Flashback: Jackman and Mangold before The Wolverine

Tonight marks the release of The Wolverine, the sixth installment in the X-Men franchise and the sixth film to feature Hugh Jackman as the self-healing Canadian mutant with the retractable adamantium claws.

The Wolverine is also the second film, following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), to feature the title character as a stand-alone protagonist, and one fun bit of trivia is that both of the stand-alone movies have represented a reunion of sorts between Jackman and one of his key collaborators on the time-travelling romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (2001). The first film co-starred Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s half-brother; he had previously played Jackman’s great-great-grandson in Kate & Leopold. And now, the second film is directed by James Mangold, who directed Kate & Leopold. (If there’s a third Wolverine film, perhaps it will co-star Meg Ryan?)

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Interviews: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Waylon Payne, James Mangold (Walk the Line, 2005)

He sang gospel songs, but he also wrote darker tunes like the one in which he assumed the persona of someone who shot a man “just to watch him die.” He was a country star who found his greatest success after he teamed up with a producer of rap albums. He produced a haunting music video shortly before his death at 70 that offered a stark, unflinching look at human mortality, yet he had — and continues to have — many fans many years his junior.

Johnny Cash was a man of contradictions, and Joaquin Phoenix — who plays the Man in Black in Walk the Line, a film developed with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash prior to their deaths in 2003, and overseen since then by their son John — had a chance to see those contradictions up close, when he accepted a dinner invitation from the Cash family.

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Review: Kate & Leopold (dir. James Mangold, 2001)

In her latest romantic comedy Kate & Leopold, Meg Ryan plays Kate McKay, a driven marketing executive with no love life who spends all her time looking for ways to sell things, from creamy butter to motion pictures. The first time we see her — well, sort of the first time we see her, but more on that below — she is at a test screening for a ridiculously saccharine movie bearing the all-too-obvious title Love For Sale. At one point, Kate argues with the film’s producers over changes to the story that could help it to sell more tickets, and when the director asks if her formulaic suggestions bear any resemblance to her own real life, she protests, “I’m not the protagonist in a major motion picture!” But of course, Kate is the protagonist in Kate & Leopold, and despite some quirky story ideas, this film is ultimately as predictable and calculating as any of the movies she may have marketed.

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