Posts Tagged ‘Iron Man


Why I’m Excited About The Judge Even If It Ends Up Being a Mediocre Movie

The-Judge-2014-Movie-Poster-WallpaperSlate staff writer Aisha Harris has written a very perceptive article about Denzel Washington’s career trajectory, which for the last few years, has mostly consisted of bad action flicks. His latest is The Equalizer; not only did Entertainment Weekly give it a “D” grade in its review, but it was the number-one movie at the box office this weekend. In her Slate article, Harris wonders where is the Denzel of Malcolm X, Glory, Training Day, and Flight, all for which he either won or was nominated for an Oscar.

Lately, I’ve been asking the same sorts of questions about one of my favorite actors, Robert Downey Jr. His latest film, The Judge, opens next month. In it, Downey plays a variation of his real-life, Tony Stark persona: cocky but through circumstances, gets knocked down a few notches and needs to build himself up again. In The Judge, Downey might be playing another version of Tony Stark yet again, but at least he’s not actually playing Iron Man this time. Granted, he does a wonderful job as Iron Man, breaking the mold of how a superhero should be and who should play him. That role and Sherlock Holmes has led him to a surprising career resurgence, culminating in being named the world’s highest-paying actor. Who could have guessed 10 or 15 years ago that was what his future would be? Who could have guessed that, even when he was at his critical career peak in the 80s and 90s (think Less Than Zero and Chaplin)? Although the early buzz at the Toronto International Film Festival about The Judge is less than great, the film will hopefully resurrect a Downey that isn’t afraid to try different roles. After all, coloring outside the lines is what he does best.

Here’s a recent profile about Robert Downey Jr. in the October 2014 issue of Vanity Fair.


The Unsinkable Downey

robert-downey-jr-photos-034Born in 1965 to an underground film director, Robert Downey, Jr., is only now starting to be known more for his film work and talent than for his past drug addictions and destructive behavior. The star of Iron Man (2008), Tropic Thunder (2008), The Soloist (2009), and the upcoming Sherlock Holmes, Downey is finally having his day. Aside from being nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Chaplin (1992), he also has a solo CD, a short-lived stint on Saturday Night Live in the mid-eighties with Anthony Michael Hall, and a long-lived relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker until 1991. But it’s Downey’s known reckless spontaneity, formerly from drugs and now from a controlled youthful playfulness that forms the foundations of his onscreen (and offscreen) persona.

1. The Pick-Up Artist (1987) – This strange, imperfect little film, directed by James Toback and co-starring Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, and Danny Aiello, showcases Downey as an impulsive Casanova who finally meets his match in Molly Ringwald. Great use of New York City. Downey would go on to star in other Toback films, such as Black and White (1999) and Two Girls and a Guy (1997).

2. The Last Party (1993) – This documentary follows a newly sober Downey, still in his twenties, as he attends the 1992 Republican and Democratic conventions. It also gives an intimate look at his family life: the new wife he met in rehab, along with his father and stepmother. In four short years, Downey would go on an even steeper downward spiral, but for now, he is very aware and articulate about his flaws, fears, and idealism in relation to himself and to the country as a whole, which would soon be electing a new president, who would have quite a roller coaster journey of his own.

3. Only You (1994) – I like this underappreciated little film for the cast (which includes Marisa Tomei), the location (Italy), and the romantically optimistic plot (although unlikely, still hopeful). Downey plays a shoe salesman who falls in love with a teacher (Tomei), who is dead-set on fulfilling her destiny with someone else.

4. Zodiac (2007) – So, the three other films listed here seem to revolve around the themes of hope and optimism. Zodiac seems the odd man out. Upon its release, much was made of the parallels between a once-again sober Downey’s past drug use and his character’s addictions. By the end of the film, his character has to use an oxygen mask due to the toil his body has taken. A chilling reminder of what Downey could have become had he not turned his life around.