How a Simple Email Survey Pulled Scripts Out of Hollywood Purgatory & Turned Them Into Award-Winning Films

How did the Black List get started? Not the Hollywood blacklist that ruined the careers of countless directors, actors and actresses during the 1940s and 1950s. No, we mean the Black List, created by Franklin Leonard in 2005, which has allowed more than 300 scripts, once stuck in Hollywood purgatory, to get turned into feature films--films like Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, Argo and Spotlight.  This all started when Leonard created a simple survey, asking nearly 100 movies executives to name their favorite scripts that had not yet been made as feature films. The new Vox video above tells the rest of the story.

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David Lynch Gives Unconventional Advice to Graduates in an Unusual Commencement Address

Just as we wouldn't expect David Lynch to deliver a traditional movie, nor should we expect him to deliver a traditional commencement address. "I did an interview with the Des Moines Register and said that this would be a strange commencement speech," the creator of Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, and (with Mark Frost) Twin Peaks tells the 2016 graduating class of the Maharishi University of Management by way of opening not a speech but an on-stage question-and-answer session. The questions came from select students who want to know things like how he sees the world looking in ten years, what makes a good leader, and what makes a meaningful life.

One also wants to know how to "reconcile a job or career with our dharma or purpose." To that question, the very first, Lynch can respond with only one word: "Wow." But then, he had to have expected that question from a student at MUM, an institution established to provide something called "Consciousness-Based education" under which you don't just gain knowledge but "your awareness expands, improving your ability to absorb knowledge and see the big picture."

Integral to all this is Transcendental Meditation, the technique developed by MUM founder (and guru to the likes of the Beatles and the Beach Boys) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and which Lynch himself has practiced since 1973.

Even if you have no interest in Lynch's memories of the Maharishi (a possible subject of a future movie of his, he implies), or in meditation of any kind, Lynch still dispenses a fair few pieces of valuable advice during these twenty minutes. "I always equate ideas sort of like fish — we don’t make the fish, we catch the fish," he says in response to one student who asks about how he falls in love with the ideas out of which his projects develop. "You fall in love with an idea and for me it may just be a fragment of a whole thing like a script, or a whole film, but this little fragment is so thrilling and you fall in love." And "once you get one fragment, it’s like bait on a hook to catch more fragments."

More concretely, another student asks Lynch to go back to his time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (which draws a "Whoa" from Lynch) and consider whether he'd make all the same decisions again. "I was very lucky," he says of avoiding the drugs in vogue at the time because of the warnings of his friends. "They were all taking them, but for some reason they warned me against it. So I guess I dodged a bullet." But he does admit to, after his daily meditation practice, never failing to imbibe one consciousness-altering substance: coffee. And when an aspiring filmmaker asks for the "one thing that you learned on one of your film sets that then became a life lesson," Lynch reveals something perhaps even more important to him than always getting his coffee: "Always have final cut."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Author Chuck Palahniuk Read Fight Club 4 Kids

The first rule of Horsing Around Club is: You do not talk about Horsing Around Club.  ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club for Kids

Retooling a popular show, film, or comic to feature younger versions of the characters, their personalities and relationships virtually unchanged, can be a serious, if cynical source of income for the original creators.

The Muppets, Archie, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond have all given birth to spin-off babies.

So why not author Chuck Palahniuk?

Perhaps because spin-off babies are designed to gently ensnare a new and younger audience, and Palahniuk, whose 2002 novel Lullaby hinged on a nursery rhyme that kills children in their cribs, is unlikely to file down the dark, twisted edges that have won him a cult following.

That said, his most recent title is formatted as a coloring book, with another due to drop later this fall.

The same spirit of mischief drives Fight Club for Kids, which mercifully will not be hitting the children’s section of your local bookstore in time for the upcoming holiday season (or ever).

Much like Tyler Durden, Palahniuk's most infamous creation, this title is but a figment, existing only in the above video, where it is read by its putative author.

If you think Samuel L. Jackson’s narration of Go the F**k to Sleep—which can actually be purchased in book form—represents the height of adult readers running off the rails, you ain’t heard nothing yet:

The horseplay would go on until it was done

And everyone who did it would always have fun

Especially the Boy Who Had No Name

Who once just, like, beat this dude, who was actually Jared Leto in the movie, which was so fuckin’ cool and intense, and he’s just pummeling this guy and of course, being Jared Leto, he was essentially a model, but when our guy is done with him, he’s just this purple, bloated, chewed up bubblegum-looking motherfucker covered in blood, head to toe!

(The second rule of Horsing Around Club is: You DO NOT TALK ABOUT HORSING AROUND CLUB!)

Find more printable Chuck Palahniuk coloring pages here.

via Mashable

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A First Glimpse of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Compared with the Real Freddie Mercury Performing at Live Aid in 1985

Few filmmakers have ever figured out how to make a motion picture about an already larger-than-life personality, and personalities haven't come much larger in recent history than Freddie Mercury's. Talk of a movie about the Queen frontman, who died in 1991, has gone on for years: Dexter Fletcher came up as a potential director, and for the role of Mercury both Ben Wishaw and Sacha Baron Cohen have at different times been attached. But now the film has entered production, having found a director in Bryan Singer, he of the X-Men franchise, and a star in Rami Malek, best known as the lead in the television series Mr. Robot.

But can Malek — or indeed anyone currently living — convince as Mercury? The first piece of evidence has surfaced in the form of the clip at the top of the post, shot on set as the cast recreates Queen's 1985 comeback performance at Live Aid. The band "seemed to intuit right from the start the importance of the day, though they were very nervous backstage.

But once onstage they completely own it, even more so Freddie Mercury who rises to the occasion as a front man and as a singer, giving one of his best performances," writes Ted Mills of the real concert video, which we featured just this past May here on Open Culture. The show opens by going straight into"Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen's signature eight-minute rock opera, which gives the new movie its working title.

Even going by just a minute and a half of footage, shot shakily, in low resolution, and at a distance, it must be said that Malek does look to make an uncanny Mercury, right down to that distinctive jog onto the stage at Wembley Stadium. In the Late Show with Stephen Colbert clip just above, Malek talks about his experience watching the surviving members of Queen watch his performance as Mercury for the first time — and at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, no less. "How did they take you?" Colbert asks. "They took me," Malek responds, leaving us to wait until December of next year to judge for ourselves how he brings their beloved lead singer back to life — and whether, by whatever combination of training and technological wizardry, the film gets it right down to that one-of-a-kind voice.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Werner Herzog’s Very First Film, Herakles, Made When He Was Only 19-Years-Old (1962)

Rebellious dwarfs, crazed conquistadors, delusional tycoons, wood-carving ski jumpers: Werner Herzog scholars who attempt to find a pattern in the filmmaker's choices of subject matter are virtually guaranteed an interesting search, if an ultimately futile one. But they must all start in the same place: Herzog's very first film Herakles, which mashes up the spectacles of body building, auto racing, and destruction. It does all that in nine minutes to a soundtrack of saxophone jazz, and with frequent references to the titular hero of myth, whom you may know better by his Roman name of Hercules.

"Would he clean the Augean stables?" ask Herakles' subtitles over footage of one young German man showing off his well-shaped torso. "Would he dispose of the Lernaean Hydra?" they ask of another as he strikes a pose.

Between clips of these bodybuilders performing their labors and questions about whether they could perform those of Hercules, we see militaristic marches, falling bombs, heaps of rubble, and a 1955 racecar crash at Le Mans that killed 83 people. All this juxtaposition tempts us to ask what message the nineteen-year-old Herzog wanted to deliver, but, as in all his subsequent work, he surely wanted less to make an articulable point than to explore the possibilities of cinema itself.

More recently, in Paul Cronin's interview book Herzog on Herzog, the filmmaker looks back on "my first blunder, Herakles" and finds it "rather stupid and pointless, though at the time it was an important test for me. It taught me about editing together very diverse material that would not normally sit comfortably as a whole," and in a sense prepared him for an entire cinematic career of very diverse material that would not normally sit comfortably as a whole. "For me it was fascinating to edit material together that had such separate and individual lives. The film was some kind of an apprenticeship for me. I just felt it would be better to make a film than go to film school” — of the non-rogue variety, anyway.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Top 100 American Films of All Time, According to 62 International Film Critics

Entertainment first, and art second? Hasn't that always been the American way when it comes to film? And is that how the rest of the world sees it, especially considering France’s love of Jerry Lewis, Germany’s obsession with David Hasselhoff, and China taking Nicholas Cage’s career choices more seriously than he does himself?

In this list of The 100 Greatest American Films, the BBC polled 62 international film critics to see what they thought were the United States' enduring contributions to cinema culture. The films only needed to be funded by American companies—the directors could be from other countries. (If not, about a third of these choices would be disqualified. Five are by Hitchcock alone.)

As for other favorite directors, Spielberg gets five (although the highest entry, Jaws, comes in at 38) and Billy Wilder gets five, with The Apartment the highest ranked at 24. The most popular decade for film is the 1970s, the top two being Coppola’s first two Godfather films. (It would be interesting to know the median age of these 62 critics, just to see if their formative years align with the decade.)

Of the 100, here’s the Top 10:

10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

Comparing this list to BFI’s 2012 list of the Top 100 films of all time, there isn’t much difference in the top spots. And, in the years to come, I suspect those top four films will switch places occasionally but never really leave.

Instead, the surprises come further down the list. Gone with the Wind used to be considered a classic, no doubt bolstered by its box office success at the time. But its politics have weakened its position, and, along with Birth of a Nation, it might not last another decade on such lists. On the flip side, black filmmakers have four films on the list and women directors only one (Meshes of the Afternoon one of the best experimental films of all time).

Other interesting choices include The Lion King (the only animated film on the list), Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture, and Minnelli’s The Band Wagon (one of two musicals by the director on the list). What films would you like to see added or taken away? Is this a fair assessment of America’s worth? Let us know in the comments.

Above, you can watch a somewhat idiosyncratic presentations of the films on the BBC list.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

The 100 Funniest Films of All Time, According to 253 Film Critics from 52 Countries

Does comedy come with an expiration date? Scholars of the field both amateur and professional have long debated the question, but only one aspect of the answer has become clear: the best comedy films certainly don't. That notion manifests in the variety of cinematic eras represented in BBC Culture's recent poll of 177 film critics to determine the 100 greatest comedy films of all time. Most of us have seen Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day at some point (and probably at more than one point) over the past 24 years; fewer of us have seen the Marx Brothers' picture Duck Soup, but even those of us who consider ourselves far too cool and modern to watch the Marx Brothers have to acknowledge its genius.

That top ten runs as follows:

  1. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
  2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
  4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
  5. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
  6. Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
  7. Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, 1980)
  8. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
  9. This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
  10. The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)

The BBC have published the top 100 results (the last spot being a tie between the late Jerry Lewis' The Ladies Man and Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy) on their site, accompanied by a full list of participating critics and their votescritics' comments on the top 25, an essay on whether men and women find different films funny (mostly not, but with certain notable splits on movies like Clueless and Animal House), another on whether comedy differs from region to region, and another on why Some Like It Hot is number one.

Though no enthusiast of classic Hollywood would ever deny Billy Wilder's gender-bending 1959 farce any honor, it wouldn't have come out on top in a poll of American and Canadian critics alone: Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove wins that scenario handily. "Intriguingly, Eastern European critics were much more likely to vote for Dr Strangelove than Western European critics," adds Christian Blauvelt. "Perhaps the US and countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain appreciate Dr. Strangelove so much because it ruthlessly satirises the delusions of grandeur held by both sides. And perhaps Some Like It Hot is embraced more by Europeans than US critics because, although it’s a Hollywood film, it has a continental flair and distinctly European attitude toward sex."

Other entries, such as Jacques Tati's elaborate modernity-critiquing 70-millimeter spectacle Playtime, have also been received differently, to put it mildly, at different times and in different places. But if all comedy ultimately comes down to making us laugh, the only way to know your own position on the cultural comedic spectrum is to simply sit down and see what has that singularly enjoyable effect on you. Why not start with Keaton's The General, which happens to be free to view online — and on some level the predecessor of (and, in the eyes of may critics, the superior of) even the physical comedies that come out today?

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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