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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: The Truman Show Vs. Pleasantville

1998 is right in the middle of an era in cinema that I have great affection for. The success of former video store employee Quentin Tarantino had been hugely influential and motivated a general expanded interest in independent film and in the value of both movie trivia and the expertise of your local hole-in-the-wall movie rental clerk. Many of the bigger studios had scrambled to put together projects and promote filmmakers who would help to bolster their street credibility and make them seem in tune with the times. While at moments this resulted in some movies that only had the markers associated with the sort of stuff they thought we wanted to see, but none of the genuine connection with the material that had made it interesting to begin with, I’d say the overall result was positive. Creative and idiosyncratic efforts were more likely to get the green light, and I consider that to be a good thing. At the same time, we were still getting a lot of very mainstream movies with pretty varied results, which served to remind us both of the value of earlier studio approaches and of the corporate malaise that independent films were in part a reaction against. It was a fine time to be a movie fan.

Obviously, what we have here are two very different takes on television. One questions the morality of certain kinds of productions and the separation between real life and imagined life while the other uses our perceptions of specific small screen entertainments as a leaping off point for its ideas about change and enlightenment. Which treatise on small screen media resonates more for you? Come step behind the camera and give them both a look.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar Liar vs Austin Powers

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One of the challenges of writing for these bracket games is in finding connective tissue between the competing films. Sometimes there’s not much to go on and it’s necessary to scrap any pretense of commonality. But this time I was gifted with a spectacularly thin excuse for a theme based entirely on the location of the presented scenes, the power dynamics which are typically at play there, and how they are undermined.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar, Liar vs My Best Friend’s Wedding

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Tired of all of the gritty, serious, award-winning movies we’ve been covering so far? Well, today should be the salve to that particular problem. It’s sort of our semi-official big budget mainstream comedy bracket and it features two of the biggest movie stars of the time in Jim Carrey and Julia Roberts. Both easily eclipsed the $100 million mark domestically and around $300 million worldwide. These hits came at particularly good times for both Carrey and Roberts.
Let’s talk about it!
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January 17: Happy Birthday James Earl Jones and Jim Carrey

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James Earl Jones celebrates his 86th today.  He entered acting after his early 1950s Army service, working as a janitor to pay the bills until he got steady work.  He made his Broadway debut in 1958 in Dore Schary’s Sunrise at Campobello.  His feature film debut followed in 1964 in a small role in Dr. Strangelove.

In 1968 Jones starred on Broadway as the lead in Howard Sackler’s play The Great White Hope, based loosely on the life of boxer Jack Johnson, the first African American to win the world heavyweight title (renamed Jack Jefferson in the play).  Two years later, Jones reprised the role in a film adaptation.  He won a Tony for the stage role and won a Golden Globe and receive an Oscar nomination for the film:

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Movieline Cover Gallery 1998

Movieline Cover Gallery 1996

Jim Carrey: Smart & Smarter

Carrey - Cable Guy

In the mid-nineties, Jim Carrey went from mugging on In Living Color to being the highest-paid movie star in Hollywood.  That’s a pretty massive head-trip and Carrey was never the most stable guy in the world to begin with.  When Stephen Rebello interviewed Carrey for the June ’96 issue of Movieline, he asked the comic about his mental health.  When last they had spoken, Carrey was on the brink of stardom and very open about his use of prescription medication.   In this interview, Carrey discusses the pressure of fame and criticism.  He also invites critics to let him have it if he is still doing Dumb and Dumber in his 50’s.  Ooops.

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Movies of 1996 Bracket Game: The Cable Guy Vs. Scream

The Cable Guy Vs. Scream

Our look back at the movies of 1996 got off to a bit of a rough start.  Out of our first four movies so far, one of the better ones was directed by Michael Bay.  Two brackets down, and we haven’t had a really solid, memorable movie yet.  Fortunately, the year wasn’t all car chases and explosions.  As we enter our third match, we’re starting to see some different kinds of movies.  Today, we’re looking at the dark comedies of 1996.

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Lauren Holly: On the Brink

Holly - Beautiful Girls

In 1995, Lauren Holly was starring on a hit TV show, she was romantically linked to Hollywood’s fastest rising star and she seemed to be making the difficult transition from TV to the big screen.  In this interview from the November 1995 issue of Movieline magazine, Holly discusses her famous boyfriend, he painful divorce, and why she thinks she looks like an alien.

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Jim Carrey Gallery

The A-List: Don’t Call It a Comeback

Dumb and Dumber To

This past weekend, Dumb and Dumber To exceeded even the most optimistic box office projections.  Critics were unkind to the sequel, but audiences who have been waiting twenty years for more Dumb and Dumber didn’t care.  Now there’s talk of a Dumb and Dumber trilogy!

The box office success of Dumb and Dumber To has some people talking about a comeback for Jim Carrey.  Carrey’s movie career has cooled over the last decade or so.  His last unqualified box office hit was arguably Bruce Almighty in 2003.  When a Dumb and Dumber sequel was announced, it seemed to some (myself included) like a desperation move.  But now, it seems like a “hail mary pass” that connected.

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Nope, Not a 1-Hit Wonder: Snow

Even today, it’s hard to tell. Is he saying “Leaky boom boom down” or “Licky boom boom down”?

Of course I am referring to Snow, that white Canadian dude who attempted to become the next Buju Banton. But his attempt only scored him a couple hits and erroneous status as a one-hit wonder not to mention getting spoofed by Jim Carrey on In Living Color.

Snow’s real name is Darrin O’Brien (not the Darin from Bewitched). He grew up in Toronto and was exposed to reggae at an early age. After being discovered by old school rapper MC Shan, he recorded an album just before he served a prison term on assault charges. The album, 12 Inches Of Snow, was released in early 1993 and “Informer” became a smash, making it all the way to number one. The song was omnipresent in the early 90s.

But with that success came a price. Many accused him of that classic case of white guy ripping off black music. The backlash wasn’t as strong as that against Vanilla Ice for instance. But it was still there. Add to that the fact that nobody was really sure what the hell Snow was saying on that album. Not even Jamaicans could understand him.
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10 Actors You Won’t Believe Have Never Been Nominated for an Oscar

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With the Oscars now (thankfully) behind us we can look back and criticize other Oscars. While the entire internet is up in arms over Leo DiCaprio having never won, I’m going to make the case that being nominated several times is plenty of honor (last years long overdue recognition of Gary Oldman robbed me of #1 most disrespected).

Yes, winning is better, but at least you’ve been recognized as one of the best. Unlike the unfortunate actors I’m about to cover. The majority of them you probably would assume they’ve won or at least been nominated, however, for some strange reason, despite an impressive performances, star power, and overall body of work, they’ve never gotten the recognition they deserve. Let’s get snubby, shall we?

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