The Italian Job

“The Italian Job is the last overlap of the Edward Norton project with my Top 100 project. The other write up has a lot about why I love that movie. Also worth noting that this is the first movie I went to see in theaters because of Norton. He’d just become my fave, and this being the first release he had after that, I was there on opening day while everyone else was at Finding Nemo.

While I love this movie immensely, Edward Norton did get kind of a bum deal here. Contractual obligations forced him to do it, and he certainly made the best with his role. Alas, as far as evil villains go, this one’s not particularly memorable. The goal with heist movies is you want the good guys to be so relatable that you forget they’re engaging in crime. Mission’s certainly accomplished for our (relative) heroes, but that leaves Norton with the short end of the stick. With what we saw from him in Rounders and The Score, he’s got so much more potential. So sad it wasn’t fully utilized, which is in no way his fault. This movie was a springboard for so many other careers (Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron), there just wasn’t enough attention to go around I guess”

25th Hour

“I have no idea how long it’s been since I’ve last seen 25th Hour. It’s considered one of Spike Lee’s superlative works, up there with Do the Right Thing and Malcom X, and it’s also thought of as one of Edward Norton’s best, on par with American History X and Primal Fear. But anyways, so much of it felt like watching for the first time. I was working on my Snow White write up at the time, but kept being drawn into the goings on on the screen. And some of it felt incredibly familiar. I dropped everything for my favorite scene. I have so much more appreciation for the film as a whole now than I did before.

Norton’s performance is just such a nuanced mix of strength and vulnerability, a tough guy brought to his breaking point as he prepares to face the next seven years in prison. I’m always in awe of this guy, but what really struck me this time around was his supporting cast. Specifically his two best friends, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper. This was really when Hoffman started to move up in my list of favorites, and I’ve always kept an eye on Pepper after this (and Green Mile). Such an underappreciated actor. Anyways, the scenes that involve any combination of these three characters had my undivided each time. Great dynamic between them, really illustrating their unending loyalty despite their different backgrounds. Their final scene together is so gripping. Again, I’ve seen it before, but I still just felt it right in the chest.

I always felt the girls were a bit of a miscast. However, I did like Rosario Dawson a bit better this time around. I think what’s always felt off is that I dont think I ever quite bought the chemistry between her and Edward Norton. Felt a little forced. But paying closer attention to some of the scenes with her and the other guys, it made a bit more sense. I think the thing that also made it feel off was including the scene where her Naturelle first meets Norton’s Monty while she’s still in high school. Just enough sketch mixed with their age differences didnt quite work. I also never cared for Anna Paquin in this movie or her storyline. I like that it gave Hoffan’s character an internal battle, but she just seemed like such a cliche.

I actually had a few delays in watching this, mostly cause I didnt wanna be in a time crunch. Kinda glad I waited since I was actually able to give this movie the attention it deserves this morning. I’ll leave you with one more scene that always stays with me. It’s actually a deleted scene, but this is back in the day when I had so few DVDs that the special features were a novelty and I’d watch them all. This conversation about “”sway”” resulted in that word being added to my vocabulary.”

Red Dragon

“I’ve said this before, but the one downside to cranking out multiple reviews in a short period of time is that I tend to run out of steam. I swear I’m trying to keep these full and comprehensive.

I actually saw Red Dragon before Silence of the Lambs (again, chasing down Edward Norton movies). I used to say I liked Dragon better (blasphemy, I know), but in retrospect I think it was mostly because I saw it first. This was my intro to Hannibal Lecter. Also, as far as how the stories are written, Dragon came first. So seeing Lambs second really felt like a sequel. I dont wanna say it felt recycled, but there is definitely a sameness to the structure. Now that I can better appreciate Lambs, I’d consider it a tie, but I wont volunteer that information.

While most of the attention for this movie (and really this franchise) is on Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector (which is incredibly deserved attention), this is actually a good showcase for Norton as well. He really does carry much of the movie, and he’s the anchor. He’s our hero that we’re sympathetic to, who is figuring out the story, who we’re cheering for. He’s so subdued and subtle, which is a perfect contrast to Hopkins’ iconic Lector. I know I’m reaching blasphemous territory again, but I’d take his Will Graham over Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling. Maybe that’s just because it’s my boy Ed.

Also a truly standout performance from Ralph Fiennes. I’m pretty sure this is the first movie of his I ever saw. His bad guy is just as scary if not more so than Lector. But he’s also got a sweet and vulnerable side when he’s playing off of Emily Watson’s Reba. The difference is insane. I actually find myself feeling jealous of her being with him, and then I’m freaked the \m/ out a few scenes later. I actually find their relationship and the way it plays out far scarier than the serial killer thing. Crazy guy running around killing people, been there. But crazy guy starting a relationship with a girl, and having to fight off his inner demons who want him to sacrifice her, and she’s none the wiser? *shudder*

The list of fantastic supporting cast grows from there: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Mary-Louise Parker. Such a shame that this movie is so often overlooked. Yeah, its in the shadow of one of the greatest movies of its genre, but that doesnt mean that they shouldnt be able to coexist”

Frida

“I’ve been both dreading and looking forward to this one. I’ve only seen it once, when I bought it to add to the Edward Norton collection. I’d found it boring at the time. So I’m kinda excited to give it a second chance, but also not too optimistic. I do remember part of my disappointment was that Norton was in it for a few minutes, but there’s a lot more to this film that I’m in a much better place to appreciate now. For one, I had no idea that this was directed by Julie Taymor. That explains how this is such a stylish movie. And we just had a scene with Diego Luna, whom I adore. My God, just watching it now, I really do see Ms Taymor’s fingerprints all over the place.

But of course, this movie is all about the beautifully stunning Salma Hayek, which earned her a much deserved Oscar nomination. Alfred Molina is quite impressive too.

Yet this blog project is about Edward Norton. Even if he has little more than a glorified cameo, sprinkled into 15 minutes of run time, he still gives it his all. I for one would be interested to see him in a Rockefeller biopic. With just a few lines he does manage to convey such character and conviction. Maybe if he had more than 15 min I’d like this movie a lot more.”

Death to Smoochy

“Another favorites overlap. I did hit on most of the major points last time around.

This is a real head first dive into comedy for Norton. If this hadn’t been one of the first movies of his I saw, I would have never believed it if you told me he was Smoochy the Rhino. But I really love seeing this side of him, I do. Oh and the guyliner he wears in costume certainly helps. And for me this is the ultimate dark comedy. I usually find “”dark comedies”” are heavy on the dark and light on the comedy, or the other way around. This one finds that delicate balance.”

The Score

“I think it was on Inside the Actor’s Studio that Edward Norton said the number one reason he could not turn down the movie, though he was initially inclined to, was that he wouldnt be able to live with the regret when he walked by a poster and saw Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, and Some Other Guy. Can’t say I blame him.

The Score is a heist movie (is that officially its own genre yet?) and Norton plays the inside man on the job. This is about as sleezy and douche-y as we ever see him. He’s prolly sleezier in The Italian Job, but this wins on the d-bag front. But for me, his character is by far my favorite, and not just because it’s Edward Norton.

De Niro is the center of the movie. He’s the one with the internal conflict about whether or not to do the job, and he’s the one we’re supposta care about thru everything. Unfortunately, he just annoys me. What he tries to play as cautious and conflicted comes off as melancholy and ploddingly slow. Norton, on the other hand, yeah you wanna punch him half the time. But part of why he’s the inside guy is because while working at the customs house they plan to rob, he’s posing as a mentally ill janitor’s assistant. So acting wise he’s practically playing two characters. And I just love his handi-capable alter ego. Because it’s meant as a fake, he can push the limits of how far to take the act. I’m sure that was also part of the draw for him.

One thing I love about heists is I love how ridiculous they are. There’s so many of ’em out there, that writers are just reaching to come up with new scenarios and fun and interesting ways to accomplish the mission. While The Score may not have the light fun tone of say the Ocean’s movies, they do get some creativity points. And IMDB trivia tells me (spoiler alert if you click) that MythBusters actually attempted this scenario. Result was “”plausible””. Its not exactly the best hesit film. Hell, its not even the best one Norton’s in. But it’s still enjoyable, thanks to the cast.”

Keeping the Faith

“Another repeat with my Top 100. Although I didnt write too much then, so I guess I actually do have some work to do here.

Edward Norton actually directed this one as well as starring in it. A lot of actors talk about wanting to give directing a try some day, and he got there much quicker than most. I’d like to see him do this again.

When you think about Edward Norton as an actor, you usually think of him as one of the great dramatic actors of our time. I mean c’mon, any of the movies I’ve discussed so far are prime examples of that. You rarely ever think of him as a comedic actor, but Keeping The Faith shows that he does have it in him. And I really like seeing this side of him. True, its his intensity with the dramatic that has won me over, but he has so much fun in this type of movie that he’s truly a joy to watch. I’d actually be curious to see what he’d do in a Will Ferrell movie. I think that should be his next step.

On the surface Keeping the Faith is marketed as a rom com, but ultimately it’s more of a bromance. The third piece of the love triangle doesn’t come into play until halfway thru, but the hetero life mate chemestry between Edward Norton and Ben Stiller is so cool. I want to be Anna, not to be the object of their affection, but to be able to hang out with them. And also cause she’s pretty bad ass as far as leading ladies in this type of movie go.”

Fight Club

“The movie that started it all for me. I knew nothing about Edward Norton before watching this movie. I’d seen Death to Smoochy, but at the time that was all about Robin Williams for me. The dude playing the rhino didn’t register. I obsessed over Fight Club, which led to my previously mentioned buddy’s suggestion of “”You should watch Primal Fear. It has that guy from Fight Club””. Fight Club is also my favoritest movie ever, after Aladdin. So yeah, I already have a write up done from that project. I swear there’s only a couple more repeats and then I’ll have some more hard core blogging to do here.

Again, most of my thoughts on the movie in general are on the previous write up. It’s just such an important film for me personally. It highlights and satirizes some of my biggest life philosophies. It’s a movie that makes me think. I can’t go a week without finding some random excuse to quote this movie, and that’s a very conservative time guess. It’s prolly way shorter than that.

While Brad Pitt is usually the first association with this movie (duh, Tyler Durden) Edward Norton’s performance here is stellar. He’s taken a lot of the vulnerability we’ve seen with his earlier work, but adds this attitude we haven’t yet seen from the man. You watch his character’s confidence grow and see the transformation in everything from his physicality and appearance to his interactions and assertions.”

American History X

This has to be the finest performance of Edward Norton’s career. This movie is also one of my favorites. This blog post is gonna be a bit of a cheat because I think I said everything there is to say about this movie when I did my previous write up on the movie. My rant on Norton losing the Academy Award, general thoughts on his performance, scenes from the movie that haunt me. It’s all in there. I really dont know what I can add to it without just gushing.

Rounders

“This next block of Edward Norton movies is my favorite. All of his best, one right after the other. These are the ones I obsessed over, that I watched on repeat over and over and over before my movie collection grew too out of hand to be able to rewatch things. Rounders in particular was a big hit back on 1E, my hall back at my dorm. You couldnt go three days without catching someone watching it (usually my DVD) in the lounge.

What’s kinda cool about watching Edward Norton’s films in chronological order for the first time is seeing the progression of his career (and seeing him get just a lil bit older with each one). The first three movies had him playing (for the most part) sweet, sympathetic, innocent. This is the first chance to see him with some sleeze and some edge, but at the core he still has such heart as Worm.

This movie was also my first real intro to Matt Damon. I think I’d seen Good Will Hunting by this point but wasnt impressed with it at the time (the fact that Minnie Driver annoyed me was a big factor there) though I came to love it more the longer I spent in Boston and at MIT. I think I’d also seen Bourne by then, but really this is what made me a fan. There’s so many other people in this cast that I couldnt fully appreciate until much later: John Malkovich, John Turturro, Famke Janssen.

As many times as I watched this, the one thing that kept me from watching it even more, which may also be how it missed my favorites list is that Gretchen Mol is \m/ annoying as all \m/. Watching it now, yup still true. Although now I realize it’s more how her character is written than how she was played. She’s so quick to be judgemental and sees everything as completely black and white, I just dont understand what Damon’s character sees in her.

This last scene is giving me a wicked bad craving for Oreos.”