Brittany Runs a Marathon

Posted on August 29, 2019 at 5:35 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, sexuality and some drug material
Profanity: Strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking and drunkenness, drugs, references to addiction
Violence/ Scariness: Injury, references to
Date Released to Theaters: August 30, 2019

Copyright Amazon Studios 2019
The title of this film, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” is not really a spoiler. Yes, it is an inspiring story of a young woman named Brittany (Jillian Bell, outstanding in her first lead role) who has a sobering visit with a doctor, an equally sobering visit with an expensive gym. She decides that since running is free, she will start with just one block and see — literally — where that takes her. But the real story of the film is about what she discovers along the way about herself and the people around her. Her real problem was not being overweight. Her real problem was what being overweight helped her hide from.

Brittany feels that she is both stuck and drifting. As she approaches 30, her friends all seem to be settling into jobs and relationships while she is still living in college slacker mode, sharing an apartment with her BFF Gretchen (Alice Lee), and barely managing her internship-level job with a small theater group. Brittany is in debt, goes out partying nearly every night, goofs off at work, and makes fun of a neighbor they call “Moneybags Martha,” scrolls through social media to look at everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives, and tries very hard not to notice how awful she feels.

Brittany goes to a doctor because she says she cannot focus and asks him for Adderall. He tells her, as sympathetically as he can, that what she has to do is lose 50 pounds. She cannot afford a gym. The longest journey begins with a single step. And so, she begins with a run for just one block.

First-time writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo was inspired by the real-life story of his friend Brittany (glimpsed over the closing credits). It would have been easy and probably very popular for him to make a feel-good Cinderella story, with losing weight playing the role of the fairy godmother; makeover stories are hard to resist. But Colaizzo tells a smarter, subtler, more meaningful story here, with structural, symbolic, and character-based moments that illuminate Brittany’s growing understanding of herself and her world. Repeated incidents of Brittany racing for a subway as the door is closing are as important in marking the story’s development as the more conventional shots of the number on the scale as she weighs herself. The diverse cast is especially welcome, and Calaizzo balances the Lil Rel Howery character’s near-saintly level of advice and support with more flawed characters like her frenemy Gretchen, her new running buddy Seth (Micah Stock), and someone as lost as Brittany and almost as defensive, Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar).

We see that Brittany was not just heavy; she was numb. Any time she felt vulnerable or uncomfortable she made a silly joke or put on a silly accent. And that was most of the time. There were so many things she didn’t want to think about: being sad and scared as a child, feeling lost and unloved now. The reason she feels unfocused is not because she needs Adderall; it is because all of her emotional energy is put into not focusing on why she feels hopeless. Learning to be honest with herself is more painful and much more terrifying than running a little longer every day. And there is something even more terrifying: allowing herself to get close to other people, to allow other people to get close to her.

Bell has acknowledged that this story hit close to home for her. For us, as audience, we have known her as a comic performer with a gift for delightfully offbeat quips. Her fight scene with Jonah Hill in “22 Jump Street” is a loopy delight. Here, like Brittany, she has to let go of her natural reflex for comedy to allow us to see her character’s pain. Seeing Bell open up to show us how Brittany opens up as she learns to judge other people — and herself — less harshly is what makes this movie one of the summer’s sweetest surprises.

Parents should know that this movie includes some strong and vulgar language, sexual references, some crude, and sexual situations, drinking and drug use, reference to addiction, and references to family dysfunction and stress.

Family discussion: What upset Brittany about the couple at her brother-in-law’s party? Why was it so hard for her to accept help? What did she learn about Gretchen and why didn’t she see it before?

If you like this, try: “Wild,” “Tracks” and the recent “Sword of Truth,” also featuring Bell and Watkins

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Based on a true story Comedy Drama movie review Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews Romance

Trailer: Meryl Strep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Benderas in “The Laundromat”

Posted on August 28, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Steven Soderbergh’s new film stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone, Antonio Banderas, “Big Bang Theory’s” Melissa Rauch, “Friends” star David Schwimmer, James Cromwell, Matthias Schoenaerts, Robert Patrick, Will Forte, and Jeffrey Wright in the story of a massive global fraud revealed in a stunning series of reports from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Coming to Netflix — can’t wait.

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Nostalgia Con: MTV’s Original VJs and a Goonies Reunion!

Posted on August 27, 2019 at 10:15 pm

Go back to the 80’s and earlier at Nostalgia Con, which will take place in Anaheim Sept 28-29 featuring panels and celebrities.

Here’s what they have to say about the plans:

In the spirit of great Con experiences, NostalgiaCon will also unite 80s pop culture fans with their beloved celebs through throwback panels, Q&As, and a major celebrity pavilion for professional photo opps and autograph sessions. Panels include film and TV reunions, signature Talks with the Legends, and topics ranging from the rise of sneaker culture and much more.

All the panels and sessions will take place daily on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

In the spirit of great Con experiences, NostalgiaCon will also unite 80s pop culture fans with their beloved celebs through throwback panels, Q&As, and a major celebrity pavilion for professional photo ops and autograph sessions. Panels include film and TV reunions, signature Talks with the Legends, and topics ranging from the rise of sneaker culture and much more.

All the panels and sessions will take place daily on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m..

Saturday, September 28

Musings and Crazy Remembrances from the Original MTV VJs

In the annals of ‘80s pop culture, few individuals can say they impacted an ENTIRE music generation as much as the original MTV VJs – and NostalgiaCon is proud to bring you three of them – Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, and Alan Hunter. This is the first time they have EVER appeared at a convention together and oh, have they got stories to tell!

For the Love of Boomboxes: A Retrospective Look at Their Impact in Hip Hop Culture and How to Collect Them

Boomboxes not only helped birth today’s Hip Hop culture, they were also the urban fireplaces for millions of kids who played, danced and made friends with them outdoor from L.A. to New York and many parts in between. In this session, you’ll hear about the impact of these metallic machines, how they evolved and why their footprints are all over today’s Hip Hop culture. “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” star Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers, who gained worldwide fame for creating the liquid animation style of dance, is moderating.

Of Time Travel and Taxis: A Sit-down with Christopher Lloyd

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of “Back to the Future II”, NostalgiaCon is proud to present an in-depth sit-down with all-time ‘80s fan favorite Christopher Lloyd. Join us as we discuss BTTF as well as several of his most iconic role, including Judge Doom in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and Reverend Jim Ignatowski on TV’s “Taxi.”

Yo, Yo, Yo: The B-Boys Are in the House!

Breakdancing became such an instant and sustained hit in the ‘80s that it spawned numerous movies, TV shows and fashion trends – some of which continue today. In this session, two of the world’s top hip hop dance innovators, including Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers of “Breakin” team up to share the stories behind their enigmatic dances.

They Came and They Conquered: A Fun Retrospective on the Second British Invasion

We might be bias but the Second British Invasion was definitely larger and more over the top with music that spanned EVERY genre and fashion trends that weren’t left behind. New Wave music legend Martin Frye of ABC, Martha Davis of The Motels, and Monie Love join us for a fun and no holds barred look at the last great British Invasion.

‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Reunion with Loni Anderson and Howard Hessman

If may not have been MTV, but when it came to minting music stars for pop culture, the scrappy sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” was notorious for finding some great ones. That’s because everyone who was watching the wacky sitcom about life in a radio station were just as closely listening to the songs the show was spinning and that formula helped bands like Blondie, Devo and The Cars become as big as they are today in pop history. Join us for a retro reunion with stars Loni Anderson (“Jennifer Marlowe”) and Howard Hessman (aka “Johnny Fever”) as they unpack stories about one of the “smartest” and most influential comedies of all time.

A Conversation with ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Dawn Wells

No ‘80s kids could survive the decade’s limited TV offerings without watching reruns of the “Gilligan’s Island” sitcom. In this session, we’ll take a “fateful trip” as we sit down with Dawn Wells, who played the show’s pony-tailed country bumpkin Mary Anne.

‘80s Cosplay Fashion Show and Competition

The ‘80s will be visually celebrated in an epic way with an event-wide cosplay fashion show and competition that is sure to light up social media. This instrumental part of NostalgiaCon is being produced in partnership with the veteran cosplay organization Nerd Mafia. Some of the real celebrities inspiring NostalgiaCon’s cosplay will actually be in attendance at show.

‘80s Car Show

The show will feature an ‘80s Car Show with some of the most iconic vehicles of films and real life, including the Delorean from “Back to the Future” and an Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters.” The car show runs both days of the event.

National Boombox Museum

NostalgiaCon will see the debut of the National Boombox Museum, one of this year’s shows most iconic exhibitions and one that will feature many of the decade’s coolest music machines. The museum will operate both days of the event.

New Wave Concert Night

ABC and The Motels are confirmed to perform for an epic ‘80s pop culture night of New Wave Music. More music news to come!

Sunday, September 29

Max Headroom is the Original Meme and That’s the T-T-T-Truth!

Every single meme in existence today owes its life in one way or another to Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) and you can take that to the b-b-b-bank! When Max Headroom entered popular culture in 1985, no one knew what to make of the stylish, stuttering, digital character. Max Headroom would go on to star in his own TV show and would even become the celebrity character that launched the short-lived launch of New Coke. Matt Frewer will unpack everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Max Headroom and we can’t w-w-w-wait!

I Said a Hip Hop…The Incredible Story Behind the World’s First Hip Hop Smash Hit

The Sugar Hill Gang may not have given birth to Hip Hop but they sure introduced something wonderfully strange to the world in 1980, when they catapulted Hip Hop worldwide with their smash hit single “Rapper’s Delight”. This is the story behind THE song story that helped make Hip Hop what it is today.

Intrigue, Hate, Greed: Yep, it’s a Dallas Reunion!

If the ‘80s is the Decade of Decadence, Greed and Puffy Hair, no top-rated show exemplified the over the top style attitude and selfishness better than “Dallas”. Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), and Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing) unite to dish on one of the “dishable” shows of them all and, yes, they’ll make JR proud.

Origins of the Black Action Hero: A Conversation with Taimak, Star of ‘The Last Dragon’

Even though “The Karate Kid” was a larger commercial success, the ‘80s also gave us another martial arts champion icon with Taimak as Bruce Leroy in the cult classic “The Last Dragon”. This is the movie that brought us the first Black Action Hero in movie history and Taimak joins for a special retrospective on the kooky urban film some credit for blazing the trail to “Black Panther” today.

Smack, Whack, Bam: It’s The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling!

Hulk Hogan, Randy “The Macho Man” Savage and Andre “The Giant” may be biggest household names of ‘80s wrestling but for legions of cult fans, the top stars were over in the female side of ring: The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.). Today, GLOW is also the name of a wildly popular, fictionalized Netflix series but in this panel you’ll hear the stories from some of the original legends, including Roxy Astor, Gremlina, and MTV, among others.

Great Scott! Yes, You Can Build a ‘Back to the Future II’ Hoverboard and This is How You Do It

The original hoverboard from “Back to the Future II” may be safely tucked away in the Chicago Sports Museum but fortunately for fans, there is a way for you to make your own hoverboard. Jerry Lopez has cracked the code on how to do just that and in this workshop, he’s going to unpack the secrets to creating and celebrating the most famous hoverboard of all time – just in time for the 30th anniversary of the film this year. This session is a part of a conference-wide tribute that NostalgiaCon is paying event-wide to the Back to the Future trilogy.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about DeLoreans, the Most Famous Pop Culture Car in Movie History

Thanks to a beloved blockbuster movie franchise and legions of fanatical owners, DeLoreans have become engrained as one of the most iconic cars of all American pop culture. In this panel, we’ll explore the stories behind these glorious time machines, their creator John DeLorean, and how their passionate owners are ever-building on their movie star cars’ notoriety. If you’re a DeLorean Geek, this one’s for you!

Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! Join us for the ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Reunion

We could not get enough of Laverne (the late Penny Marshall) & Shirley (Cindy Williams). They were polar opposites but defined the meaning of true friendship in a sometimes unfair and zany world. Even though we sadly lost Marshall earlier this year, we’re hosting a “Laverne & Shirley Reunion” with the one and only Shirley Feeny (Cindy Williams) and Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa (Eddie Mekka), and it’s gonna be a real treat as they dish on all the hijinks behind the two-time Golden Globe Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award winning sitcom. We’re gonna make your dreams come true!

‘80s Mixed Tape Night Concerts

It’s hard to do justice to the full range of unbelievable music genres that the ‘80s produced but we’re gonna try anyway with an ‘80s Mixed Tape Night that already features The Sugar Hill Gang, Monie Love, TKA, Dokken, and Doug E Fresh. More closing night music concert news to come.

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Raffi’s New Songs About the Climate/Environment

Posted on August 26, 2019 at 8:15 pm

Raffi has been making families happy with his wonderful songs so long that today’s parents can remember singing along with Raffi with their own parents, probably songs like “Baby Beluga” and “Going to the Zoo.”

Copyright Raffi 2019

His two new songs address his concerns about climate change in a tuneful, frank but hopeful way. “Young People Marching” is a tribute to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who inspired climate marches by young people around the world. The song begins with her trademark clarity: “There is no middle ground when it comes to the climate and ecological emergency!”

“Do We Love Enough” is a melodic ballad that asks some tough but essential questions that we now face. “With our future in jeopardy … how can the kids dream and plan? … Will we do enough?”

These powerful songs mark an evolution in Raffi’s decades long advocacy for children and the Earth, and in the call for climate action heard in his 2007 song “Cool It.”

In a 2017 essay for NBC news, Raffi wrote, “Kids born today will face unprecedented global crises within their lifetimes, including the possible collapse of fisheries, accelerated mass extinctions, decimation of coral reefs and rising sea levels… Finding a remedy for our species is a matter of survival.”

Once called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world” (Washington Post) and “Canada’s all-time children’s champion” (Toronto Star), pioneering troubadour Raffi has spent more than four decades delighting successive generations of kids–and their parents– with his playful personality and timeless songs. In that time, he has recorded numerous gold and platinum albums and performed countless sold-out concerts.
Raffi has refused all commercial endorsement offers and has never advertised to children, a distinction for which he received the Fred Rogers Integrity Award. His non-profit Raffi Foundation advances Child Honouring as a universal ethic. An online course in Child Honouring is now offered for parents, educators and policy makers.

“Young Greta is the moral voice of our times,” says Raffi, “urging the world to action on the global climate emergency, the greatest threat to all our lives—a matter of survival.”

Stream “Young People Marching” and “Do We Love Enough?

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Environment/Green Music

Sheila O’Malley on “Bacting” — Acting from the Back

Posted on August 24, 2019 at 8:00 am

Actors often refer to their “instrument,” as though their faces, voices, and bodies are for them what a clarinet or piano or violin is for a musician. The movies invented a new kind of acting, and in its earliest days performers who were expert at projecting to the back row of the theater had to adapt to silent films and close-ups, where the slightest flicker of a facial expression had more of an impact than an entire play’s declaiming.

Photo by Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock (5886139z)
Kim Novak
Vertigo – 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Scene Still
Sueurs froides

Today we hear their voices, but often in a whisper, and the close-up of a face is still more eloquent than the most compelling line of dialogue. But what if we do not show their face at all? Actress-turned critic/screenwriter/director Sheila O’Malley writes in a fascinating essay for Film Comment about “back-ting,” which she calls what we see, feel, and learn when an actor turns his or her back to the camera.

Movies from the classic Hollywood period are filled with great back-ting, perhaps because so many of the actors came from theater, where the body has to do much of the heavy lifting. If your character is grieving, the people in the cheap seats have to feel it. Watch Joan Crawford walk across a room. She is the container for the film, not the other way around. Crawford, whose closeups remain high watermarks of the art form, understood how her body was responsible for moving the story forward. Maybe the most famous back-ting moment is John Wayne’s in the final shot of The Searchers. Seen through the dark doorway, he turns and walks into the desert. At one point, his left knee buckles underneath him. It’s a subtle stumble. In his lonely back, we can see his terrible awareness of the brutal life he has lived and what it has cost him.

The gold standard of back-ting is Bette Davis. She has yet to be topped. You want to know how a character has transformed? Watch Davis walk across a room. You want to understand a character’s objective? Look at Davis’ posture, or how she lights a cigarette, or where she places her hands. Davis wrote in her first memoir about studying with Martha Graham as a young woman, and how influential dance training was on her approach to performance: “ body via the dance could send a message… would with a single thrust of her weight convey anguish. Then in an anchored lift that made her ten feet tall, she became all joy. One after the other. Hatred, ecstasy, age, compassion! There was no end, once the body was disciplined.” Davis continued: “Every time I climbed a flight of stairs in films—and I spent half my life on them—it was Graham step by step.”

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