First up is, Paul Schneider!
As far as I'm concerned, Paul Schneider's been playing the Hollywood game the right way, even if he's a slow mover. He's been loyal to David Gordon Green (made 4 films with him), and he's tiptoed back and forth between comedy and drama, better known as comma. If you're a guy than maybe you sympathized with him in All The Real Girls (as you drooled over Ms. Deschanel). If you're a girl than it's possible you crushed on him as Claire's EMT cherry popper in The Family Stone. If you follow Ryan Gosling than you probably know him as Gus, Lar's older, and considerably more earthbound brother. And finally, if you enjoy The Office, than maybe you've tuned into Amy Poehler's new venture, Parks and Recreation and recognize him as city planner Mark Brendanawicz. In any of these cases, one thing is clear, Schneider has a long term future in this business of Hollywood (even if it's a slow moving one). He's made a name for himself as an indie standby, only further proven by his two upcoming projects, Campion's Bright Star and Mendes' Away We Go. He's got kind of a dark look to him, but is able to counter it by skillfully playing reserved annoyance which, in most cases, is hilarious. In Lars you see him inches away from breaking down into a panicked scream, but he never completely cracks. In Parks, you see him in a similar vein, so close to a breakdown that it's laughable. But it's his uncanny knack for holding back that makes him memorable. It's his restrained emotions and dry humor that draw me back repeatedly. Seeing Lars again reminded me of his subtle appeal, which was only strengthened by watching him take on Brendanawicz. I'm glad to be seeing more of this guy, and I hope the trend continues.
So be sure to check out his upcoming '09 releases and remember the name, Mark Brendanawicz... sorry, Paul Schneider.
Part two of this week's Break Out is another Lars and the Real Girl alum, Kelli Garner!
Garner plays sweet, unassuming, love struck Margo in Lars so well, that it borders on annoying (in fact some of you may disagree and feel she is just plain annoying). But I was impressed with her as Margo, and found myself thinking "if only she were younger and British, she might make for a good Luna Lovegood." Like her Break Out partner Schneider, there's something about Garner that makes me feel like she's a bubble about to pop. And that's when I remembered where I'd seen her before. It was small but memorable role she played in DiCaprio's The Aviator as young wife Faith Domergue. It was there that she played not only the naive and demure actress, but also the out of control jilted wife. She also starred in Thumbsucker, that movie I always get confused with The Chumscrubber, as a sexy co-ed for Justin. I would definitely consider Margo her break out role, but with her part in the upcoming Taking Woodstock, that could all change. I think that Garner is underused, and frequently miscast as the "Lolita" type, a mold she hopefully broke with her church going turn as Margo. She's a girl that I would be genuinely excited to see her next film if only she was given better roles. For now her future looks uncertain, but I for one plan to stick around and watch her get that part that makes people remember her name.
So look for Break Out Kelli Garner alongside Paul Dano and Demetri Martin in Taking Woodstock!
Just wanted to add that I saw Half Nelson for the first time last night. It was wonderful, also incredibly uncomfortable. Every single relationship was tainted by something, and I kept holding my breath waiting for the bomb to go off, but it never did. Gosling was entirely deserving of his Oscar nod for the role. He transformed himself into a drug addict and made you loathe him, but simultaneously kept your hope alive that somehow he would make it back from the dark side. Overall the whole experience left me supremely unsettled, but not unsatisfied. Still working out my thoughts.