Monday, 31 May 2010

Actors I like Part 2

Okay, so I am officially rubbish.  It's been way too long... So, as penance, I'm setting myself a challenge. I'm off work for a week so I'm going to blog every day until I'm back. I figure if I write it down, I'll have to do it! From now until next Sunday I'll post something every day.

Finally then, here's part 2 in the very scientific survey of "Actors what I quite like most of the time unless they're in something shit."

Leonardo DiCaprio

The first film I remember seeing Leo in (and I feel like I'm allowed to call him Leo) is Basketball Diaries.  When you're 14, this is a pretty powerful experience.  Follow that with Romeo & Juliet...when he looked like this and you've no choice but to become a fully paid-up member of the Leo fan club.

When these films no longer satisfied my cravings, the only option was to delve into his past work. I remember watching What's Eating Gilbert Grape and being thrilled.  I could look cool in front of my friends. "He was nominated for an Oscar you know!" He really did deliver an amazing performance, and who could fail to love Arnie. Next I watched The Quick & The Dead and then pretended it had never happened.

More recently I loved Catch Me if you Can.  He was excellent in Revolutionary Road (although Winslet seemed to get most of the attention) and just the trailer for Inception has me doing my little happy dance.  My homework for the week is to watch The Departed.  I've had it on DVD since it was released but have never got around to watching it.  Apparently that's a bad decision! I'm sure I'll love it. 

Natalie Portman

I think this is a pretty obvious choice for me! Leon would, on most days, appear in my top 5 favorite films ever.  Her performance is so confident and mature that it makes me forget that recently, there haven't been many films that I've liked her in. I loved Garden State's strangeness and I think that film really suited her.  She was great in Closer, even if I kind of hate the film.  I'm just going to ignore Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium and Star Wars if that's ok with you.  I am hoping that she will redeem herself with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  How can that be anything other than awesome? 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

How could anyone fail to love JGL?  I actually vividly remember the first time I saw him on screen.  It was, unfortunately, in Halloween H20... he's in the film for about 5 minutes but he does end up with a hockey skate through his face.  Pretty memorable!  I've seen 10 Things I Hate About You more times than is really acceptable and so of course I love him in that!

As he's got older he's made some really intelligent choices. He could easily have fallen into roles of the "handsome leading man" but he seems genuinely more interested in the stories themselves, than how many more screaming fans a role will get him. Brick is a mesmerising film, which only gets better the more you watch it. (500) Days of Summer has bucketloads of charm (see instant happiness clip below) and he's also in Inception.  Just love this guy!

Joshua Jackson

Yes, I know I said this was film actors only but he totally counts!

Josh Jackson is someone I like for reasons I can't put my finger on.  He's just got presence.  A quality that I find really enjoyable to watch, even in crappy films.  He may forever be Pacey Witter in my eyes but he's had always entertaining in films.  If I catch a Mighty Ducks film on TV, I have to watch it to the end.  I love them and couldn't tell you why.  Urban Legend, The Skulls & Gossip are TERRIBLE, but he's watchable.  He's in Muppets in Space for goodness sake!?  Oh, and he was pretty good in Bobby a couple of years ago.  I wish he'd do more films... but here's a moment of TV gold in the meantime! (just the first minute or so)  Best. Accent. Ever.

Cate Blanchett

What can I say, she's just amazing.  Elizabeth, LOTR, Charlotte Grey, The Aviator, Babel,  Notes on a Scandal, Benjamin Button, blah blah blah.  All amazing performances.  And she can wear a dress like it's jeans an a T-shirt!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Actors I like Part 1

I’ve been working on a long, serious post.  It’s coming along but I’ve just not got the energy to finish it.  I want it to be right it’s not a 'newsy' thing so there’s no deadline really.

Instead, after seeing Iron Man 2 and some cool trailers, I’ve been thinking about actors I really like.  So I’ve made a list.  These guys aren’t my favourite of all time and some of them might not even be all that ‘good’.  I’m not sure.  But they are people I really enjoy watching.  People who will make me watch a film, even if it looks crap.  (I typed shit and then decided it felt wrong, even though it’s what I’d have said.  Thoughts on blog swearing anyone?)  I’m putting the girls and boys together in the interests of equality. 

So here goes…
1.     Robert Downey Jr

No surprises here…  He’s pretty much perfect as far as I can see!  
I even loved him when he looked like this.

The first film I remember seeing with him in was Home For The Holidays.  It’s amazing what an impact seeing him playing Holly Hunter’s gay brother can have on a 14-year-old girl!  Chaplin and Only You followed and I was smitten.  I even had 2 Guys and a Girl, One Night Stand and Black and White on VHS, which are pretty terrible films!  But Downey is always watchable.  When he joined the cast of Ally McBeal I was in heaven.  He can SING for goodness sake.  Since his well-documented drug problems ended, he’s put in some amazing performances and been in some of my favourite films.  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Guide to Recognising Your Saints, Zodiac, Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes are all excellent.

He is always charming and full of energy but can portray sadness with a look.  I know, I know, all actors do that.  That’s why they’re actors.  He just does it better than most.

Rachel McAdams

I actually really like her.  She is always the unexpected highlight of a film.

Recently she's been great in The Tim Traveler's Wife and Sherlock Holmes (even though she didn't really have much to do).  I think her best performances though have been in Mean Girls and The Notebook.  As much as I can't stand Mr Sparks, I can't help but think The Notebook is great. It's the performances that lift it from cliched mush though.  Not the writing.  She's got a really watchable quality.

Ryan Gosling

This is probably rather predictable after my last choice but I LOVE Ryan Gosling.

The Notebook made him a heartthrob, which he seemed to be uncomfortable with but he's made excellent choices since then.  He was nominated for an oscar for Half Nelson and Lars and the Real Girl is one of my favourite films.  Lars could have turned out to be creepy or tragic but Gosling's performance is amazing.  Showing real empathy for the character and making the audience believe completely in the changes he goes through.  He makes us wait in between films but I think, if he carries on like this, he'll end up on those "best actors ever" lists.

Mark Strong

Mark Strong's pretty bizarre.  He seems to play a different race in every film and I'm not sure I know exactly what he looks like.  But he's always stupidly entertaining.  

He seems to have crept up on audiences and now it feels like he should be in everything.  Sunshine, Stardust, Flashbacks of a Fool, Rocknrolla, Body of Lies, The Young Victoria, Sherlock Holmes and Kick Ass all show what great range he has.  He's also really commanding.  I always seem to be drawn to him in any scene.  He's playing another baddie in Robin Hood too, which I'm sure he'll be awesome in.  

Here's the coolest Mark Strong scene - must have been a bitch to shoot.

I'm going to to a part 2 tomorrow because it's time for me to go and find food.  Let me know who you guys love to watch!

Friday, 7 May 2010

7 Movie Questions

Mass at The Intermittent Sprocket says I have to answer these questions and nominate two other people to do theirs.  Passing the baton is hard when you don’t have many followers but I’ll try so Yolanda from Barks on Film and Vivianna from viviannadoesmakeup (who might want to branch out into film?!), have a go if you get the chance!

1. What was your first movie-going experience?
The first one I really remember seeing at the cinema was Jungle Book, although I remember the Gummy Bears cartoon that came before it more than the film itself.  I am reliably informed that The Aristocats was the actual first film I saw.  I went with my Mum but I really don’t remember that!  I was a Disney child, it seems.

2. How many DVDs do you own?
Eek.   Too many really.  I’ve got about 250 actual films.  Maybe a few more.  Then more with TV box sets & stuff.  Really hope my house doesn’t burn down…

3. What is your guilty pleasure movie?
There are loads!  They basically fall into 3 categories.  Films starring Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing, Point Break, Roadhouse), films containing dancing (Step up, Strictly Ballroom, Bring It On) and Con Air. “Put the bunny back in the box.”

4. You’ve compiled a list of your top 100 movies. Which films didn’t make the cut?
It’s a Wonderful Life.  I just can’t get excited about it.

5. Which movie(s) do you compulsively watch over and over again?
I don’t really watch any compulsively.  There are some films I’ve seen more than most for lots of different reasons.  Things like 10 Things I Hate About You, Lord of the Rings, Toy Story.

6. Classic(s) you’re ashamed to admit you haven’t seen yet?
Oh god… all of them??  Citizen Kane, Star Wars (the originals), Indiana Jones (the originals), Godfather II…  Loads.  I’m a bit rubbish.

7. What movie posters are hanging in your room?
I haven’t got any posters in my room at the moment.  It looks a bit bare.  I’ll have to do something about that. 

So it’s stupid o clock on election night.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

In much more important news though, I’ve found a little write up and picture about the short that’s going to accompany Toy Story 3.  You can find it hereIt looks fab.  Very excited!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Iron Man 2 in an election news sandwich

So, last night I was reading the news websites I like, trying to find something that made me angry to write a blog post about.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

There’s this story about a Conservative MP & policy advisor who founded 2 churches, which attempted to ‘cure’ people of being gay by praying to rid them of their demons.  And a really interesting article on the issue here.  Then I found this story about the Arizona immigration laws getting completely out of control.  Oh, and Roman Polanski’s moaning.  Then I read this ace Charlie Brooker article.  All good stuff.  But then I went to see Iron Man 2 and that jumped to the top of my list.

Apologies in advance, this isn’t really a review… it might not make much sense of you’ve not seen the film.

I have been excited about this film from the second the credits rolled on the first one, but I’d read a few reviews and started to worry.  So I stopped reading them.  I’m really glad I did.  I loved it. I loved it for all kinds of reasons, big and small, common and oddly personal.  So I thought I’d look at some not so glowing reviews, and see what problems they could have possibly had!

First, a criticism that I saw a few times is that the courtroom scene is too long, boring and is really unnecessary.  Part of me just wants to shout “GROW UP AND GET AN ATTENTION SPAN!” at these people.  But that wouldn’t be very constructive.  It sets up Sam Rockwell’s character, introduces us to the new ‘Rhodey’ and lets RDJ show up Gary Shandling’s slimy Senator.  All important stuff.

Another common problem seems to be that Sam Rockwell’s performance is too over the top.  Sorry, but nobody talks about Sam like that and gets away with it. I guess the critics can’t pick on RDJ so they have to choose a different target.  His performance was excellent.  Really not as hammy as I was expecting.  Justin Hammer WANTS to be like Stark.  He’s jealous of his success.  He tries to act like him but he’s just not cool enough.  He can’t pull it off and the more he tries, the more disasters he encounters.  I love the scene where he shows off all the weapons.  His speech about the missile thingy is fabulous.  Especially considering the amazing pay off when we see the weapon in action.

Finally, the issue of Pepper Potts.  This character pops up as the most consistent criticism of the film.  Either that she’s underused, too shrill or that her relationship with Tony is really ambiguous.  Honestly, owing to the fact that I’m not Paltrow’s biggest fan, I was never going to think she was underused. Just the right amount for me!  The chemistry between her and Tony is great fun to watch.  I didn’t find her to be shrill.  I really hate that word.  It only ever seems to be written by men.  Tony Stark NEEDS someone to tell him when he’s being a fool, and she does that. 

To sum up…
I thought Don Cheadle did a great job.
The Monaco action sequence was the most exciting thing I’ve seen in forever.
RDJ was as awesome as ever
I loved Mickey Rourke even though they kept showing his hands. (They really bother me!)
It was great to see John Slattery out of the offices of Sterling Cooper as Tony Stark’s father.

One last thing before I post this.  Gordon Brown made an amazing speech today.  One that nobody thought he was capable of making.  You really should watch.  Whether you’re voting Labour on Thursday or not, you’ve got to admit it’s a pretty special ten minutes.