Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr.

The Set of 400: #278 – My Favorite Dirty Harry Inspiration

Today! Because I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you –

Zodiac (2007)

Directed by David Fincher

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. (x3), Brian Cox (x2), John Carroll Lynch (x2), Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue (x2), Philip Baker Hall, Zach Grenier (x2), Adam Goldberg, Charles Fleischer (x2), Paul Schulze, John Getz, June Diane Raphael, Candy Clark, Jimmi Simpson, Clea DuVall

Not so much concerned with unearthing who the killer was (even though it does present a theory), Zodiac primarily follows the lives of San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith and S.F. detective Dave Toschi, and their respective obsessions with the case as it unfolds and in the subsequent years, as the trail runs maddeningly cold. It’s an expansive ’60s/’70s epic in the hands of the premiere murder mystery director of our time (Se7en, Gone Girl) – and one of the sure thing, must-run-out-and-see-whatever-he-does filmmakers – David Fincher.

And it is exhaustive. Covering the source material in great detail, and trying to encapsulate well over a decade in these characters’ lives, the movie naturally was going to be lengthy, but it manages to clip right along, even feeling a bit rushed in parts, pouring out details and recounting theories at a steady clip. But keeping the engine running solidly are the terrific performances of Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo as Graysmith and Toschi, plus a just pre-Iron Man Downey as self-destructive reporter Paul Avery. The Downey comeback was well underway by ’07 – what with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Good Night and Good Luck, and A Scanner Darkly in the preceding years – but Zodiac seemed to cement the fact that he was solidly reliable, and a little over a year later he was superheroing it up at Marvel.

’70s Banner and Stark!

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The Set of 400: #383 – My Favorite Old Timey Boat Construction

Today! Because she mis-interpreted my intention entirely –

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Robert Maillet

I’ve also got a thing for Sherlock Holmes movies, which I recognize is a little specific, given that I’m not a huge Holmesaphile (Sherlockaphile? Moriaritypants? What would you call them?), but as you’ll see in the days to come, there are more movies featuring some version of the Holmes character than you might expect. The hyper-stylized 2009 Guy Ritchie version and its sequel get a bit maligned, I feel, maybe because this performance of Downey’s appears to be all he’s interested in doing over the last decade. That’s a shame, as this totally works for this character (and for Tony Stark, too) and makes for a pretty great interplay with Law’s atypical take on Watson. Bring in fun action sequences, Mark Strong’s totally solid villain, McAdams great trip as Irene Adler, and I frankly don’t get the backlash to this movie. Why the hell is the third film taking so long to come, for Conan Doyle’s sake??

Also, the movie MVP, obviously – Gladstone

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The Set of 400: #397 – My Favorite Endless Novel

Today! Because he probably calls everybody Vernon –

Wonder Boys (2000)

Directed by Curtis Hanson

Starring Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, Alan Tudyk, Philip Bosco, Richard Thomas

I loved this movie when I first saw it nineteen years ago – That screenplay! Those characters! – but I’ll admit it may not be holding up quite so well anymore. I’m not sure I ever would’ve had this in the top 100, but 200 seems totally reasonable, had I been ranking down that far in the early ’00s. Something resonated with me in Douglas’s writer cranking out a seemingly never-ending book, amidst the spiraling chaos of his academic environs. I especially remember the ending (not to spoil it, but you have had nearly two decades to watch it by now) being one of the most devastating things I’d seen at the time. I really fancied myself a writer back then, so I think that makes sense. Continue reading

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Carson Daly Joins ‘Today,’ My Quality of Life Plummets

Carson-DalyBad news, America. That late night punching bag and former teen idol with approximately zero talent and charisma, Carson Jones Daly (the man of three last names) is joining The Today Show. Oh sure, this has no real impact on your daily life (or your Daly life). I’m sure you had some vague awareness that the old MTV host was still on television somewhere, and didn’t really care. He’s had a late late night talk show for over a decade, and he functions as the poor man’s Ryan Seacrest on The Voice.

So why is this such bad news? Oh, allow me to explain. Nearly the entirety of my college career saw Total Request Live playing in the afternoons in the Den, the sort-of campus lounge, where you could still smoke and bitch about having nothing to protest. It was at this time that my striking resemblance to the idiot host of this program was first mentioned. Continue reading

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