This week, Olive Films is releasing, for the first time on Blu-ray, The Road to Hong Kong, the last of the seven “Road” buddy comedies starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hitting theaters a full decade after the penultimate entry, Hong Kong is an occasionally funny and occasionally wheezy bit of business, with one honest-to-God great sequence: an unbilled cameo by Peter Sellers, who strolls into the picture and steals the damn thing outright. Hope and Crosby were early adopters of the kind of inside-joke comedy that yielded such cameos, which became increasingly common in the years that followed; we’ve gathered up some of the funniest in movie …Read More
Samuel L. Jackson
Taken 3 (or, as its ads would have it, TAK3N — which I believe is pronounced “Take-three-en”?) is out Friday, and I can’t tell you anything about it, because (as is so often the case with the little masterpieces we’re given in January) it’s not being screened for critics. But I can tell you that it’s being marketed with a totally awesome LinkedIn campaign! Yes, the year’s least necessary sequel and your most annoying email sender have paired up to create a little bit of online movie marketing magic, reminding us that when it comes to creating film ad campaigns with the express purpose of “going viral,” the occasional Blair Witch or Cloverfield is often counterbalanced by numerous laughable embarrassments.
A new year is upon us, and a peek ahead at 2015’s cinematic offerings is… well, kinda depressing. As you peruse the many 2015 preview pieces on movie sites, there’s a noticeable sameness — namely because they’re chock full of sequels. And some of those sequels (The Avengers, Mad Max, The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect, Magic Mike, Mission: Impossible, and, yes, Star Wars) might be great! But their domination of said lists speaks to the weakness of said lists; we’re banking anticipation almost exclusively on known quantities, from earlier films and filmmakers. And with Sundance and the rest of the spring festivals still on the horizon, we can’t yet guess at the smaller sleepers. BUT, nonetheless, we present this look at a few slightly off-the-grid and out-of-the-box movies that might be worth talking about this …Read More
We rarely appraise our most revered literary writers on the basis of their screenwriting. The bald truth is that most great writers never wrote original screenplays, and when they did, they were seldom produced. (Even the crop of famous literary men who dabbled in Hollywood — Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Nabokov, Dos Passos — routinely failed.) Nor do we judge these writers on their adapted screenplays, precisely because these works were adaptations and not originals, but also because Hollywood is a collaboration machine that historically chews up and swallows the solitary imagination, at least during production.
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
Why Are We So Obsessed With Tarantino’s Violence? An Excerpt From ‘Pulp Fiction: The Complete History of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece’
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the movie that crystalized the 1990s indie film movement and, in doing so, changed mainstream moviemaking forever. To mark the occasion, I’m happy to present this excerpt from my book on the film, Pulp Fiction: The Complete History of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, available from Amazon or at your fine local bookseller.