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January 18: Happy Birthday Kevin Costner and Takeshi Kitano


Oscar and Emmy winner Kevin Costner is celebrating his 63rd birthday.  He studied business at Cal State-Fullerton, but also became interested in acting during his senior year there.  Costner’s WTHH article and comment thread have a wealth of information on his career, so I’m going to focus on a couple of particular aspects.

While Costner is known for a wide range of films, having starred in The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, JFK, and The Bodyguard, to name just a few, several of his most important films have been Westerns.  His breakthrough role was as Jake in Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado, and he later rejoined Kasdan to star in Wyatt Earp.  He won his two Oscars for producing and directing the 1990 Best Picture winner, Dances With Wolves.  And he had another critical and commercial success directing, producing, and starring in Open Range.

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Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: Rain Man Vs. Bull Durham

By just about any metric you can think of, Rain Man was the biggest movie of the year in 1988.  Not only was it the highest-grossing movie of the year, Rain Man scored four Oscar wins including major categories like Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.  Coming up with a natural pairing for the bracket game was a bit of a challenge.  Rain Man had already bested the year’s other prestige pictures, so sticking it with another Oscar contender seemed anti-climactic.  It’s not a perfect fit, admittedly, but I went with Bull Durham.  Like Rain Man, Bull Durham features a hot-shot kid who bros out with an older guy and learns important life lessons.  While Bull Durham is the more comedic of the two, I felt like both movies blended humor and drama.

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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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The Six-Million Dollar Men

Pretend you are a high powered Hollywood producer.  The year is 1992 – a time when movie stars mattered.  If you wanted to open a hit movie, you needed an A-list leading man.  In order to attract top-tier talent, deals were being struck that included ever-increasing pay days for a select group of movie stars.  In the July 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, they looked at who was earning six million dollars or more per picture and asked, are they worth it?  Some of these guys may have been.  Some, in retrospect, definitely weren’t .  With the benefit of a quarter century of hindsight, let’s sort out who belongs in which group.

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Ten Interviews That Shook Hollywood


There is no such thing as bad publicity.  Or so they say.  Some publicists clearly disagree.  In the April 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Jeffrey Wells detailed ten celebrity profiles that struck a sour note with the subject of the interview.  When possible, he checked in with the authors to see what impact the notorious article had on their career.  Through the wonders of the internet, I have included links to the original articles that aren’t hidden behind a paywall.

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January 18: Happy Birthday Mark Rylance and Cary Grant


Mark Rylance, who is celebrating his 57th today, is the newest of England’s long line of “theatrical knights.”  He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982.  During his stage career, he has worked extensively on both the West End and Broadway.  He has won two Olivier Awards, as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and in the lead role in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.  To go with them, he has three Tonys, one for Jerusalem, one for a revival of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing-Boeing, and one for playing Olivia in an all-male performance of Twelfth Night.  He served for 10 years as the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Rylance’s first major film role was as Ferdinand in Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, a very loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He has won two BAFTA Television Awards for Best Actor, for the 2005 TV movie The Government Inspector, and for the 2015 miniseries Wolf Hall, adapted from historical novels by Hilary Mantel, in which he plays the lead role of Thomas Cromwell.  The latter role brought him nominations for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.  Last year, Rylance won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies.

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Movies of 1987 Bracket Game: Lethal Weapon Vs. The Untouchables


As we move into a new year, it’s a Le Blog tradition to spend the month of January looking back at the movies of the past.  Yep, the bracket games are back.  For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be pairing up movies from thirty years ago to pick the reader’s favorite flick from 1987.  I think you will all agree when you see the line-up that it was a pretty solid year with enduring entries in many different genres.

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Movieline Cover Gallery 1991

Movieline Cover Gallery 1985-1988

Quest for Failure

murphy - harlem nights

“What I really want to do is direct.”

In the nineties, it seemed like every movie star wanted to take a turn in the director’s chair.  A couple of them were highly successful in that endeavor.  Most weren’t so lucky.  Just before Kevin Costner hit the jackpot with Dances With Wolves and before Mel Gibson scored Oscar gold with Braveheart, F.X. Feeney examined the phenomenon of actors who try to direct.  In this article from the July 1990 issue of Movieline magazine, Feeney asks why movie stars keep stepping behind the camera.

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Best Worst Picture Bracket Game: The Postman Vs. Battlefield Earth

Postman Vs. Battlefield Earth

Movie stars reigned supreme in the nineties.  An actor who had demonstrated drawing power at the box office could jump-start their pet project even when no one else believed in it.  At least two of the decade’s biggest stars decided that the best use of their cache was a sci-fi opus that meant something.  The Postman attempted to make audiences appreciate the simple gifts a central government brings like daily mail whereas Battlefield Earth tried to cover it’s pro-Scientology message with Star Wars window dressing.  But critics and audiences alike found these movies more ridiculous than enlightening.

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Kevin Costner: All That Kevin Allows

Costner - Robin Hood

Twenty-five years ago, Kevin Costner was at the top of his game.  He had just won Oscar gold with his directorial debut, Dances With Wolves and he was about to dominate the box office with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  Movieline devoted their cover story to him in the May 1991 issue despite the fact that Costner declined to be interviewed!

Without access to the subject of the story, Stephen Rebello talked to the people behind the man.  The article ended up giving insights into the making of a movie star.

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Golden Raspberry Awards: 1997

Razzies 1997

The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke.  Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended.  Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition.  In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year.  But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call.  We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.

The eighteenth annual Razzies nominated the movies of 1997.   Titanic and Men in Black were the highest-grossing movies that year.  At the Oscars, James Cameron proved he was king of the world when he won Best Director and Robin Williams won Best Actor for Goodwill Hunting.  Meanwhile, the Razzies were getting apocalyptic with The Postman.

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