Ohio Woman Who Lost Teeth From Domestic Abuse Claims She Had To Quit Sheetz Job Over Unfair ‘Smile Policy’ – Perez Hilton

The usually-well-liked convenience store Sheetz is catching heat for getting rid of an employee who apparently violated their “smile policy” after she says she lost her teeth in an awful domestic attack by her ex-husband!

Rose Marie Counts took to Facebook earlier this month to recount a bad experience she had as a (former) employee at a Sheetz store in Circleville, Ohio. She claims she lost her teeth after her abusive ex-husband knocked them out during a domestic incident. But when she showed up to work as a customer service clerk at the small-town convenience store, she was called in by her boss over it!

Related: Joe Rogan’s Dad And Sister ‘Have Proof’ He LIED About Domestic Abuse Accusations!

In the Facebook post, Counts explained what happened once she got into the store:

“I was asked to come to the office at work. I was nervous I have only been with the company for about a month. When I walked in the office the manager had the company policy pulled up to were it talks about employees appearances. I was informed that policy states all Sheetz employees must have and remain with a perfect beautiful warm welcoming smile. If you are an employee with this company and you break a tooth you have 90 days to have it fixed.”

OMG!

She went on to explain how her teeth have been an issue for a while — even before she was hired by the store. Still, Sheetz apparently balked that her insurance company wouldn’t pay for temporary dentures until the swelling in her mouth could go down enough to fill in with permanent teeth:

“When I was hired I had no upper teeth. My lower teeth is scheduled to be removed. My insurance will pay for my permanent dentures but they will not pay for a temporary denture. Due to swelling that occurs when teeth are pulled my insurance will not pay for me to have the temporary denture they look at it as a waste of money.”

Then, Counts explained how Sheetz’s “smile policy” strictly defined her look as “unbeautiful.” Thus, she was suddenly unworthy of working in a customer-facing role in the convenience store.

She wrote:

“And even though I am good at my job I can no longer be a frontline employee with the company because of my smile. The company defines my smile as unbeautiful because I still have work that needs to be done on them. So I went to work today and I left work today crying. Why did I leave crying? Because I left my job that I loved that I enjoyed I was happy to be there. But to get told based on my looks that my job is in jeopardy. And that maybe I should fill out paperwork and maybe the company will help me if I tell them my story. They might let me borrow the money to have a temporary denture for me to pay them back the thousands of dollars that it took to buy them.”

Ugh!!!

According to Insider, Sheetz’s so-called “smile policy” is as follows:

“Applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment with Sheetz. Sheetz believes that an employee’s smile during interactions with customers and coworkers is critical to creating the sense of hospitality in our stores that we strive for.”

Clearly, Counts has issue with that policy — especially since her teeth were mangled in an alleged domestic abuse incident that she could not control or avoid.

Related: Matt Altman Is REALLY Trying To Erase Domestic Violence Incident With His Wife!

Along with her Facebook post, Counts also came with the receipts. She shared an audio clip of a meeting with her boss, in which the superior explained the “smile policy.” Counts, who is now in a new relationship according to the New York Post, could be heard in the audio clip telling her manager:

“This company has no idea what I’ve been through. I lost these front teeth because my ex-husband headbutted me because I forgot to turn the hall light out. It’s legit, it’s a bad experience that happened in my life that I’m still trying to…”

At that point, she trailed off, and could be heard getting noticeably emotional. The manager responded “that’s fine,” and said she was “so sorry” about Counts’ situation.

Then, the boss said she had been hearing “wonderful things” from customers about Rose Marie. However, the smile policy was a hard-and-fast rule within the company. Frustrated that her toothless smile didn’t meet Sheetz’s expectations, Counts replied:

“I feel like my job performance should be enough. I don’t feel like I should have to justify myself because of my looks.”

Counts then told her boss she would “have to seek other employment” because she no longer wanted to be associated with the convenience store brand. The manager answered:

“That’s understandable. I really am sorry that that’s the way you feel about us.”

Jeez…

On Tuesday, the New York Post reached out to Sheetz’s corporate offices about the incident. The company’s PR manager Nick Ruffner responded with a statement:

“[Sheetz’s] intent has always been to help her and to determine which of our assistance programs may apply to her situation. Our hearts go out to Rose. … Rose is a valued asset to the Sheetz family and we look forward to continuing this conversation with her.”

That’s it??

Ruffner also confirmed Sheetz is reviewing its “smile policy” after receiving complaints from staffers at its other locations. The brand has 650 stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

The PR flack concluded with an explanation about the company’s sudden choice to review policy:

“[This incident] has prompted a more specific review to ensure our policies are aligned with Sheetz’s commitment to foster a culture of respect. While we have a personal appearance policy that includes dental health, we provide accommodations to the policy that are granted for medical, cultural, and religious reasons. At Sheetz, it is important that we honor and recognize our employees’ diverse experiences, individual identities, and unique perspectives.”

OK… Let’s just hope something good comes from this. Nobody should lose their job because they were abused!!

You can see Rose Marie’s original post over on Facebook HERE.

Reactions, Perezcious readers??

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788, or go to https://www.thehotline.org/.

[Image via Rose Marie Counts/Facebook/Sheetz/YouTube]

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Wet Leg: 5 Things About The Indie Rock Band Nominated For Best New Artist At 2023 Grammy Awards




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Image Credit: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/Shutterstock

  • Wet Leg is a British indie-rock duo composed of Rhian Teasdale, 29, and Hester Chambers, 28
  • The band was formed when Rhian and Hester were in college
  • Wet Leg is nominated for three Grammy Awards at the 2023 award show

British indie duo Wet Leg — composed of Rhian Teasdale, 29, and Hester Chambers, 28 — is one of 10 acts nominated for the Best New Artist award at the 2023 Grammy Awards. If their name is called at the show on Sunday, Feb. 5, they will join an impressive list of women who have won the award, such as Megan Thee Stallion (2021), Billie Eilish (2020), and Dua Lipa (2019), to name a few. Formed in the Isle of Wight, England, in 2019, the duo has been making themselves known as a rising indie rock band to be watched. Wet Leg’s debut single, “Chaise Longue”, was released in June 2021 and put the group on the map. It even got the attention of pop-rock legend, Elton John, who played it on his Apple Music radio, per The New York Times.

Not only is the band nominated for Best New Artist, but it also landed two other Grammy nominations: Best Alternative Music Performance for “Chaise Longue” and Best Alternative Music Album for their self-titled debut project. So, who is the indie-rock band taking over the charts by storm and heading into the 65th Annual Grammy Awards? Read on to meet Wet Leg. 

Wet Leg
Wet Leg has been a band since 2019 and they were signed to a record deal in 2020 (Photo: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/Shutterstock)

1. Wet Leg Formed In College

Rhian and Hester were both music students at Isle of Wight College and had been performing separately for years. Unfortunately, they both had dismal outlooks on their futures as professional musicians. One night, Rhian had a breakdown on stage when she was two songs into her solo set at a festival at which she drove hours to play. “I started crying hysterically,” she told the NYT. “I’d been playing music for five years, just because it becomes so intertwined in your identity.” She decided on a whim to ask Hester to play with her on stage to help her through the show.

It turned out they had similar stories, as Hester had concluded that music was not going to work out for her, either. After that night, the talented pair decided to form a band for fun — even choosing a silly name to remind themselves they were performing for enjoyment and not because they were expecting to make it to Hollywood. “That’s why it’s so weird. Because the moment we stopped trying to make anyone else happy and did a band for the joy of playing and hanging out, that’s when [things turned for the better],” Rhian explained. They found a manager in 2020 and landed a deal with Domino Records — who notably have a contract with Arctic Monkeys — six months later.

2. Rhian And Hester Adore Each Other

“Rhian is funny and ethereal. This sounds cheesy, but when we met at uni, I knew you were going to do something really wild. You’re just a star. And you’re pretty,” Hester gushed about her musical partner in their New York Times profile. As for Hester, Rhian described her as “kind and generous.” She added, “You’re very quiet, and you have the smallest handwriting I’ve ever seen.”

Together, though, they describe themselves as baby seals. “We’re like two little seals surfing the wave,” Hester noted, with Rhian in agreement.

3. Wet Leg Cancelled Two Shows In 2022 Due To Mental Health Struggles

Rhian and Hester never thought they would be so big, and their rise to fame became a bit too much in Sept. 2022. The stress of their busy touring schedule forced them to cancel two shows in America that month. “truth is that it all got a bit on top of us and we just couldn’t quite manage to get back on that plane. It’s been an amazing year playing our music all over the world but our busy touring schedule finally got the better of us this time,” the band posted on its Instagram page after opening up about their missed Colorado and New Mexico gigs.

“I just want you guys to know that it wasn’t an easy decision at all and I’m sorry I didn’t post anything about it sooner. Our mental and physical health are such easy things to overlook when everything is so exciting and so busy, you barely have a moment to check in with yourself,” the post continued. “Anyway after many big ugly cries and lots of good sleep, we’re back and ready to rumble.”

4. Being In A Band Together Forged An Unbreakable Bond Between Rhian And Hester

The success of Wet Leg has given Rhian and Hester no other choice than to spend most of their time together. Fortunately, it has worked out very well for the pair, who see their relationship as a sort of “weird family”, they told NME in March 2022. “We’re very lucky. It’s a very new, scary thing, and we’re discovering our boundaries that we didn’t know we had. If I’m feeling a bit worried about something, I can be like, ‘Rhian, I’ve got this worry’ and then Rhian will be like, ‘I think it’ll be OK’, or ‘Yeah, I feel this too’,” Hester explained in the interview of their dynamic.

Although they’ve figured out their boundaries, spending time apart isn’t some glorious vacation for the rising stars. “Every time we leave each other for a couple of days and then get back in the van, we’re like, ‘It’s so nice to get the band back together!’” Rhian gushed to NME. “Every day there’s always something – big things, small things – where we definitely need each other. In a really healthy way, not a creepy way. In a cool way.”

5. Wet Leg Opened For Harry Styles

Wet Leg opened for Harry Styles, 29, for his rescheduled Love On Tour dates in Jan. 2023. Harry had been a longtime listener of the British band, as he covered their song, “Wet Dream”, during his May 2022 session at BBC Radio’s Live Lounge. Rhian and Hester called him covering their song “so surreal” during an Oct. 2022 interview with NME.



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Oscars 2023: Andrea Riseborough’s Surprise Nomination Has Made People Angry – Explained

Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie

The Oscars are navigating choppy waters yet again, this time over the Best Actress nomination to Andrea Riseborough for her performance in the acclaimed but largely unwatched film To Leslie. Ms Riseborough’s performance as a troubled single mother who wins the lottery and then squanders it has been feted not just by film critics but also by a formidable contingent of celebrities. Just days before the Oscar nominations were announced, Gwyneth Paltrow shared a post after watching the film. “I am stunned by all of the performances. Andrea should win every award there is and all the ones that haven’t been invented yet,” Gwyneth wrote in the caption accompanying a picture of her with Team To Leslie, among them Andrea Riseborough.

Despite Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Andrea should win every award there is” shout-out, the actress had so far not even been nominated for the award shows already held, leave alone win – the Golden Globes took place at the beginning of January, the Critics Choice Awards four days after Gwyneth’s post.

On January 24, Andrea Riseborough was announced as one of the five Best Actress nominees with Cate Blanchett (Tar), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) and Ana de Armas (Blonde). Questions were raised shortly after and the Academy, which presents the Oscars, announced that it would review this year’s campaign procedures although To Leslie or Andrea were not specifically mentioned.

The core of the controversy lies in Andrea having received the nomination despite the absence of the high-budget, high-visibility campaigns usually mounted by Oscar hopefuls. The campaign for Andrea was a celebrity-backed series of shout-outs in the form of screenings, conversations and moderated discussions involving A-listers like Amy Adams, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston and Edward Norton. Several other actors posted shout-outs, many of them seemingly copy-paste jobs.

There are two parts to the outrage over Andrea Riseborough’s nomination in a film that very few seem to have watched. The first is the possibility of campaign rules having been breached – this forms the focus of The Academy’s investigation. “It is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner, and we are committed to ensuring an inclusive awards process. We are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year’s nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated, and to inform us whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication. We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures, and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances,” read a statement released by the Academy and reported in international media.

Variety reports that as per sources the Academy has been flooded with calls and e-mails over Andrea Riseborough’s surprise nomination though no official complaint has been filed. While most Oscar campaigns hinge around encouraging voters in the Academy watch their film, To Leslie’s celebrity push may have breached rules on two counts. The first is if Academy members have been directly contacted to bring Andrea’s performance to their notice; the second rule is one that forbids campaigns from names or singles out competing films or performances.

Critics of the nomination for Andrea Riseborough say that the second rule has already been breached at least twice. A now-deleted post shared on the To Leslie Instagram account quoted film critic Richard Roeper as writing in Chicago Sun-Times: “As much as I admired Blanchett’s work in ‘Tár,’ my favorite performance by a woman this year was delivered by the chameleonlike Andrea Riseborough.” Mr Roeper did not breach any rules by naming the two actresses in a single sentence, the To Leslie campaign may have by choosing this quote to highlight.

Also under the scanner is actress Frances Fisher, who shared more than one Instagram post urging the Academy to nominate Andrea Riseborough while also naming other actors in the running. You can read her posts here and here.

The second part of the controversy is the charge of racism with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag being resurrected on social media. Andrea Riseborough’s nomination is being seen by some as having come at the expense of performances by Black actress like Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till). Till director Chinonye Chukwu wrote on Instagram: “We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women.”

Film critic Robert Daniels wrote in LA Times: “Although it’s easy to point a finger at Riseborough for taking a slot from Black women, broken systems persist when we focus our ire on individuals … what does it say that the Black women who did everything the institution asks of them – luxury dinners, private Academy screenings, meet-and-greets, splashy television spots and magazine profiles – are ignored when someone who did everything outside of the system is rewarded?”

Actress Christina Ricci challenged this notion of artistic merit depending on visibility for validation in a now-deleted Instagram post, reports Deadline. “Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money wasn’t spent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being met with an investigation,” she wrote. “So it’s only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me.”

The Academy’s findings from its investigation are awaited. According to The Hollywood Reporter, however, Andrea Riseborough’s nomination is unlikely to be overturned.

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30 R Rated Movies That Should Be On Your Watchlist

From The Godfather (1972) to No Country for Old Men (2007), these are the best R-Rated movies worth adding to your watchlist.

Filmmakers have constantly pushed the technical boundaries of storytelling, challenging existing notions while bringing in fresh ideas. Unlike other arts, cinema established itself as a medium of mass consumption, dealing with mature, adult themes. Naturally, the establishment and its institutions wanted to control the kind of stories the masses could watch on screen. In the early 1930s, America was gradually recovering from the Great Depression and Hollywood went through massive changes. The era marked the rise of studio-era and star-system. New genres came to the fore and thrived.

The 1930s were often regarded as the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. At the same time, the nexus of the Catholic Church and conservative politics called for stringent censorship. In 1934, William Hays, the President of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of American (MPPDA), enforced a set of guidelines for films made and released in America. Commonly referred to as Hays Code, the censorship rules defined the thematic and visual content of Hollywood for the three decades that followed. By the mid and late-1960s, the turbulent socio-political climate in America began to impact its cinema. The Hollywood studio system was steadily disintegrating throughout this decade.

Daring new-generation filmmakers started testing the boundaries of Hollywood’s old-school censorship guidelines. Films like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Bonnie and Clyde (1967) signaled the arrival of creators who were determined to realize their vision on-screen. Finally, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) unveiled a new grading system in November 1968, which included the letter “R” for “Restricted”.  A theatrically exhibited R-rated film requires accompaniment of a parent or adult guardian for viewers under 17.

Of course, the MPAA rating isn’t without its flaws and controversies, but that deserves a whole new article. For now, let’s take a look at some of the best R-rated movies (American), since the classification system came to be:

1. The Godfather (1972)

Image Source: Paramount Pictures

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Image Source: Paramount Pictures

One of the first R-rated films I saw was Francis Ford Coppola’s gangster epic The Godfather. Like most movie-lovers who experienced Coppola’s screen magic for the first time, I too was left speechless. The story showcases the cycle of violence and betrayal which affects the mafia boss, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). We also witness the deadly transformation and rise of Vito’s youngest son Michael (Al Pacino).

This glorious tale of 20th century American Capitalism has plenty of extremely violent scenes. In fact, the film redefined the portrayal of on-screen violence after the emergence of MPAA ratings in 1968.

2. The Exorcist (1973)

Image Source: Warner Bros

William Friedkin’s brilliant adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s shocking novel turned out to be one of the highest-grossing R-rated films of its time. It centres on a 12-year old girl possessed by a malevolent demonic entity. The film’s later half is full of disturbing, scary sequences as two veteran priests perform a risky exorcism ritual.

The film’s provocative and violent imagery pushed the boundaries of Hollywood horror cinema. In fact, the terrifying visceral content influenced mainstream horror films across the globe. The Exorcist nearly escaped the more restrictive X rating.

3. Chinatown (1974)

Image Source: Mubi

Roman Polanski’s Chinatown is an astonishingly layered noir classic set in 1930s L.A. The labyrinthine narrative follows cynical and wise private investigator Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) as he investigates a complex web of deceit and corruption in the city’s Chinatown district. The film deals with themes of sexual abuse, disillusionment, corruption and greed.

Unlike Polanski’s controversial psychological horrors Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby (released before MPAA ratings), Chinatown isn’t as disturbing. It would have received a PG-13 rating if it were made now. Yet, Chinatown is an unrelentingly bleak mystery that can only be appreciated by adult audiences.

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Image Source: Fantasy Films

Milos Forman’s multiple-Oscar winning drama is based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 eponymous novel. The story chronicles war veteran and criminal McMurphy’s (Jack Nicholson) admission in a psychiatric facility. He rebels against the oppressive nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and questions the abusive treatment to the patients. Shot in a real psychiatric institution, the film closely portrays society’s negative attitude towards people with mental health issues.

There are several upsetting moments in this R-rated film. The electroshock therapy scenes and the disturbing aftermath of a suicide can rattle the toughest viewers.

5. Taxi Driver (1976)

r rated movies
Image Source: Columbia Pictures

Taxi Driver chronicles the descent of Travis Bickle, a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran. He works as a night-time taxi driver and opts for violence to purge the perceived decadence in the city. Written by Paul Schrader, this violent tale of a frustrated anti-hero ran into troubles with MPAA.

The climactic shoot-out scene needed to be edited a bit to avoid an X-rating. There are unconfirmed reports that Scorsese stayed up all-night drinking with a loaded gun while contemplating his options. Though Scorsese eventually de-saturated the colors in the scene, the emotional and visceral impact of Taxi Driver’s climax still shocks us.

6. Alien (1979)

Image Source: 20th Century Fox

Driven by the success of Spielberg’s Jaws, screenwriter Dan O’ Bannon pitched an idea for a terrifying outer-space creature-feature. While Jaws got away with a PG rating, director Ridley Scott went for a more violent portrayal of the extraterrestrial beast. Another vital artist who defined Alien’s downright scary and grotesque imagery was H.R. Giger. His designs of the xenomorph and the face-hugger still hold the power to shock us.

 

The grimy, claustrophobic aesthetics added to Alien’s horror quotient. Unlike the glitzy space-age design of Star Wars (1977), Scott gave us the most-terrifying vision of space. The R-rated action-driven sequel by James Cameron was also an immersive experience.

7. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Image Source: United Artists

Coppola’s magnum opus was addressed as one of the most troubled productions ever. The film was loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, and was also inspired by journalist Michael Herr’s Vietnam war reportage Dispatches. The film revolves around troubled army captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), who takes a small crew into Cambodia and tries to track down the crazy and renegade colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

Despite all the production troubles, the film was a critical and commercial success. The chaos of the shoot became the subject of a documentary in 1991.

8. The Shining (1980)

Image Source: Warner Bros

Censorship issues plagued most of Stanley Kubrick’s cinema. Films like Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, and Eyes Wide Shut saw Kubrick push the cinematic boundaries when it came to portraying violence and sexuality. Compared to those films, The Shining wasn’t as affected by censorship controversies. It belonged to the horror genre, which had a demand in the mainstream after the success of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

Kubrick’s loose adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is set in a remote mountain hotel, where a family man named Jack Torrance joins as a caretaker. Jack’s worsening psychosis and a paranormal phenomenon at the hotel make for an unnerving experience.

9. Raging Bull (1980)

Image Source: Chartoff-Winkler Productions

The film was a passion project for both Scorsese and De Niro. Jake La Motta was a Bronx-born boxing legend, whose animalistic rage on and off the ring is the subject of the narrative. It offers a raw, unflinching look at the boxing world.

Raging Bull is Scorsese’s most interesting depiction of masculine viciousness and brutality. The director’s best works delicately balance objectivity and empathy. In Raging Bull, for instance, we closely perceive the experiences of a flawed boxer, but at the same time, are separated from the character just enough to allow us to consider his destructive actions.

10. The Thing (1982)

Image Source: Universal Pictures

John Carpenter’s spooky and gory film about an extraterrestrial monster came out in the same year as Spielberg’s family-friendly alien adventure, E.T. It gained cult status in the sci-fi horror genre. The narrative is set in a remote part of Antarctica, where a group of American scientists rescue a dog, shot at by a Norwegian helicopter. Soon, the scientists discover that the dog is an alien which can mimic anything it kills.

The grotesque display of the alien’s physical transformations was ably achieved through practical effects. And these moments transcended conventional horror tropes and still have the power to unsettle us.

11. Blue Velvet (1986)

best r rated movies
Image Source: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

David Lynch is a filmmaker with a distinct vision. In his fourth directorial venture, he establishes his preoccupation with the human subconscious. Blue Velvet is set in a friendly small-American town. A young Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) returns home from college to see his ailing father. One day, he finds a severed human ear in a neglected vacant lot. And the bizarre discovery takes Jeffrey on a dark journey.

On the outset, Blue Velvet is the study of moral rot underlying the great American dream. Lynch explored these themes further in his subsequent works like Twin Peaks and Mulholland Dr.

12. Die Hard (1988)

Image Source: 20th Century Fox

The 1980s were a lush period for the action adventure genre in Hollywood. Raiders of the Lost Ark, First Blood, Aliens, Predator the decade gave us all. But the decade’s most iconic R-rated action film was John McTiernan’s hostage thriller. Die Hard made Bruce Willis a star. His intrepid cop character John McClane gained entry into the action hero hall of fame.

The film largely works due to the fierce antagonist, played by the incredible Alan Rickman. It contains strong language and plenty of shootouts, but nothing overly graphic.

13. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Image Source: Universal Pictures

While there has been some improvement in how blacks are portrayed in Hollywood since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Spike Lee’s entrance allowed the African-American experience to be perfectly captured in American cinema. Lee’s second directorial venture was a comedic drama which focuses on the racial acrimony and inequality in a Brooklyn neighborhood. The director himself played the central character Mookie.

Spike Lee calls for empathy and mutual understanding through this radical masterpiece. The film was largely rated R for its strong language which includes numerous racial epithets. There’s an intense violent scene towards the end, but nothing graphic.

14. Goodfellas (1990)

Image Source: Warner Bros

Goodfellas was Scorsese’s second mobster movie after Mean Streets. He utilizes the criminal underworld to revisit his favorite theme: violent, self-destructive masculinity. The film is based on the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), an associate in the Lucchese crime family, who later turned into an FBI informant.

Scorsese brilliantly tracks down Hill’s disillusionment and corruption as he understands what it truly means to be a gangster. Featuring a great ensemble cast including De Niro and Joe Pesci, the film’s violence is brutal and shocking. Few excessive violent scenes were removed to get an R-rating from MPAA.

15. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Image Source: Orion Pictures

Jonathan Demme’s R-rated blockbuster was more than just a blood-and-guts horror thriller. Cleverly scripted by Ted Tally based on Thomas Harris’ best-selling crime novel series, it featured two strong performances that became cultural touchstones. The film follows young FBI recruit Clarice Starling as she tries to get into the mind of an imprisoned serial-killer to capture another vicious serial-killer.

The film has quite a few violent, gory moments: the mutilated dead bodies, Hannibal Lecter’s shocking escape scene. Yet it was all done artfully without being exploitative.

16. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Image Source: Tri-Star Pictures

As a kid, I watched T2’s action set-pieces numerous times on TV. Only later, when I had the chance to watch the whole Terminator franchise, I realized James Cameron’s film was rated R. The sci-fi action blockbuster revolves around a cyborg sent from the future to protect a boy from being murdered by a more deadly cyborg.

Perhaps, because T2 wasn’t rooted in reality, the moments of peril and violence didn’t seem too disturbing or traumatizing for a lot of us who watched it as kids. Sarah’s dream sequence was a little frightening. And of course, the film contains strong language and glimpses of male nudity.

17. Schindler’s List (1993)

Image Source: Universal Pictures

Spielberg was long associated with blockbuster cinema like Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T. and Jurassic Park. However, films like The Colour Purple and Empire of the Sun proved he was much more than a blockbuster filmmaker. His brilliant cinematic vision peaked with Schindler’s List, an unflinching and devastating Holocaust drama.

Since the filmmaker had never made an R-rated film before, critics and industry insiders felt that Schindler’s List would be a sentimental PG rated film. They were skeptical that Spielberg would employ melodramatic tropes to detail Holocaust. Instead, what he offers is an unforgettable, profoundly moving memorial on the genocide of European Jews. 

18. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Image Source: Columbia Pictures

Frank Darabont’s prison drama is based on Stephen King’s short story. It revolves around Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a man wrongfully charged with double murder and serving a life sentence at the Shawshank prison. The story chronicles Andy’s perseverance and determination to achieve freedom. Though Darabont doesn’t shy away from showcasing intense, darker chapters of prison life, the film is largely about hope and friendship.

The Shawshank Redemption was a box-office failure but the film’s mass appeal and universal themes over the years have earned it a cult status. 

 

19. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Image Source: Miramax Films

Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a clever exercise in cinematic storytelling. It chronicles three distinct, interrelated stories in seven jumbled chapters and leaves it to us to figure out the coherent order of the puzzling narrative. Moviegoers were still reeling from the shock of Tarantino’s fantastic debut Reservoir Dogs – a bloody heist drama – when he gave us this tale of extreme violence, chaos, black comedy and faith.

Casual conversations with strong language, fascinating monologues, and slow build-up to an explosive moment of violence all the signature Tarantino elements were perfectly realized in Pulp Fiction. 

20. Se7en (1995)

Image Source: New Line Cinema

David Fincher’s ingenious thriller follows the hunt for a serial-killer whose each victim represents one of the seven deadly sins. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman remarkably play the central detective characters. While Se7en contains strong graphic imagery, a sense of danger and threat pervades the narrative. It all culminates with a tense, unsettling final showdown.

Se7en isn’t gory by today’s serial-killer thriller standards. But what’s particularly disturbing is that it denies us a moment of catharsis. 

 

See Also

Memories of Murder (2003) review

21. Heat (1995)

Image Source: Warner Bros.

Michael Mann’s crime thriller promised the clash between acting titans De Niro and Al Pacino. Heat not only delivered on the promise, but also gave us cool cinematography and fascinating character dynamics. It follows a determined cop in pursuit of an ever-evasive career criminal. Their intense rivalry is depicted through three hours of complex drama and incredible action.

Mann’s visual pyrotechnics peaked during the tautly staged bank robbery scene. Though there are plenty of shoot-outs, the violence in Heat is somewhat restrained. However, it contains strong language and an upsetting sequence of self-harm. 

22. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

best r rated movies
Image Source: Paramount Pictures

Spielberg’s WWII drama opens with one of the most brutal scenes in film history. It takes us back to American troops’ invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the camera unflinchingly covering the carnage on the beach. It’s perhaps one of the most realistic on-screen depictions of a blood-soaked battlefield, coming from the maker of blockbuster classics.

Besides the harrowing D-Day sequence, there are devastating moments aplenty, both emotionally and visually. Spielberg’s film didn’t treat combat as a mere spectacle. Like the great Soviet war film Come and See, it shatters our illusions about war.

23. The Matrix (1999)

Image Source: Warner Bros.

The Wachowskis’ sci-fi blockbuster turned out to be the second most successful R-rated sci-fi franchise after Terminator. While T2 had a storyline and action that was pretty easy to follow, The Matrix went for a more complex set-up. Each astounding revelation in the story opened up more questions. In fact, studio executives were hesitant over the commercial prospects of Wachowskis’ vision.

However, the film went on to revolutionize the sci-fi genre plus the use of special effects in big-budget cinema. Apart from the philosophical core of The Matrix, the film’s enduring appeal lies in its cool action sequences, which was influenced by martial arts films and Japanese animation.

Where to Watch: HBO Max

 

24. Fight Club (1999)

Image Source: Fox 2000 Pictures

David Fincher’s marvelous adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, though received mixed response from critics, gradually solidified its position in pop-culture. Fight Club follows an unnamed insomniac office worker (Edward Norton), who befriends a self-assured and eccentric soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Their brain-child is a club you’re forbidden to talk about. 

Fight Club is a satire on consumer capitalism and explores the crisis of masculine identity. It holds a mirror to modern male psychology and how it adversely impacts our collective social and cultural behavior. 

25. Memento (2000)

Image Source: Summit Entertainment

Nolan’s R-rated mystery thriller contains strong language and infrequent moments of strong violence. Besides, the film’s mind-bending story structure isn’t easy to comprehend on the first watch.

The film follows a man who is incapable of retaining short-term memories. He claims that his condition is the result of an injury he sustained while trying to prevent his wife’s murder. What’s more intriguing about Memento is the reverse chronology and a non-linear narrative which is designed to challenge our perception of the protagonist and his story. 

26. Gladiator (2000)

Image Source: DreamWorks Pictures

Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is set in ancient Rome and follows the sad and eventful life of the powerful military leader General Maximus (Russell Crowe). The R-rated epic adventure transports us to a time and place, where people killed each other in the name of gladiator contests for the sake of the general public’s crude entertainment. The film is violent, but not too gory or explicit.

Scott’s vision of ancient Rome was apparently more violent here than in classics like Ben-Hur (1959) and Spartacus (1960). However, since the release of Gladiator, we’ve been subjected to numerous violent historical and fantasy series like Spartacus (2010-2013) and Game of Thrones (2011-2019).

 

27. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Image Source: Artisan Entertainment

MPAA has gained notoriety over its rating decisions. One of the most memorable episodes in the five-decade plus history of MPAA is the initial NC-17 Rating (formerly ‘X’) for Darren Aronofsky’s powerful and moving addiction drama Requiem for a Dream. Later, a few frames of controversial imagery were edited out for an R-rated DVD version.

The film was based on Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1978 novel of the same name. It unflinchingly examines the destructive effects of addiction. Apart from Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996), no other film in the history of cinema has viscerally overwhelmed us to depict the mental state of addicts.

28. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Image Source: Miramax Films

Based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, There Will be Blood is a fascinating character study of an exceedingly ambitious man. The central character Daniel Plainview is played to perfection by Daniel-Day Lewis. The film opens in the late 19th century as a silver prospector accidentally strikes oil. Subsequently, he buys petroleum-rich infertile lands from poor Texan farmers, and transforms himself into an oil prospector.

The wealth and power, however, doesn’t offer Plainview a happy or peaceful life. He finds his archenemy in a smug evangelical preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano). The film was rated R for numerous violent and intense moments.

29. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Image Source: Scott Rudin Productions

Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is set in early 1980s West Texas. A local man discovers bodies strewn across the desert due to a botched drug deal. He also finds a bag full of money and decides to escape with it. But the cartel sends a psychopathic hit-man to fetch the money. Anton Chigurh can kill anyone for the sake of thrill and pleasure.

No Country for Old Men features a terrifying series of violent acts. Apart from the brutal multiple murders on-screen, Coen Brothers’ deliberate slow-pace maintains tension throughout. And, the violent acts offer no catharsis to viewers. 

30. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Image Source: Village Roadshow Pictures

George Miller’s big-budget Mad Max movie didn’t disregard the gritty roots of the original Mad Max trilogy (1979-1985). In fact, Miller’s R-rated action blockbuster expanded the post-apocalyptic story with relevant and timely themes. Perhaps, Fury Road is the greatest big-screen mayhem we witnessed after Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day. Tom Hardy brilliantly underplays in the titular role, a deeply traumatized man of action.

However, the vital character of the narrative is Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a fierce fighter who goes against the tyrannical ruler of a regressive desert kingdom to free herself and a bunch of enslaved women. The film’s incredible practical stunts are a wonder to behold.

  

Conclusion

There you go! These are some of the best R-rated movies. Since this content classification system was established by an American Trade Association for films shown inside America, the sole focus of the list was American cinema. If you’re done with the above, check out M*A*S*H (1970), The French Connection (1971), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Deer Hunter (1978), L.A. Confidential (1997), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Drive (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Whiplash (2014).

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‘The Last of Us’ Creators On Casting Nick Offerman And Murray Bartlett, And Crafting The Series’ Most Heartfelt Episode: “I Cried So Hard, It Hurt”

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains details of Season 1, Episode 3 of HBOThe Last Of Us.

After watching Sunday’s stellar and heartbreakingly tender third episode of The Last of Us, it’s not difficult to see why a person might consider it one of the best pieces of television this year. And that’s hardly an exaggeration. Written by Craig Mazin and directed by Peter Hoar, Episode 3, named after Linda Ronstadt’s ’70s lovelorn ballad “Long Long Time”, goes far beyond the scope of the original game to deliver the audience and eagle-eyed gamers alike something special. It’s a 75-minute character study that wonderfully captures the essence and beauty of a life well lived amongst the bleakness of the outbreak through the eyes of two lovers named Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). Under Hoar’s direction and Mazin’s pen, Offerman and Bartlett give career-defining performances that are so vulnerable and visceral that it’s as if almost the camera shouldn’t be there. How did Mazin and video game and series co-creator Neil Druckmann create such a rich episode? We’ll let them explain.

Here, game and series creators Druckmann and Mazin talk about changing the original narrative, finding their episode leads and creating an opportunity to explore ideas of “permanent love” and peace.

DEADLINE: Whose idea was it to weaponize Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time” against us for this episode? Such a lovely song that ties into the theme of the episode. Which one of you is to blame?

NEIL DRUCKMANN: It’s neither one of us. [Laughs]. Craig, go ahead.

CRAIG MAZIN: I’ll tell you exactly who to blame. I knew there was this moment where Frank would play a song and he would butcher it, and then Bill would play it, and Frank would be blown away. And also, he’d just decide, “OK, I think I’ve been holding back long enough. I know who you are, Bill, and here’s how this is going to go.” And the song had to be about longing and this kind of endless unrequited love that lasts a lifetime. A sense of sadness and futility that you will always be alone. And I wanted a song that wasn’t overplayed or too popular, but I also didn’t want a song that was just so obscure that it felt almost like we had set it up ourselves, and I could not find it for the life of me.

I had struggled and struggled. And so, finally, I gave up and texted my friend Seth Rudetsky, the host of Sirius XM on Broadway and a musical savant, and I listed all the things I needed. And a few seconds later, he texted me back and said, “Linda Ronstadt, ‘Long, Long Time’.” And I played it, and I was like, “Oh, there it is.” And that was it. Seth Rudetsky is the man to both thank and blame for your tears. [Laughs].

DEADLINE: Can you talk about the casting process here? Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett are such great choices. But obviously, they’re no strangers in the industry. So how did they end up on the show?

DRUCKMANN: With Murray, he was kind enough to audition for us, and that addition moved us to tears. It was so good. We’re looking for this very specific character that just has passion for life and needs to be a handsome man that makes Bill feel really insecure – and Murray had that in spades. [Laughs]. With Bill, that was Craig’s idea was to reach out to Nick Offerman. I got excited by the idea because of Nick’s performance in Devs; I felt like he was the best thing in that show. Every time he was onscreen, he was just kind of stealing those scenes and so captivating in a serious role. And then imagining him doing something different than what we’ve usually seen him do before was really exciting.

MAZIN: The only correction I’ll add is that I want to take credit for Nick Offerman, but Carolyn Strauss was the one who gave me the idea. So, Carolyn, our partner in crime and executive producer on the show, was the one who said, “What about our buddy, Nick?”

Liane Hentscher/HBO

DEADLINE: What was it like working with them on set? Was there a lot of improvising going on? There are some great comedic one-liners balanced in with the heartbreak.

MAZIN:  Those guys were remarkably on script, which as a writer, I’m appreciative of. It’s not always the case. But they were incredibly respectful of it. And we certainly, along with Peter Hoar, the director, who did such a beautiful job, gave them space to play. And I’m not behind the camera going, “Oh, you changed my words.” But they were both phenomenal. I think because the piece is pretty structured and so much is intentional, and because we weren’t trying to be a comedy as much as just allowing comic moments to happen, neither one felt a need to wander away from what was there. What they did in the best possible way was perform the lines great. They’re both really funny, and they’re really smart actors. They know how to sell a joke. They know how to underplay things. They just did so well. So, I was thrilled to watch them do what they did.

DEADLINE: Not sure if “risk” is the right word, but I can’t imagine the immense pressure you both had in creating this adaptation. More specifically, in expanding and creating a new narrative for Bill and Frank that is so different from the source material. What was going through your mind? And why did you feel that you needed to tell the story this way?

DRUCKMANN: I’ll give you a little bit of my perspective, which was if you were to ask me before I met Craig, would I be willing to take one of the most iconic characters from the game and change their fate? I would’ve been like, hell no. It’s got to be like it is in the game. And it’s like that for a reason. But at that point, I’ve been working with Craig on the first several episodes, and then we started talking about this one and what we could do with it. And there was just the idea of taking a break because the last episode was so intense, and we lost Tess. And then presenting a counterpoint of, well, we saw what you stand to lose and what do you stand to gain?

And there was also taking advantage of a medium that’s very different from games that we could change perspective. We don’t have to stay with our two heroes the entire journey, and we don’t have to stay in the same time and location. We could actually jump around in time quite a bit. And that afforded me the opportunity to tell this kind of story. So, when Craig pitched it to me pretty fully, it evolved over time, but it was mostly there. And again, the faith of the character is 180 degrees different from what happens in the game. It was so beautiful and moving and kind of hit the mark as far as speaking to the themes and increasing the stakes for Joel and Ellie in an interesting way. Even though we’re deviating so much, I felt completely comfortable saying, “Absolutely, let’s do this. This is such a great idea.”

DEADLINE: This episode is already being praised by critics as one of the best in television. But when did you know that you had something substantial during the creative process?

MAZIN: Well, we felt really good about the script, and we felt really good about our cast, and we felt really good about our director. But I felt good about scripts, cast and directors before, and then sometimes the soufflé doesn’t rise. And with this one, in being there each day and watching the episode take shape, I was feeling pretty good about it. But it wasn’t until I saw the director’s cut that I knew. Peter Hoar did his director’s cut with our editor, Tim Good, which was quite long. When they sent it to me, I think it was almost two hours or something like that. So, I was like, oh, that’s probably not good.And I sat down, but I’m like, “OK, I’ll watch the two-hour version of this episode.” And I cried so hard that at one point, I actually said out loud, “Ow.” I mean, it hurt. I cried so hard; it hurt. And I thought,” Well, if these guys can do this to me and I wrote this f**king thing, then I think it might work pretty well on other people” Now, we did work really hard to, but we knew we couldn’t put a two-hour version of this thing out there, but HBO—

DEADLINE: OK, wait. But you could. It sounds like we need the painful, longer cut. We could see more of Bill and Frank falling in love with each other …

MAZIN: We didn’t quite have the luxury of that, I think. [Laughs]. But HBO was kind enough to let us go a bit long. And look, I never want to overstay my welcome. I always want to leave people wanting more. But this is a longer episode, and what’s really interesting is, even though I think it’s like 73 minutes long, so many people who have seen it have said that hour flew by. And I’m like; it wasn’t just an hour. It was 1 hour and 12 minutes. And so that’s, I think, a real achievement. But it was really when I saw Peter and Tim’s cut that I just thought like, “Wow, this one got me right here.” [Mazin places his hand on his chest].

DRUCKMANN: Well, I think because I was more removed on this episode, I was more confident than Craig was initially. When he sent me that script, I said, “This is one of the most beautiful scripts I’ve ever read.” And I felt this joy that it emerged out of the foundation that was there in the game. It was just kind of really cool to see that. And then to see it come to life and to see the performances that these two amazing actors gave, I’m incredibly proud to be associated with it. It’s just awesome.

Liane Hentscher/HBO

DEADLINE: I have to ask you about that incredibly serene final shot at the end of the episode, where from Bill and Frank’s window, we see the curtains rustling in the wind as the camera pans down from their bedroom to look at Joel and Ellie leaving town. Was that an indication of their spirits watching over them? It’s very peaceful. What was the intention—if any—of that last frame?

MAZIN: I think you might be on to something there. There’s a couple of interesting moments when Joel arrives at Bill’s house, and the door closes from the [gust] of wind behind him. I mean, I’m not a big believer in ghosts, but there’s certainly this vibe of just their energy still [being] there. This was their home and they’re still kind of watching [over it]. But there’s also this other thing, which is the visual theme of the window, which is something that we took directly from the game. I mean, it’s something that, as a player, I just always loved the start screen in The Last of Us, looking at this window and how peaceful it was, even though the world is not peaceful, and what happens to these characters isn’t peaceful. And it seemed like a good place for us to go; there’s an opportunity to show both the idea of this permanent love that’s always going to be there in that building, in their home, but also just the theme of that window being the epitome of peace in the world of The Last of Us.

The Last of Us airs every Sunday on HBO.

[This interview has been edited for length and clarity]



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T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach Scandal: A Timeline Following Their Relationship & Exit From ‘GMA’




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Image Credit: ABC/Jeff Neira

  • T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach are both co-anchors on Good Morning America.
  • He is married to Marilee Fiebig, and Amy is married to Andrew Shue, however, both are currently reportedly separated from their spouses, per PEOPLE.
  • On Nov. 30, 2022, The Daily Mail published photos that showed the pair on a cozy getaway in upstate New York, which fueled speculation that the two were romantically involved.
  • The pair were released from ‘GMA’, ABC News confirmed, on Jan. 27 after sources close to the situation reported they were negotiating their exits

Good Morning America co-anchors T.J. Holmes, 45, and Amy Robach, 49, have been working together since they both joined GMA3: What You Need To Know in 2014. Both have had incredibly successful careers and have interviewed some of the most notable people in news, but recently their careers have not been the reason for Amy and T.J. being in the spotlight. Below is everything you need to know about their speculated romantic relationship, their respective spouses and their eventual exit from ABC News as of Jan. 27, 2023.

Amy Robach T. J. Holmes
Amy Robach & T. J. Holmes have been working together on ‘GMA’ since 2014. (ABC/Jeff Neira)

Who Are T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach?

Amy, who is from St. Joseph, Michigan, is a popular TV personality and news anchor. Not only is she a co-anchor on the GMA program, but she is also a co-anchor on The TODAY Show20/20, and previously ABC World News Tonight. The blonde beauty graduated from the University of Georgia in 1995 where she studied journalism and communication.

Her co-anchor, T.J. is also an impressive journalist! The 45-year-old is, as mentioned above, is a co-host of GMA3: What You Need To Know alongside Amy. Prior to that, he has also been on ABC’s World News NowAmerica This Morning, and he’s even appeared on CNN Newsroom. The West Memphis, Arkansas native is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where he earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.

amy husband
Amy Robach & her husband, Andrew Shue. (MEGA)

Are T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach Married?

Both of the Emmy-nominated news anchors are married to other people. Amy, for her part, has been married to her estranged husband, Andrew Shue, 55, since 2010. Most recently, PEOPLE reported that the couple is “separated” and has been since Aug. 2022. The outlet’s source revealed that the two had allegedly been having marital issues for awhile. “The woman had cancer for a long time. She was very preoccupied with that,” they said. “Stuff with her and Andrew was difficult starting early summer this year and they had issues before.”

Amy and Andrew have a blended family of five children together. Amy and her ex, Tim McIntosh welcomed two kids: Ava McIntosh, 20, Annie McIntosh, 16. And Andrew, for his part, welcomed his son, Nate, 25, in 1997, along with sons, Aidan, 23, and Wyatt, 18, with his ex-wife, Jennifer Hageney.

TJ wife
T.J. Holmes & his wife, Marilee Fiebig, have been married since 2010. (WENN/Newscom/MEGA)

T.J. has also interestingly been married for the same amount of time as Amy. The handsome news host has been married to attorney Marilee Fiebeg since 2010, and has not revealed the status of their relationship at the time of this writing. It is important to note that Marilee and T.J. have not officially filed for divorce as of this writing, and neither have Amy and Andrew. The former CNN reporter welcomed two kids with his ex, Amy Ferson, which include Brianna and Jaiden Holmes. T.J. and Marilee share one child: Sabine Holmes, who they welcomed in 2013.

T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach’s Relationship Revealed

When photos of Amy and T.J. were published by The Daily Mail on Nov. 30, 2022, speculation rumors about their romantic relationship went viral. In the snapshots and video, T.J. was caught grabbing Amy’s bum in a seemingly flirty way, as she loaded up the car on their trip. They were also photographed holding hands in the back of an Uber, per the same outlet. Upon the relationship reveal, both of the co-hosts shutdown their public Instagram accounts and have yet to speak publicly about their relationship.

An inside source told PEOPLE that Amy and the father-of-three were not attempting to hide their relationship. “This was two consenting adults who were each separated. They both broke up with their spouses in August within weeks of each other,” they told the outlet on Dec. 1, 2022. “The relationship didn’t start until after that.”

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Two of TJ’s “favorite people on the planet”. ABC News Pres Kim Godwin informed staffers Monday that Robach &,Holmes had not but indicated they felt the matter had become “an internal & external disruption,” & “wanted to do what’s best for the organization.” #gma #amyrobach #tjholmes #update

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T.J. Holmes & Amy Robach’s Future On Good Morning America

It was confirmed by ABC News that Amy and T.J. would be departing ABC News altogether. “After several productive conversations with Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes, about different options, we all agreed it’s best for everyone that they move on from ABC News,” the news division confirmed to HollywoodLife in an emailed statement on Friday, Jan. 27. “We recognize their talent and commitment over the years and are thankful for their contributions,” the network also said. A day later, on Jan. 28, Amy and T.J. were photographed hugging and sharing a kiss in Los Angeles.

Despite the two not publicly revealing the details of their relationship outside of work, Amy and T.J. were both pulled off the air of their show GMA3: What You Need To Know, as of Dec. 5, 2022. The outlet reported that ABC News’ president, Kim Godwin, allegedly had an internal conversation with staff at the time, in which she allegedly told them about Amy and T.J.’s romantic relationship. Kim also reportedly stated that neither of the hosts violated company policy, and made the decision to take them off the air to allegedly protect the brand of the company.  “After a lot of thought, I am taking Amy and T.J. off the air as we figure this out,” she allegedly said to the staff, per the outlet.

While they remained off-arm a few different anchors, including Stephanie Ramos and Gio Benitez, stepped in to host the show with Jennifer Ashton during Amy and T.J.’s absence. Ahead of their confirmed exit, it was reported that the two were working on negotiating their departure from ABC News, according to report from The New York Times. The insiders said that representatives for the anchors and networks met for mediation before it was ultimately decided that Amy and T.J. would both leave the network altogether.

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Sundance 2023 Awards: ‘A Thousand and One’ & ‘Going to Mars’ Win

Sundance 2023 Awards: ‘A Thousand and One’ & ‘Going to Mars’ Win

by Alex Billington
January 27, 2023
Source: Sundance.org

The official awards for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City, Utah every January, were announced this evening with a small ceremony held in person in Utah. The festival continued this week with an at-home online series of viewings in addition to all the in-person projections. It was an especially festive year, so many people were excited to be back in Park City in the snow to enjoy films, and a rather impressive selection – 111 features in total screened at Sundance 2023. I enjoyed so many of them, the quality was at its best. The main winners for 2023 including A Thousand and One (made by A.V. Rockwell) and the doc Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project winning the premium top Grand Jury Prizes. In addition, the festival favorite is Radical (read my glowing review) along with The Persian Version and Beyond Utopia as the Main Competition Audience Award winners. As always, if any of these films interest you, we hope you note them down and take the time to watch as soon as you can. All 2023 winners are listed below.

Here’s the full announcement of winners with synopsis next to each. The 2023 festival is wrapping up now.

2023 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to A.V. Rockwell for A Thousand and One / U.S.A. (Director & Screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell, Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston) — Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson for Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project / U.S.A. (Directors & Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Producer: Tommy Oliver) — Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Charlotte Regan for Scrapper / U.K. (Director & Screenwriter: Charlotte Regan, Producer: Theo Barrowclough) — Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality. Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Maite Alberdi for The Eternal Memory / Chile (Director & Producer: Maite Alberdi, Producers: Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Rocío Jadue) — Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Luke Lorentzen for A Still Small Voice / U.S.A. (Director & Producer: Luke Lorentzen, Producer: Kellen Quinn) — An aspiring hospital chaplain begins a yearlong residency in spiritual care, only to discover that to successfully tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Sing J. Lee for The Accidental Getaway Driver / U.S.A. (Director & Screenwriter: Sing Lee, Screenwriter: Christopher Chen, Producers: Kimberly Steward, Basil Iwanyk, Andy Sorgie, Brendon Boyea, Joseph Hiếu) — During a routine pickup, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to Anna Hints for Smoke Sauna Sisterhood / Estonia, France, Iceland (Director: Anna Hints, Producer: Marianne Ostrat) — In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to Marija Kavtaradze for Slow / Lithuania, Spain, Sweden (Director & Screenwriter: Marija Kavtaradze, Producer: Marija Razgute) — Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Maryam Keshavarz for The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, & Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi.

The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Daniela I. Quiroz for Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) — In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble was presented to the cast of Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors & Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to the creative team of Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director & Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Lio Mehiel for Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, & Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) Jury citation:— Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Clarity of Vision was presented to The Stroll / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Producer: Matt Wolf) — The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights.

The NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was presented to Kokomo City / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided.

2023 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was awarded to Beyond Utopia / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Gavin, Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry) — Hidden camera footage augments this perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression from North Korea, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, & Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic, Presented by United Airlines was awarded to Shayda / Australia (Director, Screenwriter, & Producer: Noora Niasari, Producer: Vincent Sheehan) — Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her 6-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized. Cast: Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Selina Zahednia.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, Presented by United Airlines was awarded to 20 Days in Mariupol / Ukraine (Director & Producer: Mstyslav Chernov, Producers: Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson-Rath, Derl McCrudden) — As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to Kokomo City / U.S.A. (Director & Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided.

Selected by audience votes from the feature films that screened at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, the Festival Favorite Award was presented to Radical / U.S.A (Director & Screenwriter: Christopher Zalla, Producers: Ben Odell, Eugenio Derbez, Joshua Davis) — In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story. Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Haddad, Jenifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola.

Congrats to all of 2023’s winners! Keep an eye on all these films, catch them when they show in your area. I’m also a big fan of many of these films already – A Thousand and One and Radical and Beyond Utopia and Scrapper are some of my favorite of the fest. I’m already recommending these and plan to talk about them throughout the rest of this year. I was fully expecting Theater Camp, or perhaps Past Lives (based on all the reviews), to win the Festival Favorite / Audience Award instead – I heard people raving about both of these over and over for the entire festival. I was not the biggest fan of The Accidental Getaway Driver, a bit dull for me, but that’s just my own take on it. I recently watched the Finnish doc Smoke Sauna Sisterhood and it’s fantastic, I’m glad it took home a price as well. A number of these winners I didn’t even have the chance to see anyway. As expected, everyone’s opinions on all of these 2023 films are different! That said, every last one of them is still worth your time & attention anyway – Sundance brings many of the best films every year.

For more info, visit Sundance.org. Also see last year’s winners here. Follow all our Sundance 2023 coverage.

Find more posts: Awards, Movie News, Sundance 23

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Is It Smart to Invest in Bitcoin Now? Will There Be a High-Up? | FilmInk

As has been the trend over the years, different people have held dissenting views about the future of the world’s leading digital asset. And there is evidence supporting both angles.

Perhaps one of the questions in the Bitcoin community is whether investing in Bitcoin is the best decision to take now. Meanwhile, other erstwhile Bitcoin neutralists who would follow stocks or play at the newest casino online in Australia might be considering investing in Bitcoin in 2023.

In this article, we address some of the latest trends in the Bitcoin market toward revealing the best time to purchase the asset. You’ll also identify some of the risks around purchasing Bitcoin. By the end, you’ll see why we consider Bitcoin an excellent long-term investment over the next 36 months. We also show why we think Bitcoin is bullish overall and why we expect its price to increase in the long term.

How Much Is Bitcoin Today?

As of this writing, Bitcoin is trading at $16,555.78 (December 31, 2022). It’s running on an 0.22% drop over the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, the digital asset has a market capitalization of approximately $319 billion and a fully diluted market capitalization of approximately $348 billion. There are about 19,247,879,381 BTC in circulation.

Is It Smart to Invest in Bitcoin Now?

Since its all-time high of $68,789 in November 2022, Bitcoin has shed over three-quarters of its worth. Ethereum, the other top asset in the digital asset niche – has also lost value at about the same rate as BTC, from its 2021 all-time high of $4,891. Analysts say these price dips come behind broader selloffs in other industries like bonds, real estate, and equities.

Bitcoin’s detour southwards started at the end of 2021. Some researchers partly blame central banks for this sustained dip. Central banks began raising interest rates post-COVID-19 to cut demand in economies suffering from steeping inflation. Despite the negative consequences of increased interest rates from the Feds, chances are high that the US regulatory body might still hike rates further. Home and fuel oil prices keep rising in the United States.

Meanwhile, if Bitcoin’s price keeps dipping further, some analysts predict it could fall to $8,000. Considering the risks of economic recession in the United States and most other Western nations and a raging energy crisis in most of Europe, it’s apparent that Bitcoin doesn’t have the brightest of prospects.

Arguments Predicting a BTC Price Surge in 2023

Bitcoin’s bullish trend is in step with a historical four-year market cycle. This four-year cyclic trend includes a purchase, an uptrend, selling, and then a downtrend. The cycle predicts that we should see accumulation as part of the 2023 BTC experiences. However, some market analysts think this anticipated purchase streak might not begin until 2024.

However, leading market analysts like Kevin Svenson think we could see a bull market start from April, coinciding with when an 80-week bear market will close. Moreover, Bitcoin’s deflationary nature, as seen in ‘halving events,’ historically increases its price over time. During halving, miners’ rewards are halved, and the next one is scheduled for April 2024.

However, you want to be wary of extravagant publicity. The market is well aware of the ways of greed. Similar predictions that Ether will multiply its value by a factor of 10 in 2023 should also be carefully considered.

Case for BTC Price Dip to Below $4,000

On the other end of the divide, experts predict there won’t be a surge in the price of BTC in 2023. As Gareth Soloway, a Pro Trader and President of IntheMoneyStocks puts it; Bitcoin could fall to $3,500 next year.

However, any price dip in BTC below $12,000 might make it unprofitable for miners to keep running the ecosystem. Consequently, they might stop processing transactions altogether. If anything, stopping transactions could cripple the digital assets industry.

Bitcoin Needed in Some “Future World Market Crash”

Perhaps one of the most intriguing propositions about a future need for BTC – and a bullish market – concerns a predicted global market crash. Here’s the gist of it.

BTC maximalists believe existing systems will crash and the US Dollar will benefit Bitcoin in the larger decentralized community. They assert that global financial systems will crash and create the need for a new financial system. To these Bitcoin supporters, Bitcoin can bail the world out during such times.

Their proposition summarizes that a fall in global fiat will coincide with a rise in Bitcoin’s price. And with more BTC volatility, the chances of increased BTC prices are higher. They opine that Bitcoin and other assets in the decentralized community will fill in the void ‘if’ (though they say ‘when’) the world crashes.

Ethereum, against a backdrop of rising energy prices, launched The Merge in September. No doubt, skyrocketing energy prices will cause mining issues, so Ethereum launched its program and reduced its carbon footprint by 99.99%.

The Downsides of Hyperinflation for Bitcoin and Future Projections

While Bitcoin maximalists advance inflation as a positive window for the world’s leading cryptocurrency, they’re likely missing out on something.

Hyperinflation can only benefit BTC to an extent. A complete collapse of fiat will make USD assessments worthless. For instance, what would be the implication if Bitcoin costs $2,000 but can’t pay for coffee at lunch hour?

Volatility and hyperinflation could be a friend of digital assets like Bitcoin – but they have their limitations. Analysts and extremists will want to temper their wishes and expectations. Realising their dreams could mean a disaster for both Bitcoin and the US Dollar.

So, Should I Buy Bitcoin Now?

For a swift answer, ‘Maybe not.’ Macroeconomic indices on Bitcoin show it as bearish. If you’re looking in the short term, say two to four weeks, this might not be the best time to purchase the world’s leading digital asset.

Other Issues in the Crypto World

While addressing the prospects of Bitcoin prices in 2023, let’s address some other issues that have ravaged the crypto world in 2022. The year 2022 saw a series of regulations in the crypto world. If anything, increased regulation means there’s less uncertainty around digital asset markets for investors – the effect will be a bullish market. But overregulation could restrict innovation in the digital assets space. So, monitoring regulations in the digital asset community will be a useful exercise.



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Four young Bharatanatyam dancers put their best foot forward

Shweta Prachande performing at The Music Academy’s 2023 Dance Festival
| Photo Credit: S. Thanthoni

The plethora of young talent looking for performance opportunities makes one wonder if cultural organisations can live up to the spiralling demand for platforms. Hence, it was interesting to watch some young dancers at the Music Academy’s dance festival.

Shweta Prachande owes her excellent technique with evocative abhinaya to years of an integrated approach to training — apart from learning Bharatanatyam under Priyadarsini Govind and abhinaya veteran Kalanidhi Narayanan, it also includes Kalaripayattu, along with dance studies. After a pushpanjali in Gambhira Nattai and Adi tala as curtain-raiser, she went on to present the Thanjavur Quartet varnam ‘Sakhiye inda velaiyil’ in Anandabhairavi set to Adi tala. Following Sruti Sagar’s melodious flute overture, and Binu Venugopal’s vocal support, the varnam was a delight, portraying the nayika’s love for Rajagopala with the conch, who resides in Rajanagar and cajoling the sakhi to entreat the Lord to come to her. Eyes full of yearning following the Lord in procession, describing at length the greatness of the Lord, including how he saved an elephant (in between showing the jumbo feasting on a leafy branch pulled off a tree) from the jaws of a crocodile — were all part of the dancer’s interpretative imagery. The jatis rendered to nattuvangam by Aadith Seshadri and mridangam support by Siva Prasad combined precision and impeccable technique.

After such a moving presentation,  Panchali Sapatham, was theatrical, and came as quite a disappointment. Music was by Rajkumar Bharati but the use of excessive sound like derisive laughter greeting the ignominy of a Kaurava prince slipping on the floor of the Pandava palace, mistaking its sheen for a water body, the game of dice, Draupadi’s shaming, and finally, the Kurukshetra war with the final scene of Draupadi’s hair being anointed with slain Dushasan’s blood, seemed to lose sight of the fact that dance aesthetic is about subtlety. And for a dancer with so much talent, where is the need to resort to excessive drama? The thillana in Behag was a blend of fine dance artistry and poetry with lines from Tagore’s ‘Mama citte nitte nritte’ on the philosophy of existence, with its eternal rhythm of life and death.

Shashwati Garai Ghosh performing at The Music Academy’s 2023 Dance Festival

Shashwati Garai Ghosh performing at The Music Academy’s 2023 Dance Festival
| Photo Credit:
S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

Shashwati Garai Ghosh, one of Sharmila Biswas’ most gifted students, has finally been given a slot that she richly deserves. Her ‘Ekatra’, exploring new dimensions through the Odissi technique, began with Jayadeva’s ‘Srita kamala kucha mandala dhruta kundala’ in the benedictory Mangalacharan, rendered in a style in which the devotees sing at Puri for Jagannath – the slayer of Kaliya, Madhu and Mura and Naraka, and Ravana, in his avatara as Rama. The pallavi in Shudh Kalyan, with music by Shrijan Chatterjee and rhythm set by Bijay Kumar Barik, saw nritta elaboration, characterised by a feel for the mood of the raag. There is a deep sense of internalisation even in the nritta segments that one experiences in Shaswati’s Odissi.

The concluding shringara piece, based on Srila Rupa Goswami’s ‘Ujjvala-Neelamani’, was choreographed by Sharmila Biswas. Goswami’s shringar connotation projects all worshippers as female, longing for the one Purush (the Supreme). And he believed that the final stage of Oneness with this Purush can be attained only after experiencing Shantarati (a mind totally absorbed in the loved one), Dasyarati (serving the loved one like a servant), Sakhyarati (being on equal terms like a close friend) and Vatsalyarati (being fiercely protective of the loved one like a mother is for her child). After all these states, ‘Drishyate madhure rase’, one begins to experience madhura rasa of shringar (the final state of merging with the loved one). While one can have differences of opinion on the clarity of the introductory explanations, Shashwati’s dance based on Herman Khuntia’s music composition, was well presented.

Harinie Jeevitha at The Music Academy’s 2023 Dance Festival

Harinie Jeevitha at The Music Academy’s 2023 Dance Festival
| Photo Credit:
S. Thanthoni

There was a sizeable audience at the morning recital by  Harinie Jeevitha, a faculty at her guru Sheela Unnikrishnan’s dance school, Sridevi Nrityalaya. She began with ‘Sorkattu’ by Shivanandam of the Thanjavur Quartet, set to Thodi raga and Tisra Eka tala, an invocation to Shiva based on the Marga Bandhu stotram. Introduced by a short Sankarabharanam alapana on the veena by Anjani Srinivasan, the Papanasam Sivan varnam ‘Karunai seidida’ in its interpretation of the devotee’s love for Kapaleeswarar (‘kaadal un meedu meerude’), saw the dancer describe the beloved’s heart beat like a drum, leap like a deer and be washed by waves of joy. Harinie is a proficientdancer but the choreography was so heavily packed with imageries and solfa syllables in the jatis that one felt a leisurely approach would have been more evocative.

The pure abhinaya part post-varnam comprised an Ashtapadi ‘Keshi mathanamudaram’ wherein Radha beseeching her sakhi to fetch Krishna reminisces the intimate moments with Krishna and how he made her overcome shyness. While the dancer had sought some guidance from Bragha Bessell, the abhinaya expert, the treatment needed more introspection. The Vasudevachar thillana in Surutti made for a fine conclusion.

Bhavajan Kumar, groomed under Leela Samson, is a steadily evolving dancer. Right from the start with Varaguna Pandyan’s Virutham ‘Anjel endra’ in Ragamalika, accompanied by singer Sweta Prasad’s bhav-filled and tuneful vocal support, the dance interpretation at a leisurely pace took the performance to a different plane. Given the penchant for speed in audiences today, it is rare to see a dancer present a chauka kala pada varnam ‘Sarasa ninnu ippudu’ by Ponniah (a forerunner to Swati Tirunal’s ‘Sumasayaka’) in Karnataka Kapi (Rupakam). Woven round the time-honoured varnam formula of the nayika’s love for Brihadeeshwara, here the Lord is depicted in his accoutrements of tiger skin and snake around his neck conquering the inimical forces sent to defeat him. The arudis, the musicality of the teermanams with their sollukattus, Sheejith Krishna’s nattuvangam, the dancer’s rendition and the music moved together seamlessly. This made for a unique experience.

Bhavajan’s abhinaya has conviction, emerging from a serene base. This was proved in the Sarangapani lyric ‘Urukke’ in Devagandhari, depicting the brash hero being chided for thinking he could get the heroine to come to him just by a click of his fingers, when even the great Rama had to break Shiva’s bow before winning Sita ‘Smarasundaranguni sari evvare’ with the swadheenapatika’s boast that none could compare with her love in faithfulness and readiness to do her slightest bidding. The recital ended on a high note with the ‘Kalinga Nartana’, an Oothukadu Venkata Kavi Tillana in Gambhira Nattai.

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Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh Review – Means Well Overall But Doesn’t Fare Particularly Well

A still from the trailer. (courtesy: PVR Pictures)

Cast: Deepak Antani, Chinmay Mandlekar, Tanisha Santoshi

Director: Rajkumar Santoshi

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

The yudh in the title of the film, writer-director Rajkumar Santoshi’s first venture in a decade, refers as much to a bitter tussle between the two sharply divergent ideologies that Mahatma Gandhi and Nathuram Godse represent as it does to a war to uphold the truth in a fact-free world overrun by divisive forces.

Barring Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, no leader of India’s freedom struggle is subjected to abhorrent myths and sought to be discredited as much as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is. Gandhi Godse: At first flush, Ek Yudh looks like an honest attempt to clear the air.

The film is a reductionist, revisionist recreation of the assassination of the Father of the Nation by a Hindu zealot and an imagined aftermath. In trying to get its point across, it does a balancing act that appears to negate the gravity of the crime.

A period drama not only alters history to facilitate a face-to-face debate between Gandhi and Godse, but also ill-advisedly seeks to draw a parallel between a leader who stood up to the might of the British empire and mobilised an entire nation to fight for freedom and a man driven by hate and bigotry.

Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh means well overall but does not fare particularly well in imagining of what the Mahatma would have said to, and done with, Godse had he not succumbed to the bullets the latter fired on January 30, 1948. Quickly getting the assassination out of the way, the film veers away from history and into the domain of fiction.

Gandhi’s battle to create the nation of his dream continues. He fights the ideas of a man blinded by contempt for him and his pluralistic views as well as the political compulsions of the men who run free India’s first government, led by Nehru (Pawan Chopra).

If Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh feels a touch theatrical, there is good reason for it. It is based on a play by Hindi writer Asghar Wajahat, who has also penned the film’s often pointed dialogues. The film would have been a stronger takedown of the false anti-Gandhi narrative that enjoys currency in certain quarters had it not been riddled with contradictions to the extent that it is.

The screenwriter, Rajkumar Santoshi himself, isn’t always sure what it is exactly that he wants the film to convey. Although it is generally clear on which side he is, he adopts a rather lenient and vacillating approach to fleshing out the character of Godse, played in a starkly stagey manner by Chinmay Mandlekar.

The script gives Godse a rather long rope. It not only lets him air his questionable views on what the newly independent India should be – Gandhi, essayed with impressive conviction by Deepak Antani, avers that his ‘assassin’ has every right to speak his mind – but also willingly bestowing on his arguments a semblance of legitimacy and logic.

That said, Rajkumar Santoshi’s screenplay does have a sprinkling of truth that, taken in isolation as well as in the context of what is going on in today’s India, is significant. In one scene, Bhimrao Ambedkar (Mukund Pathak), who underscores the need for equality and inclusion, asserts that the Constitution and not a religious book should guide the nation as it forges a future for its people.

Even as the film stresses the political stances of the founding fathers of the nation, it humanises both Gandhi and Godse but with obviously divergent outcomes. Sparks fly when the two men confront each other. Godse is rage and obduracy personified, Gandhi is an epitome of benign composure. One raves and rants, the other embraces equanimity as he counters the allegations hurled at him.

Gandhi’s human failings are brought to the fore – in one scene, his deceased wife appears in a vision and accuses him of being fearful of those who disagree with him and of being insensitive to those who worship the ground he walks on.

Gandhi’s perceived rigidity is sought to be underlined through the means of a wholly dispensable subplot about a young woman (the director’s daughter Tanisha Santoshi) who is torn between her desire to work with Bapu and her love for a professor (debutant Anuj Saini).

On the other hand, Godse, despite the vitriol he spews against a community and his threats of violence, is eventually made to look like a just another man on a mission that he believes is necessary for the nation and its majority community. It isn’t exactly glorification, but it does sound like a justification of his narrow thinking.

In a war of ideologies, one uses ideas and not weapons, Gandhi says to Godse, who is firm in his belief that the path he has chosen is above reproach. The film does not let him get away with it, but allows him the scope to redeem himself in the climax.

Post-1948, in an invented universe, Mahatma Gandhi continues to play a key role in the evolution of the nation. His experiments with village-level self-rule, farmers’ rights, the protection of forest dwellers and their land, and the eradication of caste oppression – none of which has stopped being burning topics more than 70 years on – are touched upon by the script.

Gandhi’s movement for grassroots autonomy puts him on a collision course with Nehru and home minister Vallabhbhai Patel (Ghanshyam Srivastav). Beyond the Gandhi-Godse clash, the film examines the idea of India and the challenges that it has faced from the very outset.

Sarkarein seva nahi karti, hukumat karti hai (governments do not serve, they rule), Gandhi says to justify his decision that the Indian National Congress should be dissolved because it had served its purpose – attainment of independence. A rift occurs between Gandhi and the Congress working committee, which votes against the dissolution proposal.

In a thinly disguised jibe that resonates beyond the situation in which it is verbalised, one member of Gandhi’s coterie confronts Godse and points out to the latter: Angrezon ne toh hum par bahut atyachar kiya, tumne ek Angrez pe patthar bhi nahi phenka par Gandhi Baba pe goli chala di (the English subjected us to great torture; you did not throw even a stone at an English but pumped bullets into Gandhi).”

The film establishes the paucity of anti-imperialist heroes in the group that Godse champions in his far-right newspaper published from Pune. Godse cites the examples of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army as forces that Gandhi and Congress have suppressed, quiet ignoring the fact that none of these freedom fighters had any patience for the ideology that Gandhi’s killer stood for.

The problem with the knee-jerky Gandhi Godse: Ek Yudh is that it only sporadically hits the buttons that it should to justify its existence at this point in India’s history.

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