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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Pick Six- Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Pick Six- Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Last week I discussed my six favorite Christian Bale movies (see here) in anticipation for the release of The Dark Knight Rises. Well, after now seeing the film and enjoying the hell out of it, I wanted to showcase one of the other stars of the film- Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This guy is a man I not only admire (and have enjoyed watching since Angels in the Outfield), but is someone anyone can respect. He's not just an incredible actor but also an extremely nice guy who works his ass off, be it a movie he's in or the work he does over at Either way, I aspire to be a guy like him and can't wait to see where he goes with his career. In the meantime, here are my six favorite movies of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And as I did the same with Christian Bale, Batman movies are excluded as they are just too obvious.

Directed by: Jordan Melamed, Rated: R, 100 minutes

Manic is one of the first films that showed us how damn fine an actor Gordon-Levitt can be. After his success with a rather popular romantic comedy (see below), he decided to take his career into a completely different direction and starred in Manic, a film telling the story of Lyle (Joe), an angry teenager struggling inside a juvenile mental institution. Manic is not a happy film, by all means, but presents an honest, tragic look at what too many young people experience, be it bullying, drug problems, or rage. Don Cheadle also lends his talents as Lyle's counselor, a role he was born to play. Manic is also the film that introduced Joe to Zooey Deschanel and we all know what a beautiful friendship that has become.

Directed by: Gil Junger, Rated: PG-13, 97 minutes

10 Things I Hate About You is such an underrated masterpiece. Yes, I am bestowing such a title on this 90s teen comedy. It's hilarious, incredibly smart, and has so much talent it really doesn't know what to do with it. It's one of those films I can watch over and over and usually do whenever it's on TV. Joe plays Cameron, an awkward teenager who just wants a date to the prom and will do whatever it takes to get one. 10 Things is actually a re-imagining of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. And, as I am a sucker for "loose adaptations", I love looking for all the parallelisms. This film is also the big debut of Heath Ledger, who has to be Joe's older brother as the two are too damn identical to not be related (argue if you want, I will take this fact to my grave). 

Directed by: Jonathan Levine, Rated: R, 100 minutes

One of the first movies I actually reviewed was 50/50 (see here). In my opinion, it's Joe's best performance to date, combining the perfect amount of vulnerability and courage. Based on a true story and written by a guy who fought, and beat cancer (Will Eiser), 50/50 hits incredibly close to home. It's one of the most realistic looks at such a destructive disease and the heart-ache that goes through battling it. The movie also gives us one of Seth Rogen's first more serious roles, as he was friends with Eiser and went through the experience with him. Tough to watch at times, genuinely funny, and so honest it hurts, 50/50 proves that cancer is more than just "a thing" we all hate talking about and hope to never experience. 

Directed by: Christopher Nolan, Rated: PG-13, 148 minutes 

Inception is massive and one of Nolan's finest films. It's on a scale never seen before, driven by great performances, huge sets, and incredible special effects. The story is smart and original, and the fact it is Nolan's dream project (no pun intended) shows how much effort was put into the movie. However, the first thing I think of when it comes to Inception is the fight scene in the hotel hallway, where Arthur (Joe) fights off baddies to let the rest of his crew continue deeper in their dream heist. He really steals the show as the charismatic "point man" and without Inception, I highly doubt Joe would be in The Dark Knight Rises. Do you have your totem? 

Directed by: Gregg Araki, Rated: NC-17, 105 minutes

Holy hell is Mysterious Skin a hard movie to watch. It's graphic, disturbing, and all kinds of uncomfortable, yet there's something about it that's hard to ignore. Maybe it's because of the performances, maybe it's the beautiful cinematography, or maybe it's something you can't pinpoint because it's nothing like you've seen before. The film follows a young male prostitute (Joe) and his encounter with another young boy who is obsessed with aliens. It's really hard to go much further in detail about the film without giving it away, but it plays out in very interesting ways. Joe delivers a power-house performance as the over-confident, sex-crazed, Neil and had Mysterious Skin not been so graphic, I think he would have been up for an Oscar. He's that good.

Directed by: Scott Frank, Rated: R, 99 Minutes

The Lookout is a movie that I feel no one has seen. It flew completely under the radar upon its release in 2007, but it tells one hell of a story and features incredible acting by everyone involved. Joe plays Chris, a teenager who can't focus or remember things too well after an accident. Looking for work, Chris is hired on as a janitor at a bank and finds himself caught up in a planned heist. The Lookout is much more than your average heist flick and has a very smart script that twists and turns in unexpected ways. The best way to describe the film is a combination of Memento and Reservoir Dogs, with a little bit of the "cool factor" from Ocean's 11

Just Missed the Cut:
(500) Days of Summer- so good on so many different levels with one of my favorite soundtracks of all time, but I really did not like the ending
The Lookout- I almost chose this film instead of Mysterious Skin. It's original, smart, and has so many good actors in it. 
Treasure Planet- So much fun and as I mentioned earlier, I love "loose adaptations" 
Brick- this is a movie I am embarrassed to admit I have not seen. I do plan on watching it within the next week, so this list may change 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Rundown:
I have reviewed:

Average Rating: 9.53/10

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At July 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM , Blogger Two Tickets For... said...

Not sure if you've seen it yet or not, Nick, but we thoroughly enjoyed JGL in "Hesher." He teeters between being a gigantic a-hole to being the kind of friend you want on your side, but does it in such a way that you end up liking him regardless of what his actions are.


At July 27, 2012 at 3:54 PM , Blogger Nick said...

I can imagine. I rented Hesher awhile back, but wasn't able to watch it because of crap coming up. It's definitely on my "go back and watch" list. Look for the review!

At July 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM , Blogger Two Tickets For... said...

Will do!

At July 28, 2012 at 8:43 AM , Anonymous Eric said...

I still need to see a few of these, but 50/50 is what made me a big fan of JGL. I also really enjoyed him in Brick and Hesher. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the latter... I thought it was one of last year's more underrated films, but it seems most had mixed feelings about it.

At July 28, 2012 at 9:53 AM , Blogger Nick said...

I own Brick. It's on Netflix. Yet I haven't gotten around to it. I'm ashamed lol.

And with the love for Hesher coming in, I'll have to check it out sooner than later.

At August 29, 2012 at 5:13 PM , Anonymous alleyandthemovies said...

Such a terrific actor and one cool dude. Great list.

At August 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah.. the guy's amazing. Wish he'd respond to me on Twitter lol


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