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Beyonce: The Golden Grrrl in Goldmember


Remember when Beyoncé still used her surname?  Fifteen years ago, Beyoncé Knowles was the lead-singer for a chart-topping girl group.  She was successful by any reasonable measure, but she had not yet conquered the world.  In this cover story from the July/August 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Beyoncé was still telling people how to pronounce her name.  At the time, there were rumors that Destiny’s Child was breaking up and that Beyoncé’s acting career was off to a rough start with her supporting role in Austin Powers.

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Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 14


With only five hours left to go (four remaining after this installment), Twin Peaks: The Return has entered its endgame.  The pace is picking up as Lynch begins paying off plot lines that were set up in the early episodes.  This hour was filled with more head-scratching “did I just see what I think I saw” moments than most.  As Lynch got down to the business of ending his story, this was an episode about story-telling.

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August 14: Happy Birthday Marcia Gay Harden and Danielle Steele


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Oscar and Tony winning actress Marcia Gay Harden is turning 58 today.  While attending the University of Texas, she appeared in a short film directed by Edward Dmytryk, who was teaching a class there.  After she graduated from Texas she earned an MFA at NYU and began making television guest appearances.  Her first big film role was as Verna Bernbaum in Miller’s Crossing in 1990; three years later, she made her Broadway debut in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and received a Tony nomination.

Harden won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as Lee Krasner in the 2000 film Pollock, and was nominated for a second Oscar for the role of Celeste Boyle in Mystic River.  A few of her other notable films include The Spitfire Grill, Casa de los Babys, The Dead Girl, and American Gun.  Recently she has appeared in the Fifty Shades of Grey films as Grace Trevelyan Grey.  She won a Tony for starring in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, and currently stars as Dr. Leanne Rorish on CBS’s Code Black.

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Weekly Recap: Jestak’s Year of Birthdays


What’s better than a plain, ordinary birthday?  A celebrity birthday of course!  Regular readers know that Jestak has been serving up slices of cake here at Le Blog on a daily basis in celebration of famous people’s birthdays (and anyone else who may share them).  This week, he crossed a milestone.  On Tuesday, Jestak published his 365th consecutive birthday write-up.  That’s a lot of celebrities blowing out candles!  So grab yourself a slice of birthday cake and let’s recap this week’s activity here at Le Blog.

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August 13: Happy Birthday Sebastian Stan and Dan Fogelberg


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Today is Sebastian Stan’s 35th birthday.  The Romanian-born actor moved to the US at about 12 when his mother married an American educator.  He studied at Rutgers and began working regularly in film and television in the mid-2000s, appearing in supporting roles in films such as Red Doors and The Architect, and as the recurring character of Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl.

Stan began to be noticed when he appeared in the role of Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011.  That he was going to be an important figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe became very clear three years later, when he returned in the role, with a new name attached, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Daffy Does Disney – MagicBand Unboxing and Advice


Every time you visit Walt Disney World and decide to stay on property at one of their resort hotels, the mouse and company will offer you a brand new MagicBand. This wrist strap has technology inside it which identifies you and allows you to enter your room, enter the parks, and take advantage of your FastPass reservations. Some people visit the parks enough that they have a bunch of these things just lying around the house. Should you refuse a new MagicBand and just carry along your favorite? Join me as I unbox my newest band and talk about why having more than one might be ideal.

August 12: Happy Birthday Pat Metheny and Sam Fuller


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We have had a number of greats of rock guitar as headliners in the past 12 months, so how about a jazz guitar legend.

Pat Metheny, who turns 63 today, grew up in Kansas City, and began to play guitar at 13.  By the time he was in his late teens, he was teaching music at the college level.  He began appearing on other musicians’ jazz albums around 1974 and released his debut album, Bright Size Life in 1976.  A year later Metheny got together with keyboardist Lyle Mays and a few other musicians to form the Pat Metheny Group; Metheny’s subsequent recording and performing career includes records released both under the Group’s name and his own.

Metheny has won 20 Grammys in his career; among winners who are exclusively or primarily jazz musicians, only Chick Corea has won more.  His wins have come in ten different categories, a Grammys record.  When someone has been recording for over 40 years, picking a single song to represent them is usually near to impossible.  However, this track, off of his first Grammy-winning album, is frequently mentioned as among his best:

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Kevin Reynolds: Reynolds Rap


Director Kevin Reynolds is best-known for two of the movies he made with Kevin Costner; Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and Waterworld.  The two Kevins had a tumultuous friendship.  Their collaborations frequently devolved into power struggles that spilled over into insults that appeared in the press.  And yet, they kept coming back together.  When Reynolds was interviewed for the August 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, he and Costner were no longer on friendly terms.  He discusses his relationship with Costner and what it was like to see Robin Hood become a hit despite the fact he didn’t like it.

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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: The Painted Veil


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

When I set this task for myself, there were obviously some of the included films that I had already seen and there were some others which I had yet to experience. Of the latter group, my anticipation in tackling them has varied for a range of reasons. A movie like For Whom the Bell Tolls comes with its own attached literary and historical interests beyond the content of the actual film. Meanwhile, something like Tarzan the Fearless was an opportunity to consider a character whose wild popularity has mostly dissipated in the intervening years. This time around, the primary interest was in getting an additional look at a legendary film actress: one Great Garbo.
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August 11: Happy Birthday Viola Davis and Sophie Okonedo


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Viola Davis is turning 52 today.  She studied theater at Rhode Island College and then did further study at Juilliard.  She made her film debut in 1996 in a brief appearance in The Substance of Fire, and then had small parts in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight and Traffic, and a more substantial role in the director’s Solaris in 2002.  These days, many people will recognize Davis for her roles in some big budget films, such as Knight and Day, Blackhat, and especially Suicide Squad.

However, her stature as an actress is tied most of all to the three roles for which she has been an Oscar nominee.  Her first nomination came for the role of Mrs. Miller in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, and her second, her only Best Actress nomination, was as Aibileen Clark in The Help.  Earlier this year, she won her first Oscar, Best Supporting Actress, for the role of Rose Maxson in Fences.

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August 10: Happy Birthday Brenton Thwaites and Lucas Till


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Today we have a pair of newer faces as our headliners.

Australian actor Brenton Thwaites is turning 28 today.  He began his career in Australian television, including a stint on the long-running Aussie serial Home and Away, before moving to California.  He starred in the TV movie Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, and then moved into feature film work.  He played Prince Philip in Maleficent, and starred in The Giver, adapted from the novel by Lois Lowry.  Last year he played Bek in Gods of Egypt, and earlier this year, he played a central role in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

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Portrait of the Young Man as an Actor


For much of the 1990’s, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a TV star.  The child actor even threatened to make the jump to movies for a bit, but his big screen efforts were less successful.  Eventually Thomas left Home Improvement to focus on his education.  Ever since, he has remained mostly out of the Hollywood spotlight.  This profile from the August 1997 issue of Movieline took place when Thomas still seemed like he might be a movie star.  But even at fifteen, Thomas seemed like he was ready to enjoy some privacy.

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August 9: Happy Birthday Gillian Anderson and Whitney Houston


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Gillian Anderson is celebrating her 49th birthday today.  She studied theater at DePaul University and then moved to New York, where she pursued a classic career path for aspiring actresses—waitressing.  Her acting debut came in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends, and brought her a Theatre World Award.  She had added only a couple of other roles to her resume when she was cast as an FBI agent on a new series that made its debut on Fox in the fall of 1993.

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