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See, look, we're reading it for the articles - RDJ in Playboy.
October 15, 2010 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Playboy interview Robert Downey Jr. "If you were to write a script about a guy who had it all, lost it all and then redeemed himself in a miraculous fashion, you could do no better than to steal from the bio of Robert Downey Jr."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (70 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know how sometimes you have this idea in your head about how a person might come off in an interview, and then the interview happens and the idea in your head was so far off that it wasn't even wrong, and you spend five minutes composing a single sentence trying to explain just exactly how puzzled you are now?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:34 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


But the real problem is this: When you’re in the hood, don’t be alarmed by gunfire. That’s as simple as I can put it. For me, the hood was northern Malibu and my own isolation and dependency therein. That’s the only thing I really know now, and I don’t think about it. But I learned it in such a ghastly way. Yes, I need refresher courses of an educational variety, but I don’t ever need to revisit the obvious.
I adore Robert Downey Jr. for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is that at moments like this he seems to be channeling some alternate universe version of James Ellroy.
posted by scody at 9:37 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know how sometimes you have this idea in your head of how far off an interview was from your expectations, and you're trying to figure out how to explain it, and then mr_crash_davis sums it up with a question?
posted by weston at 9:41 PM on October 15, 2010


There are some pellets of hard-won wisdom in that interview, along with a load of very smelly horse manure of the kind that only living in the Land of La La and working in the dream factory can provide. It's a wondrous metaphysical clusterfuck.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


No matter what I do, every time I read that opening line I hear James Lipton saying it.

And it sounds awesome.
posted by ssmug at 9:53 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


isn't RDJ the name RJD2 DJs under when he's not being plain ol' Richard D James!?
posted by mannequito at 10:03 PM on October 15, 2010


living in the Land of La La and working in the dream factory

Please do not use either of those terms ever again.

Thank you,
The Ten Million Residents of L.A. County
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:35 PM on October 15, 2010 [17 favorites]


Also, I think if someone was writing a script, they would make so the guy did his best work after he got clean. The moral of what really happened- did amazing Oscar-worthy work while out of his mind on heroin, got clean and then phoned in mediocre performances in barely-watchable superhero junk devoid of any artistic motive whatsoever- might not be the best for the kids.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:37 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


By fear of infidelity I mean I have a passion for how delicate it is to maintain things that are really pure. And I don’t find myself tempted because I don’t put myself on a frequency that temptation likes to go. I keep myself in overtly ­pheromone-free interactions with all women, except my wife. She deserves it.

Awesome. And in Playboy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:45 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


That album he mentions is unbearable.

It's unfortunate--I remember him doing an interesting version of You Don't Know Me in Two Girls and a Guy.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:48 PM on October 15, 2010


The moral of what really happened- did amazing Oscar-worthy work while out of his mind on heroin, got clean and then phoned in mediocre performances in barely-watchable superhero junk devoid of any artistic motive whatsoever- might not be the best for the kids.

To the kids, that 'barely-watchable superhero junk' is far better than the other, so don't worry about it.
posted by Huck500 at 10:58 PM on October 15, 2010


isn't RDJ the name RJD2 DJs under when he's not being plain ol' Richard D James!?

(Warning: off topic nerdery ahead) Your question starts off confused before getting to the actual question part of it. RJD2 is not Richard D James, it's a totally different guy (the D and the J aren't in the right order). I have heard people casually refer to Richard D James as RDJ but I haven't ever seen him call himself that. He has called himself Richard D James, the Aphex Twin, AFX, Power Pill, Polygon Window, Caustic Window, Dice Man, GAK, etc.
posted by aubilenon at 11:59 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well he was the brightest spot in A Scanner Darkly.
posted by hermitosis at 12:15 AM on October 16, 2010


did amazing Oscar-worthy work while out of his mind on heroin
Really though, I have no idea what you mean by this. You're talking about the period after Chaplin up until Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which the interview mentions as a turning point? RDJ is always a kind of bright spot no matter how horrible the rest of the movie is, but you really think of movies like Bowfinger, Gothika, or US Marshals as "oscar worthy?" I'm in no way a kid but when the "superhero junk" comes from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and gets fair treatment from a decent director the results can be pretty fantastic in terms of character development. Hell, I'll even stick up for his kung fu Sherlock Holmes as one of the only interesting things that has been done with the character for the past 50 years (see also: Zero Effect). Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is not completely without flaws, but it's pretty amazing to see actors actually take on a script like that and do it justice.
posted by Locobot at 1:23 AM on October 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Please do not use either of those terms ever again.

living in the Land of La LaDreamland and working in the dream factory

Bett"o"r worse?
posted by Mblue at 2:09 AM on October 16, 2010


Locobot, you've become an instant friend-of-mine for mentioning Zero Effect.
posted by snwod at 3:38 AM on October 16, 2010


If you've read more than two short interviews with Robert Downey Jr. before, this one does not come off as the *least* bit puzzling or surprising. He's totally in "voice", whatever the hell that might mean. I loved it.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:40 AM on October 16, 2010


If he did something like this, I could become a stalker.
posted by dzaz at 3:57 AM on October 16, 2010


I remember him doing an interesting version of You Don't Know Me in Two Girls and a Guy.

He also did a LOVELY version of Joni Mitchell's "River" when he was on Ally McBeal once.

Yes, I've seen episodes of Ally McBeal. Don't judge me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Downey does seem to class up whatever piece of trash or work he's in, but on some level, I wouldn't care if he were making Shamwow infomercials or more smarmy albums. Ten years ago, this guy was on every dead pool list in North America. The fact that he's not only still drawing breath but has fashioned himself a decent, misery-free life is a testament to something or other. People thought Steve Earle lost his edge after he got off the junk, and then he made Transcendental Blues, so you never know what cool stuff Downey might yet have in him.

Plus it's hilarious to say "Robert Downey Jr.: Action Hero."
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:48 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love the "reading it for the articles" joke in this post title, but would it have killed Playboy to print a single picture of RDJ's tits? I mean, I ALSO buy the magazine to masturbate, you know.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:16 AM on October 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


What I would like to know is why, oh why, has no one in Hollywood had the brains to find a decent vehicle to team up Downey and Depp. Now, while they're still giving off sparks instead of in their dotage, like what happened with Pacino and De Niro.
posted by Ber at 5:34 AM on October 16, 2010 [15 favorites]


I guess I take Robert Downey Jr for granted. I usually don't think of him when I list my favorite actors, but he's in some of my favorite movies and always brings something worthwhile to his roles. Roger Ebert's Harry Dean Stanton rule (no movie with Harry Dean Stanton can be all bad) applies to RDJ - even a mediocre or bad movie is worth watching thanks to him.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:12 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Restoration was both sublime and foretelling.
posted by 3.2.3 at 6:33 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's something strangely and inordinately sexy about RDJ. On this other slightly trashier website that I participate in, he was the only actor that was on every womans "I want to fuck him" list.
posted by newpotato at 6:39 AM on October 16, 2010


He also did a LOVELY version of Joni Mitchell's "River" when he was on Ally McBeal once.

Downey does seem to class up whatever piece of trash or work he's in


As a person who has also seen every Ally McBeal episode in spite of Calista Flockhart, I feel very confident in saying that RDJ caused the show to fail... because he wasn't on it any more. His turn as Larry was the show's high point, and when he was cut loose for his indiscretions, watching the show was like watching someone get sick and die.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:59 AM on October 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh: "slightly trashier"?
posted by cgc373 at 7:08 AM on October 16, 2010


By which I mean: I want to go to there.
posted by cgc373 at 7:08 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


He gets more and more freakishly attractive with every passing year. Sometimes I worry that the real RDJ did actually die about 10 years ago, and this one is an alien replacement with world domination in mind.

I worry because I am totally okay with that.
posted by elizardbits at 7:21 AM on October 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


Please do not use either of those terms ever again.

Your point is a good one -- those are both overripe clichés, and I should've thought better of using them.

But as an LA native, I think I'm okay with calling it "Beelzebub's Lair" if I want.
posted by blucevalo at 7:56 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


US Marshals was one of the most incredibly awful movies I have ever seen. It is unwatchable. And I watched it.
posted by mazola at 8:20 AM on October 16, 2010


PLAYBOY: What’s your view of the newest wave of reality-TV stars such as the Situation, Snooki and Kim Kardashian—people who are famous for living lives on-screen?

DOWNEY: It means what it’s always meant, that everybody is famous somewhere for something. I wouldn’t have made it if I’d been born in 1975 or 1985 instead of 1965.


Some of what he was saying there I couldn't even understand, between the convoluted grammar and the stream-of-consciousness tangent jumping. But this is right the fuck on.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:33 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I would like to know is why, oh why, has no one in Hollywood had the brains to find a decent vehicle to team up Downey and Depp.

Probably people have had the idea. It would be monstrously expensive to pay both their salaries.
posted by grumblebee at 8:36 AM on October 16, 2010


Also, I think if someone was writing a script, they would make so the guy did his best work after he got clean. The moral of what really happened- did amazing Oscar-worthy work while out of his mind on heroin, got clean and then phoned in mediocre performances in barely-watchable superhero junk devoid of any artistic motive whatsoever- might not be the best for the kids.

Meh, Hollywood is only good for superhero junk- it's fucking embarrassing when they try to be serious. If I want to watch something Oscar worthy I'll watch something out of India or China or Sweden or the like. The main thing is that Iron Man was fairly well written superhero junk that was actually fun and watchable (in large part due to RDJ)- something that is getting more and more rare these days.
posted by happyroach at 9:22 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


And the thing is, we need more actors like Robert Downy Junior in Hollywood. transformers or Clash of the Titans would have been so much better if they had main characters that were RDJ playing a rich drunk asshole.
posted by happyroach at 9:25 AM on October 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Meh, Hollywood is only good for superhero junk- it's fucking embarrassing when they try to be serious.

You forgot to mention that you don't own a television.
posted by Justinian at 9:26 AM on October 16, 2010 [16 favorites]


You forgot to mention that you don't own a television.

What does that have to do with anything?
posted by blucevalo at 10:09 AM on October 16, 2010


He totally made Iron Man, as can be seen from Iron Man 2 where they didn't really let him do any of the stuff that made Iron Man fun.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on October 16, 2010


What does that have to do with anything?

He was implying that what with all the absolutely brilliant American directors we've got working in Hollywood today — of the top of my head, P. T. Anderson, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Gus Van Sant, and that's only directors who's films I've watched this week — to suggest that America is incapable of making a serious, beautiful film, or that all the good artists in film are working in "India or China or Sweden or the like", which let me say is also the stupidest fucking grouping of assorted countries that I've heard in a long fucking time, is basically just to be a wanker for the sake of wanking. It's the same sort of wanking that you get from somebody who'll say, in 2010, without any hint of irony, that he doesn't own a television because television is trash, in a decade where things like TheWireMadMenLouieDeadwoodArrestedDevelopmentTheDailyShow all came out and made television a major fucking contender in the world of art. So Justinian made the (wholly warranted) comparison and we all got a little giggle out of it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:56 AM on October 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oscar worthy? Wasn't all of his work pre-chaplin Sappy rom-coms named after old songs? (Only You, Heart and Souls, Chances are) Okay, On second look it looks like all buy one of those was post Chaplin. it sounds like he took a lot of care into portraying Chaplin, but mostly was the love interest in uninspired movies geared towards women.

That said, I really liked Iron Man 1 and 2, and i usually shy away from the rash of comic movies because they seem like an attempt to pander to a demo that was long ignored or misunderstood by the film industry. Sherlock Holmes was better than it deserved to be, mostly because I don't really like Sherlock Holmes.

I love the Zero Effect, didn't know it was supposed to be a modernization of Holmes. I got a tragic version of Fletch vibe from it. But that's just me.
posted by djduckie at 11:31 AM on October 16, 2010


It's the same sort of wanking that you get from somebody who'll say, in 2010, without any hint of irony, that he doesn't own a television because television is trash, in a decade where things like TheWireMadMenLouieDeadwoodArrestedDevelopmentTheDailyShow all came out and made television a major fucking contender in the world of art.

You don't have to "own a television" to be aware of those shows' existence or even to watch them -- that's my point. It may be that the person who says he doesn't own a television is proud of the fact that he doesn't have a device called a television, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't at least theoretically have access to the shows that you mention. As for television being trash, well, it's all in the eye of the beholder, but to say that all of the excellent shows that you list are anything but the exception in an ocean of crap is really taking it kind of far. "Arrested Development" was axed by Fox in favor of whatever dreck bullshit network advertising shill vehicle that replaced it in its timeslot and was cancelled within six episodes. All of the other shows you list are on cable nets and the cable nets have 10 times as much crap on them as they do brilliant masterpieces.

As for the suggestion that "America is incapable of making a serious, beautiful film," I would agree that it's still possible for Americans to make great films, but I'm having trouble naming more than a handful that have been made and released in the past year. I'll grant you "A Serious Man" and, from the sound of them, "The Social Network" and "Let Me In" (which is a remake of one of those fucking Swedish films and whose screenplay was co-written by a fucking Swede). What else?
posted by blucevalo at 12:12 PM on October 16, 2010


Um, we prefer the term "useless superhero FLUFF" to "useless superhero junk".

Thanks.

(RDJr is awesome and one of my favorite actors. I've yet to see anything with him in it I didn't like. Both Iron Men were fun, Sherlock Holmes was a hoot, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was excellent, and even The Soloist wasn't bad. And no mention of Tropic Thunder anywhere in this thread? I thought the Oscar nomination was well-deserved, and the fact that the two best/most memorable performances in that Supporting Actor crop came from a superhero movie and a Ben Stiller comedy is kinda heartwarming.)
posted by HostBryan at 12:34 PM on October 16, 2010


(That said, I'm still not completely sold on Due Date. I liked the concept of RDJr and Zach Galifinakis in a car traveling cross-country a lot more before I saw the trailers.)
posted by HostBryan at 12:35 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The main thing is that Iron Man was fairly well written superhero junk that was actually fun and watchable (in large part due to RDJ)

Plus Iron Man 2 contains a Ulysses joke, which I am pretty confident in saying is a pretty awesome first among superhero junk.
posted by scody at 12:55 PM on October 16, 2010


I'm still not completely sold on Due Date.

I'm getting a serious Tommy Boy vibe from those trailers, but I'm not sure they can pull it off.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:17 PM on October 16, 2010


You don't have to "own a television" to be aware of those shows' existence or even to watch them -- that's my point. It may be that the person who says he doesn't own a television is proud of the fact that he doesn't have a device called a television, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't at least theoretically have access to the shows that you mention. As for television being trash, well, it's all in the eye of the beholder, but to say that all of the excellent shows that you list are anything but the exception in an ocean of crap is really taking it kind of far. "Arrested Development" was axed by Fox in favor of whatever dreck bullshit network advertising shill vehicle that replaced it in its timeslot and was cancelled within six episodes. All of the other shows you list are on cable nets and the cable nets have 10 times as much crap on them as they do brilliant masterpieces.

There are so many things wrong with this perspective on the argument that I don't totally know where to start.

First off, your argument that you can watch TV without owning a TV to the "I bet you don't have a TV" line is like if you said "If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you" and I said "What no that doesn't make sense what bridge do you own?" It's ignoring the fact that that line is a coined phrase that's been literally in use for over a decade.

Second, you can argue that LITERALLY EVERY ART FORM is an ocean of crap. Television is no exception but I'm actually surprised at just how good most of it is nowadays. I have a queue of about 20 shows that I want to see and don't have enough time for. Meanwhile I just read Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, and it's well-written and all, but critics calling it the Best Book Of The Century are just underlining the fact that in the last ten years I've seen far more "great art" on mainstream TV than I've read in mainstream literature. TV is in an artistic Golden Age, cinema's doing all right, literature's sucking, video games are just starting to hit things that excite me.

Third, Fox did way more for Arrested Development than they had to. Considering the show's rating it would have been the smart thing to do economically to cancel the show after Season 1. Arrested Development was promoted pretty well in the second season, but it just sucked at gathering a new audience. Fox gave it more time than it needed. So I'm kind of happy with Fox. And HBO did the same thing for The Wire.

As for the suggestion that "America is incapable of making a serious, beautiful film," I would agree that it's still possible for Americans to make great films, but I'm having trouble naming more than a handful that have been made and released in the past year. I'll grant you "A Serious Man" and, from the sound of them, "The Social Network" and "Let Me In" (which is a remake of one of those fucking Swedish films and whose screenplay was co-written by a fucking Swede). What else?

Yeah. I mean, films are expensive, they take a long time to make, and the standards for a truly "great" film are so high that even if we had a lot of them we wouldn't have too many coming out from every country. I mean, I would NOT call The Social Network a great film. I'd call it a very well-made, very entertaining film. But it doesn't pass my bar for greatness.

I'm having a hard time answering your question, but that's because I'm not certain where and when all the movies I watch come from. My best movie of 2010 right now might be Four Lions, which is British — does that count as a foreign film or is England not a snooty enough place for artistry to come from? The only two films I saw this year and was positive came from 2010 America were The Town, which was excellent, and Toy Story 3, which was sublime in its animation and had three or four scenes which approached greatness in my mind.

But if you give me a leeway of a few years, I can point you to Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE, which is the closest to Finnegans Wake a movie's ever come, and to the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading, and Anderson's There Will Be Blood, and Kaufman's Synecdoche, NY, which is pretty easily the greatest movie I've ever seen, and Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married, and Nina Paley's Sita Sings The Blues, and Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

I'm not anti-foreign films, mind you. But Lynch is I think the best living director we've got, and Charlie Kaufman's the first screenwriter that I think has a shot of equalling Beckett's greatest existential plays in cinema, and they're both American. I won't lie: My view of cinema and art is pretty anglocentric. But that doesn't mean that there's no great cinema here. It just means that I know the great cinema here better than I do elsewhere, and so am better equipped to defend it.

Anyway that's probably too extensive an argument. I just think it's dumb to say something like "I only watch films that AREN'T from America because look at how PATHETIC Americans are when they try to be thinking, passionate human beings." About as dumb as saying "I only consume art that ISN'T produced on a television screen", or "I really liked that famous band before they sold out and became corporate whores", and absolutely worth a bit of mockery.

Plus Iron Man 2 contains a Ulysses joke, which I am pretty confident in saying is a pretty awesome first among superhero junk.

Wait, shit, WHAT? That suddenly makes that a movie worth seeing.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:37 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Town was great up until the end. As soon as she pulled out that letter, I sat straight up in my seat and literally started praying to the god I do not believe in, "Please, do not do a letter voiceover ending. Please do not do a letter voiceover ending."
posted by adamdschneider at 1:57 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, isn't it antithetical to the enjoyment of movies to state that anything produced for a mass audience automatically isn't worth seeing? What's inherently wrong with enjoying something like Iron Man, anyway? Just because a movie is popcorn-oriented or aimed at a wide audience doesn't mean it's automatically worthless or inferior to an art-house indie movie. A good film is a good film, whether it's breathtaking in its artistry, painful in its truths, or simply enjoyable in its frivolity. I defy you to tell me that "Up" had nothing to say about being human.

I'd go so far as to argue that people who write off blockbusters as inherently worthless don't know much about movies at all. But that's me.
posted by HostBryan at 1:59 PM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


HostBryan: My boyfriend thinks the Due Date trailer looks like "the big-budget Hollywood remake of Old Joy."
posted by pxe2000 at 2:13 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who found nearly everything he said completely incomprehensible?

DOWNEY:...I mean, just think about when we did that last interview. You said 1997?

PLAYBOY: Yes, 1997.

DOWNEY: That’s nearly two seven-year cycles ago. Wow.



I mean, what?
posted by something something at 4:58 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seven-year cycles.

If he's relying on a purge diet from Alejandro Junger, he's digging on seven-year cycles.
posted by blucevalo at 5:17 PM on October 16, 2010


Every time someone says Harry Dean Stanton, I think Dean Stockwell. It throws me every time.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm on a diet from Alejandro Jodorowsky. It's...

Well, it's a bit hard to explain, actually.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:34 PM on October 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just think it's dumb to say something like "I only watch films that AREN'T from America because look at how PATHETIC Americans are when they try to be thinking, passionate human beings." About as dumb as saying "I only consume art that ISN'T produced on a television screen", or "I really liked that famous band before they sold out and became corporate whores", and absolutely worth a bit of mockery.

I think it's dumb too. But I didn't make anything remotely resembling those arguments. I don't only watch films that AREN'T from America. I don't think anyone else made those arguments or only watches films that AREN'T from America either. If they do, they deserve mocking.

There are so many things wrong with this perspective on the argument that I don't totally know where to start.

You have your opinion, I have mine. For not totally knowing where to start, you sure got going.

Second, you can argue that LITERALLY EVERY ART FORM is an ocean of crap.

You could, if you were building a straw man. But I don't think that literature's an ocean of crap or even sucking, so there you go.

My best movie of 2010 right now might be Four Lions, which is British — does that count as a foreign film or is England not a snooty enough place for artistry to come from?

I watched "Hunger" not too long ago, which was a UK/Ireland production. Great movie. I'd say that was definitely a foreign film.

I don't think that liking non-Anglo-American film is snooty. My favorite films are much more likely to be American than they are foreign. But I watch foreign films too because, well, I love them, and if that makes me snooty, so be it.
posted by blucevalo at 5:47 PM on October 16, 2010


If I want to watch something Oscar worthy I'll watch something out of India or China or Sweden or Canada or Ireland or England or New Jersey, or even Hollywood when a director can get backing to make something original, instead of just being banked to produce another sickening, cookie-cutter Julia Roberts vehicle, or worse (if that's imaginable), fucking "Citizen Kane II: Rosebud's Revenge", or the like.

happyroach, I for one understood what you meant.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:49 PM on October 16, 2010


I can point you to Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE, which is the closest to Finnegans Wake a movie's ever come

Oh jesus christ. Stop this.
posted by xmutex at 6:27 PM on October 16, 2010


blucevalo, liking foreign films isn't snooty. What's snooty are the people who only like foreign films, because they've convinced themselves that America is this corporate leper that lacks a soul. I've got classmates like this in the film department. The thing is, liking "American films" as a category unto itself is really, really stupid, and so usually only young closedminded people say things like that. They usually also proclaim hatred for country music, and they used to hate rap until rap turned out to be hip.

I'm not suggesting your mind works like that. In our various MeFi discussions you've always come across as solid and rational and intelligent. But the original comment — "Hollywood is only good for superhero junk- it's fucking embarrassing when they try to be serious" — sounds much more like a high school kid's discovered his first serious film than it sounds like a real critique of American cinema. (If they discover an American director they instead insist on that director's unnatural superiority; I've found this happens most with Tim Burton and that fucker what directed Donnie Darko.)

You could, if you were building a straw man. But I don't think that literature's an ocean of crap or even sucking, so there you go.

Dan Brown. Danielle Steele. Ann Rice. Again, it depends on your standards — I have a soft spot for Brown, and I know some people who take Rice seriously. Meanwhile, I'm a fan of a handful of Dean Koontz novels, and I love the shit out of writers like Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, and J. K. Rowling, while, say, Harold Bloom has written articles claiming that fans of Harry Potter are in fact functionally illiterate. And some critics are calling Franzen's Freedom a brilliant novel while others are claiming that it's stagnant and actively repulsive. I find that literary critics are among the pettiest and most vicious of critics, and the most willing to argue that literature is entirely crap.

(I remember Harold Bloom once writing that Finnegans Wake was the closest modern society had come to matching Shakespeare. The idea that only one writer had ever come close to matching a 1600s playwright struck me as such a foolish and nasty thing to say that I immediately felt better about having cried at the end of the seventh Harry Potter.)

Anyway, I cite Sturgeon's Law. Every medium consists of mostly shit. It doesn't make the medium itself inherently unworthy. It's just kind of how things are.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:39 PM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh jesus christ. Stop this.

Stop what? I honestly don't know any other film that approaches cinema the way that book approaches literature. They both break things down so much that each sequence is simultaneously incomprehensible, hilarious, and beautiful.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:41 PM on October 16, 2010


I will also stand up and defend the Inland Empire/Finnegan's Wake comparison, with one caveat: Joyce made sense, and Lynch stopped caring about making sense. As literature, I'd say Inland Empire is closest to Northanger Abbey, in that it makes extensive use of gothic themes and structures, but then nothing ever happens. It's harrowing the first time you see it and hilarious the second.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:02 PM on October 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


In our various MeFi discussions you've always come across as solid and rational and intelligent. But the original comment — "Hollywood is only good for superhero junk- it's fucking embarrassing when they try to be serious" — sounds much more like a high school kid's discovered his first serious film than it sounds like a real critique of American cinema. (If they discover an American director they instead insist on that director's unnatural superiority; I've found this happens most with Tim Burton and that fucker what directed Donnie Darko.)

Thanks much. You've always come across as super intelligent and thoughtful to me, so I was a bit taken aback by your vehemence. So I hope I didn't sound fighty in my response. I was mainly trying to find out some more about what you thought and why you thought it. Your comments are, as usual, articulate and intense, though I may not agree with them all.
posted by blucevalo at 9:56 PM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite RDJ role is Home for the Holidays. It's such a nothing sorta movie, but he brings such depth to his part. Adore him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:43 PM on October 16, 2010


Fuuuuuuuuudge. Just read the whole thing. Amazing.
posted by intermod at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2010


Anyway, I cite Sturgeon's Law. Every medium consists of mostly shit. It doesn't make the medium itself inherently unworthy. It's just kind of how things are.

Quite. It's also true that if you like the medium in general you are much more tolerant of the shit. People who love fantasy might agree that 90% of it is crap, but find it fun crap that passes the time agreeably. People who hate fantasy just notice the crap and can't understand the unwashed, semi-literate yokels who actually, you know, read it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Robert Downey Jr was a guy I totally gave up on. I was convinced he'd be dead by now and I was not interested in seeing anything he was going to be in... There was in interview he did from jail and he was talking about redemption and getting his life back, then he was released and BANG right back to the drugs.. My entertainment time is pretty limited now and I wasn't going to waste my money on someone like him..

I am so happy that he was able to beat the odds and actually turn it around. I have had people tell me that I was being insensitive to his disease. (My answer to that is that he is not my friend/son/brother/family-member/co-worker/etc.. its not like I abandoned him, I am not in a position to help.. I always hoped he would be able to turn it around, but again, time and money is limited, so I am able to choose who and where I get my entertainment from.)

To me, his is actually an inspirational story and I am happy for him. I have dropped my previous view and thoroughly enjoy his work.

I hope he stays the course, we are better for having him entertain us.
posted by MattScully at 7:25 PM on October 17, 2010


It’s important to say, “Hey, man, we’re here now, and it’s pretty good,” to just whisper through the dimensions and say, “Hey, you’re going to be all right.”


like woah, dude.
posted by xqwzts at 4:29 AM on October 18, 2010


It's harrowing the first time you see it and hilarious the second.

The word I'd use for both of my viewings would be soporific.

Two Girls and a Guy - Toback's post-Bugsy film.

I'd hardly call his comeback miraculous. Guy with amazing acting talent kicks drug habit and does the cleanse. I half expected him to be the biggest actor in Hollywood right now. Paul Reubens or Yahoo Serious, that would be "miraculous."
posted by mrgrimm at 9:46 AM on October 18, 2010


I'm glad to see him loving Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It's easy to point to the awesomeness that is Tropic Thunder, Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes as high points, (because they are, they really, really are), but it does my heart good to see him acknowledging what I think might be one of his best films to date.
posted by quin at 3:31 PM on October 18, 2010


Also Val Kilmer's best movie since Tombstone.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:05 PM on October 18, 2010


In all fairness, his Spartan was pretty amazing as well.
posted by quin at 10:26 PM on October 18, 2010


Quite so.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:24 AM on October 19, 2010


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