Familar faces that will pop up and make you go "Huh? Wait! Awesome." Maybe in that order.
By Joanna Syiek (Director/Producer/Blogger)
If you're having withdrawals from some of your favorite talents from the Great White Way, good news. They do film too. Some career moves have been pretty visible, such as Benjamin Walker's recent jump from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson to Burton's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (way to stay historical). Some managed to stay a bit more concealed. Here are a few films featuring familiar faces that will catch you off guard as you grab the popcorn and settle in for your next movie night:
John Cullum – All Good Things
Happened upon this intriguing little film on Netflix one evening and was shocked that a title with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst top-lining had somehow missed the word-of-mouth radar. Apparently the distribution company tried to downplay the film's release and spent next to nothing on marketing. But for such a subtle and impossibly disturbing performance from Gosling, I'm surprised that the film did not receive more of a push. Cullum lends his talent to the courtroom scenes and gives a perfect sense that not all is as it seems with Gosling's character (who was suspected of foul play when his wife disappears). A love story with a whole lot of layers of deceit, the film is an interesting one to unpack.
Trailer for some good ol' Gosling crazy
Alan Cumming (and almost everyone else) - The Anniversary Party
With an all-star cast and tight screenplay by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, my only regret with this film is that I hadn't discovered it sooner. Deeply truthful, warm, funny, and heartbreaking, this movie invites you to experience the party right along with them. The film, which takes place over the course of one day, feels more like sitting with good friends and discovering the ways in which life surprises us than watching actors at their best. An irresistible movie for those with any interest in art, acting and authenticity.
I put Banderas under “unexpected” not because it was a surprise that he was the lead in this film, but more that his nuanced performance here was easily one of his best. Maybe it's just that he's pigeonholed here in the states as the “ultimate Latino male” and thus, is always cast as some caricature of himself. Performing in his native tongue and sinking his teeth into a vivid and complex role, he was able to thrive in completely new ways. He shines as a surgeon pushing toward a medical breakthrough in skin grafting who attempts to keep his life together after losing his wife in a car accident. Keeping in tradition with other Almodovar films, this one has no shortage of the beautiful or the unexpected.
Laura Bell Bundy - Jumanji
Along with the other ridiculous disaster films that popped up throughout the '90s (looking at you Dante's Peak, Volcano and Armageddon), I was mildly obsessed with this film as a kid. It had Robin Williams, a far-too-interactive board game, and monkeys. What more could 8-year-old-self ask for? It was only until a couple of years ago that I realized that Little Sarah from the first ten minutes of the film was none other than Miss Elle Woods. It remains one of the most surprising realizations because little Laura Bell looked a lot different than the pink princess we know her as today.
Denis O' Hare – Garden State
While no stranger to the indie film genre, O' Hare takes a staggeringly thoughtful turn as Albert in Braff's cleverly crafted and bittersweet film. He makes a conversation about the apocalypse oddly heartwarming, and propels Braff and Co into the infamous screaming scene. Admit it, if you were stuck out in the rain, you'd love Denis O' Hare to invite you in for tea and a life-changing chat.
JOANNA SYIEK is a Los Angeles-based music junkie with a penchant for long road trips, original theatre work, clean graphic design, and really good Indian food. She directs around the City of Angels and writes about nourishing creativity, Broadway favorites, and talent obsessions over on her blogging home. www.thoughtsontheatre.wordpress.com
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