Tom Hanks

Move Over, James Franco: Tom Hanks Pens So-So Fiction for ‘New Yorker’

Move over James Franco and Steve Martin: you aren’t the only fiction-penning celebrities around. This week, The New Yorker features a short story by Tom Hanks — yes, that Tom Hanks — which seems to be heavily influenced by his time working on Apollo 13. While reading, I had do my very best to approach the story, a futuristic space-jaunt called “Alan Bean Plus Four”, as a lighthearted foray into fiction by a revered actor (director, screenwriter, producer, and cultural figure) and not as something I would mercilessly savage if I were in a fiction workshop and a “packet” of my peers’ writing had just arrived in my arms for a pre-class critique. … Read More

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In Defense of ‘Forrest Gump’

Sometimes timing is simply beyond a filmmaker’s control, and Forrest Gump’s low standing among a certain (very vocal) portion of movie fans might have more to do with its timing than anything. To be precise, Forrest Gump took on Pulp Fiction at the 1995 Oscars and won, handily; it took home six Oscars to Fiction’s one (for Best Original Screenplay, the only one where the two films weren’t in competition). And in that face-off, Gump was set up as the kind of syrupy, heartwarming studio picture that Fiction was out to destroy — a perception that persists to this day. But Forrest Gump, which begins a one-week, 20th anniversary IMAX re-release this Friday, isn’t as simple as that; it’s a weirder, darker, and better movie than its reputation suggests. … Read More

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10 Wildly Unsuccessful Movie Reunions

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. … Read More

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The 25 Best Sports Comedies Ever Made

These kinds of things are always hard to say definitively, due to rampant deterioration and poor documentation, but Harold Lloyd’s 1925 masterpiece The Freshman may well have been the cinema’s first sports comedy. It was certainly the first sports comedy to prove a monster hit, setting up nearly 90 years of athletics-related laughs at the movies. In celebration of The Freshman’s Blu-ray and DVD release today (thanks to our good friends over at the Criterion Collection), here’s a look at some of the finest and funniest sports comedies ever made. … Read More

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2014 Oscar Nominations: A Look at This Year’s (Few) Surprises

The West Coast entertainment media got up nice and early this morning (or stayed up all night, YOLO), put on their Thursday best, and turned out to watch Chris Hemsworth and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announce this year’s nominees for the Academy Award. It’s all become a bit rote at this point: months of breathless speculation, relentless campaigning, and meta-narratives, followed by an announcement that honors a lot of the year’s best, while including a few surprises and shutouts. … Read More

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2013: The Year Prestige Cinema Reinvented Action Filmmaking

A quick glance at the box-office returns for 2013 confirms that this year, like pretty much every year since, oh, 1980, action was king: all but three of the top ten films could be considered, by at least some loose definition, action movies. (All but two of them are sequels or prequels, but that’s another, even more depressing conversation.) This year at the multiplex, we were treated to superheroes destroying cities in Man of Steel, zombies destroying cities in World War Z, aliens destroying cities in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and robot suits destroying, well, a pier in Iron Man 3. All that computer-generated carnage doesn’t create much in the way of human stakes or emotional resonance; you may have a rooting interest in the hero, but there’s never much doubt they’re going to come out on top, and by the end of the summer, action movie fatigue had set in. But, presumably through coincidence and/or parallel thinking, three films this fall took a decidedly different approach, and in doing so, turned the so-called “action movie” on its head. … Read More

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