Tag Archives: J.T. Walsh

The Set of 400: #214 – My Favorite Big Screen Tuberculosis

Today! Because there’s a cancer in the presidency and it’s growing –

Nixon (1995)

Directed by Oliver Stone (x2)

Starring Anthony Hopkins (x5), Joan Allen (x2), James Woods (x2), Paul Sorvino, Ed Harris, Powers Boothe (x3), Bob Hoskins, E.G. Marshall, David Hyde Pierce, David Paymer (x3), J.T. Walsh (x3), Mary Steenburgen (x2), Kevin Dunn (x3), Brian Bedford, Fyvush Finkel (x2), Annabeth Gish, Tony Goldwyn (x2), Larry Hagman (x2), Edward Herrman, Madeline Kahn (x2), Dan Hedaya (x3), Tom Bower, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, George Plimpton, Marley Shelton (x2), James Karen (x2), Donna Dixon (x2), Sam Waterston, John Diehl, Robert Beltran

The last good-to-great movie Oliver Stone has made, Nixon is a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered 37th president, even while taking him to task for his many shortcomings as a politician and as a person in general. Throw in a bit of wild Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy speculation and a run time so bloated it manages to encompass decades of Tricky Dick’s life rather effortlessly, and you get a bombastic, overblown, sorta wonderful, sorta insane biopic unlike any other.

The performances carry through some of the more gymnastic directing – it’s a movie drowning in technique and style – with Hopkins’ amazing transformation into Nixon at its center. Many others have taken on this idiosyncratic role – Langella is fine in Frost/Nixon, Spacey a little less so in Elvis & Nixon, Dan Aykroyd’s terrific SNL take – but none were able to capture the manic nuance of the man, while also attempting to physically resemble him, the way Hopkins did. It’s magnificent. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #317 – My Favorite Fully Loaded Lexus

Today! Because you took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it –

Blue Chips (1994)

Directed by William Friedkin

Starring Nick Nolte (x2), Mary McDonnell (x3), J.T. Walsh (x2), Ed O’Neill, Alfre Woodard, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Larry Bird, Anthony C. Hall, Robert Wuhl (x2), Bob Cousy, Matt Nover, Dick Vitale, Louis Gossett Jr.

My favorite college basketball movie of all time (yeah, you heard me, Hoosiers), Blue Chips is a pretty over-the-top hoops spectacle that launched the epic film career of that acting titan, Shaquille O’Neal, the Hardcourt Olivier! The Big Thespian! Such a huge deal was Shaq when he entered the NBA that this film was billed as a Shaq/Nolte buddy picture, a 48 Hours set on a college campus, but no! While Shaq does have some acting tasks in the film – and he’s okay – what he really adds to Blue Chips is the ability to dunk, and in the big game, that’s all he does. Over and over and over. And if you like dunks – and who the hell doesn’t? – it’s pretty awesome, in a very 1994 kinda way.

But no, Nick Nolte is the driving force of this cheese masterpiece. His thinly veiled Bobby Knight impression is explosively crazy, and tends to overwhelm the ho-hum tale of teens getting paid to play at this college. There is a terrific series of scenes where Nolte shouts at players – upon finding out they took money or shaved points, where he shouts at referees – because obviously that’d be included, and where he shouts at scheming money-man J.T. Walsh, who shouts back at him just as much. And it’s all great, if you appreciate incessant shouting in your sports films, and again, who the hell doesn’t?

*unintelligible screaming*

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The Set of 400: #341 – My Favorite Glinda the Good Witch Impression

Today! Because it’s time to rock it from the Delta to the DMZ –

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Directed by Barry Levinson

Starring Robin Williams (x2), Forest Whitaker (x2), Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, J.T. Walsh, Noble Willingham, Richard Portnow, Juney Smith, Richard Edson, Tung Thanh Tran

Robin Williams had made movies, and some good ones, before 1987, but it all completely changed with Good Morning, Vietnam. It’s as though there was no concrete idea how to harness his stand-up/Mork and Mindy comedy into a feature film, so no one really tried. Popeye has glimmers of it, with the ad-libs, while The World According to Garp showcases Williams serious acting ability. And then everything converged into this wild war comedy, grounded very definitely in reality.

For those of us who grew up with his later comedies, Good Morning, Vietnam can tend to feel like nothing particularly special. This was the Robin we knew from virtually everything that was to follow over the next two decades. The non-sequiturs! That stream-of-consciousness pile of voices and characters! The virtually non-stop jokes! Sure, after decades, that tends to get taken for granted as his particular style, but this was the beginning of that for most cinema audiences, plus it is housed in a very real war picture, while still managing to work, for the most part.

Seriously, every Robin Williams talk show appearance was basically this

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