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Tag Archives: Paul Rudd

6 Good Actors Whose Careers Confound Me

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There are times when I’d like to take certain good actors aside and simply ask them, “What the hell is going on with you?” Clearly, something has happened to pull them into a lengthy rut of bad or mediocre projects. I’d just like to know what it is.



At some point, several years ago, Broderick’s film work downshifted from intelligent/neurotic to intelligent/low-key. Then he continued on to intelligent/wake-me-when-my-scene-starts. Perhaps the former star of such brilliant films as “Election” and the iconic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” decided to confine his charisma to his much-lauded stage work. Even so, I’d love to see him fully engage in a movie part that offers a wider range of emotions than self-loathing and ironic detachment.



I’ll start by acknowledging that Braugher, one of my favorite actors, continues to do fine work, primarily on TV. He was excellent in “Men of a Certain Age,” and some guest appearances on “House,” for instance. My quibble is that this guy has the gravitas to do Shakespeare, “Death of a Salesman” – or at least a big-time project on HBO. Anyone who saw even one of his scenes in the old “Homicide” series knows what I mean.



It pains me to think there are people who know Ryder more for her personal problems (shoplifting and the like) than for her excellent performances in such films as “Heathers,” “Reality Bites” and “Little Women.” Her talent back then was considerable, and presumably it still resides within her. Why, then, was she playing Spock’s MOM in the “Star Trek” reboot?



I think Arkin is a brilliant actor, a rare combination of intelligence, sarcasm, physicality and soulfulness. Yet he seems to pop up only fleetingly, such as his wonderful character work in last year’s “The Sessions.” He tends to play smaller roles as bosses, husbands, lawyers and shrinks. Just once, I’d like to see a project that revolves entirely around him.



You know what I can’t figure out about Rudd’s career? It’s that he’s terrific in splashy, supporting roles (“Anchorman,” “Knocked Up”) but kind of bland in leading roles (“Admission,” “Dinner for Schmucks”). There has to be a way to take his supporting actor spark and expand it when he’s carrying a whole movie.



I watched “The Grifters” not long ago and found myself wondering what happened to that John Cusack guy. The guy who was amazing in “High Fidelity” and “Being John Malkovich.” God knows I have a ton of respect for Cusack’s disdain for conventionality, but I humbly think it’s time for him to move beyond stuff like “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “The Raven.”

Fingers crossed that better films and TV projects are in the works for all of them.

Jimbo’s Film Faves of 2011

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The Jimbo List would never presume to pick the best films of the year. That’s a job for a film critic. Instead, here are 10 movies from 2011 I personally loved. Maybe you liked them, too.


I know people are more likely to talk about Brad Pitt’s work in “Tree of Life,” but I thought this one was better. He made audiences care about a baseball executive trying to rethink everything about his sport. It’s both a story about the way metrics are reshaping our society and a story about the personal calculations we all make in our lives.


Paul Giamatti continues to astound me. Here he modulates his intensity to play a good, decent family man struggling with the boatload of crap we all face. Sometimes he gets it right and sometimes he doesn’t. The wonderful Amy Ryan is here, as well.


Much like Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig slips into this zone where she can be outrageous while also being low key in the same performance. Quite remarkable. Add in a powerhouse comedy performance by Melissa McCarthy and you’ve struck gold, Jerry, gold!


This movie about a distant dad dealing with a family crisis is far from perfect. Yet it has so much interesting stuff to say, and so many worthwhile moments, that it stayed with me. Director Alexander Payne’s movies always have a way of making life seem like a ride in a fast-moving vehicle over which you have only partial control.


Speaking of fast moving vehicles, here was a perfect role for Matthew McConaughey. He’s an ultra slick defense attorney who deals with clients ranging from biker gangs to wealthy children of privilege. The film is slick, too, but in a good way. Plenty of twists, turns, thrills and even charm.


I’m a big Paul Rudd fan, but I’ve been disappointed sometimes when he plays the lead role in a film. He’s best when he has an odd edge to his characters. In “Our Idiot Brother” he gets to do both. Although it’s highly contrived, the film is hilariously on point in its relationships between siblings and other family members. And it offers Rudd a great, cathartic scene toward the end.


This romantic comedy is not of my generation, but it has something timeless: witty banter. Not only that, there’s actual chemistry between Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. I wouldn’t be surprised if this developed a larger following later on, the way “When Harry Met Sally” did after its first release.


For my money, “Margin Call” had the best ensemble cast of the year: Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto. The movie is riveting, set at a Wall Street brokerage house just before the 2008 economic collapse. Fair warning, though – it will make you angry all over again.


The title refers not only to the main character’s chances of surviving cancer, but also, I’d say, to the excellent balance between tragedy and comedy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen are top notch here. With tons of humor, they show how personal ordeals may be solitary journeys, but they’re a hell of a lot easier with loving friends and family sharing parts of the trip.


Just terrific in so many ways. The performances by Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent are winning; the talking pooch is inspired. And beyond the central plot of a guy whose elderly father comes out of the closet, there’s a visual sensibility to this movie that is inventive and fresh. When McGregor’s sad character goes to a party and meets an intriguing woman, it feels both clever and real. Great stuff.

So what are the movies that moved YOU this year?