Kurt Russell

Young Einstein

This weekend, Paramount Pictures re-released their 1994 Best Picture winner, Forrest Gump, on IMAX screens. It wasn’t a huge deal, hitting far fewer theaters than the Ghostbusters re-release also going on right now, and only took in an extra $405k to add to its $678m worldwide gross of 20 years ago. Maybe you went to see it on the giant screen for the first time. Or maybe you skipped this return to theaters because you’ve seen in a billion times already. Forrest Gump was, after all, the highest-grossing of its year, is one of the top 25 highest-grossing movies of all time when accounting for inflation and has gone gone on to be one of the most iconic and quotable of the past few decades, inspiring plenty of parodies and recently being selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Not bad for a movie that only seemed to be a groundbreaking work of drama and special effects. Of course, it also distinguishes itself with epic storytelling, much of it based in nostalgia, and a lovable performance from Tom Hanks. Hopefully it has influenced fans to seek out the actual histories and precursors, but if not I have a list of recommendations of at least the movies that came before as well as some of the TV appearances and archival clips that Forrest was digitally inserted into for some retconned events from the past. I’ve chosen not to include similar movies that have come out since the […]

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Jay Baruchel and Kurt Russell in THE ART OF THE STEAL

If there’s a more infectiously affable and charismatic actor than Kurt Russell then I don’t know of him or her. Sure there are performers with more dramatic range, others that are more consistently hilarious, and still others who look better in women’s clothing, but for my money none of them set me as instantly at ease as Russell. It’s what makes his near six-year absence from movie screens (2011’s little-seen Touchback aside) that much more frustrating. And it’s what makes the new heist comedy, The Art of the Steal, that much more enjoyable. Crunch Calhoun (Russell) is one of the best wheelmen in the business, but when his latest score goes bad he winds up serving hard time in a Polish jail. It’s not that he got caught, it’s that his brother Nicky (Matt Dillon) sold him out to save his own butt. A few years later Crunch is a free man, breaking bones and bruising his body as an Evil Knievel knock-off taking dives for $800 a crash. His old team reassembles for a new heist, and while he’s no believer in the idea of “one last big score” he signs on hoping to make enough to retire.

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Sandra Bullock in

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Liam Neeson Taken 2

The new act in Liam Neeson’s career that began with 2008’s Taken has made it hard to remember that he was in stuff like Kinsey just a couple years before that. It turns out, Liam Neeson killing lots of people is exactly what the movie-going public needs this time of year, after a long winter and irritating award-season political sniping. Now Kevin Costner is getting in on the act, with 3 Days To Kill, from EuropaCorp, the company behind Taken and such other notable titles as the Transporter series. It remains to be seen whether Costner’s effort will meet with Neeson-like glorious success or falter like EuropaCorp’s John Travolta (From Paris With Love) and Zoe Saldana (Colombiana) vehicles. Until then, let’s consider 11 actors we’d like to see go the Neeson route:

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thethingtruth-1

One of the greatest genre movies ever made is John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing. Though technically a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1951 The Thing From Another World, it is a much more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella “Who Goes There?”. The story follows a group of men in an Antarctic outpost who stumble across a bizarre alien that has the ability to imitate other life forms. During the course of the film, the characters are plagued with paranoia and terror as they discover that those around them may be the Thing in disguise. Soon, it becomes apparent that they have to do whatever is possible to stop the Thing from getting to civilization. Armed with flame-throwers, shotguns, and a hot copper needle, the team at U.S. Outpost 31 try to keep the thing contained, lest it mean the end of the world. Because we are significantly paranoid, this got us thinking: What would have happened if the Thing really escaped?

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russell

Fans of the rapidly expanding Fast & Furious franchise were initially elated to learn that action movie legend and all around awesome guy Kurt Russell was going to be the latest name to join the series’ ensemble come Fast & Furious 7. But somewhere around the time when Djimon Hounsou also got cast in the movie, conflicting reports started to float around as to whether or not he was actually going to be able to appear. Some thought he would just have a small cameo in 7, some thought he wouldn’t show up until 8, and there was even a fear he wouldn’t end up being involved in the franchise at all. As you can see from the picture above though—which Vin Diesel posted on his Facebook page along with the caption, “Kurt Russell, such an honor to work with… P.s. One from set…”—Kurt Russell is indeed on the set of director James Wan’s Fast & Furious 7, and he will indeed be sharing scenes with franchise stars Diesel and Paul Walker. So it’s not likely anyone is going to stop gushing about these movies anytime soon.

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djimon

As if the next installment in the rapidly expanding and increasingly ridiculous Fast & Furious franchise, Fast & Furious 7, didn’t already bring enough star power to the table with returning favorites like Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Tyrese Gibson (and likely Dwayne Johnson, though his role looks to be be relegated to a cameo) and newcomers to the fold like Jason Statham and Ronda Rousey (and maybe Kurt Russell, though there are disputing reports as to whether his part had to be cut), first-time Fast director James Wan has just expanded the cast to also include a man who’s not only an Oscar nominated actor, but also a chiseled stud that made a lot of people blush when he posed in his underwear for Calvin Klein. According to a report from Variety, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) is the latest actor who will go from being a mere mortal to becoming a fast-driving, explosion-surviving, over the top superhero in the Fast & Furious universe.

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Steal

It’s likely that all you need to know to be sold on writer/director Jonathan Sobol’s new film, The Art of the Steal, is that it stars Kurt Russell as a low-rent, karate-chopping motorcycle daredevil who sometimes uses his motorcycle skills to be the wheelman during high stakes heists. So, sort of like Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines, only hopefully we’ll get to watch the ridiculous motorcycle stuff for the whole movie this time. See? Everyone is sold already, and Russell isn’t even the only thing this movie has going for it. As much fun as he is to watch when he’s playing ridiculous characters like this, The Art of the Steal also gives you other fun stuff to look forward to, like Goon and This is the End star Jay Baruchel playing his awkward son, Matt Dillon playing his sleazy brother, Terence Stamp being all piercing and Terence Stampy, and a whole lot of jokes, fights, and heist film silliness to boot. Click through the link to check it all out.

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Kurt Russel

Might Fast & Furious 7 be taking a page out of the Expendables playbook? The upcoming sequel in the CGI-cars-driving-really-really-fast franchise has already cast Jason Statham, Tony Jaa and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey; now Kurt Russell may be the newest addition. Variety is reporting that Russell is in talks for a role that, while unnamed, is the same role the franchise previously offered to Denzel Washington. So it’s probably a pretty big part. And like The Expendables movies, all these newcomers are either actions stars, former action stars, or professional fighters. Perhaps they’ll band together to form their villainous celebrity crew that will rival the one led by Vin Diesel? The smart money would be on Russell as some kind of murderous driver a la Death Proof, but whoever he is, we know he won’t be the main villain. That slot’s already taken by Statham, who’ll be playing Ian Shaw, the older brother of Fast & Furious 6 villain Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Or maybe Russell, Jaa and Rousey are the start of some brand new racing crew that’s being primed to take over when the regular Fast & Furious cast finally keels over from old age, or spin off into a sister series so Universal can churn these things out at double the pace. Considering that Fast & Furious 6 made more than $750M, I wouldn’t put it past them.

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Snake

Back in July of 2011, our own Rob Hunter rejoiced with the news that New Line and Warner Bros. had let their option on the rights to that Escape From New York remake no one really seemed to want expire and thus, there would be no remake! Ha! We spoke too soon! Now Deadline Hollywood reports that Joel Silver, along with his Silver Pictures and Studio Canal have teamed up to remake the Kurt Russell-starring, John Carpenter-directed cult classic with all manner of attached buzzwords. The first film will be a “retelling” of the story that will somehow also be “an entirely new take on the material” with an eye to kicking things off with an “origin story” that will launch a new franchise, most likely a trilogy. And that, my friends, is a Hollywood remake bingo. Back when Warner and New Line were making their new Escape with producer Neil Mortiz and director Breck Eisner, a number of names were bandied about to take on Russell’s epic Snake Plissken role, including Gerard Butler, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hardy. Weirdly, Deadline Hollywood also seems to think that Liam Neeson could make a good Snake – probably because Silver and Studio Canal produced his Unknown and the upcoming Non-Stop, and certainly not because he’s in any way age appropriate (he’s just two years younger than Russell).

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happy kurt russell

Happy birthday to Kurt Russell! We would have sent him a card or an Elvis Presley bobble-head, but we seem to have lost his address. So instead we’ve decided to honor the day and the man by highlighting twelve of his greatest performances and films. Why twelve? Why the hell not. Russell is one of those actors whose presence in a film immediately elevates its level of awesome. This is fact. Also true is the unfortunate reality that he isn’t in nearly enough movies these days. His early career found him working within the Walt Disney machine, but he broke out in the early eighties to become a star across a wide variety of films. He excelled in romantic comedies, action films and the occasional straight-up dramatic role, but the last several years have seen a slow down in his output. Sure it’s depressing for those of us who consider ourselves fans, but there’s a hopeful light at the end of this particular tunnel… Russell is currently attached to star in a dark western called Bone Tomahawk alongside Timothy Olyphant, Richard Jenkins and Peter Sarsgaard. There’s nothing not awesome about that sentence. Keep reading for a look at twelve of our favorite Kurt Russell performances and films. They’re not ranked, although The Thing would obviously be #1 if they were, but feel free to chime in below with your favorites from his career.

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Escape from New York Commentary

It’s time to round out this trifecta. We’ve already covered John Carpenter and Kurt Russell talking about their collaborations on The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, and today it’s Snake Plissken’s turn. As with the other collaborations – Elvis and Escape From L.A. don’t count, since Carpenter and Russell didn’t provide commentaries for them – Escape From New York is arguably their best, creating an iconic character in Plissken and ratcheting out a gritty but intense sci-fi actioner that continued Carpenter’s trajectory as A-number one in the hearts of movie geeks all over. Like the previous commentaries, this one is sure to be loaded with information from behind the scenes as well as what has to be one of the best examples of camaraderie between an actor and director in recent history. It’s the kind of collaboration that makes you want a third Snake Plissken movie even now, 16 years after the character surfed down a flooded Sunset Boulevard. Yeah, that was dumb, but we’ve gotten over it. Until that day comes when Plissken – The name is Snake – strapped the leg holsters back on, we’ll have to fall back on this action classic made fresh with a solid commentary running over it. So let’s get to it, shall we? All 31 things we learned listening to the commentary for Escape From New York.

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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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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Searching for Sonny Elliot reluctantly heads home for his ten-year high school reunion, but instead of the expected disappointments he discovers a missing friend, a murder and a mystery. Writer/director Andrew Disney’s feature debut is an indie rarity in that it’s as funny as any big screen comedy. The laughs come in part due to Disney’s sharp and witty script, but credit should also go to the main cast of Jason Dohring, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney. The trio has a smooth and perfectly timed chemistry together, and they help make the film a joy to watch. The lovely Minka Kelly helps in that department as well. [Extras: Commentary, additional scenes, bloopers, featurettes] Also available on Blu-ray.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In 2007, Kate Hudson made her first movie as a director (complete with a Humble Pie reference), and the free spirit of youth and antique love is on full display. Kristen Stewart‘s best work might also be on display. She and Dakota Fanning play young girls discovering true desire, but instead of dumb boys, they’re swooning over a classic car and a sweet guitar. Virginia Madsen and Kurt Russell play a father and mother (each responding to their offspring’s Must Have Mentality), and the whole simple story plays out with the tension that comes naturally from needing something badly without knowing if you’ll get it. It’s something anyone who has ever had to haggle over the price of something they’re pretending not to care about knows. Hudson and company capture the sentiment well – the heart of it residing in Stewart’s eyes as she first spots a shiny Cutlass with a price tag on it and the sun rays flood in. Nostalgia and bad ass chicks. Nothing wrong with either. What will it cost? Only 13 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Right from its very beginning, Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming spaghetti Western wannabe Django Unchained was a project whose casting rumors involved far more actors than could have actually been included in its cast. In addition to names being thrown around that just turned out to be wishful thinking, actors like Jonah Hill and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were said to be close to taking roles in the film, but ultimately never signed up due to scheduling conflicts. Even Kevin Costner, who had signed on to play the role of Ace Woody, eventually had to be replaced by Kurt Russell because of scheduling issues. What’s the deal with all of these scheduling issues? What does Tarantino have going on out there in the desert? There may be no hard and fast answers to that question coming, but what is clear is that, even though shooting on the film has commenced, two more names have now dropped out of the cast. The Film Stage brought to our attention that, during an appearance on Howard Stern, Sacha Baron Cohen announced that he wouldn’t be able to make his planned appearance in the film due to promotional commitments for The Dictator. Soon after, Variety’s Jeff Sneider broke the news on Twitter that Kurt Russell had also left the cast.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Editor’s note: With our own Junkfood addict Brian Salisbury busy writing through the typhoon that is SXSW, we’ve farmed out his column to similarly-minded Rejects. First up – Adam Charles! Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema. Our jokes are as good as our speling. I’m just kidding…we are good speller. You’ve found yourselves in the annals of a column dedicated to nearly all of the works of Sylvester Stallone except for that one when his Mom will shoot and he’ll warn you about it. We eventually plan on retitling this column Junkfood Cinema: It Is The Laauuwww and today we add one more notch onto the “Stallone takes over Junkfood Cinema” tally, but just before we draw the line to make it complete we’ll offer up a suggestion of something to throw down your kisser in celebration. This week, we give you Tango & Cash.

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The casting news for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming foray into the Western genre, Django Unchained, just keeps getting better and better. Like a sports nerd amassing the perfect fantasy baseball team, Tarantino has been looking over the stats and picking out the most rock solid actors to fill key roles on his squad. Like a seasoned Dungeon Master, he has been amassing the Hollywood personalities with the most awesome points to accompany him on his quest. And Variety is reporting that the man is nearing yet another blockbuster acquisition. Now he’s in talks with Joseph Gordon-Levitt to join an already-excellent ensemble. Apparently Gordon-Levitt has every intention of working with Tarantino and joining this increasingly awesome-sounding movie, but there are some scheduling hiccups to work out. You see, JGL is a busy, busy man, and he’ll probably have to shift some stuff around in order to get his skinny little hinder on set when Tarantino needs him. If the two parties are able to work things out, it will see Gordon-Levitt joining a cast that already boasts names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, and Kurt Russell. That’s almost enough to make what Stallone is doing on The Expendables 2 look girly in comparison.

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Drinking Games

We’re in the middle of October, the month of Halloween, and the scariest new DVD release this week is The Zookeeper. But no one’s seriously planning on renting that film, are they? That leaves possible drinking games for Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (and honestly, what third grader is going to try that?) or The Tree of Life, and a drinking game for that would get me into more trouble than my review did. So considering it’s the month for scares, and the remake/prequel/reboot/reimagining of The Thing comes out at the end of this week, plenty of folks are revisiting John Carpenter’s 1982 classic. So pour your Jim Beam into your Chess Wizard computer and crack open a Coors. It’s time to go drunk retro with this film, available on DVD, Blu-ray and Netflix Instant.

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It was recently reported that Kevin Costner was dropping out of Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming revenge Western about slaves and slave owners, Django Unchained. Costner was supposed to play a mean old snake named Ace Woody who oversees a plantation and keeps the slaves in line using not so nice methods. It seemed like a great opportunity to give Costner a meatier, or at least more interesting role than he has had in a while, and I was pretty disappointed to hear that he wouldn’t be able to work with Tarantino. Sometimes I’m astounded at how fickle I can be.

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