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Career Opportunities (1991)

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A DESERT ISLAND SITUATION

by Chad Perman

(editor’s note: this article was originally posted on August 4th, 2009)

I can’t remember the exact conflux of events that led to me seeing Career Opportunities in a proper movie theater without my parents’ knowledge - though it might well have been something I snuck into after buying tickets for something else (I once bought tickets for Ladybugs and snuck into The Lawnmower Man instead, so I wouldn’t exactly put it past me) - but I do remember, quite vividly in fact, the experience of watching the film itself. Somewhere along the way, as memories do, this one, attached securely to Jennifer Connelly’s impossibly tight white tank-top (the only thing any one ever remembers about this film, if they remember it at all), took up residency in a part of my brain that is forever linked to being thirteen years old and on the verge of something I didn’t quite understand but desperately wanted to know a whole lot more about.

Life, it seemed, was changing quickly all around me, new doors opening up every day, each with their own new, exciting opportunities and a sense that there was this whole huge bucketful of experiences just waiting to be lived, right around the corner.  At its best, it feels limitless.  It’s a feeling that words have no real chance of capturing, but it’s certainly something that we all experience at one time or another in our respective journies through adolescence.  And that’s what John Hughes got, so much moreso than most screenwriters, that feeling of endless possibility that you only really begin to tap into as a teenager - right at the very time when the world is also revealing itself to be a much scarier, lonely place than you had imagined, and your hormones are feverishly busy throwing you every which way. It’s a confusing time, a figuring out time, and Hughes continually explored this territory in many of his best-loved films (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club).  However, Career Opportunities wasn’t really in the same ballpark as those other films, not even in the same league really; Hughes wasn’t taking on any big, important issues when he penned this one. In fact, if memory serves (and some version of it, certainly, does), my biggest question plot-wise throughout the film was “Are they gonna do it?”.

(Answer: Yes.)

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Thus, freed from the constraints of tackling Big Life Questions, Hughes instead used Career Opportunties to indulge in a typical male fantasy: being trapped somewhere for a significant period of time with a very attractive woman. It doesn’t matter how our hero (Frank Whaley) finds himself in such a situation - I vaguely recall something about John Candy, an evil night manager, Target doors that locked from the inside, and a rich girl (Connelly) who has run away - but rather what he does once the situation is thrust upon him.

And Jim Dodge (Whaley, the poor man’s Jon Cryer) does what nerdy John Hughes characters always find a way to do in John Hughes movies: he makes the most of a desert island type situation, wherein fate - whether in the form of mutual detention (The Breakfast Club), a drunken pact (Sixteen Candles), parental neglect (Home Alone), or doors-locking-from-the-inside-at-night-after-a-girl-you-had-a-crush-on-for-over-a-decade-but-never-really-knew-you-existed-fell-asleep-in-the-store-until-after-it-was-closed (Career Opportunities) - places you in a situation where all the rules, social and otherwise, are briefly suspended. Empowering wimpy or delusional male characters seemed a constant motif throughout Hughes’ films, a kind of wish-fulfillment for dummies (and, one has to wonder, how much of this was simple projection on Hughes’ part?). If you try hard enough for long enough, he seemed to say, you will eventually get a chance with The Girl of Your Dreams. You might mess that chance up, or misunderstand it, but it will present itself.

I think it’s safe to say that his notion has ruined many a dweebish man.

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However, in Career Opportunities, for whatever reasons - laziness? frustration? the end of an era? - the dork actually does get the girl. He overcomes his own faults (or rather, uses these previously limiting character attributes in service of something brave or noble, for once), and is rewarded by an almost literal ride off into the sunset. He doesn’t even have to change his personality or un-dorkify himself in any way - if anything, he’s even more dweebish by film’s end, empowered by the newfound love of a Troubled Pretty Girl. It’s enough to make poor Brian or Duckie puke.

Career Opportunities is not a big film, nor an important one. There are no particularly memorable lines in its 83 minutes, no huge plot twists or unexpected developments. If anything, it’s a a giant tease for perpetually hormonal males and a giant commercial for Target.  Nothing groundbreaking or worth writing home about - except, perhaps, that it was the very last time Hughes would ever really set foot in “teenage movie” waters, waters he had ruled for several years (and which, ultimately, he would be best remembered for).  Sadly, after Career Opportunities, Hughes would switch tracks to far more family-oriented fare - often to disappointing results - for the remainder of his career.   Still, the film is not without its charms - a meet cute, some dancing, some Home Alone-ish big empty house/store indulgences, some couples’ roller-skating, the best white tank top in the history of cinema - and if Hughes left the teenage bandwagon on a minor note, at least he had such a successful run in the first place. After all, here we are writing about his films - for an entire week - nearly twenty years after most of them were made.  That has to mean something, right?

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Chad Perman is a writer living in Seattle, and the editor-in-chief of Bright Wall/Dark Room.

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Star Wars (1977)

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STAR WARS IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE 1984 MERCURY TOPAZ

by Christopher Cantwell

There is a VHS tape somewhere (probably in a landfill in Texas, though it breaks my heart to write that) that is a recording of the first ever network airing of Star Wars from February 26th,1984.

It’s something that my mom and dad—skirting ambiently along the banal zeitgeist of suburban America at the time—decided to be an event of enough renown that they should record it using the family VCR. Recording a television signal with a VCR was no easy task at the time, and so I’m forever indebted to my parents for doing it. The reason this recording is so important to me is that it was my very first exposure to Star Wars

I was born in November of 1981. I missed Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back completely, and was only one and a half when Return of the Jedi came out. So this TV recording was, in many ways, a door. From here, my mom bought me a Stormtrooper action figure from the Skaggs Alpha Beta grocery store (back when I still sat in the front seat of the cart). From here, my babysitter Gary who lived next door gave me an entire case of some of his Star Wars toys the day before he moved away. From here, I begged my mom to see Return of the Jedi at the dollar theater in either ’84  or ’85; the dollar theater that was in the vast and empty parking lot of Collin Creek Mall off US-75, where I remember walking into the theater too early and seeing the very end of the movie first. From here, I bought more toys, rented the THX-remastered versions when they came out (“The Original One Last Time”), saw the Special Editions in the theater, whiled away summer days in rural Texas by playing video games like X-Wing (“You MUST register!”) and TIE Fighter (“Mission-critical craft under attack!”), read novels and comic books on my bed and in the backseat of the car, and eventually experienced the mass-suicide of the prequel trilogy in which Childhood as we know it was silenced by a clinical guillotine blade.

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Why did I do all this? Sure, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon, and has probably implanted itself on every boy in some way for the last 37 years. It’s got the mythology, and the universal themes, and the blah, blah, blah. Anyone could write pages upon pages about how Star Wars is a powerful film. I could write about how Star Wars might be one reason I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the last ten years, because it helped inspire me to tell stories of my own.

But that’s really boring, isn’t  it? Truthfully, every subsequent Star Wars experience I’ve had (and that includes meeting George Lucas himself) has never lived up to that VHS TV recording. I love the first movie. I love MY videotape recording of it.

Here’s what I remember: the tape goes in, the first thing I see is a TV bumper version of the Star Wars title zooming up the screen as mock spotlights shine over it.  The movie starts like everyone remembers it. I’m probably laying on the floor in a blue and gray afghan my grandmother knitted me (the blue and gray schema is for the Cowboys, but to this day, I barely know anything about that team, or really the sport in general). A particularly magical part of this tape occurs when the commercials begin. This is when a black cube with yellow borders spins out of a star field background, and a famous person inside the cube tells me what they love about Star Wars. Debbie Reynolds talks about being Carrie Fisher’s mom. The Flintstones say they loved the movie. Magic Johnson tells me he “dug R2.”

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In my head, Star Wars is supposed to have commercials—the film and its commercials have been wedded as one story. There is a part in Star Wars where a guy eats a Kit-Kat and roars like a monster. Then there’s the part in Star Wars where a football player tells me he is a “coffee  achiever.” At one point in the movie, kids sing the jingle for Nature  Valley Chewy Granola Bars (which I can still sing in its entirety). There’s also another droid that nobody else remembers: the Leggs pantyhose  droid that makes beeping sounds and just looks like a large pantyhose  egg container with flashing lights. I love that character.

For me, Star Wars will always be brought to you by the 1984 Mercury Topaz. There will always be ads for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan and a sitcom starring Suzanne Pleshette. Star Wars will always have two title treatments: the famous one, and the way my mom wrote it in blue pen on the tape label.

Sadly, that tape is most likely gone, a probable victim of two house moves by my parents over the years. But God bless the Internet. Up until I wrote this article, I only knew that I had a VHS recording of Star Wars that was somehow important because famous people talked about it during the commercial breaks. With a few cursory searches, I figured out that I once had the February  26th, 1984 first-time network TV airing from CBS.

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Apparently, Mark Hamill did some sort of prologue about the Star Wars phenomenon before the movie started, and also wrapped up the movie at the end. CBS seemingly did this to fill out the three hours of air time they’d blocked out. I just learned about this now, as it wasn’t on my tape—I suppose my folks thought it was bullshit and didn’t hit record until the actual movie started. However, this “wrap-around”  is on YouTube as well, and gives the airing some notoriety among extremist fans. This is good, because some guy sells cheap DVD-R’s of the original airing from his Paypal account.

I just bought one.

Christopher Cantwell is a filmmaker and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He is the co-creator, co-executive producer and co-writer of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, set in the early 1980s in Dallas. The show’s season finale airs on Sunday.

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Mason,
I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance.I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.
The only work I’ve ever been a part of that I feel any sense of pride for involves something born in a spirit of collaboration — not my idea or his or her idea, but some unforeseeable magic that happens in creativity when energies collide.
This is the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-BEATLES. Basically I’ve put the band back together for you. There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.
Just listen to the whole CD, OK?
I guess it was the fact that Lennon was shot and killed at 40 (one of Lennon’s last fully composed songs was “Life Begins at 40,” which he wrote for Ringo — I couldn’t bring myself to include it on the mix as the irony still does not make me laugh) and that I just turned 40 myself that conjured this BLACK ALBUM. I listen to this music and for some reason (maybe the ongoing, metamorphosing pain of my divorce from your mother) I am filled with sadness that John & Paul’s friendship turned so bitter. I know, I know, I know, it has nothing to do with me, but damn it, tell me again why love can’t last. Why do we give in to pettiness? Why did they? Why do we so often see gifts as threats? Differences as shortcomings? Why can we not see that our friction could be used to polish one another?
I read a little anecdote about when John’s mother died:
He was an angry teenager — a switchblade in his pocket, a cigarette in his lips, sex on his mind. At a memorial service for his “unstable” and suddenly dead mom (whom he’d just recently been getting close to), he — pissed off and drunk — punched a bandmate in the face and stormed out of the memorial reception. Paul, several years his junior — a young boy, really, who didn’t yet care about girls, who was clearly UNCOOL, and who was let into the band despite his lack of badass-ness and sexual prowess due to the fact that even at 14 he could play the shit out of the guitar — chased John out onto the street saying, “John, why are you being such a jerk?”
John said, “My mum’s fuckin’ dead!”
Paul said, “You never even once asked me about my mum.”
“What about her?”
“…My mum’s dead too.”
They hugged in the middle of the suburban street. John apparently said, “Can we please start a fucking rock ‘n’ roll band?”
This story answered a question that had lingered in my brain my whole music-listening life: If The Beatles were only together 10 years and the members of the band were so young that entire time, how did they manage to write “Help,” “Fool on the Hill,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life”? They were just 25-year-old boys with a gaggle of babes outside their hotel room door and as much champagne as a young lad could stand. How did they set their minds to such substantive artistic goals?
They did it because they were in pain. They knew that love does not last. They knew it as extremely young men.
With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood, sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — “Starting Over,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Beautiful Boy,” “The No No Song,” “God” — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last.
I don’t want it to be true. I want Lennon/McCartney to write beautifully together forever, but is that really the point? I mean if the point of a rose was to last forever, it would be made of stone, right? So how do we handle this idea with grace and maturity? If you’re a romantic like me, it’s hard not to long for some indication of healing between the two of them. All signs point that way.
When Paul went on SNL recently, he played almost all LENNON. And he did it with obvious joy.
Listen to McCartney’s “Here Today.”
Can you listen to “Two of Us” (the last song they wrote side by side) and not hurt a little? What were those two motherless boys who hugged in the middle of the road so long ago thinking as they wrote “The two of us have memories longer then the road that stretches out ahead”?
The dynamic of their breakup, like any divorce, is mysterious. Some say that Paul, the pupil, had surpassed John, the mentor, and they couldn’t reach a new balance. Some say Paul was a little snot who bought the publishing rights out from underneath the other three. Others say without Brian Epstein there was no mediator between their egos. Who knows.
I played Samantha “Hey Jude” the other day, and of course she listened to it over and over. I told her the song had been written by McCartney for Lennon’s son after Lennon’s divorce and she listened even more intently. George once said that “Hey Jude” was the beginning of the end for the Beatles. Brian Epstein had just died and John & Paul were left alone to run the brand-new Apple label. They recorded “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” as a single. Normally, Brian would decide which song was the A-side and which was the B-side, but now it was up to the boys. John thought “Revolution” was an important political rock song and that they needed to establish themselves as an adult band. Paul thought “Revolution” was brilliant but that The Beatles were primarily a pop band and so they should lead with “Hey Jude.” He knew it would be a monster hit and that the politics should come on a subversive B-side. They had a vote. “Hey Jude” won 3-1. George said that John felt Paul had pulled off a kind of coup d’etat. He wasn’t visibly upset but he began to withdraw. It was no longer his band.
The irony/punch line of this story is another story I once heard: When the “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” single was hot off the press, the boys had the mischievous idea of bringing their own new single to a Rolling Stones record-release listening party. Mick Jagger says that once the Fab Four arrived and let word of their new single slip — just as Side 1 of the Stones’ big new album was finishing — everyone clamored to hear it. Once The Beatles were on, they just kept flipping the single over and over. Side 2 of BEGGARS BANQUET never even found the needle.So no matter how mad John was, he wasn’t that mad… Once when John was asked whether he would ever play with Paul again, he answered: “It would always be about, ‘Play what?’ It’s about the music. We play well together — if he had an idea and needed me, I’d be interested.” I love that.Maybe the lesson is: Love doesn’t last, but the music love creates just might.Your mom and I couldn’t make love last, but you are the music, my man.“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love…”I love you. Happy birthday.Your Dad
—
The Black Album referenced in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood actually began life as a real gift from actor Ethan Hawke to his oldest daughter, Maya. 
Hawke originally wrote these liner notes for her as a letter, and then reworked them just a bit to fit Boyhood and his onscreen son, Mason. 
To see the full Hawke-curated Black Album tracklist, click here.
(photo and liner notes text via Buzzfeed)

Mason,

I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance.

I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.

The only work I’ve ever been a part of that I feel any sense of pride for involves something born in a spirit of collaboration — not my idea or his or her idea, but some unforeseeable magic that happens in creativity when energies collide.

This is the best of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s solo work, post-BEATLES. Basically I’ve put the band back together for you. There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that. When you mix up their work, though, when you put them side by side and let them flow — they elevate each other, and you start to hear it: T H E B E A T L E S.

Just listen to the whole CD, OK?

I guess it was the fact that Lennon was shot and killed at 40 (one of Lennon’s last fully composed songs was “Life Begins at 40,” which he wrote for Ringo — I couldn’t bring myself to include it on the mix as the irony still does not make me laugh) and that I just turned 40 myself that conjured this BLACK ALBUM. I listen to this music and for some reason (maybe the ongoing, metamorphosing pain of my divorce from your mother) I am filled with sadness that John & Paul’s friendship turned so bitter. I know, I know, I know, it has nothing to do with me, but damn it, tell me again why love can’t last. Why do we give in to pettiness? Why did they? Why do we so often see gifts as threats? Differences as shortcomings? Why can we not see that our friction could be used to polish one another?

I read a little anecdote about when John’s mother died:

He was an angry teenager — a switchblade in his pocket, a cigarette in his lips, sex on his mind. At a memorial service for his “unstable” and suddenly dead mom (whom he’d just recently been getting close to), he — pissed off and drunk — punched a bandmate in the face and stormed out of the memorial reception. Paul, several years his junior — a young boy, really, who didn’t yet care about girls, who was clearly UNCOOL, and who was let into the band despite his lack of badass-ness and sexual prowess due to the fact that even at 14 he could play the shit out of the guitar — chased John out onto the street saying, “John, why are you being such a jerk?”

John said, “My mum’s fuckin’ dead!”

Paul said, “You never even once asked me about my mum.”

“What about her?”

“…My mum’s dead too.”

They hugged in the middle of the suburban street. John apparently said, “Can we please start a fucking rock ‘n’ roll band?”

This story answered a question that had lingered in my brain my whole music-listening life: If The Beatles were only together 10 years and the members of the band were so young that entire time, how did they manage to write “Help,” “Fool on the Hill,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life”? They were just 25-year-old boys with a gaggle of babes outside their hotel room door and as much champagne as a young lad could stand. How did they set their minds to such substantive artistic goals?

They did it because they were in pain. They knew that love does not last. They knew it as extremely young men.

With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood, sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — “Starting Over,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Beautiful Boy,” “The No No Song,” “God” — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last.

I don’t want it to be true. I want Lennon/McCartney to write beautifully together forever, but is that really the point? I mean if the point of a rose was to last forever, it would be made of stone, right? So how do we handle this idea with grace and maturity? If you’re a romantic like me, it’s hard not to long for some indication of healing between the two of them. All signs point that way.

When Paul went on SNL recently, he played almost all LENNON. And he did it with obvious joy.

Listen to McCartney’s “Here Today.”

Can you listen to “Two of Us” (the last song they wrote side by side) and not hurt a little? What were those two motherless boys who hugged in the middle of the road so long ago thinking as they wrote “The two of us have memories longer then the road that stretches out ahead”?

The dynamic of their breakup, like any divorce, is mysterious. Some say that Paul, the pupil, had surpassed John, the mentor, and they couldn’t reach a new balance. Some say Paul was a little snot who bought the publishing rights out from underneath the other three. Others say without Brian Epstein there was no mediator between their egos. Who knows.

I played Samantha “Hey Jude” the other day, and of course she listened to it over and over. I told her the song had been written by McCartney for Lennon’s son after Lennon’s divorce and she listened even more intently. George once said that “Hey Jude” was the beginning of the end for the Beatles. Brian Epstein had just died and John & Paul were left alone to run the brand-new Apple label. They recorded “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” as a single. Normally, Brian would decide which song was the A-side and which was the B-side, but now it was up to the boys. John thought “Revolution” was an important political rock song and that they needed to establish themselves as an adult band. Paul thought “Revolution” was brilliant but that The Beatles were primarily a pop band and so they should lead with “Hey Jude.” He knew it would be a monster hit and that the politics should come on a subversive B-side. They had a vote. “Hey Jude” won 3-1. George said that John felt Paul had pulled off a kind of coup d’etat. He wasn’t visibly upset but he began to withdraw. It was no longer his band.

The irony/punch line of this story is another story I once heard: When the “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” single was hot off the press, the boys had the mischievous idea of bringing their own new single to a Rolling Stones record-release listening party. Mick Jagger says that once the Fab Four arrived and let word of their new single slip — just as Side 1 of the Stones’ big new album was finishing — everyone clamored to hear it. Once The Beatles were on, they just kept flipping the single over and over. Side 2 of BEGGARS BANQUET never even found the needle.

So no matter how mad John was, he wasn’t that mad… 

Once when John was asked whether he would ever play with Paul again, he answered: “It would always be about, ‘Play what?’ It’s about the music. We play well together — if he had an idea and needed me, I’d be interested.” 

I love that.

Maybe the lesson is: Love doesn’t last, but the music love creates just might.

Your mom and I couldn’t make love last, but you are the music, my man.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love…”

I love you. Happy birthday.

Your Dad

The Black Album referenced in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood actually began life as a real gift from actor Ethan Hawke to his oldest daughter, Maya.

Hawke originally wrote these liner notes for her as a letter, and then reworked them just a bit to fit Boyhood and his onscreen son, Mason.

To see the full Hawke-curated Black Album tracklist, click here.

(photo and liner notes text via Buzzfeed)

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“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”
—Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”

—Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Cite Arrow via pulpfictions
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1 day ago
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BRIGHT WALL/DARK ROOM TURNS 5!
(and a whole lot is about to change…)
Last week marked our fifth anniversary, five amazing years since we first came up with a little idea for a different kind of film site, gathered some friends together, and opened up our doors. When BW/DR started, our focus was—and remains—on publishing unique and personal responses to films, about the ways that movies interact with our lives, inform them or are informed by them. For the better part of 4 years, we published an essay or two every week, right here on tumblr, convinced that it was the best place to build and grow a community of like-minded readers. And it worked, far better than we ever imagined. As of today, this site has nearly 220,000 followers and has grown beyond our wildest dreams.
About a year and a half ago, we decided to start a magazine. We found a publisher, held a fundraiser, brought in over $2000, and launched Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine in June 2013. The past year we’ve been mostly focused on making the very best magazine possible, though we kept up a presence here as well, running essays that, for one reason or another, didn’t quite fit into the magazine. We realize that led to some confusion, because, as our soon-to-be brand new publisher (we’ll get to that) told us a few months ago, “you guys have like 5 different places to go online and it’s really hard to figure out what you are or where to go to get things”. We agree, and apologize. Which is why we’re simplifying things a whole lot, beginning today.    
So basically, some really big changes are afoot here at Bright Wall/Dark Room, and we wanted to tell you all about them.
Going forward, we have officially decided to focus all of our energies on Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine, which, in the past year, has taken off in all kinds ofnew and interesting directions, and started opening up a lot of doors for us. Beginning with our August issue, we’ll be moving to 29th Street Publishing(home to Harper’s, Poetry, n+1, The Weekly Rumpus, The Awl: Weekend Companion, Maura, Scratch, and a whole lot more). They’ve slightly modified the magazine app (though not much), and completely revamped the online web-based version of the magazine (which we can’t wait to show you!). In addition, you’ll finally be able to access the magazine on any tablet or device (Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, etc).
Once that transition happens, we’ll be putting all of our energy entirely into the magazine, and this site—which we’ve built from the ground up and loved so dearly—will no longer be running any full-length essays. The only way to read any BW/DR essays or writing, beginning August 1st, will be to subscribe to the magazine. The magazine will be centralized at this address (http://brightwalldarkroom.com) and the current version of the site, the one you’re reading right now, will revert back to its original tumblr address (http://brightwalldarkroom.tumblr.com). We will continue to post to this tumblr, but those posts will be limited to excerpts from the magazine, as well as other film and television flotsam and jetsam. You know, how the rest of the world uses tumblr. 
We’ll be spending this final week of July posting some of our very favorite essays from the past five years of the Bright Wall/Dark Room website—an anniversary celebration and a going away party of sorts.
It’s been a fantastic ride, tumblr, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you who’ve helped us get this far. We hope you’ll choose to join us as we continue growing our magazine. Remember, for just $2 a month(or $20 per year), you can subscribe and receive each new issue (with 8-10 essays a month) and continue to receive instant access to everything we do.
Thanks,
Chad

BRIGHT WALL/DARK ROOM TURNS 5!

(and a whole lot is about to change…)

Last week marked our fifth anniversary, five amazing years since we first came up with a little idea for a different kind of film site, gathered some friends together, and opened up our doors. When BW/DR started, our focus was—and remains—on publishing unique and personal responses to films, about the ways that movies interact with our lives, inform them or are informed by them. For the better part of 4 years, we published an essay or two every week, right here on tumblr, convinced that it was the best place to build and grow a community of like-minded readers. And it worked, far better than we ever imagined. As of today, this site has nearly 220,000 followers and has grown beyond our wildest dreams.

About a year and a half ago, we decided to start a magazine. We found a publisher, held a fundraiser, brought in over $2000, and launched Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine in June 2013. The past year we’ve been mostly focused on making the very best magazine possible, though we kept up a presence here as well, running essays that, for one reason or another, didn’t quite fit into the magazine. We realize that led to some confusion, because, as our soon-to-be brand new publisher (we’ll get to that) told us a few months ago, “you guys have like 5 different places to go online and it’s really hard to figure out what you are or where to go to get things”. We agree, and apologize. Which is why we’re simplifying things a whole lot, beginning today.    

So basically, some really big changes are afoot here at Bright Wall/Dark Room, and we wanted to tell you all about them.

Going forward, we have officially decided to focus all of our energies on Bright Wall/Dark Room magazine, which, in the past year, has taken off in all kinds ofnew and interesting directions, and started opening up a lot of doors for us. Beginning with our August issue, we’ll be moving to 29th Street Publishing(home to Harper’s, Poetryn+1, The Weekly Rumpus, The Awl: Weekend Companion, Maura, Scratch, and a whole lot more). They’ve slightly modified the magazine app (though not much), and completely revamped the online web-based version of the magazine (which we can’t wait to show you!). In addition, you’ll finally be able to access the magazine on any tablet or device (Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, etc).

Once that transition happens, we’ll be putting all of our energy entirely into the magazine, and this site—which we’ve built from the ground up and loved so dearly—will no longer be running any full-length essays. The only way to read any BW/DR essays or writing, beginning August 1st, will be to subscribe to the magazine. The magazine will be centralized at this address (http://brightwalldarkroom.com) and the current version of the site, the one you’re reading right now, will revert back to its original tumblr address (http://brightwalldarkroom.tumblr.com). We will continue to post to this tumblr, but those posts will be limited to excerpts from the magazine, as well as other film and television flotsam and jetsam. You know, how the rest of the world uses tumblr. 

We’ll be spending this final week of July posting some of our very favorite essays from the past five years of the Bright Wall/Dark Room website—an anniversary celebration and a going away party of sorts.

It’s been a fantastic ride, tumblr, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you who’ve helped us get this far. We hope you’ll choose to join us as we continue growing our magazine. Remember, for just $2 a month(or $20 per year), you can subscribe and receive each new issue (with 8-10 essays a month) and continue to receive instant access to everything we do.


Thanks,

Chad

Cite Arrow via brightwalldarkroom
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2 days ago
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Happy Birthday to Mr. Stanley Kubrick (legendary director/selfie pioneer).

"Stan Kubrick", as he was originally known in the earliest days of his career, would have been 86 years old today. 

Here are all the Kubrick-related essays we’ve run on the site over the past five years, for your birthday reading enjoyment…

Katherine Spada on The Killing (1956)

Andrew Root on Spartacus (1960)

Bebe Ballroom on Lolita (1962)

Michelle Said on Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Ben Mauk on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969)

Karina Wolf on A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Patrick Vickers on Barry Lyndon (1975)

Evan Bryson on The Shining

Letitia Trent on Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Andrew Root on Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Chris Cantoni on A.I.: Aritificial Intelligence (2001)

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3 days ago
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Excerpt from the new issue: Karina Wolf on Lost in America (1985):

"Only people who haven’t experienced crippling need could throw away advantages so blithely. Dropping out suggests assurance in your own resources. It connotes not just sufficiency, but overabundance. Other generations had no choice about their compromises. 
Anxiety, David’s hallmark, is the product of uncertainty but also of hope. His is a conflict of the 1980s, when after a long recession, there was an itch to think about ‘happiness’ and ‘fulfillment’ along with an urge for middle-class stability. The Americans that David and Linda meet on the road don’t suffer the same doubts, because they aren’t gifted with the same opportunities. Does being poor make you honest? No, it just means you have fewer comforts and fewer options. 
And maybe this is all to say that Lost In America, with its very different and tempered resolution (in which David and Linda long to reclaim their much-interrogated status quo), teaches the same lessons that Easy Rider does more darkly: freedom and itinerancy demand a heavy price, and maybe that’s too terrible to bear.”

To read the rest of this essay, download the Bright Wall/Dark Room app to your iPhone or iPad for free, or subscribe online for $2 to receive immediate access to the entire issue on your computer.

Excerpt from the new issue: Karina Wolf on Lost in America (1985):

"Only people who haven’t experienced crippling need could throw away advantages so blithely. Dropping out suggests assurance in your own resources. It connotes not just sufficiency, but overabundance. Other generations had no choice about their compromises. 

Anxiety, David’s hallmark, is the product of uncertainty but also of hope. His is a conflict of the 1980s, when after a long recession, there was an itch to think about ‘happiness’ and ‘fulfillment’ along with an urge for middle-class stability. The Americans that David and Linda meet on the road don’t suffer the same doubts, because they aren’t gifted with the same opportunities. Does being poor make you honest? No, it just means you have fewer comforts and fewer options. 

And maybe this is all to say that Lost In America, with its very different and tempered resolution (in which David and Linda long to reclaim their much-interrogated status quo), teaches the same lessons that Easy Rider does more darkly: freedom and itinerancy demand a heavy price, and maybe that’s too terrible to bear.”

To read the rest of this essay, download the Bright Wall/Dark Room app to your iPhone or iPad for free, or subscribe online for $2 to receive immediate access to the entire issue on your computer.

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4 days ago
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"There are seconds, they only come five or six at a time, and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it’s heavenly, but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. One must change physically or die. The feeling is clear and indisputable. As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and suddenly say: yes, this is true. This is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy."
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

"There are seconds, they only come five or six at a time, and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it’s heavenly, but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. One must change physically or die. The feeling is clear and indisputable. As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and suddenly say: yes, this is true. This is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy."

— Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cite Arrow via pulpfictions
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Excerpt from the new issue: Sarah Malone on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:

Smith isn’t a reformer per se—he is chosen, not chooses, to go to Washington—but he partakes in an American vernacular of not-yet elected candidates for Congress and the Presidency. The nation didn’t originate in the capital; the capital was created solely for the nation, and must be refreshed with newcomers if it is to remain in touch with the people. A lack of experience becomes a qualification. Outsiders go to Washington avowedly uninitiated in its customs, with the conviction of untried solutions only they possess or perceive the necessity of. If only the nation could remember its founding principles, as the reformer does! Smith’s is not the reform of Depression-era recovery programs—oblique criticisms of the New Deal pepper the film—or of social programs and public expenditure. “The government has too much on its hands already,” he says. Smith’s reform is intangible.

Excerpt from the new issue: Sarah Malone on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:

Smith isn’t a reformer per se—he is chosen, not chooses, to go to Washington—but he partakes in an American vernacular of not-yet elected candidates for Congress and the Presidency. The nation didn’t originate in the capital; the capital was created solely for the nation, and must be refreshed with newcomers if it is to remain in touch with the people. A lack of experience becomes a qualification. Outsiders go to Washington avowedly uninitiated in its customs, with the conviction of untried solutions only they possess or perceive the necessity of. If only the nation could remember its founding principles, as the reformer does! Smith’s is not the reform of Depression-era recovery programs—oblique criticisms of the New Deal pepper the film—or of social programs and public expenditure. “The government has too much on its hands already,” he says. Smith’s reform is intangible.

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5 days ago
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Friday Night Lights: All the Y’Alls from Tami Taylor (1:12)

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