Monday, May 10, 2010

Bliss Part 15

The Robert Downey Jr (RDJ) saga continues.

I'm no longer a diehard cinephile, preferring to vegetate at home with my DVD player / laptop these days. But I made the effort to catch Iron Man 2 at the theatre last Wednesday.

And it was sooooo worth it. :)

Was it as good as Iron Man? I would say yes. Despite having established the superhero's background story - which made for quite a few cool scenes as Stark experimented with his invention in the first film - the sequel had its fair share of thrills and spills.

And since I assume everyone's seen the movie - if you haven't, then the spoilers probably won't matter anyhow - I'll just state for the record that the crash-cum-Whiplash-vs-Iron-Man-blowout scene at the Monaco Grand Prix was quite an eye-popper!

Especially Stark's super-awesome briefcase that transformed into a self-assembling Iron Man suit. Woooo. :D

RDJ is in his element, as always. Arrogant and politically incorrect, Tony Stark is clearly having the time of his life flaunting his wealth and new-found fame, and now battles not one, but two, villains, comprising a Russian rogue physicist ( a severely under-utilized Mickey Rourke, but nice accent ) and an unscrupulous arms dealer ( a most superb Sam Rockwell ).

Along the way, he is aided by his US Army pal Lieutenant-Colonel Rhodes ( I still prefer Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle ), his trusty assistant Pepper Potts ( good chemisty ), and now, Agent Romanoff, played by the sultry Scarlett Johansson ( she doesn't do much acting, but boy does she look good in a skin-tight ?leather? suit! ).

And if you weren't hanging onto the edge of your seat in the climactic showdown with a terrifying army of drones, I ask: are you dead?

So gushing over Iron Man 2 aside, I've been catching up with RDJ's filmography, and count approximately 15 films of his that I've seen over the past 20 years.

The earliest one being Chances Are from 1989, when he was 24, and I was 14.

It's one of those dead-husband-reincarnated-as-a-young-man type of comedies. Fluffy stuff, but memorable because RDJ did a great job with the limited material he had. And those huge eyes framed by long lashes went a long way in making him a credible romantic figure. There's a piano scene which is quite breath-taking. Am sure it's on the Internet somewhere. :)

Other RDJ movies I've caught: Only You, Chaplin ( his best by far ), Air America, U.S. Marshals, Bowfinger ( small role ), Gothika ( dumb show but worth watching just for RDJ alone ), Zodiac ( terrific performance, very tormented ), Tropic Thunder ( hilarious, though all the explosions gave me a headache at the end ), the Iron Man series, The Soloist, and of course, his stint on Ally McBeal, which almost heralded his comeback before his drug addiction relapsed.

Which reminds me - I'd like to rewatch his Ally McBeal episodes, just to see how I'll react now that I've become a much bigger fan.

My favourite RDJ film thus far, however, is Sherlock Holmes. And I couldn't be more pleased to read that a sequel is already in pre-production, also to be directed by Guy Ritchie.

The reviews were not kind, even though Holmes made a nice profit at the box office. I remember critics disapproving of the manner in which the great detective was portrayed, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

RDJ plays his character with debonair charm and great panache, yet infuses it with an undercurrent of personal torment. I thought the latter was rather prominent in a tense scene where Holmes meets Watson's fiancee, Mary, for the first time. His attention to detail impresses her initially, but this is quickly derailed when he later makes a wrong assumption and ends up with wine dripping down his face.

The script doesn't explain why Holmes behaved in such a cruel manner, especially when assessing his best friend's future wife. But I found it utterly fascinating - surely there must be something in his murky past to account for his cynicism? Let's hope the sequel will help us solve the mystery. :)

While RDJ's impersonation of Charlie Chaplin was flawless, here he breaks away from the Holmes we've all become familiar with ( i.e. stuffed old shirt in a gawky getup ) and turns a British sleuth flick into an international blockbuster.

I could listen to his accent forever - it's absolutely perfect!

Jude Law is also aptly cast as the more serious half of the duo. He shares terrific chemistry with RDJ - even more than Rachel McAdams, who's Holmes' romantic interest.

They've got quite a number of bickering scenes, one of which had me laughing out loud. It's around the 36th minute. Holmes points his violin bow at Watson, irritating the latter and causing him to remark, "Get that out of my face."
Holmes then nonchalantly replies, "It's not in your face, it's in my hand."
To which Watson counters, "Get what's in your hand out of my face."

I love it! :D

So before I sign off, here're a couple of excellent YouTube clips of RDJ:

Part of a Jimmy Kimmel interview - he mentions Singapore, heh!

He's also an accomplished pianist and singer, so you can listen to him covering The Police's Every Breath You Take, together with choice video snippets from the Ally McBeal series.

Last but not least, part of the awesome Grand Prix scene from Iron Man 2!

Till next time...

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