You’ve Got Mail came out on December 18, 1998–twenty years ago today. Having just finished a rewatch of Dawson’s Creek that could probably be subtitled, “This didn’t age so well,” we can’t help but notice that rewatching You’ve Got Mail (which I do at least twice a year, if not more) is the exact opposite experience.
For those who aren’t familiar, You’ve Got Mail is about Kathleen Kelly, the owner of an independent bookstore on the Upper West Side, and Joe Fox, the heir of a corporate fortune earned by his father, who is basically the CEO of a fictional version of Barnes and Noble. Each of them has a secret Internet pen pal that they’re in love with–not realizing that their beloved pen pal is their sworn professional enemy.
Sure, the men are all wearing wide ties and baggy pants, and the technology is hilarious–our star-crossed pair have plenty of time to cool their heels to the sound of a beeping dialup before they connect to the internet. And yeah, in the Year of Our Wokeness 2018, it’s not GREAT that Tom Hanks totally tricks Meg Ryan into telling him stuff about her relationship with his online catfish persona. But come on. This movie is the Gabrielle Union of romantic comedies. It will never grow old. So Janes and I collected 26 reasons why we still love this movie to death.
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Sometimes a story comes along that’s just as valuable for the reaction it engenders as it is for the words themselves. You should read the buzzy New Yorker story “Cat Person,” and you should definitely read the short-lived but hilarious Twitter account, “Men React to Cat Person.” They have thoughts.
Vulture published a list of 10 great holiday-adjacent movies that aren’t Die Hard. We humbly submit that While You Were Sleeping, which takes place almost entirely between Christmas Eve and New Year’s, is an obvious hole in this list, but at least they got You’ve Got Mail!
YAY! Colin Meloy and Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a song!
The New Yorker published a thoughtful analysis of the controversial art created by Guantanamo detainees.
I could not be more excited for Claire Messud’s next book, coming out on Tuesday. Here’s a post from her about her mother’s library, on Lithub.
In other news, James Cameron (who once claimed his white-savior Fern Gully ripoff didn’t win Best Picture over his ex-wife’s gritty war film because he was… too famous and well-financed?) is still an idiot, but at least now we have Patty Jenkins to call him out.
In light of the “fake feminist” allegations against Joss Whedon, a sensitive essay from Indiewire about the need for fandoms to listen to women first and their idols second.
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler is finally coming to TV, courtesy of Selma‘s Ava DuVernay! Read our review of the trilogy here.
“A lot of the classic, great stories were written by truly great writers. Joseph Conrad, Edgar Allen Poe, Edith Wharton, Henry James — they wrote what we would now call “genre fiction.” It got me thinking, “What happened?” When did that stop being something you could do and still be considered a serious writer?” Michael Chabon, whose novel Moonglow just came out, talks to Electric Literature about genre fiction.
American Gauntlet, a satire site, published the hilarious “Study Suggests Gilmore Girls Revival Coupled With Political Coverage to Create Wave of ‘Super Disappointment’ for Women.”
Ann M. Martin talks to The New Yorker about feminism in the Babysitter’s Club: “I still wanted to present this idea of girls who could be entrepreneurial, who ran this business successfully, even though they were not perfect.”
The NYT has an excerpt from Anna Kendrick’s book, where she discusses the making of the immortal Camp.
If you want to, you can review one Professor of Paleontology at NYU. Think he is too into his sandwiches? Think his crunchy hair is weird? Think his spray tan is kind of uneven? Share your feelings at Rate-My-Professor. “Looks a bit like this super chill dude who used to sell cookies outside the dorms a few years back… or am I confusing him with the falafel guy?”
Keith & the Movies gives a rave review to one of our favorite movies from this year, Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship.
“I can’t imagine anything a black man would want to be more right now than bulletproof,” says Mike Colter in an article on the Huffington Post, “Marvel’s Luke Cage is the Bulletproof Black Superhero We Need Right Now.”
Aaron Bady of The LA Review of Books calls HBO’s Westworld “the most consciously reflexive TV show I’ve ever seen.”
The New Yorker argues that the so-called “first conservative art show in America” inspired by Donald Trump is quite terrible from an artistic perspective, which, sure.
You know you want to read an epic fanwank from 2009 about the theory of management (supposedly) underlying The Office.
At the LA Review of Books, Aaron Hanlon passionately argues against the tired notion that humanities Ph. D.s are irrational for pursuing their degrees at all.
I was very sad to learn today that Curtis Hanson had died. He is known for LA Confidential and 8 Mile much better than this little-known gem, which grossed $33 million at the box office (with a budget of $55 million… ouch).
In Wonder Boys, Michael Douglas plays Grady Tripp, a writing professor with a never-ending novel manuscript, a pregnant mistress, and a suspicious editor. It’s in that category of intellectual indie-style movies that don’t seem to have a plot and yet are chock-full of events (this one has a murder and a car chase, among others, that have very little to do with the actual meat of the story). And it’s based on a novel—Michael Chabon’s of the same name, also extremely good—which means that it was always inherently in danger of plotlessness.
Am I not making it sound great? Trust me, it is. Yeah, it’s quirky; yeah, it’s got Tobey Maguire in it and he’s kind of annoying sometimes; yeah, a lot of us are kind of over that quirky-indie-movie-that-goes-nowhere genre. But—especially if you’re a writer, but even if you’re not—you should Totally. Watch. This.
Here are eight reasons why.
In the opening sequence of the new Ghostbusters movie, the inimitably funny and awkward Zach Woods plays a haunted house tour guide who cynically trips a secret mechanism to make it look like the ghost in the basement has knocked something to the floor. But one night when he locks up, he finds out the ghost in the basement might not just be an invention to sell tour tickets. Near the end of the (admittedly kind of scary) sequence, he realizes he’s run to the exact wrong place and says to himself what we all want to say to the characters in every scary movie at least once: You’re Such an Idiot.
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Read the heartbreaking tweets Leslie Jones posted before being chased off Twitter by racist harassment. Vox has a good write-up of the topic, too.
Emily Nussbaum wrote a fantastic piece about Braindead and Mr. Robot. Her analysis of why Braindead succeeds despite its insane-sounding premise is spot on. (via The New Yorker)
Matt Damon did a Reddit AMA in honor of the new Bourne movie. His answers are great — or as one poster amusingly put it, “my boy’s wicked smaht.”
How well do you know Anne of Green Gables? This is a pretty basic quiz, but it should whet your appetite for the planned 2017 revival (and if you get less than 100%, you should probably just go rewatch. Actually, we probably all should).
The British Library this week takes a look at WH Auden’s poems.
At We Minored in Film, Kelly Konda ponders the role of the thematically relevant backstory in survival stories.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a delicious piece of what is essentially Virginia-Woolf-inspired fanfiction about Melania Trump for the NYT.
Happy Fourth of July! 12 authors, including Teju Cole and Jay McInerney, picked their essential American books for Time. What would you pick?
The New York Times writes a great article about the dystopian fiction of Middle Eastern writers.
The Millions has an essay on Ladislaw versus Lydgate, and Middlemarch‘s resistance to “good-on-paper” marriages.
Aww, Homeland’s not coming back till 2017.
(Spoilers for Me Before You below the cut…)
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