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Five Great James Gandolfini Movie Roles

by Ethan Alter June 20, 2013 9:55 am
Five Great James Gandolfini Movie Roles

For obvious reasons, James Gandolfini's legacy will be forever tied to Tony Soprano. It's the role he played the longest and which left the deepest impact, both on viewers and within the industry at large. But the late actor, who died (too soon) of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday, had a gallery of memorable movie characters as well, particularly after The Sopranos transformed him from a struggling supporting player (he had small, but memorable turns in films like True Romance and Crimson Tide in the run-up to the 1999 debut of The Sopranos) into a sought-after character actor who appeared in a rich variety of films, from the sublime (Spike Jonze's lovely adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are) to the absurd (John Turturro's intriguing, but problematic musical Romance & Cigarettes). And even when the films themselves stank (Surviving Christmas anyone?) Gandolfini's mere presence made them less painful than they otherwise might have been. Here are five Gandolfini movie characters we'd place alongside his towering turn as a New Jersey don.

Jurassic Park 3D: Five Flaws the 3D Won’t Fix

Like almost everyone else who saw Jurassic Park during its initial theatrical run 20 years ago, I have a lot of nostalgic fondness for Steven Spielberg's feature-length montage of dino rampage, which was based on Michael Crichton's best-selling book. It's an old-fashioned summer blockbuster executed with then new (and now old-fashioned) digital wizardry that plays like gangbusters when seen on the big screen with a packed crowd. And I have no doubt that the third-dimension enhanced Jurassic Park 3D, which opens theatrically on Friday, will be one of the better post-3D conversions of library titles, if only because Spielberg is a James Cameron-level stickler when it comes to the presentation of his past work. But as impressive as the T-Rex, those velociraptors and the rest of the film's computer-generated cast of giant lizards might look in 3D, there are some deep-seated flaws with Jurassic Park that even the format change won't be able to compensate for or distract from. Flaws like...

Amazon Women on the Moon: The Original Movie 43

by Ethan Alter January 23, 2013 12:01 pm
Amazon Women on the Moon: The Original Movie 43

Despite the participation of a galaxy of stars (Emma Stone! Chris Pratt! Richard Gere! Halle Berry!) and several big-name directors (Peter Farrelly! James Gunn! Brett Ratner!), the feature-length assemblage of skits that's billing itself as Movie 43 arrives in theaters this weekend unscreened for critics. (Imagine spending 90 minutes surfing Funny or Die and you've got the general gist of what it has to offer.) That's almost certainly a terrible sign, but I can't help but hold out hope that maybe, just maybe Movie 43 will be as stupidly enjoyable as the all-star sketch comedy revue it's clearly inspired by. I'm speaking, of course, about 1987's Amazon Women on the Moon, where such then-famous actors as Steve Guttenberg, Rosanna Arquette and Ed Begley Jr. popped up in spoofs of TV commercials, shows and one very bad '50s sci-fi movie.

Cloud Atlas: Five Other Unadaptable Books We’d Like to See As Movies

We've already listed some of the other unlikely book-to-film translations that Cloud Atlas put us in mind of. But seeing what writer/directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski achieved with this challenging adaptation of David Mitchell's unique novel made us eager for some brave visionary to bring the following five seemingly unadaptable books brought to the screen.


Happy Anniversary: The Cult of Boogie Nights

by Ethan Alter September 12, 2012 1:43 pm
Happy Anniversary: The Cult of Boogie Nights

It's been 15 years since Paul Thomas Anderson became a critical darling with the premiere of his sprawling '70s porn epic Boogie Nights. As widely liked as the movie was then, one couldn't have anticipated the quantum leap Anderson's already impressive skills would take over the next decade-and-a-half, as he crafted films as diverse and challenging as Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and his masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Put alongside those titles, Boogie Nights stands out as his most conventional movie; it's a straightforward rise-and-fall-and-rise-again Hollywood narrative that just happens to take place in the adult film industry rather than bright lights of the studio world. Seen today, the film is still a lot of fun -- before it goes to some truly dark places in the second half -- packed with great performances (it's still a crime that Burt Reynolds didn't win that Best Supporting Actor statue he was nominated for) and lots of razzle-dazzle filmmaking, but it's also a reminder of how much richer and complex Anderson's pictures have gotten since.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Describes the Rush of Making Premium Rush

Before he co-starred in The Dark Knight Rises as Batman's cop sidekick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt played a hero who zips though a major metropolis on his own version of the Batpod: a single-geared, brakeless bike. The hero in question is Wilee, the speed-addicted bike messenger at the center of Premium Rush, which was shot on the streets and roads of New York two years ago and is opening in theaters tomorrow. Co-written and directed by David Koepp (whose past credits include the screenplays for Jurassic Park and the first Spider-Man and director of Stir of Echoes), the movie finds Wilee trying to complete an express delivery of a valuable package while staying one bike line ahead of a corrupt cop (Michael Shannon) who is on his tail. Don't let the lack of bat ears or Batarangs fool you; Wilee's superb bike skills practically make him a superhero in his own right. We spoke with Koepp and Gordon-Levitt about what it was like to shoot such a fast-paced thriller, what lessons the actor learned from 3rd Rock From the Sun and why Die Hard With a Vengeance is one of the best New York movies ever made.

Happy Anniversary: Batman Returns and Batman & Robin

Before The Dark Knight Rises closes out the current Batman series, we celebrate the anniversaries of two older Caped Crusaders.

Beyond The Dark Knight Rises: Five Other DC Comics Superhero/Director Match-Ups We Want

When Christopher Nolan was first tapped to reboot the Batman franchise in 2005, few people could have accurately predicted how well that pairing of filmmaker and material would work out. After all, at that point, Nolan had only one big studio credit to his name (2002's Insomnia) and no experience at all in the comic book realm. But the one-two punch of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight proved that he was more than up to the task. Fusing his own specific interests with familiar Batman iconography, Nolan crafted a distinct take on the character that pleased both comic book fans and general audiences... to the tune of over $700 million at the domestic box office combined.

Spinning Stories With the Cast and Crew of The Amazing Spider-Man

Comic book fans may still be skeptical about the need for a reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise only ten years after its launch, but the cast and crew of The Amazing Spider-Man made a case for their movie's existence when they swung through New York on a recent promotional tour. Here are some excerpts from their meet-the-press conferences:

Rock of Ages: Five Jukebox Musicals We’d Like to See on the Big Screen

With Rock of Ages bum-rushing theaters on Friday and the recent news that Jon Favreau may bring Jersey Boys to the big screen (and don't forget that the Mamma Mia! movie grossed $600 million worldwide four years ago) movie versions of jukebox Broadway musicals could become Hollywood's next big trend. Considering how many of these pop-song fueled shows have come and gone from the Great White Way (particularly in the past few years), the studios certainly have plenty of fodder to choose from. And sure, most are terrible (Lennon, anyone? How about that Bob Dylan show, The Times They Are A-Changin'?), but we peered back into musical theater lore and came up with five jukebox musicals we'd actually pay to see in movie theaters.

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