Brad Pitt’s face has long been an icon of Caucasian-everyman “Americanness.” Perhaps for that reason, he’s taking on the role of… Read More
Hollywood lost one of its last lions yesterday, as the legendary Lauren Bacall died at 89. She had a long and storied career, performing on film, radio, stage, and television, but America first knew her as the whisky-voiced marvel who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle. Bacall and Bogart were just one of the many Hollywood couples whose onscreen relationship became an off-screen one; let’s take a look at their famous pairing, and those of a few more great movie couples who kept their chemistry going off the set.
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Thirty years ago this month, John Milius’ Cold War wet dream Red Dawn rolled into theaters, helping launch the careers of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey. But it also launched a significant chapter in movie history: it was the first film released to theaters carrying the new PG-13 rating, a Goldlocks-ish “just right” nestled between the PG and the R. But as with all things MPAA-related, the PG-13 became a giant clusterfuck in the three decades hence, as its desirability led studios and filmmakers to push the rating to its absolute breaking point — loading up their PG-13 blockbusters with dead bodies while the ratings agency’s bean counters tallied “F-words” and bare butts. So to celebrate this dubious anniversary, let’s take a look back at ten cases where the 30-year-old rating was woefully… Read More
The overwhelmingly positive reviews that are greeting the new Tom Cruise actioner Edge of Tomorrow (out, erm, tomorrow) are a hearty mix of enthusiasm and surprise — enthusiasm at the film’s brainy wit and overall inventiveness, surprise that such elements are contained in such a blandly titled, seemingly generic Summer Action Blockbuster. Some have decided that the responsible party here is Tom Cruise, and the appreciations have followed suit; LA Weekly’s Amy Nicholson dubs him “our last real movie star,” Movies.com’s Jacob S. Hall calls him “the greatest living movie star.” Fair enough; Cruise has a long and storied filmography, a history of well-chosen collaborators, and he’s terrific in the film. Yet oddly little of this high praise has made its way to Edge of Tomorrow’s director, Doug Liman. Then again, this is nothing new; Liman is one of the most successful and reliable directors in Hollywood who somehow still has not become a household name.
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We’ve been talking a lot about Lars von Trier lately, prompted by the release of Nymphomaniac, and now Criterion Collection has given us one more reason to think about his work: their new special edition of his 1996 masterpiece Breaking the Waves. It’s a key entry in the von Trier filmography, its themes echoing throughout Nymphomaniac and Melancholia, but it takes something big like the Criterion release to warrant a revisit; Breaking the Waves is both a masterful movie and one that’s incredibly difficult to subject yourself to. We’ve looked previously at great books and important albums that are just plain hard to take; here’s a few movies that warrant the same kind of… Read More
I will readily admit that my favorite office holiday tradition for the last four years has been to dredge up clips from X Factor UK and bawl like Baby Jesus fresh out of the womb. This year is no different, so join me in tears of joy and wonder with this throwback clip. Brad… Read More
When the Coen Brothers took home a bundle of awards for their 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, including the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, the 1992 National Book Award winner found himself shot into a whole new realm of fame. By then, McCarthy was already on a professional hot streak: in April of 2007 Oprah had picked his latest novel, The Road, for her Book Club. Literature lovers had already known of McCarthy’s greatness, but now everybody knew, and everybody wanted to read him. You could hardly go anywhere without seeing somebody clutching a copy of the book the Coens had adapted, or the post-apocalyptic novel that Oprah loved so much (and would eventually be turned into a well-received 2009 film).
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“Your story, it is amazing. And in no good way,” Bass (Brad Pitt) tells Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) near the end of 12 Years a Slave, the remarkable new film from director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame). He’s right; Northup was a real man, an educated, sophisticated, free black man from Saratoga, New York who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Yet his extraordinary narrative (adapted by John Ridley from Northup’s memoir) is not why 12 Years a Slave is such a powerful experience. It is because of the vividness with which McQueen dramatizes the utter brutality of Northup’s everyday life as man treated as though he were less than one.
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Amid all the hullabaloo leading up to Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, critics couldn’t help comparing it to the 1974 version starring Robert Redford as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous character. To readers’ despair, neither of the massively hyped films turned out to be an adequate adaptation of one of the 20th century’s most serious Great American Novel contenders. But the failure of the Gatsby movies tends to obscure the fact that Fitzgerald — who was born on this day in 1896 — had far more than just Jay and Daisy to offer cinema.
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