Tag Archives: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Dark Knight Rises, but only so high

30 Aug

Everything comes to an end in Christopher Nolan’s ambitious conclusion to his Batman Trilogy. Set eight years after The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a guilt-ridden recluse content with his tarnished reputation. A powerful, new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) has a complex plan to destroy Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises is a good film, but not a great film. Nolan tries to do too much with Bane. A “revolution” of convicts running around didn’t work well in the first film and it doesn’t work in this one either. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was brilliantly played, but she became one of Nolan’s unnecessary moving parts, although she contribute in the end; she serves as Batman’s deus ex machina rather than something she can stick her claws in.  The expectations were unreasonably high for the third film, but it cannot be used as an excuse for some basic story problems. The Dark Knight Rises, but only so high.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade for IMAX: B+
Chuck’s Grade for Standard Screen: B-

Inception questions our understanding of reality

28 Jun


With Inception, Christopher Nolan has established himself as one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood. His multi-layered plot filled with jaw-dropping visuals, adept acting from an ensemble cast, and well-paced action is like no other blockbuster to date. Nolan challenges his audience to think, as opposed to simply enduring one explosion after another. This has led to a love it or leave it response to this film.

Leonardo DiCaprio takes on one of his most complex roles as Cobb, a professional thief hired to commit corporate espionage by infiltrating the minds of his targets and leaving an idea that would benefit Cobb’s employer. Inception is an original film that successfully makes the “familiar strange and the strange familiar” by blurring the borders of the conscious mind with the subconscious dream world to the point audiences are questioning their own reality as they leave the cinema. We love it and hope to see Cobb again in our theater of dreams.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A+

Lincoln passes the bill

3 May


Director Steven Spielberg takes on the enormous task of dramatizing President Abraham Lincoln’s quest to pass the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives. He employs Tony Kushner to develop a screenplay about the most pivotal moment in the United States’s history. Like most political films, the negotiation process can be tedious, but Kushner and Spielberg find a way to keep the story moving, although at times some of the scenes feel deliberate and staged. The cast is an assortment of Hollywood’s most respected actors playing some of America’s most polarizing figures. Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant as the Commander in Chief and his performance, as well as his stature dwarfs everyone else in the film. Tommy Lee Jones as Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens makes his mark in the film and casts his vote with authority. In summation, I would like to use a quote from the character Schuyler-Colfax in regards to Lincoln, “This isn’t usual, Mr. Pendleton. This is history.”


Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: B+

(500) Days of Summer

17 Apr


Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber create an original romantic comedy that is not a love story, but a story about love. The familiar tale of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and girl breaks up with boy for no reason and boy loses it. The indie hit (500) Days of Summer employs a nonlinear approach to capture those moments we want to remember and the others we cannot forget. The film jumps from Day 108 to Day 7 seamlessly because it doesn’t need to show us everyday; just the important ones. Director Marc Webb has a knack for the letting the story unfold while watching the relationship soar only to unravel at the same time.

The levity generated from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel’s performances is a match made in heaven. Their chemistry together makes them one of the iconic couples of the 21st century. I would love to see a 500 Days of Autumn.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A

Elektra Luxx gets tongue tied

16 Apr


I was searching Netflix and found a film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt called Elektra Luxx. It is a spoof on an adult film star trying to break away from the business because of an unexpected pregnancy. Unfortunately, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is not the feature actor, but his appearance are funny and campy. Carla Gugino plays the title role has some hilarious moments, but many of them are lost with a wordy script that never delivers the goods. There is also an appearance by Julianne Moore as the Virgin Mary and Adrianne Palicki (Holly Rocket) has the most ridiculous lines I have heard in a long time.  The main problem for me rests with the script. It sounded like an actors workshop project that was still in development. Some lines aren’t funny while others try to explain the joke with too much detail. I love the cast and the concept, but at times, I wanted to fast-forward to get to the “good” parts.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: N/A

50/50 is a risky endeavor

19 Dec


This may sound strange, but screenwriter Will Reiser writes a funny script about cancer. Based on experiences from his own struggle with the disease, Reiser puts together a heartfelt comedy about one of the scariest subjects that has touched almost every person in someway, whether it be a family member, friend, or past acquaintance.

Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27-year-old radio journalist that finds out he has a rare form of cancer. His chances of survival are 50/50, which he intends to beat, but his condition affects his relationship with his girlfriend and his piece of mind. He begins seeing a therapist (Anna Kendrick) while his mother (Angelica Huston) becomes more overbearing than normal and his best friend (Seth Rogan) keeps Adam on his toes.

50/50 is a risky endeavor, but the comedy does not distract from the drama at hand. This film works on many levels, but its strength comes from the inspired writing and solid performances from the cast.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Hesher moves in

20 Nov

I really enjoyed Hesher on many levels. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Hesher) continues to rack up cult hits with his character choices. I sat in the theater wondering what Hesher was going to do next. It was like swinging on a pendulum. One second your laughing and having a good time, and then the next you’re cringing and thinking to yourself that this guy is “not right.” This movie spends a lot of time on the surface with Hesher’s appearance and soundtrack, but the film has a heart and it beats stronger when it is needed the most. It is a dark comedy that borders on Theatre of the Absurd, but brings audiences back to reality with the kinds of human choices and mistakes people make. For some reason, this is one of those films that remind you of two films put together. For me, I couldn’t stop thinking Hesher reminded me of Bad Santa meeting Little Miss Sunshine.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: C+

Looper does not live up to its full potential

30 Sep

Looper has the potential to be an A plus film, but it falls short because it is unable to hold all the great ideas together for the whole film.  Don’t get me wrong, I will probably watch this film ten or fifteen more times when it hits, dvd, Netflix, and eventually cable, but there were parts that just felt “clunky” and a couple of the relationships were unnecessarily forced, especially between Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Sara (Emily Blunt).  The story about assassins earning silver for their “timely” delivered hits, and eventually gold for closing the loop is novel and exciting for any sci-fi fan looking for a new film. The antagonistic relationship between the present Joe and the future Joe (Bruce Willis) is an unexpected and a refreshing change from n0rmal Hollywood hero fare. Writer/Director Rian Johnson’s talent is undeniable. All three of his films leave you talking about his movies. This film is really good, but not great.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: B+

Brick is a neo noir classic

28 Sep

This film caught me completely off-guard when I watch it on DVD a couple of years ago.  Here was a neo-noir film set in a contemporary high school where an underground drug ring was somehow connected to Brendan’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) ex-girlfriend’s murder. The film has all the classic noir characteristics that make up a great 1930s detective story: noir vocabulary, femme fatales, mysterious characters, unique names, double crosses, and an honest “detective” that methodically gets to the truth.

Brick is writer/director Rian Johnson’ s debut feature film, which earns him several festival awards and nominations in the process.  It puts him on the map as a talented and up and coming director. Gordon-Levitt gives a convincing performance in the leading role, but Lukas Haas as “The Pin” steals the scenes with his character’s quirky nuances. Nora Zehetner and Meagan Good play the roles of the femme fatales perfectly, and the film’s twists keeps the audiences guessing  until the very end.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: B+

Mysterious Skin adapted into a great film

27 Sep

Mysterious Skin is one of those films that people want to tell others about, but don’t know where to begin because the subject matter is so difficult to bring up in casual conversation. Only one of my friends was interested in seeing a film about two boys dealing with the post-traumatic effects of sexual abuse. Neil played honestly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt becomes a prostitute while the other boy, Brain (Brady Corbet) develops psychogenic amnesia and becomes obsessed with alien abduction.

Director/Screenwriter Gregg Araki based his film off Scott Heim’s 1996 novel with the same name. It is a powerful adaptation that finds a way to balance extremely intense and uncomfortable scenes with moments where Brian learns about Neil’s life, until finally seeing for the first time in ten years. Gordon-Levitt gives one of most powerful and underrated performances of his career. The film shows Gordon-Levitt maturing before our eyes into a serious actor for years to come.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: B+