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What makes a cult classic? A critically panned movie that garners a small but devoted following and rides that wave all the way to a revered place in film history. But why do we name it a “cult” classic? As far as I know (and I would), there are no meetings of the cult of Barbarella, unless you count every Duran Duran concert. (Little known fact: the band is named after Barbarella’s evil nemesis, Dr. Durand Durand.) My favorite “cult classics” could more accurately be named “camp classics”: meaning films that feature over the top satire and sport low production budgets with offbeat and often bizarre humor.
Though Ryan Murphy and RuPaul are keeping camp alive and kicking on television, theirs are bubble gum versions of camp’s greasepaint grassroots. Somewhere along the way from Stonewall to same sex marriage, gayness shed the stigma that made it so dangerous to put on a pair of size 12 high heels. With that, popular culture lost the kind of winking inside jokes and subversive humor that elevated camp classics to cult status. In 1999, Vermont became the first state to legalize civil unions between same sex couples. The decade leading up to that historic moment marks the last time moviemakers had to find creative ways to skirt around gayness. Which is why I nurse an embarrassing nostalgia for late ‘80s and early ‘90s comedies, the last of the low down and dirty camp films worthy of reaching cult status. READ MORE
I’ve always preferred the original The Office to its fattened up American counterpart. Why take nine seasons to do what’s already been done in one? Who was it that said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”? British guy, right? The Brits have always known how to pack a punch, and nothing on television packs more soul-searching comedy into its half-hour episodes than Doll & Em, which premiered last night on HBO.
The series was created by and stars Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom) and her real life best friend, British actress Dolly Wells. In twenty seconds of opening credits we get the set-up: Dolly is left in tears by a man, Emily steps off a red carpet to take her call, and the title rolls over a childhood photo of the two. Best friends, one’s a successful actress, and one’s in tears. Bam. The power dynamic plays out in ways both cringe inducing and delightfully familiar when Dolly moves to LA to be Emily’s assistant. READ MORE