Currently browsing the "Joseph Gordon-Levitt" tag.

Review: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Seems like a ton of movies coming out in the midst of this pandemic are trying very hard to tell us something critically important about our past, present… and future. Count among them: The Trial of the Chicago 7. The film occasionally teeters on a high horse, as each member of the A-list cast gets a turn to shine in the Aaron Sorkin spotlight of zippy dialogue imbued with a mix of cynical and serious political and philosophical debate. But overall, it’s an interesting and important story to revisit, as it is based on true events eerily similar to current ones. And Sorkin does have a knack for transforming a courtroom drama into a crowd-pleasing spectacle.

Review: 7500

If the coronavirus isn’t enough to keep you grounded, perhaps this will do the trick! Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the young, soft-spoken American co-pilot of a commercial flight from Berlin to Paris that is hijacked shortly after take-off. If it were anyone other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the hot seat, I may have bailed. But Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, 50/50, Inception) is so darn appealing that I can watch him in just about anything – including an intense, visceral, claustrophobic thriller that takes place almost entirely inside the cockpit of an Airbus A320. The film’s title – 7500 – doesn’t refer to the flight number. It’s the emergency code to alert Air Traffic Control that your plane’s been hijacked. 7-5-0-0. Fasten those seatbelts; you’re in for a stressful ride.

Snowden

Unless you never watch the news or have been hiding under a rock for several years, you’ve probably heard of Edward Snowden. A gripping documentary called Citizen Four was made about him in 2013 and won the 2015 Oscar. Here’s what I said about that film:

In January of 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras began receiving emails from a mysterious person who only identified himself as “citizenfour” and who had information about US government surveillance on a scale unheard of in history. A few months later, after a number of encrypted email exchanges, Poitras headed to Hong Kong along with journalist Glenn Greenwald to meet the sender. The rest is history. Waiting for them in a hotel room was Edward Snowden who would hand them evidence of massive citizen surveillance and data mining by the NSA and other government agencies, and would expose our global cyber-spy program.

Oliver Stone’s new movie Snowden begins in that hotel with Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and flashes back to Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tortured path to this clandestine meeting. The film succeeds in telling its story without becoming a typical Oliver Stone polemic. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you.

The Walk

To enjoy this film you must a) get past Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s French accent and b) have no fear of heights. The Walk is a pretty straight forward telling of what was undoubtedly the most audacious aerialist crime ever. In 1974, just as the World Trade Center twin towers were nearing completion, French high wire performer Philippe Petit decided to sneak into the buildings, string a wire between them, and perform his act 1,350 feet above Lower Manhattan. He enlisted a motley crew of French and American conspirators for what he referred to as his “coup” and somehow got away with it. But sadly, as exciting as the final walk is (thank you CGI artists!), the build up to it isn’t really all that interesting, especially if you saw the Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire, which told the story with real tension.

Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt took on a pretty dicey subject for his filmmaking debut (he wrote, directed and stars!), and came up with an unusual and entertaining film. Starring as the title character, Jon, a porn addict who is looking for love in all the wrong places, Gordon-Levitt brings a depth to his character that could easily have been pretty off-putting. On the surface, Jon is just a working class Jersey boy who likes to hang with his buddies and pick up girls for one-night stands, objectifying them all and comparing their hook-ups with his ideal women on the web. That is until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johannson.)

Chickflix Movie Marathon: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(Update: This is a marathon for all seasons)

It’s winter! Time to hibernate in front of the big-screen TV with a hot drink, a bowl of popcorn, and a stack of movies. In the spirit of the season, we offer up this first in what may be a series of suggested movie marathons. So, without further ado, the inaugural ‘Chickflix Movie Marathon Mix’ is… a celebration of Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

That’s right. JGL. He wowed us this year with his versatility in a variety of leading and supporting roles…

… as an idealistic Gotham City cop in the epic The Dark Knight Rises.

… as a time-traveling hitman in the sci-fi thriller Looper.

… as a NYC bike messenger pursued by a dirty cop in Premium Rush.

… as honest Abe’s son Robert in the historical blockbuster Lincoln.

Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis is the real reason to see Lincoln. He is without doubt the best actor on the planet. He doesn’t act — he becomes. All the portrayals of Lincoln before by many fine actors from Walter Huston to Henry Fonda to Brendan Fraser pale in comparison. And there have been more movies about Lincoln than any other President for good reason. He was a fascinating man in command at one of our country’s darkest times, and he was a masterful politician in every way. No wonder Spielberg decided to take a whack at telling it again. And he was smart not to do the “from the log cabin to the theater” history lesson that we have all seen before.

Premium Rush

Premium Rush is a fun ride – on two wheels- without brakes. It’s sort of like Speed on a bicycle. The film moves at a steady clip, doesn’t make you think too hard, and stars one of my favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (if you haven’t seen him in 50/50, put it on your list!). I was a bit afraid that Gordon-Levitt might have phoned this one in, considering his star turns in the current blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises (playing an idealistic rookie cop) and the upcoming, much-buzzed-about futuristic flick, Looper, which hits theaters in late September. But gosh darn it, he’s so freakin’  cute and likeable that I’ll forgive him a year of potential over-exposure.

Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a bike messenger who picks up an envelope that a dirty cop (Michael Shannon) is anxious to get his hands on. The cop pursues Wilee through the streets of Manhattan, determined to get the envelope back before Wilee can deliver it to its intended recipient.

The Dark Knight Rises

There are movies. And then there are MOVIES. The Dark Knight Rises (a.k.a. the latest, and some say the last, Batman) is most definitely the latter. It has an epic running time of two hours and 44 minutes and is probably best viewed as intended, on one of those giant IMAX screens. That’s where I saw it – on the six-story high IMAX at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. I guess Batman counts as a natural, historical figure these days. Anyway, what you’re probably wondering most is, did I like it? And the answer is…

50/50

Odds are much better than 50/50 that you’ll really like 50/50. It is, hands down, one of my favorite movies of the year. You’ll cry a little and laugh a lot.