Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

We're lucky enough to be joined this week by Daisy Rosario and Margaret Willison for looks at two new girl-themed stories.

First, non-Gilmore Girls person Stephen Thompson sits out of our usual rotation as we cover the return of the people of Stars Hollow in four new movies available on Netflix. Did we get what we were hoping for from this reunion? Did we get too much of Logan's goofy friends, or not enough? And what of Jess and his duffel bag?

At an exceptionally strong Toronto International Film Festival this year, Moonlight was the film I kept hearing that people couldn't get into. One critic told me he'd tried at three different screenings; all were full. That's not a terribly common Toronto tale, particularly with a film where the director/screenwriter and the lead actors are not especially famous. What was driving people to the film was word of mouth. What was driving them to it was that people kept telling them how good it was. That's how it ought to work; that's not how it always works.

Most television shows arrive accompanied by the question, "Is it good?" Revivals of old shows, however, often arrive with the question, "Is it necessary?"

Almost a year ago, via a seemingly innocuous tweet, the very funny comedian and very funny actor Kumail Nanjiani and I discovered a shared enthusiasm for, and very deep feelings about, the romantic comedies of the 1990s. At our recent tour stop in Los Angeles at the Regent Theater, Kumail was in our fourth chair, and the topic was ... romantic comedies.

After a few weeks of vacation and touring, I'm very glad to be back on the show this week, particularly because we're talking about Arrival, a movie so intriguing and layered I managed to write an entire essay about it, expanding on some of the ideas in this episode. On hand is our friend Chris Klimek in the fourth chair, which is just right given his deep body of knowledge about perplexing space movies.

The setup of the film Arrival is familiar to anyone who's watched first-contact science fiction about aliens before: ships hover. Little is known. The military assumes the worst, and scientists thrum with curiosity. Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist, and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, are summoned to try to figure out the answer to a question that seems to be about aliens but hides in plain sight as a nod to philosophy: What is your purpose on Earth?

As you read this, we at Pop Culture Happy Hour are preparing for our final west coast stop at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Saturday, October 29, after the four shows we recently did in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We had an enormous amount of fun with our fourth chairs: Audie Cornish in Seattle and Portland, Mallory Ortberg in San Francisco, and Kumail Nanjiani in L.A. And this week, we're bringing you a mix of two segments from those shows.

The regular Pop Culture Happy Hour team is gearing up for our west coast tour, which kicks off Monday, October 17 in Seattle, continues on October 19 in Portland (the only date with tickets still available), October 21 in San Francisco with Mallory Ortberg, and October 23 in Los Angeles with Kumail Nanjiani.

Hooray! I'm so happy to be back this week after some time spent either traveling or under the weather kept me away from the show for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, we were able to get Bob Mondello, All Things Considered film critic, around the table with us to talk about the films he and I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival and to participate in our fall television pool.

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

Strange Weather

Sure, we live in a world of increasingly seamless integration of sophisticated computer animation and live action. And sure, we've seen amazing technical achievements and advances on television. But wouldn't it be funny to just draw a cartoon on top of a sitcom?

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

The Promise

The war movie — the war atrocity movie, in particular — is a complicated thing to react to. Invoking real historical agony bestows an inherent respectability of intent; simply to tell a story that needs telling represents a higher purpose than that with which many films grapple. But still, a good film has to be a good film; it cannot only be telling a story with stakes based in tragedy.

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

Lion

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

Mascots

Linda Holmes is filing dispatches from the Toronto International Film Festival. These movies will see wider release in the coming months.

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford (the fashion designer) surprised a fair number of folks with his very good first feature as a director, A Single Man, in 2009. It was gorgeous to look at, as one might expect, but it was also deeply felt, thanks in part to a strong central performance from Colin Firth.

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