The making of Airplane!

One of the all-time great comedies is the 1980 film Airplane!. Its creators gave an interview about how they wrote the script and managed to get a major studio to back the film, especially the idea of using actors such as Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Pater Graves, and Leslie Nielsen, known for playing dramatic roles, to play parts that would have normally gone to comedians.
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The mocking of the Academy Awards nominations continues

The Academy Awards continues to get its lumps for the fact that its membership is skewed heavily white and male and old and this year’s nominees were conspicuous by the lack of actors of color, and that even in films that dealt explicitly with black themes and featured black actors in major roles, it was the white people involved who got nominated.
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Review: Sherlock (no spoilers)

Last night I watched the first episode of season 4 of the Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It seems to me that as the series progresses, the writers are becoming too clever by half, to the point where one can imagine them chuckling as they add one more improbable twist to the plot, saying gleefully, “This will blow people’s minds!”
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Professional laughers

I was agreeing with a friend that the canned laughter that is heard on TV comedies is an abomination The worst ones are the really canned ones, laughs that are pre-recorded and then played at the times when the writers think the audience should laugh. These annoying laughs become even worse if you yourself are not watching the program because the phoniness becomes more obvious. If people are watching a program while I am in the next room, the canned laughter becomes so annoying that I have to move to a distant room just to get out of earshot.
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Documentary on solving Fermat’s Last Theorem

Blogging will be light during the holiday break but if you too have time on your hands, I think many people will find enjoyable this 46-minute documentary made (I think) in 1997 that looks at Andrew Wiles’s quest to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. I did not understand almost all of the sophisticated mathematics involved but that did not matter.
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How Ken Burns would have told the Star Wars story

I must admit that I am not a big Star Wars fan. For example, I do not know who Boba Fett is, a character who seems to pop up frequently in discussions about the film, and this ignorance undoubtedly puts me beyond the pale. But I know enough and recall enough of the first three films (#4,#5,#6) to enjoy this imagination of how the same story could have been told by this eminent documentarian.
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Michael Moore talks about his new film

On Stephen Colbert’s show he discusses his new film Where to Invade Next which hasn’t opened yet and that looks interesting. He goes to various countries, mostly in Europe, to find out their good ideas so that we can adopt them. I had not been aware that in Portugal, for example, they have not arrested anyone in the last fifteen years for drug offenses, even if it is the possession and use of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. He claims that drug use and drug-related crime have decreased in that time.
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