Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Jack Nicholson! Conclusion

“With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60.” 

Picture Legend

1. Jack with daughter Honey Hollmann
2. “The Little Shop of Horrors”
3. “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”
4. Cuckoos Nest, Jack with childhood friend Danny DeVito to his left
5. Jack and Will Sampson
6. With Louise Fletcher
7. Christopher Lloyd in his first film role, before Jim Ignatowski or anything else
8. With Marlon Brando in “The Missouri Breaks”
9. With Robert De Niro in “The Last Tycoon”
10. “Goin’ South”
11. “The Shining”
12. The Overlook Hotel (Timberline Lodge)
13. The Grady Twins
14. “The Postman Always Rings Twice” with Jessica Lange
15. “Reds” with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton
16. “The Border”
17. “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley Mcclain
18. With Kathleen Turner in “Prizzi's Honor”
19. With Meryl Streep in “Heartburn”
20. Jack with three witches in “The Witches of Eastwick”
21. With Meryl and Tom Waits in “Ironweed.”
22. “Broadcast News”
23. “Batman”
24. With Madeline Stowe in “The Two Jakes”
25. With Danny DeVito in Hoffa”
26. “Wolf”
27. With Anjelica Huston in “The Crossing Guard”
28. “The Pledge”
29. With Jennifer Lopez in “Blood and Wine”
30. In “Mars Attacks”
31. In “Mars Attacks”... again
32. With Helen Hunt in “As Good as it Gets”
33. Helen and Jack win Oscars
34. “About Schmidt”
35. With Adam Sandler in “Anger Management”
36. With Diane Keaton and Amanda Peet in “Something’s Gotta Give”
37. “The Departed”
38. “The Bucket List”
39. With Paul Rudd in “How Do You Know”
40. Basketball
41.  6925 Hollywood Blvd, where jack’s star is located.
42. Grauman's Chinese Theatre
43. Jack
44. Elves
45. Jack and Jennifer

   “What do you think you are, crazy or something? Well, you’re not! You’re not!”
   Based on the book by Ken Kesey, directed by Miloš Forman, and produced by Michael Douglas, 1975‘s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” brought together a stellar cast who were not stars yet. Danny Devito, before he made a name for himself as the smarmy Louie De Palma on “Taxi,” Christopher Lloyd, before he worked again with Danny on “Taxi,” as Reverend Jim Ignatowski, Louise Fletcher before she started swallowing frogs in “Invaders from Mars,” Brad Dourif before he became Chucky in “Child’s Play,” and Scatman Crothers, before Jack killed him with an ax in “The Shining” (Jack had worked with Scatman previously in “The King of Marvin Gardens,” and “The Fortune”).
   The stage actor William Redfield was given prominent billing in the film’s credits, and was probably the most experienced actor on the set (he appeared in the original 1938 stage production of “Our Town”). Dourif, Lloyd, and Devito were just starting out, Fletcher was coming off of a 11 year hiatus from acting to raise her children. 
   Unfortunately Mr. Redfield was diagnosed with leukemia during the production, and died a year after the film was released.
   Michael Douglas’s dad, was a successful actor in his own right, Kirk Douglas... perhaps you’ve heard of him (I’ve seen Kirk in person on occasion as he has been nice enough to come down to Skid Row to help serve Thanksgiving meals at the Los Angeles Mission)
   Kirk starred in the 1963-1964 production of Cuckoo’s Nest and owned the rights to make a film out of it, but could not find a studio that was willing to produce it. He kept those rights for ten years before giving them to his son, who got United Artists to help out. By this time Kirk was considered too old to play the part of McMurphy, and the part was given to Jack.
   Here's a clip, and another, and another.
   Filming took place at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon. It cost 3 million to make and grossed $108,981,275.38, so it was considered quite successful financially. 
    It also was the second to win all five major categories at the Academy Awards, Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay. So “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was considered quite successful in other ways as well.
   The first to win all five major categories was 1934's “It Happened One Night.” The only other film to do this was 1991‘s “The Silence of the Lambs.”
   So Jack was now an Academy Award winner, and not just a common nominee (because anyone with luck, years of experience, hard work and persistence, some more luck and fortuitous timing, and being born at the right time, and then being at the right place at the right time, and with a little good fortune, can get nominated). 
   Very good.
   “You know what woke you up? You just had your throat cut.”
   Next Jack got to work with his neighbor, with whom he shared a driveway up on Mulholland Drive somewhere, Marlon Brando (I don’t know when Jack moved in, but I know they lived next to each other until Brando’s death in 2004, after which Jack purchased the Brando home for 6 million and had it destroyed as it was infested with mold). 
   “So I mean it when I say that if you can't appreciate Brando, I wouldn't know how to talk to you. If there's anything obvious in life, this is it. Other actors don't go around discussing who is the best actor in the world, because it's obvious - Marlon Brando is.”
   The film also starred Randy Quiad and Jack’s long time friend, Harry Dean Stanton. Here’s the trailer
   Jack and Marlon were just off from the success of Cuckoo’s Nest and “The Godfather,” and Breaks had all of the ingredients for a great film, but it flopped, both critically and commercially, grossing only 14 million. 
   But it was fun.
   Jack played a small part in “The Last Tycoon,” based on the unfinished F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, starring a skinny Robert De Niro. I’ve not seen the film, but I assume it has an ending.
   “Well, I ain't no slab of meat to be auctioned off, but, what the hell. Fine by me.”
   Next Jack directed himself, the lovely and talented Mary Steenburgen (in her first professional acting job. Here’s a clip of her explaining how she got the part), Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd (Christopher and Mary would reunite 12 years later as love interests in “Back to the Future, Part III” The film business is so incestuous), and John Adam Belushi (in his first film, the same year that he appeared in “Animal House”) in 1978's “Goin’ South.”
   Another favorite of mine, it concerns a unsuccessful cattle thief who is sentenced to be hanged in Longhorn, Texas. Due to a local ordinance originating during the Civil War, a condemned man could be saved from the gallows if an unmarried lady married him and took responsibility for his good behavior. Here’s a clip, and another.
   This was the second film Jack directed, the first being 1971‘s “Drive, He Said,” and the third and last was “Chinatown’s sequel, “The Two Jakes,” which we mentioned Tuesday.
   “Heeeere’s Johnny!”
   “Although initial response to the film was mixed, later critical assessment was more favorable and it is now listed among the greatest horror movies, while some have even viewed it as one of the greatest films of all time. Film director  Martin Scorsese, writing in The Daily Beast, ranked it as one of the 11 scariest horror movies of all time. Film critics, film students, and Kubrick's producer Jan Harlan, have remarked on the enormous influence the film has had on popular culture.” 
   What film is Wikipedia talking about? Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s third novel, “The Shining.”  
   The 1980 film stars Jack, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, and some ghosts that were imported from New Zealand. I don’t know why.
   Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance, was chosen out of 5000 hopefuls. As of 2007, he was a professor of biology at a community college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky; in December of the same year he became a teacher of sciences in Missouri.
   There’s a famous story about Stanley and how he came to choose “The Shining” as his next project after making “Barry Lyndon,” which although critically acclaimed (being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and losing to Cuckoo’s Nest), had not performed as well financially (it cost 11 million to make in 1974, and grossed about 23 million, plus 9 million in rentals). He wanted to make a commercially successful film that was also artistically challenging, and he choose horror as the genre to do it.
   According to the story he had his staff bring him stacks of horror books which he reviewed in his office to the exclusion of all other business.
   According to Stephen King, "Kubrick's secretary heard the sound of each book hitting the wall as the director flung it into a reject pile after reading the first few pages. Finally one day the secretary noticed it had been a while since she had heard the thud of another writer's work biting the dust. She walked in to check on her boss and found Kubrick deeply engrossed in reading ‘The Shining.'" 
   “The Shining” was the first to make use of the newly invented Steadicam, which is a stabilizer for the motion picture camera which allowed for a smooth shot, even when moving quickly over an uneven surface, that made scenes like this possible. And this.
   Stanley was famous for being a perfectionist, and the production of “The Shining” was a long and arduous process, principal photography taking over a year to complete.  
   Stanley was constantly changing the script and writing new material on a daily basis, sometimes hourly, and Jack became so frustrated that he would throw away the copies that the production team would give to him to memorize, knowing that it was just going to change anyway. He learned most of his lines just minutes before filming began. This prompted Jack to make this observation about Stanley: “Just because you're a perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect.” 
   But he also said this about him: “Everyone pretty much acknowledges him as The Man, and I still think that underrates him.”
   Jack was Stanley’s first choice for the role of Jack Torrance. Robert De Niro (who claimed the film gave him nightmares for a month. What a wussy), Robin Williams and Harrison Ford, were considered, all of whom were met with King's disapproval.
   Robin Williams? Really? I love Robin, but...
   Anyway Stephen King has been quoted as saying that although Kubrick made a film with memorable imagery, it was the only adaptation of one of his novels that he could remember hating. That’s pretty harsh, and may have prompted him to write a teleplay for a mini-series of “The Shining,” that aired in 1997, starring Steven Weber and the lovely and talented Rebecca De Mornay.
   Yet the very next year, in his non-fiction book “Danse Macabre,” he lists “The Shining" as a film among those he considered to have "contributed something of value to the [horror] genre" and mentioned it as one of his "personal favorites.’
   So clearly Stephen was hitting the sauce hard at the time. Perhaps he’s stopped since.
   Let’s hope so.
   Here’s a scene from “The Shining,” in which Jack terrorizes poor Shelley Duvall.
   And, as a special treat, here’s a 17 minute min-documentary shot by Stanley’s daughter Vivian, during the film’s production. Very worth while watching.
   Oh, by the way. My lovely ex-case manger Erin can’t decide if “The Shining” or “2001, A Space Odyssey,” is her favorite Kubrick film, but she understands “The Shining” better (yet she likes that Space Baby thing).
   As far as I know she has no opinion on Jack Nicholson.
   And all of that snow you saw in the scene above... it was salt.
   The next year saw Jack appearing with “American Horror Story’s” lovely Jessica Lange in “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” with intermittent girlfriend, Anjelica Huston, appearing in a supporting role. 
   And a cameo as a “Pirate at Beach,” in James Cagney’s last theatrical film, “Ragtime,” along with Brad Dourif, Mary Steenburgen, Pat O'Brien (in his last theatrical film as well), Donald O'Connor (who I had the honor of watching work once after I had snuck onto the Universal Studio lot and onto the sound stage where he was filming something. He was having a little trouble remembering his lines as I recall), Elizabeth McGovern, Mandy Patinkin, the author Norman Mailer, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, John Ratzenberger, and that Samuel L. Jackson guy, who’s now doing credit card commercials.
   Miloš Forman directed.
   That year Jack reunited with Warren Beatty in “Reds,” portraying the American playwright Eugene O'Neill, which earned him another nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Warren won for Best Director. The movie had something to do with the Russian Revolution of 1917.
   Jack was in one film in 1982, “The Border,” working with Harvey Keitel, Warren Oates in one of his last performances on film, and the lovely and talented Valerie Perrine.
    “Wind in the hair! Lead in the pencil!"
   Jack was in one film in 1983, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of astronaut Garrett Breedlove. The film was adapted from the novel written by Larry McMurtry, who also wrote “Lonesome Dove,” and co-wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” (for which he boasted that he still only used  an old fashioned typewriter when writing while accepting an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), and also stars the lovely and talented Shirley MacLaine (who celebrated her, let’s see... carry the ought, times pi, plus a Eigenvalue Problem value, divided by the plurisubharmonic function, minus the dividend from Seven 11, uh, 39th birthday yesterday. Happy birthday Shirley!), Debra Winger (for whom Jack said this: “She's real smart, very dedicated, extremely resourceful about her work. You put up with her contentiousness because there is always something at the bottom. You get something you wouldn't get unless you took the trip with her. The girl's got boom.”), Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow
   This film would mark the first collaboration between Jack and producer/director James L. Brooks. They’ll work together a few more times. 
   Brooks won 3 Academy Awards for Terms, Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. He’s clearly an overachiever.
   Shirley won an Oscar for Best Actress for her work. Happy birthday Shirley!
   Here’s a clip with Jack and Shirley. And here Jack receives his Academy Award.
   “Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” 
   1985 saw Jack working again with Anjelica Huston (she would win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this performance), Kathleen Turner, and William Hickey (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor) in "Prizzi's Honor." Jack’s co-star in “Chinatown, and Anjelica’s dad, John Huston, directed this story of two hit people who fall in love. This would be his second to last directorial effort, and he was nominated for Best Director.
   In 1986 Jack reunited with Mike Nichols, and finally got together with Meryl Streep in the first of two films they would make together, “Heartburn.” Stockard Channing, Jeff Daniels, and Miloš Forman putting on his acting hat, also starred (Kevin Spacey's first appearance in a film as a street thug was in “Heartburn”... and after all of these years he’s still playing a thug, although currently  in Washington D.C. as the Vice-President in “House of Cards”).
   The story concerns two writers who meet at a wedding, who marry and are happy until one of them discovers the other is philandering. I’m not going to give away who was the philanderer, but Jack famously received a pie in the face in the last scene.
   That’s the third thing Jack and I have in common. I once received a lemon  meringue pie in the kisser during a skit I performed in while a member of the Boy Scouts. Uuuummm Yummy.
   I was also wearing a dress at the time.
   As far as I know Jack has never done that, but who really knows? He may be wearing a mini-skirt right at this moment up in his house on Mulholland.
   Anyway, let’s continue.
   “I’m just your average horny little devil.”
   Lucky Jack got to work of three of my very favorite actresses in 1987's “The Witches of Eastwick” (clip above), Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon. Jack, uncharacteristically, plays the devil (well it had to happen sometime).
   “When I am cast in a movie where I feel that the woman's part is more interesting, I usually start thinking about Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. They seem to be the most clear actors when working with women.”
    Jack won a Saturn Award for Best Actor (the Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video), Best Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle (for his work in Witches, Ironweed and Broadcast News) and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (for Witches and Ironweed).
   “Goddamn dead men, traveling around together.”
   Jack also worked with Meryl again that year in “Ironweed,” another favorite of mine because I like movies about homeless derelicts. 
   Why homeless people live in the northeast of the country I have no idea. It gets cold there sometimes.
   I know this is getting kind of monotonous, but Jack was nominated again for Best Actor, and Meryl for Best Actress.
   Jack worked with James Brooks again in “Broadcast News,” that year, in a small but interesting role, along with the lovely Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks (who used to be a sweet, lovable guy, but has since gone bad in “Drive”), William Hurt, and Joan Cusack.      
   “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” 
   Directed by Tim Burton, and starring Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, and Jack Palance, who all come together with Mr. Nicholson to make 1889's “Batman.”
   “Batman” was a critical and financial success. It cost $48 million to produce, and made $$411,348,924.65. It received several Saturn Award nominations, a Golden Globe nomination, and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
    “Batman” was given the 46th position on the American Film Institutes list of the greatest movie hero “100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains." The Joker, which Jack played, was placed at the 45th greatest movie villain on the same list. In 2008, “Batman” was selected by Empire magazine as number 458 of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
   Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck and Bill Murray were considered for the role of Batman (Charlie Sheen? Bill Murray? Really? I love them, but...)
   Tim Curry, Willem Dafoe, David Bowie, John Lithgow and James Woods were considered for the Joker. Burton wanted to cast Brad Dourif, but the studio refused. Robin Williams lobbied hard for the part, but the producers wanted Jack, and he got the part.  
   “The thing I like about The Joker is that his sense of humor is completely tasteless.”
   Jack once described the Joker as a psychotic version of Bugs Bunny, and I’d have to agree.
   Here’s a clip, and here’s a short piece on the making of the Joker.
   He received a $6 million salary, as well as a large percentage of the box office gross estimated at $60 to $90 million.
   Currently Jack’s estimated net worth is about $240 million dollars, which is what the Koch brothers usually leave as a tip after dinner in a restaurant .
   His art collection includes Matisse, Warhol, Tamara de Lempicka, and Picasso; the collection is estimated to be worth over $100 million.   
   “I'm so rich that I'm going to sell myself like an ordinary person. I'm not into money at all.”
   On the twentieth anniversary of its release in a retrospective article on, film commentator Scott Mendelson noted the continuing impact that Batman has had on the motion film industry, including the increased importance of the opening weekend box office receipts; the shorter window between a film's debut and its video release which has caused the demise of second run movie theaters; the accelerated acquisition of pre-existing, pre-sold properties for film adaptations that can be readily leveraged for merchandizing tie-ins; the primacy of the MPAA PG-13 as the target rating for film producers; and the more non-traditional casting opportunities for genre films, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
   What he was trying to say was that “Batman” was revolutionary for the motion picture business as a whole.
   1990 saw the release of “The Two Jakes,” which we’ve discussed, in which Jack worked with his “The Border” co-star Harvey Keitel again.
   In 1992 “Man Trouble” was released. It reunited Jack with his “Five Easy Pieces" director, Robert Rafelson, and in which he worked with Ellen Barkin, Beverly D'Angelo, and Harry Dean Stanton.  
   It didn’t do very well.
   “You can’t handle the truth!”
   That year he also appeared in Carl’s son, Rob Reiner’s “A Few Good Men,”  adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin from his third play of the same name, and who was just starting out. The film also starred Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, J. T. Walsh, Kevin Bacon, and Kiefer Sutherland.    Here’s a clip.
   Yes, yes, Jack was nominated once again for an Academy Award, this time for Best Supporting Actor (Jack has been nominated 12 times for acting (eight times as Best Actor, four times as Best Supporting Actor), and he ties Katharine Hepburn's 12 nominations (all in the Best Actress category) and only Meryl Streep with 14 (10 in the Best Actress category) has more acting nominations. (Bette Davis' was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award, all of them for Best Actress. He is tied with Walter Brennan and Daniel Day-Lewis for the most Oscar wins by any male actor).
   “I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get the union back.”
. The biographical film “Hoffa,” was also released in 1992, which co-starred DeVito (who also directed), John C. Reilly, J. T. Walsh, and Armand Assante. It was written by David Mamet.
   Critics were mixed on this film, and it didn’t do all that well at the box office, costing $35 million to make, and grossing $29,302,121.12.
   Jack received both a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor and a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor. Danny also received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. None of the nominated awards were won. 
   Back with Mike Nichols in 1994‘s “Wolf," this was a little change of pace for the two, wherein Jack played a werewolf, a real one, not one of those fake werewolves. 
   I think I can safely say this was the first werewolf movie for the two of them... and the last. 
   The film also starred Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, another of my favorite actors, Richard Jenkins, and that singing fool, Christopher Plummer.
   Here’s a clip, and here’s another one.
   The film reportedly cost $70 million to produce, and grossed $131,002,597.07, which means after distribution and marketing costs, it probably lost money in it’s initial run (and would most likely make it up later).
   Janet Maslin in the New York Times wrote:"So long as it stays confined to the level of metaphor, as it does in the first hour of Wolf, this idea really is irresistible. And Mike Nichols's own killer instincts as an urbane social satirist are ideally suited to this milieu... Only later, when the wolf motif is allowed to become literal, does Wolf sink its paws into deep quicksand... Mr. Nicholson, who actually totes a briefcase for this role and gives one of his subtlest performances in recent years, is well suited to the conversational savagery that marks Wolf at its best... Unlike Francis Ford Coppola, who revealed a surprising enthusiasm for horrific vampire tricks in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mr. Nichols shows no great gusto for the supernatural... there are admirable performances from Mr. Spader, still turning the business of being despicable into a fine art, and Kate Nelligan, as Will's deceptively brisk and efficient wife... Ms. Pfeiffer's role is underwritten, but her performance is expert enough to make even diffidence compelling. Mr. Plummer, as he should, radiates a self-satisfaction so great it actually seems carnivorous."
   In 1994 Jack was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Here’s a clip of his acceptance speech. In the audience you can see many of the lovely actresses who had co-starred with him throughout the years.
   Here’s a list of most of the nominations and awards Jack has received throughout his life... so far.
   “The Crossing Guard,” is a 1995 independent, revenge/thriller film, directed and written by the actor Sean Penn. It also stars Sean’s significant other at the time, and mother of two of his children, Robin Wright (they would marry in 1996), David Morse, Anjelica Huston, Carrie’s mom, Piper Laurie, Priscilla Barnes, and our lovely, soon to be friend, Miss Kari Wührer.
   Here’s clip featuring Jack and Kari.
   The film didn’t make much money at all, but was well received critically. Sean would also direct Jack in 2001‘s “The Pledge,” which also starred Patricia Clarkson, Benicio del Toro, then wife Robin Wright Penn, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke, Sam Shepard, and good old Harry Dean Stanton. 
   What a cast, right?!
   And it was well received, for the most part, critically, but again didn’t make back the money it took to produce (it probably has since it’s initial release, through cable, rentals, and other venues. It’s actually quite hard to lose money in the movie business... especially after “Batman.”
   Here’s a clip of a scene at the very end of the film with Jack going bug nuts.
   Reminds me of me on a Saturday night.
   And here’s young Aaron Eckhart with a story about the production and Jack.
   Back in 1996, Jack worked with director Bob Rafelson in the neo-noir thiller, “Blood and Wine,” also starring Michael Caine, Jennifer Lopez, and Judy Davis.
    "A degenerate misanthropic downbeat violent neo-noir heist thriller that ends up being a nasty and unfulfilling character study about greed among a dysfunctional family ... It's an insignificant, dour and sleazy film, with no fun but to watch Nicholson and Caine compete for who has the worst hair dye job." -Film critic Dennis Schwartz 
   "Blood & Wine" is a richly textured crime picture based on the personalities of men who make their living desperately. Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine are the stars, as partners in a jewel theft that goes wrong in a number of ways, each way illustrating deep flaws in how they choose to live." -Film Critic Roger Ebert
   What does this tell us? It tells us that anybody with an opinion and who can put a sentence together can be a film critic.
   “Blood and Wine” cost $26 million to make, and brought in $1,094,668.28. 
   The people spoke.
   I liked the film. I want to see it again. 
   Right after I watch “The Cry Baby Killer.”
   Jack also had an extended cameo appearance, reprising his astronaut role in the sequel to “Terms of Endearment,” 1996‘s “The Evening Star.”
   Back with Tim Burton, Jack played two roles in 1996's “Mars Attacks,” which was based on a true story I’m told (yes, Martians heads do explode when they hear Slim Whitman's rendition of "Indian Love Call." So does mine)
   The film boasts an interplanetary cast consisting of, Glenn Close, Warren’s wife Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, the singer Tom Jones, Natalie Portman, Lisa Marie, our friend Christina Applegate, Pam Grier, Jack Black, Paul Winfield, and a whole bunch of devious, marauding Martians
   Pretty big and impressive cast, right. Indeed it is, yet the screenwriter, Jonathan Gems (and Burton, who didn’t ask for credit), had planned for 60 leading characters, but was asked to trim it down a tad, which he did, to 23. 
   Jack played both the President of the United States, and Las Vegas property developer Art Land. 
   Warren Beatty was first cast as the President, but dropped out. Paul Newman replaced him but eventually left the production because of concerns about the violence in it. Michael Keaton was also considered, before Jack got the role.
   Johnny Depp uncharacteristically turned down a role in a Tim Burton film, and that part was given to Michael J. Fox. 
   “Mars Attacks” made a little more than $1 million more than what it cost to produce and market (and that’s not counting distribution costs, which are typically half of the box office receipts) costing $100 million to make and market and grossing $101.370.86. million.
   The film received mixed reviews, yet after time has earned a cult status. 
   Here’s a clip.  
   I love the film, and wish I were watching it right now... right after “Blood and Wine” perhaps.
   “You make me want to be a better man.”   
   By 1997 Jack was due for another Academy Award for Best Actor, so he teamed up with Jimmy (I call him Jimmy) Brooks, the lovely and talented Helen Hunt (who also won an Academy Award for Best Actress), and Greg Kinnear, and came up with “As Good as it Gets,” a title which probably has nothing to do with the film’s content (just like 2003‘s “Something’s Gotta Give”). 
   Jack plays a “misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist,” who found love when he wasn’t even looking for it.
   The film was a critical success. Empire magazine ranked it 140th on their "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list, which is pretty cool.
   Here’s a compilation clip, and here Jack accepts his Oscar.
   And it was a commercial success, which is always nice. It cost $50 million to make (without including distribution and marketing costs, which were probably about $70 million) and made over $148 million domestically and $314 million worldwide. $314 million minus $120 million equals, let’s see, uh, carry the ought, times pi, plus a Eigenvalue Problem value, divided by the plurisubharmonic function, minus the dividend from Burger King, uh, almost $194 million profit, plus what it would make on cable, rentals, on airplanes, whatever.
   It made money.
   Jack took a well deserved break, and returned to acting in 2001‘s “The Pledge,” which we’ve discussed. 
   That year Jack was the very first person to receive the Stanislavsky Award at the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival for "conquering the heights of acting and faithfulness."
   "Relatively soon, I will die. Maybe in 20 years, maybe tomorrow, it doesn't matter. Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never existed. What difference has my life made to anyone. None that I can think of. None at all."
   The next year Jack teamed up with Alexander Payne in his third directorial effort, “About Schmidt,” which co-starred the lovely and talented Kathy Bates (in a hot tub scene I will not soon forget), and Hope Davis
   The film is about Warren R. Schmidt, whom after his wife passes away, retires and goes on a trip to see his daughter who is getting married. It’s sort of a rode trip movie, without Bob Hope and Bing Crosby
   I really like this movie. It’s funny and poignant all at the same time (what a review). I like it that Schmidt sponsors a little boy in Tanzania named Ndugu Umbo, who he writes to, telling the child about his life (that doesn’t really happen of course. Kids don’t want to hear about their sponsors problems, they’ve got enough of their own. And the letters are censored so that kind of thing doesn’t happen). I like that because I sponsor a child in Ecuador, eight year old Meivelyn Noemi Cacao Mendoza
   The film made a little money, costing $30 million to produce, and bringing in $105,834,556.46, but more importantly (“For many people, the only tangible value is money. And of course money has its place, but the value of cultivating a compassionate attitude is much more effective. When we only pay attention to material values, there’s little room for concern for others, or for mutual regard.” -Dalai Lama), it was well received by just about everybody. Here's a clip.
   Alexander won himself a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, as did Jack, for Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. 
   "I'm a little surprised. I thought we made a comedy," Jack said.
   It wasn’t that funny. 
   “Temper's the one thing you can't get rid of, by losing it.”
   But 2003‘s “Anger Management” was (at least it was a lot funnier than “About Schmidt”). Yeah, Jack was in it, along with Adam Sandler, and the lovely and talented lady actors Marisa Tomei, Krista Allen, Heather Graham, Woody Harrelson, and Harry Dean Stanton. 
   Here’s a clip
   The film was a modest financial success, making a little money as well.
   Critics could take it or leave it, which is about how I felt about it, although I really enjoyed Marisa’s, Heather’s and Krista’s work.
   As usual.
   That year also saw Jack star in “Something's Gotta Give,” along with Diane Keaton (in all her glory), Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet, and Frances McDormand.
   In the film Jack is a successful music mogul who is dating a much younger woman, Amanda. They drive to her mom’s house expecting her to be gone, but she surprises them and her self. Diane plays the mom, and she and Jack eventually get together, or something like that. You should really see the movie yourself.
   Keanu is a doctor. 
   “Something’s gotta Give,” made a boat load of money and was well received, earning an Academy Award nomination for Diane (she won a Golden Globe). 
   Jack got diddly squat.
   “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” 
   And as far as I’m concerned Jack was robbed three years later after Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” was released, and when the Oscar people neglected to nominate him for an award for best supporting actor, because I think he certainly deserved at least that.
   They gave it to Mark Wahlberg instead, the nomination, which is cool. He did a good job too. 
   He certainly showed that smug rat bastard Matt Damon what’s up, didn’t he?
   The crime/drama (based on the Japanese film “Infernal Affairs”) also stars my buddy Martin Sheen, Noah’s nemesis Ray Winstone, the lovely and talented Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, and some kid by the name of Leonardo DiCaprio.
   The film was produced by Brad Pitt, and some other guys.
   Here’s a clip, and here’s another.      
   The film met wide acclaim. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "If they're lucky, directors make one classic film in their career. Martin Scorsese has one per decade (“Taxi Driver” in the '70s, "Raging Bull" in the '80s, "Goodfellas" in the '90s). His 2006 Irish Mafia masterpiece kept the streak alive."
   It made some money as well. 
   I’ll tell you this about “The Departed.” After seeing it I couldn’t get the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter” out of my head for three and a half weeks.
   And I’d even heard it before!
   Curse you, Scorsese! 
   Lastly, no examination of “The Departed” would be complete without linking to the “Celebrity Death Match” between Jack and Leonardo, here.
   I have to warn you, it’s pretty gruesome.
   The next year Jack stared with Morgan Freeman in the a fore mentioned “The Bucket List,” which I saw just last week on the T.V. machine, and I was reminded of how depressing it actually is because all the actors talk about is dying. Here’s a clip.
   Jack has some views on his own mortality:
   “I would be so happy if I didn't smoke, for a lot of reasons. I can't believe that I can't break the habit. I don't want to be lying around, dying in Cedar's Sinai Hospital and thinking that I was as stupid enough, a man who is as petrified of dying as I am, to have done it to myself. I'm a real fraidy-cat about mortality.” 
   And, “One of the toughest parts of aging is losing your friends. At first it starts quietly, then pretty soon it's every month, and you can't help but think, ‘When is that bell going to go off for me?’ And on top of that you feel this constant loss. At this time of life, you feel just a sword's point from death. It's frightening - who wants to face God and the clear white light? I know I definitely don't. Yet.”
   The last film Jack appeared in was 2010‘s “How Do You Know,” directed by Jimmy Boy Brooks, and starring the lovely and talented Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson
   The IMDB does not list any new films in the works. Let’s hope Jack is taking another well deserved rest before getting back on the job.  
   We’ll we’re getting close to the end now. It seems we’ve mentioned and linked to everyone who’s ever worked in Hollywood for this piece... except perhaps, Steven Spielberg. Maybe a extraterrestrial, archaeological, dinosaur, A.I. superhero comedy/drama collaboration between the two is in order.
   What else?
   Jack is a big fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. He has seasonal court-side seats so he can throw things at the referees. There’s a picture above to prove it.
   He publicly endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton as his choice for Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential election, stating that she was "the best man for the job."
   He’s a lifelong devotee of Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong.
   Jack has long refused to do any televised interviews except for press conferences, but in recent years has occasionally agreed to speak briefly when approached by reporters. He has not appeared on a talk show since 1971.
   “There is no way you can get people to believe you on screen if they know who you really are through television.”   
   And, “I don't want people to know what I'm actually like. It's not good for an actor.”
   The fourth thing Jack and I have in common is that we don’t own a cellphone.
   Jack’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, California (34°6′7″N 118°20′27.5″W).
   6925 Hollywood Blvd, is also the address of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
   Jack’s name in Elvish is Finwë of Dorthonion.
   And all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish Jack, his family and friends, continued good health and fortune, and many more Academy Awards, and of course, a very happy birthday!
   Happy Birthday Jack!
   And finally...
   “I think it is very unattractive for me to be seen fawning over little, tiny girls. I didn't feel that for a long time but now I do. If I could slip them out the back entrance wrapped in a blanket, that's a different story.”

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