Saturday, June 11, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Travolta

“I'm from a working-class family. We didn't have a lot, but we had the arts. You're talking to a guy who is making a living at doing what he loves doing - acting, singing and dancing. So any career ups and downs were not that significant to me; the only things that really powerfully impinged on me were my losses, and there were many in my life.”—John Travolta, undoubtedly thinking of his first child, Jett, who died at age sixteen following a seizure.

“I don't think I'm very cool as a person. I'm just better than anyone else at acting cool.”

The heart is a lonely hunter…

74. A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004, USA)
Scarlett Johansson, John Travolta, Gabriel Macht

This is a warm earthy film with rich dialogue and much to say on the fragile nature of relationships: friendship, family, pseudo-family and self.

Roger Ebert explains it well: "What can be said is that the three actors inhabit this material with ease and gratitude: It is good to act on a simmer sometimes, instead of at a fast boil. It's unusual to find an American movie that takes its time. It's remarkable to listen to dialogue that assumes the audience is well-read. It is refreshing to hear literate conversation. These are modest pleasures, but real enough."

Said Carina Chocano of the L. A. Times: "…deep-down, a redemptive makeover story drenched in alcohol, Southern literature and the damp romanticism of the bohemian lush life in New Orleans. A lovely noble rot pervades the film in much the same way that it does the city, a longtime repository of lost-cause romanticism. If there's something a little bit moldy about the setup (drunken literary types, hope on the doorstep, healing from beyond the grave), the movie is no less charming or involving for it, and it's no less pleasant to succumb to its wayward allure and wastrel lyricism.”

The ending might be accused of being predictable, but so what? The story is legitimate and like any other, should not be perverted for the sake of surprise.

Writers: Ronald Everett Capps, Shainee Gabel
Director: Shainee Gabel (Anthem)
Budget: unknown
IMDB rating: 7.2

75. Michael (1996, USA)
John Travolta, Andie McDowell, William Hurt, Jean Stapleton, Robert Pastorelli

Here Travolta’s capacity for bold presence is put to work as a heavenly angel with some very down-to-earth habits; a sort of divine mind with very human urges. If categorized a comedy, it is one of depth. I found it delightful and amusing though critics seemed not to know what to make if it. Nonetheless it was a box office hit, ranking in the year’s top twenty.

Writers: Peter Dexter (Mulholland Falls), Jim Quinlan
Director: Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia, Lucky Numbers)
Budget: $46,000,000
IMDB rating: 5.6

76. Phenomenon (1996, USA)
John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker, Robert Duvall

Oddly, Travolta starred in a second 1996 fantasy-drama box office hit, also about a character with extraordinary powers put to work in rather altruistic aid of those around him; but here an everyman turned genius by some apparently supernatural event.

This story is more serious; more of romantic bent than comedic and touches the heart a little deeper.

The film and its principle actors earned attention from a variety of awards including MTV wins for best kiss (Travolta/Sedgwick) and Eric Clapton’s song Change the World.

Writer: Gerald Di Pego (Instinct)
Director: Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure)
Budget: $32,000,000
IMDB rating: 6.4

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