March 17: Happy Birthday John Boyega and Eliza Bennett


Our headliners today are a pair of English film and television performers who both turn 26 years old today.

John Boyega has been very well known to film audiences around the world ever since the end of 2015, when he appeared in The Force Awakens as the defecting stormtrooper FN-2187, known to his friends as Finn.  He appeared on screens regularly in the last year; not only did he return to the role of Finn in The Last Jedi, he starred in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit as Melvin Dismukes, and had a major supporting role in The Circle.  He also made his West End debut last year, in the title role of a new version of Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck.  But anyone who saw him in his feature film debut—in a modestly budgeted but highly-praised sci-fi film from 2011—would not be surprised as the successful course of his career.

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Avengers: Infinity War – Official Trailer

Here it is!  The official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has been released.  Enjoy the geeky goodness and discuss in the comments below.

March 15 & 16: Happy Birthday Ry Cooder and Kate Nelligan


Six-time Grammy winner Ryland “Ry” Cooder is 71 today.  The slide guitar legend began performing as a teenager, and throughout his career has been part of some notable collaborations, beginning with his work in the late sixties with Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart.  His Grammys have all been for either albums he produced—the most famous probably being Buena Vista Social Club—or collaborations with other artists.  He has also been a significant composer of film music; he wrote the score for Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, and has worked on several of Walter Hill’s films, beginning with The Long Riders in 1980.

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Angelina Jolie: Touched by an Angelina

Before she was Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie was a lot of things.  Among them, she was the girl in a Rolling Stones video and Jon Voight’s daughter.  At the time of this profile piece from the March 1998 issue of Movieline magazine, one thing Jolie wasn’t was famous.  Aside from being praised by David Duchovny in a previous interview, writer Martha Frankel claimed never to have heard of her.  At this point in Jolie’s career she moved back to New York to finish school before returning to acting.

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Franchise Killers: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

The new Tomb Raider movie starring Alicia Vikander as video game heroine Lara Croft opens in theaters this weekend.  The action-adventure flick is an attempt to reboot the stalled movie franchise which originally starred Angelina Jolie as the globe-trotting archaeologist.  The first Tomb Raider movie performed reasonably well at the box office back in 2001.  Two years later, Paramount was looking for someone to blame for the failure of the sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.  They got pretty creative with their scapegoat.

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March 14: Happy Birthday Billy Crystal and Jamie Bell


Billy Crystal is turning 70 today.  He graduated from NYU in 1970, one of the very long list of NYU alumni in film and television (he graduated one year before Christopher Guest and Oliver Stone).  He worked regularly as a comedian, and began making TV guest appearances in the mid-seventies.  In 1977, he landed his first major role, as Jodie Dallas on Soap (one of the first gay regular characters on American television).  In the late 1980s he became a major presence in film, starring in comedies like Running Scared and Throw Momma From the Train, and with Meg Ryan in the rom-com When Harry Met Sally.  One of his most remembered parts from this period was a cameo, as a miracle man.

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Attack of the Killer Second Bananas

Everyone knows supporting roles are often more interesting than the lead part.  But every now and then an actor uses their limited screen-time to overwhelm the rest of the movie.  A good supporting player in the right part can push a movie star to the side and steal the spotlight for themselves.  This entry from the March 2003 issue of Movieline magazine examines a few memorable scene stealers and the movies they stole.

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March 13: Happy Birthday Emile Hirsch and Kaya Scodelario


Emile Hirsch is celebrating his 33rd today.  He began working in television as a child and teen in the late 1990s, making guest appearances on series like 3rd Rock from the Sun and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.  He had a prominent role in the 2001 Showtime TV movie Wild Iris, and then starred in his feature film debut a year later, in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.  He starred in the teen rom-com The Girl Next Door and in the crime drama Alpha Dog (he is the third headliner in four days from the cast of the latter film, after Olivia Wilde and Anton Yelchin), and then starred as Chris McCandless in the 2007 adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild.

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Why’d it Bomb? Most Comedy Sequels

Kevthewriter ponders why comedy sequels tend to bomb.

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March 12: Happy Birthday Titus Welliver and Jaimie Alexander


Our two headliners today have both made appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but never at the same time.  They are both otherwise best known for their starring television roles.

Titus Welliver is turning 57 today.  He attended NYU in the early 1980s, but did not begin working in film and television until 1990, when he was nearly 30.  He spent a long time paying his dues in the acting profession.  During the 1990s and early 2000s he had a list of small film roles, but it wasn’t until the middle of the latter decade that he started getting significant supporting roles.  He has appeared in all four of the features Ben Affleck has directed, with his most sizable role of the four probably being Lionel McCready in Gone Baby Gone.

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Kate Winslet: Kiss Us, Kate

Prior to Titanic, Kate Winslet was a respected young actress best-known for appearing in period pieces like Sense and Sensibility (for which she received her first Oscar nomination).  In addition to earning Winslet a Best Actress nomination, Titanic made her a movie star.  But Winslet was not interested in Hollywood stardom.  And she was nothing like her prim and proper screen persona as this cover story from the March 1998 issue of Movieline magazine makes clear.

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March 11: Happy Birthday Anton Yelchin and Raoul Walsh


Before his death, at a tragically young age in an auto accident that can only be described as incredibly improbable, Anton Yelchin (1989-2016) was building an impressive resume as a film actor.  Born in Russia, he moved to the US as an infant.  He began working in film in 2000.  In 2004, he was cast in a regular role on Showtime’s Huff, which ran for two seasons.  He then went on to a supporting role in Alpha Dog (one of his costars was yesterday’s headliner Olivia Wilde), and then played the title character in Charlie Bartlett.

His best known film role was as Pavel Chekov in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, a role he returned to in two sequels.  He also played Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, and starred in the 2011 remake of Fright Night.  But besides those high-profile films, he also made nearly 20 other features in his last few years of life.  A sampling of these would include starring in the romantic drama Like Crazy with Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, playing the title role in an adaptation of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, and playing a central role in the ensemble cast of Jeremy Saulnier’s highly-acclaimed Green Room (which reunited him with his Fright Night costar Imogen Poots).  He had completed five films that were unreleased at the time of his death; the last of them, Thoroughbreds, came out last Friday.

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March 10: Happy Birthday Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde


Jon Hamm is celebrating his 47th today.  He grew up in the St. Louis area and attended John Burroughs School, where his prom date was actress Sarah Clarke.  After he graduated from the University of Missouri, he taught drama at John Burroughs for a few years; one of his students was Ellie Kemper.  In the mid-1990s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became the first-ever aspiring actor to wait tables while trying to establish himself.

His major part came when he was cast in the role of Burt Ridley on seasons 2 and 3 of Providence in 2000-01.  He worked regularly in television for the next several years, and also made appearances in features like Kissing Jessica Stein and We Were Soldiers.  Then he got his big break in 2007, when he was cast in the lead role of Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men.  The role brought him eight consecutive nominations for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama—he won for the show’s final season—as well as a pair of Golden Globes.

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