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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 23, 2007
WASHINGTON-- --Billy Bob Thornton has made a career of going against the grain. He doesn't much like Hollywood, and insists he would just as soon keep a low profile. He's a Southerner who specializes in playing Southerners, but not the illiterate racist rednecks that popular culture seems to favor. His favorite roles have included Davey Crockett and a foul-mouthed Santa Claus. And if all that's not against-the-grain enough for you, remember this: In Sling Blade, the 1996 film that made him famous and won him a screenwriting Oscar, he played a sympathetic ax murderer.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun movie critic | September 14, 2007
From the character-building brutality of middle school gym class to the towers of psychobabble topping the best-seller list, Mr. Woodcock plants some succulent comedy in its antagonists and then lets the juice drain away. Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton) is the Captain Bligh of calisthenics, basketball and wrestling, and John Farley (Seann William Scott) is a former flabby student who has trimmed down in adulthood and written a self-help book, Letting Go. What brings them together 13 years after Farley leaves his class is Woodcock's courtship of Farley's captivating mom, Beverly (Susan Sarandon)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 9, 2004
Thank goodness for Davy Crockett; without him, the Alamo could have proven the blandest heroic siege in movie history. Advance billing has trumpeted The Alamo as a true depiction of the battle that swayed Texans' hearts and minds toward independence - a problematic assertion, given how little really is known of what actually happened on that February morning back in 1836. All the fort's defenders died, meaning history has had to rely on legend and the accounts of the victorious Mexicans, who failed to report in detail the manner in which the rebellious Texans were killed.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 23, 2007
WASHINGTON-- --Billy Bob Thornton has made a career of going against the grain. He doesn't much like Hollywood, and insists he would just as soon keep a low profile. He's a Southerner who specializes in playing Southerners, but not the illiterate racist rednecks that popular culture seems to favor. His favorite roles have included Davey Crockett and a foul-mouthed Santa Claus. And if all that's not against-the-grain enough for you, remember this: In Sling Blade, the 1996 film that made him famous and won him a screenwriting Oscar, he played a sympathetic ax murderer.
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By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | January 22, 1999
"A Simple Plan" is sure to send a chill down filmgoers' spines, literally and figuratively.Set in the frigid tundra of a north Michigan winter, this foreboding tale of greed and destruction will send audiences diving for their wraps, if only in a fit of vicariousness.Yet even more chilling is this movie's unrelenting examination of the dark side of human nature. Here, banality and evil co-exist with unsettling ease, making even such cozy environs as a kitchen or a baby's nursery suddenly exude a weird sense of foreboding.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | July 22, 2005
God or the devil loves Billy Bob Thornton - probably both. No one tops him at portraying the nagging morality and decency of an amoral, indecent man. The most grievous flaw in Richard Linklater's remake of Michael Ritchie's 1976 misfit juvenile baseball comedy The Bad News Bears is that it over-relies on Thornton's willingness to play an irredeemable degenerate. Walter Matthau could be a curmudgeon on the scale of W.C. Fields. But when he did the Ritchie movie, there was still some suspense to seeing how low Matthau would go in portraying an embittered ex-minor leaguer who coaches a misfit kids-league baseball team for a paycheck.
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By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC | February 16, 1997
Karl Childers came to Billy Bob Thornton just at the right time.Thornton, 41 and Arkansas-born and bred, was sitting in his trailer on a movie set feeling very sorry for himself. He'd just had one of his famous little scenes with a director after 10 takes."He wanted me to do it his way," he recalls. "See, I wanted to do it my way."It not only almost cost him the job, but the reputation he was acquiring for intransigence almost cost him his career. But on this day, sitting in the trailer, exhausted and spent and bitter over a life that was not going where he wanted it to go, suddenly"He was just there.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun movie critic | September 14, 2007
From the character-building brutality of middle school gym class to the towers of psychobabble topping the best-seller list, Mr. Woodcock plants some succulent comedy in its antagonists and then lets the juice drain away. Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton) is the Captain Bligh of calisthenics, basketball and wrestling, and John Farley (Seann William Scott) is a former flabby student who has trimmed down in adulthood and written a self-help book, Letting Go. What brings them together 13 years after Farley leaves his class is Woodcock's courtship of Farley's captivating mom, Beverly (Susan Sarandon)
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By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | April 23, 1999
With an outstanding cast, accomplished director and irresistibly exciting backdrop, "Pushing Tin" should be the sleeper hit of the season, a sexy, taut action drama with intelligence and bite.It's not.Indeed, "Pushing Tin," which stars John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton as two hot-rod air traffic controllers, is probably the season's biggest disappointment so far. A hodgepodge of story lines and half-baked characters, this movie veers so wildly in emotional tone and focus that it is in constant danger, to use the controllers' parlance, of going down the pipes.
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By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 23, 2005
In a foul-mood comedy like The Ice Harvest, every potentially likable man or woman proves to be malignant, painfully limited or just pitifully weak. And that's what makes it satisfying. It's a rhythmless, graceless piece of filmmaking. But if you have an ounce of misanthropy in your body, a picture like this can draw it to the surface the way a leech draws blood. In the opening voiceover narration, John Cusack as a Kansas mob lawyer - not someone you see onscreen every day - dangles the prospect of a perfect crime in front of the audience.
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By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 23, 2005
In a foul-mood comedy like The Ice Harvest, every potentially likable man or woman proves to be malignant, painfully limited or just pitifully weak. And that's what makes it satisfying. It's a rhythmless, graceless piece of filmmaking. But if you have an ounce of misanthropy in your body, a picture like this can draw it to the surface the way a leech draws blood. In the opening voiceover narration, John Cusack as a Kansas mob lawyer - not someone you see onscreen every day - dangles the prospect of a perfect crime in front of the audience.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | July 22, 2005
God or the devil loves Billy Bob Thornton - probably both. No one tops him at portraying the nagging morality and decency of an amoral, indecent man. The most grievous flaw in Richard Linklater's remake of Michael Ritchie's 1976 misfit juvenile baseball comedy The Bad News Bears is that it over-relies on Thornton's willingness to play an irredeemable degenerate. Walter Matthau could be a curmudgeon on the scale of W.C. Fields. But when he did the Ritchie movie, there was still some suspense to seeing how low Matthau would go in portraying an embittered ex-minor leaguer who coaches a misfit kids-league baseball team for a paycheck.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 29, 2005
I doubt if the texture of Southern life is any more grotesque than that of the rest of the nation," wrote Flannery O'Connor, "but it does seem evident that the Southern writer is particularly adept at recognizing the grotesque; and to recognize the grotesque, you have to have some notion of what is not grotesque and why." Ray McKinnon has that notion, and it's his signal strength as a Southern writer-director. Chrystal, set in the Arkansas Ozarks, tells the often violent and lowdown story of a guy named Joe (Billy Bob Thornton)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 9, 2004
Thank goodness for Davy Crockett; without him, the Alamo could have proven the blandest heroic siege in movie history. Advance billing has trumpeted The Alamo as a true depiction of the battle that swayed Texans' hearts and minds toward independence - a problematic assertion, given how little really is known of what actually happened on that February morning back in 1836. All the fort's defenders died, meaning history has had to rely on legend and the accounts of the victorious Mexicans, who failed to report in detail the manner in which the rebellious Texans were killed.
FEATURES
By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | April 23, 1999
With an outstanding cast, accomplished director and irresistibly exciting backdrop, "Pushing Tin" should be the sleeper hit of the season, a sexy, taut action drama with intelligence and bite.It's not.Indeed, "Pushing Tin," which stars John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton as two hot-rod air traffic controllers, is probably the season's biggest disappointment so far. A hodgepodge of story lines and half-baked characters, this movie veers so wildly in emotional tone and focus that it is in constant danger, to use the controllers' parlance, of going down the pipes.
FEATURES
By Ann Hornaday and Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC | January 22, 1999
"A Simple Plan" is sure to send a chill down filmgoers' spines, literally and figuratively.Set in the frigid tundra of a north Michigan winter, this foreboding tale of greed and destruction will send audiences diving for their wraps, if only in a fit of vicariousness.Yet even more chilling is this movie's unrelenting examination of the dark side of human nature. Here, banality and evil co-exist with unsettling ease, making even such cozy environs as a kitchen or a baby's nursery suddenly exude a weird sense of foreboding.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 29, 2005
I doubt if the texture of Southern life is any more grotesque than that of the rest of the nation," wrote Flannery O'Connor, "but it does seem evident that the Southern writer is particularly adept at recognizing the grotesque; and to recognize the grotesque, you have to have some notion of what is not grotesque and why." Ray McKinnon has that notion, and it's his signal strength as a Southern writer-director. Chrystal, set in the Arkansas Ozarks, tells the often violent and lowdown story of a guy named Joe (Billy Bob Thornton)
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By Laura Lippman and Laura Lippman,SUN STAFF | April 11, 1997
Some folks call it "Sling Blade." Some folks call it "Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade.""And some folks call it a lost opportunity," independent film director George Hickenlooper said dryly last night at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He was there to screen his latest film, "The Low Life," aka "The One That's Not Sling Blade."Hickenlooper had been invited to the museum as part of this month's BMA/Johns Hopkins University film series, "Bright Lights, Dark City: Hollywood Today." As it turned out, his own story makes for a fitting subject in this look at the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood.
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By Laura Lippman and Laura Lippman,SUN STAFF | April 11, 1997
Some folks call it "Sling Blade." Some folks call it "Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade.""And some folks call it a lost opportunity," independent film director George Hickenlooper said dryly last night at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He was there to screen his latest film, "The Low Life," aka "The One That's Not Sling Blade."Hickenlooper had been invited to the museum as part of this month's BMA/Johns Hopkins University film series, "Bright Lights, Dark City: Hollywood Today." As it turned out, his own story makes for a fitting subject in this look at the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood.
NEWS
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,SUN FILM CRITIC | February 16, 1997
Karl Childers came to Billy Bob Thornton just at the right time.Thornton, 41 and Arkansas-born and bred, was sitting in his trailer on a movie set feeling very sorry for himself. He'd just had one of his famous little scenes with a director after 10 takes."He wanted me to do it his way," he recalls. "See, I wanted to do it my way."It not only almost cost him the job, but the reputation he was acquiring for intransigence almost cost him his career. But on this day, sitting in the trailer, exhausted and spent and bitter over a life that was not going where he wanted it to go, suddenly"He was just there.
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