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July 26: Happy Birthday Kevin Spacey and Stanley Kubrick


0726SpaceyKubrick

Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey turns 58 today.  He and actress Mare Winningham were high school classmates, and starred together in the senior play, The Sound of Music.  He then moved to New York and gradually built a successful career on Broadway, which culminated in his winning a Tony for playing Uncle Louie in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers.  One of his first major screen appearances was in a 1987 telecast of the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Spacey as Jamie Tyrone.

Spacey began working in film in the late eighties, and had supporting roles in films like Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as a starring role in Swimming with Sharks.  His film breakthrough was in 1995, when he had three prominent film roles: in the medical thriller Outbreak as an Army doctor, as the serial killer in Seven, and in an Oscar-winning performance as Roger “Verbal” Kint in The Usual Suspects.

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Triumph of Pluck: Kate Beckinsale in Cold Comfort Farm


beckinsale-cold-comfort-farm

I didn’t discover Kate Beckinsale until 1998 when I saw her in The Last Days of Disco.  Most American audiences probably weren’t aware of the actress until Pearl Harbor in 2001.  But Movieline magazine saw fit to profile Beckinsale in their 1997 Young Hollywood issue based on her performance in Cold Comfort Farm, a British TV movie that received a very limited theatrical release in the United States.  Despite protests that she wasn’t interested in stardom, Beckinsale was destined for fame.

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Movieline Cover Gallery 2007-2011

Movieline Cover Gallery 2005-2006

July 26: Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock and Mick Jagger


Bullock - Razzies

Some days are loaded with big celebrity birthdays.  Others, not so much.  Today is one of those Big Star Days.  Hold on to this because the stars might not burn quite so brightly over the next few days.  Our first birthday girl today is Oscar winner Sandra Bullock.  Bullock won Best Actress for The Blind Side in 2009.  That same weekend, Bullock won Worst Actress at the Golden Raspberry Awards for the flop, What About Steve.  Proving she has a sense of humor, Bullock showed up in person to accept the dubious award.  If that’s not enough Sandy B for you, we also have a Movieline interview from an early point in the actress’ career in which she is just adorable.  Miss Congeniality turns 52 today.

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Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): Van Helsing


Van Helsing

With 2004’s Van Helsing, Universal was certain it was sitting on top of a goldmine.  For years, they had been looking for a way to capitalize on their classic monster movie library.  Then along came writer/director Stephen Sommers.  Sommers put a fresh comedic spin on Universal’s troubled mummy movie.  In 1999, The Mummy turned into a surprise hit for the studio.  A sequel followed in 2002 which lead to a spin-off movie, The Scorpion King, in 2002.  Sommers seemed to have a magic touch.  So it seemed like a no-brainer to pair him with Wolverine and give him control of the complete Universal monsters collection.   But often times, what looks like a no-brainer on paper turns out to be a misfire in execution.  Van Helsing was one such case.

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