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This Used to Be My Playground Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own

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This Used to Be My Playground: Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own
This Used to Be My Playground: Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own

Light and airy, with only the faintest whiff of pathos or self-importance, A League of Their Own offers a refreshingly buoyant vision of America's favorite pastime. Unburdened by the grandiose mythologizing of movies like The Natural and Field of Dreams, the film regards baseball with a breezy, wide-eyed innocence that captures the uniquely languid joy of the sport.

Working from a screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, director Penny Marshall casts the Rockford Peaches—a founding team in the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL)—as a ragtag ensemble filled with stock comic types, including Rosie O'Donnell as a brassy New Yawk broad and Madonna as an incorrigible floozy. The performances tend toward broad caricature, particularly Tom Hanks's at times gratingly over-the-top turn as the team's perpetually apoplectic manager, Jimmy Dugan. All shouting, spitting, and drunken ass-grabbing, Jimmy is a cartoonish parody of American masculinity that anticipates Hanks's similarly out-sized but more delicately modulated voice work in Toy Story a few years later.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 8

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 8

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 8

For those who thought “Part 7” of Twin Peaks: The Return contained too much exposition and narrative linearity, Mark Frost and David Lynch have obliged you in spades with “Part 8,” a delirious descent into the murky matrix of material existence. Events pick up, deceptively enough, right where they left off last week, with Bad Dale (Kyle MacLachlan) and Ray (George Griffith) barreling through the night, leaving their recent confinement in Yankton federal prison far in the rearview. The opening sequence sets us up to expect that Bad Dale will summarily execute Ray for withholding key information. Frost and Lynch, though, have a nifty, noirish twist up their sleeves: Ray gets the drop on Bad Dale, putting two in his chest, but before Ray can finish the doppelganger off with a headshot, three spectral figures appear out of nowhere to “treat” his wounds with some bloody hands-on healing.

Silicon Valley Recap Season 4, Episode 10, “Server Error”

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Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “Server Error”

John P. Johnson

Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “Server Error”

“Server Error,” the season-four finale of Silicon Valley, checks in with almost all the main characters in Pied Piper's orbit while setting the stage for two season-five showdowns: the battle between Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and Gavin (Matt Ross) for domination of the Internet and the fight for Richard's soul. Richard lurches in the general direction of ends-justify-the-means mogul-dom with exquisite clumsiness, bouncing back and forth between maniacal determination and dejected self-loathing as his team keeps pulling him back from the brink—Jared (Zach Woods) appealing to his morals while Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) ride herd on his ego. Meanwhile, Gavin roars back into top predator mode with sociopathic ease, polishing off the amuse-bouche of Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) in one ravenous bite before making a beeline for Richard.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

After a run of well-made, entertaining, but hardly top-tier Doctor Who episodes, this week's “World Enough and Time” sees showrunner Steven Moffat return to form, beginning the wind-up of his last season with a bang. What must surely be the shortest teaser ever for a Doctor Who episode delivers a jolt of adrenaline immediately as we see the TARDIS land in an unknown snow-covered location and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) stumble out, surrounded by the glow of regeneration energy but holding the process back by force of will. Rather than provide a conventional pre-titles prologue to the story of this particular episode, Moffat instead opts to insert a flash-forward to Capaldi's imminent departure from the series, leaving an aura of impending doom hanging over the Doctor from the outset.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

VH1/Logo

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 14, “Grand Finale”

And so it is that RuPaul's Drag Race recappers like me are tasked to write about the season finale on the first night of Pride celebrations. I shouldn't complain though. Chad Sell, who's more or less the official or at least most high-profile illustrator drawing from the Drag Race well, was forced to celebrate his honeymoon while the show was on because of its later berth this time around. I know, I know. Very first-world problems. But dammit, these are exactly the type of rights we fought for nearly 50 years ago. Right?

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

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The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

Focus Features

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

There's a routine of complaints traditionally leveled at Sofia Coppola. Beyond the faux pas of being born rich, she's been drawn as more of a choreographer of tableaux than a storyteller. Critics have bemoaned her visions of character interiority signaled by dreamy music cues and symmetrical framing over wordy dialogues or dredged-up performances from her stars, who are inevitably blonde and beautiful. Particularly since Lost in Translation's reverse-xenophobia meet-cute, Coppola has alternated between accusations of flaunting her privilege and hosannas for being honest about it.

But if The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and (perhaps more debatably) Somewhere girded themselves against these considerations by putting their own haute-bourgeois blinkeredness front and center, the terrain is far murkier in Coppola's The Beguiled. This is a filmmaker obsessed with feminine beauty and ephemeral tragedy of time's passage—so just how boilerplate is her Civil War-era chamber piece supposed to be?

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 7

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 7

This week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return uses Mark Frost and David Lynch’s abiding preoccupation with doppelgangers and mirror imagery as an often subtle structural device. Take Hawk’s (Michael Horse) fleeting mention of Jacques Renault (played in the original series by Walter Olkewicz) during his conversation with Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) about the handwritten pages he found in the bathroom stall door. This brief reference is later echoed by our introduction to Jean Michel Renault (also Olkewicz), the French-Canadian clan’s next generation of sleazy bartender-cum-pimp. Lynch uses a couple of classic rock instrumentals to link scenes set in the wee hours of the night: Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions” incongruously accompanies the image of a man (reduced almost to a silhouette) sweeping the floor of the Bang Bang Bar, a shot Lynch holds until it becomes strangely hilarious. Set to Santo & Johnny’s aptly titled “Sleep Walk,” the end credits scroll over the late-night patrons of the Double R Diner, only the second time the new series hasn’t concluded with an on-stage performance.

BAMcinemaFest 2017 James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s Common Carrier

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BAMcinemaFest 2017: James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s Common Carrier

Automatic Moving Co.

BAMcinemaFest 2017: James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s Common Carrier

Old-world statues and paintings seem no match for VR headsets in Common Carrier, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s dizzying experimental essay on what the everyday life of an artist looks like in the 21st century. In much the same way in which the omnipresent radio soundtrack shifts seamlessly between news, hip-hop, and ads, Wilkins’s film skips back and forth between different artists apparently plucked from real life and layers images on top of one another, creating a cannily cacophonous atmosphere which suggests that the true challenge to imagination is maintaining the necessary focus. ISP strikes, custody battles, delivery problems, YouTube tutorials, or just the pervasiveness of screens—it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to create or just trying to get by, the potential for distraction is limitless.

Silicon Valley Recap Season 4, Episode 9, “Hooli-Con”

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Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “Hooli-Con”

John P. Johnson

Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “Hooli-Con”

The Pied Piper team’s slow-boiling crisis of faith in Richard’s (Thomas Middleditch) leadership, which has been coming to a head throughout Silicon Valley’s fourth season, heats up several degrees in tonight’s episode, “Hooli-Con.” The push-pull between their respect for his brilliance as a coder and their doubts about his talent as a CEO puts the rest of the team in an awkward, can’t-live-with-him, can’t-live-without-him position.

After leaving Richard in the season premiere, “Success Failure,” his team members returned as soon as he came up with another potentially brilliant idea—well, all but Bachman (T.J. Miller), who was finally forced to come to terms with the fact that he has no role to play except as host, though he would never admit it. Even after their reunion, the others’ skepticism about their fearful leader has never been far from the surface. In various episodes this season they’ve called him crazy, said he was cursed, and griped, openly and often, about his uncanny knack for letting success slip through his fingers every time it’s within his reach. But not until “Hooli-Con” does even Jared (Zach Woods) start to doubt Richard’s ability to lead a successful launch.

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

Starz

American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Come to Jesus”

“Come to Jesus” ends the first season of American Gods on an awkward and anticlimactic note. Creators and co-screenwriters Bryan Fuller and Michael Green seem to be aware of their own perversity, cracking a joke about it early in the episode. Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) are at the office of Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), the present incarnation of the god Anansi, who’s tailoring suits for the next leg of their journey. For a moment, it seems that we’ve dodged the obligation of sitting through a deity origin tale that typically opens each episode, until Mr. Nancy announces that he has a story, which Wednesday greets with comic frustration while nursing a tall whiskey. Wednesday is clearly speaking for the audience here, who may be understandably weary of yet another damn flashback.