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Sylvester Stallone

Review: ‘Capone’

[Originally published in Movietone News 46, December 1975]

While the gangster genre has its fair share of anti-heroes portrayed as psychotic delinquent types (perhaps a fair working definition of the cinematic hood), and while those types help define an aspect of the genre, they certainly aren’t confined to the set boundaries of its form and indeed have indicated new directions for movies that deal with organized crime and the people whose lives revolve around it. Not too surprisingly, then, Corman’s (and Carver’s) Capone is loosely related to Coppola’s Don Corleone (Gazzara even stuffs his jowls with padding), but he might, in conception at least, bear a closer resemblance to Scorsese’s Johnny Boy in Mean Streets—a “gangster” story that shares the traditionally mythic elements inherent in the genre while managing its own very personal working-out of the meanings of both violence and friendship. That Johnny Boy is comparatively peripheral in Mean Streets may suggest the uniqueness of Scorsese’s film in its relationship to movies in which the alienated hood stands in a position to manipulate perspective by ensconcing himself at the metaphysical core of his cinematic universe, but Johnny Boy’s gangland genealogy traces back in a psychologically straight line to Hawks’ Tony Camonte, and there is little doubt that Corman, Carver, and screenwriter Browne at least had Scarface in mind during the making of Capone.

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‘Homefront’: James Franco Versus Jason Statham!

James Franco

If I tell you that the ever-unpredictable James Franco plays a villain called “Gator” in a movie written by Sylvester Stallone, I would guess whatever’s forming in your mind right now is more fun than Homefront. This film is spirited—even breathless at times—but lacks the edge of craziness we’ve come to expect from the latest Franco escapade.

Stallone originally wrote the script (adapted from a novel by Chuck Logan) for himself, but handed the property to his Expendables buddy Jason Statham. It’s about an ex-undercover fed trying to lay low in Louisiana with his 10-year-old daughter (Izabela Vidovic); as these things will go, his past comes back in a complicated but violent way. Gator is the local meth-lab cooker with dreams of expanding his operation, but his associates keep letting him down—especially his strung-out sister Cassie (Kate Bosworth, getting Christian Bale–skinny) and his anxious biker-chick girlfriend Cheryl (Winona Ryder).

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Arnold and Sly together at last in ‘Escape Plan’

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Escape Plan’

This time it won’t be just ’80s nostalgia fueling ticket sales. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have gotten themselves into a decent 21st-century movie.

Not a minute too soon, as recent solo vehicles Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand tanked badly earlier this year. This team effort is called Escape Plan, a straight-ahead prison picture that lets the two stars do their thing.

Stallone is a jailhouse escape specialist — yes, that’s his business — in consultation with prison systems about making their facilities stronger. But when he is placed in a fearsome secret prison called the Tomb, he’s cut off from his usual support system. It seems somebody wants him out of the business.

Continue reading at The Herald

Review: Rocky

[Originally published in Movietone News 54, June 1977]

Sylvester Stallone’s meticulous job of screenwriting—street-poetry dialogue coupled with a healthy sense of humor and a sharp attentiveness to odd colloquialisms and fight-ring dialect—is largely responsible for making Rocky such an interestingly compassionate treatment of big guys against little guys. You might not think so as the film gets under way—a deliciously seedy venture into the life of a loser, a 30-year-old prizefighter named Rocky Balboa who never made it to the big time and has pretty much lost any hope of doing so. But thenceforth, Rocky tempts us onward and upward towards a crucial and emphatically hope-filled personal resolution in Rocky’s life, and that antagonism between (or perhaps balance of) the big against the little becomes not only Rocky‘s foremost theme but a part of its inner logic. There are the Apollo Creeds against the Rocky Balboas, but there are also the Big Moments against the privileged, nuanced, and seemingly offhand ones.

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