8 items from 2015
'The Contender' movie hero: Joan Allen as the virtuous Sen. Laine Hanson. 'The Contender' movie: Exceptional Joan Allen in intriguing but ultimately wimpy political drama "Principles only mean anything when we stick by them when they're inconvenient," says Senator Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen in Rod Lurie's The Contender. Senator Hanson should know. In Lurie's political drama, the poor Democratic senator is grilled by a Republican inquisitor with a bad hairdo (Gary Oldman) who wants to prevent at all costs her being confirmed as the next Vice President of the United States. Even if that means destroying Hanson's political career by making public the senator's alleged participation in an orgy during her college days.* Now, why such hatred? Well, the Republican watchdog is certain that the U.S. president (Jeff Bridges) has chosen Sen. Hanson because of her gender instead of her qualifications for the job. Adding insult to injury, »
- Andre Soares
If you're one of the many out there that are against Clint Eastwood's American Sniper's release, you'll soon learn that you're opinion towards it will not change easily with it's release to Blu-ray and DVD. The politics of war films are inherently messy and with the rise of opposition to U.S. military and government operations, the topic has become more subject to criticism especially among cinephile crowds who don't want their movies to be just a jingoistic affair. But Warner Bros. and all that had a hand in its production didn't make this for the naysayers, they made it for sniper Chris Kyle and his family as well as all that support the troops over seas, and that is only amplified in the special features attached to the Blu-ray release but it's not completely without insight. Looking at the special features on the back, it seems like »
- Sean Cordy
Our look at underappreciated films of the 80s continues, as we head back to 1988...
Either in terms of ticket sales or critical acclaim, 1988 was dominated by the likes of Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Coming To America. It was the year Bruce Willis made the jump from TV to action star with Die Hard, and became a star in the process.
It was the year Leslie Nielsen made his own jump from the small to silver screen with Police Squad spin-off The Naked Gun, which sparked a hugely popular franchise of its own. Elsewhere, the eccentric Tim Burton scored one of the biggest hits of the year with Beetlejuice, the success of which would result in the birth of Batman a year later. And then there was Tom Cruise, who managed to make a drama about a student-turned-barman into a $170m hit, back when $170m was still an »
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. How to decide in the grand scheme of things which film year stands above all others? History gives us no clear methodology to unravel this thorny but extremely important question. Is it the year with the highest average score of movies? So a year that averages out to a B + might be the winner over a field strewn with B’s, despite a few A +’s. Or do a few masterpieces lift up a year so far that whatever else happened beyond those three or four films is of no consequence? Both measures are worthy, and the winner by either of those would certainly be a year not to be sneezed at. But I contend the only true measure of a year’s »
- Richard Rushfield
Today, Clive Barker’s wildly imaginative Nightbreed celebrates its 25th anniversary. While that is a remarkable feat in itself, the journey that the film has taken over the years has become the project’s enduring legacy within the horror genre. The recent Director’s Cut release of Nightbreed has been the ultimate vindication for Barker, who saw his vision snapped away decades ago from producers who believed they understood the world of Midian- and all its monsters- better than their creator.
Of course, that wasn’t the case, as Nightbreed received a disastrous response when it arrived in theaters, maligned mostly for its lack of subtlety and nuanced storytelling that was found within the pages of Barker’s original novella, Cabal. When Barker decided to move forward on adapting his work for the big screen, he was quick to rely on his some of his very closest friends to bring »
- Heather Wixson
New York film publicist Marion Billings, who worked with some of the most prominent directors and actors in Hollywood, died Sunday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J. She was 91.
While working with young directors including Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and Paul Mazursky, and helping foreign directors like Ingmar Bergman and Milos Forman reach American audiences, Billings publicized films including “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Goodfellas,” “Wall Street,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Fatal Attraction.”
Scorsese said in a statement Wednesday: “Marion Billings was one of the last of the old guard of publicists. It was never just business with Marion. Her clients all adored her, and I’m proud to say that I was one of them for many years. We started working together at the very beginning of my career, »
- Kevin Noonan
Moviegoers can finally enjoy a film with a genuine hero who served his country and fought in a righteous war
The New England Patriots spent this past weekend earning a spot in the Super Bowl. But many more patriots went to the movies and propelled “American Sniper” to a record-setting January box office weekend.
In doing so, they officially declared war against the likes of Michael Moore, Seth Rogen and so many liberal, peace loving, pot-smoking A-listers and Hollywood suits who, since the 1970s, have had an ambivalent, if not disdainful relationship with war movies in general, and American patriotism in particular. »
- Thane Rosenbaum
By Anjelica Oswald
With Michael Keaton winning the Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy and Eddie Redmayne winning for best actor in a drama, both men continue establishing themselves as the frontrunners in this year’s lead actor race at the Oscars.
Though not new to films, Redmayne starred in Oscar-nominated films such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2008) and Les Miserables (2012). His performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, however, propelled him to widespread acclaim and put him on the radar. He is one of four best actor nominees — along with Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Carell — to receive their first nomination this year.
For most of his career, Keaton was known for his comedic roles, such as Mr. Mom (1983) and Beetlejuice (1988), and for his turn as Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). These roles earned Keaton praise and »
- Anjelica Oswald
8 items from 2015
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