TIME movies

Five Pop Culture Documentaries That Hollywood Should Make

Stephen King Portrait Session
Ulf Andersen—Getty Images Stephen King

With so many documentaries out this year, here are a few subjects that filmmakers should target next

It’s only April and already there’s a rare collection of pop culture documentaries to tickle the mind: Mike Myers squeezed the life out of legendary rock ‘n’ roll manager Shep Gordon with Supermensch, Jeff Radice expanded the civil rights history of Dock Ellis with No No: A Dockumentary, Charlie Lyne waxed nostalgic over 200 coming-of-age classics in Beyond Clueless, Alexandre O. Philippe studied zombies with Doc of the Dead and Frank Pavich brought justice to Jodorowsky’s Dune. While there’s also been a handful of vastly important political documentaries — see: Damnation, The Immortalists, and The Great Invisible — something must be said of the films that manage to teach and entertain at the same time.

Those are the documentaries that don’t exactly scare you: for every Taxi to the Darkside, there’s also a 20 Feet from Stardom, and while critics and filmmakers can argue forever on what’s more impacting, both get you in the seats. What’s more, both are equally integral to the form. Here’s a shortlist of subjects that might prove fruitful for any documentarians looking to put the lens on entertainment.

Bonnaroo Music Festival

Founded in 2002, Bonnaroo has since become the go-to North American music festival, rivaled only by Goldenvoice’s Coachella in Indio, CA. Each June, the festival takes over a 700-acre farm in Manchester, TN and showcases the most acclaimed talent in music history. Past performers include Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, The Police, Kanye West, Radiohead, The Beach Boys — the list goes on. While there have been several fan-sourced documentaries over the years, there’s been no authoritative documentary so far. Think about Michael Wadleigh’s breathtaking Woodstock, or even D.A. Pennebaker’s classic Monterey Pop — both legendary pictures that captured a movement and a generation. It’s high time someone does the same for the ‘Roo. And properly.

“The Fatty Arbuckle Curse”

For decades, producers have tried to get a proper film going about the violent silent film actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. A popular screenplay circulated around Hollywood over time eventually landed in the hands of John Belushi, then John Candy, and then Chris Farley. Notice a trend? Not surprisingly, the series of young deaths has spawned what many refer to as “The Fatty Arbuckle Curse,” since the script popped up so close to each actor’s respective deaths. Similar to Jodorowsky’sDune, it would be entertaining to see what exactly happened with this failed project, and it might come at a good time, too. Currently, HBO is adapting Arbuckle’s life for the small screen based on David A. Yallop’s The Day the Laughter Stopped with Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet at the lead. Fingers crossed?

Gilda Radner

In an era of Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey and Amy Schumer, it would be wise to turn the page back to one of the earliest female comics: Gilda Radner. With the exception of a TV movie and an episode of E! True Hollywood Story, in addition to the occasional Saturday Night Live retrospectives, there hasn’t been a proper documentary about the late star. But what a story to tell! Despite an early death, Radner lived one hell of a life, what with her stint at 30 Rock, her one-woman Broadway show, her film appearances and marriage to Gene Wilder. Given that her peers aren’t getting any younger, this is one subject that deserves a little priority. Our advice? Start with Radner’s heartbreaking memoir, It’s Always Something.

Stephen King

Forty years later, Stephen King remains just that: a king. The Maine writer has sold over 350 million copies of his books, and he shows zero signs of slowing down. There are many layers to his psyche, whether it’s his fascination with classic rock, his longtime support of the Boston Red Sox or his reasoning for buying the van that nearly killed him… and that’s what would make him such an engrossing subject to study. What’s more horrifying than stepping into the mind of the creator? So far, nobody’s accomplished it: the 1999 documentary Stephen King: Shining in the Dark is both incomplete and inconsequential, while the various one-hour spots on TV don’t even scratch the surface of the famed genre writer. No, someone needs to get intimate with the New Englander, even if it means a visit to Pet Sematery, a tour through Salem’s Lot or a drive with Christine.

Alonzo Mourning

Few basketball players live a life like Alonzo Mourning. Currently, the former All-Star is Vice President of Player Programs and Development for the Miami Heat and devotes much of his time to charity work in and around Miami. But here’s the thing: He wasn’t always the nice guy. For a long time, he was often considered one of the many bad boys of the NBA, an edge that twice earned him NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Team. (Go read about his 1998 on-court fight with ex-teammate Larry Johnson. It’s wild.) This year, Mourning will receive the praise he deserves when he’s inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Why not accompany the event with a full-length documentary? Who knows — perhaps the Heat’s prospective threepeat might turn some gears for No. 33.

TIME Television

The Top 10 Late Show Replacements for David Letterman

David Letterman announces retirement
Dennis Van Tine—Geisler-Fotopres/AP David Letterman appears outside the 'Late Show with David Letterman' at Ed Sullivan Theater on April 2, 2014 in New York City.

Who's likeliest to fill those big shoes?

Yesterday, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills let loose the news that David Letterman will finally retire as host of CBS’ The Late Show after an iconic 22-year run. Though, unlike Jay Leno’s February exit on The Tonight Show, there isn’t exactly a definite replacement in line. Some might argue for The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, who’s followed Letterman since 2005, but odds are that the No. 1 network across America would rather gamble with a more blockbuster name.

Naturally, the blogosphere has been exploding with suggestions — but there are a lot of contenders. So, in homage to Dave’s classic bit, here are TIME’s Top 10 Late Show replacements.

10. Ellen DeGeneres

For over 10 years, she’s hosted her own titular daytime talk show to much fanfare — specifically 36 Daytime Emmy Awards. What’s more, her recent stint hosting this year’s Oscars earned her glowing reviews from both fans and critics, and odds are she’ll be invited back next year. Still, she’s never cracked the late night thing — save her ABC program back in the ’90s — so it could be a gamble. Nevertheless, she’s proven reliable behind the mic, and it’d be a fresh start for the Late Show franchise.

9. Jimmy Kimmel

Yes, he has a show already. No, it’s not likely. But you have to remember: Kimmel is a scholar of Letterman, having worshipped him for years, so if Worldwide Pants and/or CBS came calling, don’t think for a second he wouldn’t sleep on it for a night or two or three. He’d be following the footsteps of his idol, after all. Then again, he has a strong brand over at ABC. Bottom line: never say never. Reality check: don’t bet on it, either.

8. Martin Short

At 64, Short isn’t far off from Letterman’s age, which makes this choice a little questionable. However, he’s always been a spry comic, and he’s also maintained a rare relevance with a number of generations, which is key for the odd demos of The Late Show. Also, you won’t find a better resume: SCTV, Saturday Night Live, and Primetime Glick. Wait, what about his three failed attempts at a talk show in the ’90s, you say? Hmm, thought you’d miss those. Yeah, that might be a cause for concern, alright.

7. Sarah Silverman

Her crude humor might have a hard time sticking on network television, but a name’s a name, and it’s doubtful many Americans could plead ignorance on Sarah Silverman. Since the ’90s, she’s ascended to the upper echelon of comedy gold, what with countless specials, films, and television series. As the former girlfriend of Mr. Kimmel, she’s also hyper-aware of the late night scene, not to mention she also starred in The Larry Sanders Show. Speaking of which, maybe Gary’s avail — nevermind.

6. Neil Patrick Harris

Now that How I Met Your Mother has come to its (polarizing) conclusion, it would appear that ol’ NPH has a clean slate. So, what’s next for the popular Tony Awards host? How about The Late Show? As Vulture points out, his former bosses on HIMYM — creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays — were former writers for Letterman, so they could already be in talks. If any young star can do it, it’s certainly this guy. He can sing, he has an Encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, and he’s savvy with crafting viral Internet videos — sort of a must for any late night gig now. Besides, we didn’t name him one of the 100 most influential people for nothing.

5. Jon Stewart

“Perfect. You’ve got the job,” is what any CBS executive would say to Jon Stewart. The problem? He’s the winner of 18 Primetime Emmy Awards and the current host of one of the most popular late night shows of the last 20 years, The Daily Show. He’s a god to Comedy Central and they’ll fight tooth and nail to keep him. But maybe, just maybe, he’s itching for a little closure and to move on. Remember when he took that three-month hiatus last year? Sure, it was for a directing gig, but hey — some new scenery like the Ed Sullivan Theater and institutional prestige might sound enticing, too.

4. Tina Fey

Few writers in comedy have the chops that Tina Fey does. Even fewer writers have the chutzpah, charisma and comedic wit that Fey displays, either. Let’s just say that she would, without a doubt, be a step up in every field from Letterman, save his trademark deadpan humor. To date, she’s nabbed eight Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards and four Writers Guild of America Awards, and her work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live speaks for itself — especially her time as Weekend Update co-host to current Tonight Show leader Jimmy Fallon. Hmm — could this be the 21st century rivalry needed to follow Dave and Jay? Probably not if Lorne Michaels has any say.

3. Chris Rock

Credentials: Saturday Night Live, The Chris Rock Show, and too many mainstream blockbusters to name. More recently, Chris Rock has kept relatively quiet, appearing in the occasional indie film and voicing Madagascar characters. But you’d expect him to be jonesing to get back out there and do what he does best: bite. What better way to do that than every night in front of America?

2. Jerry Seinfeld

What’s the deal with all this late-night shuffling? Could you imagine: NBC’s trademark brand shifts over to CBS and goes head to head with Jimmy Fallon. (Personally, as a longtime fan of J-Fal, I’d be destroyed, but c’est le vie.) That’s certainly a win that would make William S. Paley smile up in the skies. Bur how likely is it? Although it happened in the last season of Louis C.K., it’s a stretch that Seinfeld’s ever going to give up his cozy lifestyle of rare cars and coffee to sling it night in and night out in New York. Again, don’t think he won’t get a call. But whether he finally says, “That’s it! That’s enough! I’ll do it already,” is up for the comedy gods to decide. (Or, you know, Jerry.)

1. Conan O’Brien

Everyone loves a strong redemption story, right? What better chapter to Conan O’Brien’s complicated career would it be to truly follow in Letterman’s footsteps? As a longtime friend of the forthcoming retiree, the seat at The Late Show was likely the first thing out of everyone’s lips when Leno came back a-knockin’ in early 2010. Of course, the second late night war ended with O’Brien signing with TBS — and the rest is history.

Or is it? Last year, Ted Turner’s network renewed him until November 2015, which would bring his current Conan series to a solid five-year run. Here’s the thing: Would he really re-sign and keep Conaco in Los Angeles? Or, would he finally make his return to the East coast? There’s no answer to either question, but instead an even bigger question: Will he get the call at all?

TIME movies

SXSW 2014: Austin’s Silver Screen Winners

Nicolas Cage in David Gordon Green’s Joe.
Roadside Attractions Nicolas Cage in David Gordon Green’s Joe.

These 10 movies made SXSW spectacular this year

There’s something adventurous about South by Southwest. For a few days out of the year, everyone’s a media cowboy (or cowgirl) — and best of all is SXSW Film, where cinematic icons share paper towels with ambitious filmmakers over the strongest plates of BBQ they’ll ever slurp up in North America. Anything can happen in Austin: standing side by side at the urinal with Ethan Hawke, taking selfies with Mindy Kaling, or creeping out to a scary Mark Duplass on-screen as he sips beer in the row behind. You might even catch an in-person glimpse of the ever-elusive Grumpy Cat.

This year’s crop of films brought a consistent blend of veterans who all have ties to the Republic: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was a 12-year homage to Texas, while David Gordon Green’s Joe put a rusty fork in the state’s underbelly; Jon Favreau turned the lens on Austin’s food scene in Chef and Wes Anderson made a triumphant return with The Grand Budapest Hotel.

In that regard, South by Southwest 2014 was a success — especially in maintaining the illusion that it’s still the small independent festival just north of the border. Here are 10 examples why.

10. Starry Eyes

Director: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch

Starring: Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Fabianne Therese, Noah Segan, Shane Coffey, Natalie Castillo, Pat Healy, Marc Senter, Maria Olsen, and Lou Dezseran

What’s the deal? If David Lynch and David Cronenberg came together to craft a gory, psychological mindbender, it might be Starry Eyes. The 98-minute film follows a young and hungry actress in Hollywood (Essoe) who is willing to do just about anything to make it as a marquee star. The story itself is disjointed in its mythos, but that’s also what makes the scares all the more terrifying — especially when the grotesque transformations begin. Think: Brundlefly.

You’ll dig if you… currently subscribe to the new class of horror, especially someone like The House of the Devil director Ti West, who is deft at combining tropes both dusty and new.

09. The Infinite Man

Director: Hugh Sullivan

Starring: Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, and Alex Dimitriades

What’s the deal? Scientists and mathematicians should unite for this Australian export, which turns quantum mechanics and oddball physics into a cinematic jigsaw puzzle. Sullivan’s strange tale of a romantic genius (McConville) who travels back in time to save his relationship is hilarious, anxious, and passionately inventive. On the surface, it’s a minimal presentation — one setting, three actors — but one of the most complex takes on time travel given its Escher-like nature. There’s no doubt that Dr. Emmett Brown would go all Scanners in this crisis.

You’ll dig if you… actually understood Shane Carruth’s smartsy Primer back in 2004.

08. Creep

Director: Patrick Brice

Starring: Mark Duplass, Patrick Brice

What’s the deal? In this “found footage” thriller, one man (Brice) takes up a Craigslist offer to film a stranger (Duplass) for a whole day at some remote cabin for $1,000. Of course, things get weird. What separates this Blumhouse production from, well, any other Blumhouse production is Duplass. For over a year, the mumblecore auteur and his fellow co-star and director pieced together this film from an eight-page treatment, relying solely on improv and multiple takes. What makes for a spontaneous and unnerving piece of filmmaking also serves as an apt commentary on the pitfalls of trust in a modern society.

You’ll dig if you… have both The Puffy Chair and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer in your Netflix queue.

07. The Mend

Director: John Magary

Starring: Josh Lucas, Stephen Plunkett, Lucy Owen, Mickey Sumner, Cory Nichols, Sekou Laidlow, Louisa Krause, Sarah Steele, Leo Fitzpatrick, and Austin Pendleton

What’s the deal? Two brothers — one a drifter (Lucas), the other a straight-laced yuppie (Plunett) — reunite in Harlem just as their respective relationships boil over. It’s a visceral account of fractured brotherhood, supported by uncanny chemistry between Lucas and Plunkett, who humorously riff on each other with ease and humility. Magary also twists the knobs on reality here and there, driving deep into the psychosis of loss and anxiety. The erratic score by Judd Greenstein and Michi Wiancko should also please any classical scholar.

You’ll dig if you… have ever felt the need to punch and hug your sibling at the same time.

06. Chef

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris, Emjay Anthony, and Robert Downey, Jr.

What’s the deal? A critically-acclaimed Los Angeles chef (Favreau) refuses to compromise his creativity for his restaurant’s stubborn owner (Hoffman) and, instead, ventures into the thriving market of food trucks. Amidst this career change, he also struggles with his young son, who just wants to be a part of his father’s life. What makes Chef cook is Favreau’s passion for the story and industry, as evidenced by the film’s scope (e.g. a road trip nationwide) and his legit connections (e.g. Franklin’s BBQ owner Aaron Franklin). It’s also a nice retreat to Favreau’s past small-screen work a la Made and Swingers, an area that serves him well.

You’ll dig if you… prefer kimchi to ketchup. And also, if you enjoy a solid Robert Downey, Jr. cameo every once and awhile.

05. No No: A Dockumentary

Director: Jeffrey Radice

Starring: N/A

What’s the deal? Odds are you’ve heard about Dock Ellis’s historic 1970 no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates — y’know, the summer game he was tripping out on LSD? What you likely don’t know was how vital the man’s career was to sports history. Director Jeffrey Radice uses that strange nugget of baseball trivia and throws a curve ball at moviegoers by dissecting racism, drug abuse, and charity in modern American sports. Although rather lengthy for a documentary, the film’s emotionally-charged interviews elicit enough tears, laughs, and gasps to avoid feeling the need for a 7th inning stretch. Hearing the late Ellis breakdown as he reads an old letter by Jackie Robinson is a rare human moment captured on film.

You’ll dig if you… already swept through ESPN’s 30 for 30 series months ago.

04. Boyhood

Director: Richard Linklater

Starring: Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, and Lorelei Linklater

What’s the deal? Twelve years go by in the blink of an eye. That’s the idea behind Linklater’s latest effort, which captures the life of a young Texas boy (Coltrane) through childhood all the way up until his first day at college. The alternative filmmaker began production on the ambitious project way back in 2002 and finally wrapped last year. What you see on-screen is a remarkable experiment that’s almost jarring in its composition, setting a new precedent for how filmgoers might experience nostalgia on film. How Linklater managed to make it to the finish line with all parties involved is an awe-inspiring feat in itself. It’s only icing on the 18-year-old’s birthday cake that the film’s damn good, too.

You’ll dig if you… prefer your Hawke directed and written by longtime collaborator Linklater (see: Before Sunrise, Tape, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight).

03. Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

Director: Mike Myers

Starring: Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas, Emeril Lagasse, Tom Arnold, and Anne Murray

What’s the deal? Hollywood goldmine Shep Gordon finally gets the spotlight he’s shied away from for years in Myers’s directorial debut. Thank God: It’s a story that runs circles around recent non-fiction heroes like The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Jordan Belfort or American Hustle‘s Melvin Weinberg, focusing on real stories told by real people. After all, the man was responsible for Alice Cooper, the idea of a “celebrity chef,” and essentially every artist worth buying on vinyl. The way Myers stitches together the interviews, the smudgy B-roll, and the explicitly-corny reenactments makes the story all that more believable and enlightening.

You’ll dig if you… found the balcony contracting of Entourage deeply fascinating.

02. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson

What’s the deal? Anderson returns to top form, going bigger and bolder in his followup to 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom. While plenty of his trademark twee lingers throughout, The Grand Budapest Hotel packs a farcical edge that recalls the stronger works of O. Henry or even Monty Python. Inspired by the writings of Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig, the film follows one German concierge (Fiennes) who must team up with his young new bellhop (Revolori) to prove his innocence in a recent murder. Not since, maybe, Gene Hackman’s ingenious portrayal of Royal Tenenbaum has there been a better performance in Anderson’s pictures than Fiennes’. His wit and emasculating rapport have a strict reservation for next year’s awards season.

You’ll dig if you… plan to renew your subscription to Wes Anderson, enjoy a great cameo or two, and/or yearn for a grand adventure in a different time and place.

01. Joe

Director: David Gordon Green

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan

What’s the deal? What’s not to love about Joe? Another rare turn for Green, an honest-to-God performance by Cage, and further proof that Sheridan is one of the most important young talents in Hollywood make this adaptation of Larry Brown’s novel of friendship, violence, and redemption in the Dirty South an unforgettable watch. Cage’s titular hero is a simple character with simple problems, surrounded by complex relationships. Watching them unfold and resolve over the film’s 117 minutes is a nail biter, sure, but the anxiety’s warranted. Cage pays homage to a brand of masculinity that’s as dated as his character’s beat up truck and as brutal as his loyal pitbull. It’s a rare look for Cage, though if Hollywood fodder like Season of the Witch or Ghost Rider 2 has left you nauseous around the Academy Award-winner, consider this your reboot.

You’ll dig if you… sought out Prince Avalanche and Snow Angels and not the other way around.

TIME movies

Wes Anderson, From Twee to Twisted: His 8 Most Disturbing Scenes

Director Wes Anderson attends "The Grand Budapest Hotel" premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Feb. 26, 2014 in New York City.
Mike Pont—FilmMagic/Getty Images Director Wes Anderson attends "The Grand Budapest Hotel" premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Feb. 26, 2014 in New York City.

The director's got a knack for going dark just when you least expect it

Wes Anderson works with a highly specific catalog of quirks: an ever-expanding gallery of familiar faces, slow-motion shots, ’60s Britpop soundtracks and Futura Bold fonts are just a few of the attributes that have carved out his particular cinematic world. “Twee” comes to mind, but it’s a deceiving label.

What most forget is that underneath all the yellows, greens, pinks, and Ray Davies songs is a sense of danger. No character is ever truly safe in this world, and Anderson makes that quite clear with a number of disturbing scenes that jolt audiences out of his charmed aura. From his 1996 debut, Bottle Rocket, all the way up to his eighth and most recent picture, The Grand Budapest Hotel, he’s always managed to shock.

Here are the most disturbing scenes in each of his eight films. Beware of spoilers.

08. Mr. Fox Goes Tail-less
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Not even Anderson’s unofficial children’s film is without its share of gasps. After a string of successful thefts at the farms of Walter Boggis, Nathaniel Bunce, and Franklin Bean, the three farmers take revenge on Mr. Fox by tracking him back to his own real estate, where they wait outside with firearms. Fox gets a whiff of all three and escapes, but not unscathed. Bean shoots off his tail… and then wears it as a tie! Not exactly a horrorfest, but pretty macabre nonetheless.

07. James Caan
Bottle Rocket (1996)

Yes, Mr. Henry gets his own entry altogether. As the mysterious landscaper, part-time criminal and scholar of Eastern culture, James Caan haunts the film in a manner similar to lawman Joe LeFors in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s an enigma, introduced by Owen Wilson’s Dignan, who can’t stop discussing how he wants to get back in his good graces. And because he’s played by the always-merciless Caan, there’s this anxious aura to him, which peaks during his verbal shakedown of John Mapplethorpe (Andrew Wilson). A hilarious scene, but seriously, what else is this guy capable of?

06. Camp Ivanhoe Loses Its Dog
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Who ever thought a group of 12-year-old Khaki Scouts could be so dangerous? Early in their tireless pursuit of young runaways Sam and Suzy, the Scouts get into a bloody mess when a stray arrow (aimed at Sam, no less) hits the Camp Ivanhoe dog. Coupled with Suzy’s scissors-led attack, it’s a jarring moment and one that The Hardy Boys certainly wouldn’t have dreamt up. Yet true to Anderson’s style, there’s enough levity to shake off the canine’s death, but c’mon, nobody likes seeing the corpse of a pooch.

05. The Intern Gets His Cut
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

A number of harsh scenes throughout Anderson’s seafaring epic come to mind, especially the fate of Kingsley Zissou. Still, the chaotic sequence involving a band of pirates hijacking the Belafonte delivers a number of breathtaking visuals, from Steve’s Stooges-fueled shootout to Nico’s gory wound. Few likely expected to see the ship’s friendly intern take a machete inches deep into his shoulder, but hey, that’s what it takes to be a member of the Zissou crew.

04. Francis Removes His Bandages
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

While The River Scene certainly comes out of left field, it’s also a beautiful sequence, a redemptive moment for the disparate brothers Francis, Peter, and Jack Whitman, despite the ensuing loss. Instead, the real eye-opener occurs in the final act, when Francis (Owen Wilson) strips off the ostentatious bandages that have been wrapped around his head for the entire film. What began as a humorous visual quickly devolves into the depressing realization that things really aren’t okay for this character, despite his preceding manic acumen.

03. Ms. Cross Confronts Max Fischer
Rushmore (1998)

It’s all fun and games until the teacher keeps it real, right? That’s what happens more or less to Max Fischer. Following his expulsion, arrest and excommunication, Max confronts Ms. Cross at Rushmore as she’s boxing up her classroom, only to be met with a frightening verbal rebuttal. “Do you think we’re gonna have sex,” she prods, cornering him amidst various elementary art projects in an awkward juxtaposition. “How would you describe it to your friends? Would you say that you’d fingered me? Or maybe I could give you a hand job. Would that put an end to all of this?” It’s a very claustrophobic scene, but one that puts everything in perspective. Well, for everyone but Max.

02. Deputy Kovacs Visits the Museum
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Without spoiling too much, Jeff Golblum tours an empty museum with his fellow Life Aquatic co-star Willem Dafoe. It’s not exactly an amicable trip, either. Let’s just say… Goldbum’s Deputy Kovacs might need to hire the same tailor used by Margot Tenenbaum. Bottom line: You’ll know when you know.

01. Richie Tries to Kill Himself…Tomorrow?
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Unless you’re watching Good Will Hunting, it’s never a good thing to hear Elliott Smith. It’s like the Chekhov’s gun of aural cues; in other words, something’s gonna go down. So when “Needle in the Hay” bleeds through as Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) isolates himself in the sterile bathroom, there’s an understanding that the Bloody Mary drinker’s on a downward spiral. When he declares, “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” there’s not even enough time to scream for help before he’s going to town on his arms, as Royal might put it. Smith’s biting lyric, “You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks,” proves deadly here.

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