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Selma Blair’s Incredible Moment at the Oscars

Selma Blair’s Incredible Moment at the Oscars

Actress Selma Blair made headlines this week when she attended a post-Oscars party with an unusual accessory. To go with her Ralph & Russo mint green, powder blue and pink block gown, the Cruel Intentions and Legally Blonde star turned heads as she walked with a monogrammed black cane which included a real pink diamond.

Blair suffers from multiple sclerosis, or MS, an incurable condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, creating problems such as double vision, partial blindness, muscle weakness, trouble with sensation and trouble with coordination.

She was diagnosed with MS in August 2018, and the Oscars were her first public event since announcing her diagnosis. Blair revealed that she had the condition in an Instagram post last October, writing, “I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.”

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I was in this wardrobe fitting two days ago. And I am in the deepest gratitude. So profound, it is, I have decided to share. The brilliant costumer #Allisaswanson not only designs the pieces #harperglass will wear on this new #Netflix show , but she carefully gets my legs in my pants, pulls my tops over my head, buttons my coats and offers her shoulder to steady myself. I have #multiplesclerosis . I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it . And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best. Since my diagnosis at ten thirty pm on The night of August 16, I have had love and support from my friends , especially @jaime_king @sarahmgellar @realfreddieprinze @tarasubkoff . My producers #noreenhalpern who assured me that everyone has something. #chrisregina #aaronmartin and every crew member… thank you. I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others. And even to myself. You can’t get help unless you ask. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. You want to sleep. You always want to sleep. So I don’t have answers. You see, I want to sleep. But I am a forthcoming person and I want my life to be full somehow. I want to play with my son again. I want to walk down the street and ride my horse. I have MS and I am ok. But if you see me , dropping crap all over the street, feel free to help me pick it up. It takes a whole day for me alone. Thank you and may we all know good days amongst the challenges. And the biggest thanks to @elizberkley who forced me to see her brother #drjasonberkley who gave me this diagnosis after finding lesions on that mri. I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve. I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know. And share. 🖤 my instagram family… you know who you are.

A post shared by Selma Blair (@selmablair) on

“If I can help anyone be more comfortable in their skin, it’s more than I’ve ever done before,” Blair said to Vanity Fair magazine.

Blair has received widespread support and encouragement for being so vocal about her condition. Among celebrities who have reached out to Blair to offer their support are Marc Jacobs, who has a handbag named after the actress; Amy Schumer, whose father suffers from MS; and Kris Jenner, who sent Blair an extravagant flower arrangement.

Figures suggest that nearly one million people are living with MS in the United States. Many MS sufferers and family members of MS sufferers have taken to social media to voice their appreciation for the actress bringing such a debilitating condition to light.

On Sunday at the Vanity Fair Oscars party, she told the magazine: “I really feel like people with disabilities are invisible to a lot of people.”

Looking ahead, Blair is interested in working with a fashion designer to create a line of clothes that are chic, yet also comfortable and able to be worn by those suffering from MS or other similar debilitating conditions.

She told Vanity Fair that one of her main complaints about MS is the lack of stylish clothing available to disabled people. It might sound frivolous, but to Blair, who has always used clothes as a form of self-expression, it is a matter of identity.

“I would like to partner with someone like Christian Siriano on a line for everyone—not just people who necessarily need adaptive clothing, but for those who want comfort, too. It can still be chic. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style. Like, let’s get elastic waistbands to look a little bit better.”

College News is all for it.

See also: Highlights from the 2019 Oscars

Highlights-from-the-2019-Oscars-

Highlights from the 2019 Oscars

On Sunday February 24, everyone who is anyone in Hollywood attended the entertainment industry’s biggest and most dazzling night of the year: The Oscars.

For some, the dream of winning an iconic golden Academy Awards statuette came true. For everyone else, the 2019 Oscars would surely be remembered as a night of powerful speeches, captivating performances, overdue breakthroughs and multiple backlashes (we’re looking at you Kevin Hart).

Here are the night’s highlights.

The talk of the town

If you’re not familiar with Hollywood’s latest imaginary love triangle, it involves the undeniably compatible stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Are the pair just friendship goals? Did Gaga leave fiancé Christian Carino because she’s secretly in love with Cooper? Why did Cooper’s girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, sit in-between the two at the awards ceremony? And, most importantly, did you see that steamy performance of Shallow?

Whatever fan-fic A Star Is Born enthusiasts are living, we’ve been team Gaga since her Just Dance days and we’re thrilled that she won Best Original Song on Sunday. 

Tweeted about by the President

 Spike Lee leapt into the arms of Samuel L Jackson as he was finally presented with his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. But it wasn’t the endearing bromance or the fact that Lee’s outfit paid tribute to his friend Prince that got viewers, and the President, talking.

“Do not turn the motherfucking clock on,” Lee said about the organizer’s 90-second time limit before using his acceptance speech to talk about how it is 400 years since “our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved”.

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there,” he urged.

On Monday, President Trump struck back at the film director, accusing him of delivering a “racist hit” on Twitter.

“Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!” Trump wrote.

Defying fashion norms

While there were certainly some magical outfits at this year’s Oscars, none were as unapologetically magnificent as Billy Porter’s. The Pose star worked the red carpet in a custom creation by designer Christian Siriano, which included a tailored tuxedo jacket overtop a velvet gown.

“This industry masquerades itself as inclusive, but actors are afraid to play, because if they show up as something outside of the status quo, they might be received as feminine, and, as a result, they won’t get that masculine job, that superhero job,” the star told Vogue about his outfit-choice.

Captioning a snap of the ensemble for Instagram, Porter added: “When you come to the Oscars, you must dress up.”

Making history

This year’s Oscars saw African Americans who work behind the scenes picking up awards for the first time in decades.

“Wow, this has been a long time coming,” said Ruth E Carter when she became the first African American woman to win for costume design for Black Panther.

Marvel may have made the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king.”

Her colleague, Hannah Beachler also made history as the first African American woman to win for production design.

A film about periods

Period. End of Sentence covers the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation in a rural village in India, and it won the award for Best Short Documentary despite an anonymous male member of the Academy recently feeling the need to share his thoughts about the film.

“[I’m not going to vote for] Period. End of Sentence—it’s well done, but it’s about women getting their period, and I don’t think any man is voting for this film because it’s just icky for men,” he wrote in his ballot outlining his selections for the year’s awards ceremony. Boy bye.

The film’s director, Rayka Zehtabchi’s summed up our feelings pretty accurately in her acceptance speech.

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period, or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” She said.

Olivia Colman keeps it real

While she may not have been the favorite to take home the 2019 Best Actress award, British actress Olivia Colman reminded us all why she deserved the win with her down-to-earth acceptance speech.

“It’s genuinely quite stressful,” The Favourite star began, before adding: “This is hilarious. An Oscar. OK. I’d like to thank a lot of people, but if I forget people I’m going to find you later and give you a massive snog.”

The star told her children watching at home that “this is never going to happen again” before apologizing to fellow nominee Glenn Close.

“You’ve been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be,” she admitted.

Colman, who made her name in TV comedy prior to landing her award-winning role, had begun talking about how she had been a cleaner when she was told to wrap up her speech, leading her to promptly blow a raspberry at The Academy.

Lacking a host 

Without a single host (we’re still looking at you Kevin Hart), plenty of people who had something important to say were allotted time on stage during this year’s ceremony.

Immigration was a recurring theme, with Best Actor winner Rami Malek stating that he was a first-generation American. Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón thanked the academy for “recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights. A character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema.

“As artists, our job is to look where others don’t. This responsibility becomes much more important in times where we are being encouraged to look away,” he said.

There was also many a Trump reference on Sunday night, with Keegan-Michael Key descending from the ceiling with a Mary Poppins-style umbrella only to discard it in apparent mockery of the President.

Barbra Streisand praised BlacKkKlansman “because it was based on the truth, and truth is especially precious these days” and 79-year-old congressman John Lewis spoke of his experiences in the civil rights movement before introducing the nomination of Green Book for best picture.

Speaking of Streisand, we’ll just leave Richard E Grant’s precious reaction to the legend gracing the stage at the ceremony, here. The actor recently shared his “lifelong fandom” for the star, along with the sweet letter that he had penned for her at the age of 14.

Further reading: Why Beyoncé’s Shout Out to Meghan Matters

 

 

Everything-you-want-to-know-about-Jennifer-Lawrence's-Engagement

Everything You Want to Know about Jennifer Lawrence’s Engagement

Jennifer Lawrence isn’t the kind of gal to rush onto Instagram and show off her flashy new diamond ring—one of the many reasons why we love her. However, this makes an in-depth Internet search for every single detail of her engagement an absolute necessity.

For those at the back: J. Law has a fiancé.

If you’re late to the search party, here’s what you need to know.

Who, why, how, when?

Following speculation on Tuesday night, after Lawrence was reportedly spotted out at Raoul’s in New York “rocking a massive ring on her finger”; her reps confirmed that she and Cooke Maroney are officially engaged.

In classic whirlwind romance fashion, the low-key couple started dating last summer and moved in together after just two months. Eight months in and it’s apparently official. Don’t worry, you can find snaps of the Oscar-winning actress’ mystery engagement ring here.

Spoiler: it’s stunningly modest, not “massive”.

Commit this name to memory

If you’re struggling to recall where you’ve heard the name Cooke Maroney before, that may be because you haven’t. Unlike Lawrence’s previous boyfriends—Chris Martin, Nicholas Hoult and Darren Aronofsky spring to mind—her latest and very much official beau isn’t famous.

Maroney, 34, studied art history at New York University and is now a director at Gladstone 64—the Gladstone Gallery’s Upper East Side Location. The gallery represents a number of high-profile artists, including Lena Dunham’s dad, Carroll Dunham.

Apparently, Maroney is a respected player in the industry, and a source told The Cut that he’s pretty chill but “goes to a lot of art-world parties.” Basically, you have permission to re-watch every episode of Gossip Girl in celebration.

Asking for a friend

Yes, he’s on Instagram, and yes, his account is private.

How did they meet? 

According to several reports, Lawrence’s non-celebrity best friend Laura Simpson introduced them last spring.

While we’re happy for the happy couple, we’re betting that their low-key relationship is indicative of a quiet wedding to come.

Further reading: Priyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas Are Married

We Need to Talk About Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy Movie

We Need to Talk About Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy Movie

If you haven’t already heard, Zac Efron is starring in a new and highly-anticipated Ted Bundy biopic called Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

For us true crime fanatics and OG High School Musical fans, this sounds unmissable, right? Well, that’s up for debate.

The movie is directed by Joe Berlinger, whose documentary series Conversations With A Killer: The Bundy Tapes recently fascinated and disturbed Netflix viewers. Having premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this month, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile received mixed reviews, and those on Twitter are finding it much more difficult to agree about how Thursday’s trailer makes them feel.

With the film arriving in theatres later this year, here’s everything you need to know.

Ted Bundy who?

Ted Bundy is one of the country’s most infamous criminals—a serial killer who murdered, raped and assaulted numerous young women and girls as young as 12 in the 1970s. He was a necrophile, a kidnapper and confessed to 30 homicides after more than a decade of denials. His crimes took place on a huge scale and went unsolved for a long time, supposedly because Bundy was charismatic, educated and a genuinely liked member of society. He was executed for his crimes in 1989 after receiving three death sentences.

What’s the movie about?

In Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy as told from the perspective of his long-term girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. Played in the movie by British actress Lily Collins, Kloepfer used the pseudonym Liz Kendall to publish her memoirs, and this is the name used in the film. The movie follows Kloepfer’s seven-year relationship with the killer, instead of detailing the horrific acts of violence he committed.

Other casting choices include The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, who portrays prosecutor Larry Simpson, and John Malkovich, who appears as judge Edward Cowart. Cowart famously called Bundy a “bright young man” and was known for being sympathetic towards the killer in court.

Kaya Scodelario, Haley Joel Osment and James Hetfield also appear in the movie. 

What’s being said?

Dramatizing real life events invites discussion about ethics, and in this case, some of Bundy’s victims and relatives are still living, making the conversation more significant.

While critics have commended Efron’s performance, many have been left unsettled by the movie’s general “glorification” and humanization of the serial killer and rapist.

A key issue here is the casting of Efron in the first place, with the argument being that it seems disturbing to associate a murderer of young women with a teenage heartthrob whose fans are mostly made up of young women themselves. On the other hand, in all references to Bundy at the time of his crimes, he is described as “charming”, “normal”, “attractive” or similar, and these traits undoubtedly played a part in making him an infamous monster.

In their review, The Playlist noted how the movie “can’t resist making Bundy look like a little bit of a rock star at times even though the movie purports to condemn him.”

This opinion has circulated in more ways than one, with many finding it hard to miss the upbeat “rock music” that appears in the trailer for the movie.

Fifth Harmony singer Lauren Jauregui shared the clip on Twitter, adding: “The romanticization of a serial killer is exactly why these sick f**** continue to do things like this to women. Notoriety. This is appalling.”

Many who caught the premiere of the movie at the Sundance Film Festival—for example, this writer from Cosmo—have promised that the trailer was not representative of the entire screening. “Never is there any doubt Bundy did what he was accused of.”

Amid the debate, is the voice of Kathy Kleiner Rubin, who survived an attack from Bundy in her sorority house at Florida State University in 1978.

Speaking with TMZ, she said: “I don’t have a problem with people looking at it, and as long as they understand that what they’re watching wasn’t a normal person. 

“I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it’s not really glorifying him, but it’s showing him, and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him… that’s what they saw, that’s what Bundy wanted you to see.

“I think everyone should see it,” she concluded.

Serial killer’s are not hot

Perhaps proving that there is cause to worry is the vast number of people “swooning” over Bundy on social media.

Following Berlinger’s, Conversations With A Killer: The Bundy Tapes, viewers have been describing the murderer as “hot”, “attractive” and “a waste of a baby daddy”.

Netflix has had to step in to address the issue, tweeting: “I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service—almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers.” 

The comment comes after former Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley spoke out on a similar issue surrounding his new fictional Netflix show You, in which a serial killer uses social media to stalk and manipulate a young woman.

Badgley has replied to various tweets that express admiration and attraction for the character.

Further reading: Are Thrift Stores Really Getting More Donations Because of Marie Kondo?

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

Highlights from the 2019 Golden Globe Awards

The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards honored the best films and television of 2018 on Sunday, January 6.

This year, your hosts were actors Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, with Oh joining the small group of actors to win awards in the same ceremony that they hosted.

The show may have run 20 minutes over its allotted three-hour running time, but it was full of impassioned speeches, diversification and unexpected surprises.

Here are the night’s most talked-about highlights.

“I’m Sorry!”

Jokes often fall flat during opening monologues. This year however, Sandra Oh managed to stir up some responses from the audience. We’re looking at you Emma Stone.

Introducing the history-making Crazy Rich Asians, Oh called out films that whitewashed Asian roles. “[Crazy Rich Asians] is the first studio film with an Asian-American lead since Ghost in the Shell and Aloha,” she joked.

The latter saw Emma Stone play a part-Asian character and explains why she shouted, “I’m sorry!” from the audience.

Shortly after, Oh redirected her efforts to Lady Gaga, referencing the actress’ go-to-interview anecdote about there being 100 people in a room “and you just need one to believe in you and that was Bradley Cooper.”

In good spirits, Gaga responded: “It’s true!”

A Swift surprise

While many were upset that Glen Close bested A Star Is Born firm favorite Lady Gaga for best actress (film drama), The Wife star earned a standing ovation for her emotional speech.

Close paid tribute to other nominees in the category, including Gaga, Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Rosamund Pike, before thanking her own mother as she discussed the film’s themes of gender inequality.

The actress said: “Women, we’re nurturers, we have our children, and our partners if we’re lucky enough, but we have to find personal fulfilment, we have to follow our dreams, we have to say ‘I can do that’ and I think we should be allowed to do that.”

The only Globe A Star Is Born picked up was for best original song. In an unannounced appearance, Taylor Swift presented Gaga with the award for Shallow, the No.1 duet between Gaga and Cooper.

Host-turned-winner

The first person of Asian descent to host the Golden Globes—Sandra Oh is now also the first woman of Asian descent to win best actress (TV drama) in more than three decades, for BBC America’s spy thriller Killing Eve.

Oh’s tearful speech at the top of the show earned her even more adoration on Twitter, as she touched on the diversity of this year’s nominee pool.

“I said yes to the fear of being on this stage tonight because I wanted to be here to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change,” she said.

“Trust me, it is real. Because I see you. And I see you. All these faces of change. And now, so will everyone else.”

Thank you, Satan

This year, the Globes seemed light on politics. That was, until Christian Bale accepted his award for best actor in a comedy or musical, for political satire Vice.

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration for playing this role,” he said about his character Dick Cheney.

While some found the joke tasteless, the comment earned recognition from the Church of Satan itself, which wrote on Twitter: “To us, Satan is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. As Mr. Bale’s own talent and skill won him the award, this is fitting. Hail Christian! Hail Satan!”

50 percent women

In a popular win, Regina King accepted best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk.

After expressing her admiration for fellow nominee Amy Adams, King took a bold stance on gender equality.

“I’m going to use my platform right now to say that in the next two years, everything I produce … is 50 percent women.

“And I challenge anyone that’s out there who is in a position of power, not just in our industry, all industries, I challenge you to challenge yourselves and stand with us in solidarity and do the same,” she said.

Worthy winners 

While the Globes proved to be devastating for A Star is Born, the night was a big success for Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The film won best film (drama) and also saw Rami Malek win best actor for his role as Freddie Mercury.

Richard Madden won best performance by an actor in a television drama for his role in the Bodyguard and Patricia Arquette took home best performance as an actress in a limited series or motion picture made for television for her work on Escape at Dannemora.

The night also gave way to mixed opinions as Mahershala Ali won best performance by an actor in a supporting role motion picture for Green Book.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Further reading: “We Solved it!” Diversity at the Emmys

Eight Life Lessons ‘Hocus Pocus’ Taught Us

Eight Life Lessons ‘Hocus Pocus’ Taught Us

Say what you like about this campy film that features a talking cat, catchy musical numbers and extortionate levels of cringe, but we think Hocus Pocus is a masterpiece.

This Halloween, the iconic cult-classic that is Hocus Pocus is 25 years old. With the film out-performing other family-friendly Halloween movies in a survey by Redbox, it’s not just the nostalgia of secretly watching this as a child, even though our parents said it would give us nightmares, that makes this movie worthy of its dedicated 90s-kid following.

The story of the Sanderson sisters inaugurates a hanging, a resurrection and a mission to suck the souls out of the children of Salem, Massachusetts. Brilliantly played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, the witches are just a few of the strong characters that helped this movie shape a generation of millennials. Child murdering aside, here are eight powerful life lessons that can be learned during 96 minutes of pure magic.

 Women are awesome

Sure, the Sanderson sisters may kill children, but you’d probably be lying if you said you didn’t want to be a part of their coven when you were growing up. These hilarious witches are quick-witted, powerful and know how to confidently take charge to get the dirty work done.

Sisterhood is definitely, and literally, the word here—each sister has her own unique talents that serve to compliment those of her siblings’. The sisters are the only ones who understand how to calm each other down and, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye, they unite on their quest to take on modern society. We’re including Allison (Vinessa Shaw) and Dani (Thora Birch)—the brave girls who scheme against these witches—in this, too.

Another great thing about Hocus Pocus is how sexually aware the female characters are. Sarah Sanderson may be borderline inappropriate, but she’s definitely not afraid to express her desires. She flirts, plays with and kisses a variety of men throughout the film for her own sexual pleasure, a trait that screams modern feminist. Also refreshing is the scene in which Max (Omri Katz) lights the black-flame candle that summons the witches back from the grave. Instead of the sweet, virginal girl trope that often dominates horror films, a virginal boy proves that he should have listened to his sister—sorry Max.

Always be yourself

Salem society clearly has its qualms about the Sanderson sisters, and the hair and makeup team were obviously out to get them too. Frankly, the witches couldn’t care less. By embracing their weirdness, they turn being different into something powerful and intimidating. As it turns out, eternal beauty is overrated when you’re faced with the imminent problem of being reduced to dust. The lesson: Always be yourself, unless you can be a badass witch and survive until morning.

Squads stick together

Max, Allison, Dani and Thackery (Sean Murray) vs. Winifred, Mary and Sarah. By sticking together, both sides are able to put up a good fight. Whether it’s providing back-up vocals when a member of the group launches into unexpected song, or drinking a youth-sucking potion so that your little sister doesn’t have to, having each other’s backs is everything.

Reading is magical

Clearly, books hold all the answers; just don’t steal them if you want to avoid child-murdering witches. On the other hand, perhaps if the Sanderson sister’s had made the effort to memorize a few spells, they’d have been more successful. We’ll take knowledge over youthful looks any day.

Tomorrow is a new day 

At the end of the day, you can rest assured knowing that no matter how traumatized you may have become; the day’s problems will be reduced to stardust before dawn arrives. Hopefully, if you don’t die first, or get turned into a cat.

Being young is powerful, and so is being old

The Sanderson sister’s are obsessed with youth, reminding us that being young is desirable and we should probably make the most of it. In fact, whether your duty is to rid society of evil witches or speak out on social media, young people definitely have the power to change the world.

That being said, it is clear that society has burdened adults with the impossible task of reversing nature’s clock. Instead of spending your entire paycheck on anti-aging products and dermal fillers, steal the life essence of a child or refer to the above point: “Always be yourself”. 

Family is the best

If your big brother has ever given up his future with a pretty girl to drink a deadly potion and save your life, then you can undoubtedly relate to this one. Really, Hocus Pocus is about family. Thackery Binx spends 300 years plagued by the fact that he couldn’t save his sister; the Sanderson sisters literally support each other through life and death; and Max eventually realizes that his annoying little sister has been there for him all along and sacrifices everything for her.

This family-film was also the first to teach us how to give our parents a break. Mom and Dad have their own lives and personalities in this movie and even occasionally enjoy dressing up as Madonna for Halloween.

Yabbos means breasts

“What do you call them again, Max? Yabbos?”

Further reading: The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

A Prayer Before Dawn

Joe Cole on A Prayer Before Dawn

As soon as Joe Cole and I are connected for this interview, it’s as though I am greeted by an old friend; he is relaxed, chirpy and prepared for a good old natter. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was talking to a colleague, a peer, but the British actor is more than that. His rising star within the cinematic landscape began modestly with secondary roles in UK procedural soaps but his career soon catapulted, making his face a familiar screen-favorite among the leading actors of our generation—and I suspect we will be seeing much more of him in the future, too. Cole has made appearances in Green Room (2015), Eye on Juliet (2017), and, perhaps most notably, in the critically acclaimed British period drama, Peaky Blinders (2013-present), as the razor-sharp John Shelby.

But fans should focus their attentions to the 29-year-old’s latest major role as Billy Moore in A Prayer Before Dawn. This gritty, primal boxing drama is based on the true memoirs of Billy Moore, a UK boxer who moved to Thailand and found himself incarcerated in two of Thailand’s most notorious prisons after dabbling in drugs and crime. While inside, Moore takes up Muay Thai boxing in an effort to—quite literally—fight his way out of prison. The film, which received Official Selection at 2017’s Cannes Film Festival, was released July 20 2018, and has lauded much critical acclaim since. (“It seems like people are enjoying the movie,” Cole says, humbly.)

Getting into character

Getting into the mindset of a true-to-life character—who is still alive—is unlike anything the actor has ever experienced before. “I actually met him [Billy Moore] when I was doing Peaky Blinders,” says Cole. “He’s a super charismatic, interesting guy with incredible anecdotes and life experience and he’s a joy to have around…So I got to know him really well and he opened up to me more and more in the build-up to shooting the movie. It was kind of amazing—he really gave himself to me, more than what’s in the book.”

I ask the actor how did this role come to him and what did he have to do to prepare for such a versatile character? “I actually share an agent with the director,” he explains. The film’s director, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, made his stamp directing hard-hitting cult movies including Johnny Mad Dog (2008) and A Dios (2001). For his arguably bravest venture yet, the French director had his eyes firmly set on Cole to play his latest leading man after seeing his performance in prior films. “I trained a lot. I got to Thailand and was put in these real gritty Thai boxing camps where you wash with a bucket of water and kind of just really get stuck in and have these Thai guys beat you up for 10 hours a day [laughs],” Cole says. “That’s essentially what I did; and I ate Pad Thai.”

 “I remember at one point I got a massage off of three murderers at the same time—getting a massage from three guys who’ve killed three people!”—Joe Cole

A new experience

What makes this award-nominated film so interesting and special is that, besides Cole himself and Thai actor Vithaya Pansringarm, the characters we see on screen are non-actors. Ex-convicts, boxers still incarcerated and locals found in bars were anointed with these exceptional starring roles, where a glaring sense of truth underpins the entire narrative.

“It’s an all-encompassing life experience,” Cole says. “It was a real experience, you know, working with ex-cons, prisoner boxers, a trans girl who we found in a club in Thailand and just all these people who hadn’t acted before and shooting in a real prison and what comes with that. It was just pretty amazing.” To my utter disbelief, the 29-year-old actor tells me, “I remember at one point, I got a massage off of three murderers at the same time—getting a massage from three guys who’ve killed three people!”

Cole fondly recalls non-professional members of the film’s crew who helped bring a deft authenticity to the narrative as a whole. “I remember a guy teaching me how to smoke Ya ba [a drug containing caffeine and methamphetamines], which is one of the drugs Billy [Moore] smokes in prison. He was the assistant props guy. He’d spent a few years in prison and was addicted to Ya ba. So he showed me how to make this Ya ba pipe and he’s actually done it for real, you know?

“Jean [is] a real advocate of getting the ‘truth’ in there. I’ve worked on films where directors have just said, ‘That’s fine, it looks good,’ whereas Jean is all about truth and authenticity ad he wants to listen to the real people. He doesn’t want to listen to the people who think they know, he wants to listen to the people who do know and they worked in front of and behind the camera. We spent a lot of time listening to those guys.”

Cole explains to me that all of the sparring that occurs during the film’s fight scenes is completely real. “We had to actually be physical with each other, and when you’re doing that 18 hours a day, it takes its toll. I remember I nearly got knocked out by a Southeast Asian boxing champion who also spent seven years in the prison in which we filmed. He showed me his bed where he slept, which was just a bit of floor space, and we actually shot in that cell a bit. And he actually nearly knocked me out [laughs],”—by accident, he adds hastily.

A new frontier

Acting is a notoriously difficult industry in which to succeed, so I thought it only pertinent to dig into how the Kingston-born-and-raised star did it himself. “I suppose it was the thing I was best at, at school,” Cole confesses. But it may surprise you, reader, that this actor is self-made in a way that makes you think that anyone can do this. “I didn’t know any actors, I didn’t have family [in the industry], obviously my little brother now [Finn Cole, Peaky Blinders]. But I didn’t know anybody in the industry. I never saw it as a logistical career path.” Cole tells me that his moment of career clarity came at a point when he had failed his A Levels at school and had been dealing with a bad breakup, all while watching his peers go off to university. “I just thought, you know what? This sucks. I need to pull my finger out.” After taking a drama course at the National Youth Theatre in London, Cole confesses that acting took over his life. “It is all I thought about. It was kind of weird. I was very passionate and obsessed almost. I was writing a lot; I wrote a television show that helped me get a better agent, and I was more interested in writing my television show than I was going out clubbing, for example. It was almost a necessity.” Cole’s advice for aspiring actors is not to simply ‘dream big’ or ‘aim for the stars’; it’s more rational than that. “I say this often to young aspiring actors: You’ve got to really want it; you’ve got to really, really want it.” He explains that to get to where is he now, he focused on what actors just one echelon above him in terms of career were doing. “When I hadn’t done any television work, I was looking at those actors who had done bits and pieces on television and trying to copy what they were doing. And then after that, I was looking at the next level of actor and seeing what they were doing and trying to replicate that.”

“I say this often to young aspiring actors: You’ve got to really want it; you’ve got to really, really want it”—Joe Cole

Looking forward

Cole’s mission to depict interesting and diverse characters and tell culturally taboo stories doesn’t stop here; in fact, this actor is just getting started. “I’ve just finished a show on Channel 4 [viewers can access this channel online] called Pure,” he tells me. “[Pure is] a true story based on this woman’s memoirs [Rose Bretécher]. She had a condition called Pure OCD which is a form of OCD where you have very vivid and intrusive thoughts constantly. In her case, it’s sexual thoughts. I play a guy with a porn addiction, who the main character meets, and we try to help each other with our problems.”

If this conversation wasn’t inspiring, then I don’t know what is; A Prayer Before Dawn will be available to buy on DVD from September 24 2018.

This feature was originally published in College News magazine, Fall Edition 2018.

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

The 12 Best Netflix Movies to Watch This Halloween

A recent survey by Redbox.com found that, after 45 years, The Exorcist (1973) is still the scariest movie that members have ever seen. Hocus Pocus (1993) is also celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, and it’s no surprise to hear that the iconic, 25-year-old classic out-performed all other family-friendly Halloween movies.

Whether you prefer fun or frightening, staying in with Netflix beats trick or treating—just ask the survey. We’re giving you 12 spooky movie options that you can stream for the best October ever.

The survey also showed that 72 percent of responders prefer popcorn to candy, so you should probably watch Children Of The Corn (1984) too. Happy Halloween!

  1. Scooby-Doo (2002)

Anyone who says this isn’t the best film ever made is lying—or just isn’t that nostalgic. The live-action re-imagining of the classic cartoon involves cults, spirits, brainwashing and meddling kids.

  1. It Follows (2014)

This horror film seems to be about an STD—except it takes the form of an evil spirit that sets out to murder its victim. Pass it on to survive.

  1. The Sixth Sense (1999)

This classic psychological thriller follows Bruce Willis as his character tries to help a young boy who is visited by ghosts. If you haven’t already been spoiled on the ending, your Halloween just got 100 times better.

  1. Coraline (2009)

Coraline is based on Neil Gaiman’s slightly disturbing children’s book. It follows a young girl who discovers an exciting parallel universe. Once you get over how creepy the character’s button-eyes are, this movie is awesome.

  1. The Babadook (2014)

On the surface, this monster movie seems like a terrifying horror film. Deep down, it is a terrifying horror film that cleverly explores the stresses of being a single parent and the manifestation of grief and depression.

  1. The Conjuring (2013) 

The Conjuring is inspired by a true story, and it’s petrifying. The movie follows paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they attempt to help a family who are being terrorized by a malevolent spirit.

  1. The Boy (2016)

Creepy doll movies are perfect for Halloween, and this one is no exception. When a young nanny breaks the list of rules for looking after a life-size doll, it becomes clear why the parents treat it like a real boy.

  1. Hotel Transylvania (2012)

If you need a break from the horrors, Hotel Transylvania’s monsters-meet-humans adventure is charming and fun. It was also voted as the fifth family-friendly favourite in the Redbox survey.

  1. Would You Rather (2013)

We dare you to tear your eyes away from this gruesome horror. The intense movie follows a group of unfortunate characters at a dinner party. In a merciless twist, the host forces them to play a sadistic game or pay the price.

  1. Curse of Chucky (2012) 

What screams Halloween more than Chucky? Another sequel. This installment is actually one of the most atmospheric and scary Chucky films, and follows a grieving daughter whose niece has a creepy doll.

  1. Van Helsing (2004)

This monster hunter saga is mainly here because it has Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in, but it’s also a thrilling roller-coaster ride of entertainment.

  1. Raw (2016) 

This one is best viewed on an empty stomach, so put the popcorn down. At school, a vegetarian girl is convinced to eat raw meat for the first time and develops a craving for flesh. This movie is famous for causing audience members to faint at the Toronto International Film Festival. Go on, we dare you.

Further reading: Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

Why Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is A Loser Is Problematic

2018 is becoming the year of the hit or miss Netflix rom-com. The streaming sensation’s most recent success, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, is a charming and mature exploration of identity, family and young love. With emerging teenage heartthrob, Noah Centineo, also appearing as a new love interest in Sierra Burgess Is A Loser just a few weeks later, it’s hard to see how Netflix got this film so wrong.

Netflix’s Stranger Things star, Shannon Purser has been promoted from sidekick to leading lady in Sierra Burgess—what should have been a heartwarming move towards body positivity. With a respectable, talented cast and undeniably positive themes of friendship, it’s a shame that pretty much the rest of the Sierra Burgess plot makes us feel uncomfortable. Indeed, for a film that was supposed to subvert the stereotypes of teenage rom-coms, every joke served to insult its own integrity.

Sierra Burgess is loosely based on the 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, and follows an intelligent misfit who accepts her unpopularity at school with the help of family, friendship and integrity. Sounds good so far, right?

When stereotypical it-girl, Veronica (Kristine Froseth), gives Sierra’s phone number to Jamey (Noah Centineo) as a joke, and he texts the number thinking he’s messaging Veronica, Sierra just goes along with it. Perhaps if Sierra had any incentive to do so—perhaps if she had ever actually met Jamey—we’d sympathize with her character or see this moment as comedic. As it goes, we see Sierra cat fishing Jamey throughout the film by pretending to be Veronica, without her permission.

Luckily for Sierra, Veronica doesn’t seem to mind this, and goes on to help Sierra to continue to deceive Jamey in exchange for tutoring. Notably, the tutoring stems from a guy calling Veronica “dumb” and serves as an attempt—not to prove him wrong—but to impress him. Veronica even allows Sierra to coerce her into face timing Jamey and, at one point, actually goes on a date with him. We’ll forgive you for being such a dreamboat, but come on Jamey; she has a completely different voice!

As this scene comes to a head, Netflix also throws in a huge consent fail. Jamey asks to kiss Veronica, at which point she promptly puts her hands over his eyes and switches places with Sierra, who has been eavesdropping on the date from underneath Jamey’s car. Cringingly similar to ‘The Houdini’ manoeuvre, this PG-13 version is still ringing all of the alarm bells.

Bizarre, cat-fishing scenes aside, this message does not promote body positivity or self-acceptance to its young viewers. Instead, it seems that the only way Sierra can get a guy to kiss her is through force, and by pretending to be someone she’s not—a thin, blonde socialite. Even as Sierra and Veronica become unsuspecting best friends, a scene where Veronica plucks Sierra’s eyebrows reminds us that grooming is still considered a way to fit in to gendered society.

In a more positive light, another casting success for the film was the role of Jamey’s deaf little brother, who is played by the deaf actor, Cochise Zornoza. Unfortunately, a scene where Sierra bumps into Jamey in real life and pretends to be deaf so that he won’t recognise her voice, does not help its cause. Prominent deaf activist and male model, Nyle DiMarco, was one of the first to point out why.

“So one of my close friends’ deaf brother is in Sierra Burgess”, he tweeted.

“When I learned, I was elated. Finally more deaf actors/representation & ASL inclusion in films

“… Only to find out the deaf character was written and used for a terrible joke.

“PS- pretending to be deaf is NOT ok.”

Viewers have also been quick to point out that the slut shaming in Sierra Burgess, as well as a number of LGBT and mental illness jokes, is totally not okay. For a movie with the slogan “Just Be You”, it really just romanticizes cat fishing and manipulation. In a somewhat undeserving resolution, Jamey tells Sierra that “even though she isn’t everyone’s type,” she’s perfect for him—charming.

Whilst I think that the idea of teenage love bringing out unexplored insecurities is relatable—and I did relate to Sierra on a few different levels—this film was just far too problematic to work for me. I’m also definitely on team Veronica—sorry Barb.

Idris Elba James Bond

Idris Elba Pegged as the Next James Bond

Despite quashing rumors two years ago, gossips are twittering that Idris Elba has been pegged as the next James Bond once again.

Back in 2016, Elba said “I think I’m too old for that man, running around in cars and ladies and martinis, who wants to do that?”, yet people are still unconvinced.

After the producer of the film franchise, Barbara Broccoli, recently stated that “it is time” for a non-white hero to take play the suave British spy, fans have gone into frenzy.

The Luther (2010-2018) star further fanned the flames of suspicion when he published a rather playful tweet saying “The Name’s Elba. Idris Elba”. Was he simply teasing or was this an early announcement?    

Daniel Craig is said to be giving his fifth and final performance in Bond’s next installment. He played the fascinating character for more than 10 years, his first performance being in Casino Royale (2006). Danny Boyle was originally lined up to direct the forthcoming the 25th film in the series. However, recent reports say that Boyle has withdrawn himself from captaining the next chapter due to “artistic differences”. This drama surrounding the franchise has only added to the anticipation of the famous fictional character’s fate.

Elba has been a favorite to replace Craig since 2014 when the digital hack of Sony revealed documents with Amy Pascal, co-chair of the company, putting the actor forward for the role. Since then, he has been top of the public’s list. Elba is also the top choice amongst “bookies”, who are hastily taking bets on the subject.

A poll held by cinema chain ODEON rendered these results with regards to favourite actors to fill the role. Fans were asked to name their favourite choices for 007 and, unsurprisingly, Elba came out on top:

  • Idris Elba: 26 percent
  • Tom Hardy: 22 percent
  • Tom Hiddleston: 11 percent
  • Aidan Turner: 5percent
  • James Norton: 5 percent

Film 25 won’t hit the silver screen until October 2019, but until then, we can imagine, rumours on the next James Bond actor will continue to circulate.

What do you think about Idris Elba being pegged as the next James Bond—is it likely? Which actor do you want to see in the role?

Further reading: The Relevancy of BlacKkKlansman