Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington: At his best when at his worst

Denzel Washington: At his best when at his worst

Have you ever noticed that Denzel Washington is at his best when he’s behaving his worst?

The actor’s first Oscar win arrived in 1989, when he played the bitter, furious ex-slave Trip in Ed Zwick’s Civil War drama GLORY. Washington further embraced his dark side, and delivered his second Oscar-winning performance, by playing a corrupt L.A. street detective in Antoine Fuqua’s TRAINING DAY. And it’s likely he’ll earn a sixth Academy Award nomination early next year for his gripping portrayal of an alcoholic airline pilot in Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT, in theaters now.

It wasn’t until this pattern presented itself that we doubled back and realized just how often Washington willingly accepts the role of a hero mired in morality’s grey areas. Unlike Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks — bankable A-listers who desperately want to be loved by audiences worldwide — Washington repeatedly challenges his followers by asking them to accept a flawed protagonist who stands at an emotionally complicated crossroads and often makes an unpopular decision.

Is Paul Ryan the new MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE?

Is Paul Ryan the new MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A buff, young Congressman with a peninsular hairline unexpectedly earns his party’s nomination for Vice President, but he’s really just a puppet of global corporate forces who want to install him in the White House so he’ll implement their nefarious agenda. No, it’s not THE PAUL RYAN STORY—I’m talking about Jonathan Demme’s eerily prescient 2004 remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, airing on Sundance Channel tonight at 9P.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

When Jonathan Demme remade THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE — airing tonight at 10P — in 2004, many people were perplexed: Why remake a film that was such a perfect time capsule of Cold War pop culture? Indeed, John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, about a politician who has been brainwashed by the enemy, feels perfectly placed in history: It’s a film that both embraces Red Scare paranoia while satirizing McCarthyist histrionics. Demme probably felt that the post-9/11 political climate in the U.S., what with the enigmatic War on Terrorism and the controversial Patriot Act, warranted a revisitation of this premise. But the original was, in essence, a tight and effective suspense flick with political overtones — more Hitchcock than Sherwood Andersen. Demme’s politically pointed remake is darker, more modern and more despairing, with an A-List cast to match its ambitions, featuring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

When Jonathan Demme remade THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE — airing tonight at 10P — in 2004, many people were perplexed: Why remake a film that was such a perfect time capsule of Cold War pop culture? Indeed, John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, about a politician who has been brainwashed by the enemy, feels perfectly placed in history: It’s a film that both embraces Red Scare paranoia while satirizing McCarthyist histrionics. Demme probably felt that the post-9/11 political climate in the U.S., what with the enigmatic War on Terrorism and the controversial Patriot Act, warranted a revisitation of this premise. But the original was, in essence, a tight and effective suspense flick with political overtones — more Hitchcock than Sherwood Andersen. Demme’s politically pointed remake is darker, more modern and more despairing, with an A-List cast to match its ambitions, featuring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep.

New York Film Festival preview: LIFE OF PI, FLIGHT and more

New York Film Festival preview: LIFE OF PI, FLIGHT and more

The 50th New York Film Festival is bookmarked by two films in which disasters lead to personal awakenings. The opening movie on September 28 is Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI, a 3D adventure tale about an Indian boy’s antics with various wildlife after a shipwreck sets them adrift on the ocean. The closing night attraction is Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT, about a pilot, played by Denzel Washington, who saves a plane — if not necessarily his life — from crashing.

Top 10 sexiest scenes directed by Tony Scott

Top 10 sexiest scenes directed by Tony Scott

British-born Hollywood director Tony Scott (brother of fellow filmmaker Ridley) died this past Sunday when he jumped from a bridge in Los Angeles. We didn’t know the man so we can remember him only through some of our favorite moments that he directed on the screen (well, at least, our favorite sex-related moments)…

Now playing on Sundance Channel: BIG FAN and strange-but-true stories

Now playing on Sundance Channel: BIG FAN and strange-but-true stories

So you’re a fan, right — of films, sex, true stories, sports teams, gelato, whatever? But are you, you know, a big fan? You can prove it by watching these movies, featuring all of the above (well, maybe not the gelato). This week three inspired-by-a-true-story films offer up heart-wrenching crime, tear-jerking redemption and ass-kicking action (not to mention hotties like Keira Knightley and Jon Hamm).