James Sanford

Film Critic

James Sanford has been reviewing films since he was hired by the Grand Rapids Press at the age of 16. Since then, he's written for many publications and websites, including WMUK. He's current a staff reporter at the Battle Creek Enquirer. Sanford has also appeared om stage at the API, New Vic, and Whole Art theaters in Kalamazoo. He was a member of the Crawlspace Eviction comedy troupe for six years and starred and co-wrote the feature film "Comic Evangelists," which was showcased at the American Film Instutute's 2006 festival in Hollywood. He's also the author of two memoirs: The Sum of My Parts and Au Naturel: A Summer on Martha’s Vineyard".

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It's been 25 years since Julia Roberts became a certifiable superstar, with two back-to-back Oscar-nominated performances. First, she played the feisty but ill-fated Shelby in Steel Magnolias, then she became the street-wise but soft-hearted hooker, Vivian, in Pretty Woman. The rest, as they say, was history.

Everybody has a dream. In some cases, it's finding a great job or getting a good deal on a new car. Or perhaps you fantasize about performing to a sold-out crowd on Broadway, or winning the Kentucky Derby.

Over the years, we've seen Meryl Streep survive a Nazi concentration camp. expose the hazards of nuclear power, operate an African coffee farm, dominate the fashion world and negiotate the challenges of eternal life. But can she lead a bar band? Of course she can: She's Meryl Streep. And she rocks with conviction in director Jonathan Demme's Ricki and the Flash

Tom Cruise found his franchise, although it took a while for the Mission: Impossible films to hit their stride. For a while, these films seemed like afterthoughts in Cruise’s career, the kind of projects he made when he needed a sure-fire international success to reinforce his box office bankability — or when he wanted to collect a major-league check for playing with cutting-edge gadgets, driving dreamy cars and strolling through exotic locales.

It's one thing to conquer the stage as a stand-up comic. It's considerably more difficult to take that comedy club clout and turn it into a successful movie career.