james bell

Goin’ Off: Dollaz and Sense

Don’t drink 8 ball / cause St. Ides is givin’ ends.” It’s short. It’s simple. It’s Ice Cube. It also sold St. Ides Malt Liquor to countless impressionable youths with fake IDs. To put it another way, your favorite commercial MC is probably compromised. They’re getting paper for advertising, for
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Custom Screening: A matter of opinion

It’s with a whimper, not a bang that I’ll end this column. There will be no fireworks, no dancing and no Spice Girls reunion atop a fleet of London taxis. Yes, this is my last column. After this week, I vanish into the wilderness of practically anonymous arts criticism. No
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Custom Screening: This column is brought to you by…

In an old episode of the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” Jack Donaghy, an ambitious TV exec, informs the writers of the fictional show-within-a-show that they will be forced to incorporate products from the NBC-Universal’s portable microwave division into their sketches. Liz Lemon, the head writer, refuses to stoop so low
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Custom Screening: Front page problems

Some years ago, The New York Times published an anthology of its front pages on the days of important historical events. Though the book’s ‘best-of’ style of selection made for good reading, the real fun was to be had with the accompanying CD-ROM which included every front page of the
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Custom Screening: The Dark Knight Rises?

Before I even got a chance to see “The Dark Knight Rises” at a midnight screening last week, I was bombarded with emails and blog posts that frantically dissected  every frame for any hint of allegory to any time — historical or contemporary. The Guardian, sounding ever more the indignant
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Custom Screening: This land is your land

Buried in my pillow, seeing flashes of red, white and blue and slowly giving in to drowsiness, my first Independence Day drew to an early, Sangria-induced close. I rather enjoyed the festivities. From GQ’s self-congratulatory list of “50 Things You Can Do In America But Not Socialist Europe” (number one:
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Custom Screening: Sleepless in Hollywood

I was looking out the bathroom window of the cheap Hollywood hotel room I had rented for the week. It was 1 o’clock in the morning and I was struggling to sleep. The sticky Los Angeles heat is inescapable when it lingers in the thin pocket of air between your
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Custom Screening: The vagina dialogue

It seems that everyone this week had something to say about the word “vagina.” Last Thursday, Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives objected to State Representative Lisa Brown’s use of the word “vagina” during a debate about birth control, prompting a global debate about the word’s use. A week
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Custom Screening: In defense of offense

I was trawling YouTube one night and happened upon a 2006 discussion between Stephen Fry and the late Christopher Hitchens on the subject of blasphemy. Now, anyone who knows anything about either of these men will need no introduction to their stance on religion.
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Custom Screening: ‘Burning Love’ and TV hook-ups

I pulled the sheets over my large double bed, dislodging enough crumbs from last night’s dinner to excuse me from washing my sheets this week. I was busy counting sheep when I heard a voice from the pillow beside me: “If I was still in my experimental phase, I’d rip
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