About Me

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I'm a longtime contributor to MTV, Billboard, Alternative Press and MovieWeb. I've worked as on-air reporter, host, writer and producer for MTV, MSNBC and E!. I have provided opinion and commentary to programs on VH1, IFC, G4, Fuse, Current and Oxygen. I have written for Huffington Post, Premiere, OC Weekly, SFGate.com, NextMovie.com, MTV's television and movie blogs and other publications. I am the founder of Superhero Productions, providing broadcast, online and aftermarket content for a number of clients including Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. I personally handle artist management for a handful of bands. "Ryan Downey has established a history of breaking some good scoops in the last few years, and you could certainly do worse than bookmark [him] to check in on." -- Ain't It Cool

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Church, "Iron Man," Mike Judge & More from the Downey War Journal

Robert Downey, Jr. is "Iron Man!"

A semi-famous story arc in the Marvel comic centered on Iron Man's alter-ego, billionaire Tony Stark, and his battle with alcoholism and depression. But don't expect any real-life parallels just yet. The filmmakers have plainly stated that particular plotline won't surface until the (possible) sequels. Jon Favreau's "Iron Man" will be -- what else? -- an origin story.

After years of movie biz holdups, the recent developments with this possible tentpole franchise are rich with possibility. Iron Man's origin involves a lot of themes, not the least among them war. Tony Stark's company made him rich by selling weapons. He built the suit while a prisoner of communists, if I'm not mistaken (hey, Stan Lee created the character in the '60s.). A later incarnation/ rival of Iron Man was even called War Machine.

Robert Downey, Jr. said something hilarious to me once. It was my email signature for a long time.

I had the opportunity to interview him, briefly, for MTV News when he was promoting the Halle Barry flop "Gothika." (Here is a piece I reported on the movie based on an interview I did with Halle at ComiCon). I introduced myself as, "Ryan Downey, no relation" and promptly thanked him for a lifetime of Robert Downey, Jr. jokes. (Now what I meant here was jokes about our shared last name, nothing more, but I quickly realized he would interpret this as jokes related specifically to his battles with addiction -- doh!). He smiled. Shrugged. Then said dryly, "Imagine how I feel."

Classic! I loved Downey as the Easton Ellis style train-wreck in "Less Than Zero," the punk rock new wave bully in "Weird Science," the punk rock picked on sidekick in "Back To School." He was great as the villain in the sequel to "The Fugitive," "U.S. Marshalls" (sorry if I just spoiled the ending for anybody). He's just great.

I'm not only thrilled to see him get a shot at a movie like this, but I'm stoked that Jon Favreau is directing. Do yourself a favor and Netflix the director's cut of "Daredevil"; not only is it a substantially better film in that form, but you get a ton more of Favreau's spot on performance as Matt Murdock's best pal and legal partner "Foggy" Nelson. The Affleck/ Favreau banter is priceless (seriously). And he's more than proven himself an adept director, particularly with "Elf." (Yeah that "Elf").

Mike Judge Gets Screwed... Again.

To paraphrase John McLane in Die Hard 2: Die Harder: "How can the same ish happen to the same guy twice?!"

The mastermind behind "Beavis & Butthead" -- whose debut film Office Space was murdered at the box office by the very studio that bankrolled it and subsequently mis-marketed it only to see it go on to cult acclaim in the after-market -- has been kicked in the crotch again. This time, Fox has decided that people are too dumb to understand "Idiocracy," a satire starring the always awesome (even when phoning -- make that FAXING -- in performances in bland movies like "Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde" and "Charlie's Angels") Luke Wilson that sends up America's... Well, stupidity. I haven't seen the movie, yet. You probably haven't, either. It opened in like 6 cities with zero promotion. What the crap?

The Nativity Story

"Narnia" wasn't the only film to get the big push in the wake of the success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." New Line, the studio behind "Lord Of The Rings," "Wedding Crashers" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street," has stepped up to bat with "The Nativity Story." The trailer looks promising. I'm stoked.

Voting Your Values

One of my best friends once stated to me, in no uncertain terms, the following regarding his voting record:

"I am a Christian. And I vote my values."

I feel exactly the same way. What's interesting to note, however, is that each of us voted for different candidates. Let me be clear. I am against abortion. I am against drugs. I am pro capital punishment. But I feel like the Bible has a lot to say about a whole host of other issues. Being a Christian is more than being Pro-Life. And when Bush leaves office, abortion will still be legal. The "war on drugs" will still be inefficient, costly and focusing too much on feeding the for-profit prison industry instead of loving, compassionate and Christ-like recovery programs. And as for the death penalty? The multitude of death sentences being overturned by DNA evidence should shock any Christian into fighting for a moratorium now.

People of faith would do well to spend some time focusing on what the Bible has to say about poverty and the treatment of the underclass, about the status quo, about the pursuit of wealth at the expense of one's soul.

Christians are standing up and fighting the hijacking of the teachings of Jesus. It's a beautiful thing. Faith should not be politicized. But faith is actionable or it's nearly useless. You must act on the things the Bible teaches you to know and understand. Saving souls is not just about the here-after but also about the here and now.

Here is a great quote from author Jim Wallis: "They narrow everything to one or two hot-button social issues, as if abortion and gay marriage are the only two moral values questions. And those are important issues and they need a deeper, wider conversation – kind of a moral discussion on all sides. That’s fine. But did anybody really suggest or imagine these are the only two moral values issues? I’m an Evangelical Christian and I find 3,000 verses in the Bible on the poor, so fighting poverty is a moral value too, or protecting the environment – protecting God’s creation is a moral value. The ethics of war – whether we go to war, how we go to war, whether we tell the truth about the war – are fundamental moral and religious questions."

Veterans Rights.

In case you haven't heard, veterans are getting screwed. While the administration constantly asserts that anyone who challenges their decisions is "unpatriotic" or doesn't "support the troops," it is in fact the powers-that-be in our neo-con controlled US government who are giving it to the men and women bravely serving in uniform the worst.

I'm not just talking about sending them into harms way, or not sending enough of them, or failing to provide the right body armor and equipment. While those are all serious and obvious problems, it gets even worse. Recently I read an article in Esquire about a group of veterans who are banding together to do something about it, sharing information, educating the public, and otherwise helping each other. Very inspiring.

Lie By Lie
How did we get here anyway? How did these inexperienced, draft-dodging, oil barons hijack the values of true conservatives and get away with all of this? Mother Jones has posted a painstakingly researched, thoroughly documented and sourced timeline of each lie told by the administration in the run up to a war they had planned long before 9/11. Regardless of your political views you have to spend five minutes reading about who knew what when and what they said.


The Aviator

Pleasantly surprised to learn that this movie is everything it was cracked up to be.


Ditto. The tightly controlled direction and intimate theater like staging of this often depressing and frustrating but artistically solid indictment of infidelity take full advantage of the Oscar worthy performances of its four stars. Interestingly Jude Law's complicated and surface-level-savvy yet deeply incapable obituary editor, Natalie Portman's messy but evil co-dependent, Clive Owen's at equal turns damaged and empathetic then evil doctor and Julie Roberts self-defeating photographer are the only characters with any dialogue. Neat, eh?
Good Night, And Good Luck

Sadly this movie does not live up to the hype. An historical slice-of-life and nothing more, this movie is more concerned with its stylistic self-importance than delving even one iota beneath the surface of its real life personalities. BO-RING. Chalk this one up as more "Batman and Robin" than "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (sorry, George).

The Graduate

Can you believe I just watched this for the first time? My Netflix queue is stuffed with similar classics that I simply have never seen, or only seen bits and pieces. Not that you need me to tell you, but, this movie more than earned it's Best Director Academy Award. It's a lot darker than I would have imagined. It has so much to say. And the climax is flat-out astounding. And finally it has even turned me into a Simon & Garfunkel fan. Yes, it's that good. No wonder Nevermore covered "The Sound of Silence." Trust me, the original is better.
Grandma's Boy

This is *not a disposable Sandler-lite schlock-fest. I repeat: it is NOT. Watch it now! I haven't laughed this hard since "Super Troopers," which is one of my all time favorite comedies right alongside "Fletch." Nick Swardson absolutely rules.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Misses the mark more often than it hits it but the set pieces are predictably beautiful and the performances aren't half-bad. Ken Watanabe really needs to get in some better movies, though. He was a revelation in "The Last Samurai" but wasn't given enough to do in the otherwise near-flawless "Batman Begins."

Leave me a comment!


Derek Daniels said...

I was at lunch the other day with the usual cohorts talking about Robert Downey Jr being casted as Tony Stark. I then realized that...I really really like that guy. If you haven't seen it yet - pick up Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from netflix. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr - you can't go wrong. While not the greatest film of all time, it is definitely entertaining. Hell, I even liked that guy when he was on Ally McBeal.

You should check out Idocracy also since one of the like 2 cities it is playing in is LA.

Speaking of limited films you wanna go check out that American Hardcore documentary that is playing sometime?


Even good ole Indiana gets represented in this! At least on a flier.

Ryan J. Downey said...

Is Idiocracy still at the ArcLight?

The Bear said...

Brother, never stop writing. I love reading what you put out! It inspires me. I especially love the whole part about voting as a Christian and focusing on what is really important, especially where you explain about how there needs to be more compassionate and Christ-like recovery programs for drug users is amazing. Onward Christian Soldier!

The Bear said...

Oh, and I'm definitely going to check out "grandma's Boy" now!

JM said...

Anaheim? You live in Anaheim? Since when?!


Hope all is well. Let's catch up sometime soon.

(You know, outside of the blogosphere... .)

Ryan Kuper said...

Ryan- Great response to Lefsetz posting today. We were actually both interviewed recently on Can I Get a Receipt. We first met in Louisville I think. Midwestern Hardcore Kids Unite! Let's meet up and reconnect sometime. -Ryan Kuper