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Glee (#110 of 18)

Through the Years: Madonna’s "Like a Prayer" at 25

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Through the Years: Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” at 25
Through the Years: Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” at 25

“Like a Virgin” may be Madonna’s most iconic hit, but “Like a Prayer,” which turns 25 today, is by all accounts her most broadly beloved contribution to the pop-music canon, landing at #7 on our list of the Best Singles of the 1980s. Even the singer’s most ardent critics can’t help but bow at the altar of the song, a gospel-infused conflation of spiritual and sexual ecstasy that helped transform Madge from ’80s pop tart to bona fide icon. To celebrate this sacred anniversary, we’re taking a look back at the song’s evolution over the last quarter century.

Sinful Cinema Girls Just Want to Have Fun

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Sinful Cinema: Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Sinful Cinema: Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Full disclosure: I am absolutely biased when it comes to Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the sweatband-and-synthesizer chick flick that pulls its name from Cyndi Lauper’s breakout hit. This is the movie I used to rent incessantly and watch on elementary-school sick days, back when, ya know, no one suspected a thing about this sports-snubbing color coordinator. So excuse me if I have a certain fondness for Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker), whose enthusiasm is almost as huge as her barely-straightened hair, and Lynne Stone (Helen Hunt), who made the Catholic School uniform naughty way before Britney Spears. But even from an objective viewpoint, Girls Just Want to Have Fun isn’t really a bad film, at least not in the ways in which we tend to define bad films. The acting is more than competent, there’s not much glaringly bad dialogue, the humor is inventive, and the song-and-dance is engaging. The direction (by Back to School helmer Alan Metter) is smooth enough, and there’s essentially nothing morally reprehensible to sneer at. It’s consummately tacky, for sure, but as a high school fantasy about a young girl chasing a dream, it’s got a leg up on a whole lot of like-minded films. The reason it’s such an easy target for ridicule is it may be one of history’s most instantly dated movies. Consider what Lynne says when she first meets Janey on the bus, and turns her schoolgirl skirt inside-out to reveal a leather interior: “Velcro! Next to the Walkman and Tab it’s the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

Back There Again: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Back There Again: <em>The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey</em>
Back There Again: <em>The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey</em>

Once the distinct, familiar sense of wonder took hold, I felt a sharp pang of guilt watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, part one of Peter Jackson’s long-gestating Lord of the Rings prequel. Here’s a movie that so many, myself included, regarded with great prejudice, sizing it up as a cute jaunt that had to be seen along with the other year-end contenders, yet reeked of folly, diminished stakes, and outright opportunism, its attachment to a trilogy making excess seem like one more strike against it. But, then, as Jackson’s camera began scanning New Zealand’s topography, with majestic Howard Shore accompaniment, this arrogant miscalculator (and ardent Rings fan) sat humbled and corrected. Jackson may not boast a sterling track record post-Return of the King, and The Hobbit may have suffered a heap of development hell, passing from Jackson to (eventual co-writer) Guillermo del Toro like a certain burdensome bauble, but shame on all who doubt the enduring, enveloping power of Jackson’s Middle-earth, an immersive and comprehensive filmic world if ever there was one. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey brought me right back to a place I didn’t realize I was missing, a widescreen realm that seems to exist to widen the eyes.

Sundance Film Festival 2012: 2 Days in New York and For a Good Time, Call…

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Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>2 Days in New York</em> and <em>For a Good Time, Call…</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>2 Days in New York</em> and <em>For a Good Time, Call…</em>

When it comes to Julie Delpy, the key question remains the old Barbra Streisand one. Namely, how much of her can you take in one sitting? A dedicated movie-polymath, effortlessly bilingual and scooping the best of both Old and New World, Delpy resembles a bizarre version of Miranda July: Instead of celebrating lonely quirks of a self-centered sensibility, she throws herself (and the viewer) into a comic vortex of agitated, super-busy scenes of noisy familial squabbles and cerebral lovers’ quarrels, which seems a projection of her own coyly humane view of life.

Her new movie is a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, in which she played a fabulously promiscuous European chick to Adam Goldberg’s perpetually shocked American straight man. Five years have passed, and Goldberg is no longer in the picture: Delpy’s character, Marion, is now living in New York with a new partner, Mingus (Chris Rock), and two children—one of hers and one of his. As befits a typical New York couple, Mingus is a radio-show host (and a Village Voice reporter, no less), while Marion prepares to open a debut photo exhibition, frankly examining her previous sexual relationships and involving a public act of a (literal) “selling of her soul” to an anonymous buyer.

2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

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2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions
2011 Primetime Emmy Winner Predictions

On September 18, Bryan Cranston will not win his fourth trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as Breaking Bad’s fourth season fell outside the award show’s eligibility period—and if you think that bodes well for the AMC program’s chances for Outstanding Drama Series in 2012, remember that Mad Men’s much-delayed fifth season is still slated to fall within the upcoming Emmy calendar. Standing to gain from Cranston’s absence is always-a-bridesmaids John Hamm—unless Steve Buscemi’s Golden Globe and SAG victories earlier this year, and the chillier-than-Mad Men Boardwalk Empire’s surprise showing at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend—weren’t just flukes of nature. A three-time winner for Outstanding Drama Series, Mad Men may have to move over for the new HBO prestige drama on the block, and if Betty White doesn’t win her 3,897th Emmy for acting saucier than your grandmother, that may be enough for this Sunday’s telecast to go down as the Year of the Passing of the Guard. Below, my predictions in a handful of the major categories—brought to you with less than my usual dash of wish-fulfillment.