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Jennifer Lopez: The Wow

Remember when Jennifer Lopez was an actress?  Her success as a pop star has eclipsed her acting career to the point that you probably don’t remember that her first record was met with skepticism.  Another actress trying to sing.  Now she’s viewed as another signer trying to act, but really, Lopez can do both.  Twenty years ago, when she graced the cover of Movieline’s annual “sex” issue wearing nothing but a fur and jewelry, Lopez’s acting career was just taking off.  Following Selena and Anaconda, Lopez was just breaking into the ranks of movie stardom, but she was already a fully formed diva.  At the time, the actress was promoting Oliver Stone’s neo-noir, U-Turn, which no one gave a damn about.  But her next movie, Out of Sight, would establish Lopez as the real deal.  In this interview from before she was Jenny From the Block, J-Lo dishes about her costars, her directors and her husband.

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Movies of 1998 Bracket Championship Round!: Out of Sight Vs. The Big Lebowski

Well, here we are in the championship round and despite some mild upsets along the way, we’ve pretty much got the pair of movies remaining that I thought we’d have. This pairing might have been surprising at another site, but knowing our readers as I do, I was pretty sure this is where we’d end up. By this point we’ve done a basic rundown on how these movies got made, some of the music they used, one of their supporting players, and what the reaction was when they were released. You guys know a lot about what we’re looking at so I’m not going to jaw your ear off at this stage. Instead, we’ll just enjoy a couple of clips from the movies in question. You probably already know which one you’re voting for anyway. Let’s look!
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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Out of Sight Vs. Mulan

Well, here we are in our 1998 bracket final four! Are these the four best movies of 1998? Mehh…maybe not, but it looks like we’ve got a good chance at a championship round that will well represent how we feel about the movies of the year twenty years later. After a general review of the origins and reactions to each movie in the first round, followed by some inspection of the music involved in the second round, I’ll be covering some of the supporting performers who helped make these movies as deep and well-rounded as they are. These are the faces and voices that continue to pop up over and over again, but maybe never become full-fledged stars all on their own. As a modicum of consolation, we’ll be honoring four of them here at LeBlog over the next couple of days.

In the first of our semifinal matches we have an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard story facing an adaptation of an old Chinese legend. Both stories feature strong female characters who are in roles that are typically dominated by men. Let’s consider some of their supporting cast.
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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Saving Private Ryan Vs. Out of Sight

In the first round of this bracket game, I tended to give some general information about the origins of the movie in question, its overall nature, and the resulting reactions to it both critically and financially. I then included a video of the trailer for the movie, just in case anybody needed a reminder of what the movie was like (or maybe more accurately, how it was marketed). With our list of films whittled down to eight, I’ve decided to take a different tack in this second round. Hopefully, with fewer films to cover, the chances that I’ll find the information and sources I need will be pretty decent.

First up, we have a pair of movies featuring people with guns. In one, we have soldiers fighting other soldiers and in the other we have a cops and robbers sort of situation. I think if we consider how each film was executed, we will see this difference reflected. Come take it in with me!
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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Ronin Vs. Out of Sight

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.

Today we’re looking at a couple of crime-themed flicks with pretty different styles and tones. But both are pretty darned entertaining, aren’t they? Let’s take a look at Ronin and Out of Sight and decide which gang of thieves should move forward in our 1998 bracket!
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Steven Soderbergh Is So Money

oceans-eleven

Director Steven Soderbergh made a splash at Cannes in 1989 with sex, lies, and videotape.  For almost a decade after that, he came across as a one-hit wonder.  Out of Sight kicked off a Soderbergh comeback in 1998 which he built on with The Limey, Erin Brockovich and Traffic.  Soderbergh’s next project was a remake of the little-loved Rat Pack heist movie, Ocean’s 11.  Even with a star-studded cast, the movie was a high stakes gamble.  Stephen Rebello talked to the director about his resurgence and upcoming projects in this interview from the January/February 2002 issue of Movieline magazine.

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Readers Rank the Elmore Leonard Adaptations

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard

Jeff The Wildman recently ranked his favorite adaptations of Elmore Leonard’s works.  It was a bit different from the usual worst to first in that several of the adaptations are quite obscure, so the rankings were not comprehensive.  As always, we gave readers the chance to rank ten of their favorite movies based on Leonard’s novels.  Here’s what you came up with.

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