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Entries in Samuel L Jackson (4)


Hats Off to Mr. Jackson

Michael C here to sound some trumpets for a fine actor's return from the wilderness. There are many pleasures to be found in Django Unchained, but for me the most satisfying was being able to unambiguously love a Samuel L. Jackson performance for the first time in what feels like forever. 

Let's be frank, Jackson has always been a guy who would cheerfully say yes to just about any script that was correctly formatted. But at least back in the 90’s he would throw in an Eve’s Bayou or a Jackie Brown every once in a while. Over the last decade, however, his time has been divided between coasting on his star presence in blockbusters or squandering his considerable talent in straight up dreck like The Man or The Spirit. What attempts he has made at meaningful work have largely been dumped directly in the straight-to-video bin. (Home of the Brave anyone?) The last performance of his that left any impression on me was 2000’s Unbreakable, although your mileage may vary. Black Snake Moan had its fans, as did The Caveman’s Valentine. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the internal compass he possesses for choosing projects is severely miscalibrated.

But now there is his work in Django and damn does it feels good to seem him nail it in a big way. Jackson gave what is basically one of my favorite performances ever in Pulp Fiction and Tarantino has handed him another winner. He plays Stephen, the most trusted slave of Leo’s malevolent plantation owner and the two of them share a terrific, twisted chemistry. In terms of thematic weight Stephen's importance to the story is second only to Foxx's Django, and Jackson makes a meal out of every second of screen time. It’s a devious, deceptively simple performance. A late in the film monologue in particular should have Oscar voters second guessing whether DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, who were both Golden Globe nominated, are really the Django performances to unite behind in the awards game.

Jackson may very well turn around and follow this up with another decade of crapola (the XXX sequel listed on his IMDb page doesn’t bode well) but for now I’m pleased to see he has another performance that can stand proudly alongside Jules Winfield, Gator Purify and Sean Nelson’s alcoholic, chess playing father from Fresh (Rent it!)


Skarsgård, Lord of the Apes

Last week I hoped (in vain) that they'd go with an unknown when they finally attempt a reboot of the long dormant Tarzan franchise. Instead, word is, they're interested in going with the very known but still big screen underutilized Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood fame. 

Careful Skarsgård. In Tarzan pictures, there's always an alligator in there!

Though I think the discovery themes of the Tarzan franchise warrant a more "who is that?" choice, Skarsgård deserves more big screen opportunities (I was sad when he missed out on Thor since he's the closest thing that showbiz has to a Norse God) and his Swedishness and comfort with nudity are surely good signs for the exotic vine swinger. Variety says the concept goes like so:

Years after he's reassimilated into society, he's asked by Queen Victoria to investigate the goings-on in the Congo. Tarzan teams with an ex-mercenary named George Washington Williams to save the Congo from a warlord who controls a massive diamond mine. 

I'm super pleased that they're skipping an origin story. Lord (of the Apes) knows more franchises should try it since origin stories so rarely reward on multiple viewings, let alone multiple iterations of said origins! But Warner Bros interest in Samuel L Jackson for the Williams role is, if you ask me, a very bad omen. Jackson is a fine actor but last time I counted he had already starred or co-starred in over 12 franchises or would be franchises. He's where Jeremy Renner will be in three years if he keeps saying "yes" to every big budget project in existence.  Jackson is arguably a sign that no one on this project is remotely interested in doing something fresh, but just churning out another regular revenue stream for studio coffers and Jackson, being at home in the big budget franchises, is the only person who even came to their minds. When you use the same faces for everything, all franchises feel yet more homogenous.

The animals already love him!

I suppose this is the same problem I have when they cast my beloved Streep in everything involving an older woman and I'm forced to be frustrated at the monotony rather than be thrilled to see her, the latter of which should always be the case. It comes down to this realization: I'm just not at all monogomanous when it comes to the movies but shamelessly slutty. I need a vast array of faces, a huge collection of movie stars and character actors to entertain me.  I wish, given the state of modern cinema, that this was not so, that I could be happy with only a handful of faces to entertain me, but I am who I am. 

Will you gladly swing with Skarsgård and Jackson in a year or two or do you think the Lord of the Apes should stay retired?


Curio: Cine with your Wine

Alexa here.  I recently got my husband an anniversary gift of Will Ferrell's mug on a wine glass; romantic, I know, but it met with so much success (and an endless stream of Anchorman quotes over our bottle) that I thought I should post a plug for its maker.  Tara Hamlin specializes in painting celebrities on wine goblets, and she is talented enough to pull off what seems at first like a silly concept.  The selection in her shop is immense, but she will also do custom work: I spied that she is completing a custom Tom Hardy goblet for a lucky someone.  Here is a sampling of her more interesting film stars.  Drink up; they're only $20 each!

Dunaway and Beatty as Bonnie and ClydeA glass Gosling

Click for Tracy and Hepburn, Richard Dreyfuss and more...

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top o' the linkin' to ya  

Sydney Morning Herald production halted on The Great Gatbsy (briefly). Baz Luhrman hit on head just before Christmas. Ouch.
Listen Eggroll Mike D'Angelo's Christmas movie viewing history. Hee.
Rope of Silicon on that revolving director chair for Thor 2. What will it mean for the movie?
Indie Wire Ninety-seven Original Scores that are eligible for Oscar this year. Only five can be nominated of course. A notable omission is Alexandre Desplat's work on The Tree of Life but we figured that would get disqualified due to the abundance of non-original music in the film. As Hans Zimmer promised, he did not submit his wonderful Rango score. (sigh)

Coming Soon Charlize Theron discusses her role in Prometheus
Wider Screenings [NSFW]  in terms of budget to profit ratio the most successful film of all time is... Deep Throat.
Horror Asylum the Whedon-less reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is apparently dead. Yay!
Scene Stealers Trey Hoch really hates War Horse. He's not playing around with the hate.
The Wrap finds a silver lining in some not-so-great 2011's fare: good characters in forgettable movies.
THR Scott Feinberg's top ten. 
Hollywood Elsewhere on the strange omen of movie poster defacement in NYC, Mark Wahlberg's Contraband in this case. I also believe in this theory. The more a poster is defaced the more angry or irritated people are with its star or existence for any number of reasons.
Guardian has a Q&A with Samuel L Jackson. His greatest fear is "not working" which explains a lot about his film choices!