39 Years After His First (and Only) Globes Nomination, Sylvester Stallone Has …

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

39 Years After His First (and Only) Globes Nomination, Sylvester Stallone Has a Rocky-esque Career Comeback.

A scrappy underdog everyone has written off works hard, gives the performance of his life and finds himself holding his own against the biggest and best star in his field … oh, no, wait that’s Rocky Balboa we’re talking about. But in what could be a predictor for next February’s Academy Awards, Stallone received a Best Supporting Actor nod for the movie Creed (a.k.a. to some, Rocky 7) at Thursday’s nominations for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards.

It took nearly four decades but, on Thursday, Sylvester Stallone—a brilliant creative mind trapped in the body of a nightclub bouncer—was recognized for his on-screen talents by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.PHILADELPHIA — It’s been 40 years since an underdog boxer named Rocky Balboa jogged up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and subsequently became an international cultural phenomenon.In “Creed,” Sylvester Stallone’s seventh screen outing as legendary pugilist Rocky Balboa isn’t without its cornball contrivances, but director Ryan Coogler allows Sly and Michael B.

As for the head-scratchers: Nobody loves Al Pacino more than this guy, but a best actor nomination for the entertaining but lightweight and schmaltzy “Danny Collins”? The actor received a nomination for his supporting role in the latest Rocky sequel, Creed, which neatly bookends his first Golden Globe nomination in 1977 for the original film. Now, Sylvester Stallone, the writer and legendary star of that iconic film (which has become a lucrative and enduring franchise) returns for yet another round of heartwarming drama and boxing-as-metaphor for never giving up in Creed. Stallone’s career-making sports drama, the little picture that did good, that wore its heart moistly on its sleeve, that strained for likable to the point of unbelievable (a loan collector with a heart of gold?) is just too, I don’t know, comfortable with the notion that an inarticulate schlub’s dreams can come true (last time I bought that canard it came with a singing cricket). Many critics declared Stallone’s seventh spin as Rocky Balboa on-screen to be his most complex and moving yet—“Without straining for pathos, using his battered body as an asset but never as a prop, the actor finds continually surprising, understated notes of tenderness and regret,” wrote Variety. “He wears his loneliness as a badge of honor and says more with his eyes than in almost any written line,” adds USA Today.

He recently returned to the First Street gym in Philadelphia where the part of the 1975 film was shot to talk about the making of his seventh installment of the Rocky franchise. Mind you I like boxing movies: liked how Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull unfolded its compelling premise (boxer enters the ring to punish himself for real and imagined sins), liked how Robert Rossen’s Body and Soul (with script by Abraham Polonsky) threw a melodramatic light on the whole corrupt system of the sport, the equally inarticulate schlub in that film finally digging in his heels and proposing himself as existential hero (“Everybody dies!”). Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who is vocal against the NFL’s attempts to suppress his research on the discovery of CTE and brain damage in players. He competes in the category with Paul Dano from the Beach Boys movie Love & Mercy, Mark Rylance from the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, Idris Elba from the child soldier drama Beasts of No Nation and Michael Shannon from 99 Homes. Rocky doesn’t concern itself with redemption or corrupt systems: “…really don’t matter if I lose this fight… cause all I wanna do is go the distance…” Deep fried carb wedges drowned in cheese, please, hold the hot sauce.

The movie is more a spinoff than a sequel as it follows how Donnie, a young and self-taught brawler, is rescued from a juvenile facility by Apollo’s wife, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), and grows up deciding to leave a life of relative luxury (and white-collar tedium) behind to pursue a career in professional boxing—and he wants Rocky to train him! So if you heard the soft, familiar strains of the ever-inspiring Rocky theme playing in your head when you read the Italian Stallion’s name on the list of nominees this morning, you’re not alone. To be sure, “The Martian” contained moments of levity, especially within Matt Damon’s serio-comic monologues as he tried to survive on Mars while trying to communicate with NASA back home. Reluctant to get back into boxing, Rocky finds Donnie’s “inexplicable” passion for the violent sport hard to fathom, because the young man’s father, whom Donnie never met, was killed in the ring during his disheartening duel with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundren in “Rocky IV”) 30 years ago.

After all, the Stallone of 2015 is a far cry from the actor who blew audiences away with his gritty, layered performance as a boxer scraping his way to contention. But calling “The Martian” a comedy makes about as much sense as saying “Trainwreck” is a drama because Amy Schumer’s character experiences some heartbreak and a family tragedy. Jordan), a young up-and-coming light heavyweight boxer and the son of Rocky’s most formidable boxing opponent (and later his good friend), who travels to the City of Brotherly Love to convince the one-time champ to train him for an all-important upcoming bout.

Coogler’s first feature was the startling Fruitvale Station, about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant III — as powerful a cry of anger and frustration over the Trevyon Martin case as one might ask for; with a debut like that, what can a filmmaker do for follow-up? Wanting to make all of his punches count—in the ring and off—the former boxer’s persistent ward snaps back, “To prove that I’m not a mistake!” The film’s tone lurches between subtle genre-tweaking and crowd-pleasing protege-mentor drama (think “The Karate Kid”), leavened by the unconventional romance between Creed and musician Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who has her own cross to bear—she’s suffering from a progressive form of hearing loss! Thanks to a long string of commercially and critically disappointing films (he’s been nominated for Razzie Awards 20 of the last 30 years), most audiences had written Stallone off almost completely, and were apprehensive about seeing him return to the metaphorical ring in Creed. In the meantime, two terrific dramatic films that could conceivably qualify as musicals — “Love and Mercy” and “Straight Outta Compton” — got no love.

At 59, Stallone, who won two Oscars for starring in and penning Rocky, still looks the solid “Italian Stallion” persona he was back during the Gerald Ford administration, although he has a few wrinkles. (laughing) Uh… no? So it goes with the Golden Globes, the bridesmaid to the Oscars and the now firmly established Second Most Important award an actor or filmmaker can receive — even though this stuff is decided by about 90 entertainment journalists, some with more impressive credentials than others. I said, “No, no, no.” It was such a struggle to get the last one done and I was so happy with Rocky Balboa, and the conclusion of Rocky’s story, that I thought we don’t need to go any further with it.

In the best drama category, “Carol,” “Room,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Revenant” and “Spotlight” were nominated, but that meant there was no room for “Bridge of Spies” or “Sicario,” two four-star dramas (in this critic’s opinion). Jordan), Coogler sketches the features of an Angry Young Black: the sweet-natured Balboa may refuse to hurt the people he’s suppose to collect money from but Donnie has demons to exorcise, he struggles just to keep himself out of trouble.

It presents the actioner’s mandatory elements in fresh and surprising ways, and manages to avoid the pitfalls of a preach-and-teach exposition by adding a light comic touch to sequences that display its protagonists’ real emotions. Over his head looms the impossibly large figure of world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, channeling Muhammad Ali); Donnie feels he has to succeed in his father’s sport without being known as his father’s son. The fight scenes are well-staged and inventively choreographed, with a do-or-die urgency that Pinoy boxing films like “Kid Kulafu” fail to capture. Standing by Donnie’s side is the bowed figure of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), his father’s most famous adversary and later good friend, come out of retirement to act as surrogate coach and mentor.

-No love as well for Johnny Depp, who sought to reboot his acting cred with his generally well-received performance as Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass. I thought that my story is told, but he convinced me that there is a whole other generation out there —two generations — since Rocky started, and their story has not been told. It’s all every bit as corny as the first movie (the quality of succeeding installments deteriorating at an accelerated rate); what sells the project is the texture Coogler manages to add, thoroughly frying the mush till it turns crispy — the hip-hop music (from Meek Mill and Future among others), the sparing use of Bill Conti’s score (for most of the picture we hear a lonely distant horn, as if the series were but a faded memory), the edgy acting, the gritty Philly streets as captured by French cinematographer Maryse Alberti (she did not just fiction features like Todd Haynes’ Poison and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler but also documentaries like Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb). Jordan rises above the ruins of Josh Trank’s calamitous “Fantastic Four” and gets his red-hot career back on track with a performance that showcases his smoldering screen presence and continually evolving dramatic chops. I thought it’s very ingenious, and then I finally agreed to do it after I was shamed for my narrow-mindedness. (He laughs.) You have a great story about how you created Rocky.

Johnson) as he charges, circles, retreats, feels his way around the ring, applies what strategies Rocky manages to yell from the sidelines, responds to his opponent’s fusillade of fists with his own half-skilled assaults — all in a single intricately choreographed shot. The 69-year-old action icon lends an understated charm to his role (though he still slurs and mumbles his lines), turning in a heart-pinching portrayal that is neither self-indulgent nor exceedingly schmaltzy—even after his character is diagnosed with blood cancer. -Nothing for Tom Hardy, who carried on an acting tour de force as the gangster twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend, and starred in a little thing called Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a ballsy, breathtaking sequence that shows the fluid evolving form of a fight: how a gambit might work or fail to work, how luck can go with you then just as suddenly against you and vice-versa. When Rocky visits the grave of his departed wife (Talia Shire) and tells her about his woes and how much he misses her, you know that he isn’t just another washed-up ex-boxing champ with nothing to show for it!

Pacino, Christian Bale (“The Big Short”), Steve Carell (“The Big Short”), Mark Ruffalo (“Infinitely Polar Bear”) and Matt Damon (“The Martian”) received nods for best actor in a motion picture, comedy. Jordan has grown remarkably from his early appearance as a wide-eyed drug-dealing youth in the first season of The Wire, later the unwittingly doomed Oscar in Fruitvale Station. On the TV side, most of everybody’s favourite shows got some mention, including Fargo, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Empire, American Horror Story, Veep and Orange Is The New Black. I suppose one could call the 1970s period piece “Infinitely Polar Bear” a dark comedy, but Ruffalo plays a deeply troubled manic-depressive father who is institutionalized when he’s incapable of taking care of his family or himself. From gangly to bulked, awkward to graceful, here you can believe he has at least a chance at being a contender; later when things start to pile up before the big fight (as it does in all sports movies), you can believe he suffers under a heavy psychic burden.

That Donnie will find some kind of validation and adopt the name of Creed isn’t really in question, not in this kind of picture; the real suspense is whether or not Coogler, who showed so much promise in his docudrama, can elevate this material to the level of art. But what’s amazing is this character and the stories have stayed around without any special effects, any car chases, blowing up anything, which is what I usually do.

The [younger] generation wasn’t around when we did the third one — forget the first one — that it seemed obvious they would embrace this and take it to a new level. I acquire from the past but they are acquiring their life, so the stories Aaron [Covington] will do will be very applicable, very now, as opposed to retro. Yes, truthfully when you sit in the [makeup] chair and you come as one person then you open up your eyes an hour and a half later and you’ve been transformed into a person who’s not healthy, it’s very relatable. This is makeup, but this is what people live through every day, and this is their destiny. [When I saw myself with the makeup] I went, “My God, I have a big time responsibility to try to take this very seriously.” I did, and it helped with the acting.

There are major crossroads in your life where something is going to determine your future, at least for the next 15 years — sometimes for the rest of your life. This is a challenge!” It’s very different, but [Ryan Coogler] wanted to do something that was far away from Madison Square Garden, Vegas, Philadelphia — all of the arenas seen in prior Rocky movies. It was something just to be very unique, and Liverpool is an incredible sports town with some very tough people coming from it and, of course, you have the soccer team and the Manchester team there.

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