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Ahead of American Ultra's arrival in UK cinemas, here's our pick of the 25 finest, sneakiest secret agents in film...
Operatives. Spies. Moles. Infiltrators. Secret agents go by many names. In fact, Britain's national security agency doesn't even call them agents - they're covert human intelligence sources, or simply “officers".
Whatever we choose to call them, secret agents lead necessarily furtive and obscure lives - so obscure that most of what we know about them is defined by what we've seen and read in books and movies.
During the Cold War, the image of the secret agent as a well-groomed sophisticate in a suit proliferated all over the world, and even in the high-tech landscape of the 21st century, that image still stands - just look at such movies as Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and, of course, the Bond franchise. But secret agents can come in many other guises, »
'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' 2015: Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' movie is a domestic box office bomb: Will it be saved by international filmgoers? Directed by Sherlock Holmes' Guy Ritchie and toplining Man of Steel star Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger costar Armie Hammer, the Warner Bros. release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has been a domestic box office disaster, performing about 25 percent below – already quite modest – expectations. (See also: “'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Movie: Bigger Box Office Flop Than Expected.”) This past weekend, the $80 million-budget The Man from U.N.C.L.E. collected a meager $13.42 million from 3,638 North American theaters, averaging $3,689 per site. After five days out, the big-screen reboot of the popular 1960s television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has taken in a mere $16.77 million. For comparison's sake: »
- Zac Gille
The directorial debut of the once revered action auteur John McTiernan comes to Blu-ray release, a little known cult favorite known as Nomads. Considering this predates his most lucrative and iconic trio of films, including Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), and The Hunt for Red October (1990) should be reason enough to revisit the title, even if on the surface it promises to be like any number of forgettable genre titles churned out in the same period. Beyond McTiernan, the film is notable as presenting us with the first starring role of Pierce Brosnan, playing an improbable Frenchman, as well as featuring supporting turns from notable cult figures like Mary Woronov, Frank Doubleday, and Adam Ant. Ultimately, the title’s perplexing and often inexplicable narrative thwarts its overall effectiveness as a thriller, yet McTiernan manages to convey expert skills as a visual artist.
Flax (Lesley-Anne Down) is an emergency room doctor who gets bit by a rambling madman, »
- Nicholas Bell
August 18th is bringing horror and sci-fi fans a bounty of home entertainment choices this week, especially if you’re into cult classics and indie genre films. Titles arriving on Tuesday include newer movies like Cub, Ejecta and Closer to God as well as the latest from the Soska Sisters, Vendetta. Several older films are getting an HD overhaul on Blu-ray too, including Nomads, The Hunger, Nightmare Castle, The Wife Killer and the supernaturally-infused Burn, Witch, Burn which was also co-penned by Richard Matheson.
And while it may not necessarily be a full-on genre movie, it’s worth noting that Shout! Factory is also releasing the criminally underrated cyber-adventure/thriller Hackers onto Blu-ray this week to celebrate its upcoming 20th anniversary.
The powers of dark magic rule the night in this chilling masterpiece of supernatural horror as a
college campus turns into a nest of evil. »
- Heather Wixson
Lesley-Anne Down (Sphinx, Death Wish V) "gives a riveting... performance" (L.A. Weekly) and Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, The November Man) is top-notch in "the most stylish supernatural-themed chiller... since Carrie" (Variety)! Also starring Adam Ant (Slam Dance), Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000) and Frank Doubleday (Escape from New York) and written and directed by John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October), Nomads is a "chiller thriller [that's] brimming with menace and suspense" (Judith Crist)!
They creep. They kill... and no one knows who they are or where they came from. But when these rootless, demonic spirits descend on a determined doctor, all hell breaks loose. »
- Derek Anderson
Julian Richings deals with the mind-twisting presence of aliens in Ejecta and Pierce Brosnan fights a feared supernatural force in Nomads, two films coming out on Blu-ray August 18th from Scream Factory, and we have clips and trailers from the upcoming releases.
Ejecta: "A horrific alien invasion forces two men to fight for their lives during one universe-altering night of terror. This nerve-shredding film stars Julian Richings (Cube, X-Men: The Last Stand) in a tour-de-force performance as William Cassidy, a man who, following decades of frightening extraterrestrial encounters, is now trapped in a living hell of fear and paranoia. On the evening of a massive solar flare, Cassidy invites paranormal researcher Joe Sullivan (Adam Seybold, Exit Humanity) to his secluded home in the woods. What occurs there will change both men — and possibly the Earth — forever. Lisa Houle (Pontypool) and Dee Wallace (The Howling) also star."
To learn more about Scream Factory's Ejecta Blu-ray, »
- Derek Anderson
Who doesn't love a good spy movie? "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation" ruled the box office this weekend and more spies are set to invade theaters, with "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" (opening on August 14) and Jesse Eisenberg as a stoner who's actually a highly-skilled agent in "American Ultra," which opens August 21.
If that's not enough spy action for you, the first two "Mission: Impossible" films are currently streaming on Netflix, as are all the Jack Ryan films, from 1990's "The Hunt for Red October" up through 2014's "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."
If you're looking for more cerebral cases, check out these two must-see adaptations of John le Carré books: "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" and "A Most Wanted Man," not to mention the Alfred Hitchcock classic "The Lady Vanishes." and two true-life British spy stories.
Availability is subject to change, so start streaming before your queue self-destructs...
- Sharon Knolle
From legendary director John McTiernan, Nomads will arrive on Blu-ray on August 18th. The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein Blu-ray, as well as details on a screening of Pernicious at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, are also showcased in this round-up.
Nomads: Press Release: "If you’ve never been frightened by anything, you’ll be frightened by this! Scream Factory presents Nomads, the chilling tale of supernatural evil, in its Blu-ray debut on August 18, 2015, complete with new bonus feature interviews.
Lesley-Anne Down (Sphinx, Death Wish V) and Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, The November Man) is top-notch in "the most stylish supernatural-themed chiller... since Carrie" (Variety)! Also starring Adam Ant (Slam Dance), Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000) and Frank Doubleday (Escape from New York) and written and directed by John McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October).
They creep. They kill... and no one knows who they are or where they came from. »
- Tamika Jones
Actor Rick Ducommun has died at the age of 62.
His brother Peter Ducommun said that he died on June 12 at a Vancouver hospital from complications due to diabetes.
Following his role of Art Weingartner in The 'Burbs, Ducommun continued his stand-up comedy career and appeared in several films.
"He was funny, talented and creative," said Peter Ducommun. "I think what people admired most was his stand-up.
"He was a comedian's comedian. Anyone who had the opportunity to see him live, loved his material." »
Rick Ducommun, a Canadian actor who appeared in many popular comedies in the ’80s and ’90s, has died. He was 62.
Rip Rick Ducommun. pic.twitter.com/52J5wKXToU
— Joe Dante (@joe_dante) June 18, 2015
Ducommun’s Twitter also posted the news.
1989’s “The ‘Burbs” was one of Ducommun’s most notable appearances, playing Tom Hanks’ noisy, paranoid neighbor. The comedian also had small roles in “Groundhog Day,” “Little Monsters,” “Die Hard,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “The Last Boy Scout,” “Last Action Hero” and “Scary Movie,” in which he played Anna Faris’ character’s father.
Dante posted several tweets honoring the late actor, noting that Ducommun, a relatively unknown stand-up comic at the time, beat out Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis to take the memorable role in “The ‘Burbs, »
- Alex Stedman
Canadian character actor Rick Ducommun, who starred in a wide range of beloved films throughout the '80s and '90s, has died. He was 62.
Ducommun had his breakout role in 1989's "The 'Burbs" opposite Tom Hanks, and director Joe Dante tweeted out his condolences on Thursday. Dante said that the late actor was a virtually unknown stand-up comic when he auditioned for the dark comedy, but "knocked it out of the park," beating out more established stars like Rick Moranis for the part.
"Lots of the funniest stuff he says was totally ad libbed," Dante wrote, adding that Ducommun was "A very funny guy" who was "Too young to go."
In addition to that cult classic, Ducommun also had small roles in many movies including "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (another collaboration with Dante), Bill Murray classic "Groundhog Day," "Die Hard," "Little Monsters," "The Hunt for Red October," "The Last Boy Scout, »
- Katie Roberts
Jurassic World is shattering box office records across the globe, but what happened to the stars of the movie that kick-started it all? Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic Jurassic Park was flawlessly cast, mixing well-known stars and fresh faces in a perfect blockbuster thrill-ride.
A one-time contender to play James Bond, Neill's early credits include espionage series Reilly: Ace of Spies, Dead Calm and The Hunt for Red October. In the years after Jurassic Park he notched up roles in Event Horizon, The Tudors and Peaky Blinders. Neill »
Note: 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' screens this Sunday, June 21, as the closing night film at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City. In this installment of Shadow And Act's Frame By Frame series, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Laurens Grant, who produced 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," discusses the process of research, cold calls, and funding for historical documentaries. For info on tickets for this Sunday's screening of visit: http://www.ifccenter.com/films/the-black-panthers-vanguard-of-the-revolution/. The Hunt for Red October / The Hunt for Archives Working with archival documentaries often feels »
- Laurens Grant
Director John McTiernan at La Cinémathèque Française's masterclass.Last autumn, my friend and colleague, Christopher Small, and I took the vacation of a lifetime to Paris. Did we go to eat macarons, drink wine and sneak a peek at the Mona Lisa? No, no we didn’t. We went to Paris to watch movies. Movies? Yes, movies. Did we go to Paris to watch the latest Godard, visit the site of the first cinema screening or drink beer with friendly Parisians until 4 in the morning? No, but we did anyway. What Christopher and I went to Paris to do was to watch John McTiernan’s movies on glorious 35mm at the Cinémathèque Française. To understand how special this trip was, I should probably provide a bit of background information: my husband, Jake Barningham, and his best friend, Daniel Gorman, started Mission:McTiernan back in 2010. They were right there with Notebook alum »
- Sara Freeman
"Sense8" is a show that could only exist on Netflix (or another streaming service like it), because no human would have the patience to watch it weekly. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Among its originals, Netflix has some great shows ("Orange Is the New Black" and "BoJack Horseman," to name two) and some lesser ones, but good or bad, the Netflix series only occasionally seem made with the Netflix distribution model in mind. Though they have serialized elements, most of them are structured in the exact same way as their counterparts that air in a traditional pattern on cable or broadcast TV. (Ditto most of Amazon's originals.) Previous attempts to design shows explicitly for the streaming/binge world — like Mitch Hurwitz's aborted plan to make "Arrested Development" season 4 viewable in any order — haven't worked out, and I'm still waiting for someone to find a way to explicitly »
- Alan Sepinwall
The hallmark of a great character actor is familiarity even if you don.t know their name. Scott Glenn is one of those actors you recognize when you see him even if the name doesn.t ring a bell. Having appeared in over sixty films including Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, The Hunt For Red October, Backdraft, The Silence Of The Lambs, and The Bourne Ultimatum, the 74-year-old actor has a resume that Hollywood actors dream about. In the last couple of years, Glenn has made the segue to the »
- Alex Maidy
Scott Glenn has spent 35-plus years playing the toughest of tough men. Since his breakthrough performance as John Travolta's rival in "Urban Cowboy," he's played astronauts ("The Right Stuff"), cowboys ("Silverado"), vengeful bodyguards (the original "Man on Fire"), submarine commanders ("The Hunt For Red October") and FBI agents ("The Silence of the Lambs"), among other jobs, always looking lean, weathered, and alert of everything around him. With rare exceptions — a "Monk" two-parter years ago, a handful of TV movies — he's played all these roles on the big screen. His career started in television (his first two screen credits were minor guest spots on "The Patty Duke Show"), but unlike many of his contemporaries, Glenn never tried to take a regular TV job as he got older. Then last year, he agreed — with some reluctance — to play Kevin Garvey Sr., the possibly-crazy, possibly-psychic father of Justin Theroux's cop hero of HBO's "The Leftovers, »
- Alan Sepinwall
Ah, the 1990s. The decade that brought us The Lion King. Titanic. Quentin Tarantino. That wordless bathroom scene in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks. Duel of the Fates from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. In the Mood for Love.
It was a good 10 years for film music, no doubt.
But scratch the surface of 1991 through 1999 and there are tons of good scores ready to spring a surprise on your ears. Some were attached to sorely underrated movies, others were overshadowed by wildly successful ones, and some have simply been forgotten in the passage of time.
Here, in no particular order, are the top 25 underappreciated film soundtracks from the 1990s.
When a DVD gets a reissue, its distributor tends to change the artwork. Er, not always for the better...
Movie studios love having large catalogues of older movies. They guarantee a revenue stream after all, through TV sales, streaming services, and the occasional repackaging of a DVD and/or Blu-ray edition.
But new packaging means new artwork, and a star who was hot when the film first came around may have faded since. Plus, audience trends change. Plus, there's the added bonus of luring people to buy two copies. Marvellous!
Most of the time, artwork updates go without a hitch. But in recent times, particularly with 90s movies we've noticed, some of the updates, er, 'dumb things down' slightly. Most of these exhibits are from the UK, we should note. If we broadened it more than we had into the Us - which we may do in a future piece »
By the 1990s, studios were waking up to movie marketing, and the era of the blockbuster. Tim Burton's Batman, released in summer 1989, had introduced the idea of a big opening weekend, and modern movies now target their promotional work to get just that. As such, it's harder and harder for smaller films to snare the top slot at the Us box office, even for one weekend.
In the 1990s, particularly the first half of the 1990s, that wasn't so much the case though. In fact, many films that have long since fallen from the public conscious topped the chart. And in this piece, I've tried to capture some of them.
Inevitably, you're going to have heard of some of them, and what a UK dweller sees as a »
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