Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Gordon-Levitt’

snowden-750x490“SNOWDEN”  My rating: B

134 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The story of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was practically made for Oliver Stone.

Government overreach, conspiracy and corruption, plus a hero who acts alone in defiance of hopeless odds — they’re all the elements of a typical Stone film (“Wall Street,” “Platoon,” “Salvador,” “JFK,” “Born on the Fourth of July”).

And with age has come a certain mellowing of the Stone approach. It’s not like he’s any less radically left — it’s just that now he can make his case without the hysteria and hyperbole that often marred his earlier work.

And in Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stone has a leading man seemingly at the peak of his powers.

Those whose minds are not already made up when it comes to l’affaire Snowden will find Stone’s new film “Snowden” largely convincing. Even if you’re inclined to brand Snowden as a traitor worthy of death, the film will remain troubling.

(OK, time out. Let me say up front that while “Snowden” is a good film, it pales in comparison with “Citizenfour,” the Oscar-winning documentary from 2015 in which the real Snowden, a newly-minted international fugitive hiding in a Hong Kong hotel room, is interrogated by the journalists who would leak his most inflammatory revelations to the awaiting world. Everyone should see “Citizenfour.” But most people dislike documentaries, and so the fictional Stone version will be the one most people will see and remember. Fact of life.)

Most of ”Snowden” is one long flashback. In the present we’re in that hotel room with filmmaker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and reporters Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson).

Tell us about yourself, one of the journalists says, and the next thing we know we’re at an Army training camp where young Edward Snowden is preparing to take on the terrorists who leveled the World Trade Center. (more…)

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Joseph Gordon Levitt as Philippe Petit

Joseph Gordon Levitt as Philippe Petit

“THE WALK”  My rating: A-

123 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Even if it didn’t feature the best 3-D of any film since “Avatar,” Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” would be a winner for its heady blend of gritty reality and light-hearted whimsey, not to mention yet another terrific performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The actor stars as Philippe Petit, the French tightrope walker who in 1974 stunned the world by slipping into the still-unfinished World Trade Center, stringing a cable between the two towers and giving the island of Manhattan the second most memorable event to ever occur at that location.
Petit’s accomplishment was already chronicled in 2008’s Oscar-winning documentary “Man on Wire.” But most Americans won’t bother with documentaries, and the story behind the daring walk is so rich, engrossing and suspenseful that it easily adapts to a fictional film.
Still, in most regards “The Walk” admirably adheres to the historical facts.
Director Zemeckis (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”) and screenwriter Christopher Browne (adapting Petit’s memoir “To Reach the Clouds”) grab our attention immediately by introducing Petit, not just as our narrator, but a narrator who delivers his lines from the Statue of Liberty’s torch. Filling the panoramic background is the Manhattan skyline as it looked in ’74. It’s a clever fantastic touch.
Addressing us directly, Petit is like an elf with a big ego, a small man with major charm. He tells us that he never thinks about death, that for him a dangerous stunt is all about living.
The film then flashes back to his boyhood fascination with circus tightrope walkers, his training under the Czech tightrope master “Papa” Rudy Omankowski (Ben Kingsley), his early career as a street performer (where he meets his girlfriend Annie, played by the big-eyed Charlotte Le Bon) and his dream — inspired by a magazine article — of pulling off the greatest aerial walk of all time in the ozone over New York City.
Petit relocates to the Big Apple so as to study the monstrous towers up close, to learn the schedules kept by the construction crews, to take photos and measurements so that he can build a scale model and come to grips with the immense distances and physical forces that will come into play 110 stories up.
He recruits a team of French and American scofflaws (including a bored lawyer with offices in one of the towers) willing to abet him in his daring plan to execute “the most glorious high wire act in history.”
Gordon-Levitt makes Petit more inspired visionary than ego-driven showoff. Throughout the laborious preparations we’re rooting for Petit to do the seemingly impossible.


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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johanssen

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johanssen

“DON JON” My rating: B+ (Opening wide of Sept. 27)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Former child actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has displayed his grown-up chops in recent years in everything from big-budget sci-fi tent pole pictures to edgy indie fare.

His feature writing/directing debut, “Don Jon,” falls into the latter category if only because of the subject matter.  Basically, it’s a comedy about masturbation.

It’s raunchy.  Also very, very funny. And beneath the lewdness, “Don Jon” has something like a heart of gold.

Gordon-Levitt appears in just about every shot as Jon, a cocky Jersey Shore Guido with a formidable reputation with the women. He’s got the look made famous by MTV – ripped torso and a ‘do that’s borderline skinhead on the sides, while the hair on top is combed straight back and gelled into a tornado-proof finish.

You might view Jon as this generation’s Tony Manero (the John Travolta character in “Saturday Night Fever”) with one major exception:  Jon has access to the internet, which means he can watch porn any time he likes. Which is pretty much all the time.

As Jon explains early on in voiceover narration – and he’s just being honest here – while he loves doin’ the ladies, he’s never quite at ease in the sack. He’s too conscious of the need to please, too uptight about the stuff he doesn’t want to do (cunnilingus, which disgusts him) and too disappointed about the stuff many girls won’t do (fellatio).

Which is where porn comes in. Snuggled all warm and naked in front of his computer, Jon can get his rocks off to just about any sexual scenario he can think of, and he doesn’t have to cuddle afterward. This guy buys Kleenex in bulk.


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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen

“50 / 50” My rating: B+ (Opening wide Sept. 30)

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It’s one thing to make a raunchy comedy.

It’s another to tell a serious story about someone coping with a life-threatening disease.

But in a category all by itself is the ability to put those two seemingly contradictory genres together so that they complement each other rather than cancelling each other.

That’s the small miracle of “50/50,” based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s own bout with cancer.


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