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- The Lunch with Justin Chang, Chief Film Critic for Variety: Down to the Wire on 2013 …
- The Lunch with Director Shaul Schwartz of ‘Narco Cultura’
- The Lunch with Dir. Joel Allen Schroder of ‘Dear Mr. Watterson …’
- The Lunch with John Sayles, Director/Writer of ‘Go for Sisters’
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Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr
After snappy-but-slurred Brit-bloke crime films like “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” Hollywood came calling for Guy Ritchie … and Guy Ritchie did not disappoint, earning over half a billion dollars worldwide and clearly justifying a similar sequel. We spoke with Ritchie in L.A. about making “Holmes 2″: The affable, energetic director shared his thoughts on making sure he had more, but not too much of the shame, supervilliany and the amount of time he spends simply lost in movies.
When you’re doing the second installment of a film, where do you find the exact balance between more and different? Obviously people like the first film, but for their benefit and your benefit as a creator and for that of your actors you want to shift things up. How do you find that balance in this film?
Ritchie: I think that comes organically, but of course you’re right. You need the same but different. So you’re aware of that challenge. You want some of the same flavor. You’ve ordered this dish before, and so you want to repeat that dish, but all of a sudden this dish is going to get tired, unless it has something else on it — it gets bigger and better or its got something about it that makes it worthwhile. That then becomes an unconscious challenge once it’s become a conscious one. They gave me more money, which surprisingly means I can dig deeper into my hat of magic and try and extract something that can titillate and entertain the audience. Really what it is I try to do is make movies for me. I see myself as a cinefile anyway, so if I can entertain myself, I can pretty much bet that other people, like-minded individuals, should get a tickle out of it as well. That’s really my fundamental mission, how am I going to keep myself entertained, and from that think, ‘Well is this scene enough? Is that smart enough? Does that have enough tints on it to keep an audience stimulated?’ I do spend a great deal of time doing it, but I suppose from a selfish point of view rather than a selfless point of view.
So in your head there’s a little tiny version of you, who’s just a bloke in a movie theater going, ‘Well, that’s good?’
His long fingers tented in front of his face, just below the dark eyes– Robert Downey Jr. is thinking as fast as he can. Talking with the actor in Los Angeles about “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the actor spoke about finding a nemesis, rock-’em sock-’em Sherlock-’em action and on playing the geniuses of pop culture.
The first film sets up that Moriarty was going to be in this one. How much of a relief was it, when Jared Harris was brought on as Professor Moriarty?
Downey: Well, I mean casting obviously is key, and it’s developing that, and shooting everyday, and making sure it works. I love this stuff. I live for it. I think the great kind of success of this second installment, ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,’ is Moriarty. He’s arguably the original gangster of super villains, so we felt the weight of that. Most people know him from ‘Mad Men’ and the great work he’s done, but I think this is really bringing him into the forefront.
How much do you like playing the scruffier side of Holmes — the madcap ensembles, the costumes, what have you?
Downey: It’s really fun, because often times we’ll be getting ready in the morning and I look at Jude and he’s getting dialed in, about to where some horribly starched collar, and I’m essentially kind of in pajamas, it’s fun.
All the stuff with the Holmes-o-vision, where we as the audience to get see what Holmes is thinking of as his course of action, and then we see that in action, very swiftly? That looks great. It’s got to be a pain to shoot.
After the prior Robert Downey Jr.- Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes earned $524 million globally, you didn’t have to be the world’s greatest detective to know a sequel would be en route. Turning Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic literary tales of detection and deception into rock-’em, sock-’em action with plenty of speed-ramped camera technique and quick, quippy cleverness, these Holmes movies are, really, more like tributes to the character—they might as well be called Doesn’t Robert Downey Jr. Look Smashing in a Vest? Still, this is clearly what people want—or, at least, are willing to pay for—and A Game of Shadows’ hastily-assembled raft of stylistic and historical anachronisms and large explosions will also do well at the Christmastime cash registers.
Sherlock Holmes, the greatest mind of Victorian England (played by Robert Downey Jr. as Robert Downey Jr. with a British accent) is out of communication and on the case. When right-hand man Dr. Watson (Jude Law, as Jude Law with a mustache) comes to find Holmes before Watson’s wedding, the great detective is driving himself mad teasing out the criminal connections between a vast nebula of mergers and acquisitions alongside murders and inquisitions. Holmes sees the hand of Moriarty (Jared Harris, velvety and menacing), a respected academic who Holmes thinks is secretly guiding a continent-spanning conspiracy. Holmes is right.
Elegantly made-up, with an unmade bow tie draped across her coral-pink blouse, actress Noomi Rapace is a far cry from her original close-shorn appearances as Lisbeth Salander in the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” films and their sequels — or from the gypsy fortune-teller and anarchist Sym, she plays as the newest addition to the thickening plot of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. We spoke with Rapace in L.A. about joining the boys’ club, big-budget filmmaking and raiding Stevie Nicks’ closet.
When you come on board a series like this in a second film, the director, the stars, the writers, they all know each other. Did it have a little bit of that ‘first day at a new school feeling’ when you started?
Rapace: Oh my God, yeah — and not only that, it’s like a kid from another country, who doesn’t speak the language.
How quickly did you adapt into that?
Rapace: I wasn’t sure with the language thing, because I quite recently learned English, and it was my first movie in English. I was afraid that I was going to be caught up. I wasn’t sure if I was able to improvise and adlib and feel free in it, but from the first day, the way Robert and Jude and Guy just embraced me and took me in and took care of me and supported me, it made everything so fun and easy. I forgot I was the new student in a way, and I became one of the boys quite soon. I forgot I was not in the first one.
You get to wear these great gypsy outfits that look kind of like you raided Stevie Nicks’ closet — is that stuff fun to wear? To know that you’re not doing the stiff starched Victorian thing, you get to be a little bit flowy and have a bit more fun?
In a sleek floral-print dress, brown hair in curving waves, smiling in the sunlit spaces of a West Hollywood hotel, Noomi Rapace is completely removed in style, mood and location from her work as Lisbeth Salander in the film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. For those of you who haven’t been near a bookstore, airport or mode of public transit in the past two years, Larsson’s novels — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” — have become a worldwide phenomenon. All three books have been filmed in their native Sweden — and played in America — with Rapace playing the series’ stylized, brittle heroine Salander.
The film version of the series-ending novel has just come to America, and Rapace is eagerly doing press while planning future possibilities. Will she feel any sadness at leaving Salander behind? “No, I’m not so sentimental,” she says. “I say it’s always nice to let things go and to move on and leave things behind and accept that this was it, and now it’s time to go on. I did all I could for one-and-a-half years, and I’m done. I’m doing new movies now, and it’s like it’s over for me.”
And Rapace can also rest knowing that it’s not many fans who’ll make a link between her and the pierced, punk-rock and prickly Salander. At the same time, taking care of business while playing Salander was an eye-opener. “It was pretty interesting, because when I shaved my head and all that, people were so rude to me before the movies came out,” she says. “I did all those piercings, and I looked like a teenager. I remember I went into a bank; I was supposed to pay some kind of bill. They were so rude to me. It’s just, ‘F— you.’ If I’m having long, curly hair, if I’m having high heels, then people are so nice. But if you look like a punk rocker with black hair and makeup and piercings, then it’s pretty in a different way. So it was quite interesting to see how much people judge you from the way you look.”
Rapace’s work has gotten her a flurry of attention — and a role in the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, joining director Guy Ritchie as Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their work as the world’s greatest detective and his stalwart medical cohort. “We’re having a great time, and it’s really fun,” she says. “I love them. I think Robert Downey Jr. is just amazing. He’s really good, and he’s such a hard-working actor. We’re working together, and it doesn’t feel like a big studio production. It feels like everybody’s working really close to each other, and everybody wants to do a great film together. So it’s really fun.”
But, I ask, doesn’t she feel she’s come into the middle of a bit of a boys club? “No, the funny thing is I see myself more as a boy,” she says. “I always felt I’m more secure with boys, within the man’s group. I’m the one who’s probably more guy than sometimes the guys. I’m pretty used to being around with guys and with boys. When I was a kid, I always preferred to play around with the boys instead of the girls.” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is now playing in select theaters.
“… I do not merely feel tired after relaying the convoluted and cluttered outline of “Iron Man 2″; I feel bored, which is pretty much how I felt while watching it. Downey is as charming as ever, which is to say very charming indeed. But nothing in “Iron Man 2″ comes close to the clarity and genius of “Iron Man,” in which an actor who had publicly atoned for his personal mistakes was playing a superhero publicly atoning for his personal mistakes. Screenwriter Justin Theroux has more than 40 years of comic-book mythology to draw on for his film, but it also occasionally seems as if he felt he had to draw on every one of them. We get in-jokes and brief character moments designed to appeal to comic-book fans in the name of building a shared continuity of Marvel movies. But they not only make the film feel even more rushed and perfunctory, but also come across as a little bit of a cheat, as if Marvel were stealing from “Iron Man 2″ in the name of building up future projects like “Thor,” “Captain America,” “The Avengers” and more.
What damages “Iron Man 2″ is not its creaky plot devices (although, at one point, Samuel L. Jackson shows up with a literal footlocker full of backstory) or its comic-book tropes and trappings of adventure and costumed action (although, as Downey and Cheadle, two Oscar nominees, stand at one point in their powered exoskeletons trying to have a conversation, all I could think was, “This is so undignified”). It’s the fact that great-to-good comic book-style movies like “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “The Incredibles” and, yes, even “Iron Man” are interested and invested in clear, coherent and competent storytelling, while bad-to-bland comic-book-style movies like “Spider-Man 3,” “Batman & Robin” and, yes, “Iron Man 2″ are interested and invested in throwing characters on-screen and nodding to comics history so that comic book readers can use their normally useless storehouse of information about these mythologies to play connect-the-dots. “Iron Man 2″ devotes so much time preaching to the choir that the uninitiated don’t have a prayer. The first “Iron Man” zipped across the zeitgeist as swiftly and speedily as its hero, propelled by clean, classic action filmmaking and Downey’s charisma. This sequel’s cursed with such a meandering flight path made of twists and turns that it runs out of gas and plummets to Earth hard. “Iron Man” earned both millions of dollars and much mainstream affection; “Iron Man 2″ feels like a brassy, bloated moneymaker it’s hard to like.”
“Turning Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Victorian-age detective character into a modern, muscled-up popcorn flick, “Sherlock Holmes” is a bold reinterpretation that delivers action and thrills thanks to both real chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law (as Holmes and Watson) and a sense of fun. In fact, if anything works against director Guy Ritchie’s new-school take on the character (with Holmes as a bare-knuckle brawler and Watson as a right-hand man whose right hand is, more often than not, being punched into someone’s face), it’s that this new “Holmes” feels a little too bold, blown-up and blown out. It’s more like a Victorian mash-up of Batman and James Bond than it is inspired by Doyle’s original tales of observational genius.
And at the same time, you can understand the rationale behind the decision to raise the stakes from mere murder and run-of-the-mill robbery. The classic Holmes stories are, mostly, about two confirmed bachelors who sit in a dim study chain-smoking and thinking, and this, for a modern audience, will not do. So, bring on the explosions and the slow-mo scraps as Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong, voice rippling with portent and power) enacts a plot to not only bring England to its knees, but also to seize America, a scheme that seems to invoke black magic that the efforts of Scotland Yard and Holmes’ ticking rational mind cannot unravel. ”
3. ‘Zodiac‘ (2007)
“Zodiac” opens with San Francisco, on the Fourth of July, fireworks bursting in the darkness — the City at night in America. Two lovers park, a stranger walks to their car and then comes the fear. And then comes the blood. David Fincher’s most grown-up film, going past the pyrotechnics he’d brought to “Seven” and “Fight Club” and somehow still burning cold and cruel, “Zodiac” tracks the infamous, never-caught “Zodiac” killer who stalked ’70s San Francisco, with cops (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards), journalists (Robert Downey Jr.) and concerned (perhaps too concerned) citizens (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the frantic, futile hunt. Insidious and intimate, “Zodiac” still spirals out to show all our works (cities, governments, newspapers, families) disrupted, defeated, denied by one madman with the will to kill. It intertwines the police procedural, the newspaper chronicle and the detective story, and pulls those strands tight to choke the climax and closure our movie-taught minds make us expect and our innocent hearts make us hope for. Technically brilliant (Fincher recreates ’70s San Francisco, where he grew up, with subtlety and splendor), “Zodiac” plays like a master class in movie making (the rock ‘n’ roll fervor of Scorsese, the raw-nerve suspense of Hitchcock, the smart cynicism of Pakula) yet is also unmistakably Fincher’s, with its urban claustrophobia and articulate poetry of the unspeakable. Methodical, maddening, blackly humorous and truly terrifying (a scene in which a young couple’s Tab-commercial sunshine rendezvous is cut short by a striding killer horrifies and haunts), “Zodiac” reached back to the past to lay bare the greatest fear of our wounded, wary present moment: The terror of not knowing when the terror will be over.”
– From the Full List at MSN Movies
My Top Ten:
- No Country for Old Men
- Children of Men
- The Wrestler
- City of God
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Far From Heaven
- The Lives of Others
- The Incredibles