Reports are now confirmed that actor Bill Paxton passed away this Oscar-weekend at the age of 61 due to complications from surgery. Paxton began his career in Hollywood doing art department and background work before he was cast in a small cameo in The Terminator by director James Cameron in 1984. Since then, Paxton has gone on to star in many roles in an impressive number of iconic films. He again teamed up with Cameron for Aliens as Private Hudson in 1986, and has starred in blockbusters like Tombstone (1993), True Lies (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Twister (1996), Titanic (1997), U-571 (2000), Vertical Limit (2000), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and Nightcrawler (2014). His most recent project was the lead in a television adaptation of director Antione Fuqua’s 2001 cop-drama Training Day.
In addition to acting, Paxton also directed a number of pictures. He directed himself and co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Powers Boothe in the violent FBI drama Frailty (2001), and Shia LaBeouf in The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005). His final role will be in a film called The Circle, opposite Emma Watson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Beauty and the Beast), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Big Short), and Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Bridge of Spies). His contribution to film throughout the years will surely be missed in the years to come. Thanks Bill for all of your great work. Our thoughts are with your family and friends. Continue reading →
Writer, director, and lead actor Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails)’s The Birth of a Nation is now playing in theaters across the country, but not in the light the young filmmaker was hoping for. The film struggled to reach $7 million in domestic box office sales in its opening weekend. Several factors could have contributed to the surprising low, but the most likely cause of the low turn out is Parker’s 1999 rape allegations during his time at Penn State. Although Parker was exonerated, news that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012 and his handling of the case back in 1999 have caused a great controversy that has women’s rights and sexual assault advocate groups shouting boycott all across the country.
While Parker’s film may be controversial in its own right, the original Birth of a Nation, which was a silent movie released in 1915, was just as controversial, if not more so. The original Birth of a Nation is remembered for its blatantly racial undertones and simultaneous impressive contributions to filmmaking. Continue reading →
With writers in Hollywood constantly falling short of a new and interesting idea for a good movie, filmmakers are continuing to turn to real-life biographies for inspiration, particularly in the music industry. Such is the case with these two upcoming movies, which follow two of the 20th century’s most original musical acts, the charismatic James Brown, and the New Jersey native Frankie Valli. Get On Up follows the story of James Brown’s rise from poverty and imprisonment to international fame and features an all-star cast including Chadwick Boseman (The Kill Hole, 42), Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help), and Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers). The film is directed by The Help director Tate Taylor and comes from a screenplay by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Jersey Boys is a film-adaptation of the award winning Broadway musical of the same title, which follows Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to commercial success from Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby). Other upcoming biopics on music legends includes a film from actor Don Cheadle about legendary jazz musician Miles Davis, and a Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). While Cheadle’s project is still looking for some solid financing, Mackie will portray Hendrix in a film that will follow the last 9 days of the iconic musician’s life, with Thandie Newton (Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) on board to take on supporting roles for director Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You, Now Is Good). Stay tuned for more updates!
Of all the biopics that have been made over the years, from Ray Charles to Johnny Cash to Steve Jobs, nobody can really remember a note-worthy depiction of the life of Elvis Presley. While Elvis’ life has been covered by several Hollywood directors over the years, a film in the stylings of Walk the Line or Ray has yet to be made for the King of Rock n Roll, but that will hopefully be changing very soon. Director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby) will be directing a new project based on Presley’s life for Warner Bros. studios from a script by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks, Fifty Shades of Grey), but we still don’t know what the main focus of the movie will be. Hopefully we will see the early days of Elvis and his impact on American culture and the music industry and then a steady transition over the years to his orchestra-backing days in the 1970s before his untimely death. As is the case with many musical biopics like Ray and Walk The Line, which seem to focus on the musician’s struggle with drugs from an underlying personal demon, Elvis had plenty to cope with himself, including the death of his identical twin brother at birth and his relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker, so Luhrmann and Marcel should have plenty of material to work with, so we’ll see what they come up with.