Billy Bob Thornton

Spirited Away

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Allison Tolman in Fargo TV Series

It may not be the best movie of 1998, as its Best Picture honor claims it to be, but Shakespeare in Love is a delight for any drama nerd with a boner for the Bard. Hardly acceptable as a true account of the inspiration for and writing of “Romeo and Juliet,” John Madden’s film is really just a celebration of the work of William Shakespeare by being a pastiche of themes, tropes and lines from his plays. Another proper title for the movie would be “Mark Norman (and Tom Stoppard) in Love With Shakespeare.” In their script are direct reverential references — some of them nods of foreshadowing for things later to be written, others familiar devices employed as general homage — to “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Merchant of Venice” and more. Some of it is kind of silly if you find that sort of celebratory amalgamation and obvious, literal allusion to be a cheap reduction of an artist’s genius (at least Shakespeare got off better than The Beatles did in Across the Universe), and now that same kind of imitative collage is being done for Joel and Ethan Coen in the new TV series Fargo (making them modern day equivalents of the Bard, apparently deserving of equal admiration and tribute). Despite sharing its name with the filmmakers’ 1996 Best Picture nominee, the FX show is not quite an(other) adaptation or spin-off or remake of the story of Marge Gunderson and Jerry Lundegaard. It is not even set in the same Minnesota […]

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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is one of those days that will forever remain in the minds of the American people. And though everyone knows the story of what happened when JFK was shot (unless you’re a conspiracy theorist), many aren’t aware of what happened immediately after the president’s brutal murder. Enter Parkland, which promises on its poster a portrayal of “the JFK assassination as you’ve never seen it before.” The film centers on the events at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy was taken after being shot, and is based on the book “Four Days in November” by Vincent Bugliosi. These stills, courtesy of Yahoo! Movies, depict some of the principal characters tasked with taking care of the dying president — and even the one responsible. Paul Giamatti steps behind a camera as Abraham Zapruder, the cameraman who captured the only known footage of the assassination, while Jeremy Strong is a dead ringer for Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s killer. Billy Bob Thornton is a terrifying-looking secret service agent and just a generally grumpy-looking man who rushed to Kennedy’s side after the shooting. Zac Efron is interestingly cast as Dr. James Carrico, who tended to Kennedy upon his arrival at the hospital. I won’t judge too harshly before seeing his performance, but Efron, you always look 15 and flustered, kid. Marcia Gay Harden, as Nurse Doris Nelson, looks terribly worried, but you can imagine that she’s just seen some shit. Take a look after the break.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Jayne Mansfield

Back in 1996, when Billy Bob Thornton directed Sling Blade, its success seemed like a pretty big opportunity for the actor to change up his career focus and start accumulating awards by sitting in the director’s chair. That didn’t happen, though. Thornton has only made a handful of films since, and none that have come close to being as well-regarded as his first. However, it’s looking like this year could serve as Thornton’s best chance since Sling Blade at accumulating some more awards, because his latest film, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, looks like it’s got all of that good stuff that people who give out golden statues like. It’s a comedy of manners that throws excitable Southerners and stuffy Brits in the same space and examines the ways they chafe against each other, it’s set in the ’60s (so it’s got that oh-so-important element of nostalgia going for it, and there are plenty of period sets and costumes, shot with glowing gold light, which puts you in the perfect mood to squirt some tears at all of its ham-handed drama), and – probably most importantly – it boasts a cast of actors including names like John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Irma P. Hall, Thornton himself, and many others. These are not untalented folk.

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Lloyd Kaufman is the Rodney Dangerfield of low-budget, B-level horror movies. He gets no respect. Even Roger Corman, who is notorious for cranking out genre films for profit since the 1950s, has respect of his Hollywood peers. But in Corman’s shadow is Kaufman’s exploitation studio Troma, which has been generating marginal and low-quality entertainment for years…almost 40 years, to be exact. Troma began in 1974 as a joint venture between Kaufman and his buddy from Yale, Michael Hertz. Over the years, the studio has pulled their own fair share of Cormans by featuring would-be stars in their earliest roles, including Kevin Costner in Sizzle Beach U.S.A., Billy Bob Thornton in Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, and the comedy team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Cannibal: The Musical. In 1985, Troma broke out with their tongue-in-cheek success The Toxic Avenger, a low-budget hit that spawned three sequels and gave Troma its poster boy for its studio. Soon, Troma became a staple in the direct-to-video market with additional hits like Class of Nuke‘Em High, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, and Surf Nazis Must Die! To celebrate its upcoming 40th Anniversary in Tromaville, Troma is offering dozens of their movies for free on the Troma YouTube Channel. Films will be continually added to the line-up, but the channel is opening with the following titles:

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Back in 1996 when Billy Bob Thornton directed his first feature, Sling Blade, I thought that he had made his mark and was going to become one of the big directors working in Hollywood. That never happened, though. After that he only directed the Cormac McCarthy adaptation All the Pretty Horses in 2000 and then Daddy and Them, a movie I don’t even remember existing, in 2001. I guess the guy just decided that he’d rather be an actor than a director. And that’s fine, but now that he’s getting a bit older it seems like the directing bug might have bit once again. Last year he directed both a Willie Nelson documentary called The King of Luck, which is currently looking for distribution deals, and a dramatic film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which just played Berlinale. And apparently he’s not stopping there, because Variety has news that Thornton and his writing partner Tom Epperson are already set to collaborate on another project that Thornton will helm. The film, called And Then We Drove, is the first under $20m feature that will spring from a $120m film fund started by producer Alexander Rodnyansky. Why did Rodnyansky choose this project to be the first of the up to 6 films he will fund? He said, “I found the story amazing. It’s a pretty new combination of genres to put into one movie,” then concluded by adding, “It’s based on his experiences in many ways.”

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on some 3D glasses to look at some puss… in boots, that is. He proceeds to rewrite fairy tale fiction to include more bodily function humor, an egg-shaped Zach Galifianakis and a hairy but still sexy Salma Hayek. Then, he heads to the reference department of his local library to discover who really wrote the complete works of William Shakespeare. When all signs point to Neil Miller as the real author, Kevin gives up, realizing he’s out of time. So he brings sexy back and heads out to kidnap Amanda Seyfried so he can occupy Hollywood and start a revolution together… or get arrested.

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Finally, a supporting character from the Shrek franchise who earned their chops the hard way, enduring arduous animated battles and even more arduous stunt voice casting, has gotten a film of their very own, a fuzzy family affair that will make the whole brood giggle. No, sadly, it’s not those adorable flying Donkey-Dragon babies (trivia! Wikipedia tells me they are named Debbie, Coco, Bananas, Peanut, Parfait, and Éclair), but it’s Dreamworks’s own answer to “what would Zorro be like if he was, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, actually a cat?” That’s Puss in Boots to you, amigo. Antonio Banderas returns to the role he originated, a Zorro-meets-French-fairy-tale feline famous for stealing both bullion and babes. But what if Puss was, gasp, not a criminal at all, but a misunderstood kitty desperate to return to the mother he loves, a innocent cat framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a bipedal boot-wearing bad boy who is quietly concealing a heart of gold? What if then? Well, you’re about to find out.

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After a summer that’s already seen a Bad Teacher and some Horrible Bosses, I have started to sense that a new trend might be forming in Hollywood. Movies about awful people seem to be in, so that means we’re going to be seeing some remakes and sequels of past successes that have had less than likable protagonists. What does that mean for us in concrete terms? Thankfully, not a sequel to Richard Linklater’s awful Bad News Bears remake, but instead a sequel to Terry Zwigoff’s much more enjoyable Bad Santa. 24 Frames is reporting that Dimension and Miramax are teaming up to conceive some sort of sequel to the relatively successful, Billy Bob Thornton starring, 2003 film. And actually, they’re so taken with the idea of a Bad Santa sequel they’ve hired two different writers to pen scripts for them. Both are youngsters in the business who have recently sold their first scripts, and both have been told that they aren’t the only person writing on this project.

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Billy Bob Thornton hasn’t directed a non-documentary since 2001’s Daddy and Them. That’s kind of a shame, because it seems like the guy could be pretty good at it. Dude made Sling Blade after all. I take it as good news then, that Thornton has a cast in place and funding secured for his next feature Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Not much is known about the film yet, but Thornton co-wrote the script with his writing partner Tom Epperson, and it’s said to be about two families from different parts of the world experiencing a culture clash in 1969. Young actor John Patrick Amedori is set to star in the film and names like Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, John Hurt, Dwight Yoakam, and Dennis Quaid are locked in to round out the cast. That’s a ridiculously impressive list of actors, but where are all the ladies? Perhaps that’s a mystery for another day.

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Movies We Love

“It’s the size of Texas, Mr. President.” Does it get any better than that? Of course it doesn’t. Armageddon is without doubt one of the finest motion pictures ever created by humans. If that snippet of dialogue made audible by Mr. Billy Bob Thornton himself didn’t convince you, maybe this will. “You think we’ll get hazard pay for this?” I’m going to pretend you’ve been living under a rock since 1998 and summarize one of the greatest summer blockbuster films ever made for you. So Billy Bob Thorton is sort of the head honcho of NASA and one day he’s supervising a standard in-space satellite repair when all of a sudden a meteor shower rips his crew to pieces. We then cut to New York City, which seems to always be the city that gets destroyed in big budget disaster movies, and sure enough the meteors tear through the city demolishing Grand Central Station, decapitating the Chrysler Building [insert Unstoppable joke here] and finally, in a moment fraught with unintended significance, the camera slowly zooms out to show the twin towers of the World Trade Center on fire. Then we’re treated to quickly cut scenes of people yelling and running through hallways and trying to figure out why Keith David keeps calling. Essentially, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and no matter where it hits, it will wipe out all life as we know it. Jason Isaacs convinces the President that the best plan is to […]

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Criterion Files

Why?

In a sea of some of the most important pictures the world has known to date – why? In a collection spanning nearly one-hundred years of film history and inclusive of a large portion of the greatest filmmakers we’ve ever known…why? With a library containing movies which focus heavily on visual artistry and emotional complexities and probably have a combined budget *possibly* equal to that of this film…why? With another picture released the same year about pretty much the same thing made by a studio from the same country garnering stronger critical reception and sporting an [in]arguably more plausible solution and execution to the prevention of the end of the world via meteors the size of really, really big things…WHY? Why is this mammoth-sized summer blockbuster which is a masterpiece of the color orange alongside some of the most revered pictures of the last (nearly) 100 years?

The answer is simple, concrete, and indisputable:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr loosens his belt and falls asleep on the couch after eating too much turkey. But with three days left in the weekend, there’s always the opportunity to brave the hoards of crazy holiday shoppers to see a movie. It’s time to look at a new Disney princess with Tangled, dance with the divas from Burlesque and go Faster with a piece of the Rock.

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Meek, introverted accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) journeys West from Cleveland to the mysterious town of Machine where he’s been promised a job, only to find that the job is taken and that the company owner, John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum), is a gun-toting sociopath who listens to nobody.

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Terry Gilliam and his Zero Theorem

Gilliam is teaming up with the actor to bring another fantastic tale of life’s questions to the big screen before he tilts at windmills.

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Eagle Eye

Speaking of long stories people shouldn’t subjected to, Eagle Eye came out in theaters on Friday. Let’s just say, the Logic Nazi on this project really screwed the pooch.

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Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan in Eagle Eye

We already brought you a private chat with Eagle Eye director D.J. Caruso, and now we’ve got video spots with the entire cast.

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Billy Bob Thornton

File this one squarely under the rumor heading for now as there’s nothing to back it up aside from one offhand comment sandwiched between vulvas and vibrators on a late night radio sex show.

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Shia LaBeouf in Eagle Eye

In his quest to take over the world of cinema, Shia LaBeouf will next appear in Eagle Eye, a project that unites him with Disturbia director D.J. Caruso.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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