Jack Nicholson

How ‘Batman’ Changed the Summer Blockbuster Forever

The poster was simple, but it was genius. The logo was giant, spilling off the sides of the page, a clean, sparkling, orange-and-black design. Across the bottom, in a simple, white typeface, was a date: “JUNE 23.” That was it. It didn’t tell you what movie it was for; it didn’t spotlight the prominent, marquee names of its stars or its director. It didn’t have to. No one in America who was paying more than passing attention to popular culture had to be told that there was a Batman movie coming in the summer of 1989; it was the most anticipated movie of the season, and that poster knew it. It knew you were waiting for that movie, and it contained one simple bit of information: you could see it on JUNE 23. That was 25 years ago, and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see how Tim Burton’s Batman ended up being one of the most influential films of the modern era — not for what was on screen, which was hardly even relevant. What Batman changed was how the movie-going audience was prepared for summer blockbusters, and how Hollywood grew to depend on them. … Read More

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10 Mystery Movies That Will Blow Your Mind

Forty years ago this week, Jack Nicholson redefined cool, Faye Dunaway redefined icy, and director Roman Polanski and screenwriter Robert Towne redefined film noir with the masterful detective thriller Chinatown. It isn’t just that the period drama boasts terrific performances, crackerjack cinematography, and all the period bells and whistles; it’s also a mighty good mystery, offering twists and turns that blindside the first-time viewer. And isn’t that what really great mystery movies are all… Read More

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Bruce Dern-ology: 10 Must-See Movies by the ‘Nebraska’ Star

This Friday, moviegoers in select cities (and as Letterman likes to say, I certainly hope your city has been selected) will have the opportunity to see Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s wonderful comedy/drama about a father and a son and the moment when you decide to just let things go. But more than anything, it’s about the wonder that is Bruce Dern, the legendary character actor who worked his way out of the Roger Corman factory and became one of the key on-screen personnel in the “New Hollywood” movement of the 1970s. At 77, he gives the performance of a lifetime in Nebraska (he won the Best Actor prize at Cannes), and after seeing it, you may want to go back and check out some of the films that made him the legend he is (particularly if you live in New York, where BAM is hosting a retrospective of his work). Here’s a few starting points: … 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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