Morgan Freeman

50 Great Pre-Fame Performances by Famous Actors

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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

‘Lucy,’ ‘Nikita,’ and the State of the Female Action Movie

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There’s a scene about halfway into Luc Besson’s Lucy, which finds Scarlett Johansson’s title character striding down a luxury hotel hallway in slow-motion, a gun in each hand, as the operatic music favored by the film’s supervillian swells on the soundtrack. It’s a scene you’ve seen in a million other disposable action movies, but it packs a giddy, sneaky punch here, and not just because it’s well directed by Besson (though it is), or because Johansson is so exuberantly sexy (though she is). The scene works, jumps from the screen and bounces around the auditorium, because the sight of a tough female action hero is still rare enough to give the audience an extra jolt. Say what you will about Lucy, which is an absurdly silly and sometimes aggressively stupid movie, but it’s at least interested in showing us something new.
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