Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Lookout

Scott Frank wrote some of the best films of the past 20 years. His work on Out of Sight, Get Shorty, and Minority Report is nothing short of fantastic. After plenty of experience as a screenwriter Frank finally got behind the camera in 2007 with The Lookout. His snowy neo-noir was a hit with critics, but didn’t perform quite as well at the box office. That’s a shame, because it’s an exceptional dramatic thriller, boasting outstanding performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Isla Fisher, Matthew Goode, and Jeff Daniels. You also couldn’t ask for a more rewarding script: it takes its time for quiet moments, and yet moves at an exceedingly fast clip; everything set up has a satisfying payoff; and Frank’s original story plays with archetypes. The friendly cop could’ve been a bumbling moron with a gun, but when he’s in a shootout, he’s portrayed as a genuinely competent enforcer. Frank also subverts expectations with Lovlee (Isla Fisher), an empathetic, three-dimensional femme fatale. There’s so much to love about this movie, which is why it’s disappointing Frank hasn’t directed more the past few years. After a seven year gap we’re seeing his sophomore effort A Walk Among the Tombstones hit theaters in a few weeks. It’s a detective story perfectly suited to Frank’s talents. As for The Lookout, Frank begins the commentary welcoming us “to another episode of how the rookie director screwed up.” What he meant to say is, “Here’s another episode of how the rookie director got it right.”

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TWC

Sin City was a surprise back in 2005 in several ways, and the way director Robert Rodriguez stayed faithful to Frank Miller‘s comic was both ambitious and exciting. Its sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, brings audiences back to that world nine years later. Whether people actually want to revisit the world of Sin City after all these years remains a question mark, but if they do show up they’ll find that Rodriguez has not only made his most entertaining movie in years but also a worthy followup to the first film. It certainly helps that co-directors Rodriguez and Miller have adapted the best book in the series. It’s a prequel to The Big Fat Kill from the first film. When Shellie (Brittany Murphy) mentions Dwight McCarthy’s (Clive Owen) “new face” in the first film she’s referring to the face replacement he had done because of the events in A Dame to Kill For. Dwight is now played by Josh Brolin, an actor whose hard jaw and presence is straight out of a comic book. This story shows his days as a private detective haunted by his past and “the monster” he can’t let out again. He’ll have to revisit some of those old violent tendencies, thanks to Ava Lord (Eva Green), an old flame and the goddess of Sin City. To survive the trouble she gets him in, Dwight enlists the help of Marv (Mickey Rourke), who has a much larger role this time around. Meanwhile, a young hotshot gambler, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is having his life […]

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen in

Do people still buzz about things, or is that a term from the 90s that’s just serving to show my age? You know, bees buzz, and if you get a bunch of people talking about something they start to sound like bees, so something that gets people talking has buzz? Anyway, someone who deserves a heck of a lot more buzz than he’s getting at this point in his career is Jonathan Levine. He’s the sort of filmmaker who’s done nothing but good work so far, who seems to improve as a filmmaker with every movie he makes, but who still hasn’t managed to get to that next level where cinephiles all know his name and you can sell a project just by saying that he made it. Given his track record to this point, that seems more like a failure of the people who have been marketing his movies than a failure of his work, because his stuff is not only really good, it’s all had a certain element of mainstream appeal. You’d think that if more people saw his films, or at least were better made aware that the same guy has done all of his stuff, then his name would become a commodity pretty quickly.

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Escargots JGL

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. This weekend sees the release of two major films directed by former child stars. There’s Rush by Ron Howard, who got his true start as a boy on TV shows like Dennis the Menace and The Andy Griffth Show, and Don Jon by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who got his true start as a boy on TV shows like Family Ties and Roseanne. So, given the link, I thought it would be worth it to double up on the latest column. Both actors eventually became directors (Howard made the full switch while Gordon-Levitt is actually still a rising screen star), and before the made features they directed a few shorts. Howard’s are more like home movies made with his brother Clint and friends. Gordon-Levitt’s are mostly animated collaborative works produced through his hitRECord company. Let’s look at Howard’s first. In 1969, he shot three amateur Westerns, which he also appears in. Maybe he directed others in those teen years, but we only know about Old Paint, Deed of Daring-Do and Cards, Cads, Guns, Gore and Death because they were included on the DVD of The Missing. Because of the genre. Cards, etc. is the only one I can find online, and man is it adorable. And very bloody. The plot is your basic cliche card game that get out of hand when someone is accused of cheatin’. Young Ronny […]

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Don Jon

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during our coverage of Sundance and reruns now as the film hits theaters near you. Don Jon (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) is — as his name suggests — a modern-day “Don Juan.” He’s a ladies man the girls just can’t seem to say no to. Every weekend Jon stands in the middle of the club with his buddies, scans the room, sets his sights on whichever girl is closest to “dime” status, dances up on her, makes out with her, escorts her into a taxi, and then, well, you can imagine what happens next. At the beginning of Don Jon, Jon tells us there are only a handful of things that matter to him: his body, his pad, his car, his family, his boys, and his girls. But there is one thing that trumps them all: his porn. Jon explains that it’s something “all guys do,” and while he likes the real thing (and certainly has no trouble getting it), he always enjoys his porn more. After a while of running through the same routine, Jon finds himself bored and longing for something more. That “something more” seems to come in the dime sized package of Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), a curvaceous blonde who fits all of Jon’s stereotypical requirements. Barbara is different, Barbara is special, Barbara is making Jon wait. Barbara wants a real relationship and Jon obliges because Barbara is the “most beautiful thing he has ever seen.” But after finally sealing the deal […]

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Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is hot stuff in Hollywood right now, and his directorial debut Don Jon is either the next step up in a long and fruitful career, or a one-time experiment. Watch the newest trailer after the jump (courtesy of Yahoo! Movies) and decide for yourself.

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Don Jon

UPDATE: Passes for these two screenings need to be downloaded via Gofobo. Please find more details here. The only thing we probably love more than going to the movies is going to the movies with a bunch of friends. Because what is a great shared experience like the cinema without great people with whom to share it? In this instance, we’d like to bring along 100 of our closest friends in New York and Austin for a screening of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon, a movie about sex and stuff. It’s the kind of flick that our own Allison Loring called “an insightful look at extreme male and female fantasies and how they live up to expectations in real life” when she reviewed it at Sundance. So of course you guys and gals all want to go, right? Continue on and find out how.

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Don Jon

If someone was to possibly say that they expected Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut, a film about porn addiction that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, to be a serious affair and that they maybe they laughed for five straight minutes when the film introduced Gordon-Levitt’s character, a Jersey Shore reject to top all Jersey Shore rejects and then probably had to quickly rearrange all their expectations in order to fully enjoy the funny, sharp, and insightful film that followed, you wouldn’t judge that person, would you? Question their credentials? No? Great! Yup, Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon (formerly known as Don Jon’s Addiction) centers on his Jon Martello’s addiction to internet porn, while also tracking the highs and lows of his new romantic relationship with Scarlett Johansson‘s sexy Barbara Sugarman (just call her B-Woww), but it’s not Shame for the porn set. Instead, it’s just very funny and very witty and it’s definitely got something to say about modern romance in a time of flimsy pop culture. Get some good vibrations and check out the first trailer for Don Jon after the break.

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tatum:levitt

What is Casting Couch? It’s a whole bunch of casting news that’s being hastily compiled in the middle of an extra long work shift, so it apologizes if it’s uncharacteristically curt. Today we’ve got news concerning names ranging from Jennifer Garner all the way to Diddy. Which pair of modern actors would you say are the modern versions of Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra? Fox is willing to bet that it’s Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. According to Deadline, the studio has just acquired the rights to classic film and stage musical Guys and Dolls, and it’s their hope to sign Tatum and Gordon-Levitt to play the iconic roles of Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit; gambling-addicted friends who make a kind of rapey bet about whether or not they can convince a nice girl to go on a trip to Havana. What do you think, do Tatum and Gordon-Levitt have the singing and dancing talent to pull this off? And are they rapey enough to be right for the parts?

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Don Jon

Relativity Media has set a release date for their big pick-up from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, placing Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut, Don Jon (previously known as Don Jon’s Addiction), in the somewhat surprisingly awards season-friendly spot of October 18th. Gordon-Levitt’s film stars him as a regressed, Jersey Shore-styled man-child who pulls a ton of ladies but can’t seem to get away from his crippling Internet porn addiction. Oh, also, it’s a comedy. The film will now open the same day as two other Julianne Moore-starrers, the Carrie remake and The Seventh Son, along with The Butler, none of which seem to threaten the film’s intended audience. Can’t wait until October? Well, you’re going to have to – but, until then, relive the magic with Allison’s Sundance review of the film.

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commentary-500daysofsummer

It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time to watch a cinematic love story with your special someone. Or, it could mean it’s time to watch a cynical film skewering the concept of love if you’re a single person. Lucky for everyone, there’s a film that can cut both ways. Marc Webb describes his film (500) Days of Summer as “a coming-of-age story masquerading as a love story.” This means the romantic in you can find the love story, and the cynic in you can find the character development. After being a hit at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, (500) Days of Summer went on to become a hit with audiences and critics alike. It struck a chord with people because it was a different approach to a relationship story rather than the standard rom-com. Based in part on one of co-writer Scott Neustadter‘s former relationships, this film gets a commentary treatment by the writers, the director, and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And on to the commentary…

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Main Street Sundance

I started the day with a naked, drugged up Shia LaBeouf – a concept that would have thrilled me five years ago, but did not quite do it for me this morning. No – I did not wake up after a crazy night down on Main Street, but I did wake up to head down to Eccels (a venue I quite dig) for The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, featuring Mr. LaBeouf, some nudity, and drug use. Review to come, but I was sadly disappointed with Charlie Countryman as it tried to pack a few too many concepts into a single film. My next film was Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction. Sometimes when you are in the middle of a festival, a film that happens to simply entertain you is a welcome respite, and I found Don Jon’s Addiction to be quite entertaining. Gordon-Levitt, who plays a Mike “The Situation” archtype, actually worked really well, delivering the laughs thanks to the film’s sharp cuts and a dynamic relationship with Scarlett Johansson‘s Barbara Sugarman. Before heading out to my final film of the day, I met up with White Bear PR’s Chandler Poling to check out the ASCAP Music Cafe’s cocktail party. Having never made it over to the Cafe (a crime considering it’s across the street from my condo) it was a welcome break and a good time meeting composers and fellow music writers. Plus – you know – free booze.

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Rian Johnson

Writer/director Rian Johnson‘s Looper is an intricately told film. Nearly every scene in the movie is packed full of new information, from character development to world building. As Johnson explains finding that structure, it was like creating stepping stones across a pond for the audience, so they don’t fall into the pond of mind-numbing exposition. That wasn’t an easy path to make, either. Johnson spent many years developing the story from a two-page treatment to a feature length film, and much of that process was dedicated to handling all of the film’s information. After Looper‘s box office and critical success, it’s fair to say he managed with flying colors. With the movie out on Blu-ray, Johnson took some time to speak with us about the story’s mother/son dynamic, why the best science fiction has something we care deeply about at its core, and his desire to write more economically:

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Today was basically Godzilla day on the Internet. All sorts of news regarding Legendary Pictures’ reboot of the big green guy’s film series broke, and some of it involves casting. THR broke the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was being looked at to star, but one of their writers, Borys Kit, was then quick to point out that his potential involvement in the film is long dead. Variety writer Justin Kroll then jumped in with the news that a few names that are still possibilities for the project are Henry Cavill, Scoot McNairy, and Caleb Landry Jones. All of this news comes with a special thanks to /Film, who compiled all the chatter into a tight little narrative. Even though things between Gordon-Levitt and Godzilla didn’t work out, don’t let that make you think that he’s going to go an entire week without being attached to a high profile project. In more Gordon-Levitt news, Deadline has word that the in-demand actor has just signed on to play a big role in Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Apparently he’s going to be playing Johnny, a role that was meant to go to Johnny Depp at one point, and that is said to be a core character in the overlapping parts of the film’s story lines. This comes at the same time as news that Gordon-Levitt’s possible involvement in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to end up happening, which is essential information if you happen to be exhaustively journaling all […]

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Joseph Gordon Levitt

Now that Marvel Studios has been wildly successful at turning some of their most popular comic book properties into hugely profitable feature film series, the publisher turned movie house is taking the next step in their development by trying to prop up one of their more off-the-beaten-path properties as the next big thing. Said property is a ragtag team of intergalactic superheroes known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. The team, which includes characters like Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Gamora, is going to be brought to the big screen by director James Gunn (Super) in a big budget feature that’s scheduled for an August 1, 2014 release.

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commentary-looper

Rian Johnson‘s Looper is a rare film for many reasons. The only thing rarer than Hollywood committing to a mid-budget sci-fi film is one featuring an original idea not based on an existing property. Even better though, the film is unafraid to go to some very dark places with some wholly unexpected events, and the result is a rewarding experience for film goers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as young and old versions of the same character who come face to face in a fight for their separate but clearly connected lives. It’s smart, exciting and challenging in the way no big budget blockbuster could ever hope to be. Three of its key players sat down to record a commentary track for next week’s Blu-ray/DVD release, and we gave it a listen. Come along won’t you, and read what we heard…

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Aural Fixation - Large

You may have watched, or even just heard of, the slightly strange video featuring Shia LaBeouf and dancer Denna Thomsen that hit the web a few months back. The video features the pair dancing, fighting, and losing themselves to the almost sad sounding piano refrains of Sigur Rós’ “Fjögur Píanó” from the band’s latest album, Valtari. But even though the duo may have been performing to the music, the production was clearly more than a simple music video. Clocking in at a little over eight minutes, the video was directed by Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach) and is one of seventeen videos commissioned by Sigur Rós to be a part of their Valtari Film Experiment. Rather than simply going on tour to bring their latest album to the public, Sigur Rós had various filmmakers and artists take each of Valtari’s tracks and create their own visions inspired by them. Music and images have long gone hand-in-hand, with music used to score a film or images are used to depict the meaning behind a song, but when paired together, their impact becomes even greater. Sigur Rós, a band that has never shied away from experimentation, has taken the first step by creating the music and then released it to be re-imagined by others. Bands usually create music videos to accompany their songs and give fans a greater look at the song’s meaning, but this experiment allows those outside of the band have complete creative control to see what that freedom yields.

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Boiling Point

A week ago, the folks at HitFix said that “according to sources,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt was going to pick up the cape and cowl and assume the mantle of Batman in the planned Justice League film. The legal minds and representatives for JGL pretty quickly pounced on the story, saying that Levitt was not attached to the production, a vague denial at best. If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises you should probably stop reading. To avoid putting any spoilers, no matter how dated, on the front page, I’ll first briefly talk about another section of the HitFix article which put forth an image of Batman showing up at the end of the upcoming Man of Steel film as a segue into the Justice League flick. While that is certainly a possibly and also certainly just one man’s guess at how the new Batman would be revealed, I’d like to throw out there that it is an entirely bad idea. DC should be taking notes from Marvel and with as much as Marvel has done right on the screen, the one big thing they did wrong was Iron Man 2, when they took the focus away from the titular character and used the movie as more of a lead-in and introduction to The Avengers. With these two separate characters, DC would do well to keep them separate until they’re sharing the screen, rather than one just poking his head in. Now then….

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