Dennis Hopper

Boomer Audit: Despite the Self-Indulgence and the Clichés, ‘Easy Rider’ Retains Its Pulse

Easy Rider is nothing but trouble. Even the most casual of film fans is aware of its importance; an out-of-left-field critical and commercial smash in the summer of 1969, its unconventional approach, anti-authoritarian themes, and pop soundtrack helped set the table for the “New Hollywood” of the 1970s, and all that came after. Without Easy Rider, there would have been no Last Picture Show or Five Easy Pieces. Jack Nicholson may have never crossed over from screenwriting to screen acting. And the studios, falling to pieces after years of expensive flops, might have taken a good while longer to discover that genre-bending young filmmakers were the key to their survival. Easy Rider’s influence, its value, its consequence are irrefutable — and none of that makes it any easier to sit through. Yet saying so sounds like sneering contrarianism, if not outright trollery. You just can’t win with this one. … Read More

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The Most Frightening Gangsters on Film

You’d be hard pressed to find a movie tough guy with a more diverse filmography than Bob Hoskins. The English actor passed away earlier this week. With a burly silhouette, an aura of cockney cool, and a glimmer of menace in his eyes, the versatile performer charmed audiences as a sympathetic everyman and heroic detective (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), but was startling as a vicious gangster in films like The Long Good Friday. The straight-talking star played a number of cinema toughies during his colorful career. In honor of Hoskins’ reign of terror, we revisited some of cinema’s most frightening film gangsters. … Read More

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‘Mad Men’ Multiplex: Which 1969 Movies Will Turn Up This Season?

From the third-season cola campaign aping Bye Bye Birdie to last year’s multiple screenings of Planet of the Apes, Mad Men has always dipped generously into the pool of period cinema to help set its scene, while simultaneously drawing inspiration from films of the era (The Apartment, BUtterfield 8, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — starring Bert Cooper himself, Robert Morse — leap to mind). We’ve taken some guesses at the books this season’s 1969 timeframe might introduce; here are a few of the most popular movies of that year, and how they might work their way into Don Draper’s world. … Read More

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Wild Vintage Posters from Classic Roger Corman Drive-In Movies

Chris Nashawaty’s wonderful new book Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses is an homage to the “King of the B Movie”: Roger Corman, whose cheapo productions for American International Pictures and his own New World outfit, aimed squarely at drive-in and grindhouses, provided not only thrills for movie-goers but opportunities for countless young filmmakers looking for their first break. Nashawaty’s book (out now) is an affectionate tribute to the producer/director, an oral history with contributions by Corman and the many actors, directors, and technicians he employed. But it’s also a handsome coffee-table volume showcasing the distinctive art of these textbook exploitation movies, in which the marketing campaign was often devised before the script was even written. After the jump, we’ve selected ten of our favorite vintage Corman posters, accompanied by explanatory captions from the book. … Read More

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10 Essential Karen Black Movies to Stream Online This Weekend

Karen Black, the legendary actress at the forefront of the 1970s “New Hollywood” movement, died Thursday from complications due to cancer. She was 74 years old. Few actors were more readily identified with the cinematic upheavals of the ‘70s, when a desperate industry tossed the keys to film school kids and idiosyncratic iconoclasts, and actors who’d have been consigned to character roles in the “Golden Age” (Hoffman, Nicholson, Spacek, Pacino, Burstyn) found themselves in starring roles. Black’s offbeat looks and gonzo acting style made her a perfect fit in the era, and you can basically sum up the period by watching her best films. Many of them aren’t available for streaming (damn you, Trilogy of Terror), but most of the major titles are, so here’s some suggestions for a weekend film festival. … Read More

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Our Favorite Films Shot in NOLA

Presented by NOLA

New Orleans serves as a vibrant backdrop for some of our favorite movies — and it’s really no wonder. The city is not only full of historical architecture, but also boasts a thriving cultural scene that all but becomes a character itself in the following flicks. NOLA has been an inspiration to filmmakers for decades; read on for our top picks, and then follow your NOLA to get inspired by the Crescent City.  … Read More

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The Best Directorial Debuts by Famous Actors

This was a big week for actors we never thought would venture into the directing pool. Keanu Reeves will debut Man of Tai Chi in China this summer, honoring his Matrix martial arts trainer, Tiger Hu Chen. Michael Cera’s short film Brazzaville Teen-Ager, starring “Milkshake” singer Kelis and Charles Grodin, saw its YouTube premiere. Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock was just a little hasty when he recommended that all actors should be treated like cattle. … Read More

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The Quintessential American Movie of Every Decade, 1920s-Present

BAMcinématek’s A Pryor Engagement retrospective, which we told you about a couple of weeks back, is unfortunately coming to an end this week — but not before tonight’s screening of a film that most consider not only lesser Pryor, but a fairly middling and forgettable effort in general. Your film editor disagrees. The picture is called Brewster’s Millions, a 1985 comedy that pairs up Richard Pryor and John Candy, and it’s not just a funny kick of a buddy movie (though it is that); it is, we contend, nothing less than the quintessential American 1980s motion picture. We’ll explain why in due course. In the meantime, inspired by this particular take on Millions, we decided to comb through the annals of cinema history and determine which films were most specifically of their decades. We’re not saying that these are the very best films of their time (though some were); rather, we feel that each is specific to their time, and summed it up in a unique way. We’ll go from the 1920s to the 2000s, and explain our choices along the way. … Read More

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