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Yes No Maybe So - Big Eyes

"The trailer won me over with two phrases:
1) "Lady art doesn't sell".
2) "I've been lying to my daughter".
- Adri

"A Tim Burton movie with the title Big Eyes that features neither Ricci, Ryder, Keaton nor Bonham Carter just doesn't seem right..." -Paul



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Entries in Jack Nicholson (9)


Curio: Suspect and Fugitive

Alexa here with your weekly arts and crafts.   Nathaniel's banana Bond boredom from last week reminded me of a project that Seattle-based artist Kris Garland/Rakka Deer did back in 2008.  Titled Suspect and Fugitive, the series involved making one item a day from suspect (questionable) and fugitive (non archival) materials. This involved Rakka combining pop culture portraiture with food (and sometimes other materials) in new and clever ways every day for one year.

Like this pancake Cate Blanchett...

Pancake Blanchett

Maybe Nathaniel should try this.  Favorite actresses and foodstuffs maybe?  In any case, here is some more inspiration courtesy of Rakka from Donnie Darko to Doris Day after the jump

Click to read more ...


Beauty Vs Beast: Going Batty

JA from MNPP here with this week's batty edition of "Beauty Vs. Beast" - Twenty-five years ago today Tim Burton's Batman opened, and I think it might have maybe had a little bit of an effect on The Movies? Let's see - how many superhero films are set to open in the next five years? I think it's something like [edited because you can't look directly at this number, it is Lovecraftian in its ability to break your brain and instantly render you mindlessly bonkers]. Something like that. Once upon a time though this was not the case. Moreso even than the Christopher Reeve Superman movies that preceded it, Tim Burton's Batman showed Hollywood what a juggernaut these things could be - it was the biggest movie of 1989 by far (nearly 60 million dollars ahead of its closest competition, the third Indiana Jones), and I have distinct memories of everything I owned that year being covered in Bat symbols - my t-shirts, my backpack, my Trapper Keeper.

Generational arguments still break out (see: Neighbors) about who was the best Batman (yes I am old and Team Keaton all the way) but fewer people seem to argue about which Joker they prefer between Jack Nicholson and that dude who won an Oscar for his performance - that's not to say I don't know people who'll argue for Team Jack and his closer-to-the-comics hamminess. Thankfully I'm not dropping us into that mire today (although feel free to express your opinions in the comments on that) - instead we're facing the oldest question in the Bat-pantheon: Are Batman's villains always inherently more interesting, more fun, than the dude in the big black suit himself? Sound off!


You have one week to dance with these devils in the pale moonlight and let us know in the comments why you picked which - have at it!

PREVIOUSLY Last week's competition saw the titular Hitchcock blonde of 1963's Marnie facing off against her James Bond savior slash terrorizer slash romantic interest - judging by our comments we all pretty much agreeed that neither of these folks was anybody we'd want to be stuck in an elevtor with, but Tippi snapped the win in her bright yellow purse and sauntered away all the same. Said Tom:

"Voting for Marnie. The movie really is a snore, but Tippi Hedron really is great. This is proof she had the goods to be an actress, and it's kind of a shame nothing really happened after this movie for her."


Just Jack

JA from MNPP here with some sad news - it's being reported that Jack Nicholson has officially, if quietly, retired from acting. Given that's it's been two years since the 76 year-old made a movie it's not the most surprising news in the world, but he's taken that long between roles before and I kept hoping he'd come back with one killer role and not go out on a sour note like How Do You Know (a title whose lack of punctuation still grates two years later). Radar is quoting ye old anonymous "Hollywood insider" as saying that it's due to memory loss - that he just can't remember his lines anymore, and that's why he passed on reuniting with his About Schmidt director Alexander Payne on the upcoming Nebraska, a role that eventually went to Bruce Dern. So... there's Johnny. What's your favorite Nicholson?


Golden Globe Predictions (+ Shirley Maclaine's Third Jack)

The Golden Globes are tomorrow night, so I'll surely be here tweeting or live-blogging. One wonders if any of the HFPA's oft wined and dined members were treated to Christmas carols from one Jack Black over the holiday break? If not he missed quite an opportunity. If you've seen Bernie you know the man can sang. Though I doubt anyone can work around what's shaping up to be a Silver Linings Celebration tomorrow night (The Globes do love their Weinstein Co. product) the Comedy/Musical categories are typically home to the biggest Globe surprises throughout the years so Jack Black as a surprise winner has crossed my mind a time or two during the season. Remember when Sally Hawkins and Colin Farrell won in 2008? No one was expecting that! If Silver Linings were a little less beloved I'd assume that the Comedy or Musical prize would be going to "24601" himself Hugh Jackman but I'm guessing that now it's Bradley Cooper's to lose.

But back to Black. The comic's awards campaign for Bernie started fairly early-- there's something to be said for early launches -- and when I met him very briefly da few months ago he was so completely casual he almost seemed like a member of the press himself, just there for the free food which he kept recommending. I immediately broached the topic of working with Shirley Maclaine because, well, I am me. They bonded over the musical genre and Jack implied that Shirley kinda takes credit for Bob Fosse's film career basically under the from her movie clout at the time 'I'll do Sweet Charity but I want Bob Fosse to direct it!' I was told that Shirley referred to Jack Black as "My Third Jack"  

Me: Fine company to be in. LEMMON. NICHOLSON. Nerve-wracking! Or maybe you're confidently okay with it?
Jack Black: Not too shabby. I'm okay with it! It's hard to choose between the two. Lemmon kicks so much ass in "The Apartment"... but Nicholson in "Cuckoo's Nest"!

It didn't occur to me until his Globe nomination arrived that both of the performances he name checked were Golden Globe Winners in their days. Coincidence or subliminal sign of his nomination to come?!

Is it annoying that I always bury the lede? Golden Globe predictions are after the jump

Click to read more ...


Curio: Jacks of All Trades

Alexa here. I couldn't let Jack Nicholson's 75th go by without weighing in. In the past I've spied some curios that feature moments from his long career, like an Academy's Players Directory from 1961 that featured him as a young actor, and some amazing finger puppets inspired by The Shining that are, alas, no longer available. So here are some that feature my favorites of his performances, along with a odd little item from my own collection.  

Chinatown poster by Claudia Varosio, available here.

Czech poster for Prizzi's Honor, designed by Zdeněk Ziegler, available here.

German poster for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, available here.Click for more, including Heartburn matches and an As Good As It Gets hankie...

Click to read more ...


Jack Attack

Jack Nicholson is 75 years old today. He has only made 3 movies in the past eight years and his last great performance (About Schmidt) was a full decade past. His frequent absences would be a much greater loss to cinema if his current taste didn't lean more Bucket List and less Schmidt. But he has meant so much to so many moviegoers for so many decades that his big day is definitely worth celebrating.

So herewith ten random things off the top of my head that I love about Jack Nicholson... and it shouldn't surprise you that most of them involve his actress co-stars. That's not just because you're reading this at The Film Experience but because, for all of Jack's showboating style, he regularly ups the game of his leading ladies (and vice versa)

• "Dear Ndugu..." (About Schmidt)

• the fascinating and atypical restraint of his character work as Eugene O'Neill in Reds (1981). He lets Warren Beatty & Diane Keaton lead (which they do spectacularly well -- what a great movie) but manages to leave an indelible searing impression all the same. I sometimes wonder if it's his best performance.

• That it took him a good  long while to become JACK NICHOLSON -- he started in 1956 and he wasn't really JACK til 1969's Five Easy Pieces, and those slow burn rises to superstardom really ought to inspire all great actors who are looking for a defining breakthrough.

• The electric but very different push/pulls of his beastly seductions of Michelle Pfeiffer in Witches of Eastwick (1987) and Wolf (1994). They had great chemistry together. 

• Chinatown (1974) in general and in its entirety. Also specifically in just about every scene. Let's simplify...

 Chinatown (1974) !!!!

• "Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of dese?" Dumb pussy-whipped Jack in Prizzi's Honor (1985) who is talking about Irene (Kathleen Turner) but might just as well be describing his topsy turvy relationship with his ex (Anjelica Huston) too. 

...His women keep pulling the rug out from under him, the Oriental rug to be precise.

 Right there on the Oriental. With all the lights on. 

Everything about The Jack & Shirley Show within Terms of Endearment (1983)

His long friendship with Warren Beatty, also newly 75. Imagine the influence and power they've wielded in their time on American cinema.

• "Heeeeeere's Johnny!" My favorite Jack Nicholson moments are rarely the iconic ones that everyone knows (in which I always find myself feeling "pull it back!") but his literally splintering-crazy work in The Shining is the best of his YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH style screen beats. 

Your turn!

What's your favorite Jack Nicholson performance? Which screen moments from his long history stick with you.


Distant Relatives: Five Easy Pieces & Greenberg

Robert here with Distant Relatives, which explores the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.

Growing up is Hard to Do
Hollywood has always been interested in man-children, and they've gone through a variety of manifestations through the years. During the silent era they were innocent clowns filled with the insecurities and curiosities of children. During the age of the screwball comedy they were flailing baffoons unable to compete with their strong professional female counterparts. In the 1950's they were dark brooding rebels looking for causes and that lead the way to the serious sixties, where young men were similarly angry (though lighter on the melodrama, heaver on the realism) painted as victims of a combination of social indifference and their own unambitions. Though if you called them "victims" to their faces, they'd probably punch yours. This contingent was fronted from Britian by the likes of Finney and Harris but soon found plenty of eager representatives in the US, not the least of whom was snide, sarcastic, and so-damn-cool Jack Nicholson. In Five Easy Pieces, Nicholson plays Bobby Dupea, a man meandering through life, trailed by the shadow of his lost potential, trying to understand who he is as adulthood passes him by.

 Almost forty years later, Ben Stiller, a man who has made his living playing the goofiest kind of man-child plays the dark and cynical Roger Greenberg, a man also trying to figure out his life in the face of shattered potential. He has a lot in common with Bobby Dupea. In both cases, the impetus for our characters' confrontations with their immaturities comes in the form of a move. But while they're both going west, they're actually heading in two different directions. Bobby is going to his family's house in Seattle, where his person will be juxtaposed against their culture and civility. Even if we want Bobby to get his act together and take his place in the world of his family, we feel as out of place there as he does. Roger meanwhile has just moved to Los Angeles where his cynicism is juxtaposed against an even greater immaturity; immaturity as an accepted state of Nirvana. He asks while at a child's birthday party "Why are all the grown men dressed like kids and all the kids dressed like super heroes?" It's a beautiful symbol for a world in which dreaming for great power and great responsibility evolveds into longing for no power and no responsibility.


As much as a misanthrope as Greenberg is, we feel for him at times, if only because we get to experience the horrors of L.A. through him. [more after the jump]

Click to read more ...


'Training Day' Flashback & Double Oscar Wins

Ten years ago tomorrow, the bad cop / good cop drama Training Day debuted in theaters. It was a relatively inauspicious debut (for our purposes) in that, though the film was an instant hit, Oscar fanatics weren't really breathlessly awaiting its debut like it was a 'prestige picture' per se. The film surprised and wound up with two nominations for its leading actors, one in lead (Denzel Washington) and one in supporting (Ethan Hawke) because that's how Oscar do.

All it took was a couple of awesome soundbites and a sense that Denzel Washington was peaking as a movie star with that loss for Malcolm X still a regularly discussed Academy embarrassment and *BOOM* Julia Roberts was all

I love my life!"

.... and it was Oscar Number Two for Denzel!

Were you watching? 

King Kong ain't got shit on him.

Oscar #2 let Denzel into the slim ranks of actors with two competitive gold men. Here's the complete list in the order it occurred (because I like to make things difficult for myself).

  1. Luise Rainer (The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth 1936-1937) 
  2. Bette Davis (Dangerous and Jezebel 1935-1938)
  3. Walter Brennan (Come and Get It and Kentucky 1936-1938) *
  4. Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous and Boys Town 1937-1938)
  5. Fredric March (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Best Years of Our Lives 1931/32-1946)
  6. Olivia deHavilland (To Each His Own and The Heiress 1946-1949)
  7. Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind and Streetcar Named Desire 1939-1951)
  8. Gary Cooper (Sergeant York and High Noon 1941-1952)
  9. Anthony Quinn (Viva Zapata! and Lust for Life 1952-1956)
  10. Ingrid Bergman (Gaslight and Anastasia 1944-1956) *
  11. Peter Ustinov (Spartacus and Topkapi 1960-1964)
  12. Shelley Winters (Diary of Anne Frank and A Patch of Blue 1959-1965)
  13. Elizabeth Taylor (BUtterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf 1960-1966) 
  14. Katharine Hepburn (Morning Glory and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? 1932/33-1967) *
  15. Helen Hayes (The Sin of Madelon Claudet and  Airport 1931/32 -1970)
  16. Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront and The Godfather 1954-1972)
  17. Glenda Jackson (Women in Love and  A Touch of Class 1970-1973)
  18. Jack Lemmon (Mister Roberts and Save the Tiger 1955-1973)
  19. Jason Robards (All the President's Men and Julia 1976-1977)
  20. Jane Fonda (Klute and Coming Home 1971-1978)
  21. Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and California Suite 1969-1978)
  22. Melvyn Douglas (Hud and Being There 1963-1979)
  23. Robert DeNiro (The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull 1974-1980)
  24. Meryl Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice 1979-1982)
  25. Jack Nicholson (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest and Terms of Endearment 1975-1983) *
  26. Sally Field (Norma Rae and Places in the Heart 1979-1984)
  27. Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer and Rainman 1979-1988)
  28. Jodie Foster (The Accused and Silence of the Lambs 1988-1991)
  29. Gene Hackman (The French Connection and Unforgiven 1971-1992)
  30. Dianne Wiest (Hannah and Her Sisters and Bullets Over Broadway 1986-1994)
  31. Jessica Lange (Tootsie and Blue Sky 1982-1994)
  32. Tom Hanks (Philadelphia and Forrest Gump 1993-1994)
  33. Michael Caine (Hannah and Her Sisters and Cider House Rules 1986-1999)
  34. Kevin Spacey (Usual Suspects and American Beauty 1995-1999)
  35. Denzel Washington (Glory and Training Day 1989-2001)
  36. Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby 1999-2004)
  37. Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood 1989-2007)
  38. Sean Penn (Mystic River and Milk 2003-2008)


* They won again after this for a total of 3 Oscars (except Hepburn the all time leader with 4 competitive acting wins)

The thing I find most interesting about seeing them all together like this is that it instantly reveals that if someone is going to win a second Oscar it usually happens quickly after the first... 3 to 6 years being common. (which immediately makes you wonder about people by the name of Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard, Javier Bardem and Kate Winslet). The list also shows us that the late 1930s were just brutal for actresses whose names weren't Bette or Luise, that the 1970s were the most friendly towards previous winners and that 1938 and 1994 are strange anomalies, years in which three of the four Oscar winners had already won gold. It's only so long before we have a year with all four since there's a first time for everything.

Third time acting wins have only happened in 1940, 1968, 1974 & 1997

Only four people have ever won more than two acting Oscars and the last to join the club was Jack Nicholson in 1997 for As Good As It Gets. The universe assumes that Meryl Streep will be the fifth, but will she? Quite a few two-timers are still working.

Answer Me These Questions Three

  1. Which three double winners did you find most deserving of both?
  2. Which three would you immediately remove if you had a time machine?
  3. Who do you think is joining the two-timer ranks next?