I went to see The Lookout last night. And while I can't say it was the best movie I've seen this year or anything quite that strong... it did strike me once again what interesting and intelligent choices Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made in his career.
I mean, here's a kid who got famous very young and presumably made a lot of money for acting in a very silly sitcom. How easy would it have been to move from that into either another silly sitcom or into teen-exploitation movies. He's cute and looks even younger than he is, easily passing for a teenager even now. I'm sure he must have been offered tons of hollywood teen movies.
Instead? He's been doing really interesting smaller films.
(Okay, he was in 10 Things I Hate About You. But I'd argue that was, as teen movies go, a pretty smart one. I mean, doing a modern remake of Taming of the Shrew is a pretty bold idea. And that director was smart enough to cast an almost unknown at the time Heath Ledger, too.)
I first saw Gordon-Levitt, post 3rd Rock, (which, for the record, I thought was hilarious when it first came out, but quickly tired of), in a film at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival called Mysterious Skin. It's my favourite type of film to see at the festival, but a hard kind to pick just based on the programming schedule. Maybe if I knew more about directors, etc... but I usually find these ones by luck alone. By favourite type, I mean interesting, bold, smaller films -- usually with a young, new director, and often with hollywood stars or up-and-coming young actors -- but which, in spite of its impressive cast, will never be released into the theatres, or if it is released, will be hard to find because of a very short run/small number of screens.
I picked this film totally by luck. I think I was literally at the theatre, had a few hours to kill before my next screening (or was too lazy to truck over to whatever theatre my next screening was at) and there were tickets available.
What an interesting film. His performance is still with me. Now, a small warning before you go out to rent it. Here are the "Plot Keywords" listed on imdb.com for Mysterious Skin. "Gay Lead Character / Disturbing / Nose Bleed / Alien Abduction / Coming Of Age"
Interested yet? I'm re-interested and will have to see it again.
Also very interesting was Brick, made in 2005, but which I'm pretty sure I just saw last year some time. Very cool movie. The director completely transfers the film-noir genre into a high school setting. Worth it for the stylized dialogue alone.
And The Lookout, in theatres now. A slowly building suspense film with great character development and, for me anyway, tons of quiet tension.
Gordon-Levitt is either a very smart young man, or he has very smart people around him. Oh, and I just noticed on imdb that he was in A River Runs Through It when he was only 10. Huh. Must have been one of the boys as a kid? Will have to see that again. Okay. For more than just Gordon-Levitt :-)