Coming to America

Eli Wallach Transformation

The excellent Eli Wallach, whose career spanned over sixty years, passed away this week at the age of 98, and I’m consumed with thoughts of transformation. Of course, he lived and worked for so long that life was a transformation in and of itself. The man from The Godfather Part III is the same man who hilariously shuffled about with Cloris Leachman in New York, I Love You. But he was also a man that melted into his roles. It’s an amazing, yet eternally undervalued talent. We gush for the names who always, and will forever look like themselves – the Robert Redfords and George Clooneys — but the real magic comes from the character actors whose roles trump image, those who disappear, those who leave little to no taste of the real person behind the performance. Some need full masks and CGI to transform, but others need just a hint of makeup or sometimes (shockingly) nothing at all as they’re enveloped by their characters. Elite actors like Wallach allow us to simply enjoy the character and pretend, briefly, that they’re real.

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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coming to america club

Despite its arrival two years after the surprise success of ‘Crocodile’ Dundee, the similarly premised Coming to America hardly seemed like a knockoff. Sure it is also about a strange foreigner who visits New York City and experiences a comical culture clash, but the 1980s were actually so full of movies of this nature (see also Moscow on the Hudson, Splash, Brother From Another Planet, Big Business, both The Muppets and Jason Take Manhattan and maybe even Big, which along with ‘Crocodile’ Dundee II had just recently come out ahead of this), so it wasn’t a big deal. Besides, with Eddie Murphy at the peak of his career at the time there was no way this thing could fail. This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the release of Coming to America (specifically yesterday), and although a lot of obvious parts are dated (some of which actually make the movie funnier now), it remains a rather timeless metropolitan fairy tale. It’s still one of the top three Murphy comedies (the other two being Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, of course), features some amazing make-up work by Rick Baker that would be still be worthy of its Oscar nomination if done today, excellent African dance choreography from little known Paula Abdul and in recent years it provided tons more laughs via the meme in which any dialogue spoken by James Earl Jones is dubbed over scenes of Darth Vader. As ripe as the plot would seem for a remake, hopefully it […]

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Samuel L. Jackson has been in 7,000 films, but we took on the cyclopean task of finding the Ten Best. We also got a Word-of-the-Day calendar and have been dying to use ‘cyclopean’ in a sentence.

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