Jack Nicholson

Shining Elevator

Each year in October, I find myself revisiting the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, which has surpassed broad criticism from Stephen King throughout the 1980s to eventually become a heralded classic of horror cinema. Last year, I was inspired to re-watch the movie after seeing the sometimes nutty but always thought-provoking Room 237, which offers various theories about the hidden messages in the original film – including everything from Native American genocide to Kubrick confessing to faking the moon landing. One part of the film that was examined is that iconic blood elevator sequence, first seen by Danny Torrence (Danny Lloyd) in a psychic vision. A lot of discussion has surrounded this image, including the symbolic meaning of the blood as well as how the effect was achieved. With the twisted mind I have, my thoughts went somewhere else: How much blood would it actually take to fill the elevator lobby?

read more...

Easy Rider Perfect Summer Movie

Every week this summer we’ll be exploring movies that are perfect for the season. Cinematic stories for watching in a cool, dark room while it’s sunny outside. If there’s an ultimate lesson in Easy Rider, it’s to do your own thing in your own time. The movie tosses out that koanistic nugget right up front when Captain America and Billy (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) praise a farmer for taking control of his own destiny by living off the land. He does as he likes with a massive blue sky overhead, and they dig that. For our heroes, applying that lesson means smuggling drugs in their motorcycle gas tank in order to achieve the financial solvency necessary to live more comfortably, although it’s unclear how much more comfortable they can get. They ride, you know, easy. Gasoline costs money, but otherwise the farmland-hopping duo seems set as they roll on through God’s Country toward New Orleans. Summer is freedom, and this film’s got freedom in spades.

read more...

tom-cruise

Gather round, children, for the story of one international superstar attempting to guilt another into making a slapstick comedy for old time’s sake. It’s got intrigue, suspense and an open ending — everything you’d ever want in a Hollywood tale.  Back in 2010, Tom Cruise was attached to a comedy called El Presidente, directed by Jay Roach and potentially co-starring either Jack Nicholson or maybe even Robert Downey Jr. That clearly never panned out. Now in the beautiful light of 2013, Cruise and new director Doug Liman (who worked with Cruise on the upcoming Edge of Tomorrow) are attempting to make the presidential movie a reality once more — and they want Nicholson back on board. El Presidente centers on a straight-laced secret service agent (that would be Cruise) who is assigned to protect America’s least favorite former president, a gross, womanizing boozehound who only ever got the job because he got booted up from Veep when the actual president died. When bad guys threaten the politician’s life, the duo must escape together, setting up a buddy comedy/action thriller hopefully involving a lot of patriotic motifs.

read more...

jack-nicholson-desktop_160317-1920x1080

Last week, conversations flared around the alleged retirement of Jack Nicholson. The jury is still out as to whether or not he has officially called it quits in his acting career, but even if the accomplished performer (nominated for Academy Awards 12 times – more than any other male actor) and notorious personality hung up his guns for good, he’d leave behind a rich 5-decade-long career. Magnetic but not conventionally handsome, brash but able to convey remarkable subtlety, Nicholson is as much a consummate actor’s actor as he is a movie star. Like other aging stars of the ‘60s and ‘70s, some of his later roles have found him exercising a form of self-parody, a send-up of the patented “Jack” persona. But when you look past the long list of Nicholson’s greatest hits, a rather complex performer emerges, one that any late-career parody can’t contain. Beyond the groundbreaking performances of The Last Detail and Cuckoo’s Nest or the canonical star turns of Batman and As Good as It Gets, here are some of Nicholson’s under-appreciated deep cuts.

read more...

ForgetIt

There were so many great crime movies that came out of the ’70s that it would be something of an endeavor to compile a list of the best. But chances are, if you had a bunch of people get together and do just that, Chinatown would be near the top of most of them. This modern take on classic noir is beloved to the point where it’s the sort of thing that gets studied in film classes, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s got iconic moments, a legendarily despicable villain in land developer Noah Cross (John Huston), Jack Nicholson giving a solid leading performance that isn’t as showy and distracting as his later stuff and it’s put together by the trained eye of a master director. But it also has a number of readily apparent flaws that make it questionable as to whether or not it should stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest movies in cinema history, as many people claim that it does. Another great crime film from the same era is The Long Goodbye, a sort of subversion of the noir genre that embraces its tropes but updates its setting to the laid back, alternative medicine-embracing culture of early ’70s Los Angeles. Unlike Chinatown, this isn’t the sort of film that has grown in popularity over the years. It has its fans, and it might show up on some of those “Best of the ’70s” lists if the people you’re surveying are big into the […]

read more...

Sylvester Stallone in Cobra 2: Axing for Trouble

What is Casting Couch? It’s a news roundup that’s jam-packed with updates about big star doing big things. Look at this list of names! There’s barely a second-stringer on there. When you shoot as many people in the head and blow as many things up onscreen as Sylvester Stallone, every once in a while it’s nice to take a break from all of the insanity and do a quiet little indie drama. So, according to Variety, that’s exactly what he’s doing with his next film, Reach Me. Written and directed by Stallone’s Cobra co-star John Herzfeld, Reach Me is an ensemble piece about a group of characters who were all touched by a self-help book that was written by a reclusive football coach. There isn’t yet any word on what role Stallone will be playing, but, for the sake of his old knees, let’s hope it doesn’t involve any running. Those hobbling away from the explosion scenes in the Expendables movies are starting to look pretty painful.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

read more...

Culture Warrior

“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.” I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes. Criticizing Hollywood’s creative crisis is nothing new. But with the mega-success of The Avengers and the continuing narrative of failure and disappointment that has thus far characterizes every major release since, it seems that this crisis has been put under a microscope. The moment where unprecedented success is the only kind of achievement Hollywood can afford and the well of decade-old franchises and toy companies become desperately mined for material is something we were warned about. But Hollywood’s creativity-crippling reliance on existing properties is not the only, or even the primary, problem faced by mass market filmmaking’s present moment. The bloated numbers sought after each and […]

read more...

Editor’s Note: Max Allan Collins has written over 50 novels and 17 movie tie-in books. He’s also the author of the Road to Perdition graphic novel, off which the film was based. With his new Mickey Spillane collaboration “Lady, Go Die” in great bookstores everywhere, we thought it would be fun to ask him for his ten best films noir. In true noir fashion, we bit off more than we could handle… We have to begin with a definition of noir, which is tricky, because nobody agrees on one. The historical roots are in French film criticism, borrowing the term noir (black) from the black-covered paperbacks in publisher Gallimard’s Serie Noire, which in 1945 began reprinting American crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Horace McCoy, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, W.R. Burnett and many others. The films the term was first applied to were low-budget American crime thrillers made during the war and not seen in France till after it. The expressionistic lighting techniques of those films had as much to do with hiding low production values as setting mood. In publishing circles, the term has come to replace “hardboiled” because it sounds hipper and not old-fashioned. I tend to look at dark themes and expressionistic cinematography when I’m making such lists, which usually means black-and-white only; but three color films are represented below, all beyond the unofficial cut-off of the first noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). Mystery genre expert Otto Penzler has […]

read more...

Robert Towne won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but what most don’t realize is that the original script for Chinatown was over 300 pages long. That would have made quite the shooting schedule. Roman Polanski‘s enduring noir classic is headed to Blu-ray soon which means seeing J.J. Gittes getting his nose cut in high definition. Plus, we’re giving a copy away, and the one we have has Robert Towne’s signature on it (thanks to the intrepid team at Dolby Labs who secured it legally). If you’re into that sort of thing. So how do you get your hands on it? Glad I made it seem like you asked.

read more...

Over Under - Large

Tim Burton’s Batman wasn’t a movie, it was an event. It spawned a tidal wave of merchandise, video games, roller coasters, an animated series, a ridiculous music video, etc… He dropped that movie on the world like a bomb, and in many ways it could be considered the high point of his career. His artistic approach was finally paired with mainstream material, and his success there has propelled him to being one of the go-to money making directors in Hollywood. But, as an 8-year-old fan that was blown away by the gritty comic book take on the character that was developing throughout the 80s, the release of Batman is forever marked by me as a day of huge disappointment. I hated that boring, goofy movie. It was lamer than that show from the 60s I watched back when I was 6. Pathetic. Batman: Under the Red Hood was a straight to video cartoon that kind of gets lost in the sea of DC straight to video cartoons. Most of these movie are pretty strong, don’t get me wrong, but they’re strong with the caveat that they’re just cartoons. They’re for kids, but they’re good enough to be enjoyed by adults, not good on the level of the best feature films. Under the Red Hood is a step above the rest though. Other than The Dark Knight, I would say that it’s my favorite Batman thing that doesn’t come from the medium of the page.

read more...

Roger Corman’s career in show business spans nearly 60 years, so audiences may initially wonder what might be left to say in a documentary about the exploitation master. Yet Alex Stapleton’s Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel offers a comprehensive, enlightening portrait of this most influential filmmaker-mogul. The doc offers a well-rounded treatise on Corman’s indelible influence, benefiting from a strong cast of talking head contributors and the ease with which Stapleton parallels his subject’s career with larger historical currents within the industry. The movie employs a straightforward linear approach in charting Corman’s filmmaking life, which began when the Stanford engineering grad found work in 20th Century Fox’s mailroom, advanced to the position of story reader, and eventually quit to begin making pictures himself during the ’50s. It charts the highlights of Corman’s various periods, including the American International Pictures and New World Pictures eras, and offers a wealth of testimony from Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and others of the premier cinematic talents who got their starts with the B-movie maestro.

read more...

Alexander Payne’s next planned film, Nebraska, is about “a geriatric gin-hound of a dad who takes his estranged son with him from Montana to Publisher’s Clearing House headquarters, with a detour through Omaha, Nebraska, in order to claim his million-dollar sweepstakes prize.” Personally, I love Alexander Payne’s painfully realist aesthetic and pitch black humor, so this is a project that I’m interested in. When I hear that Payne wants to shoot the film in black and white, I get even more intrigued. Pre-production has already hit a snag, though. Apparently the studio will only let Payne film it in black and white if he gets a big name star to attach himself as the father. That might be a problem, except that we’re dealing with a director whose upcoming release The Descendants is doing well on the festival circuit, gathering some Oscar buzz, and improving his already well-respected position in the film industry. Surely he must have someone in mind for this role that he can convince to sign, right? Well, word has it that he has a few people on his short list, and any one of them would be awesome. The list reportedly consists of Robert Forster, Robert Duvall, and Jack Nicholson. Any of these actors would be great news in my mind, and Nicholson has already worked with Payne for About Schmidt, so that pairing isn’t unlikely at all.  There is, however, a fourth name on the list that’s really got me excited. Apparently Payne is looking to get the retired-from-acting […]

read more...

Standing up for the little guy, righting wrongs, trying to force our opinions on an unsuspecting public, that’s what we do here at Over/Under. This week we look to champion a kid’s movie, a movie that I contend is not just one of those dumb camp films, but an underpraised king of modern comedy; 1995’s Disney production Heavy Weights. Of course, you know how it works here. In order for one movie to be propped up a peg, another has to take a fall. For those purposes we’ll take a look at 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a beloved adaptation of a beloved Ken Kesey novel that happens to have a few major flaws that often get overlooked.

read more...

Criterion Files

Bob Rafelson’s highly underrated The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) works as something of an unofficial sequel to his beloved previous film and the rightful centerpiece of the BBS Story, Five Easy Pieces (1970). After the “farcidelia” of Head, Rafelson’s second film could not be further from its opposite in tone, aesthetics, and overall relation to the counterculture, whose narrative absence is used to great effect in the latter film. It wasn’t until Rafelson’s third film as director that his identity as a filmmaker started to solidify through his continued exploration of themes shared between films. Like many filmmakers of the New Hollywood generation, Rafleson possessed symptoms of the self-conscious auteur, but the similarities between Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens go far beyond surface connections that denote a consistent cinematic personality behind the camera in terms of themes and style, but instead point to a rare kind of filmmaker altogether during New Hollywood or any era.

read more...

Criterion Files

As I argued in my introduction to our coverage of the BBS box set, this major Criterion release both celebrates New Hollywood and complicates the master narrative informing the way in which the era is typically remembered. Alongside classics of the era like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show, the set also includes films that were received badly or misunderstood in their time like Head and The King of Marvin Gardens which can now be reassessed with the benefit of hindsight. But perhaps the most interesting juxtaposition to the canonized works of New Hollywood here is the presence of the absolutely obscure, the completely forgotten, the movies that up until now were lost in time and memory. This set marks the first time Jack Nicholson’s Drive, He Said (1970) and Henry Jaglom’s A Safe Place (1971) have been released in any home video format. These films are, in a sense, correlated with New Hollywood because of their themes, narratives, characters, and their temporal and economic contexts, but unlike the three heavy-hitters in this set, watching them now is, by comparison, to see a film with a forty-year-old blank slate – a unique and rare experience when one contrasts watching these films to, say, Easy Rider, a movie inseparable from an ongoing and reiterated forty-year-long conversation about what it meant then and means today. Separately, these are interesting films on their own, but together, Drive, He Said and A Safe Place point to the fact that there’s […]

read more...

Criterion Files

The most difficult thing about watching seminal, groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting movies is that it’s impossible to see them, feel them, or experience them the way they were in the moment, before they became influential enough to seem almost unexceptional by retrospective comparison. It’s difficult to marvel at the audacious camera angles or fragmented narrative of Citizen Kane in an age where Gaspar Noe and Guillermo Arriaga exist, or be shocked by the expertly-crafted profanity of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in a post-David Mamet world. These movies may remain strong and, in other ways, timeless, but even with the very best, the “moment” of greatness is lost by the sheer force of its effect on cinema that came after. Films, after all, aren’t made in a vacuum. They are the constant subject of influence, and rarely anything influences a film more than another great film.

read more...

Criterion Files

As a relatively young person, far too young to speak meaningfully about an important era of American culture, it’s difficult for me to ascribe any sense of value even unto my own words about a picture that encapsulates and represents an alternate ideology of real American freedom than what we consider as being truly “free.” When we think of freedom we think of rights and when we think of American we think of the dream. We have the right to be happy and we have the freedoms to pursue it.

read more...

Criterion Files

For the rest of the summer, Adam and Landon will be focusing on films included in the Criterion Collection released by the legendary BBS Production Company whose anti-establishment films rocked the world of Hollywood in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So dust of your old LPs, set out on the highway, and embrace your countercultural sensibilities with one of the most eccentric and essential stories of New Hollywood. When rummaging through the Criterion Collection’s available box sets, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the serious and traditional role that authorship has played in forming both the Collection and its reputation. Whether it’s five films by John Cassavetes, Sergei Eisenstein’s sound years, or Truffaut’s cinematic adventures of Antoine Doinel, the Collection places the director as the primary author of the text, just as they do when ascribing possession to individual titles (“Orson Welles’s F for Fake,” for instance). Then came the BBS set, which frames authorship to a group of films not because of the signatures of the directors who made each individual title, but as a group effort through the umbrella of a production company. BBS may refer specifically to Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, but the talent pool that determined the artistic output of this company was hardly exclusive to them, incorporating the then-young talents of Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Jack Nicholson, and Henry Jaglom. None of these figures solely inhabited clear and exclusive occupational signposts like “writer,” “director,” “producer,” or “actor,” but a combined contributions to […]

read more...

Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Filth is what leads to maggots and riots. It’s true. This trailer is a showcase of Jack Nicholson‘s immense talent, and it’s no wonder why this Bob Rafelson film won so many awards. Check out the trailer for yourself:

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3