John Travolta

Kiss Me Deadly

Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential movies ever made, which is interesting given that it’s also one of the most influenced movies ever made. The 1994 feature, which was released theatrically 20 years ago this month, is like the Paul’s Boutique of film given all the cinematic samples it’s comprised of. Tarantino is the uber movie geek, and he shows it over and over again in his own work, and this collaboration with co-writer Roger Avary might take the cake as far as how many allusions he can fit in, whether they’re spoken references or shots that perfectly mimic and repurpose those of his favorite classic films. You can find homages in the plot, dialogue, character names, props, cinematography and more. Because there are so many movies referenced in Pulp Fiction, and because you can find many places online that attempt to list them all, I’m going to recommend just the most prominent and also the most essential of the bunch. Additionally, some of this week’s curation of  movies to see are otherwise relevant, titles that might not have inspired Tarantino unless he cast certain people because of work they’d done in the past — which, for him, is not only plausible but also very likely. Not everything included below is something the filmmaker has admitted to loving and being influenced by, but we can presume they’re all things he’s seen. The guy sees everything. He’d probably come up with a different list of the most important […]

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John Travolta in Killing Season

There are plenty of films about a variety of dangerous career paths. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, that one where Ashton Kutcher is a Coast Guard, all branches of the military, construction crews, vigilante superheroes, lifeguards, pilots and conductors, detectives and inspectors, astronauts — they’ve all had their due. But one sector of selfless, high-impact human service has largely been ignored by the film industry: linemen. It doesn’t matter what kind, be it those who lay railroad tracks or those who install and repair electrical, telephone or telegraph wires. They’ve gotten the short end of the stick. With the last film to commemorate their work premiering in 1937 (Slim the Lineman, which starred Henry Fonda), it’s now up to John Travolta and a merry band of brethren that includes Kate Bosworth and Devon Sawa to right this wrongs with Life On The Line. The indie drama, directed by David Hackl (Grizzly) and written by the team of Peter Horton, Primo Brown and Dylan Scott, will follow a crew of “eccentric” electric linemen as they fight the elements and presumably each other.

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sheridan

Tye Sheridan is still ridiculously young, but already he’s had an acting career that most people trying to get into the business would kill their sweet little grandmothers for. First he started things off by working with one of the most respected directors of all time, Terrence Malick, when he played the son in The Tree of Life. Then, earlier this year, he got to work with another up and coming auteur, Jeff Nichols, as well as show off what he has to offer as a leading man in the delightful Mud—a movie that likely gave him the chance to hang out and play bongos with Matthew McConaughey, to boot. The kid is living a charmed life. All of the good things coming his way are clearly not just the result of luck though. Sheridan has shown skills beyond his years in both of his big roles so far, so it makes sense that casting agents would just keep sticking him in new movies. Quite a few projects call for young son characters, after all, so he should be good for at least a couple years. Case in point: a press release put out today (via ComingSoon) has announced to the world that Sheridan has found his next bit of work, which will come in the form of playing John Travolta’s son in a new movie called The Forger.

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marion dougherty casting by

One of the best anecdotes in the documentary Casting By, which premieres tonight on HBO, relates the start of Warren Beatty’s screen career on a 1957 episode of Kraft Television Theatre. We’re told that like many young actors of the time he modeled himself way too much on Marlon Brando. Then we actually see a clip, and sure enough the future movie star looks and sounds like he’s doing a comical impersonation. Fortunately, within the next five years he would find his own comfortable style and manage to break out in Hollywood in order to become one of his generation’s finest. And apparently we have casting director Marion Dougherty to thank for giving him his first shot. There are a lot of first- and second-hand stories in the film about a lot of actors and actresses’ beginnings. And a lot of rare clips to prove just how terrible or terrific they really were. There’s Jon Voight‘s embarrassing performance on Naked City in 1963, which actually kind of foreshadows most of his later work (personally, I’ve always thought him to be one of the worst in the business). Jeff Bridges talks about how he witnessed audiences literally laughing at his tearful work in 1970’s Hall of Anger. Bette Midler thanks Dougherty for allowing her to hide her Jewishness and play a missionary in Hawaii and earn a paycheck that would finally get her to New York. And then there’s a claim that Michael Eisner, while President and CEO of Paramount Pictures, kept trying to […]

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The other day, I labeled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as the “wild card” of the summer, and if there’s any other film which comes close to its riskiness (or more so?), it’s Oliver Stone‘s adaptation of Don Winslow‘s book of the same name, Savages. Stone’s pic is an unconventional summer movie: an R-rated, hard-edged movie for adults. Based on what I’ve heard from the positive test-screenings, which led to the film getting bumped up to a summer release, Savages lives up to that riskiness, with Salma Hayek and John Travolta possibly being the two standouts. Now, with over a month until release, some terrific behind-the-scenes pics from the film have been released (via Oliver Stone’s website and the film’s Facebook page). Take a peak of a bloodied up Blake Lively and Benicio Del Toro‘s lovely evil ‘stache after the break:

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Trailers for trailers are generally underwhelming and don’t give us much information to go off of. This preview for the Savages trailer, which is scheduled to hit online soon, happens to be an exception to the rule. This tease shows the Oliver Stone we haven’t seen since the 90s, an energetic and propulsive Stone. In the vein of Natural Born Killers and the hugely underrated U-Turn, Savages looks to have a fun, dirty, and stylish atmosphere. After a terrific test screening Universal bumped the film up for a summer release, believing it’s got real financial potential. While an Oliver Stone film about young pot dealers clashing with a drug cartel doesn’t scream “box-office smash”, I’ve heard Savages has commercial appeal. I recently spoke to someone who saw the film, and they had plenty of positive things to say, namely about Salma Hayek and John Travolta‘s performances. Apparently if you’re a Stone fan, such as myself, you may see this as a big return to form. Check out the short but stylish teaser below.

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“Hey Quentin, come sign this and we’ll give you some money.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s probably how it all went down. Upon inspection, it’s hard to miss the “Director Approved” sticker on the outside of the Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown Blu-ray releases. Signed, sealed and kissed with love by director Quentin Tarantino. It’s a slick piece of marketing by the folks at Miramax, who have released these through Lionsgate, to convince you that there’s something special about these releases. As if they were meticulously transferred to high definition in a dark room by the mad cinematic scientist who dreamed them up in the first place. I find that part hard to believe. In fact, it’s hard to believe that there’s much in these that wasn’t more than passed over by Tarantino. Does that make them a bad batch of Blu releases? Not exactly. There’s still plenty of love in owning Pulp and Jackie on a higher format, but that doesn’t exactly make them quite as special as that ‘Director Approved’ sticker suggests.

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If you’ve been privy to watching the Gotti family’s reality show Growing Up Gotti, then it should be pretty clear to you that the family isn’t shy about being perceived as gaudy tabloid fodder. And it should come as no surprise that the biopic they’re involved in about their family’s recent history is stirring up its own circus of controversy. First it was all surrounding the casting of Lindsay Lohan and the question of whether she would be sober or sane enough to actually appear in the film, and which role she would actually play. Then THR reported that Joe Pesci was suing the production. He was announced at a Cannes press conference as playing the part of Angelo Ruggiero and had already gained 30 lbs to play the role, but recently the film’s new regime, led by director Barry Levinson, had told him that he would be recast in the smaller role of Anthony Casso and have his pay cut from $3 million to $1 million.

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David Varod is the CEO of a Bulgaria based film studio called Nu Boyana. This is notable because Sylvester Stallone and his new director pal Simon West are filming scenes for their upcoming sequel to Stallone’s team-up movie The Expendables in Bulgaria. This is newsworthy because Varod is claiming that some big names, not previously confirmed as being in The Expendables 2, are on their way to Bulgaria to film for the movie. When speaking to Novinite, Varod first confirmed that shooting was taking place in September, and then hinted that a lot of Hollywood stars would be moving into the country to do work, “Yes, we are definitely going to do that project. It is going to be a sequel the (sic) The Expendables. The shooting is going to take place the second week of September. The movie is on, definitely. It will be a very good thing for Bulgaria, since there are some very big stars coming.” Big stars, that makes sense. It’s long been assumed that the stars from the original film like Stallone, Jason Statham, and Mickey Rourke would return. There was even some notion that guys like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who only made small cameos in the first film, might return in larger roles this time. But when pressed to name off the “big stars” that would be making their way into the country, Varod named a few that could potentially be huge casting announcements.

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When Lindsay Lohan acted in Machete with Robert De Niro, it was like a dream come true, and now the countdown begins until we see her complete the circle by acting alongside Al Pacino in Gotti: Three Generations. Start carving notches on your cell wall. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pacino has signed on for the project which stars John Travolta as mob boss John Gotti Sr. The obvious story here is the gangland connection, especially considering Pacino’s shining acting achievements in the underworld and his involvement here as mentor figure Neil Dellacroce. But the real story is that Lindsay Lohan has closed the six degrees gap for Heat Barry Levinson is stepping in to direct the project. That’s an interesting call, especially considering Levinson hasn’t directed a solid film since 1996’s Sleepers. Okay, maybe Wag the Dog, but he’s got a serious drought going. This story needs to be more than a pound of hair gel slathered on a fancy suit, so hopefully Rain Man-level Levinson can come out of retirement for this one.

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It was a month ago that I first heard about Oliver Stone directing an adaptation of the Don Winslow Novel “Savages.” A couple of the key male roles had been cast, but Jennifer Lawrence was out as the female protagonist, O, due to her involvement in The Hunger Games. Now Stone and company seem to have found their new choice to play O, and they’ve filled out a couple of the other key roles as well. The three main characters of the film are Chon, Ben, and O, two dudes and a chick who start a successful grow operation and find themselves running afoul of a dangerous Mexican drug cartel. When we last saw Savages it had already cast Taylor Kitsch as the ex Navy SEAL Chon, Aaron Johnson as the botany expert Ben, and Salma Hayek as the head of the cartel Elena. This time Deadline Laguna reports that not only has Gossip Girl star Blake Lively been chosen to play O, but also a few big names have been approached to join the cast as well.

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A press conference was held today that seems to have been a big love fest between the Gotti family and Hollywood. The concrete news on the table is that Joe Pesci is going to be joining John Travolta in the upcoming Nick Cassavetes mobography Gotti: Three Generations playing the role of Angelo Ruggiero. The not yet concrete news is that they are in negotiations with Lindsay Lohan to play John Gotti Sr.’s daughter, Victoria Gotti. Things seem to be pretty far along on that front though, as Lohan attended the press conference. The film is being described as an “open door insider’s look” into the Gotti family history that was written by Leo Rossi after numerous interviews with members of the Gotti family and John Gotti Sr.’s attorneys. John Travolta, who is playing the Gambino crime family boss himelf in the film, calls this “the most interesting untold story in this country.” He goes on to talk about the “beautiful love” that he has gotten from the Gotti family and the fact that he is a fan of Growing up Gotti as to why he was interested in taking this role. A large part of the film seems to concern itself with fathers and sons, and how Gotti Sr. took the family into a life of crime, but how Gotti Jr. has steered it away from nasty enterprises like drug dealing and murders and toward more classy ventures like reality television. Cassavetes says of Gotti Sr., “He didn’t know any […]

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Say what you will, but John Travolta likes to mix things up. His last few roles have seen him doing his best Nic Cage with a bazooka in Paris, being goofy on a motorcycle, stealing a train and mocking Denzel Washington, and wearing a fat suit in drag. That list earns some respect, if only for range. Now, according to Variety, Travolta is officially signed on for Gotti: Three Generations to play the Teflon Don, John Gotti himself. That’s John Gotti, Sr (who is actually Jr, but goes by Sr). The film is being directed by Nick Cassavetes who worked as an actor alongside Travolta in Face/Off. There’s some speculation as to whether Cassavetes will take a role in this film, but in projects where he directs, he seldom if ever acts. This project sounds great, and it’s about time we saw another modern-day gangster flick roll out. Plus, I can’t wait for the first trailer that brags, “From the director of The Notebook…”

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There’s good news for everybody who loves bad acting and silly hairdos: Nicolas Cage and John Travolta are looking to reform their winning Face/Off team. The last time we saw these two film giants on screen together they were stealing each other’s faces and parroting each other’s wackiest acting tics. Since then they’ve gone on to individually star in about a gazillion too hip for their age range acting roles. Cage has been experimenting mostly with multi-colored weaves, while Travolta has been dabbling mostly in pointy looking facial hair. So what are they planning on doing if they get back together? Well, it could be one of two things. The first possibility is a film called Shrapnel. It is about a Bosnian soldier who is seeking revenge against an American who wounded him in a deadly bit of back woods trickery. Shrapnel was written by Evan Dougherty, it was voted one of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood back in 2008, and studio execs are looking to get it moving for a June start date. The second possibility would be a thriller called Sea Trial. It is an adaptation of a Frank De Felitta novel that has been adapted by his screenwriting son Raymond De Felitta. I found a weirdly worded description from the back of a paperback version of the novel that describes the story thusly:

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Is anything sexier than a bald John Travolta? How about a bald and cocky John Travolta shooting lots of guns and talking smack?!? Now you have to see this movie… so you may as well try to win your own copy.

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Shooting great, fast-moving close quarters action isn’t easy. There is a lot of choreography and planning involved, a lot of tricky cinematography and most importantly, a lot of hard editing later. And in order to make a close quarters action scene that really pops, a director has to have the right composer to score it with energy and the right actors to give the scene weight. That said, no one is shooting close quarters action right now quite like Pierre Morel.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil has finished his gallivanting, and he makes his triumphant return to the Magical Studio in the Sky. Get ready to be offended, folks! The Fat Guys are back in action. (And by “action,” we mean “sitting their fat asses on the couch.”)

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decade-worstmovies

There were a lot of bad movies released during the past decade. That’s not anything that distinguishes the aughts from any other decade before it, but then most of these movies were bad in the usual, torturous ways.

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr heads out to the movies this week, giving his take on Old Dogs and Ninja Assassin

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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