Jack Nicholson festival at Aero

The famed actor turns 80 years old this month

Few actors have had the success that Jack Nicholson has, spanning six decades and starring is both commercial and artistic successes. He has three Oscars and has been nominated in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Prague's kino Aero is celebrating Jack's 80th birthday with a three-day festival with seven films on April 18, 19 and 21, ending one day before his actual birthday.

The festival starts with Terms of Endearment, the 1983 melodrama for which Jack won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. He plays a retired astronaut who tries to have a relationship with a character played by Shirley MacLaine. Actress Debra Winger plays her daughter. While the film has its comedic moments, it is ultimately a tearjerker so bring a handkerchief. The film won a total of five Oscars and four Golden Globes including Best Picture.

A film with a bit more of an edge follows on the same night. The 1974 neo-noir film Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski, takes a dark look at seedy politics and the seedier political players in Los Angeles in 1937. Jack plays private detective Jake Gittes, who stumbles onto a vast conspiracy. Faye Dunaway and John Huston have supporting roles. In keeping with detective fiction conventions, Jake Gittes appears in every scene and the audience finds out everything at the same time as the detective.

Wednesday, April 19 has two classics from the 1980s. Jack played the Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 version of Batman, the first modern big-budget film in the comic book series that has now been rebooted several times. People can argue over which Joker was the best, but Jack stole the show from Batman, played by a lackluster Michael Keaton. A bit of trivia is that David Bowie was considered for the Joker role, as was Rocky Horror's Tim Curry.

Next up in the festival is The Shining, which arguably has Jack's best-known performance as writer Jack Torrance. The 1980 horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on a Stephen King story, opened to mixed reviews and was slow to make its money back. In fact, it had two Razzie nominations including Worst Director. (Robert Greenwald won for Xanadu.)

But since then its reputation has grown, and “Here's Johnny” is one of Jack's most memorable lines. The film is about a caretaker and his family at a large but empty mountain resort hotel in the winter. The isolation takes its toll on Jack, and the hotel itself seems to have some secrets. Kubrick's techniques at creating horror were often imitated in other haunted house-style films. Harrison Ford and Robin Williams were considered for the lead role.

The festival skips a day and is back on April 21 with three films, two from early in Jack's career and one of his most recent. The day starts with the 1969 counter-culture road trip Easy Rider, which shot Jack to fame after years in B-movies. The film opened a new wave of American films, which lasted roughly a decade until tastes turned to special-effects based blockbusters in the wake of Star Wars.

Jack has a supporting role in the whirlwind look at the end of the 1960s. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda star as two hippies heading from California to New Orleans to be in time for Mardis Gras and Jack joins for the ride later on. The film is notable for its rock soundtrack, with hits like “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf.

The 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest helped to solidify director Miloš Forman's reputation in Hollywood. Jack stars as Randle McMurphy, a petty criminal who thought he could evade hard time by serving his sentence in a mental hospital instead. It turns into a battle between the criminal and the head nurse, Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched. Actors Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito have small roles. The film won five Oscars and six Golden Globes including Best Actor for Jack and Best Director for Forman.

The final film in the retrospective is the 2006 crime drama The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese. Jack played a supporting role as a mobster in Boston, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in the lead roles. The film is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. The film won four Oscars and one Golden Globe. Jack had Golden Globe nomination but was overlooked by the Academy.

Jack has not been on screen in a new film since 2010, but is rumored to be making a return for the planned English-language remake of Toni Erdmann opposite Kristen Wiig.

FOr more visit www.kinoaero.cz (ENG) or the events Facebook page.

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