Disposable flashbulbs

Nine Things I Am Not Nostalgic About

As we wade into a new decade, some people believe, as always, that everything's getting worse and that everything used to be so much better. I disagree. For instance, you can't convince me that any era before the advent of indoor plumbing was better than this one. We romanticize the past because we survived it – we gloss over the… read more!

Ava DuVernay

Nine Directors Who Represent the 2010s

It's a clunky title, I know. But I didn't want to call these people the "best" directors of the decade, and certainly not the "most successful", for how do you define these things? Awards, critical praise, and box office only tell part of the story. In any case, these notable filmmakers were the most influential and most discussed and/or worshipped… read more!

Billie Eilish

Nine People Who Ruled 2019

What does it mean to "rule" a year? For this list, I chose people who not only met with great success in their chosen fields in 2019, but who dominated the media landscape (especially on the Internet, where I live). People whose names and likenesses you saw again and again, who were the constant subjects of praise, opinion, and fascination.… read more!

XTC, back when they were a live band

Nine Bands and Musicians Who Quit Touring But Kept Recording

These days it's much more lucrative for a performing artist – any performing artist, young or old, famous or unknown – to tour than to sell albums. Many established acts (Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac) still play relentlessly, even though they haven't recorded any new material in years. So we have to go back a ways to find successful performers who… read more!

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Nine Films About Other Films

The world has been rife with fan films – amateur riffs on Batman and so forth – even before the advent of YouTube. The following nine features take this idea to the next level. They are not spoofs, documentaries, or "making of" dramatizations (e.g., The Disaster Artist, Hitchcock). They are, for want of a better word, tribute films: each is… read more!

Scream

Nine Movies Where the Opening Scene Is the Best Part

Folks, I'm here to save you a lot of time. The following nine films, in my opinion, must be watched – however, they need not be watched past the first scene, because it's all downhill from there. Obviously this is a subjective list: some of these films are considered classics. Others, not so much. In any event, if you're curious,… read more!

Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger

Nine Hollywood Vehicles for Foreign Stars

It's an old showbiz tradition: make a name for yourself in your home country, do noteworthy work in a movie that scores US distribution, and Hollywood will soon come calling. It does say something about the American film industry that it has always been relatively open to immigrant talent. But those big breaks don't always pan out for the stars,… read more!

Mark (second from right) at the Seattle International Film Festival, 2016

Nine Tips for Entering Film Festivals

I'm currently in the thick of submitting Words to Live by to American film festivals near and far. (I'm not pursuing foreign festivals this time, for reasons stated below.) A lot of websites offer dos and don'ts for the festival-bound filmmaker, but these are mine, based on my own experiences and observations. Before you start submitting your film – hell,… read more!

Peter O’Toole as Henry II

Nine Actors Who Played the Same Character in Different Films

Some actors are born to play certain roles. So much so that they'll be cast as the same person in two entirely different movies – and I'm not talking about sequels, spinoffs, remakes, or cameos in which they spoof themselves. Read this list and you'll see what I mean. IAN HART as John Lennon. Mainstream moviegoers know Hart as the… read more!

Musso’s neon signage

Nine Celebrities I Have Seen at Musso and Frank

My wife and I have been semi-regulars at Hollywood's Musso & Frank Grill for a decade now. 2019 has been a banner year for the restaurant: the oldest in Hollywood, Musso's turns 100 this year, and it also serves as a key location in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. On a sadder note, Musso's most famous bartender… read more!

Bacon-wrapped hot dogs

Nine Smells I Associate with Los Angeles

Most people don't talk about how a city smells, because most cities smell the same: like diesel, dog crap, and garbage. You'd probably add that LA also smells like "smog", but I don't know what smog smells like – maybe I've been here so long that I've become desensitized to it. In any event, I actually find Los Angeles and… read more!

Eddy Grant’s song, cut from the film

Nine Songs You Think Came from Movie Soundtracks, But Didn’t

I had hoped to preface this list with a trivia nugget about the first song ever written for a film. Alas, my research has proven inconclusive, though it might have been "Sonny Boy", from the 1928 Al Jolson musical The Singing Fool. (It was almost certainly the first hit song written for a film.) Anyway, lots of well-known songs came from… read more!

Dicks Street

The Nine Gayest-Sounding Street Names in West Hollywood

It's time once again for Pride Weekend in West Hollywood. And as I occasionally do around this time of year, I thought I'd write another cheeky list saluting my friends and neighbors here in this, the queerest of American cities. The following streets are all real, and they were all christened long before West Hollywood became a gay mecca. But… read more!

Art Howe has outlived Philip Seymour Hoffman

Nine Biopic Subjects Who Outlived the Actors Who Portrayed Them

In the old days, a biographical motion picture – biopic, for short – would cover its subject's life from cradle to grave, emphasis on grave. Yet there have also been countless biopics made while their subjects were very much alive: W., The Queen, What's Love Got to Do with It, I, Tonya, and so forth. In rare, awkward instances, the… read more!

So many Captain America questions

Nine Questions I Have About Avengers: Endgame

Now that half the universe has seen Avengers: Endgame, I feel comfortable in talking about it without fear of spoiling it. Still, if you haven't yet seen the film, and you still intend to, then leave this page immediately. In any event, while one must suspend tons of disbelief when watching a superhero movie, Endgame did leave me with some… read more!

Winchester

The Nine Quintessential San Jose Movies

San Francisco has starred in scores of films, and nearby Oakland has recently had some time in the spotlight thanks to Fruitvale Station, Sorry to Bother You, etc. But what of lowly San Jose and its environs? Silicon Valley is driving the world's culture right now, but motion pictures shot in Santa Clara County – or with stories set in… read more!

Dianne Feinstein

The Nine Essential San Franciscans

Lots of famous people were born and/or raised in San Francisco: Joe DiMaggio, O.J. Simpson, Danny Glover, Courtney Love, Margaret Cho, and so on. But you won't find any notable names when you Google the phrase "lifelong San Franciscan". In true California spirit, the people most associated with the City by the Bay either came from elsewhere to make their fortune,… read more!

Ferry Cross the Mersey

Nine Forgotten British Invasion Movies

When you think of the British Invasion – the musical one, in the mid 1960s – you think of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and maybe the Kinks. The Beatles, of course, also became movie stars that decade, beginning with A Hard Day's Night. The other three bands, alas, never got their own teenybopper films. (Gimme Shelter, Tommy, and Return to… read more!

Breakin’

Nine Movies That Attempted to Cash in on Fads

The moment a fad achieves widespread popularity, someone in Hollywood says, "Let's make a movie about it! We'll rake in millions!" That someone is nearly always wrong. The thing is, it takes so much time to write, shoot, and edit a film – even a cheapie riding the coattails of a national craze – that by its release date, audiences… read more!

Lufthansa’s downstairs lavatories

The Nine Coolest Features I’ve Seen on Airplanes

I'm lucky in that I have the time and means to travel by air for pleasure. Not lucky enough, alas, to fly first class. So this list won't cover those genuinely awesome amenities, like showers and lounges, which you will find on A380s flown by Etihad, Emirates, etc. But for this hapless traveler cramped in economy, these little innovations have… read more!