John Spencer

John Spencer

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The West Wing: Season Six Review


Good
The death of veteran actor John Spencer -- who played Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, the coolest head among the cast of The West Wing -- was sad news, and it was the final death knell for the once-popular NBC series, now finishing its seventh and final season. That's a shame, because in some ways the show is still getting better.

When creator Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing abruptly in 2003, many people wrote the show off. Sorkin imbued the show with his naïve left-liberal bias and scripted much of its glib dialogue, and his leaving seemed to guarantee an identity crisis. In fact, The West Wing was really nothing more than Sorkin's personal wish fulfillment: What if we elected a strongly moral liberal Democrat as president? Or to put it a different way, what if President Clinton (who was still president when the show started, in 1999) had been even more liberal, and not horny all the time? Sorkin's answer was Jed Bartlet, the imaginary president played by Martin Sheen. Bartlet is sort of a Ted Kennedy with gravitas -- a sententious, northeastern liberal Catholic who, because this is TV, is always right. (With John Kerry we actually had a chance to elect someone like Bartlet, minus the intellectual rigor, and not too surprisingly, the electorate didn't go nuts over him. Of course, Kerry was not as telegenic as Martin Sheen.)

Continue reading: The West Wing: Season Six Review

The West Wing: Sixth Season Review


Good
The death of veteran actor John Spencer -- who played Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, the coolest head among the cast of The West Wing -- was sad news, and it was the final death knell for the once-popular NBC series, now finishing its seventh and final season. That's a shame, because in some ways the show is still getting better.

When creator Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing abruptly in 2003, many people wrote the show off. Sorkin imbued the show with his naïve left-liberal bias and scripted much of its glib dialogue, and his leaving seemed to guarantee an identity crisis. In fact, The West Wing was really nothing more than Sorkin's personal wish fulfillment: What if we elected a strongly moral liberal Democrat as president? Or to put it a different way, what if President Clinton (who was still president when the show started, in 1999) had been even more liberal, and not horny all the time? Sorkin's answer was Jed Bartlet, the imaginary president played by Martin Sheen. Bartlet is sort of a Ted Kennedy with gravitas -- a sententious, northeastern liberal Catholic who, because this is TV, is always right. (With John Kerry we actually had a chance to elect someone like Bartlet, minus the intellectual rigor, and not too surprisingly, the electorate didn't go nuts over him. Of course, Kerry was not as telegenic as Martin Sheen.)

Continue reading: The West Wing: Sixth Season Review

All Revved Up Review


Bad
What are John Turturro and Lili Taylor doing in a movie with race cars on the video cover -- a movie called All Revved Up?

Beats the crap outta me. I suffered through the 83 minutes of Revved and am no closer to figuring out why it was made, what attracted its stars to the project, or even what the hell it was supposed to be about.

Continue reading: All Revved Up Review

Cop Land Review


Weak
Cop Land was supposed to do for Sylvester Stallone what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Alas, the movie was (rightly) ignored by audiences and shrugged off by critics, thanks to an almost complete lack of anything so much as resembling a compelling story.

The plot is so simple as to defy description: A lot of New York cops live across the water in Jersey, and it turns out they are all beholden to the mob. It's up to fat, half-deaf Sheriff Freddy (Sly) to expose this atrocity!!! Would that there were more to say, Cop Land builds its "mystery" by simply not telling you what's going on. Only after an hour or so do you piece together the whole mob angle, and then the audience realizes, "Hey, there's nothing happening here!" Note to Mangold: Watch L.A. Confidential a few times if you want to see how clever plot structure goes, not to mention throwing in a little wit here and there.

Continue reading: Cop Land Review

Albino Alligator Review


Very Good
One of a growing list of recent directorial debuts by actors, Albino Alligator is Kevin Spacey's (Best Supporting Actor winner from The Usual Suspects) baby, and his film is probably the best of the lot. Because with this movie, Spacey proves that he can work just as well on either side of the camera.

A "box drama" of classic design, Albino Alligator is a psychological thriller set largely inside a New Orleans Prohibition-era bar still open in the 1990s. Dova (Matt Dillon), Milo (Gary Sinise), and Law (William Fichtner) are criminals on the run. After killing three cops with their car, the trio holes up in Dino's Last Chance Bar until things cool over, but the cops catch up with them soon enough. A game of cat-and-mouse hostage negotiation ensues, with Faye Dunaway, Viggo Mortensen, Skeet Ulrich, John Spencer, & M. Emmet Walsh as the victims, and Joe Mantegna as the head cop on the case.

Continue reading: Albino Alligator Review

Ravenous Review


Good

"Ravenous" is a dark comedy thriller about cannibalismat an army post in the pre-Gold Rush Sierra Nevada. It's one of those high-conceptmovies that is easy to pitch to a studio head in 25 words or less by combiningtwo ideas into a sentence, in this case, "'Dances With Wolves' meetsthe Donner party."

Originally envisioned as more horror than parody, 20thCentury Fox changed directors early on because they wanted to emphasizethe humor angle, as the script was already rich with subtle irony -- ituses cannibalism as a metaphor for Manifest Destiny and drug addiction.

As a result of the change, the movie is often uncertainwhich way it wants to go, but once it finds its footing, the comedy elementsmix successfully into what is essentially a abstruse thriller.

Continue reading: Ravenous Review

John Spencer

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Berlin House Where David Bowie And Iggy Pop Lived Marked By Plaque

Berlin House Where David Bowie And Iggy Pop Lived Marked By Plaque

The flat at Hauptstrasse 155 was where Bowie and Iggy lived between 1976 and 1978 in the city, which inspired the so-called 'Berlin trilogy' albums.

Rupert Grint To Star In TV Re-Make Of 'Snatch'

Rupert Grint To Star In TV Re-Make Of 'Snatch'

Grint will star alongside Dougray Scott and Ed Westwick in a 10-part TV series for Sony's streaming platform Crackle.

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John Spencer Movies

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Albino Alligator Movie Review

Albino Alligator Movie Review

One of a growing list of recent directorial debuts by actors, Albino Alligator is Kevin...

Ravenous Movie Review

Ravenous Movie Review

"Ravenous" is a dark comedy thriller about cannibalismat an army post in the pre-Gold Rush...

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