Monday, December 12, 2011

Reel Insight Episode 68: Robert Downey, Jr.

It only took 67 episodes to get to one of my favorite actors of all time.  The weird thing is, it's based almost exclusively on a more than 10-year-old crush, and some very recent good work.  But that's in the second half of the show.  First, Rachel and I discuss some new movies we've seen - all 2011 releases, some DVD and some in theaters, particularly Our Idiot Brother, Friends with Benefits, It's Kind of a Funny Story, and Drive.  Our random discussion goes into spoilers - whether we try to avoid them, and what constitutes one in the first place (fair warning - if you haven't seen The Sixth Sense, Psycho or The Usual Suspects, this "might" spoil the big reveal, and seriously what are you waiting for?).  Send us your feed back before Dec. 21 to make it into the next show.  Enjoy.

New movies with RDJ this week:

Natural Born Killers - Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino should not be allowed to make movies together.  The story of two homicidal maniacs, the movie tries to show what demons they really were.  However, it does it by using the media to prove that the rest of the world encouraged their insanity.  RDJ plays the host of a True Crimes TV show that is profiling the married couple (played with flair, if not talent, by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis).  Of course eventually he ends up the topic of his show rather than the host, but in general it's just way over the top trying to put together a crazy movie.  There are moments when they're pretending Lewis' childhood is really an episode of "Leave it to Beaver", but they're saying horrible things about abuse and whatnot, and the juxtaposition sounds like it would be interesting, but it really doesn't work.  Just makes everyone in a lunatic. 1 of 5 stars/lambs

A Scanner Darkly - This movie is much better than the way it was made suggests.  The painted animation over live-action is not particularly interesting.  But the story is a fascinating look at identity and who controls your identity - you, society or a little of both.  Keanu Reeves (sort of) plays a cop who has been assigned to infiltrated a drug den of Woody Harrelson and RDJ to find their suppliers.  It's a little way into the future and a large segment of the population is addicted to substance D.  Reeves also becomes addicted (to fit in) and loses the ability to distinguish between his real life and his overcover life.  One of the really neat things the movie does, that probably requires the strange animation to pull of is the cops' outfits.  They wear specially designed suits that completely protect their identity, even from one another.  It means you never really know who might be a cop.  RDJ does the drug dealer fast talking over the top cuckoo really well.  I really want to watch it again already.  3.5 of 5 stars.  If you like the animation this is awesome.  I found it hard to watch.

Air America - Much in the spirit of Good Morning, Vietnam, this movie takes a good look at what the US was doing in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.  Specifically, this is the story of pilots working for a US company (think Blackwater) that supplies refugees in Laos.  Nixon has denied the war has moved to Laos, so it's all hidden or off the books.  Mel Gibson (in all his 1990s glory) is a pilot - but he's been sequestering guns all over the country as his "retirement" and he's just about had it pretending that they're not supporting the drug trade and arming both sides of the conflict in Vietnam.  RDJ has just arrived as a young hot shot, and likes the politics and moral questions even less.  It's a good movie, and does make you think that in 15 years we'll see movies like this about Iraq and Afghanistan.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

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