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Monthly Archives: November 2016

November 30: Happy Birthday Ridley Scott and Mandy Patinkin


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Sir Ridley Scott, who turns 79 today, paid his dues for many years before emerging as a leading director.  He worked in set and production design in British television in the 1960s, then spent some of the 1970s making commercials—he has kept his hand in the latter area through the years, most famously in the “1984” commercial for Apple, while his features have the kind of visual distinctiveness that befits someone with a design background.

His first feature as a director was a historical drama, The Duellists.  He then moved into science fiction, making a pair of films that for many would still rank as his greatest accomplishments.  Alien, the beginning of a franchise that may have gone on for too many films, was followed by an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel:

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November 29: Happy Birthday Joel Coen and Don Cheadle


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Joel Coen, the older of the filmmaking duo of brothers, turns 62 today; he and his younger brother Ethan have made 17 features together (by my count), not including screenplays for films directed by others.  Their films often are homages to various film genres—Miller’s Crossing to gangster films, The Hudsucker Proxy to a certain type of screwball comedy, etc.—but commonly with strong undercurrents of irony and dark humor.  Film noir seems to be a favorite of theirs: their very first film, Blood Simple, had a lot of standard noir elements, as did the first of their films to win Oscar recognition:

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November 28: Happy Birthday Ed Harris and Alfonso Cuarón


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Four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris is turning 66 today.  He began working in films in the late 1970s, and his first attention-getting role was as astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff.  He starred opposite Sally Field and his wife-to-be, Amy Madigan (they have been married for over 30 years) in Places in the Heart, and then received a Tony nomination in his Broadway debut in George Furth’s  Precious Son in 1986.

Having made a breakthrough as an astronaut, it was fitting that Harris received his first Oscar nomination in another film about astronauts, although this time Harris was the man in charge at Mission Control:

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November 27: Happy Birthday Kathryn Bigelow and Jimi Hendrix


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Kathryn Bigelow celebrates her 65th today.  After studying painting as an undergraduate, she went to film school at Columbia.  Her first feature (co-directed with Monty Montgomery) was an indie biker film called The Loveless.  She directed six films in the next twenty years, almost all some sort of thriller:a thriller about non-sparkly vampires, Near Dark, a thriller about bank robbers who surf (Point Break), a thriller aboard a submarine (K-19), and so on.

Then, about 6 years after K-19, she directed the first of two highly-acclaimed films about what could be called the post-9/11 world.  She was inspired by an article by freelance journalist Mark Boal (who also wrote the screenplay), about military bomb disposal units in Iraq:

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November 26: Happy Birthday Tina Turner and Charles M. Schulz


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Tina Turner is celebrating her 77th birthday today.  Sometimes called the “Queen of Rock,” she has essentially had two musical careers.  The first began when she was in her late teens, and one night at a concert by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm, she was invited to sing at intermission, which led to her gradually becoming part of the band.

Tina’s first recording with the band, “A Fool in Love,” was a success.  Ike and Tina Turner had a number of R&B hits in the 1960s and early 1970s, including “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Poor Fool,” “River Deep—Mountain High,” and their most successful, a recording which brought the duo a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo:

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Movieline Cover Gallery 2005-2006

Lego Dimensions: Midway Arcade Level Pack


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Today’s Lego Dimensions write-up is kicking it old school.  Not only was this level pack one of the game’s first year releases, the subject matter is so retro your kids won’t recognize it at all.  That’s because the dirty little secret of Lego Dimensions is that it’s made for grown ups just as much as it is for their kids.  The Midway Arcade Level Pack is basically a collection of ancient video games from the 80’s rolled into a Lego game.  How much you enjoy this pack will largely be determined by how much you enjoy playing old coin-operated video games.

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November 25: Happy Birthday Joel Kinnaman and Ricardo Montalban


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Joel Kinnaman, who turns 37, was born in Sweden to an American father and a Swedish mother.  He began acting in Swedish cinema, making several appearances in a long-running film series about a police officer named Johan Falk.  He then had the lead role in the crime film Snabba Cash (or Easy Money), and won the Guldbagge Award (Swedish Oscars) for Best Actor.  At this point, Hollywood came calling, and Kinnaman was cast in a starring role as Stephen Holder in the AMC series The Killing.  He starred as Alex Murphy in the 2014 remake of Robocop and as Rick Flag in this year’s Suicide Squad.

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November 24: Happy Birthday Katherine Heigl and Billy Connolly


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Katherine Heigl is celebrating her 38th today.  Her first major role was in the American remake of My Father the Hero, as Gerard Depardieu’s daughter, following which she played Steven Seagal’s daughter in Under Siege 2.  In 1999 she began appearing on The WB’s Roswell as the alien-human hybrid Isabel Evans.  A few years after Roswell’s run ended, she was cast as Isobel “Izzie” Stevens on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, one of the top hits on television in the mid-2000s (warning, the following video may be slightly NSFW).

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My Movie Debut


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Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.  I hope you get to spend it with loved ones.  We here at Le Blog have lots to be thankful for starting with readers like you.

This past Saturday, we celebrated Jodie Foster’s birthday.  I took the occasion as an opportunity/excuse to share my Jodie Foster story.  I have been telling it for about 25 years now, so I’m always a bit reluctant to trot it out again for fear that everyone has heard it already.  But a few readers hadn’t, so I went ahead and told it all again.  Then I figured, hey, why not just make a post out of it and share it with everybody.  So here you go.

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November 23: Happy Birthday Miley Cyrus and Vincent Cassel


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Our headliners today are two people, each the offspring of a celebrity father, each arguably more famous than their father.

Miley Cyrus turns 24 today.  The singer-songwriter and actress made her screen debut in the Pax TV series Doc, which starred her father, country star Billy Ray Cyrus.  Before she turned 14, Cyrus had a show of her own, starring as the title character on Disney’s Hannah Montana.  Since Hannah is a singer, Cyrus was also launched on a recording career.  After a soundtrack album from the first season of Hannah Montana reached #1 on the Billboard 200, Disney marketed the second season soundtrack as a double album, packaged with Cyrus’s first studio album, the helpfully titled Meet Miley Cyrus, which included her first top 10 single:

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November 22: Happy Birthday Jamie Lee Curtis and Scarlett Johansson


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Jamie Lee Curtis celebrates her 58th birthday today.  We’ve had quite a bit of content about her here previously—a pair of Movieline interviews, along with a Comeback Kid article.As many know, she is sort of “Hollywood royalty,” as the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, not to mention being the wife of Christopher Guest (which officially makes her Lady Haden-Guest as he is a for-real baron).

Curtis began her film and television career in the late 1970s.  She did guest spots on several TV shows such as Columbo and Charlie’s Angels.  Her film debut in John Carpenter’s Halloween began the “scream queen” phase of her career, as she starred in several horror/slasher films in a row, including Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night and others.  But she then began to display a talent for comedy in films like Trading Places (which she won a BAFTA Award for) and, a few years later, A Fish Called Wanda:

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Is Kevin Bacon the Center of the Universe?


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Younger readers may not remember this, but in the mid-nineties, the internet was a new and confusing world and Kevin Bacon was the center of it.  Bacon used to be so ubiquitous that a popular game developed in which the goal was to link him to other actors based on movies they appeared in.  The game coincided with the rise of the internet, so one of the first things a lot of people did online was to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

In the November 1996 issue of Movieline magazine, Martha Frankel asked Bacon about the on-line game, his marriage to actress Kyra Sedgwick and how he feels about the Footloose soundtrack.

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