streep is on screenDo I really need to explain this one?
First dates are limited to bad moviesYou just met someone you're enamored of and want to take him or her out on a date. Dinner and a movie sounds tempting, but if it's your first date, please don't take this special someone to the latest Oscar contender. No one in the audience wants to watch you try to build a relationship in two hours. Instead, check out Son of God. This way, your attempt at courtship will be the audience's entertainment when the movie sucks.
None of these rules apply to midnight moviesIf you're at a midnight showing of The Room, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection
The Independent Spirit Awards used to honor the innovation and creativity of filmmakers who made great films under limited budget constraints. In 1985, the first ISA for Best Feature went to Martin Scorsese's After Hours, an ambitious dark comedy that was ignored at the Oscars. This was before a Scorsese picture opened on 3,000 screens, and before the American public began to embrace his work. In short, the award recognized a talented filmmaker who dared to challenge cinematic conventions and push the limits of artistic expression.
Now, Film Independent, the non-profit organization that selects the nominees and winners for the annual Independent Spirit Awards, merely exists to boost small films that don't need the attention. Its purpose, it seems, is to celebrate films and performances that are already being lauded by critics and other, more popular awards shows like the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
For example, the nominees for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, which airs on IFC on Saturday, March 1 at 10 PM, include 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine, and Dallas Buyers Club. These titles sound familiar to anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past year, precisely because they're the most critically acclaimed films of the year, and have received awards attention from nearly every group including the Oscars. The frontrunners for the major Oscar categories are similarly nominated for Independent Spirit Awards this year, including 12 Years a Slave for Best Feature, Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor, Cate Blanchett for Best Actress, Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor, and Lupita Nyong'o for Best Supporting Actress.
The films and performances nominated by Film Independent this year are certainly worthy of our attention and admiration. However, they don't belong at the Independent Spirit Awards. The whole point of this awards show, after all, is to give credit to films that aren't on the average moviegoer's radar, and to celebrate filmmakers who don't get acknowledged with a Golden Globe and Oscar. The point is not to give another trophy to Cate Blanchett.
What has happened, it seems, is that the Independent Spirit Awards have lost their independent spirit. If you revisit past years, you'll find that only a few films nominated for Independent Spirit Awards are also recognized at the Oscars. Now, the overwhelming majority is Oscar bait.
Claire Denis' Bastards, Amy Seimetz's Sun Don't Shine, Frederick Wiseman's At Berkeley, and Ben Wheatley's Sightseers are just a few independent films that weren't recognized by the Independent Spirit Awards this year. The ones that have been recognized, like Blue is the Warmest Color and All is Lost, you've already heard of.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
HOLLYWOOD SHOULD STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of The Monuments Men proves anything, it's that Hollywood should stop making Holocaust movies.
There's no denying that The Holocaust was a horrific event, and that we should make every effort to remind young generations that terrible tragedies can occur when individuals become corrupted by power. However, just as disturbing is Hollywood's endless need to exploit this tragedy for the pursuit of profit.
It was Theodor Adorno who once said, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Adorno's point is especially relevant when we consider the constant circulation of Holocaust movies like The Monuments Men. In order to understand the problem, it's important to realize that George Clooney and his co-stars are cashing in on this movie, as are the major Hollywood studies that produce it. Hollywood is a business after all, and we all know that there's no better way to attract moviegoers than to release another "important" story about the Holocaust. In this particular case, we follow a group of American soldiers who are sent to rescue artwork from the Nazis, because apparently artwork is more important than people.
There was a time when it was necessary for Hollywood to make Holocaust movies. Film is popular entertainment, and it has the potential to enlighten the masses about this brutal event in history. However, we already have Schindler's List (1993) and The Pianist (2002), and there are hundreds of excellent, important documentaries worth renting. What we don't need, and what Hollywood keeps giving us, is American movie stars like Clooney and Matt Damon engaging in witty banter through World War II rubble. We aren't going to benefit from Kate Winslet hanging herself at the end of the The Reader (2008). And we especially aren't going to be moved by Brad Pitt's collection of Nazi scalps in Inglorious Basterds (2009). It appears that Hollywood failed to understand that they were only supposed to make one or two important movies about the Holocaust. Instead, they've unleashed a genre.
Hollywood has made movie after movie about the Holocaust to the point where audiences become so distant from the real event that they only think about it in terms of cinematic conventions. Last year, for example, critics and audiences panned The Book Thief (2013) for being too "sappy" and "precious." And maybe it was, but we've gone too far if we're judging Holocaust movies by the same standards that we judge a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
The Holocaust was a horrific, brutal event, and we must remember and honor its victims. To do this, Hollywood must stop making Holocaust movies.
HOLLYWOOD SHOULDN'T STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of George Clooney's film The Monuments Men — based on Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History — proves anything, it’s that Hollywood can still create emotional and compelling films about the Holocaust.
Though World War II is a dark time in the world’s history that many would like to forget, we shouldn't. Of course, many fans of cinema will tell you that we have enough movies focusing on this period of time. Some might even say Hollywood should have stopped after creating Schindler’s List. However, the Holocaust will never stop being part of the world’s history, and Hollywood should never be told to stop creating films based on the subject.
History shouldn’t just be taught by school teachers or textbooks; history can be taught by survivors, by those choosing to tell the survivors' story. History can be learned through any medium whether it's a factual first account or a fictional retelling, like Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
Perhaps some moviegoers see mentions of the Holocaust as cheap plays on sentimentality, but it also shouldn't be a topic Hollywood wholly avoids — especially in non-historical films. Two specific movies come to mind: The Avengers makes a brief allusion to the World War II and Magneto’s revenge story in X-Men: First Class deals with a survivor’s story — a very fictional survivor who can control metal with his mind, but still.
However, both these films are impactful in different ways. The scene in The Avengers that references the Holocaust is amazing. An old man stands up to Loki, who presumes to be Earth’s one true ruler, and tells him he is nothing special; there will always be men who wish to subjugate humankind and they will always be defeated. Similarly, Magneto’s storyline in X-Men gives the character agency so that he is not simply a one-dimensional victim archetype.
The fact that we can still be moved by the Holocaust — whether it’s in a superhero flick or a serious drama like The Monuments Men — is an important factor to respecting and immortalizing history. Holocaust films should not be disregarded simply because someone is tired of remembering something uncomfortable.
Paramount via Everett Collection
Kate Winslet has given some amazing performances. She's brilliant as a depressed suburbanite in Little Children (2006), as a depressed suburbanite in Revolutionary Road (2008), and as a depressed suburbanite in the recently released Labor Day (2013).
Admirers of Winslet often place her alongside Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman as one of the best actresses of her generation. She's received many awards and nominations, including a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Reader (2008) as a depressed woman who might as well live in the suburbs. All of this leads to the question: is Kate Winslet overrated?
When we measure greatness in acting, we should consider versatility. Winslet has acted in over 20 movies and she's played some variation of sorrow in the majority of them. In addition to the aforementioned films, she's acted in Sense and Sensibility (1995), Jude (1996), Titanic (1997), and Finding Neverland (2004).
It seems that there are two roles that Winslet often plays. The first is the depressed woman who struggles to find happiness in contemporary suburban America. The second is the depressed woman who struggles to find happiness in a different time period.
Winslet supporters may cite the lack of female roles as a defense, and claim that Winslet is merely doing the best she can with what she's given. If this is so, then what do we make of Blanchett's diverse performances as Queen Elizabeth, Bob Dylan, and the living trainwreck that is Jasmine French? What about Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone, Virginia Woolf, and Charlotte Bless?
Winslet has indeed been fantastic in many films, but the difference between her and other great actresses like Blanchett and Kidman is that Winslet hasn't shown her versatility. With the exception of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Carnage (2011), two vastly underrated Winslet performances, she's played the same, sad woman time and time again.
Here's hoping that Winslet does something different in her next film.
What do you think?
Season 4 of Louie is expected to return to FX this May. Fans of the television series, which is created, written, and directed by Louis C.K., are aware of the comedian's complete artistic and creative control over the material, and we trust that C.K. will do everything he can to make the show as great as the first three seasons. To begin the anticipation, below is a list of things that would make Season 4 one for the ages.
Multi-episode arcsAlthough Louie is known for its lack of continuity, some of the most fascinating stuff happens in stories that span more than one episode. Season 3, for example, gave us "Daddy's Girlfriend," a harrowing portrait of a date gone wrong, and it remains the show's greatest achievement.
Guest starsThe best thing about Louie is its perfectly cast guest stars. Among the more notable ones have been Ricky Gervais as Louie's hilariously inappropriate doctor, Melissa Leo as Louie's sexually aggressive date, and (perhaps best of all) David Lynch as Louie's professional mentor. Not to mention cameo appearances by Robin Williams and F. Murray Abraham. Here's hoping that Season 4 surprises us with more guest stars.
FlashbacksEvery now and then, a Louie episode will provide a glimpse into Louie's childhood. The Season 1 episode "God," in which a young Louie contemplates the existence of a higher power, is already a classic; in "Poker/Divorce," Louie reminisces on a former classmate to hilarious results. It would be fun in Season 4 to witness Louie's first attempts at stand-up comedy, or even to observe how he interacted as a teenager.
PamelaIt's been a while since we've seen Pamela (Pamela Adlon), Louie's love interest from Seasons 1 and 2 who turned him down before moving to France to live with her son and ex-husband. Although Louie has always avoided the conventions of television storytelling, few fictional relationships are as authentic and moving as the one shared between Pamela and Louie. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it would be a beautiful moment if Pamela returns.
DaughtersLouie understandably revolves around the comedian's daily adventures, but it's always lovely to observe his interactions with his daughters Lilly (Hadley Delany) and Jane (Ursula Parker). Now that they're getting older, it'd be interesting to see how this relationship is tested, and whether or not it can sustain through adolescence.
Cinema's most controversial filmmaker Lars Von Trier is back with Nymphomaniac, a two-part, four-hour film that many are describing as a cerebral sex odyssey. Judging from the various clips and posters, the film intends to shock and provoke the viewer with its frank depiction of sexuality. However, it's also the work of a brilliant artist whose contribution to cinema cannot be underestimated. Whether you're familiar with the Danish filmmaker's work or are curious to jump on the bandwagon now, below is a list of things to expect from Nymphomaniac to ensure that you are prepared for its VOD release on March 6.
It's sexual, duh
The title, trailers, and posters aren't misleading: Nymphomaniac is a graphic film about sexuality. This shouldn't surprise anyone, but it bears repeating in case anyone had doubts. However, it should be noted that the film isn't pornographic, and those who have seen The Idiots or Antichrist will be able to handle it.
It's made for the art-house crowd
Sex sells and the film's marketing campaign has gone viral, but moviegoers interested in mainstream entertainment should look elsewhere. Nymphomaniac, like Von Trier's other films, is a challenging, confrontational work that forces the viewer to contemplate deep themes. If that isn't your thing, you've been warned.
The actors aren't actually having sex
Although some of the sex scenes look extremely real, Von Trier had the body parts of pornography actors digitally composited onto the body parts of the film's cast. So if you were hoping to see Uma Thurman get it on with Shia LaBeouf, you're going to be disappointed.
The film will be released on demand
Those who would rather watch the film in private are in luck, as are the art-house lovers who don't live in a major city. On March 6, Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 will be on demand, and on March 21, the film will be released in selected theaters. Nymphomaniac: Volume II will be on demand on April 3, and in selected theaters on April 18.
Early word of mouth is positive
Whether you're a lover of cinema or a Lars Von Trier fanatic, you can rest knowing that critics so far are praising Nymphomaniac, with some even suggesting that it's Von Trier's best film. This is especially reassuring for those who worried that Von Trier would forgo artistic expression for cheap provocation.
Are you excited to see Nymphomaniac? Let us know what you think below.