Wednesday, July 01, 2015

834. Gladiator/300/Immortals

I've talked about Gladiator here in the past.  I've talked about Immortals, too.  I love both of them.  I don't think I've talked about 300, but rest assured I love it, too.

What fascinates me is that all three exist, and because of that, people are free to compare them.  Inevitably, there are in fact unfavorable comparisons, which seem to enter the picture only when talking about Immortals, the newest of the three and the one to impact pop culture least spectacularly, even though it was a hit at the box office.

I decided to talk about them in relation to three common utterances:

  • Gladiator - "On my command, unleash hell."
  • 300 - "Spartans, ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in hell!"
  • Immortals - "Witness hell."
Each time, the speaker is also the embodiment of the movie itself, and each time, it is completely different, and so this is a good way to compare and contrast the experiences.

In Gladiator, the speaker is Maximus, the main character portrayed by Russell Crowe in arguably what remains his most famous and significant role.  He says his version in the least threatening way possible, which is odd because he's leading his Roman legion into battle, but also completely indicative of the modest man he is, how he represents the whole point of the movie, the man who defies the mad emperor because he's not obsessed with power, despite every opportunity to seize it.

In 300, the speaker is Leonidas, the main character portrayed by Gerard Butler in the role that made his career and often considered the version of Crowe's Maximus you might expect simply on a visual level.  It is the most ridiculously masculine part ever committed to film, every bit the match for the stylized visuals that propelled 300 to great popular acclaim.  To call Leonidas brash would be an understatement.

In Immortals, the speaker is Hyperion, the character portrayed by Mickey Rourke.  What's interesting, and perhaps key to understanding the whole movie, whether in relation to Gladiator or 300, is that his is very much the part embodied by Leonidas and Maximus, but played to its logical conclusion.  This is the brute who is the villain, at last, the lunatic who immediately cuts the throat of the hero's mother after uttering his variation on the hell dialogue.

It's a logical progression all the way.  Gladiator was released in 2000, won the Oscar for Best Picture, and because it basically contradicted every expectation, is still a puzzle for critics.  300 was released in 2007 and was a surprise hit at the box office, but unlike Sin City or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, other highly stylized movies, has managed to not only gain but retain a favorable reputation, in part because it was the movie Gladiator was expected to be: the modern historical epic in all its glory.  Immortals was released in 2011, and was immediately compared to 300, marketed in relation to it, and otherwise not at all taken seriously, perhaps because it, too, was highly stylized, propelled almost completely by its visuals rather than in conjunction with an actor like Butler, going for the gusto.  It stars Henry Cavill in his one major role prior to Man of Steel, but Rourke makes a bigger impact, because he's the one playing the part that everyone expects from a movie like this.

By this time, Rourke had already completed his comeback, and everyone was kind of over it.  It was Sin City that helped revive interest in his career, but The Wrestler that pushed Rourke as far as he was ever going to go (only to lose the Oscar for Best Actor to Sean Penn).  By the time Immortals was released, he'd already appeared in Iron Man 2, which is generally considered to be one of the worse Avengers films (though not by me).  Crowe's career was made by Gladiator, just as Butler's was by 300.  Immortals didn't have that opportunity, for Rourke or Cavill; by the time it was released everyone knew the latter had been cast as Superman.

But whether or not Immortals is well-regarded is beside the point, whatever it did or did not do for its actors.  Creatively it made definite choices, as did its predecessors.  Taken as a whole, there's ample room for analysis, which reflects favorably on all of them.  Rourke's line is the shortest of the three, which is completely symbolic of the film around it, which is much more interested in making a point of how chaotic the idea of incorporating the larger myths that tended to surround this material when it was originally developed, in ancient days.  John Hurt is one of two actors portraying Zeus in the movie, along with Luke Evans.  The trick is that Hurt is not generally understood to be Zeus, because he interacts with Cavill's Theseus in the guise of an old man, our hero none the wiser.  Cavill as the hero, although he looks and acts like the hero, begins from a position of weakness, of powerlessness, and as such that's another reason why he can't be compared to Maximus or Leonidas.  He does eventually stand in front of an army and give an inspiring speech, and like the other heroes dies at the end of his story, but what Immortals understands so well, and what is so difficult for the audience to understand, is that this is a man caught up, well, in hell.

And thus we circle back to that other thing that unites these movies, those utterances that are as equally united in character as they are different in tone and execution, but speaking to each other just as much as the movies do in relation to each other, why Immortals can't be thought of without 300 and 300 without Gladiator.  A vicious little circle.

I think it's a mistake to consider similar things as needing to be considered together.  These are films with vastly different objectives artistically.  Gladiator is a lament, 300 a spectacle, Immortals a meditation.  We are meant to reflect on the heroism embodied by their lead characters, but again, the kind of heroism differs.  Leonidas is in fact a king, something Maximus steadfastly refuses to be, and Theseus is rejected by the army, initially, because he is the logical extension of Maximus, a modest man who only wants to fight for his home.  That's what they're all doing, and being pushed to something greater, being pushed all the way to sacrifice.  But the journeys are different.  And each fascinating in their own way.

When I consider these movies, I don't really see them in relation to each other.  I became interested in them for different reasons, like them for different reasons, and in fact like them to varying degrees, not because one or the other pails in comparison, but because of their own merits.  In their own ways, they each embody the art of film-making remarkably, though, and that's something I admire equally in all three.

Monday, June 15, 2015

833. On the Passing of Christopher Lee

I delayed this tribute a little because I suspected there'd be a flood of them.  Sure enough there was.  And of course Christopher Lee deserves it.  The funny thing is a lot of what he's known for today skims only the surface of his life, the recent past, what one wonders he himself might have considered all that important in his experiences.  But this is what many of us have to work with.

And that means two roles, Saruman and Count Dooku.  Peter Jackson's greatest accomplishment in his Lord of the Rings trilogy was in the casting.  In truth given such a ridiculous bounty and a relatively thankless villain's role contrasted against Ian McKellen, Lee was almost easy to lose in the shuffle.  Then George Lucas came along and added him to the Star Wars prequels beginning with Attack of the Clones, in which he becomes the embodiment of Sith potency.  I've long championed these films and many a head has been scratched in trying to figure out why.  One of the reasons is Christopher Lee.  Having been introduced to him, in effect, through a relatively disappointing role, I found his Dooku a revelation.  During his discussion with the captive Obi-Wan Kenobi, Dooku dispenses with his apparent innocence in such a casual manner, the mark of a truly confident actor, and of course it's the acting that fans most complain about in these films, yet there's Lee commanding the scene so effortlessly, setting the stage for Ian McDiarmid's best work as Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, and it's here that perhaps the whole story Lucas has attempted to convey should be understood: Anakin Skywalker's fall is about frustrated youth, the extravagance of inexperience, everything we're denied so happily in the fallen world of the original trilogy with its very casual interpretation of heroism, the very thing Dooku shatters so elegantly...

The last time we see Lee in epic mode is in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  It's more of a cameo than anything, but the remarkable thing is that Saruman is reclaimed from the abyss in an instant, summoned for a moment of great heroism, the complete opposite of everything we'd seen previously from him.  It is very much like a fond farewell, not so much to the character but to the actor.  I realized as I was watching what a cherished moment this was set up to be, and it is undeniably the best sequence in the movie, perhaps the true justification of Jackson's return to Middle-Earth.

All of which is to say, farewell Christopher Lee.  You accomplished many things in your life.  One of them was to imprint yourself into our memories, in a way that will only continue to unfold.  As they say, the road goes ever on and on...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

832. The Top 50 TV Shows from the 2014-2015 Season

As reported in the June 8-21 edition of TV Guide, here are the top-rated (using a combination of live and delayed viewing) TV shows from the 2014-2015 season, with commentary.

1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Eighth season.
This is one of those popular things that's surprisingly unpopular on the Internet, mostly because the Internet is inevitably the home of people who "don't feel adequately represented" in the sitcom's depiction of geek culture.  I've longed self-identified myself with geek culture, and I've loved Big Bang Theory from the start.  Besides, it's one of the rare things I love that's also extremely popular.

2. NFL Sunday Night Football (NBC)

3. NCIS (CBS)
Twelfth season.
Officially survived the loss of Ziva.

4. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Fifth season.
Officially the geek alternative to The Big Bang Theory, by the way.  I maintain that it hasn't been worth watching since the death of Shane.  But at least Darryl is still around.

5. NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
First season.
This counts as vindication for Star Trek: Enterprise, by the way.  Officially did not kill the career of Scott Bakula.

6. Empire (Fox)
First season.
I count this as a victory in the career of Terrence Howard first and foremost.

7. NFL Thursday Night Football (CBS/NFL Network)

8. Scorpion (CBS)
First season.
I think this technically counts as the procedural version of The Big Bang Theory.

9. Blue Bloods (CBS)
Fifth season.
I've enjoyed this series in the past.  No real idea what it's been up to lately.

10. The Blacklist (NBC)
Second season.
James Spader in this particular version of creepy procedural.

11. How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
First season.
Shonda Rhymes with her newest and currently most successful series.

12. Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Nineteenth and twentieth seasons.
They just keep finding people who want to be famous who previously had other such opportunities not strictly related to dancing... 

13. Madam Secretary (CBS)
First season.
Political shows are periodically successful.  This is one of those.

14. Criminal Minds (CBS)
Tenth season.
Another show I've watched in the past.

15. The Voice (NBC)
16. The Voice (NBC)
Seventh and eighth seasons.
The series that single-handedly...made Adam Levine more mainstream than he already was.  Moves like Jagger!

17. Modern Family (ABC)
Sixth season.
Unlike Big Bang Theory hasn't proven particularly durable.

18. NFL Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Football is big business.  As if you didn't know.

19. Person of Interest (CBS)
Fourth season.
I haven't been able to watch a lot of TV lately.  This is the series I most regret losing track of.

20. Downton Abbey (PBS)
Fifth season.
Proof that success in television these days is absolutely not restricted to the networks or premium cable.

21. Scandal (ABC)
Fourth season.
The second of three Shonda Rhymes blockbusters.

22. NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Sixth season.
Ladies love cool James.

23. 60 Minutes (CBS)
Forty-seventh season.

24. Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
Fifth season.
The last time I caught it, I didn't see Scott Caan.  They can't take him away!

25. Castle (ABC)
Seventh season.
Something-something Nathan Fillion.

26. The Good Wife (CBS)
Sixth season.
At a certain point, doesn't the premise become entirely cancelled out?

27. Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Twelfth season.
So long and thanks for all the laughs.

28. The Mentalist (CBS)
Seventh season.
After the big reveal of Red John induced complete apathy, it was inevitable to learn this series was in fact about to be done.

29. Mom (CBS)
Second season.
Counts as the most successful new sitcom of the past two seasons.

30. American Idol (Fox)
Fourteenth season.
As if no one saw coming that the producers succeeded in killing its impact.  And so it's soon to be gone.  Finally.

31. Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Eleventh season.
They just killed off McDreamy.  But it'll take more than that the finish off the leader of the Shonda Rhymes brand.

32. Survivor (CBS)
Twenty-ninth and thirtieth seasons.
Long-time fan of this, so I can't complain.  And I was happy with one (Mike) of the two most recent winners, so can't complain.

33. The Odd Couple (CBS)
First season.
Some people hate remakes.  Some people have no concept that the whole history of mankind is littered with remakes.  This one is pretty good.

34. Elementary (CBS)
Third season.
Haven't watched it in a while but support it in general.  Because, Lucy Liu.

35. CSI (CBS)
Fifteenth season.
Just announced as finally being put to pasture.

36. CSI: Cyber (CBS)
First season.
But don't worry, this will still be around.

37. Chicago Fire (NBC)
Third season.
Inexplicably the lead in a whole franchise.

38. American Idol (Fox)
The fact that they kept up two nights all that time is kind of the reason...

39. Stalker (CBS)
First season.
Was actually cancelled.  They cancelled Maggie Q???

40. Chicago P.D. (NBC)
Second season.
The second in the Chicago franchise.  Inexplicably does not feature CM Punk at all.

41. Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Sixteenth season.
Listen, I'm happy this is the one that ended up lasting.  But even I wonder why it still exists.

42. Mike & Molly (CBS)
Fifth season.
The fact that Melissa McCarthy is so popular at the box office but nonexistent in a TV series she's been doing simultaneously...Mike & Molly, you're doing something horribly wrong.  How is it that you still haven't figured that out???

43. The Bachelor (ABC)
Nineteenth season.
Women like to watch.

44. Gotham (Fox)
First season.
The most successful of a generous helping of superhero TV series.

45. Game of Thrones (HBO)
Fifth season.
Hey, this is the season that features Alexander Siddig, right?  I might actually have to care about this series for a change...

46. 2 Broke Girls (CBS)
Fourth season.
I love this show's snark.

47. The Middle (ABC)
Sixth season.
I don't think it can be stressed enough how unfortunate it is that someone actually thought a sanitized version of Malcolm in the Middle was a good idea.

48. black-ish (ABC)
First season.
I hope this series is decent.

49. Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Fourth season.
So, bringing in Frozen did not make it a ratings juggernaut after all...

50. The Goldbergs (ABC)
Second season.
If you love the '80s...

It's worth noting that the series I most want to catch up with at some point is the CW's The Flash, which is a TV show I never thought could possibly happen, not only a second attempt for DC's scarlet speedster (after a similarly genius but short-lived version from a quarter-century earlier), but one that acknowledges that earlier series, does superheroes directly and without apologies, and shamelessly evokes familiar comic book material.


And Yahoo! just helped Community conclude a six season run, and that was a pleasure to see unfold among those expanded outlets that are also incredibly popular these days.


What did you watch?

Friday, May 15, 2015

831. If Harry Shearer really is done...

If Harry Shearer really is done with The Simpsons I can think of two things that might or should happen as a result.  Here they are:

1) Don't recast the characters he helped make iconic.  I mean seriously, the voice cast on The Simpsons is as iconic as anything else about the show, and it's been the same since the very beginning.  You could do mimics, or change the voices of all Shearer's character entirely...The better, the best option is to retire those characters.  The Simpsons is known for its sprawling cast.  It hasn't added many new characters in years, and even if it doesn't now, it could easily survive a trimming.  Part of the reason so many fans think, have thought for years that the show has been stale, stagnant, is that nothing has changed for years.  Every time something does change, it comes off as a publicity stunt.  Think of this as an opportunity to prove everyone wrong, once and for all.  I mean, South Park survived losing Chef (even though he was probably the best thing about it).  Shearer doesn't even voice any of the main characters.  And The Simpsons already survived losing its best voice actor, Phil Hartman, and retired his characters, right?  If worst come to worst, simply bring on Kelsey Grammer full-time.  That would be a challenge.  But it could also be the Sylar-ing of Sideshow Bob.  I think I could live with that, though.

2) This is a sign that The Simpsons is finally winding down.  Finally losing one of the iconic voice actors, after incredibly keeping all of them for twenty-six seasons, is already historic.  But if they've lost one, chances are becoming better that they will lose more.  And as I've already suggested, The Simpsons is nothing if not its voice cast plus everything else.  Emphasis on voice cast.  The show will end.  I'm not saying this because I'm gleeful about the prospect.  But it is inevitable.  And now we have a better idea of how it will happen.  And it seems pretty obvious now, doesn't it?


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

830. I was right but I wasn't right about these Star Trek episodes...

I've been committed to writing what I should probably start referring to as recommendations rather than outright reviews of every Star Trek episode for a few years now.  I happen to be a fan of the whole franchise, so I consider myself to be in a unique position to be fair to every series.  Part of the reason I've undertaken this task is because far too often Star Trek fans wear their biases on their sleeves.  If they hate a series, or particularly loved one, they can't even pretend to be objective.  And that's what I try to be.

I'm calling them recommendations rather than reviews because really, I can't be bothered to do the whole review thing.  This is too big a task to do such a tedious thing for every episode.  I don't want to analyze the whole story, scene for scene, but rather talk about what did or didn't work in it.  And because I'm approaching this as a guide to the whole franchise, I like to be inclusive of the whole franchise, with references to various series as points for comparison, as well as discussing the relative merits of an episode for the series in which it airs.

All that being said, recommendation over review provides me with an additional opportunity, because it's just as likely that anyone who watches any TV-related thing these days will binge.  This is not a new phenomenon, but it's an increasingly popular one.  So anyone watching any Star Trek at all will probably not cherry-pick but rather view en masse, episode after episode, seasons and indeed series at a time.  And they won't be consulting whatever I think along the way.  The point, then, is to give them perspective.  A recommendation helps put the episode in context, a review thinks the whole thing is a matter of life and death.

And really, it isn't.  Two episodes I've covered I actually had the chance to watch with fresh eyes recently, and the results were something different from what I recorded in my recommendations.  This is worth talking about for a number of reasons.  Opinions change.  That's something I think we all forget.  But when we put something down in words, we begin to think they take on permanence.  How silly of us.  The version of you that hated something yesterday might very well give way to a version of who that will love it tomorrow, not because the thing itself changed but because you began to think differently of it.  When I first heard U2's "Beautiful Day," it was accompanied by the music video, and Bono was trying especially hard to be a rock god in it.  I hated it.  I thought Bono was beyond obnoxious, and it created a giant rift between me and the Irish band.  I thought I'd stick by that opinion forever.  But soon enough, I came around, and actually, U2 became once and for all one of my favorite rock bands ever.  And I even love "Beautiful Day."  (No, I haven't revisited the music video.)

Two episodes from the original Star Trek series' second season, "Catspaw" and "I, Mudd," are what I'm really here to talk about.  "Catspaw" has the distinction of being one of the rare episodes I offered no basis at all for recommendation, while "I, Mudd" I wrote mostly about Harry Mudd and not much about the rest of the episode around him.  Here are some additional thoughts on both of them, although I won't be changing my previously established thoughts, which can be found here and here respectively.

"Catspaw," I originally argued, was a bad Halloween episode, specifically created for that holiday and as such easy to completely disregard.  The thing is, it's another in a long line of episodes throughout the franchise involving beings with unusual abilities messing around with Starfleet officers, and in some ways a unique one in that there are two such beings who can be played against each other.  Besides a Q episode or two, this never happens.  These were beings that uniformly had to be bested at the very end of the episode, and certainly never outsmarted.  In that sense, "Catspaw" has a good reason to watch.  But it's also somewhat completely ludicrous in concept, the very essence of why some fans will always say "Spock's Brain" or "Threshold" should be summarily dismissed (ask a Star Trek fan about those two).

"I, Mudd," meanwhile, does in fact have a lot to say about Harry Mudd, and while I gave it a generous recommendation, it eventually degenerates in full practice into a ludicrous display every bit the equal of if not worse than "Catspaw."  In order to defeat a civilization of artificial beings, Kirk persuades his crew to perform, essentially, experimental theater.  It becomes quite absurd.  In fact, anyone still looking for some reason to explain why the whole series had to fight an uphill battle to become a lasting phenomenon need look no further than "I, Mudd" for an explanation.  It's incredibly hard to take seriously.  And why did I, in that original recommendation?  Because I focused on the best element, which is Harry Mudd, another atypical element for the series that in that sense pushed it to something with a less limited appeal than was typical (i.e. Kirk and friends sit around bemused or in peril for an hour in general sci-fi mayhem), being a guy who stood his ground rather than backed down, being as much hero as villain (sort of, most of all in this appearance, anyway), having a killer mustache.

But on the whole, "Catspaw" is still as easy to dismiss as I originally did, and "I, Mudd" deserves less applause than I originally gave it.  Is there more to say about both than I did, and have?  Of course.  Tomorrow I might have more things to say about both of them, and really, no one will be interested.  People will either have seen what I've had to say and be interested, or they won't.  The point is, I've provided a point of reference.  What other people do with my thoughts is now in their hands, not mine.  And really, those people are just as likely to think something completely different than to agree with me.  That's another reason to write about an episode on the level of a recommendation rather than a review, because a recommendation is more capable of being objective than a review, which by definition is subjective, no matter how hard a critic might try to make it sound otherwise.  I personally tend to hate reviews, because most critics are painfully subjective, and they don't seem to realize or care.

So when I get to say an episode is generally terrible, it's easy to explain why, and when I get to explain how an episode that's generally regarded as terrible isn't, I get to talk about the things I like about it, that reflect well on the series, the franchise, storytelling in general...The thing is, when I say I like Star Trek, I'm recommending it as a storytelling vehicle, because I love good storytelling.  The best way to incur my wrath?  Fail at that.  Because at that point, I no longer see the point of the thing.

Monday, May 04, 2015

A to Z 2015 - Reflections

As some of you may have caught, I nearly didn't participate in A to Z this year because my mother died at the end of March.  In fact, the original material I did pursue at the start of the month was abandoned because I'm still trying to deal with her death, and sometimes it's a lot harder than other times.  Everyone dies.  But the awareness of death is a personal matter you can absolutely not estimate ahead of time.  She started dying, technically, in the fall of 2010, when she was first diagnosed with cancer, and there have been many rough patches along the way, including last April, which was the start of the traumatic end process...

I ended up switching topics to Star Trek, and that was hugely appropriate.  Even though she didn't become one of those die hard fans who typify interest in the franchise, my mother was one of its original viewers, and every time I popped in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, she'd cry when Spock dies.  (Except the last time.  But at that point, most of her was changing.  I clung and still do to the lasting remnants of who and what she had been throughout her life.)  In a very real sense, I owe my interest in Star Trek to her.

This being May the Fourth, however, I'm not going to continue talking about Star Trek, but rather switch topics once again.  Hey, why not?  Star Wars was a dominant feature of my childhood.  I grew up with four siblings, and Star Wars was one of the few things that united all of us.  We watched the original trilogy all the time.  It got to the point where my mother would literally fall asleep every single time we watched it, and we joked that she did see the whole thing, but only cumulatively speaking.  In hindsight it's probably clear that she was never quite as enthusiastic about Star Wars as we were.

But in her last year, my dad and I still got her to watch most of the movies all over again, and she was perfectly fine with that.  Star Wars had become a constant for her.

I've posted this video before, from How I Met Your Mother, how when Ted tries to understand how Stella has never seen Star Wars before, he and Marshall absolutely cannot understand it.  (For me, it's still baffling, and I absolutely mean it, that there was such a tremendous backlash to the prequels.  But people like what's spontaneous, a discovery.)  Here's the video again:


(It also baffles me that people hated How I Met Your Mother's ending.  But that's a topic for another day.)

Different people have different experiences.  This is sometimes extremely hard to appreciate, and very people are willing to admit this.  When we're forced to confront our differences, we also discover how different we really are.  But sometimes the differences are not as great as we think they are.

Taking part in A to Z for another year, no matter the circumstances and however much my experience was affected by those circumstances, or how little other people know Star Trek compared to me...this was actually the best experience I've had with it to date.  In past years I didn't really understand how it was supposed to work.  I don't mean in relation to others, but for me.  The moment I let go of my own expectations, I started to have fun.  I couldn't ask for better than that.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

828. I love you, Robert Downey Jr., but...

In an interview he gave during the promotion for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Robert Downey Jr. brought up how he generally doesn't care for independent filmmaking.  Read about it here.

Now, I may be misconstruing the guy, but...really?  Indy filmmaking saved your career, buddy.  It was buzz from movies like 2003's The Singing Detective, 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and for me personally appearances in 2007's Lucky You and Charlie Bartlett where I began to like him at all.  This was all post-scandal/rehab/Robert-Downey-Jr.-is-dead-to-Hollywood! material.  I know he came up from the '80s, but I have never seen an '80s Robert Downey Jr. movie.  There are people now who probably aren't particularly aware that he's ever been known for anything but Iron Man.

And don't get me wrong: I'm absolutely glad that the guy had this remarkable comeback.  He's the best thing (aside from Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson) about the Avengers movies, and easily the reason they became so big in the first place.  Tony Stark, in the hands of Robert Downey Jr., is absolutely the second coming of Jack Sparrow.  Because of Iron Man, he's gotten to make other successful films, too (Tropic Thunder, the Sherlock Holmes series, Due Date).

It just seems that he's started to let it go to his head.  It's natural.  Any sustained success, for anyone, usually leads to this.  It's the way to world works.  But it's also disappointing, because when you looked up the definition of "humble," just a few years ago, you would have seen this guy's face next to it.  He took it in stride, seemed completely grateful at this unlikely turn of events.  And I'm not saying he needed to feel grateful or that he should feel humble, but...seriously dude, some of your best movies were low-budget, little-seen flicks.  I don't know if he had miserable experiences making those movies, but for me it's hard to imagine Robert Downey Jr. without movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Charlie Bartlett in his credits.  I'd watch The Soloist a thousand times before caring about whether or not his latest movie was easy to make, had a huge budget, and made hundreds of millions.

Does this diminish his credibility?  Yeah.  That's what I'm saying.  Certainly you can't expect everyone to like the craft of what they do.  And this is a guy who has spent most of his life making movies.  But it also seems like he's saying, now, that it's only worth it if, yes, it's easy to make, has a big budget, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars.  Thereby diminishing a large portion of his legacy in roles other than those spent in tin suits.

But the thing is, it doesn't really matter what Robert Downey Jr. thinks.  It's his job to make movies.  What happens to those movies once he's made them is no longer in his hands.  (This begins to relate to a discussion that has unfolded elsewhere, but I won't get much more into that here.)  So maybe whatever he's saying in press statements now doesn't matter after all.  He's also had people chuckling recently because of how suavely he handled walking away from a different interview that wanted to touch on a different aspect of his past entirely.  Whatever.  Let's talk Iron Man!  And move on...



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