Top 5 Kurt Russell Pairings
The next generation of Russells has already taken over. His stepdaughter Kate Hudson is already very well established, but few know that Wyatt Russell, a former hockey player, is the son of Russell and Goldie Hawn, (Wyatt Russell played the football buddy of Channing Tatum in 22 Jump Street). But Kurt Russell is, and always will be, a star. In honour of Russellmania at TIFF, here are his top five director team ups.
Five: Jonathan Sobol: The Art of the Steal is an exceptionally underrated film. For starters, any film called The Art of the Steal sounds silly, as the audience would be led to think that the stolen item would be something cheesy. Wrong! It’s a painting by Georges Seurat. This ties the movie to the other exhibition playing this weekend at TIFF about Luo Li, but the movie itself features a number of twists and turns, premiered at the festival, and is about a man named Crunch. The Art of the Steal, indeed, (sadly, not playing as a part of the retrospective.
Four: Roland Emmerich: Like some sort of Good Luck Chuck, Kurt Russell starred in the film before Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin would go on to blow the roof off, and become household names, (this film, of course, would be Independence Day, a hugely successful film that is going on to cast for a long-awaited sequel). Stargate is not that bad a film either, containing many of the same elements as Independence Day, including sci-fi elements, a jacked but troubled hero, (Will Smith there, Kurt Russell here), and most importantly, lots of explosions and cool special effects.
Three: James Wan: Kurt Russell’s gone on to become an icon and a kind of self-parody in a way, but not to the degree of, say, his Tango & Cash co-star Sylvester Stallone. The less said about Mr. Nobody, the better, for those who haven’t seen Furious 7, but suffice it to say that Russell is an especially fascinating part of the franchise, fitting in seamlessly, and with the possibility that he would return for the next installment, Furious 8. And really, who else but Russell could conceivable play this role, a sort of spiritual forefather to Dom and the gang. It’s no wonder that The Rock is being rumoured to replace Russell in the remake of Big Trouble in Little China.
Two: Quentin Tarantino: Death Proof is generally considered to be the less strong episode of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s ode to Grindhouse Theatre. However, the story of four women, including Uma Thurman’s stunt double needed a zany over the top villain, and this role could only be played by a star that wouldn’t be afraid to tiptoe into self-parody. The brilliant casting of Russell as Stuntman Mike, was the kind of career redefining for which QT is famous, (see John Travolta, Pam Grier, Michael Madsen, even Samuel L. Jackson). While Death Proof is considered a misstep for Tarantino, there is a general method to the madness, that if we can get beyond the gimmick, there’s a real sense of camaraderie, (and Russell is next one of QT’s Hateful Eight)
One: John Carpenter: This is the reason that the retrospective Russellmania! exists— Snake Plisskin, The Thing, the aforementioned Big Trouble in Little China. John Carpenter was the director that Kurt Russell required to turn his image around. Russell got his start in often silly Disney made for TV movies and the pairings with Carpenter, especially Escape from New York, which is said to be Russell’s favourite of his films, show that he was able to transcend his earlier work and become an action hero.What is so impressive about Russellmania is that it might never have happened if Carpenter hadn’t been successful with Halloween, he wouldn’t have made the post-apocalyptic (set in 1997!) Escape from New York at all, and who knows where Russell would be then? Oh, but don’t bother with Escape from L.A. which amped up the action but amped down the Russellmania.
The Kurt Russell retrospective begins June 13th and runs until September 5th. For more information, click here.