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VULTURE DROPPINGS OF THE WEEK: Angelina Jolie

Before becoming synonymous with adoption, global politics, chic philanthropy and sexy action movies (like Wanted and Salt, which opens today), Angelina Jolie, who made a rousing appearance at Comic-Con today, was a fiery, young actress who was best known as being Jon Voight‘s daughter. And she had a proclivity for choosing quirky roles. Although her big break was Hackers in 1995, it wasn’t until 1998 that she had her breakthrough role in the HBO original movie, Gia, about the fast, short life of late supermodel Gia Carangi. She — and the movie — received rave reviews.

After that it was a quick  jump and a hop to Oscar glory with Girl Interrupted in 1999 — at which time her career took quite a turn. Not only did Jolie’s public persona change dramatically, but so did her roles. She mainly starred in big budget vanity projects, bringing characters to life that weren’t half as interesting as Gia and the mental patient from Girl.

To state the obvious, I think that Jolie has long since become much more of a tabloid fixture and a sex symbol than a true actress. In his review of Salt in The Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert writes:

Jolie is one fine-looking woman. You don’t need me to tell you that. It’s why she gets the big bucks. The movies have celebrated her eyes, lips, profile, biceps, boobs, waist, butt, thighs. Salt pays tribute to her ankles. Anyone who can jump from the heights she does here, in the way she does it, may die from a lot of causes, but a sprained ankle won’t be one of them.

Imagine him writing that about Meryl Streep. To be fair, though, Salt has garnered a good share of positive reviews, with many critics citing the fact that that it’s good to see a strong female protagonist.  When asked about the feminist aspect in an interview with Cinematical, Jolie responded:

We really tried to do something that we all just thought was a great film, and that I think should appeal to everybody. But I do think it’s interesting for women, and it’ll be interesting for women; even the women on set, it was interesting because it was this new thing, and again, it’s so odd that when we think that it hasn’t been done, but it hadn’t.

Okay. Whatever that means. The ubiquitous marketing campaign for Salt “cleverly” poses the question, “Who is Salt?” Well, I got to thinking about a more interesting question like, “Who is Angelina Jolie?” And why has she done so many crappy movies? The following five vehicles represent perfectly the direction where her career has gone.

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1. Original Sin (2001)

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2. Life Or Something Like It (2001)

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3. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

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4./5. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)

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