The Good Life

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (center) in "Inception."

When referring to the lean, dark-featured actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, many people will still remind you, "he's that kid from '3rd Rock from the Sun'!" Don't ever ask those people for film recommendations. Gordon-Levitt has done a great many things since leaving NBC's interstellar comedy, including taking time off to feed his thinker at Columbia University, and subsequently building an extremely impressive indie resume.

Gordon-Levitt's enduringly boyish looks are often misleading, suggesting he wouldn't be able to carry off serious drama, but the 29-year-old has repeatedly proven himself a true artiste with award-worthy turns in such excellent indies as "Mysterious Skin," in which he portrayed a gay hustler, "Brick," a modern noir that cast him as a young Bogart-type, and "The Lookout," a heist film to which he brought vulnerability and gravitas.

Not that he can't lighten up. Last year, Gordon-Levitt charmed the pants off of audiences (and co-star Zooey Deschanel) in "(500) Days of Summer," an uncommonly zestful romantic comedy that displayed the actor's better-than-ever instincts for comedic timing and dramatic weight. The role earned him Best Actor nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Now, of course, Gordon-Levitt can be seen in Christopher Nolan's dreamscape thriller "Inception," one of the year's best films. Opposite lead star Leonardo DiCaprio, Gordon-Levitt portrays Arthur, a savvy henchman skilled in the art of navigating dreams to obtain valuable secrets. If Gordon-Levitt was once an indie king, it now seems he's also a blockbuster prince, channeling that attractive charm and dramatic instinct into what amounts to an invaluable screen presence. In "Inception," he's terrific in both physicality and acting ability, and he's a standout in a remarkable cast.

Watch the trailer for "Inception," and by God, go see it...


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