Samuel L Jackson

Elevator Scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier already has a lot of people claiming it as the best Marvel movie yet, which is bizarre hyperbole in the face of The Avengers, but for those who love a grounded spy yarn it definitely has a maturity not present in any other Marvel outing to date. Or at least a different style of superhero storytelling. Imagine it as Captain America: Enemy of the State with double the action sequences. Rob’s review is thorough and glowing, worthy of a great superhero movie that tones down its superheroism in favor of plot intrigue. It’s a sentiment matched by a ton of critics, but I can’t agree with it completely. The positives absolutely outweigh the negatives, and it’s a very slick movie, but there’s more to do than simply throwing ticker tape from out your office window. Mostly because it would be difficult to find ticker tape these days. Do they even make it still? Spoilers included, here are 10 things I liked about Captain America: The Winter Soldier and 10 things I didn’t.

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Chris Evans in CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER

Captain America should be the most boring lead in the ongoing cinematic superhero cavalcade — he’s a goody two shoes who fights with a shield, wears an excessively patriotic costume, and by all accounts has never been laid — and yet, over the course of three films he’s quickly become the most entertaining, exciting to watch, and affecting of the bunch by a wide margin. (Your move Superman.) It takes nothing away from the writers and directors of those films to acknowledge that the biggest key to the character’s onscreen success can be found in the man behind the mask, Chris Evans. His charisma, appeal, and physical presence combined with the character’s personality and tragic circumstances make for a compelling and fun superhero whose humanity shines through far more often than heroes who spend half their screen-time as CGI creations. Captain America: The Winter Soldier sees Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans) still trying to fit in to the modern world while working for SHIELD on a regular basis. His latest mission leads to yet another conflict with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) over his and SHIELD’s priorities and methods in fighting the war on terror. Rogers thinks criminals should be punished after a crime has been committed, but Fury says they can’t afford to wait that long. The arrival on scene of a mysterious and legendary assassin, the Winter Soldier, shakes things up even further, and soon Captain America is fighting not only for the lives of millions but for his […]

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long kiss

Before we begin, let’s take a moment to clarify that headline: The Long Kiss Goodnight is not a masterpiece. Sorry to break it to you, Renny Harlin, but your finest work falls just short of Lawrence of Arabia and all those other films about schoolteachers discovering their killer pasts. Harlin’s career is full of highs and lows, including last weekend‘s The Legend of Hercules, but everything about Harlin’s “style,” from even his lowest points, came into focus for 1996′s The Long Kiss Goodnight. When Harlin’s name shows in the opening credits for his quasi-spy thriller, a grenade appears, appropriately (and visually) declaring this is the director’s most explosive outing yet. Harlin maintains a jovial energy through the film’s entire runtime, but much of the its success is attributed to screenwriter Shane Black. Black’s sensibility rings loud and clear underneath Harlin’s bombast: a dark sense of humor, an unlikely duo at the center, inventive set pieces, and clever setups and payoffs.

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jeditruth-1

One of my favorite movie series of all time is the Star Wars films. Yes, even the prequels. I’m sure whatever happens with the upcoming sequels, they will make the list, too. I’m an shameless fanboy when it comes to this series, and I can forgive a lot – from Greedo shooting first to Jar Jar Binks. Since I was a child, seeing the original Star Wars at the tender age of five, I have loved the series. My youthful mind always wished I could be a Jedi Knight myself. Now, I know that’s impossible because I certainly don’t have nearly enough midi-chlorians in my blood for that. In fact, it was a relief for me to learn this plot patch when I saw The Phantom Menace because by watching the original trilogy as a child, it seemed so easy to train to be a Jedi Knight. Going back and watching that original trilogy again, it got me thinking: Just how long does it take to complete Jedi Knight training?

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PORTRAITS  BEST OF

Some stories are so simple and so timeless that they’ll forever be a part of cinema. Boy meets girl. A stranger comes to town. A man is raised by apes, yet upon closer inspection, is not actually an ape himself. Samuel L. Jackson is clearly a fan of that third idea, as the actor is now in talks for a co-starring role in the live-action Tarzan film that director David Yates has been trying to get off the ground for some time now. Back in April, budgetary concerns threatened to de-vine Tarzan for good, but the addition of Jackson, the confirmation of Christoph Waltz (who entered talks for the film in September), and the already-on-board star Alexander Skarsgard mean things are looking a little brighter. The film still hasn’t been greenlit yet, however – and only after doing so will it begin casting its Jane. Right now, Margot Robbie is said to be the frontrunner there. So now Tarzan‘s got its grade-A, top choice cast. It’s got a budget (or had a budget, at one time) that was enough to make Warner Bros quake with fear and slam the panic button. How exactly will the film balance its blockbuster leanings with the somewhat ridiculous image of an actor cavorting around in nothing but a small piece of brown fabric? I don’t mean to harp on Tarzan, or his fashion choices. And obviously, there’s a level of audience appeal in a mostly nude well-built actor doing a little cavorting. But over the […]

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Captain America

From the looks of things, Captain America has definitely thawed out by now and is geared up to defend his beloved country on his own, post -The Avengers. The first images for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have arrived, via USA Today, showing Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) kicking ass and surveying his handiwork, and it also seems that he’s gone through a little makeover since the last time he appeared on screen. Gone is the red, white, and blue, stars and stripes bodysuit with matching head cap, it’s now replaced by a sleek black and silver incarnation. It’s more stealthy than overtly patriotic – but don’t worry; the shield is still intact. The overhead shot depicts the Captain in the moments after he takes on an elevator full of bad guys and obviously wins. What kind of superhero movie do you think this is?

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Agents of SHIELD 084

I’m willing to be patient with Joss Whedon’s shows. The first seasons of Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse were each series’ worst. (Firefly, of course, only had the one season.) But Whedon’s intended pilots for his two most recent shows, Firefly and Dollhouse, were confident introductions to characters and a universe that we were joining in medias res, not still being sketched out from scratch. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s second episode, however, taught me to lower my expectations for this series. Written by Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Jeffrey Bell, “0-8-4″ was nothing short of embarrassing — from the hammy, cliched dialogue and the obvious plot twists to the forced, programmatic story arc and the paper-thin, never-not-yammering characters. The one improvement from the pilot is that the show looks slightly less cheap; unlike last week’s installment, this episode actually seemed to have a budget. (What is it about Whedon’s shows that they all have that bargain-basement look?)

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true romance hopper

Tony Scott‘s True Romance is probably one of my top ten all-time favorite movies, which is kind of weird since Badlands is one of my top five all-time favorite films. Or maybe it’s appropriate that this is the case. I’m sure that one of the reasons I fell in love with this movie is because of how directly it’s inspired by and references the earlier Terrence Malick film. Notice I make the distinction between movies and films. Scott made movies, Malick makes films. Scott also made a movie I like that directly references another of my all-time favorite films (Enemy of the State –> The Conversation). I was sad when Scott died particularly because I was hoping he’d eventually cover all my top shelf titles (just imagine what he could have done with Duck Soup!). Then again, maybe he’d have just redone himself, the way he did with Domino, which is like a bad remake of True Romance. Anyway, True Romance turns 20 years old this week. Warner Bros. released the movie on September 10, 1993, and it came in at #3 for its opening weekend, behind reigning champ The Fugitive and fellow newcomer Undercover Blues (uh?). In honor of the anniversary, let’s take a look at some scenes we love. It was hard to narrow down, of course, so we went with major character moments.

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trailer robocop 2014

Blah blah blah remakes. No one wants them, but they just keep coming. All we can do is take them one at a time with the understanding that each new reboot has zero effect on the original film we probably love, like, or don’t honestly remember. And with that in mind our first real look at director José Padilha‘s remake of the gleefully violent, morbid and twisted Robocop has finally arrived. The story remains the same as a corporation takes over the business of policing a city with unintended results. A cop (Joel Kinnaman), wounded under suspicious circumstances, is used as the meat in a half man, half machine, all cyborg sandwich representing the company’s latest weapon in the war on crime. But what happens when he’s no longer interested in being a tool for the Man? I’ll tell you what happens. PG-13 violence happens. Check out the mildly competent yet wholly generic-looking trailer for Robocop below.

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albaangel

Back in a bygone era old-timers refer to as the turning of the millennium, the world was first being introduced to a fresh-faced, pouty-lipped actress named Jessica Alba. For some she first popped onto our radar as the cute girl Devon Sawa attempted to woo in the horror comedy Idle Hands, but for most she first became visible as the star of a TV series James Cameron developed for Fox (which was a big deal at the time considering Cameron was mostly known for directing gigantic blockbusters like T2 and Titanic, and doing TV work was not yet fashionable), a dystopian tale called Dark Angel that saw her playing a genetically modified assassin turned leather-wearing bike messenger. While the show didn’t prove to be as awesome or successful as Cameron’s other dystopian story, the Terminator franchise, Alba did prove to be staggeringly gorgeous enough to stay on Hollywood’s radar even after it was unceremoniously cancelled. Which brings us to this news. Now, many years of Alba giving largely unsuccessful but nonetheless aesthetically appealing performance later, it’s looking like she’s going to be jumping back into the assassination game once again, perhaps in an attempt at rekindling some of that spark that existed when our love affair with her first began. According to a report from Screen Daily, she’s the latest to join the cast of director Kyle Newman’s (Fanboys) upcoming action comedy, Barely Lethal.

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jackson

Matthew Vaughn’s Secret Service is an upcoming comic book adaptation that boasts a good deal of pedigree already. Not only is it going to star Colin Firth, who is one of the best performers ever to sign on to lead a movie based on a comic, but it’s also got a whole host of other people who have seen great success in the comic book world bringing it to life, pretty much from top to bottom. Vaughn, of course, already earned quite a bit of praise for reviving the beleaguered X-Men Franchise with X-Men: First Class. Michael Caine, who was one of the prominent players in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise, is said to be on board to play the head of the agency that Firth’s character works for. Mark Millar, the guy who wrote the comic the film is going to be based on, is already known for being the creator of Kick-Ass. And, heck, even the artist who worked on Millar’s book and has likely inspired many of the visuals of this new project, Dave Gibbons, is already a comic book legend because he’s the man who drew “Watchmen.” What else could be done to make this movie look like any more of a sure thing? How about adding the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the mix?

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IntroActorSpoofs

When an actor nails a certain role in his career it can be both a blessing and a curse. Anthony Perkins, for a no-brainer example, rarely picked up any roles after Psycho due to being typecast as the lunatic he so exquisitely played. That’s why it’s also great to know when actors have a sense of humor about their more iconic roles – taking up the burden of spoofing themselves so no one else has to.

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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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downeyfavreau

What is Casting Couch? It’s your place to catch up with all of the casting news that broke over the weekend. Just a couple days away from the Internet and you missed news involving Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, and Samuel L. Jackson. Catch up! One of the biggest reasons Robert Downey Jr. is experiencing a huge career resurgence right now is that Jon Favreau fought to cast him as the lead in the first Iron Man movie. After Downey killed it in that movie and he and Favreau made about a gabillion dollars together on it and the sequel, one would imagine a lifetime friendship was forged. That’s why, even though Favreau’s next film is a little indie dramedy he’s starring in himself called Chef, he’s still able to call in a big favor and have a huge star like Downey join the ensemble cast. Variety reports that Downey is now on board to work in the film alongside actors like Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Bobby Cannavale.

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jackson-fury

A few years ago, director Jalmari Helander made a movie called Rare Exports where thousands of Santas got naked and ran through the frozen tundra while chasing after a young boy. It was a special moment, and he followed it by announcing a future project that he described as Home Alone meets Rambo. It’s been a long time since that announcement, but it’s possible that we’re finally going to see it. According to Deadline Hollywood, we’ll at the very least get to see a new Helander movie — whether or not it involves Kevin McAllister carrying around a semi-automatic and a grudge remains to be seen. The new project is called Big Game, and it’ll focus on a young boy sent to the woods to prove himself on the same evening that Air Force One is shot down nearby. The kid finds the president (Samuel L. Jackson (no kidding)), so they naturally pair up to battle bad guys. Hopefully with paint buckets and broken Christmas tree ornaments. This sounds like it could be Home Alone meets Rambo, right? Young child, guns, forest setting, likely bandana use. It makes sense, but even if this isn’t the same concept Helander was developing back in 2010, it still sounds ridiculous enough to work.

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Django

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Django Unchained (and all of Tarantino’s other films). With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has taken a decisive shift in his approach to storytelling. Abandoning the non-linear, present-set depictions of an organized criminal underworld in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films, Tarantino has not only transitioned to more conventional linear storytelling (with the exception of the requisite flashback), but chooses familiar historical contexts in which to tell these stories. With the WWII-set Inglourious Basterds and now with the pre-Civil War-era Western Django, Tarantino has made a habit of mixing the historical with the inventively anachronistic, and has turned recent modern histories of racial and ethnic oppression, dehumanization, and extermination into ostensibly cathartic fantasies of revenge against vast systemic structures of power.

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DJANGO UNCHAINED

Quentin Tarantino has very quickly, but not so quietly, found a new niche for his filmmaking talents as a teller of tall tales with a historical bent. He’s less interested in historical accuracy than he is historical tomfoolery, but that never lessens the sheer entertainment he finds in mankind’s relatively recent foibles and misdeeds. From Inglourious Basterds‘ band of World War II Nazi-killers to his latest film’s vengeful slave turned bounty hunter, Tarantino has shown a knack for fitting his charismatic and electric characters into unexpected historical contexts with entertaining as hell results. It’s 1858 in America, and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a dentist on a mission. It’s light on tooth decay, heavy on bloodshed and utterly unrelated to the field of dentistry. He’s a bounty hunter whose latest targets, The Brittle Brothers, present a challenge in that he has no idea what they look like. Undeterred, Schultz acquires, apprentices and befriends a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who can identify the brothers. In exchange the ex-dentist will help the newly freed Django reunite with his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who currently belongs to a cruel but undeniably charming plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). What follows is a tale that would have made American History class a hell of a lot more memorable as Schultz and Django cut a bloody swath across the post-Civil War South through racists, enforcers and recognizable TV actors (Tom Wopat! Lee Horsley!) from decades past. The cinematic violence is paired with […]

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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Unless you were living under a rock during the ’90s, the new trailer for Jurassic Park 3D probably seems pretty familiar to you. It’s basically just a trailer for Steven Spielberg’s ubiquitous 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park, with some stuff about the film being re-released in 3D tacked on at the end. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to watch it. Chances are it’s been quite a while since you’ve last watched Jurassic Park, and chances are you’ve forgotten how much a movie like this lends itself to making great trailers. The sense of grandeur, the big reveals, the breakthrough special effects, Jeff Goldblum draped across various things all shirtless and sexy, the ripple in the glass of water, Samuel L. Jackson saying “Hold on to your butts,” it’s all here. But, what strikes you about watching this trailer more than anything else, is the music. The second the first few notes of John Williams‘ iconic score for this dinosaurs run amok adventure start playing, you find yourself instantly transported back to being however old you were when you first saw this movie. And by the time the song gets to the soaring crescendo, well, it’s done its job of convincing you that you’re going to want to shell out some money to experience this classic up on the big screen one more time pretty effectively.

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Frank Grillo

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the way to get news regarding all of those upcoming super hero sequels. Tomorrow it might be something else. Though we’ve still yet to have the pleasure of taking in the first two installments of Marvel’s super hero movie Phase II, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is already coming up in 2014, so it’s probably about time we started hearing some casting news. And, wouldn’t you know it, Variety brings us just that. Not only has the trade revealed that End of Watch, The Grey, and Warrior star Frank Grillo will be joining the cast as the Red Skull’s brutal henchman Crossbones, but they also have news that some familiar SHIELD faces from The Avengers will be showing back up in Cap’s second solo adventure. More specifically, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Agent Maria Hill, and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff will all be coming back. You remember them, right?

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
B+

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