Skip to main content

Most Valuable Performances: Robert Downey Jr.

"Never go full retard." These immortal words are uttered by Kirk Lazarus as he sends up method acting in an effort to explain it to his talent-challenged co-star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller).

After the monumental success of Iron Man Downey simply could have coasted off the success of that franchise and waited for the Oscar bait to come. What no one expected following the comic book success was Downey donning black-face and turning in one of the best comedic performances of the decade. He was justly rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, unfortunately he was going up against Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.

Regardless of who went home with the trophy Oscar night Downey solidified his status as an actor unafraid to seek roles outside the norm. What's most remarkable about the portrayal is that at no point during the film did the concept seem offensive at all. Lazarus's borderline obsessive devotion to his craft is sent up so well we forget that it's Iron Man, Charlie Chaplin and countless others under that make-up. At that point the only Thunder in the film belonged to Downey.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…