Saturday, March 1, 2008

Can We Talk About....Victor Rasuk?

D.O.B: January 15, 1984, New York

Where you know him from: Raising Victor Vargas, Lords of Dogtown, Haven

Ideal Career Trajectory: A continued slew of accomplished performances in good films, indie or otherwise, while doing the occasional “big” movie to keep himself afloat. It could happen, right?

Worst Case Scenario: Perennially forgotten and under-appreciated.

The Rundown:
It was 2004. I had just rented a little movie called Raising Victor Vargas, which was released in '03. To this day I don't think I remember seeing as spirited or as believable a star turn as Victor Rasuk's performance in the film's title role. It was his first credited role in a feature length movie. His performance was spot on—the over-confidence, the machismo, the boldness, all masking something else. And yet, no love outside of a little Independent Spirit Award nomination for “Best Debut Performance.” He was in 2004's Haven, with Orlando Bloom, Bill Paxton and Zoe Saldana. His next “big” film would be 2005's fictionalized portrait of the Z Boys, Lords of Dogtown, helmed by Thirteen director Catherine Hardwicke. The film was a flop, though Rasuk's portrayal of egomaniacal real-life skater, Tony Alva was spot on (even if he was kind of treading familiar territory here). After seeing him in a little-seen, too-cutesy indie I'm Reed Fish, I was fully convinced that the talent and screen presence were the real deal. And though I avoided Feel The Noise, yet another dance movie, I doubt it was worth sitting through, even just for Victor Rasuk. He deserves so much better.

The Solution:
Well, he looks to be on the right track (more on that later). Hopefully years of paying his dues will someday soon land him another leading role that allows him to showcase his talent. And as sickly political as this sounds, a biopic, preferably of someone ugly, gay, dying or some combination of the three is nice, juicy and attention-getting. But kudos to Rasuk, who (for the most part) continues to pick interesting projects, rather than the ones with the biggest payday. He's shown what he's capable of. The ball's in Hollywood's court.

What does the Future Hold:
Victor Rasuk is a very busy man in 2008. Like Kerry Washington, he has a role in the upcoming Life is Hot in Cracktown—a movie whose cast simultaneously excites and frightens me. Big fat “yay” for Kerry Washington, Victor Rasuk, Illeana Douglas and Carly Pope! A slightly more suspicious “hmmm” for Shannyn Sossamon (I've yet to be impressed), Brandon Routh and Quddus(?!?!). Then there's The War Boys, a movie about vigilantes who chase illegal immigrants back to Mexico—intriguing. He will portray Rogelio Acevedo in The Argentine, the first of Steven Soderbergh's two films in 2008 about the life of Che Guevera (portrayed by Benicio Del Toro in both films). Personally, I don't really know what to make of the whole double biopic thing that Soderbergh is doing. I'm cautiously-optimistic at this point, but I'm thinking it'll be another Flags of Our Fathers/ Letters from Iwo Jima scenario, where one is a lot better than the other and they both end up getting screwed. Of course, I'm always hoping it puts Rasuk on the map. But my eyes are on Stop Loss, director Kimberly Peirce's long-awaited follow-up to Boys Don't Cry. Iraq-war movies have not fared particularly well, critically or commercially, but this one is looking to write those wrongs. It's hard to judge the movie's potential and the size of Rasuk's role just based on the trailer, but the cast (Ryan Phillippe, Rasuk, Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt pictured below) combined with Peirce at the helm seem promising enough. There are just two little words that make me nervous--MTV Films. 2008 could be a very pivotal year for Mr. Rasuk indeed. Will Stop Loss break the curse of the Iraq-war movie and make Rasuk a star? Here's hoping...

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