The third-act appearance of Kevin Spacey as ‘Seven’ killer John Doe blindsided opening weekend audiences, since Spacey was unbilled on posters and in the opening credits, and unseen in the trailers and TV spots. It’s a good trick—and part of a long-running tradition of surprise, unbilled appearances by actors and actresses of note. …Read More
Twenty years ago this week, Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects opened in theaters, and everybody lost their minds. It ended up redefining the “twist” ending, becoming a kind of shorthand for a left-field, eleventh-hour plot development that reconfigures everything that’s come before. But it was neither the first nor last movie to do that ending, or do it well. …Read More
It’s hard to believe that a horror cinema masterpiece like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining opened to mixed reviews, with outlets like Variety calling out Jack Nicholson’s “jumpy” performance for “[destroying] all that was so terrifying about Stephen King’s bestseller.” The 1980 film was also nominated for two Razzies — for worst director and worst actress, awarded to the unfairly maligned Shelley Duvall. Contemporary audiences have a different, far more positive, take on the chilling tale, and the film’s psychological and supernatural thrills have become embedded into the American subconscious. This month marked the 35th anniversary of The Shining. We’re celebrating with some fantastic behind-the-scenes photos that reveal the dedication, artistry, and antics that went into the making of the …Read More
There’s something specifically, quaintly wonderful about the counterculture movies of the late ‘60s: the costumes, the slang-y dialogue, the hallucinogen-inspired cinematography, the way the color temperatures have faded just so. Fans of the period are in for a treat this week, as Olive Films has debuted sparkling new Blu-ray editions of two key ‘60s indies: Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels and Richard Rush’s Psych-Out; in celebration of that release, a look at those films and a handful of others that best encapsulate the period (or, at least, cinema’s best attempts to capture it).
Illustrator Federico Babina has carved out an impressive niche documenting and interpreting popular culture through the lens of architecture, fusing building design with music, modern art, and film. Now, he’s used his unique sensibility to combine iconic architects and celebrities with the series Archilife, with each illustration placing a Hollywood star in a home designed by the appropriate draftsman. Check out the entire series on his website; our favorites are collected after the jump.
This week, the Criterion Collection is releasing a double bill of the mid-‘60s Westerns The Shooting and Ride the Whirlwind, a treat not only for fans of revisionist Westerns and director Monte Hellman, but also for those who admire Jack Nicholson, here seen in two terrific performances that predate his breakthrough in Easy Rider. There’s a specific kind of pleasure in revisiting the early work of actors who would later become famous — not the roles that made them stars, but their earlier, quieter gigs, in which we glimpse an actor just trying to do good work, yet already exhibiting the spark that would mark them for fame. Here are a few of our …Read More
If you’re a fan of cult movies, there are plenty of ways to show your love for them: posters on your wall, T-shirts on your chest, pictures in your social media profiles. But the good folks at the creative agency Human After All went beyond those obvious vehicles to find a genuinely cool bit of cult movie merchandising: cult movie playing cards, with each card in the deck illustrating a cinematic favorite. The decks are in production now, but its makers were kind enough to send us over a few samples; check them out after the jump, and follow them on Twitter or go to their website to find out how to get a set of your own.
Buried among this week’s DVD and Blu-ray releases is a movie that, by the looks of it, was supposed to be one of the summer’s big hits: Blended, the third onscreen teaming of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Their first film, 1998’s The Wedding Singer, reshaped Sandler into a romantic lead and got him less-vicious-than-usual reviews, while grossing $80 million domestic; its follow-up, 2004’s 50 First Dates, did $120 million. But stars can fall over a decade, and Sandler and Barrymore’s big reunion was a big disappointment, only pulling $46 million total (barely more than First Dates’ first weekend). In other words, lightning doesn’t always strike twice, and for every Hope and Crosby or Redford and Newman, there are plenty of cinematic reunions that didn’t quite pan out.
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.