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.

Writer-director Sean Baker shot his 2015 feature Tangerine on an iPhone. He returns with The Florida Project, which isn't shot on a phone but still feels organic and close to the ground. It tells the story of Moonee, a 6-year-old girl who lives with her mother in a motel that exists in the low-income shadow economy adjacent to Walt Disney World — all the stuff that sounds like it might be part of the Magic Kingdom, but isn't.

If you saw the Golden Globes on Sunday night, you saw Allison Janney win in the supporting actress category for playing Tonya Harding's mother in I, Tonya. You're likely to see more of her in this awards season, and more of Margot Robbie, who plays Harding herself in the film, directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers.

Only a few minutes into Sunday night's Golden Globes red-carpet broadcast on E!, Debra Messing explained to host Giuliana Rancic why nearly all the women were wearing black. (The men were, too, but they always do that.) Messing explained that it was part of the Time's Up initiative, which supports women who suffer from sexual harassment and assault — and not just in Hollywood. She went on to call out the recent departure from E!

The reputation of the Golden Globes is that they're the Oscars' rowdier, tipsier, weirder cousin — sometimes refreshingly so. And while awards season is always the most intense time of year for celebrity fashion, this year the allegations — and, in some cases, admissions — of sexual harassment and assault added a far more serious layer of conversation. Some women said in advance that they would wear black to convey their support for people who have reported abuse.

Note: At the top of this page, you can listen to the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode about Black Mirror, with guests Brittany Luse and Chris Klimek.

Black Mirror is an anthology where technology, at times, might seem like the lurking monster. Originally created for British television and now produced by Netflix, the series imagines leaps forward in software, surveillance, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and biotech that result, usually, in disaster. Not always — but usually.

Standard caveats: I don't watch everything! I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.

In 1971, The New York Times and then The Washington Post began publishing excerpts from the Pentagon study of American involvement in the Vietnam War that became known as the Pentagon Papers. The new Steven Spielberg film The Post is about the role that paper played in the story, and particularly the decision-making of Post publisher Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep.

We've done some holiday episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour in the past. But very often, because many of us on the panel celebrate Christmas, we end up talking about that. This year, we wanted to talk a little about Hanukkah as both a religious and pop-cultural event, so we called in two of our favorite women who celebrate: Barrie Hardymon of Weekend Edition and Sarah Ventre of member station KJZZ in Phoenix.

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, the film "Titanic" opened in theaters. Titanic the ship sank in 1912. "Titanic" the movie was a huge success. NPR's pop culture critic Linda Holmes takes us back to 1997.

Before we begin, a note: See how the adjective up there in that headline is "favorite," not "best?" That's intentional.

Sally Hawkins stars as a woman who doesn't speak in the new film The Shape Of Water. Writer-director Guillermo del Toro is highly regarded for films across a spectrum wide enough to encompass Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy and Crimson Peak. But The Shape Of Water is a romantic fable told in soft greens and blues, which co-stars Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones, and Michael Stuhlbarg. We invited self-described del Toro fangirl Neda Ulaby, of NPR's arts desk, to talk about it with us.

One of the awards contenders that's emerging toward the end of this year is Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. It stars Frances McDormand as a woman named Mildred who sets up the billboards in question to demand action from local police to solve the murder of her daughter. But it slowly shifts focus until it's only partially about Mildred; it's also about the dryly funny family man (Woody Harrelson) who's the police chief and about a viciously racist officer (Sam Rockwell) who's been terrorizing the black population of the town.

Pixar writes about a lot of critters — robots and bugs and toys and fish and so forth. But Coco is about, first and foremost, a kid. Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his relatives are firmly against it because of a long family history nobody likes to talk about too much. Eventually, this sends him into the Land of the Dead on the holiday Dia de los Muertos.

ABC has followed up on the lessons of Modern Family with several successful and high-quality family comedies. One of them is Black-ish, the only network comedy other than Modern Family itself to land an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series for both of the last two years.

Now and then, we can serve up an episode that consists of our panel joyfully explaining why we all truly were moved and thrilled by a piece of work. This is one of those weeks, as Aisha Harris of Slate's podcast Represent and music journalist Katie Presley join the panel to talk about Lady Bird.

This spring, we talked to Shereen Marisol Meraji, the co-host of the Code Switch podcast, about why she doesn't really like superhero films but was excited to see what director Taika Waititi did with Thor: Ragnarok. Shereen is a Waititi fan, having loved his work in the past, including the feature films Hunt For The Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows.

It's safe to say John Hodgman is a favorite podcaster of those of us on Pop Culture Happy Hour. Both Glen Weldon and I have spoken of our fondness for his show Judge John Hodgman, and we were lucky enough to welcome him to our live show in Brooklyn in May of 2017.

Robert Guillaume, who died Tuesday morning at 89, became familiar on TV largely via Soap and Benson. On both, he played Benson DuBois, who was the butler on Soap but rose on Benson from head of household affairs for a governor to his own political career as lieutenant governor. Guillaume won an Emmy for playing Benson back in 1979 when he was still on Soap and then an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series in 1985 — the last black actor to win in the category before Donald Glover for Atlanta earlier this year.

[This piece does not spoil specifics of the plot of the second season of Stranger Things, but it does discuss the plot of the first season.]

A while ago, I heard a rumor that Tamara Keith — NPR White House correspondent and a core member of the NPR Politics Podcast team — enjoyed ABC's Shark Tank. This information was filed under "HUH," where I keep many interesting tidbits.

If you first saw Tom Hanks act in Bosom Buddies, you've been watching him for almost 40 years. He has two Oscars. He's played astronauts and soldiers and a widower sending up his voice like a signal flare. He's directed and produced and written films and TV projects, and now he's written a book of short stories, called Uncommon Type.

Whether you will enjoy a rebooted Dynasty depends on just how much of a gold-dusted plate of cheese curds you're ready for it to be — and need it to be.

NBC's The Good Place is an unconventional comedy. It begins with death — with Eleanor (Kristen Bell) waking up and being informed by Michael (Ted Danson) that she's in heaven — The Good Place. Eleanor knows she doesn't belong there; she's surrounded by people who seem to be much better than she is. What now?

It's no secret that movie theaters are trying to preserve the theatrical experience as something special — something you can't replicate, even in your tricked-out living room with your home theater system. Theater design is one of the ways they're trying to add value, as consultants and Shark Tank competitors might put it.

But at a recent screening of Blade Runner 2049, I experienced a technology that isn't new but was new to me, and with it, the need to make a plea that I never expected to make. Theaters, I beg you: don't manhandle my physical being.

The Hamilton-inflected logo of the cast of Black-ish silhouetted against a gold background announced, before the premiere of the fourth season even hit its first commercial break, that this was going to be an unusual episode.

Something is gained and something is lost when a full creative work breaks down into familiar pieces that pass from hand to hand like baseball cards. It happened to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it happened to The Simpsons, it happened to The Big Lebowski. And over the 30 years since its release, it happened to The Princess Bride.

"I hope he remains loyal. And if he doesn't, let me know, and I'll attack him."

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