Great Expectations: Daniel LaRusso and the Demise of the Underdog

Sequels can be a very tricky prospect indeed.

This is particularly true for movies that are planned as standalone features, only to be thrust back into the spotlight care of popular demand. Back before the marketing process was so regimented and ruthless, not everything was looked upon as a potential money-spinning franchise. I mean, Hollywood was still Hollywood, and if something had legs producers would run it into the ground with so many unnecessary sequels you […]

Read Article →

Waltz with the Devil: Goodfellas and Crime’s Whirlwind Romance

More than a quarter of a century after its release, it’s easy to underestimate the level of impact that Goodfellas had on cinema.

There had been seminal gangster movies before, but Martin Scorsese’s flamboyant lens would change the way filmmakers approached the genre, which had always been eager to stress the pitfalls above all else. Without Goodfellas there would be no Jules and Vincent, porn star Dirk Diggler would perhaps never have made it to the silver screen in any way palatable, and The Sopranos would have struggled to make it past the pitch that would ultimately change television forever […]

Read Article →

Burning Hearts and Iron Curtains: Rocky IV and Cold War Propaganda

The appeal of Rocky Balboa is his status as a flawed everyman.

Back in 1976, director John G. Avildsen gave us the perfect underdog story. Backed up by an Oscar-winning screenplay by Stallone, Rocky was about community and togetherness, shining a sympathetic light on the poor and downtrodden and reminding us that, given the right attitude and determination, anything is possible. It also spoke of family values and the importance of perspective. Stallone was a revelation as the movie’s titular hero, a reluctant thug-for-high whose friendship with an insular store clerk set him on the path to self-discovery […]

Read Article →

Deadly Friend: Krueger and the Near-Demise of Wes Craven

Wes Craven was never one to rest on his laurels.

A creative force who twice redefined the slasher genre, he would make his name as a horror movie director thanks to a series of low-budget films that would win him a generation of loyal fans. After making waves with grungy efforts The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, he would finally burst onto the mainstream with 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, his most famous character Fred Krueger spawning the kind of franchise that turned faltering production company New Line Cinema into a surging goldmine […]

Read Article →