Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gigantic genius of Paul Dano

Gigantic looks like the kind of indie dramedy that I've grown tired of: syrupy, pretentious, too cute for its own good. But, I find its star, Paul Dano, irresistible enough to be convinced that he can do no wrong. Dano plays a mattress store employee hellbent on adopting a baby from China. Add Dano's quiet presence to Gigantic's relatively good reviews, and my excitement has gotten hard to contain.

Gigantic is one of four films Paul Dano stars in this year. The others are Explicit Ills, Taking Woodstock – directed by Ang Lee and also starring Paul Dano's The Girl Next Door co-star Emile Hirsch, and Where the Wild Things Are.

2009 might be the stepping stone from promising young actor to bonafide genius. Certainly his sullen teenager in Little Miss Sunshine and his quiet confidence opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood will have a lot to do with that transition. Yet, 2009 seems like a promising year for him. I don't mean fangirls will chase him through the streets Rob Pattinson style, but perhaps there will be a level of credibility that puts him at the same level with say, Ryan Gosling.

Gigantic and Taking Woodstock stand out the most. For the first time, Paul Dano plays the romantic lead opposite Zooey Deschanel (equally irresistible) in Gigantic, and he works with Ang Lee in Taking Woodstock. The Academy's on and off romance with Ang Lee, and Paul Dano's appearances in two Oscar nominated films (There Will be Blood and Little Miss Sunshine) makes Taking Woodstock harder to ignore.

I could be wrong about all of this. Paul Dano's performance with Zooey Deschanel may be overshadowed by that other quirky, indie romance that also stars Deschanel with a supremely talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Taking Woodstock could somehow get Hulkified. I'll have to return to this post a year or more from now to see if I was right or wrong. You can watch Paul in the Gigantic trailer, so that you can, you know, get excited. Or not:

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