' Cinema Romantico: The Plight Of Amy Ryan Continues

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Plight Of Amy Ryan Continues

Within a few days of each other I watched a little indie movie called "Bob Funk" and then indulged in a random re-watching of Steven Spielberg's mammoth "War of the Worlds". This turned out to be extremely disturbing, and I'll tell you why.

I watched Craig Carlisle's "Bob Funk" because it featured my second favorite actress, Amy Ryan. I had originally planned to see it upon its arrival at the Landmark Theaters here in Chicago back in April except it wound up receiving a mere weeklong run and then was gone. Foolishly I decided to see "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" instead. Or was it foolish?

It must be understood that the Landmark website trumpeted the appearance of Ms. Ryan in this film. It must also be understood that she is featured prominently on the film's poster. Then why in God's name is she only in this movie for three minutes? I'm not exaggerating. She turns up at a bar a few times - three, I think - to swear at the movie's loutish title character when he tries to make a pass (and she's quite convincing when she does this, I might add) and then finally winds up going with him, sleeps with him, vanishes the next day and....so does Ryan herself. That's all we get? You've got Amy Ryan in your movie and that's how you use her? It's like ex Nebraska Football Coach Bill "The Brain" Callahan letting Joe "I Had A Better Pass Efficiency Rating Than The Number One Pick In The NFL Draft" Ganz toil away on the bench. If I'd spent ten dollars to see her for three minutes and not see her for a hundred and five minutes I would have been a not-so-mildly-happy camper.

Lo and behold, a few days later I found myself watching 2005's "War of the Worlds" because, well, I don't know. I think I just wanted to watch a big summer movie since I've avoided most of them this summer and I already knew I liked the first hour of "War of the Worlds" (the rest not so much) but then I realized the movie gods had fated this decision.

Remember when the lightning storm that's really the martians turns up over Tom Cruise's house? "That is so weird," says Cruise's Ray Ferrier. "The wind is blowing toward the storm." His neighbor, clutching her infant son, agrees. "That is weird." Except something's weirder. Who is that neighbor? Is that....could it be....it is! It's Amy Ryan! She gets this line and one line later when she's in a wide shot out on the street and says to Tom Cruise, "Can you believe this?" No, Amy I can't! My eyes had to be deceiving me. I fast forwarded to the end credits and discovered they weren't.

Amy Ryan, future Oscar nominee, the woman who gave not just the finest performance of 2007 in "Gone Baby Gone" but one of the finest performances of the entire decade, was billed as "Neighbor With Toddler". She didn't even get a name!

Isn't Steven Spielberg supposed to be a genius? Isn't he supposed to be able to spot extreme talent? How did he let this happen? She'd been in "The Wire" at this point, for God's sake, couldn't he at least have given her the role of the Exposition Deliverer - whoops! I meant the News Reporter?! It wouldn't have been a huge step up but it would have been something. Plus, you know she would have gone an unexpected way, off the beaten path, that would have made that part so much more worthwhile. For instance, even as Neighbor With Toddler she turns up wearing some sort of pink, frilly skirt over her jeans. I don't know, perhaps this was all the rage in the fashion circles back in 2005 but it struck me as probably being her own decision. "At least let me wear a funky costume if you're just gonna stick me in two scenes with one line each even though I could act circles around the guy I'm saying them to."

It's so sad because you really would have thought after "Gone Baby Gone" that she would start to receive some better offers, some bigger roles. She got a bit in "Changeling" but that was just to be second banana to Angelina in the psych ward. Essentially she's gone from Actress Who Doesn't Get Name In Credits to Actress Whose Name Is Used To Promote Film Because She's Oscar Nominee Even Though We Horrifically Under Utilize Her. (Note: Her character name in "Bob Funk" is Ms. Wright. No. Really. It is. Ms. Wright. Wait...I'm keeling over. I feel sick.)

Yet I'm still hopeful. This double whammy of disappointment led me to Amy Ryan's imdb profile and it appears help is on the way. She's in the new Paul Greengrass film, slated for a release later this year, and though it's two years away she is also in Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut with what appears to be the second biggest role behind the auter himself.

I know patience is a virtue but seriously, movie gods, can't you help our sister out?

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