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    What’s on TV This Week: Willy Wonka and a ‘West Side Story’ Special

    “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” airs on AMC. And ABC hosts a special on “West Side Story.”Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Nov. 29-Dec. 5. Details and times are subject to change.MondayWILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) 7 p.m. on AMC. When the reclusive, illusive candy man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) opens the doors to his chocolate factory, a young, impoverished boy, Charlie (Peter Ostrum), joins four spoiled children for a wild, mysterious ride. Consider this your golden ticket, granting you entry into the world of magical chocolate-coated trinkets and confections of unusual design, where teacups you can sip from and take a bite out of grow from the ground, and where nothing is as it seems — not even the wallpaper.TuesdayCary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair to Remember.”Fox Home VideoAN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957) 10:15 p.m. on TCM. While en route to reunite with their respective partners, Nickie Ferrannte (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meet, fall passionately in love and devise a plot to rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building in six months. Will this be time enough to sort out all their current affairs and stay in love? Or will their story of love, like so many others, also be one of heartbreak? (One might notice the parallels between this sentimental classic and the 1993 film “Sleepless in Seattle,” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.)Wednesday89TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER 8 p.m. on NBC. Join the festivities celebrating the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This year’s tree is a 79-foot-tall, 46-foot-wide Norway spruce from Elkton, Md., that weighs nearly 12 tons. It will be speckled with over 50,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski star. The NBC anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin will host, with performances by the Radio City Rockettes, Alessia Cara, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Rob Thomas, Carrie Underwood and more.ThursdayANNIE LIVE! 8 p.m. on NBC. Taraji P. Henson plays the domineering orphanage matron Miss Hannigan in this live production of the beloved, Tony-winning musical “Annie!” The story follows a spunky little orphan, Annie (Celina Smith), who is determined to find her family. She is taken under the wing of a billionaire, Oliver Warbucks (Harry Connick Jr.), and charms her way around New York City — until her quest to find her parents is interrupted by a wicked plan. In this live production, Tituss Burgess plays Miss Hannigan’s weasel of a brother, Rooster.Jim Carrey in “The Mask.”New Line CinemaTHE MASK (1994) 8 p.m. Syfy. Stuck in a daily routine of humdrum, menial tasks, a bank clerk, Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey), is at his wit’s end. Then a mysterious mask appears, giving him the ability to transform into a zany, devil-may-care alter ego. His world spins out of control. Stanley hopes to win over a nightclub performer, Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz). But as he falls deeper into the mask’s allure, he risks forgetting who he really is.FridayMICHAEL JACKSON’S THIS IS IT (2009) 4 p.m. on Showtime. Created from over a hundred hours of footage, this documentary follows Michael Jackson from April 2009 until his death in June of that year, as he rehearsed for a string of shows which had sold out the O2 arena in London. B-roll footage of behind-the-scenes moments and recordings of dress rehearsals capture creativity and determination during the final months of the superstar’s life, though the documentary, released months after Jackson’s death, steers clear of the descriptions of abuse that have become central to his legacy. In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called the film “weird and watchable, by turns frustrating and entertaining, and predictably a little morbid.”KINGDOMS OF THE SKY: HIMALAYA 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Set aside an hour to trek across the highest mountain range on earth. Yes, it only takes an hour — if you’re watching from home, that is. Follow along as this episode of “Kingdoms of the Sky” brings the wildlife and the people of the Himalayan mountain range into view.Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    ‘Encanto’ Reaches No. 1, but Moviegoers Are Tough to Lure Back

    No simultaneous streaming: “Encanto” or “House of Gucci” could only be seen in theaters this weekend. Even still, some viewers stayed home.Hollywood has stopped running from the pandemic: For the first time since March 2020, movie theaters had a wide array of new films for exclusive screening over the holiday weekend. And studios did not hedge their bets by offering simultaneous streaming options. To see the gloriously reviewed “Encanto,” the campy crime drama “House of Gucci” or the latest installment in the “Resident Evil” science-fiction action franchise, you had to leave the sofa, just like in the old days.But some moviegoers are proving very difficult to lure back.“Encanto,” an original Disney animated musical about a gifted family in Colombia, took in $40.3 million at 3,980 theaters in North America between Wednesday and Sunday. That total, which was enough for No. 1, equated to about 3.7 million patrons, or about 35 percent of the available seats, according to Steve Buck, the chief strategy officer for EntTelligence, a research firm. Ticket buyers gave the film an A grade in CinemaScore exit polls.In wide release outside the United States, with the notable exceptions of China and Australia, “Encanto” collected an additional $29.3 million. “It may take some time for people to discover ‘Encanto’ through word of mouth and reviews,” Disney said in a results email on Sunday, referring to audiences overseas, where the weekend was not a holiday. News of the Omicron variant may have dented European turnout, box office analysts said.Disney had hoped that the family audience was finally ready to return to theaters on a vast scale for “Encanto.” DisneyDisney, which spent roughly $175 million to make “Encanto,” not including tens of millions in marketing costs, had hoped that the family audience was finally ready to return to theaters on a vast scale. Children as young as five became eligible for coronavirus vaccinations in the United States on Nov. 2. For the first time this year, Disney did not send reporters a prerelease advisory about poor market conditions.“This is a fair opening by pandemic standards, and a weak opening by Disney historical standards,” David A. Gross, who runs the film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research, said in an email on Sunday.“Encanto” features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose music helped Disney’s animated “Moana” sell $82.1 million in tickets during the five-day Thanksgiving period in 2016. In part because studios have routed animated films away from theaters and toward streaming services — Pixar’s “Luca” played exclusively on Disney+ in the United States over the summer — the genre accounts for one of the bigger pieces of the box office that has been lost during the pandemic. In 2019, animated wide releases collected $4.6 billion worldwide. Mr. Gross estimated that animation will finish this year with about $1.65 billion in ticket sales, a decline of about 64 percent.Lady Gaga in the crime thriller “House of Gucci.”Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/United ArtistsDomestic ticket sales for “Encanto” nonetheless set a pandemic-era record for an animated film. That glory is somewhat hollow, given that every other major animated film since March 2020 has been released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services. (They have included “The Boss Baby: Family Business” from Universal and “Paw Patrol: The Movie” from Paramount.) “Encanto” is scheduled to arrive on Disney+ on Dec. 24.The ultimate performance of “Encanto,” both in theaters and on Disney+, is likely to inform Disney’s release plans for animated films well into the coming year. “Most of the franchises that we’ve had at the Walt Disney Company have been built through the theatrical exhibition channel of distribution,” Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, told analysts on an earnings-related conference call on Nov. 10. “At the same time, we’re watching very, very carefully different types of movies to see how the different components of the demographics of that market come back.”Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    When Is a Horror Movie Not a Horror Movie?

    When “The Humans” and other new dramas use jump scares and other genre staples, it’s a fair question to ask.A few days before Halloween, the @NetflixFilm Twitter account put out a call: “What movie isn’t technically a horror movie but feels like a horror movie to you?” Included was a photo of a freaky-eyed Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”Twitter being Twitter, some of the responses were flip, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Cats.” But there were also heavy hitters like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Parasite.” Children’s films, including “Pinocchio” and “Bambi,” made the cut. It just goes to show, horror is what scares you, not me.Horror has always been an elastic and regenerative genre. It lifts from and melds with just about every type of cinema: comedy, sci-fi, action, romance, fantasy, documentary. Its flexibility extends as far back as the monstrous love story in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and as current as the blood-drenched melodrama of “Malignant.”But how do you know if you’re watching a horror movie when there’s no killer or monster, exorcism or blood? It’s a decades-old question that’s being asked about new films that blur the line between a movie with horror and a horror movie.Among them are “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s darkly comic family drama set during a Thanksgiving dinner; “The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s forthcoming eerie character study of a college professor at a Greek resort who becomes obsessed with a fellow vacationer and her daughter; and perhaps unexpectedly, “Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s speculative, dream-logic psychodrama about Princess Diana.The film follows an unsettled Princess of Wales (Kristen Stewart) as she spends a Christmas holiday on the precipice of a madness that may not be real. In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott called it a Christmas movie, psychological thriller, romance and “a horror movie about a fragile woman held captive in a spooky mansion, tormented by sadistic monsters and their treacherous minions.”Read reviews and these films sound like Shudder originals. In the Times, the critic Jeannette Catsoulis used the words “monstrous,” “despairing,” “eerie,” “sinister” to describe “The Humans,” concluding that the family was stuck in a haunted house. IndieWire said the drama “blurs the line between Chekhov and Polanski — Broadway and Blumhouse,” and is “the first real horror movie about 9/11.” (Two of the family members were at ground zero that morning.) The Guardian said “The Lost Daughter” tells the story of a woman who “haunts the resort like a ghost while other ghosts are haunting her.”For some directors, positioning the word “horror” anywhere near a film they don’t consider a horror movie would be erroneous or provocation. Not Karam. He was riveted by horror movies as a child in Scranton, Pa.; his gateway drug was the Disney ghost story “The Watcher in the Woods” (1980), with Bette Davis as the owner of an English mansion who’s mourning her missing daughter.Now 42, Karam remains a devout horror fan, citing Kubrick and Polanski as inspirations for “The Humans,” which he directed and adapted for the screen from his 2016 Tony-winning play. Karam takes pride in the film’s horror elements because they help viewers visualize “how people are conquering or coping with their fears in a story that’s scary.”“It’s important for me to think of a film or a play or any story I’m telling as having a strong, confident personality,” Karam said in a video interview. “I don’t get bogged down by whether it’s a horror film or family drama because the definitions can upset people who take ownership of what a horror film is.”“The Humans” takes place in a seen-better-days duplex newly occupied by Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and her boyfriend, Richard (Steven Yeun). Visiting from Scranton are Brigid’s working-class parents, Erik and Deirdre (Richard Jenkins and Jayne Houdyshell); and Momo, Erik’s mother (June Squibb), who has dementia. Also joining is Brigid’s sister, Aimee (Amy Schumer), who lives in Philadelphia and is fresh off a breakup with her girlfriend.At the family table there’s turkey and good-natured ribbing, but also difficult conversations about work, love and depression. This is a family filled with love, but also resentment and heartache. Typical Thanksgiving drama stuff.But from the start, there’s an uneasy feeling, as if something terrible is on its way. Parts of the walls ooze and bubble with pustules like growths on a David Cronenberg mutant. There are eerie portraits of spooky people, like the art from a possessed castle in a Hammer Film. Jump scares, loud sounds, darkness, stillness: They’re all heart-pounding. Horror movie stuff.So what is a horror movie? It comes down to intent, said Wickham Clayton, a film scholar and the editor of “Style and Form in the Hollywood Slasher Film.” Horror movies, he said, are about audiences “being uncomfortable, unsettled and disturbed.”Sometimes all it takes is a terrifying antagonist or mood, not an entire movie. Think of Robert Mitchum as a scoundrel preacher in the nightmare fairy tale “The Night of the Hunter” (1955); Faye Dunaway as a toxic Joan Crawford in the darkly camp “Mommie Dearest” (1981); or Robert De Niro as the time-bomb Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” (1976).Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    Wakefield Poole, Pioneer in Gay Pornography, Dies at 85

    He gave up a dance career to create a crossover, and now classic, hit film in 1971 that had both gay and straight audiences, and celebrities, lining up to see it.One New York night in the early 1970s, a dancer and budding filmmaker named Wakefield Poole went to see a gay porn flick called “Highway Hustler” at a run-down theater in Times Square with his friends. As he settled into a tattered seat, he prepared to spend the next 45 minutes or so enjoyably aroused.But as the film rolled, he experienced nothing of the kind. He thought that the movie was sleazy, that its sex scenes were unnecessarily degrading. He started laughing out loud, and one of his companions fell asleep.“I said to my friend, ‘This is the worst, ugliest movie I’ve ever seen!’” Mr. Poole, who died on Oct. 27 at 85, recalled in 2002. “Somebody ought to be able to do something better.”The Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village had occurred two years earlier, and Mr. Poole, like countless gay men of his generation, was empowered in its aftermath. What he had witnessed onscreen that night didn’t resemble the sexual liberation he was experiencing as a proud gay man in New York.Thus, armed with a 16-millimeter Bolex camera, Mr. Poole decided to do something about it. He headed to Fire Island Pines, the secluded summer Eden for gay men just off Long Island, and there began filming experimental movies with his friends, capturing them making love on beaches and in shady groves.And he did so with an auteur’s touch, as if he were some horny version of D.A. Pennebaker, striving to portray artful realism in the male intimacy he was documenting.The adult film star Casey Donovan in a scene from “Boys in the Sand,” which was shot in the beach community of Fire Island Pines, off Long Island.Wakefield PooleMr. Poole soon made a feature-length, surrealistic movie called “Boys in the Sand” (the title a spoof on “The Boys in the Band,” the groundbreaking 1968 play and 1970 film adaptation about gay men in New York), and its release in 1971 proved revelatory. He was hailed as a pioneer of gay porn, and the film became a crossover hit that changed attitudes about pornography among both the gay and straight audiences that lined up to see it.The movie, with the adult film star Casey Donovan, was composed of three steamy vignettes: First, Mr. Donovan materializes from the ocean Venus-like to ravage a young man lying on the sand; then, at a beach house, he tosses a dissolving magic pill into a swimming pool, causing a hunk to emerge from the water; lastly, he pleasures himself while admiring a telephone line repairman working outside his window.When “Boys in the Sand” opened at the now gone 55th Street Playhouse in Manhattan, it became the talk of the town. The sex it portrayed between Adonic men frolicking in the Pines came across to viewers as blissful and guilt-free. Soon, celebrities like Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev and Halston were also lining up to see it.“I wanted a film,” Mr. Poole said at the time, “that gay people could look at and say, ‘I don’t mind being gay — it’s beautiful to see those people do what they’re doing.’”In a memoir, “Dirty Poole,” published in 2000, he related how, during the film’s release, its producer sneakily bought an ad for the film in The New York Times, leading Mr. Poole to speculate that the paper’s advertising department may not have looked at it too closely. Variety reviewed the movie, a rare instance of critical coverage of hard-core gay pornography by a mainstream publication (though it took a dim view of the movie). Even the film’s marquee billing challenged precedent: It displayed Mr. Poole’s real name.Mr. Poole in the early 1970s. He said of “Boys in the Sand,” “I wanted a film that gay people could look at and say, ‘I don’t mind being gay — it’s beautiful to see those people do what they’re doing.’”via Jim TushiskiWhile “Boys in the Sand” marked Mr. Poole’s official debut as a filmmaker (he had made some experimental short films earlier), his first passion was dance: He had led an impressive career performing in the New York-based company Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and helping with the choreography of Broadway shows involving the likes of Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim and Noël Coward.“There weren’t a lot of people who were out,” Mr. Poole told South Florida Gay News in 2014. “Just seeing my name above the title on a theater made its impact. Hundreds of people saw ‘Boys in the Sand’ and came out after seeing the film.”The year after “Boys” appeared, the landmark film “Deep Throat” was released, commencing a golden age of American pornography. “Wakefield was determined to elevate the gay porn genre,” Michael Musto, the longtime Village Voice writer, said in a phone interview. “This was a time when you had to leave your home to see pornography. It was a communal experience by necessity, and you had to be seen in your seat. He removed the shame of it.”Mr. Poole’s next hit, “Bijou,” followed a construction worker who stumbles on an invitation to a private club, where he joins a psychedelic bathhouse-style orgy. Then came “Wakefield Poole’s Bible!,” a creatively ambitious soft-porn movie that reimagined tales from the Old Testament, but it flopped.Frustrated with its failure, Mr. Poole started afresh in San Francisco, which had become an epicenter of the gay rights movement, although his troubles only worsened there: He broke up with his longtime partner, and he became addicted to freebasing cocaine.He soon directed a documentary-like film, “Take One,” in which he interviewed men about their carnal fantasies and had them act them out on camera, in one notorious moment engaging two brothers.Mr. Poole eventually moved back to New York, holing himself up in a cold-water flat in Chelsea to break his cocaine addiction. Trying for a comeback, he released “Boys in the Sand II” in 1984, but it didn’t make a splash.The AIDS crisis had begun, and the carefree gay paradise depicted in his original movie suddenly felt a world away.“The reason I stopped making films was the AIDS situation,” Mr. Poole told an interviewer. “I lost my fan base to AIDS. I saw them all die. It’s a miracle I’m not dead. Cocaine saved my life. I did so much coke, I couldn’t have sex.”Mr. Poole in an undated photo. “The reason I stopped making films was the AIDS situation,” he said. “I lost my fan base to AIDS. I saw them all die.”via Jim TushinskiWalter Wakefield Poole III was born on Feb. 24, 1936, in Salisbury, N.C. His father was a police officer and later a car salesman. His mother, Hazel (Melton) Poole, was a homemaker.Growing up, Walter fell in love with a boyhood friend, and they would crawl through each other’s window to be together. But their romance ended when Walter’s family moved to Florida, settling in Jacksonville. Years later, he said, after his friend had married a woman and started a family, they rekindled their passion one night.Walter caught the dance bug in Jacksonville and started studying ballet seriously. When he was 18, he headed to New York to pursue dance further and joined the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo when he was 21.He turned to moviemaking in the 1960s, captivated by the experimental films of Andy Warhol.As he pulled away from pornography in the mid-1980s, Mr. Poole needed to find a new way to make a paycheck in New York, so he studied at the French Culinary Institute and later landed a job in food services for Calvin Klein.He retired in his 60s and moved back to Jacksonville, where he died in a nursing home, a niece, Terry Waters, said. He left no immediate survivors.As Mr. Poole grew older, enthusiasts of gay history and vintage pornography collectors began revisiting his work. A documentary, “I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole,” directed by Jim Tushinski, came out in 2016. New York art house theaters like Metrograph and Quad Cinema screened “Boys in the Sand.”In 2010, Mr. Poole, then 74, was invited to the Pines for a screening of his classic, although some gay residents there weren’t thrilled about it.A local film festival, responding to their complaints about the X-rated content, had declined to show the movie, so an opposing faction of residents organized their own event. Their group included a man who lived in a summer house that had been used in the film.That night, Mr. Poole was introduced to a packed auditorium as an unsung hero who had helped transform the Pines into an international destination. (“Boys in the Sand” was seen widely overseas.) He took the stage to applause.“What has happened here with the controversy is why I made this film,” he told the crowd. “It’s the ultimate of what I wanted this film to do, and that’s to not only make controversy, but to overcome controversy.”He added: “When I first came to Fire Island, I felt free for the first time in my life. I didn’t feel like a minority and I wanted everybody to suddenly feel that. So I said, ‘I can make a movie that no one will be ashamed to watch.’” More

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    Five Child Stars of 'King Richard,' 'Belfast' and More

    Five children winning acclaim for their roles in “Belfast,” “King Richard,” “C’mon C’mon” and “The Tender Bar” talk us through their starring turns.Jude Hill, clad in a white button-up shirt with a cheeky grin, is just as charming in real life as he is in “Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh’s new autobiographical film about an Irish boy growing up amid the Troubles in the title city in the 1960s.“I had the time of my life doing this film,” the 11-year-old actor from Northern Ireland, who stars as Buddy, the young Branagh stand-in, said in a recent video call from Los Angeles.He’s one of several youngsters winning praise for their starring turns in prestige dramas this season. They include Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, who play Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard” opposite Will Smith as their father; Woody Norman, who tag-teams with Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon”; and Daniel Ranieri as a boy learning about life from a bar-owning uncle (Ben Affleck) in the George Clooney-directed drama “The Tender Bar” (due Dec. 17).In phone and video calls this month — Hill, Norman, Sidney and Singleton from Los Angeles, and Ranieri from Brooklyn — the five actors shared what it was like working with stars of the screen and court, behind-the-scenes stories and how they reacted to seeing their faces on posters for the first time. These are edited excerpts from the conversations.Jude HillThe 11-year-old plays 9-year-old Buddy in “Belfast.”Jude Hill in a sunny moment in “Belfast.”Rob Youngson/Focus FeaturesOne morning I woke up for a normal school day, and my mum showed me an email. I only read about two words of it before I started running around the house screaming that I got the role, and I was going to get to work with all these amazing people — Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds, Judi Dench.Me and Buddy aren’t that different — we both love football [soccer] and films and have the same personality. Every second the cameras weren’t rolling, I was playing football with the other actors.Judi Dench is very, very funny, and sometimes very inappropriate. To have her play my grandma is insane. We bet two pounds to see who could guess the number of times it would take to film a scene, and I ended up winning. I’m keeping that money in my memory box forever.I’m definitely not a ladies’ man. All the scenes with that girl [whom Buddy has a crush on] were very, very awkward!The first time I saw my face on a poster I thought, “That’s not real.” I’m still just a normal kid, and this is my first film, but I think if you work hard, then you can achieve anything.I learned so many things, but the biggest was to have fun with acting. My little sister, Georgia, who’s 9, has also started acting. Maybe she’ll become an actor, too.I cried the first time I watched the film. And I still get really emotional every time I see it.I’d love to play one of the Avengers in a Marvel film. It’s between Thor and Iron Man. That’s No. 1 on my bucket list.Demi SingletonThe 14-year-old plays a young Serena Williams in her formative years in “King Richard.”Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, left, and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in “King Richard.”Warner Bros. I came to L.A. from New York City, and once I got here, Saniyya came over, we hung out and we’ve been friends ever since. We recently went to Halloween Horror Nights together, and while we were filming, we’d go to The Grove [an outdoor mall] every other weekend.Venus and Serena surprised us with a visit to the set. We spoke about everything except tennis. It was great to see their sisterly bond firsthand and really helped me and Saniyya as actresses.The tennis training was intense. I was expecting it to be so easy because I’ve been dancing for my entire life and thought it’d be much more similar to choreography. The hardest thing to master was the serve. You can be great at every other shot, but if you don’t know how to serve, you’re unlikely to win.Mr. Will was hard to take seriously in those short shorts! We would make fun of him, but we also really admire him — he’s so kind, so humble and was always teaching us something. One thing he told Saniyya and me was to be very selective about the roles we choose because they can define who you are for the rest of your career.Aunjanue [Ellis, who plays Venus and Serena’s mother] taught me how to speak up for myself and my character. There were one or two scenes where I read it and didn’t feel like Serena would react that way, and you feel like you’re so young and aren’t supposed to say much, but she showed me it was OK to talk to the director and come up with different ways to do things.Any role that highlights how powerful women can be is a role I want to be in. I also really want to do an action movie like “Wonder Woman” or “Black Widow,” because that’s been my dream ever since I was a little girl.Saniyya SidneyThe 15-year-old plays Venus Williams as she’s first winning tournaments in “King Richard.”When Venus and Serena came to set, what I took away was how close the family was. They told us, “Yeah, we all shared rooms and did talent shows together; we were so close that there was never a day we weren’t together.”When you create a character from someone else’s imagination, you have the freedom to create emotions and traits, but with a real-life person, you want to make sure you’re portraying them the best you can. I spent lots of time studying videos of Venus and Serena when they were younger.The tennis training was quite intense. The way Venus and Serena play is so unique, and I worked on Venus’s serve every day. My coach, Mr. Eric [Taino], and I were both so proud the day I got the serve down. I’m left-handed, but I had to learn to play right-handed for the movie.Mr. Will is the funniest person ever. It was amazing to watch him create Richard. He inspired me to push myself because he would come to work each day better than yesterday.My family is like, “Oh my goodness, we know you as Saniyya, and now we’re going around town and seeing you on a billboard — that’s kind of crazy, girl!” They’re so proud.I hope families all go see this movie and feel like they’re represented. I also want young girls who may be seeing themselves onscreen to know that it’s important to stay humble and keep your head up. Make sure to take care of yourself.I’d love to do an action film. A Marvel movie star that plays tennis would be hilariously cool.Daniel RanieriThe 10-year-old plays the writer J.R. Moehringer as a boy in “The Tender Bar.”Daniel Ranieri in a scene from “The Tender Bar.”Claire Folger/Amazon StudiosMy mom filmed me cursing about the lockdown, and a couple of months later it went viral. Jimmy Kimmel wanted me on his show, and right after we got done with the interview, George Clooney’s casting director contacted my mom and said George wanted me to be in his next movie. I was like, “Wait, what?!”Ben was so nice to me — me and him have a connection now. The last day of filming, he got me like 10 PlayStation games, with a headset. I keep asking him, “When are you coming to New York?”Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    ‘Licorice Pizza’ Review: California Dreaming and Scheming

    In his latest movie, Paul Thomas Anderson returns to the San Fernando Valley for a shaggy 1970s romp about a self-important teenage boy and a memorable woman.GARY“Licorice Pizza,” a shaggy, fitfully brilliant romp from Paul Thomas Anderson, takes place in a 1973 dream of bared midriffs and swinging hair, failures and pretenders. It’s set in Encino, a Los Angeles outpost in the shadow of Hollywood and the birthplace of such films as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Boogie Nights,” Anderson’s 1997 breakout about a striver’s passage into pornographic stardom. There’s DNA from both old and New Hollywood in “Licorice Pizza,” a coming-of-age romance in which no one grows up.The film’s improbable teenage hero is Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), another classic striver. A child performer who’s hit maximum adolescent awkwardness, Gary is 15 and aging out of his professional niche. He still performs, but has started to diversify. Yet even as he embraces uncertain new ventures, his faith in himself remains steady, keeping his smile lit and smooth talk oozing. Deranged optimism and self-importance are American birthrights, and if his confidence weren’t so poignantly outsized — and if Anderson were in a tougher mood — Gary would be a figure of tragedy rather than of comedy.Anderson always maintains a level of detachment toward his characters, letting you see their unembellished flaws, both insignificant and defining. He loves them with the prerogative of any director. But his love for Gary is special, as lavish as that of an indulgent parent, and his affection for the character is of a piece of the soft nostalgic glow he pumps into “Licorice Pizza,” blunting its edges and limiting the film’s overall effect. The gap between what you see in Gary and what he sees in himself makes the character hard to get a handle on, and more interesting. Gary blunders and bluffs, finding success and defeat, fueled by a braggadocio that, much like one of the earthquake faults running under the city, threatens to bring the whole thing tumbling down at any moment.This instability suits the freewheeling, episodic structure, even if Gary wears out his welcome. The film opens on a school picture day with high-school boys preening in a bathroom and lines of students snaking outside. An amusingly portentous cherry bomb explodes in a toilet and before long Gary is ogling Alana (Alana Haim, the rock musician), an assistant for a creep who’s taking the kids’ pictures. The photographer slaps her ass. Gary is more of a romantic. He’s knocked out by Alana, instantly smitten, a thunderbolt moment that Anderson memorializes with a prodigious tracking shot that gets both the camera and the story’s juices going. Gary has met the girl he’s going to marry even if she doesn’t know it.Anderson keeps the camera and characters beautifully flowing through minor and major adventures of varying interest. Most of these are inaugurated by Gary’s entrepreneurial hustling, which takes him all over the nabe and sometimes beyond. He dips into bars and restaurants, shops and audition rooms, and belts out a tune in a show where he upstages a cruelly funny stand-in for Lucille Ball (Christine Ebersole), who threatens to castrate him (not really, but the rage is real). He jousts with his enemy (Skyler Gisondo), a wee smoothie who slides in like Dean Martin in his cups, which is as sleazy and silly as it sounds. Gary also gets busted, starts a few businesses, runs from the law and into Alana’s arms, which remain as dependably open as a late-night diner.ALANA“Licorice Pizza” has its seductions, most notably Alana. She’s a fabulous creation, at once down-to-earth real as a friend who grew up in the Valley and as fantastical as a Hollywood dream girl. When Alana first walks through Gary’s school, Anderson makes sure to show her in long shot, head to toe, exasperated and slumped, hair and miniskirt gently in sync. This is Haim’s first movie but she has a seasoned performer’s presence and physical assurance. Her expressive range — her face drains and fills as effortlessly as if she were handling a water tap — and humanizing lack of vanity are crucial, partly because she’s a delight to watch and because Hoffman is a frustratingly limited foil.For reasons that only she knows, Alana agrees to go out with Gary, initiating a relationship that makes no sense but one that Anderson certainly enjoys. She’s about 10 years older than Gary, maybe more. He’s big for his age and taller than her, and with his swagger and belly bulging over his belt, you can already see the used car salesman he might one day become. But right now he’s a kid. “Do you think it’s weird,” Alana asks a friend, while smoking a joint, “that I hang out with Gary and his friends all the time?” Alana says she think it’s weird (it is), but what she believes doesn’t have much bearing on the story and she continually bends to suit Gary’s needs as well as Anderson’s, which don’t include psychological realism.Anderson asks a lot of Haim: He makes sure we see her nipples at full mast under her shirt and parades her around in a bikini when everyone else is dressed. These moments are in line with some of the more flagrantly obnoxious stereotypes that he folds in, just like a studio hack might have done back in the day while having a witless chuckle. There’s a sycophantic assistant who’s a mincing cliché, and the white owner of a Japanese restaurant who speaks in broken English. Anderson deploys these stereotypes without editorializing, which is a commentary on their use, and just enough timing and attention to make it clear that he’s enjoying tweaking contemporary sensibilities.These moments are cheap and stupid and add nothing to a movie that throws out a great deal to alternating scattershot and lasered effect: the OPEC oil crisis, water beds, the silhouette of palm trees against a night sky and the kind of stars who no longer shine bright. One of the recurrent beats that Anderson hits best in “Licorice Pizza” is what it’s like to live in a company town like Los Angeles, where everyone is in the business, seems to be, or wants to be, and so keeps hanging on to Hollywood and its promise, whether it’s Gary or the faded and midlevel stars idling in the neighborhood joint. There, Sean Penn roars in as a old-studio lush as Tom Waits and other pals grin on the sidelines.Throughout, Alana keeps fuming and blazing, steadily lighting up Gary and the film as brightly as Fourth of July fireworks, even as the story slides here and there, and gathers and loses momentum. The movie doesn’t always know what to do with Alana other than dog after her, and it’s a particular bummer that while Anderson makes her an object of love and lust, he shortchanges her sexual desire. Alana may be lost, but she isn’t dead, quite the reverse. She’s a woman who’s alive to the world and aware of her own attraction. But she’s a blank libidinally, as virginal and safe as a teen-comedy heroine. She doesn’t even ask Gary to pleasure her, not that he would know what to do.Alana deserves better, dammit! Everyone knows it (OK, not Gary) even the Hollywood producer based on the real Jon Peters (a sensational Bradley Cooper) knows it. Resplendently fuzzed, a white shirt framing his chest hair, a kilo of coke (probably) up his nose, Peters appears after Gary starts a water bed company. The business is a long, not especially good story, but Peters, who’s dating Barbra Streisand, wants a bed and he wants it now. This initiates a tour de force sequence in which Alana, who’s helping Gary run things, natch, takes the wheel of a monstrous moving truck. She’s a natural, a genius, Streisand, Andretti, a California goddess, and, as she brakes and slows and goes, Alana gives you a vision of perfection and “Licorice Pizza” the driver it needs.Licorice PizzaRated R for stereotypes, language and teen high jinks. Running time: 2 hours 13 minutes. In theaters. More

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    With ‘Encanto,’ Stephanie Beatriz Finds Yet Another Voice

    The actress, also featured in “In the Heights” and on the series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” discusses her lead role as Mirabel in the latest Disney animated film.The actress Stephanie Beatriz said goodbye to her memorable breakout role as a stern detective on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” in September as the hit comedy show wrapped after eight seasons.“I’ll be happy if my name is always connected to Rosa Diaz. That’s an honor,” Beatriz said of the fan-favorite character.But 2021 was largely a year of fresh starts for the 40-year-old actress. Early in the summer she appeared as Carla, one of the salon ladies in the film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “In the Heights.” She also became a mother for the first time.Voice acting, a skill she can trace back to when she and her sister pretended to host radio shows with a Fisher-Price tape recorder, also represents a steady aspect of her output, most recently in Netflix’s acclaimed animated limited series “Maya and the Three.”A self-anointed “Disney adult”— her bachelorette party was held at Disneyland — Beatriz felt overjoyed when she was cast to voice Mirabel, the Latina heroine in the studio’s 60th animated feature “Encanto,” set in Colombia. Becoming part of the legacy of magical tales she grew up watching (“Sleeping Beauty” is a personal favorite), in an adventure about her father’s homeland, stunned her.“When your actual dream comes true, it’s very bizarre,” she said.Beatriz voices Mirabel, center, in the Disney film “Encanto.”DisneyBy phone from London, with her newborn by her side, the actress discussed finding Mirabel’s voice and reminisced about her favorite animated shows growing up. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.You were born in Argentina to a Colombian father and a Bolivian mother, and you grew up in Texas. How do you understand your Latino identity?I feel like an American Latino, meaning that there’s stuff that I cling to that feels specifically American in my Latinidad, which is my love of Selena [Quintanilla] and of country music, because I grew up in Texas. But there’s stuff that feels specifically Bolivian and Colombian, and there’s stuff that feels very much my experience as an immigrant growing up here from the time I was 2. The thing that I identify with the most about Mirabel is her feeling of not belonging. That’s reflective of my own identity in the United States.In your formative years, did you feel represented in American media?We recently did a bunch of media interviews and John Leguizamo and I were paired together. He is an icon to me and one of the first Latinos I ever saw on TV. I saw him in the filmed version of “Freak,” one of his one-man shows. In that production, he talks about seeing the character Diana Morales in the play “A Chorus Line” for the first time. And so here I am watching this Latino actor talking about watching another Latino in a play and deciding that that was the moment he realized he wanted to be an artist. For me, watching him was when I realized I wanted to be one too.“Unlike so many Disney heroes, she doesn’t have a sidekick to guide her through the story,” Beatriz said of Mirabel.Kalpesh Lathigra for The New York TimesTell me about the process of finding and creating Mirabel’s voice for “Encanto.”I originally thought that she should sound younger, and I was leaning into a higher pitch. But the directors pushed me toward making her sound more mature. We discussed how she’s often had to take care of herself because there are so many stars in her family. It’s up to her to make sure that her needs are getting taken care of, and with that comes a level of maturity. At the same time, she’s playful. Unlike so many Disney heroes, she doesn’t have a sidekick to guide her through the story. Mirabel sometimes is the sidekick and the therapist for her family. She uses comedy all the time. There wasn’t some other character doing sight or audio jokes. It was Mirabel, and that was very freeing and fun.You’ve found a career in voice performance for popular animated series such as “Bob’s Burgers” and “BoJack Horseman.” What do you enjoy most about this work?Five Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More

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    5 Things to Do This Thanksgiving Weekend

    Our critics and writers have selected noteworthy cultural events to experience virtually and in person in New York City.Art & MuseumsReframing FreedomOne of the murals of Shaun Leonardo’s “Between Four Freedoms,” on view at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park on Roosevelt Island through Tuesday.Anna LetsonThe making of Shaun Leonardo’s latest public artwork — “Between Four Freedoms,” the exhibition of which has been extended to Tuesday at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park on Roosevelt Island — is predicated on the notion that the four freedoms cited in Roosevelt’s 1941 speech don’t apply to everyone equally. How would our most vulnerable citizens interpret them? In a series of workshops leading up to the installation, Leonardo attempted to answer that question. For one, he pointed to the freedom from fear: How can it be considered attainable when children continue to be incarcerated? How can people declare it when for them fear persists in the shadows?The culmination of these exercises is represented in a series of large vinyl murals of hand gestures (which sometimes speak louder than words) that Leonardo applied to the granite walls at the entrance to the park. Words haven’t been completely ignored, though. QR codes surrounding the works link to audio recordings of workshop participants discussing what freedom — or its lack — means to them.MELISSA SMITHKIDSSetting Hearts AflutterAn emerald swallowtail butterfly, which is among the species in the American Museum of Natural History’s butterfly exhibition, on view through May 30.D. Finnin/American Museum of Natural HistoryThe butterflies are back in town.That may seem like a puzzling announcement in November, but at least one Manhattan site considers it routine: the American Museum of Natural History. After a yearlong pandemic-induced hiatus, the institution is once again presenting its annual exhibition “The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter,” on view through May 30.Mimicking a light-filled 80-degree rainforest, this 1,200-square-foot vivarium provides close encounters with as many as 500 creatures, such as monarch, viceroy, blue morpho and emerald swallowtail butterflies, and atlas and luna moths. (Timed entry is required, and visitors must buy tickets that include special-exhibition access.) For curious children, the thrills of wandering among the show’s blossoms and greenery include seeing these free-flying international travelers alight on an outstretched hand or emerge from a chrysalis.Small visitors who prefer to keep insects at a distance can enjoy several exhibits outside the conservatory’s doors. Among them are a short film about metamorphosis and displays on butterfly habitats and adaptations. Owl butterflies, for instance, have large spots that resemble owl eyes — a way to fool predators — while monarchs contain foul-tasting toxins. Those bright orange wings are nature’s own caution sign.LAUREL GRAEBERFilm SeriesOf Instincts and BuboesSharon Stone in Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct,” one of the films IFC Center is showing for a retrospective of the director’s work in anticipation of his latest, “Benedetta.”Rialto PicturesBefore Paul Verhoeven’s latest provocation, the 17th-century lesbian-nun drama “Benedetta,” opens on Dec. 3, IFC Center invites viewers to revisit his scandals of yore. While his early Dutch outrages aren’t much represented (other than “Spetters,” one of the most phallocentric movies ever made, screening on Saturday), you couldn’t ask for a more ice-pick-sharp Friday-night selection than “Basic Instinct” (also showing Sunday through Tuesday), the subject of protests — even during filming — for its depiction of Sharon Stone’s bisexual murder suspect. It stands, along with Verhoeven’s return to Holland, the gripping World War II drama “Black Book” (on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday), as the high point of his mastery of the erotic thriller.Perhaps less seen, but relevant to “Benedetta,” is “Flesh + Blood,” screening on 35-millimeter film on Sunday. Rutger Hauer’s character leads a group of mercenaries who claim a divine mandate, but the encroaching plague proves impervious to superstition. “Benedetta” will close the series on Dec. 2.BEN KENIGSBERGComedyNo Topic Too HotD.L. Hughley will be at Carolines on Broadway on Friday and Saturday.Phil ProvencioThey say the Thanksgiving table is no place for certain subjects, but those are just the kind of scraps D.L. Hughley can turn into a feast.The comedian, who hosts a nationally syndicated afternoon radio show with a companion series on Pluto TV’s LOL! Network, has been making waves since the late 1990s, when he starred in his own sitcom on ABC and toured as one of “The Original Kings of Comedy” alongside Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac, who died in 2008.Hughley had the political savvy to host his own CNN show and the mainstream appeal to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.” In 2012, he created and starred in “D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List,” a mockumentary for Comedy Central that won a Peabody Award. This year, he published his fifth book, “How to Survive America.” He’ll certainly have plenty to talk about when he performs at Carolines on Broadway on Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:45 p.m. Tickets start at $60, with a two-drink minimum.SEAN L. McCARTHYFive Movies to Watch This WinterCard 1 of 51. “The Power of the Dog”: More