Tag Archives: Gwyneth Paltrow

The Set of 400: #21 – My Favorite Closet Full of Board Games

Today! Because I’ve always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That’s just my style –

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Directed by Wes Anderson (x4)

Starring Gene Hackman (x5), Angelica Huston (x4), Ben Stiller (x3), Luke Wilson (x4), Gwyneth Paltrow (x6), Owen Wilson (x5), Bill Murray (x11), Danny Glover (x2), Kumar Pallana (x2), Seymour Cassel (x3), Alec Baldwin (x4), Stephen Lea Sheppard, Andrew Wilson (x3)

Back in #267 The Life Aquatic, I posited that Wes Anderson’s distinctive style truly began with that film, but the entire blueprint was in place in The Royal Tenenbaums. While Aquatic often feels like an over-directed showcase of filmmaking more than a cohesive movie, Anderson hadn’t gotten all that carried away with himself when tackling his third film, and first after his big breakthrough on Rushmore three years earlier. It would take a little time after Aquatic to reconcile the manner of hyper-detail oriented production design with large idiosyncratic cast to compelling storylines – arguably until Moonrise Kingdom in 2012 – but the rougher version of this concept is fully on display here.

And while most of Anderson’s films work best due to their expertly crafted screenplays and oddball twists, Tenenbaums might be the only one primarily driven by the slate of tremendous performances across its eclectic cast. Hackman was purportedly a nightmare to work with on this film, but he delivers his career best comedic performance as the half charlatan patriarch Royal, in one of his last roles before retiring in ’04 (thanks for nothing, Welcome to Mooseport!). He was snubbed by the Oscars, thanks to that enduring bias against comedies, but did get a Globe nomination, plus wins at the AFI Awards, the Chicago Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics. The rest of the cast is no slouch either – Stiller’s apoplectic track-suited Chas, Paltrow’s morose theater maven Margot, and especially Luke Wilson’s shattered tennis pro Richie – the inspiration for one of my many failed Halloween costume efforts of years past.

It’s okay, I know I look more Bjorn Borg than the Baumer

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The Set of 400: #38 – My Favorite Open Heart Cave Surgery

Today! Because that’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far –

Iron Man (2008)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x9), Gwyneth Paltrow (x5), Jeff Bridges (x3), Jon Favreau (x4), Terence Howard, Clark Gregg (x5), Leslie Bibb, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany (x3), Peter Billingsley (x2), Samuel L. Jackson (x11), Tim Guinee

There aren’t a lot of years with multiple films still to come on this list, but 2008 leads the way so far as the top 38 are concerned. 1994 still has three – with the next one arriving on Wednesday – and has already seen seven films make it, but 2008 has four in this group starting today. More surprisingly, maybe, is that there have only been three up to this point – #204 Semi-Pro, #322 Role Models, and #352 Be Kind Rewind. Huh! Saving the best for later, I guess!

But man did I love the summer of 2008. I moved to Chicago at the end of May, living within walking distance of a movie theater for the first time in my life – Shoutout to the Webster Kerasotes! Changed hands but not forgotten! – reunited with the girlfriend after 21 months of long distance relationship-ing, reunited with my high school pal Dave, and basically dragged them to see everything that came out, multiple times. I’d like to say that this was just a hectic adjustment period where I overindulged in cinema-going, but no, this just showed me what my life would become here in the big town. Having moved twice since, I still have never been more than an eight minutes walk from a theater.

Can’t find a picture of the outside, and inside the Webster Kerasotes looks like every other theater ever

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The Set of 400: #186 – My Favorite Heavily Mirrored Berth

Today! Because I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody –

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Directed by Anthony Minghella

Starring Matt Damon (x4), Gwyneth Paltrow (x3), Jude Law (x2), Cate Blanchett (x3), Philip Seymour Hoffman (x5), James Rebhorn (x2), Philip Baker Hall (x4), Jack Davenport, Sergio Rubini, Celia Weston

Ah, 1999! My fourth and fifth semesters of college really landed a lot of movies on this list – here we are at eleven already! – and I’m also surprised to find 1998 with only six, and none so far. Those are six pretty high ranking films! As I’ve mentioned, I consider the corridor of 1997-1999 as one of the best in film history (this is also possibly due to my finally being able to drive in this time period), and so films from this era keep cropping up.

A wonderfully atmospheric, psychological thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley takes Patricia Highsmith’s solid murder yarn and elevates it to great cinema through a bevy of sterling performances and Minghella’s solid writing and directing – his best of the ’90s (Yeah, you heard me, English Patient!). Matt Damon was coming off Good Will Hunting, Gwyneth had just won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, and Cate Blanchett had just been robbed of that same Oscar for Elizabeth. This film also launched Jude Law – even if his career got way uneven for a long time afterward – snagging the film its only acting Oscar nomination as the object of everyone’s desire, Dickie Greenleaf.

I mean, obviously, right?

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The Set of 400: #224 – My Favorite Black Sabbath T-Shirt

Today! Because that’s my secret, Captain – I’m always angry –

The Avengers (2012)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x7), Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth (x2), Mark Ruffalo (x4), Scarlett Johansson (x2), Jeremy Renner (x2), Samuel L. Jackson (x2), Tom Hiddleston, Gwyneth Paltrow (x2), Paul Bettany (x2), Clark Gregg (x2), Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Powers Boothe (x2), Harry Dean Stanton (x2), James Eckhouse

Not to be confused with one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (the 1998 adaptation of the ’60s spy TV show of the same name – list coming in 2023!), The Avengers was not positioned as the Biggest Comic Movie Ever when it was coming out in the summer of 2012. That was reserved for The Dark Knight Rises, releasing nearly three months later, the first sequel ever made to a film grossing over $500 million domestically. However we quickly realized the error of our thinking, as apparently people really did enjoy Captain America and Thor, despite their films having under-performed with the almighty dollar, and when coupled with the juggernaut of RDJ in the Iron Head, well – dough was going to rake down.

Excitement was at an all-time high

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The Set of 400: #265 – My Favorite Dora the Explorer Wristwatch

Today! Because I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world –

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Directed by Shane Black

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x4), Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley (x2), Guy Pearce (x2), Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau (x3), Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer, Dale Dickey, Stephanie Szostak, Mark Ruffalo (x2), Ty Simpkins

While there are probably more superhero movies on this list than one can be proud of, there isn’t a ton from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the better ones simply aren’t eligible yet – even then, I’ve got some issues with the general overall direction of things, as I assume some people do these days. No? Just me?

The highlight of the series for me, still, are the Iron Man films, and basically the Iron Man/Tony Stark character. Thor took a long time to get interesting, Captain America has had good movies but by himself is just okay, The Hulk is great in short bursts but there’s a reason they haven’t tried a third big screen iteration yet – no, Tony Stark is the whole reason any of this works. It’s the deciding factor in choosing The Avengers over Justice League, very generally. (In fairness, I didn’t love Infinity War, and as of this writing none of that has been resolved. But I’m not watching DC movies anymore either, except the Wonder Womans I guess.)

Like, come on, when there’s another Spider-Man sequel already scheduled, I’m not all that upset about his “death”

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