Tuesday, June 5


My son's name is Ryan.  I obviously like the name. This could be about him.  But you know it's not.  It could be about Ryan O'Neal but it's not.  It's not only about someone named Ryan but  about three actors named Ryan.  I have been thinking about them for days because a friend phoned and got my brain whirring on these three.  Our chat started with her saying she thought she knew which one was married to Reese Witherspoon.  (She guessed wrong.)  She thought Reese's ex was "the one in that Sandra Bullock movie, you know the one with Betty White."  (Ooops, afraid not.) 

So I found myself saying to her that I should probably take our conversation to the blog and do a posting.  If she's confused, so might some others be... particularly those of my age group.  The young ones and die hard movie fan are saying WHAT?!?!   Remember, young ones, you could have not known much or anything about Gene Tierney or Richard Widmark or Chill Wills until you read about them here.  I do want to occasionally attempt to enlighten so this one is for you who don't know much about your current folk, especially those named Ryan.

We're discussing Ryan Gosling, Ryan Phillippe and Ryan Reynolds.  Alphabetizing, Boys, I don't want any shenanigans over who carries the biggest stick.

We have Canada to humbly thank for two of them (both Scorpios, too, like myself, if you're into that sort of thing) and the state of Delaware for the third.  I say there could be some confusion out there because they're all within six years of the same age and they all came onto the movie scene at the same time and one kept hearing Ryan, Ryan, Ryan.  It was confusing, eh?   All did television before Hollywood beckoned.  All are sexy and good-looking (although I think one edges out the other two in this department).

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling, without a doubt, is the best actor of the bunch but that's because he is simply one of the best  actors of those working today... period.  I became aware of him in 2002 when he and Michael Pitt turned me into a mass of  goosebumps watching them play two gifted students out to commit the perfect killing in Murder by Numbers.  I still think it's some of the best work Ryan G has ever done... and that's saying something!  I came home and imdbed him, wrote his name 100 times on the blackboard and determined to never miss another of his films.  So far so good.  Thank you Ontario.

In 2004 he made The Notebook and the earth shook.  I steadfastly avoid these kinds of films (yes, ladies, those idiotic romantic comedies) but because of Gosling I made an exception and am glad I did.  The world took notice of him and also his costar Rachel McAdams (also from his hometown of London, Ontario) and they took notice of one another.  He seems to like romances with costars... he would be linked with Michelle Williams and Emma Stone in the future.

I am not a student of their personal lives with the exception of some knowledgement of their romantic entanglements.  They all seem to keep what they do on the QT, except when a woman enters the picture.  I am reminded about how different this is with the crowd that I grew up on where studio publicity machines drummed it into our little heads about what their little money-making machines were up to.  Nowadays we're likely to only hear from  most actors when they visit the telly to ballyhoo their latest project and then whoosh, they're gone again.

Gosling, the youngest of the three and the last to make a name for himself, has made only a couple of films I didn't care for or at least didn't impress me as much as some of the others.  He, however, never seems to give less than his best.  He harkens back to the early 1950s when we were enamored of Brando and Clift and Dean.  Say little.  Mumbling fine.  Stare a lot.  Cop an attitude.  Jump into a mood.  Smart as a whip.

He was riveting as an ambitious attorney in the 2007 Fractured, keeping up with the likes of that old scene-stealer Anthony Hopkins. 

Like a February box of chocolates I devoured 2010s Blue Valentine with Williams.  Gosling is one who loves his indie stuff and this one, while tough to watch a marriage crumbling, was electric in its acting, writing and directing.  The following year he made Crazy Stupid Love, all buffed out and horned up and displaying a great flair for comedy.  Why should I be surprised (though I was)?  He's a damned good actor.

Ides of March was one of my top three or four favorite films of 2011... a pretty good year for movies actually.  I love political movies.  He was dynamite as an ambitious (again!!!) campaign staffer.  If you're a Gosling fan and haven't seen Ides of March... stop!  Go to your local store or get Netflix to help.  What a flick!

He has three films in the can and one he is currently filming.  We are some lucky people.

Ryan Phillippe

This is the Ryan once married to Reese Witherspoon.  His last name is Phillippe.  He's the oldest one of the trio and was likely the first one to grab our attention.  Sometimes I think his marriage to her is the thing he's most famous for and if so, that's a real shame.  I have always thought he was a good actor, good-looking with a smouldering kind of sex appeal.  He seems to excel in, if not seek out, petulant, snotty, arrogant characters.  Is there something there?
For those reasons he is an excellent bad guy... one of the best of his generation, might I add?

I first noticed him among a gaggle of young guys in 1996s White Squall, a film I loved about a doomed voyage.  The following year he made the very dark Little Boy Blue about a textbook dysfunctional Texas family.  I think it's safe to say it hasn't been seen by a wide audience.  He and the film kept me wide-eyed and away from the concession stand.  And one year later he made the film that I think put him on the map and that was 54.  It was about the swinging nightlife at Club 54 in 1970s New York.  He started as a bartender in skimpy little shiny pants and ended up sashaying his wares all over the joint.

The following year (we're now up to 1999) he and Witherspoon made the sexy and naughty Cruel Intentions that had a cult following with the teen and 20-somethings.  Co-starring a vamped-up Sarah Michelle Gellar, there is plenty of cruelty and sex to last for years to come.  A butt-naked Phillippe seen cavorting in a public pool is among the memorable stuff. 

In 2001 he was among a large and talented mainly British ensemble for the oh-so-delightful Gosford Park.  God, I love this kind of whodunit... a large house, many guests, a dead person.  Omigawd, be still my heart.  He was insufferably snotty in this one.

You either truly loved Igby Goes Down (2002) or you haven't even heard of it.  He was among another ensemble cast and turned in another insufferable snotty performance as the older brother of the rather lost Igby (Kieran Culkin) and both are dealing with their mother's cancer and father's insanity.  Tell Netflix you want this one, too.

He had the lead in Stop-Loss (2008) and it was essentially another ensemble cast and more attention was undeniably given to costar Channing Tatum (pass the torch) and perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  About military men coming home, I found it highly entertaining and well-acted but it didn't seem to create much of a stir.  Costar Abbie Cornish created a stir and she and Ryan became an item.  (Is that over?)

The last time I saw Phillippe was early last year in The Lincoln Lawyer, again fascinating as the villain.  It was the second male lead.  His star seems to have dimmed.  Maybe that's alright with him.  It is with some.  But if it isn't, I hope he can re-ignite his career which had so much early star promise.  I need to see more of him with his name above the title.

Ryan Reynolds

To tell you the truth, Ryan Reynolds first caught my eye not in the movies but on talk shows.  He was funny but more proper on the morning shows and seemed to let it loose a bit more for Leno and that crowd.  His smart-ass humor aroused my senses.  I have only seen Ryan R in three movies and know about him more so due to some women in his life, namely an engagement to singer Alanis Morissette and then a brief marriage to the sexy Scarlett Johansson.  The fact that these two didn't have children is just a blight on society.

He had made a number of films before 2008's Definitely Maybe, the first one I saw and I didn't like it... or him.  The next year I was dragged kicking and screaming to The Proposal which I also considered a piece of... I mean to say I didn't care for it although this time the man got my attention.  I could see a wonderful flair for comedy in a self-deprecatory way.

Earlier this year I saw Safe House.  It wasn't on my radar but a friend whose opinion I especially value recommended it and so I went.  And I was glad I did.  Just as I noticed and appreciated a comedy style in The Proposal, so did I glean a purposeful light for serious drama and action in Safe House.  I thought he, more than Denzel, made it the exciting film it was.

Now I hope he will put the career in high gear and hopefully those looks and that talent will take him far and we won't confuse him with any other Ryan.

NEXT POSTING:   Gene Hackman

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