Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 09
Tim Robbins October 16, 1958
Tim Robbins born

Tim Robbins, a versatile actor, writer, director, and political activist, was born October 16, 1958. Having pursued acting since he was a young boy, Robbins performed experimental theater in both New York (at the Theater for the New City) and Los Angeles (with his company, the Actors’ Gang), played small movie roles and TV guest spots until his breakthrough picture, 1988’s Bull Durham, directed by Ron Shelton. Robbins played Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, a minor league pitcher who is schooled by Kevin Costner’s relatively grizzled veteran, “Crash” Davis. Susan Sarandon is the woman who travels between them in a film that was both a great romantic comedy and also a film that captured the ways in which sports shape our identities. Four years later, Robbins had a double-header of his own, starring in Robert Altman’s The Player while making his directing and screenwriting debut with Bob Roberts, a prescient comedy about the campaigning practices of a right-wing senatorial candidate that looks pretty good today. (In an interview with Spinner, Robbins compared the Tea Party to the candidate of his film: “The same propaganda keeps coming back. It was that way when I did Bob Roberts and it went away for a little bit and now it's back; it's relentless. It's propaganda that tries to get the American people to vote against their better interests. Unfortunately, Bob Roberts still works!") Two years later came his starring turn with Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, in which he played an unjustly imprisoned man and then, in 1995, Dead Man Walking, a drama about capital punishment starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Robbins wrote, produced and directed the film and was nominated for Best Director. Many other strong films followed, including Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Philip Noyce’s South Africa-set Catch a Fire. Robbins has also been an impassioned political activist, protesting the Iraq War and globalist economic policies. He will be seen upcoming in Martin Campbell’s Green Hornet

.


More Flashbacks
December 9, 1973
Don't Look Now released

On December 9, 1978, Nicolas Roeg's iconic Venice-set chiller Don't Look Now went on release in New York City.

Read more »
December 9, 1973
Looking at Don't Look Now

When British director Nicolas Roeg’s perverse thriller Don’t Look Now hit American theaters, not everyone was happy. In the New York Times review, Vincent Canby claimed that when this “fragile soap bubble of a horror film” ends, “you may feel, as I did, that you've been had.” Adapted from a Daphne Du Maurier short story, Don’t Look Now previewed many of the director’s upcoming themes—chaotic, realistic sex; disjunctive narrative montages; storylines that collapse the psychological and the supernatural. Here a young couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland), traumatized by the recent drowning of their young daughter, comes to Venice for a working holiday and possible relief from their grief. What they find instead is a mystery lost in the maze of Venice’s back streets and canals and shrouded in the city’s famous fog. And while some find the film’s enigmatic style off-putting, more have found it unforgettable. The sex scene, which was thrown in at the last moment, has become so infamous that for years people have questioned whether it was real or simulated. The film’s fractured shooting style remains a model for how to transform a city into a cinematic character. And the infamous chase of a girl in a red raincoat has been referenced by films as diverse as the torture porn hit Hostel to the comedy In Bruges to James Bond’s Casino Royale to many music videos. 

Read more »