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Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (#110 of 10)

Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)

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Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)
Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)

Since 1980, performance troupe Split Britches has been gifting the world with its unique brand of feminist political theater. Today, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver—original co-founder Deb Margolin is no longer with the group—are still devoted to their queer-eyed vision: a mix of vaudeville comedy, music, poetry, and pop-culture appropriations that draws incessantly from their personal lives and politics. Their latest work, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), plays through January 20 at La Mama's Ellen Stewart Theatre, ahead of a forthcoming tour to England, Ireland, and Wales. I recently sat down with Shaw and Weaver to discuss the production and why it remains so important for them to keep the spirit of the Split Britches alive.

15 Famous Airplane Movies

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15 Famous Airplane Movies
15 Famous Airplane Movies

Pedro Almodóvar is back this week with I’m So Excited, a high-flying lark about sex, drugs, and past and present Spanish politics, all set on a commercial jet that can’t find a decent place to land. The cast of characters, played by Almodóvar alums like Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth, and international breakouts like Raúl Arévalo, do whatever they can to distract themselves from potential doom, while the aircraft flies in limbo-like circles. The randy comedy got us thinking of other films that take to the skies, from sci-fi nightmares and fact-based dramas to war flicks and ensemble classics. Read on to see which movies made it on board.

15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

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15 Famous Movie Phone Calls
15 Famous Movie Phone Calls

Budding blonde Ari Graynor continues the R-rated femme comedy trend this weekend in For a Good Time, Call…, a naughty film that pairs the funny gal with brunette Lauren Miller (otherwise known as Mrs. Seth Rogen). Inspired by Miller’s college exploits with roommate and co-writer Katie Ann Naylon, the movie casts the leading pair as sparring roomies turned phone sex operators, a scenario that soon proves especially lucrative. Phones may have undergone a lot of makeovers in recent years, but their effectiveness on screen has been solid since the days of the candlestick model. In honor of the new fantasy-fulfilling comedy’s basis in ring-a-ding-ding, we’ve gathered up 15 films with highly memorable phone calls, which run the gamut from disarming to terrifying.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Matt Maul’s Top 10 Films of All Time

In compiling my Top 10 film list, I tried to avoid obvious choices based on general consensus. Movies like Modern Times, It’s a Wonderful Life, and The Searchers are great, and I respect them for what they are, but I almost never stop what I’m doing to watch them. The list below includes 10 films I must make a pilgrimage to at least once a year.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Edward Copeland’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Edward Copeland’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Edward Copeland’s Top 10 Films of All Time

Eons ago, while still in high school, I composed a list of my all-time favorite films for the first time. The inspiration to undertake such an endeavor was prompted by the 1982 Sight & Sound poll that Roger Ebert wrote about in a mid-’80s edition of his Movie Home Companion (the 1982 Sight & Sound list can be found here). I haven’t followed Sight & Sound’s pattern and revised my own list every 10 years, but I did institute a personal rule that I’ve always adhered to since that initial teenage list: A film has to be at least 10 years old to be eligible for inclusion. Too often, people get swept up in ecstasy over a film they’ve seen for the first time and can’t fight the tendency to overrate it. Then, years later, they see that film again and wonder what the hell they were thinking. That’s why I think all films need time to age, like a fine bottle of wine, to test their taste over time. As for the distinction between “best” and “favorite,” as far I’m concerned, it’s a pointless one. Each submitted list represents someone’s subjective opinion. I hardly can claim my 10 films represent the “best” movies ever made as no one appointed me the arbiter to rule on such absolutes where none can exist.

5 for the Day: 180 Degrees

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5 for the Day: 180 Degrees
5 for the Day: 180 Degrees

I am not of the Pauline Kael School of film criticism that argues that your initial impression of a film is the only one that matters, and to revisit and reevaluate a film is a fool’s errand fraught with the potential for emotional and intellectual dishonesty. Indeed, I can think of plenty of legitimate reasons to take stock of a film anew. What if there were mitigating environmental factors—such as problems with the projector or the sound, or even with the audience itself—that hampered your ability to enjoy the film? What of format issues? I mean, what if, like me, your first experience with Lawrence of Arabia was on television, in full screen format and interrupted by commercials? Or what if you were in the wrong head space after a fight with your partner or a bad day at work and weren’t able to give the film the attention and scrutiny it deserved?

More importantly, and more to the point of this piece, what if you just aren’t ready for the film? What if you are too raw, too young, simply too damned inexperienced to appreciate the qualities of the film in question? Would you not have an obligation to assess these films again, once you had put the necessary miles on your odometer? Such has been the case many times over the course of my lifetime as a film viewer and reviewer, and it has occasionally led me to startling revelations. As I am limited to discussing five films on which my opinion has done a complete 180 degree turn, I have arbitrarily chosen to look at films I first saw I when was not yet ready to fully appreciate their wonders.

5 for the Day: Monologues

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5 for the Day: Monologues
5 for the Day: Monologues

What makes a great movie monologue? Even more to the point, what qualifies as a monologue? Hamlet’s soliloquy would certainly make the cut, but its origins didn’t spring from film, so it’s probably ineligible. Does a speech have to be a certain length to qualify as a monologue? Can it be addressed to someone who reacts or occasionally interjects something in the middle of the display?

When I first thought about tackling this topic for a 5 for the day, many came to mind that I wasn’t certain would qualify. Does Bluto (John Belushi)’s speech in National Lampoon’s Animal House rallying the Deltas asking “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” qualify since Otter and Boone (Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert) made frequent asides while he spoke? When Harry Lime (Orson Welles) talks about the Swiss in The Third Man or Bernstein (Everett Sloane) recalls the girl he saw once in Citizen Kane, since they occur in the confines of a conversation and are relatively short, should they count? For those reasons, those didn’t make my final cut, nor did Robert Stack’s “Have you ever been kicked—in the head—with an iron boot?” bit from Airplane! or Phoebe Cates’ explanation of how she learned there was no Santa Claus in Gremlins. So here are the five I narrowed it down to—feel free to choose whatever you think counts.