As the man who recently got to make out with Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the envy of Reddit. But though he answered a lot of unprofessional questions (see below), Gordon-Levitt talked a lot about the film he recently wrote, directed, and starred in, Don Jon. The film centers around a man with a porn addiction (Gordon-Levitt), who falls in love with Johannson's character. Naturally, Reddit was interested in the film, among other things. Here are the best answers from his Reddit AMA.
On why he wears mismatching socks: "My brother always wore mismatched socks. I inherited his collection."
On any reservations he might have had about his family seeing the sexually explicit Don Jon: "My mom in particular really loves the movie. She brought up my brother and me with a lot of the ideals of the feminist movement(s) of the 60s and 70s. DON JON is largely a comedic satire of how our culture treats people (especially women) more like things than like people."
On why he's not Batman: "We are all Batman."
On the inexplicable JGLGiraffes meme: "If giraffes made a sound I would write it as an onomatopoeia in this reply."
On why he's recently delved into writing and directing: "I've been making little short films and videos for a long time. Since I was a kid. Then for my 21st birthday, I got myself my first copy of Final Cut. Love cutting. I've made hundreds of little things over the years. Don Jon didn't feel like a short though. It felt like a traditional feature length movie."
The secret to improving one's wardrobe: "A snazzy smile :o)"
On whether he prefers sweet romantic comedy roles or action flicks: "I like the variety. Changing all the time. Identity is a creative process."
The first movie he remembers seeing: "DUMBO"
His advice for picking up women: "Put on your listening cap"
If he put Don Jon into Haiku form: "fap fap fap fap fap / fap fap fap fap fap fap fap / fap fap fap fap fap"
On his preparation for Premium Rush: I rode every day for several months. Got thirty-two stitches once, going through the rear windshield of a taxi-cab. It's at the end of the credits, wait dude, did you see the movie?
On his future in musical theater: "Chan [Channing Tatum] and I definitely want to do a musical together. Guys and Dolls is one idea we're playing around with. Not sure if it'll happen, we'll see. But whatever it ends up being, it's gonna be frickin rad."
What he looks for in a woman: "I do my very best to not have any rigid expectations. I think the best, juiciest, mind blowing love comes as a surprise. If you're already looking for the items on your wish list, you're doomed. This is exactly what DON JON is about. Both my character and Scarlett's character are blinded by unrealistic expectations they've learned from pornography and Hollywood movies."
The most memorable class he's taken: "In highschool? AP US History. Mr. Bechtel."
On what he's learned from Christopher Nolan: "I was shooting TDKR when I first finished a draft of DON JON. I told Chris I was planning on directing a movie, and he was super supportive. In his characteristically understated way. He never blows smoke with a bunch of compliments. He just started asking me a bunch of questions. What budget was I thinking? How many days would we need to shoot it? Could we do it all in one city? He's a very detail-oriented director, and having him asking me those questions implied a confidence in me that I found warmly encouraging."
On whether he feels the same way about Catcher in The Rye as he did in 1997 (check out the hilarious video of a long-haired, dorky Gordon-Levitt below):"Yes."
On whether he actually paid to market Don Jon on porn sites: "Definitely. We're also advertising on "chick flick" stuff and on the NFL. All of which are media that is featured in DON JON. It's a movie about media culture, it should be in the media!"
On why he wanted Scarlett Johansson for Don Jon:"First of all because she's hilarious. See her on SNL? And she balances comedy and sincerity with a delicacy few actors can. Besides that, I thought she'd be a powerful presence in the movie because she's an acute example of what the movie's about. Scarlett is an extremely smart person, and a very talented artist. And yet most of what gets talked about is her looks. This part of our culture is what DON JON is poking fun at."
On internet piracy: "You know, what the RIAA calls piracy is tricky. I can't be too mad at it. When something can be duplicated infinitely at virtually no cost, it's hard to apply traditional economic rules to it. I think/hope in the future, we'll all be able to watch whatever movie we want to whenever we want to."
Comparing 500 Days of Summer and Don Jon:"I actually think the thesis of 500 Days of Summer is sorta similar to that of Don Jon. In fact, I think the 500 Days character, Tom, is a lot like Jon. Of course, they have very different styles. But they both start out the story pretty selfish. Tom doesn't really listen to Summer. He's projecting his ideal fantasy onto her. He's treating her more like a thing than like a person. Jon does this same thing to everyone in his life. The women he seduces, his friends, his family, even himself. But by the end, he's begun to break out of his mold and grow up a bit."
On the changes in his 3rd Rock from the Sun character: "I suppose the longer anyone spends on earth, the closer we all get to becoming superfluous characters."
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In a post on EW.com, the Carrie writer admits he's intrigued by what the reclusive Salinger wrote and didn't publish in the last three decades of his life.
King says, "I’m sorry to hear of his passing - the way you’d feel if you heard an eccentric, short-tempered, but often fascinating uncle had passed away.
"It is a milestone of sorts, because Salinger was the last of the great post-WWII American writers, and in (his The Catcher in the Rye anti-hero) Holden Caulfield - maybe the greatest American-boy narrator since (Tom Sawyer character) Huck Finn - he created an authentic Voice of the Age: funny, anxious, at odds with himself, and badly lost.
"Salinger’s death may answer one question that has intrigued readers, writers, and critics for nearly half a century - what literary trove of unpublished work may he have left behind? Much? Some? Or none? Salinger is gone, but if we’re lucky, he may have more to say, even so."
Salinger passed away at his home in New Hampshire on Wednesday (27Jan10). He was 91.
Based on Chris Van Allsburg's enchanting award winning children's book the story begins on a snowy Christmas Eve where a doubting young boy lies in his bed waiting to hear the sound he doesn't know if he believes in anymore: the tinkle of Santa's sleigh bells. What he hears instead however is the thunderous roar of an approaching train where no train should be: it's the Polar Express. Rushing outside in only a robe and slippers the incredulous boy meets the train's conductor who urges him to come onboard. Suddenly the boy finds himself embarking on an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with a number of other children--including a girl who has the tools to be a good leader but lacks confidence; a know-it-all boy who lacks humility; and a lonely boy who just needs to have a little faith in other people to make his dreams come true. Together the children discover that the wonder of Christmas never fades for those who believe. As the conductor wisely advises "It doesn't matter where the train is going. What matters is deciding to get on." Gives ya goose bumps doesn't it?
Talk about a vanity project for Tom Hanks. He portrays several of the characters in the film--the conductor the hobo who mysteriously appears and disappears on the Polar Express the boy's father. Wait isn't that Hanks playing Santa Claus as well? But if anyone can pull off some cheesy dialogue about the spirit of Christmas this Oscar-winning actor can. Interestingly the film also incorporates adults to play the children (none of the characters have names actually) with Hanks as the Hero Boy; Hanks' Bosom Buddies pal Peter Scolari as the Lonely Boy; The Matrix Revolutions Nona Gaye as the Hero Girl; and veteran voice actor Eddie Deezen as the Know-It-All Boy. Everyone does a good job but trying to make CGI-created people seem real is a difficult undertaking. With
The Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis has created an entirely new way to do computer animation called "performance capture." "[It's a process that] offers a vivid rendering of the Van Allsburg world while infusing a sense of heightened realism into the performances. It's like putting the soul of a live person into a virtual character " visual effects wizard and longtime Zemeckis collaborator Ken Ralston explains. Oh is that all? Problem is no matter how hard they try it doesn't work--not completely. Similar to flaws in the 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within virtual characters just can't convey human emotion as well as real-life actors plain and simple. And with a touching story like Polar Express that real-life connection is missed at times.
Of course like the images in the book it's still an exceptionally beautiful film to watch. Zemeckis enjoys being a filmmaking innovator. He charmed audiences with a lively blend of live action and manic animation in the 1988 classic action comedy Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? and then wowed them with the 1994 Oscar-winning Forrest Gump blending authentic archival footage of historic figures with the actors. Now with The Polar Express it's this performance capture which gives Zemeckis unlimited freedom in creating the world he wants. And boy does he make use of it. True the story is a classic but the director knows he has to make The Polar Express exciting for the tykes-- simply riding around in a train to North Pole without any thrills certainly wouldn't be enough for the ADD world we live in. To accomplish this the film is padded with exhilarating scenes such as the train going on a giant roller coaster ride through the mountains and across frozen lakes (too bad Warner Bros. doesn't have a theme park) and the boy's race across the top of the snowy Polar Express. Even the North Pole is a booming magical Mecca filled with some pretty boisterous (and weird looking) elves who like to send Santa off in style Christmas Eve--watch out for Aerosmith's Steven Tyler making a cameo as a jammin' elf. Ho-ho-ho!
Justine Last (Jennifer Aniston) lives the kind of life that rarely makes the big screen. She spends her days giving makeovers at the Retail Rodeo and her nights watching her house painter husband of seven years Phil (John C. Reilly) and his best friend Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson) sit on her couch and get high. All of that changes though when she meets Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) the new cashier. The eager yet troubled young poet/screenwriter/novelist-to-be captures her imagination and eventually becomes her lover. In classic moments of small-Southern-town trysting he takes her to his room in his parents' house and arranges meetings outside the Chuck E. Cheese's. They shack up in a motel at the edge of town; they rendezvous at a lake in the country. Throughout the affair though Justine is torn and guilty wanting to be a "good girl " but finding herself a hateful woman--a self-proclaimed adulteress and a liar. This is no whitewashed fantasy of a romantic affair between an older woman and a younger man. This affair is your sister's your brother's your husband's your wife's. It's real it's gritty and it's painful. Ultimately Holden's love for Justine becomes morbid and obsessive causing her to realize that the man she thought would change her life was in fact "at best a child and at worst--a demon." Justine is then forced to choose: this obsessive love and the excitement it brings or a stable--if boring--life with her husband.
Aniston proves her mettle at last in a role that finally allows her to do so; no one who sees this film will ever again accidentally call her "Rachel" (her character on the ubiquitous sitcom Friends). Her performance perfectly captures the tension of wanting to be a "good girl" yet secretly yearning to be selfish. You know she's dueling with herself as she makes decision after decision that leads inexorably to the film's tragic ending and you feel her pain. Justine is flawed like all the rest of us and Aniston brings this humanity to the forefront creating one of the most realistic heroines in recent history. Gyllenhaal too is perfectly cast as the brooding intense Holden. He captures the duality screenwriter Mike White writes into nearly all the characters in this movie: You want to snuggle Holden one minute; the next you wish he'd just go away. Reilly and Nelson also demonstrate a not inconsiderable subtlety in roles that could easily have become caricatures; instead the tension between what these guys wanted from life and what they ultimately ended up with accentuates Justine's turmoil and deepens the film's theme. On the film's lighter side White puts in a hilariously dark turn as Corny the Bible-thumping security guard at Retail Rodeo and Zooey Deschanel is excellent as the classic employee with an attitude hurling insults at Retail Rodeo customers over the loudspeaker as she announces the latest bargain on aisle eight.
The Good Girl doesn't look like much. Darkness and shadows invade every corner of the screen at one point or another the sets are fairly commonplace and the costumes are simple: Lee jeans smocks plaid shirts and painter's pants. Even Aniston's pink bathrobe is dull and washed out. The Good Girl is a smart delicately ironic and insightful partnership between a brilliant screenwriter (White) and a director (Miguel Arteta) who know exactly how to bring words to life on the screen. And The Good Girl does come to life in a well-paced funny quirky package that leaves you thinking that above all what you have seen is a slice of truth in a mixed-up crazy world.
When Professor Utonium (voiced by Tom Kane) creates Bubbles (voiced by Tara Strong) Blossom (voiced by Cathy Cavadini) and Buttercup (voiced by E. G. Daily) he's as excited and proud as any new parent. Then they start to fly around the room. From there we're treated to several scenes of "growing up Powerpuff " from their first peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (crusts cut off using infrared vision) to their first day at the Pokey Oats School (they learn to play tag and destroy the town doing it). When the townspeople see the destruction the girls have wrought they imprison the professor print nasty newspaper headlines ("Freaky Bug-Eyed Weirdo Girls Broke Everything") and vow to get those pesky kids. Disillusioned and depressed the outcast girls find solace and sympathy in an alley with a hobo named Jojo (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) who assures them in no uncertain terms that he is in the same boat. "Alas little ones " he says "I do not rock." But Jojo does have a plan: With a little help from the girls he'll build a machine that will make everything better--and the townspeople will like them again. In a life lesson on why you shouldn't talk to strangers the girls believe him and so they end up using their powers to help him achieve what is actually a diabolical goal--to take over Townsville using an army of mutant simians. Once the girls realize the error of their ways they battle Jojo (who's now calling himself "Mojo Jojo") and his army of monkeys attempting to save the world before bedtime--and to earn the trust of the townspeople.
The squeaky-clean voices of actors playing the Powerpuff Girls seem perfectly suited to the bug-eyed fin-fingered creatures; they're somehow innocent and experienced at the same time especially Daily's Buttercup. Strong's Bubbles certainly does bubble and Cavadini's Blossom imparts the steely resolve that makes her the leader of the pack. For comic punch though the monkeys really steal the show--Jackson's Jojo is supreme evil animated and he lets you know it. Kane's ability to perfectly capture the tone of a 1950s elementary school documentary voiceover should not go unnoticed either.
When Professor Utonium set out to create some little girls he didn't mean for them to have super powers. It just kind of happened when a little "Chemical X" got thrown into the mix. The same could be said of director/screenwriter Craig McCracken's final product: It's not a great film--even by kids' film standards--especially compared to the original TV show. It's slow in key places (the game of tag is interminable and the monkey battles go on and on) and kids will probably lose interest quickly as a result. But there are a few "X" factors that make it interesting for both kids and grownups as long as they can be persuaded to keep watching. First monkey jokes. The monkey army that Mojo Jojo attempts to lead is full of sneaky tricks for obliterating the town and wresting control from Jojo including baboon butt bombs the "sauce of chaos" and a barrel that rolls over things in the street including people and a dog that looks suspiciously like Snoopy. Second Planet of the Apes references. Buttercup rails at one of the chimps to "get your hands off him you darn dirty ape!" Third a mayor with an obsession for large green pickles sold from a cart: he's bizarre and slightly disturbing but nonetheless entertaining.