NY Mirror

Two ROBERT DOWNEY JR. movies in one night dealing with dead American authors who specialized in the horrors of drug abuse? Five more and this could be a trend!

First came the Pioneer Theater screening of Hubert Selby Jr.: It'll Be Better Tomorrow, a doc addressing the lifelong quirks of the Requiem for a Dream author, as Downey narrates with out-of-character observations about Selby's "magnanimous spirit" and the fact that "he did not die rich, though he lived a rich life." I'd rather die rich.

The actor proved to be way less greeting-card-ready at the Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of A Scanner Darkly, the rotoscoped romp based on Philip K. Dick's mildly autobiographical novel about a narc bizarrely investigating himself. The movie's a pisser, though I'm guessing it's an anti-drug film that'll send many a college student back to the bong (and maybe a few of its co-stars too).

Love him, can't explain why: Downey
photo: Dani Golomb
Love him, can't explain why: Downey

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The panel discussion after the screening was every bit as amusingly surreal as the flick, with Downey serving a pound of snark for every ounce of KEANU REEVES's cute earnestness. "I still don't get that he's Bob and then he's Fred—or is he fuckin' Bruce?" Downey remarked about Keanu's triple-threat character. "It's all three," informed Dick's daughter, ISA HACKETT, who seemed totally lucid. "But who was he when he was married?" asked Reeves, seizing the chance to learn some more. "Philip K. Dick!" said the daughter, by which point I was looking for my bong.

Audience members kept asking banal questions about the animation process, and director Richard Linklater politely responded that he doesn't know how anyone can sit at a computer for 12 hours without grabbing a shotgun, "but it's an interesting tool." So's a shotgun. Interesting tool Downey noted that "the missus" told him the film reminds her more of him than some of his live-action characters do. Well, he's certainly animated. With eyes flaring, he gleefully bitched about the Texas house they shot in, moaning, "It was condemnable." ("And smelly," interjected Keanu—or Bob or Fred or fuckin' Bruce—getting into the fun.) But the panel froze when they noticed—no, not ETHAN HAWKE strangely running for the exit, but a woman in the audience wearing a shirt that ominously said, "Explanation Kills Art." "As she's shutterbugging the hell out of us, by the way," sardonicized Downey. "Love you," he added, to the woman. "Can't explain why."


UP DAWSON'S CREEK WITH A PADDLE

Me and the missus have noticed that, to correspond with all the movie stars appearing in comic-book-style movies, now a movie star is actually doing a comic book. It's ROSARIO DAWSON, whose The Occult Crimes Task Force has her kicking Manhattan ass as a magic-empowered detective who's much more focused than Keanu's evanescent narc. Five more of these and we've got a trend.

Of course Rosario's done comic-book-style movies too, having starred in Men in Black, Sin City, and the immortal Josie and the Pussycats, though Rob Zombie—who's published his own comics—cut her scene out of The Devil's Rejects. Can't explain why. ("I was rejected from Rejects!" Dawson told me, laughing, at a luncheon for her at Michael's last week. "I was with Dr. Satan. I thought I was safe!")

At the informal gathering, Dawson was delightfully chatty, telling me that in real life she doesn't practice the occult, "but I do believe in magic and the power of belief." So did she sort of twinkle her nose and will herself to success? "Absolutely," she said. "When I was 15, they were filming a commercial down the block, and my father said, 'Go down there and get discovered.' I went down there, not to get discovered, but because there was a cute guy working on the crew. But I did get discovered after three days—by HARMONY KORINE and LARRY CLARK—and it changed my whole life." The cute guy, alas, already had a girlfriend.

By the way, Dawson's Occult project sometimes references strange, actual laws—"Like did you know there's a law that an elephant can't marry a dog?" she asked me, incredulous. "How did STAR JONES get around that one?" I wondered, sinking very low. To her credit, Dawson didn't get all high and mighty, but laughed and said, "It's all based on who you know." After a beat, we both also realized: "And she is a lawyer!"


STAR WARS, NOTHING BUT STAR WARS

Not to go after Star again, but ever since she held hands with her co-hosts in a seance for her career, I've been chewing on a couple of side issues: First of all, when BARBARA WALTERS revealed that she had originally planned to let Star spin her exit from The View however she wanted, it confirmed my long-held theory that KATHIE LEE GIFFORD's split from daytime TV had to have been a similar let's-spray-air-freshener-on-this-corpse situation. You didn't really think Kathie Lee voluntarily left to focus on her singing, did you? Let's not forget that she had married a gay, had a sponsored wedding, and lied about her stomach stapling. (I mean she'd been cheated on by hubby and had underage kids working on her fashion line. Whatever.)

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