Born on the Fourth of July

first blood

In recent years some of the luster has come off of Oliver Stone’s career. He wasn’t always the guy who made movies like World Trade Center and Savages. Far from it, actually. He used to be the sort of respected director who cleaned up at the Oscars. One of the best-loved and most respected of the works from his peak was Born on the Fourth of July, a drama that not only earned him an Academy Award for Best Director and a nomination for Best Picture, but also went a long way toward making a serious actor out of its star, Tom Cruise. Cruise had become a huge name in the business thanks to roles in things like Risky Business and Top Gun, but before he did things like this and Rain Man, he still might have proved to be just a flash in the pan who opened a couple of big movies thanks to a pearly grin and a haircut, and then became a footnote. Even after all of these years though, Born on the Fourth of July is still considered to be one of the big entries in the highlight reel of Cruise’s career, and an argument could even be made that it still contains his very best performance. Ted Kotcheff isn’t a director whose career ever came near the heights of Stone’s. You might not have even heard of him if you aren’t a big fan of Weekend at Bernie’s or The Red Shoe Diaries. One big […]

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This week’s Scenes We Love goes out to the many men and women who have served in the military, whether in combat or not. Today is, of course, Veteran’s Day, with national observance tomorrow, and we have a mix of clips to honor the occasion. Of course, it hardly represents the numerous films since cinema began that deal specifically with the veteran experience or simply feature a character who is a veteran. They’re just some that we thought of and had something to say about. Hopefully they’re all considered as respectful as we intend. We welcome mention of additional favorites, regardless of whether or not the scene is streaming somewhere online, in the comments below.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Between this week and last, the world of Blu-ray has been rather quiet. Each week provides its own go-to titles, but it’s not quite the deluge of high definition spirit that we’re seeing at the box office this time of year, there are a few real standouts. It’s our job to sift through the buffet of choices and find said standouts, and that’s what we intend to do with This Week in Blu-ray. We begin this week with one of this author’s favorite films of 2012 thus far… God Bless America The Pitch: One man’s rage over the fall of reason in American pop culture turns into a killing spree with a teen girl sidekick. This is known: Putting a quote from my theatrical review on the back of your Blu-ray packaging will not guarantee you pick of the week status, but it certainly won’t hurt. Purchasers of Bobcat Goldthwait’s excellent tale of a fed up guy (Joel Murray) and his bloodthirsty, pubescent friend (Tara Lynne Barr) will find the following quote on the back cover, accredited to this very site: “It’s a magnetic film that provides 100 minutes of subversive, blood soaked fun.” We do not print lies, friends. This one is highly political, hyper-violent to the point of being militant and above all, hilarious. Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr are a regular Butch and Sundance, if Sundance rocked an a-cup and the gang was out to kill the Kardashians. You won’t want to be the like who […]

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Criterion Files

First is a precarious position to be in, for in retrospect you stand in for the entire legacy (or, at least, for inaugurating the legacy) of the thing itself. It’s tough being the first, and can be burdensome. And of the first ten movies that were admitted into the Criterion Collection, there are some confounding choices. The Lady Vanishes (Spine #3), for instance, is a great film, but hardly amongst Hitchcock’s best (or even his best British work). It’s an…interesting choice for the first Hitchcock film in the DVD collection that would come to define 21st century cinephilia. But then again, way back in 1998, whose to say that the Criterion Collection had any idea the reputation it would cultivate? Criterion’s choices for its first two releases, however, are pitch-perfect. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, the film that defined his legacy and had a greater influence on world cinema than even his Rashomon, sits prominently at Spine #2. And Jean Renoir’s anti-war, prewar masterpiece, Grand Illusion, sits deservedly in Criterion’s #1 spot, with the weight of important classic and contemporary cinema resting comfortably on its shoulders. Grand Illusion may admittedly not have the empirical evidence of definitive influence of Seven Samurai (in other words, it has yet to be remade into a Western). But that is perhaps to its benefit. While Kurosawa made tens of samurai films, Renoir never made another movie quite like Grand Illusion, and the film still occupies a singular place in the history of war cinema – […]

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Driving Miss Daisy is one of three films in history, and the only one in modern history, to do something incredible at the Academy Awards. Find out what the phenomenon is inside.

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