Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr.

The Set of 400: #242 – My Favorite Music Hall Drunk

Today! Because the tramp can’t talk. The minute he talks, he’s dead –

Chaplin (1992)

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x6), Paul Rhys, Geraldine Chaplin, Anthony Hopkins (x4), Kevin Kline (x2), Moira Kelly (x2), Dan Aykroyd (x4), Marisa Tomei (x2), Penelope Ann Miller, John Thaw, Kevin Dunn (x2), Diane Lane, Milla Jovovich (x2), James Woods, Nancy Travis, Matthew Cottle, David Duchovny, John Standing (x3), Maria Pitillo, Deborah Moore

Ah, 1992! Apparently the heyday of my movie watching! The eighth entry from the year of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, Chaplin had a good hand in stretching my film interests back into the silent era. Now, as we’ve gone over in this space recently, it’s not like this list is teeming with dialogue-free cinema, however, without Chaplin there’s a good chance that none whatsoever would appear. Charlie Chaplin is a gateway into the entire era for most casual film goers, right? Silent comedy, by and large, looks ridiculous now, but at least it’s accessible. People like broad, physical comedy up to the present day, so silents can still be enjoyable, so long as you put aside your prejudice against this form of moviemaking. Don’t lie! Silents are hard, sometimes! One of the only instances where I fell asleep in a movie theater was catching the 1916 Sherlock Holmes starring William Gillette at the Chicago Film Festival a few years back. I was too tired going in! Plus, while there may have been no spoken words, the theater was still plenty loud from the reverberating snores! Everyone I went with fell asleep too! 100% true story. Sorry, Mr. Gillette!

This dude discovering a gun in his hand could only sustain us for so long!

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The Set of 400: #259 – My Favorite Un-Decapitation

Today! Because she has more lines than I do and she’s a goddamn mute!

Soapdish (1991)

Directed by Michael Hoffman

Starring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Whoopi Goldberg (x3), Elisabeth Shue (x2), Robert Downey Jr. (x5), Cathy Moriarty, Teri Hatcher, Kathy Najimy, Garry Marshall (x2), Carrie Fisher, Costas Mandylor, Sheila Kelley, Ben Stein (x2), Willie Garson (x4), Leeza Gibbons, John Tesh

Another staple of early ’90s HBO, Soapdish isn’t the sort of film 12-year-old Joe routinely watched in those days, but it is a movie I routinely saw, given that I can still quote nearly the entire film. Like, I must’ve seen this movie multiple dozens of times. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a sub-genre I really gravitate to – movies about entertainment – so what if it’s about soap operas? The cast is incredible – six Oscar nominees, not to mention future Lois Lane Teri Hatcher, once and future Princess Leia Carrie Fisher, and a great TV exec precursor role to his TV exec role on Murphy Brown, former TV exec Garry Marshall.

It’s a show that got crazier as it aged, but Marshall’s Stan was a terrific late addition

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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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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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