Saturday, August 24, 2019

Brad Vs. Leo, Redux

After my recent post comparing the careers of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, the subject of "who's actually the better actor?" got me thinking more.  Here's my list of the best 12 performances from each man, and note that I'm only focusing on their specific performance, not how good or bad the movie was as a whole.

PITT'S TWELVE
12. Fight Club
11. Babel
10. Inglourious Basterds
9. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
8. Seven
7. The Tree Of Life
6. True Romance
5. Ocean’s 11 (and somewhat by extension, Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13)
4. Snatch
3. Moneyball
2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
1. Burn After Reading


DICAPRIO'S DOZEN
12. Romeo + Juliet
11. The Revenant
10. The Great Gatsby
9. Inception
8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
7. The Departed
6. The Aviator

5. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
4. J. Edgar
3. Titanic
2. Catch Me If You Can
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street 


It's an interesting list for both guys, one that might make you think twice a bit about the general feeling that DiCaprio is a better actor.  I think part of that feeling is due to the fact that Leo simply makes fewer movies, so whenever he appears in a film, it feels like more of an event.  Pitt is more apt to sign on for a pure box office hit like World War Z, Troy, Mr. And Mrs. Smith, etc., and those types of films drag down his overall batting average.

The flip side of that, as I alluded to in my last post, is that DiCaprio's interest in taking challenging acting roles every time out also leads to some misses from a pure miscasting standpoint.  I don't think he was really a fit for Gangs Of New York, Blood Diamond, or (this is kind of a hot take) Django Unchained, to name a few.  Pitt has more than few roles where he's sort of just "there" as opposed to being a real key factor in a movie being better, but I also can't think of any instance off the top of my head where I left a theatre thinking "wow, they really should've cast someone besides Brad Pitt."

So when it comes to acting range, Pitt usually stays in "variations on the same laconic persona," as I wrote last time.  But does he have less range than DiCaprio?  It's hard to say.  Maybe it's just because he still has something of a baby face, but I still have issues buying DiCaprio in any type of real
"grownup" parts, even though he's now 44 years old.  It probably isn't accidental that most of his best work is when he's playing a young guy, or at least an adult in something of a state of arrested development.  Even though he has played older versions of J. Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes, OUATIH's Rick Dalton might be the first DiCaprio character to really deal with the idea of middle age, or moving from a prime into older age, even though Rick Dalton is very much still a man-child.

Pitt has the advantage of being 11 years older than DiCaprio (side note: can you believe Brad Pitt is 55 years old?  Where does the time go), though the age gap notwithstanding, it's always been easier to buy Pitt in more adult parts, like when he's playing a dad, or an authority figure.  Cliff Booth in OUATIH is also a man-child in many ways, but there's more of an accent on the "man," whereas Rick Dalton leads more towards "child."   In that same vein, Pitt is much more easily able to play a believably tough guy (if not necessarily a "can go toe-to-toe with Bruce Lee" tough guy), whereas DiCaprio is not.

Here's an interesting experiment --- how many of those 12 Pitt roles could Leo have played, and how many of those 12 Brad roles could Leo have played?  We're accounting for age here, so magically pretend you could send 31-year-old DiCaprio back in time to be in Seven, rather than have have the 20-year-old DiCaprio of 1995 as Morgan Freeman's partner.

Leo As Brad
* Hard no: Tree Of Life, Snatch, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
* Wouldn't have seemed quite right: Moneyball, Inglourious Basterds, Babel, Ocean's 11, The Assassination Of...
* Maybe?: Burn After Reading, True Romance (These are two wild cards since we've seen so little of DiCaprio in flat-out comedic roles.  It would be really interesting to see DiCaprio throw everyone a total curveball and just decide to be a dopey bro in a film.)
* Would've worked: Seven, Fight Club

Brad As Leo
* Hard no: Romeo + Juliet
* Wouldn't have seemed quite right: Titanic, Aviator, J. Edgar
* Maybe?: What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, Wolf Of Wall Street
* Would've worked: Inception, Great Gatsby, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
* Would've been better: Revenant

The age gap is also a factor here, given that Brad Pitt didn't start to really become a star until he was 30, so we have no real conception about what a teenage Brad Pitt was like as an actor, let alone if he could've handled a difficult role as DiCaprio did in WEGG.  We even have to stretch to imagine a 23-year-old Pitt as Jack Dawson, wooing Rose on the deck of the Titanic.  On paper, however, I can see Pitt in DiCaprio's filmography much more cleanly than I see Leo in Brad's roles, since I think DiCaprio would've only really excelled in the "young Pitt" era of Seven and Fight Club.

It's also interesting to think about them in the direct contrast of their Once Upon A Time In Hollywood roles.  There's no way DiCaprio could've been Cliff Booth, but I can very easily see Pitt as Rick Dalton.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Oh No

So I had an idea for a post about a list of songs that aren't really "songs" in the way we think of them, as they've been so co-opted for use in various shows, movies, commercials, etc. that they've become a jokey reference point.  For instance, every time I hear "Bad To The Bone," I don't think of anyone who's actually bad to the bone --- it's just grandmothers in leather jackets, or a baby in sunglasses or something.

One of the songs under consideration for the list was "Day Day Bow" "Oh Yeah" by Yello.  I'm sure almost everyone alive has heard this song, either from Ferris Bueller, or any other scene involving something being considered cool but in an ironic uncool way.  And it occurred to me, I didn't actually know the song's title, the band's name, and I hadn't even ever actually listened to the entire song start to finish.  So I surfed onto YouTube, looked up the original music video, and...

....dear god



Was I prepared for a video ostensibly about sun and moon worship starring, by all appearances, golf star Miguel Angel Jimenez, some guy who's a combination of four notable comedians*, and (*Stefon voice*) A CHILD?  No.  No, I was not.

* = depending on the angle, this guy looked like some mixture of Rob Delaney, John Mulaney, Paul F. Tompkins, and Jay Johnstone.

Is it amazing that this song (which has been used a thousand times over as an ironic musical shorthand for excess) has an official video that was apparently made on a budget of about $30 bucks?  Absolutely.  Is it amazing that these two weirdos made an intentionally goofy song, then an intentionally goofy video, and yet have made an unreal amount of money from this track over the years?  Positively.  Is it amazing that this video may have spawned everything in the history of Adult Swim?  Surely.

Two questions.  Is the sun, in fact, more beautiful than the moon?  And where is Duffman in all of this?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Leo Vs. Brad

After watching "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood," I got the idea of pitting (no pun intended) DiCaprio's 10 best movies against Pitt's 10 best movies to see whose best work stacks up better.  The results....were unexpected.

LEO’S TEN
10. The Revenant
9. The Aviator
8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
7. Django Unchained
6. The Wolf Of Wall Street (this gets my vote as his best performance)
5. Titanic
4. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
3. The Departed
2. Catch Me If You Can
1. Inception

BRAD’S TEN (I didn’t include Being John Malkovich since he only had a cameo)
10. True Romance
9. Seven
8. The Big Short
7. Moneyball
6. Burn After Reading (this is Pitt’s best performance, and if wasn’t for Dark Knight also being released in 2008, I’d say Pitt was robbed of a supporting actor Oscar)
5. Snatch
4. 12 Years A Slave
3. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
2. Ocean’s 11
1. Inglourious Basterds

So right off the bat, I found myself reaching to fill out a list for DiCaprio, since Aviator and Revenant have both not aged particularly well for me.  Now, I haven’t seen a few of the quintessential early Leo works (Basketball Diaries, This Boy’s Life, even Marvin’s Room) but a lot of his later work is pretty dodgy.  Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, Great Gatsby, Gangs Of New York….all varying degrees of messes.  I’ll throw in a mention of J. Edgar as well, since while that movie was also nothing special, it’s actually one of DiCaprio’s most underrated performances.  Hell, it even won him a Markademy Award back in 2011!

In Pitt’s case, I had a few honourable mentions at least (Megamind, Fury, even Ocean’s 13) and Thelma & Louise is the most notable of my “never seen it” Pitt movies.  But you’ll also notice a lot of Brad’s most notable films aren’t here, since I’m in the camp that thinks stuff like Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Fight Club, Benjamin Button, Babel, and Tree Of Life all fall into that range of dull to pretentious garbage.  Unfortunately for Pitt, I can’t count his producer-only credits, since his list perks up considerably if Moonlight and The Departed join the fray.

It creates for an interesting parallel between the two guys, who both have a reputation of generally striking to more prestige-type stuff, though Pitt works a lot more and is more open to commercial stuff.  DiCaprio also has the reputation as the better actor, but….hmm, let’s think about it?  I think he has more range than Pitt, but I can also off the top of my head think of several roles that DiCaprio simply kind of whiffed on.  The buzz on Django for months was that DiCaprio was going to knock it out of the park and win a supporting actor Oscar, but then his cartoonishly evil racist was more or less blown away by Samuel L. Jackson’s much more fascinating role and performance (now there was a case of someone being robbed of an Oscar).  Likewise, in Gangs Of New York, I realize that acting against Day-Lewis is a tall order, but DiCaprio just looks out of his league.

Pitt is more content to stay in his lane when it comes to acting, mostly sticking to variations on the same laconic persona.  One big point that Pitt has over DiCaprio, however, is that Pitt is an underrated comic actor.  DiCaprio doesn’t do comedy in general, give or take that incredible quaaludes scene in WoWS and some sections of Once Upon A Time…, whereas I think being funny is Pitt’s best strength.

Anyway, stay tuned for when I watch Murder Mystery, for the comparisons of Jennifer Aniston’s movie career against Adam Sandler’s movie career.  The results will shock and amaze you!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Great Caesar's Ghost

If you're Julius Caesar, which would you prefer to be named after you --- a caesar salad, a caesar cocktail or a caesarean section?

I'd guess it's probably the salad. A Caesar cocktail is perhaps better known as a 'bloody Caesar,' which would no doubt bring back unpleasant memories for the ol' Roman dictator. And surely there's blood involved in a C-section....or wait, maybe there's not, if the doctor is doing it right. I really have no idea. I spent most of grade school health class passed out.

Now, fun fact, the caesar salad isn't actually named after Julius Caesar. It was allegedly invented by a San Diego restauranteur named Caesar Cardini, so I guess you could argue that it isn't a tribute to old orange Julius himself. Oh schisse, wait, is Orange Julius named after Julius Caesar?!?! Nope, never mind. All things being equal, he'd probably appreciate Shakespeare's play as the biggest existing tribute, once it was explained to him who Shakespeare was, and once Caesar got over his snobby "well, Terence was better" attitude.

Given the twin legacies of Caesar Cardini and Julius Freed, someone really needs to create an orange-heavy salad called the Cardini Freed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Brushes With Greatness?

I'm standing in line at a pizza place the other day, and I'm behind a guy who I thought was one of the guys from Sloan. It might not have been him, though, since he didn't react at all when I started humming 'Money City Maniacs' (minus the opening siren part, of course -- that would've been just weird to hear some dude start making a siren noise out of nowhere when all you want is a delicious slice of pizza pie). 

While in line at that same pizza place, I was also behind a guy who was continually flipping a coin.  I only saw him from the side, so it's quite possible he was indeed Two-Face.  Then again, Two-Face is a fictional character, so I have my doubts.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Sentience

My parents recently bought a new fridge, one that (unbeknownest to me) beeps when the door is left open for too long. 

Tonight, I was getting some milk and putting a new bag into the plastic container,  only to have this easy task extended by the fact that the kitchen scissors --- for the cutting the bag open, you see --- weren't in the proper drawer.  So while I was looking for the scissors, the door was left ajar just a bit too long, and suddenly I heard a beep.

My response?  "FRIDGE, YOU CAN TALK!"

Anyway, we're starting a podcast.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Spidey Day

Why did nobody tell me that yesterday was National Spider-Man Day?  I blame you for this!  "No, you're to blame!"


Anyway, happy....uh, day to my childhood comics hero!  And maybe still kind of my hero?  Far From Home was a terrific movie.