Tag: Jack Nicholson

February 13, 2017 / / Special Pages

The question of where the momentous artistic energy generated by the late 1960s would lead must’ve loomed large in the minds of Hollywood executives as they witnessed the dismantling of the studio system and rise of the American auteur. What kind of institution would the Academy become after awarding the X-rated Midnight Cowboy Best Picture? Would grafting the European director/creator model across the pond be successful? Coppola, Friedkin and Stallone, among others, responded with a resounding affirmation, driving the Hollywood into the American New Wave, where freedom reigned and masculinity was on hyperdrive.

June 14, 2016 / / Main Slate

Since its release in 1980, THE SHINING has run the gamut of hypothesis and theories that encapsulates Stanley Kubrick’s film as an intricate, psychological entry into the horror genre; one that is too often ridiculed for lacking intellectual depth or foresight. While most know how far Kubrick veered from the original novel, which Stephen King has openly scrutinized, going as far to produce a mini-series in 1997, what THE SHINING does effectively is utilize time and space in a deliberate effort to entrench us in a descent into madness. Even as the opening credits scroll backwards across the screen, an effect that tells us that the beginning is already the end, we are only allowed access to so much, gliding over our ascending vehicle yet never gaining access to who or what force propels it towards impending doom. Only when it is too late, and we are in the Overlook Hotel, our murderously bloodied winter lodging, are we given entry to the past; one that is covered up with lies and fear induced rationality.

May 28, 2014 / / Main Slate

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In the 25 years since the Michael Keaton-starring BATMAN came out, comic book movies have taken over. They’re no longer the rare breed they were in the 80s. Now they’re housecats—a standard sometimes-cute sometimes-annoying presence, stationed constantly and arrogantly within our multiplexes. BATMAN didn’t start that though. Even multiple reboots later, this ‘89 entry stands apart from all the other films in the comic book genre. That’s because, first and foremost, this isn’t even a Batman movie. More than anything else, it’s a film by Tim Burton. Yes, it’s about a guy who wears a cape and beats up muggers and fights another guy who dresses like a clown, but it’s still more Burton than Batman. This is the work of a wacko auteur who, in the pages of comic books and in the mythos of cartoons, found a dance partner for his own intensely strange sensibilities.

September 13, 2010 / / Main Slate

The Shining – 1980 – dir. Stanley Kubrick

Stanly Kubrick, master visionary and meticulous cinematic craftsman, was so diligent in his details that his career only reached a culmination of thirteen films.  Despite this fact, when watching a Kubrick film, you can see where his detailed precision, mastered camerawork and lucid editing take hold.  Kubrick was one of the rarest breeds of filmmakers; his craftsmanship places him among the select group of auteur that holds a heavy grasp in defining motion picture history.  It’s best to distinguish the film version of The Shining as a separate entity from Stephen King’s novel, as Kubrick takes liberties in order to mold the story around his own particular vision.  What is left is a fantastic perspective into the horrors of isolation, frustration and ultimately, madness.

July 2, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson

Easy Rider – 1969 – dir. Dennis Hopper

Easy Rider (dir. Dennis Hopper, 1969), like it’s lesser-known sibling, Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), poses the question, where are you going when all the roads are mapped?  In their constant motion, Wyatt/Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) are seeking unmapped territory, but the only unmapped territory is within.  By refusing to settle in one place, by being nomads, they are refusing the predetermined categories of social role and occupation.

Freedom has been synonymous with freedom of the open road since before this country was founded: freedom to wander around in space, to break free of the boundaries of town, city, job, habits, and self, and simply go, to wander in space and see what and who you might find.  The hippies in Easy Rider are icons now, and were icons then.  But they’re on a journey much older than hippies – the Beats, too, had their road, the hobos theirs, the frontiersmen and pioneers their roads, stolen from and grafted on top of the Native Americans’ trajectories in space.

June 30, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson

Five Easy Pieces – 1970 – dir. Bob Rafelson

In Five Easy Pieces (dir. Bob Rafaelson, 1970) Robert Eroica Dupea, played by a young-ish Jack Nicholson, has “dropped out” by dropping down a couple of levels in the class structure.  Frustrated by the constraints of a serious classical music career, when we first meet him he is working on an oil rig, hanging out with his working class buddies at the bowling alley, and dating a diner waitress (Karen Black), in a thorough rejection of his upper class background and ideals.

January 8, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Christina Moreno
The Shining – 1980 – dir. Stanley Kubrick

The Shining is one of the most respected and well-crafted films of the twentieth century.  There are few horror films that rise above the campy reputation of the genre, but those that do remain embedded in the nightmares of the millions of people who dared to watch them.  The ability to create fear within an audience is difficult, to say the least.  But the ability to keep that fear alive after the movie is over, to keep a person looking over her shoulder while she walks back to her car, is something even the most seasoned filmmakers have trouble doing.  The most disturbing aspect of The Shining is that the terror doesn’t rely on the ghosts or the bloody past of the Overlook Hotel.  It is the intense isolation of winter coupled with Jack Torrance’s spectacular fall into madness that provides the wonderful (or terrible, depending on if you enjoy being scared) adrenaline rush of fear.  With memorable performances by Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd,  and Scatman Crothers, The Shining is an iconic horror film that continues to scare new generations of viewers.

July 11, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Paula Delaney

Chinatown – 1974 – dir. Roman Polanski

A young Jack Nicholson stars in this complicated weave of drama, suspense and intrigue. Nicholson plays the role of J.J. ”Jake” Gittes, a private investigator who has retired from the police department with some very bitter memories of corruption during his days working for the district attorney in Chinatown. Nicholson is as savvy and self-assured as he is in all of his movies, and he can be captivating as he risks his life to solve this intricate “whodunnit” about the murder of a Water Department official in a close knit town in southern California.