12 Feb 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Friday Minute
No. 31 | February 12, 2010

Talkin’ ‘Bout “D” Generation

Our theme this week
Actors of the “D” Generation

Featured this week
Monday         —   Matt Damon
Tuesday         —   Matt Dillon
Wednesday    —   Leonardo DiCaprio
Thursday        —   Robert Downey Jr.

Johnny Depp

The essentials
johnny_deppJohnny Depp was born in Kentucky and moved often before his family settled in Florida.  He had his share of troubles growing up.  He went to Los Angeles seeking a record deal with his rock band but turned to acting in the mid-1980s.  His early film roles were in supporting or secondary parts.  He was a victim on Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and a private in Platoon (1986).  As the lead on TV’s 21 Jump Street, Depp became a teen idol.

Edward Scissorhands (1990) was a gem, an ingenious creation, and the first of many film collaborations with director Tim Burton.  Depp made a couple of movies in 1993 that demonstrated his penchant for the offbeat.  Benny & Joon was a comedy about misfits who fall in love.  What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was about the family struggles of an odd bunch.  In 1994 he reteamd with Burton to make Ed Wood, a biopic about the B movie director who specialized in oddballs.  None of the films were big hits but they were fresh and inventive.  Depp made daring choices in the roles he played, and his imaginative performances provided audiences with characters they hadn’t seen before.

Dead Man(1995), directed by Jim Jarmusch, and Don Juan DeMarco (1995), with Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway, were other films off the beaten track.  Donnie Brasco (1997) was more conventional, an update to the gangster genre, with Depp as an undercover agent who befriends a hit man for the mob played by Al Pacino.  Depp took the road less traveled again with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998); not especially successful at the time, it’s now considered a cult classic.

Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999) was a hit, with Depp as Ichabod Crane.  Chocalat (2000), starring Juliette Binoche, was too.  From Hell (2001), adapting the Alan Moore-Eddie Campbell graphic novel, did well also.  Director Ted Demme’s final film, the underrated Blow (2001), featured Depp in a first-rate performance as drug trafficker George Jung.

In 2003 Depp created the iconic role of pirate captain Jack Sparrow for the first Pirates of the Caribbean (the trilogy continued in 2006 and 2007).  It was hugely successful and elevated Depp to a new level of stardom.  In Finding Neverland (2004), adapted from the stage, Depp played J.M. Barrie, the imaginative writer who befriends a group of children.  The film and Depp earned good reviews, along with Best Picture and Best Actor nominations.  Again working the Tim Burton, Depp made two very different films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), playing children’s favorite Willy Wonka, and Sweeney Todd (2007), the violent musical remake featuring songs of Stephen Sondheim.  Michael Mann’s film Public Enemies (2009) starred Depp as 1930s gangster John Dillinger.  Another Burton film, Alice in Wonderland, with Depp as the Mad Hatter, is due in March.  (Depp and Burton have plans for yet another movie, Dark Shadows.)

Beyond the final credits
Partners in crime (frequent collaborators):

  • 7 films — Tim Burton*
  • 4 films — Helena Bonham Carter*, Jack Davenport, Christopher Lee*
  • 3 films — Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Pryce, Geoffrey Rush, Gore Verbinski
  • 2 films — Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway, Terry Gilliam, Lasse Hallström, Max Perlich, Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken

      * Includes Alice in Wonderland


Benny & Joon (1993)
Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn

 


Blow (2001)
Johnny Depp, Jordi Mollà


Sweeney Todd (2007)
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter
“My Friends”


Quote of Note
Ed Wood:  “Do you know that I’ve even had producers re-cut my movies?”
Orson Welles:  “I hate when that happens.”
Ed Wood:  “And they always want to cast their buddies.  It doesn’t even matter if they’re right for the part.”
Orson Welles:  “Tell me about it.  I’m supposed to do a thriller for Universal.  They want Charlton Heston as a Mexican.”
—Ed Wood (Johnny Depp), Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio), Ed Wood (1994)

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2010 @ 04:32 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (2)
Tags
 11 Feb 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Thursday Minute
No. 30 | February 11, 2010

Talkin’ ‘Bout “D” Generation

Our theme this week
Actors of the “D” Generation

Featured this week
Monday         —   Matt Damon
Tuesday         —   Matt Dillon
Wednesday    —   Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert Downey Jr.

The essentials
robert_downey_jrRobert Downey Jr. grew up in the movie business.  His father is an actor, writer, director, and producer, best known for the satire Putney Swope.  The younger Downey is best known for his acting, and his career has followed a classic three-act Hollywood story:  rise, fall, and comeback.

Robert Downey Jr. was, for a brief time in the mid-1980s, a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live.  He made his name, though, in films.  After several small roles he had his first lead role opposite Molly Ringwald in James Toback’s romantic comedy The Pick-up Artist (1987).   He played an addict living in the fast lane in Less Than Zero, adapted from the hit Bret Easton Ellis novel, and won praise for his performance.  With obvious parallels to his own life, he said “the role was like the ghost of Christmas Future.”  That success led to roles in some bigger-budget movies—Air America (1990), Soapdish (1991)—and finally to the lead in Chaplin (1992).  Downey’s performance in the Richard Attenborough biopic earned raves from critics and an Academy Award nomination.  Playing the film icon Charlie Chaplin was a risky move, but Downey pulled it off splendidly.  Other notable films followed.  He was part of the great ensemble in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993).  He played the journalist who makes heroes of the mass murderers in Natural Born Killers (1994).  In 1995 he did Shakespeare (Richard III) and, appearing with Holly Hunter, was the gay brother in Jodie Foster’s dysfunctional family comedy Home for the Holidays.

Downey was getting the wrong kind of headlines during the late ’90s.  His drug addiction was out of control, and for a while he had trouble finding work.  James Toback cast the troubled star in a couple of films.  Downey was a liar and good at it in Two Girls and a Guy (1997), and he appeared in Black and White (1999).  Still too big a risk, he couldn’t get bonded and missed a chance to be in Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda in 2000.  Mel Gibson helped Downey get back into movies, paying the bond for his friend on The Singing Detective (2003).  Downey starred in the dark crime comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005, and in a supporting role in the retro news pic Good Night, and Good Luck.  The animated A Scanner Darkly (2006) followed, then David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007), one of the outstanding crime dramas of the decade.

Downey had a great year at the box office in 2008:  as the superhero in the blockbuster Iron Man, and as an Academy Award-winning method actor in the satire Tropic Thunder, for which Downey won an Oscar nomination himself.  He played an L.A. Times reporter in The Soloist (2009) and then the lead in Sherlock Holmes (2009); a far cry from Basil Rathbone, Downey won a Golden Globe.  A sequel to Iron Man is in the works.

Beyond the final credits
Partners in crime (frequent collaborators):

  • 3 films — Anthony Michael Hall, James Toback
  • 2 films — Geraldine Chaplin, Mel Gibson, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Matthew Modine, Ellisabeth Shue, Tom Sizemore, Wesley Snipes, James Spader

Chaplin (1992)
Robert Downey Jr., Dan Aykroyd

 


Zodiac (2007)
Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal


Two Girls and a Guy (1997)
Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham, Natasha Gregson Wagner


Point of View
“There’s a fine line between the method actor and the schizophrenic.”
—Nicolas Cage

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2010 @ 03:45 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
 10 Feb 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Wednesday Minute
No. 29 | February 10, 2010

Talkin’ ‘Bout “D” Generation

Our theme this week
Actors of the “D” Generation

Featured this week
Monday         —   Matt Damon
Tuesday         —   Matt Dillon

Leonardo DiCaprio

The essentials
leonardo_dicaprio“He saved me,” Leonardo DiCaprio said about Martin Scorsese.  “I was headed down a path of being one kind of actor, and he helped me become another one.  The one I wanted to be.”

Shutter Island, the mystery thriller based on the Dennis Lehane novel, which opens this month, is the fourth time DiCaprio has teamed with the famed director.  The other collaborations have been increasingly more fruitful.  They are Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), with DiCaprio’s Oscar-nominated performance as Howard Hughes, and The Departed, the 2006 Best Picture for which Scorsese at last won an Oscar for directing.

Scorsese first heard about DiCaprio from Robert De Niro, another frequent collaborator, when the two actors worked on This Boy’s Life (1993).  DiCaprio, still a teen, won critical raves as the young Tobias Wolff, the writer-to-be who suffers from an abusive, domineering stepfather.  The same year, in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, DiCaprio played Arnie, the handicapped kid brother of Johnny Depp’s title character, who causes a commotion when he climbs the town’s water tower.  The performance opened a lot of eyes and earned DiCaprio his first Oscar nomination.

DiCaprio followed up with some offbeat roles, as Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries, and as poet Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse, both in 1995.  The next year he gained new fans opposite Claire Danes in Baz Luhrmann’s modern update to Shakespeare, Romeo + Juliet.  The role that broke it open for the actor was Jack Dawson, in Titanic (1997).  “I’m king of the world!” he cried.  Hard to argue with that.  The movie was a big risk, actually, but its huge success opened doors in the careers of many involved.

Perhaps uncertain what to do next, DiCaprio made a mix of movies, large and small, over the next few years.  In Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002), he was pitch-perfect as the young imposter on the run from a troubled childhood and an FBI agent played by Tom Hanks.

DiCaprio’s interest in political causes was on display in a couple of films set in faraway wars.  Blood Diamond (2006) looked at the exploitation of Africa caused by the jewelry trade, and Body of Lies (2008) at the fight against terrorists in the Middle East. 

Revolutionary Road (2008) was an adaptation of Richard Yates’s acclaimed novel about the price paid for living in suburban society in 1950s America.  DiCaprio reunited with Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, and their fine acting is among the many virtues of the film.

At this point in his career, Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t need to be saved.  Just watched.

Beyond the final credits
Partners in crime (frequent collaborators):
4 films — Martin Scorsese (includes Shutter Island)
2 films — Kathy Bates, Robert De Niro, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Kate Winslet


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Darlene Cates


The Aviator (2004)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Alec Baldwin 


Quote of Note
Frank Abagnale Sr.:  “You know why the Yankees always win, Frank?”
Frank Abagnale Jr.:  “‘Cause they have Mickey Mantle?”
Frank Abagnale Sr.:  “No, it’s ’cause the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.”
—Frank Abagnale Sr. (Christopher Walken), Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio), Catch Me If You Can (2002)

…58…59…60.


Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 10 Feb 2010 @ 07:41 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
 09 Feb 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Tuesday Minute
No. 28 | February 9, 2010

Talkin’ ‘Bout “D” Generation

Our theme this week
Actors of the “D” Generation

Featured this week
Monday         —   Matt Damon

Matt Dillon

The essentials
matt_dillonMatt Dillon has been acting in films a long time for someone his age.  He broke in at the tail end of the ’70s, more than 30 years ago.  One sign of the changing times:  When he started out, most people knew the name Matt Dillon as the marshal played by James Arness on the popular Gunsmoke series.  No one mistakes the movie actor for the TV character anymore.

Dillon was a star in his teen years.  He often played the tough kid, the troubled one, the type you didn’t want hanging out with your son, and certainly not dating your daughter.  But there was always a depth to his characters.  He was more than just a bad boy.  He tended to win your sympathy.  The problem, after all, wasn’t just him, but something bigger.  In an earlier decade he may have been a film noir regular.

A few of Dillon’s early roles won attention for the newcomer.  He debuted in Over the Edge as one of the kids messing with the police and messing with guns.  In 1980 he played the high school bully in My Bodyguard and the boy at camp who helps Kristy McNichol’s Angel lose her virginity in Little Darlings.  Dillon’s notable teen films include a trio of adaptations of S.E. Hinton novels, set and filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma:  Tex (1982), The Outsiders (1983), and Rumble Fish (1983).  The latter two were directed by Francis Ford Coppola and featured early performances by some of the Brat Pack.  Dillon also starred in the 1984 comedy The Flamingo Kid, the first film to receive a PG-13 rating.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989), directed by Gus Van Sant, featured an older Matt Dillon, still in trouble, this time an addict (“I’m a junkie, I like drugs, I like the whole lifestyle”).  The film, and Dillon’s performance, were well-received by audiences and critics.  In 1991 he starred in the remake of A Kiss Before Dying and the next year in Cameron Crowe’s twenty-something romantic comedy Singles.  He played the ill-fated husband in Van Sant’s dark and smart To Die For (1994) and the sleazy P.I. in the Farrelly brothers’ hit comedy There’s Something About Mary (1998).  He was the high school guidance counselor accused of rape in a wild thriller called Wild Things.

Dillon turned to directing in 2002, with City of Ghosts, in which he also starred as a con man.  Crash (2004) was a huge success.  Directed by Paul Haggis and featuring a strong ensemble cast, the film won Best Picture, and Dillon, playing a racist L.A. cop, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (he won a Golden Globe).  He followed that with Factotum, the adaptation of the Charles Bukowski book, with Dillon playing the alter ego of the hard-living writer:  “If you’re going to try, go all the way.  There is no other feeling like that.  You will be alone with the gods.  And the nights will flame with fire.  You will ride life straight to perfect laughter.  It’s the only good fight there is.”  The film didn’t do much at the box office but has a core of devoted fans.  Other Dillon movies this past decade include the comedy You, Me and Dupree (2006) and the Plamegate-inspired drama Nothing But the Truth (2008).

Beyond the final credits
Partners in crime (frequent collaborators):
3 films — Diane Lane
2 films — Kevin Bacon, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne, Gus Van Sant


The Outsiders (1983)
Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze

  


Nothing But the Truth (2008)
Matt Dillon, Kate Beckinsale


Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch

Crash (2004)
Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton


Movie Lexicon
Hays Office:  Concerned about the possibility of government intervention, the film industry established its own regulatory body to ensure that movies complied with the “production code,” a set of standards regarding the depiction of sex, violence, and crime, among other things.  The first head of the office, which governed film production from 1934 to 1968, was Will Hays, who had served as postmaster general under Warren Harding.  The Hays Office was replaced by the movie ratings system, still in use today.

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2010 @ 03:43 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
 08 Feb 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Monday Minute
No. 27 | February 8, 2010

Talkin’ ‘Bout “D” Generation

There’s a “My Generation” for every generation.  There’s the rock classic from the Who, the punk cover from Green Day, the remix from Will.i.am.  Different times, different tastes, different musicians.

So it is with actors.  One era has Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, another Brando, Dean, and Clift, a third Pacino, De Niro, and Hoffman.  Each group of actors reflects their time, and in a way, defines their time.

Who will be remembered as the defining actors of our time?  Time will tell, though we can make a few guesses.

The actors featured this week are all movie stars and contemporaries, born between the mid-1960s and mid-’70s.  Except for one, each grew up in a big city on one of the coasts.  They’re versatile, not easy to typecast, and talented.  Each has at least one Oscar nomination.  Each has appeared in a Best Picture winner or nominee.  They’re guys in demand, with twenty or more film credits apiece.  They’re not new faces but they’re relatively young.  They should have long careers still ahead of them.

There’s one other thing they have in common.  Maybe you could call them the “D” Generation.

Our theme this week
Actors of the “D” Generation

Matt Damon

The essentials
matt-damonMaybe it helps to be a baseball fan.  That scene at the therapist’s office.  Sean Maguire, the doctor, is telling the bright young kid with a chip on his shoulder about the day he first knew his wife was the one for him.  “October 21, 1975.”  Game 6, Fenway Park, Carlton Fisk hits one off the foul pole in the twelfth.  The biggest day in Red Sox history and the doc gave up his ticket to “see about a girl.”  Years later, he doesn’t regret a thing.  Never did.  Even a die-hard Yankees fan (at least this one) could see that was big.

That scene, co-written by today’s featured actor, helped Robin Williams win an Academy Award.  The film, Good Will Hunting, is remembered today for launching the career of a certain twenty-something actor from Boston who also picked up an Oscar for the screenplay he wrote with his buddy Ben Affleck.

Matt Damon had already been in movies—opening two weeks earlier he starred in The Rainmaker, probably the best adaptation of a Grisham novel—but the film that put him (and his friend) on the map was Good Will Hunting.  The film with the punny title was very well crafted, had winning performances, and was a big hit.  It became the inspiration for the dreams of a generation of would-be Hollywood stars.

Damon followed it with his title role in Saving Private Ryan, a character of more symbolism than screen time.  Next was his fine performance as a poker player in Rounders.   The following year, 1999, Damon starred as the cold-blooded killer in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Damon had excellent success with a couple of film franchises during the ’00s.  Steven Soderbergh remade the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s Eleven, leading to Twelve and Thirteen, with Damon appearing as the heist ensemble rookie.  The Ocean films were loose and fun entertainments, and about as cool as movies got during the decade.  As the amnesiac agent in the Bourne thrillers–Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum—Damon was a new model for an action hero.  The fast-paced and popular trilogy raised Damon’s stardom to a new level.

Teaming with friend and frequent co-star George Clooney, Damon starred as an energy analyst in Syriana, a 2005 thriller with intrigue and a political edge.  The Good Shepherd was a spy film set in the early days of the CIA.  Damon was part of the all-star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, in Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture winner of 2006, The Departed.  A remake of the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, now set in the actor’s old stamping grounds of Boston, Damon did first-rate work as an informant for the local crime boss.  The Informant! (with Soderbergh again) was one of two noteworthy Damon films for 2009, a twisted dark comedy about a screwball whistle blower who rats on his corporation and messes up an FBI investigation at the same time.  In Invictus Damon plays South Africa rugby captain François Pienaar, opposite Morgan Freeman’s Nelson Mandela.  The role earned Damon a Best Supporting Actor nomination, his third Oscar nod.  Next month he’s back with Paul Greengrass (director of the Bourne sequels) in the thriller Green Zone.

Beyond the final credits
Partners in crime (frequent collaborators):

  • 9 films — Ben Affleck
  • 6 films — Casey Affleck
  • 5 films — George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh
  • 4 films — Brad Pitt, Franka Potente, Carl Reiner, Julia Roberts, Kevin Smith
  • 3 films — Don Cheadle, Brian Cox, Andy Garcia, Paul Greengrass*, Eliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran, Gus Van Sant, Julia Stiles
  • 2 films — Joey Lauren Adams, Alec Baldwin, Albert Finney, Brendan Fraser, Martin Landau, John Turturro

        * Includes Green Zone


Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Scott William Winters


The Departed (2006)
Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio


Quote of Note
“Why should I pay for my own legal fees when I’m not the one who started the price fixing?  People get their live’s earnings wiped out by these legal entanglements.  I’m gonna pay for that?  That’s not right.  I have kids and Ginger and horses.”
— Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), The Informant! (2009)

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2010 @ 04:36 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (1)
Tags

 Last 50 Posts
Change Theme...
  • Users » 1
  • Posts/Pages » 331
  • Comments » 567
Change Theme...
  • VoidVoid « Default
  • LifeLife
  • EarthEarth
  • WindWind
  • WaterWater
  • FireFire
  • LightLight