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Why I Love: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In Film, People, Television on July 20, 2010 at 1:31 am

‘Because he’s just so damn cute’ doesn’t quite cut it.


“I kissed her,” said Cameron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You. “Where?,” quips co-star Heath Ledger as Pat Verona. With the cutest, most innocent smile, Cameron answers “In the car.”

Like that scene, Gordon-Levitt has capitalized on his boyish charm and bagged steady teeny bopper roles as a start in Hollywood, both in film (Beethoven) and television (3rd Rock From The Sun). This probably led to roles that are endearing enough even for pitiful ‘loser’ types that he is categorized in when it comes to the high school labels. In 10 Things, Heath Ledger was the main attraction, and Gordon-Levitt paled in comparison – looking physically and aesthetically lackluster.

The next film I see him in is The Lookout, this was when I acknowledged the fact that he has grown up and has detached himself of the ‘wholesomeness’ that often traps actors of his age. The acting was enough to engage me (to the entire movie) without any trouble.

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Next thing I know, he’s in Inception. Although Leonardo DiCaprio is the main attraction, and he again is the sidekick, it’s safe to say the contrast wasn’t that stark this time around. With a sharp suit and an uncanny resemblance to former co-star Heath Ledger and even Keanu Reeves for that matter, Gordon-Levitt delivers notable acting chops that make you look back at that kid Cameron in 10 Things and go “That was him?”

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So now that he got my attention, I took the time to know his earlier works, which sure enough turned out to be as impressive as his Inception stint.

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In 2004, he starred in Mysterious Skin where he played a troubled teen haunted by sexual abuse as a child. The film touched bravely on the long term effects of sexual abuse on boys, and how it breeds homosexuality – the role had Gordon-Levitt perform probably one of his most challenging and commendable roles to date. Taking a huge leap from the innocence of boyhood that he initially invested in, he succeeded where most child actors often failed.

Furthermore, 2009’s (500) Days of Summer propelled him into positive critical reception, earning his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. The film opened the 2009 Sundance Festival and received a standing ovation from the audience.

The film was evident of Gordon-Levitt’s diversity as an actor – playing a man in different stages of love – happiness, confusion, anger, depression and, ultimately, acceptance. With his old boyish charm bordering on the effeminate, he pulled off a dance routine and at the same time tapping on his recently-discovered dark side to look like he was pulled straight out of the gutter when things in the story turns out to be a huge disappointment.

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In the film industry’s constant changes and fickle audience, it’s nice to know that child stars like Gordon-Levitt can go beyond that lovable high school loser and do so much more – beyond drugs and alcohol – and evolve to become (and possibly replace) his predecessors, and for once be the main attraction.

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My Top 5 Teen Movies – Chicks

In Film on March 17, 2010 at 12:26 am

Girls only, please.

1. Clueless

 

Before Gossip Girl, there was Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and her posse in the 1995 hit Clueless, which, by the way, is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. Kudos if you knew that. I didn’t. I was 15 when this came out and it satisfied my craving for a seriously cool chick to idolize. The film that catapulted Silverstone to stardom also introduced future actors like the late Britanny Murphy and Paul Rudd. The film is a pretty simple story told in a colorful, modern way that probably laid the formula for the future films of its genre. Set in Beverly Hills High School, it is pure escapism for someone who isn’t even close. For others, it was a cheesy love story between this spoiled rich girl and her ex-stepbrother. For me, it was a comfort to know even rich kids have issues.

2.Foxfire

 

This 1996 film based on a novel Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang introduced me to the actress we now know as Angelina Jolie. Jolie played Margaret “Legs” Sadovsky, a mysterious girl who shows up in a high school and ‘befriends’ a group of girls. In this film, Jolie has short, tomboy hair, dressed in leather jacket and boot cut jeans. The classic outlaw, she takes the suburban girls to an adventure of self-discovery, which included tattooing themselves as well as standing up to an abusive teacher. Interestingly enough, the film was where Jolie met Jenny Shimizu, who played Goldie Goldberg, who she later revealed she had a romantic relationship with. Lots of drama in and out of this film.

3. The Virgin Suicides

 

Director Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter and Nicolas Cage’s cousin Sophia Coppola directed this 1999 film adaptation of a novel about the suicides of five sisters in a quiet Michigan suburb. It had a sufficiently notable cast, with Kirsten Dunst as one of the sisters, James Woods and Kathleen Turner as the girls’ parents, and Joshua Hartnett as Dunst’s love interest. For a story about five girls going through life, it was refreshing to hear it  through the narrative of four neighborhood boys who have shared some moments with them. It sort of stripped it down of its chick flick value a bit but also gave the most touching element of the film. For the easily bored, I wouldn’t recommend this film as the only upbeat  scene was Josh Hartnett strutting along the school hallway. But if you’re a teenager and thinking about killing yourself, I can only pray watching this will change your mind, not encourage it.

4. 10 Things I Hate About You

 

Yet another modern adaptation (funny, that), this time of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, this 1999 classic of a teen rom-com introduced me to then unknown Heath Ledger and equally undiscovered Julia Stiles. As much as I consider American Pie as a cult classic, this film, however, gets my preference when it comes to the screenplay. Whereas American Pie relied on physical comedy and awkward, sex-related scenes to create humor, 10 Things invested on a witty script, adding personality to the characters. Just consider that poem that is so heavily quoted around social networking profile pages.

5. Bring It On

 

I’m no expert, but this probably is The Godfather of cheerleaders. Anyone care to confirm? This quirky take on fierce formations, perky clapping and spirit fingers immortalized Cheerleading in Hollywood film history. There has never been anything quite like it. Although I didn’t want to be a cheerleader after watching it, I appreciated the humor in a rather indulgent movie. You must admit, the lines “I’m sexy, I’m cute. I’m popular to boot!” is very catchy.