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CRUEL SUMMER: WARGAMES (1983)

The fantastic opening sequence of "WarGames" uses one of the most basic constructs of video games: just when you think you’ve figured out a level, it turns out to be part of a bigger scenario.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • June 4, 2012 2:41 PM
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  • 2 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Cruel Summer: ROCKY III (1982)

This video essay is part of the "Cruel Summer" series of articles; this series examines influential movies from the summers of the 1980s. The previous entries in the series covered THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) and STRIPES (1981).
  • By Aaron Aradillas & Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • May 31, 2012 8:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments

CRUEL SUMMER: STRIPES (1981)

When Bill Murray came on the scene at the start of the 1980s, he represented a fundamental shift in comedy. He specialized in an utter emotional detachment from any and all situations.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • May 21, 2012 8:55 AM
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  • 0 Comments

CRUEL SUMMER: THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980)

According to John Landis, "The Blues Brothers" was the last movie made under the old studio factory system. "The Blues Brothers" feels, indeed, like a transitional movie. It takes the form of a big studio musical, but its execution is all 1980s bigger-is-better filmmaking.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • May 14, 2012 8:55 AM
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  • 4 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN HOLLYWOOD: HORROR, MAKEUP AND THE OSCARS

The practitioners of visual effects have a favorite phrase for what they do: the Invisible Art – effects that are imaginative, even astonishing, but that are ultimately there to sell a world, a character or a moment. Special makeup might be the best illustration of this principle. One of makeup's greatest triumphs is An American Werewolf in London, which in 1982 became the first film to win an Oscar for makeup in regular competition. Overseen by Rick Baker, who supervised all of the film's makeup effects, it shows a man changing into a werewolf in real time…right in front of your eyes. This sequence was the culmination of eight decades of movie makeup. And the film's Oscar represented a coming-out for a once-neglected aspect of filmmaking.
  • By Aaron Aradillas, Matt Zoller Seitz & Ken Cancelosi
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  • February 24, 2012 1:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments

AARON ARADILLAS: 20 years later, a soundtrack that still has JUICE

The first half of the 1990s may be considered by some as being ruled by grunge, but for more enlightened music fans that is simply not the case. Hip-hop and R&B, in particular the New Jack Swing sound of the early ‘90s, has had a profound impact in shaping pop music. Producers like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Teddy Riley modernized the rather quaint sound of R&B with funk rhythms, piano, jazz and break beats, while guys like Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and The Bomb Squad gave hip-hop a fuller sound – a bass-thumping thickness. Rap and R&B, two genres that had been segregated by class prejudice and musical temperament, were now fused together to create an at once looser and tighter sound. Songs like Johnny Kemp’s "Just Got Paid" or Tony! Toni! Tone!’s "If I Had No Loot" or Michael Jackson’s "Remember the Time" or Schoolly D’s "Am I Black Enough For You?" or Naughty By Nature’s "O.P.P." made you feel as if you were inside the song – as if the greatest block party was boiled down to four minutes of grooves, beats and samples.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • February 18, 2012 6:28 AM
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  • 1 Comment

AARON ARADILLAS: Loving LOVE STORY means never having to say you're sorry

Watching "Love Story" today is like opening a time capsule you didn’t know had been buried. The movie is at times shocking, not because it’s bad (it’s actually surprisingly good), but because it is a movie unaware of the time and place where it is set.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • February 14, 2012 10:25 AM
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  • 0 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Actress Viola Davis, THE HELP

Four out the five performances nominated for Best Actress are in part based on fulfilling audiences’ preconceived notions of what they should be. Both Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams do impersonations on the level of genius. Streep dares to make Margaret Thatcher seem all too human; Williams lets us look beyond Marilyn Monroe’s wiggle and teasing smile and see the insecurity, sadness and natural born talent that is required to be a star. Rooney Mara becomes a star by bringing to life one of popular literature’s most revered heroines in recent history. She allows us to feel the heat of Lisbeth Salander’s rage and burgeoning soul. Glenn Close pulls off a stunt that some actors believe is the ultimate test of their talent, be it Dustin Hoffman, Linda Hunt or Hilary Swank.
  • By Aaron Aradillas & Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 8, 2012 6:54 AM
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  • 14 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: PRESS PLAY picks the Oscars

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Press Play presents "Should Win," a series of video essays advocating winners in seven Academy Awards categories: supporting actor and actress, best actor and actress, best director and best picture. These are consensus choices hashed out by a pool of Press Play contributors.]  
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • February 7, 2012 6:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS REVISITED, 1981: ON GOLDEN POND

Of the five films nominated for Best Picture of 1981, "On Golden Pond" is greeted with the most derision – dismissed as the Academy falling for cheap sentiment as an excuse to honor their own.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • February 1, 2012 7:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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