Tag Archive: matt damon


‘Downsizing’

 

downsizing

I wish I could watch this movie in a vacuum. But I can’t so…

Alexander Payne’s farcical pitch here is still great: a group of scientists figure out how to safely shrink living organisms, which in theory could instantly solve so many of the problems humanity has brought onto this planet.

Of course, as expressed through Christoph Waltz’ character, there will also, instantly, be human beings who will take advantage of anything good for their own personal gain.  And there was more enough drama and conflict here for him and Matt Damon.

Then, beyond the superficial shrinking story, the movie turns when Matt Damon’s character takes an interest in a handicapped Asian cleaning lady who he recognizes as a former political activist…

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Matt Damon is taken to ‘the other side of the shrunken town’ which is filled with poor minorities who are not living in any way near the luxury of the public image that was the main selling point of the shrinking procedure.

By the time the story wraps up, Matt Damon has redeemed himself as a champion of the people, now in a loving relationship with the former activist (who never gets past speaking in broken English…)

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Again, in a vacuum, I could throw out everything Matt Damon has said the past couple of years and some of his movie choices, I could just watch the scene where the minority love interest (who really didn’t need to be a love interest) asks Matt Damon if she fucked him or if they made love…but…2018.

So yeah, I checked out mentally on this one.  Maybe I can come back to it in a few years and appreciate it.

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role:

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Who Should Win: Cate has been here. You can kind of feel the people are wearing on J.Law.  No more ‘Hunger Games’ helps, but she may need to do the Natalie Portman/Anne Hathaway ‘lay low’ move for a minute (and she’s still really young which is part of it).  Brie should win here.

Who I’m Not Cheering For: Charlotte Rampling.

Who I’m Cheering For and Who Will Win: She’s paid her dues (which actors love) and from the Q&A I went to, she seems to have remain grounded from all the years before this.  Brie Larson.

Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – the Martian

Leonardo Dicaprio – the Revenant

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – the Danish Girl

Who Should Win: By degree of difficulty…it should be Redmayne going back to back right? That might be my Method bias…

Who I’m Not Cheering For: Matt Damon

Who I’m Cheering For and Who Will Win:

The Adjustment Bureau

 

 

I’m a big fan of the movie The Devil’s Advocate, so I was curious to see how The Adjustment Bureau handled it’s take on spirituality (although I’m not sure why these films have to take place in NYC).  I thought the trailer was great when I saw it last year, and the movie didn’t disappoint.

The concept in this version revolves around a young hot shot Congressman (Damon) who has a chance encounter with a beautiful woman (Blunt) that inspires him to give a great speech.  Unfortunately ‘the powers that be’ mess up, and he meets up with this beautiful woman again (when it was ‘preordained’ to be a one time encounter).  And from there, the story takes off with its thoughts on free will vs. destiny, and how much control we have over what happens in our lives.

It’s been said before but I’ll repeat it; Matt Damon and Emily Blunt make this movie come alive.  As in real life, there’s no replacement for chemistry between two people, and from the first encounter between these two, you believe in the feelings between their two characters.  Like Damon’s character, even when you believe in the consequences of how their lives will be altered (another great theme this film touches upon), you still want them to end up together.

The ‘men in hats’ are portrayed in this film by Terrence Stamp, John Slattery (giving us all a Mad Men fix), and Anthony Mackie.  When you can get three past, present and future headliners to play supporting roles, you’re doing something right.

Anyway, thumbs up from me, if it wasn’t obvious.

 

I’ve got quite a lot going on so I can’t promise I’ll finish this, but I have to at least throw out a few predictions for the Oscars this weekend:

Best Supporting Actress

Personal Favorite: Hailee Steinfeld had a star making turn in True Grit. Part of the history of the Supporting categories are these are where the ‘upsets’ happen, so if you want to use that logic, a relative neophyte holding her own onscreen with Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Matt Damon would certainly qualify.  I also liked Amy Adams hitting a different type of note in The Fighter, but a part of me also hears people saying ‘a stunning actress going plain’ which drives me up the wall (personal pet peeve).

Who Should Win: I’d say Steinfeld but to me she was a lead in that movie and is only in this category to increase the odds she can pull the upset.  I’ll go with Melissa Leo.

Who Will Win: Melissa Leo for The Fighter.

Best Supporting Actor

Personal Favorite: I favor Method guys, so it was easy for me to cheer for Christian Bale’s performance in The Fighter. In all honesty, I could make a convincing case for every nominee in this category.  Any of these guys could have been nominated in another year and easily win.  Those are the breaks sometimes.

Who Should Win: There’s a chance that The King’s Speech rolls over everybody and Geoffrey Rush winning here would be part of that.  But it seems everyone has forgiven Christian for his Hall of Fame rant on the Terminator set (OH GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!), and he’ll walk away with the gold.

Who Will Win: BATMAN!!!!!!!

True Grit

I’ll start by saying this: Westerns aren’t my genre.  I ‘respect’ the Coen Brothers films while not necessarily calling myself a fan of every film they’ve done.  Now all that said, I liked this remake of True Grit. I caught myself laughing in the first 30 minutes at Jeff Bridges going into the “alcoholic Dutch Schultz” routine (YouTube that name if you don’t know it), but as the movie moves along I was pulled in.  Matt Damon was reliably good in a supporting role (to absolutely no one’s surprise at this point), and Josh Brolin and a few other familiar faces show up in the film in nice roles that I won’t ruin for those planning to see this film.

The ‘star’ of this film though is Hailee Steinfeld, as the child who creates the mission that brings all these great characters together.  To say she holds her own among all the starpower in front of and behind the camera is an understatement; her character is the central character, and there’s never any question of if she belongs on the same screen with these Oscar winners.  I have no idea how this film didn’t get any Golden Globe love, but I’ll only be shocked if the Oscars gives it the same snub.

More tomorrow…

Invictus

 

Invictus tells the story of the 1995 South African rugby team.  Hyped up by the newly elected president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, the rugby team goes on a great run in the 1995 World Cup.  (I won’t ruin it for you if they won or loss; rugby is not my forte so the outcome didn’t automatically register with me).  I have no idea how Clint Eastwood is still directing quality films at his age, but he is.  The first half of the film is about Mandela using the rugby team as a metaphor for bringing the two races of his country together; in the last act a sports film breaks out.  If you know Eastwood’s directing style (slow burn, working the plot to its breaking point) you probably know what you’re getting into here.  His style is what it is, so if you don’t care for his other movies too much, this isn’t the one that’s going to ‘win you over.’  A few other quick points from me:

I’ve raved before about my respect for Matt Damon as an actor.  And the cat is still so young!  Hollywood is a different animal than sports obviously, but when Damon’s career is done, it will be interesting to see where his name is mentioned with the all time greats (keep in mind, he’s already won an Oscar, headlined an action franchise, established his comedy chops and I believe he won People’s Sexiest Man Alive a couple years back (don’t quote me on that last one)).  And like I said, he’s still a pretty young guy.

Morgan Freeman was Mandela’s hand picked choice to play him in a movie.  No surprise he pulled it off: the gait, the accent, the dignity and the quiet charisma.  Others have said this before me, but I don’t feel like this was Morgan’s best work.  He did great, but Mandela (the character in this movie) didn’t have much of an arc.  We get all the references to what he was before, but all that happened before the film’s story started.

I doubt I was the only one (and if I was, leave me alone), but I’ve known the poem Invictus for a long time; I learned it as a teenager.  I know it wasn’t intentional, but for someone like myself who memorized the poem in a different way; hearing Morgan’s slow, Hollywood, melodramatic recitation left me chuckling a little bit.  I could never get away with saying it that slow in my day….(but it really is a tremendous poem for those of you unfamiliar with it).

All things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised if this film is one of the TEN Best Picture nominees (yeah, it’s time to start thinking about that) off of name recognition alone.

The Informant!

 

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My sincerity has always been one of my calling cards; so it stands to reason that pathological liars are people I consider to be my polar opposite.  The best movie I’ve ever seen about people like this is still Shattered Glass; but The Informant probably deserves to be in the conversation now.  The film stars Matt Damon as a typical Midwestern middle management type who decides to ‘do the right thing’ and sell his bosses out to the F.B.I. when he realizes they’re involved in price fixing in their industry.  But as a member of the Justice Department asks when the case is nearly closed, ‘Why is he doing this?  What’s in it for him?’

I won’t ruin the various twists and turns of the film for you; it’s well worth watching and enjoying for yourself.  So let me be the 1424th person to ask: is there anything Matt Damon can’t do?  More than once as I watching this, I thought to myself, this is the same cat who plays Jason Bourne, one of the most badass action characters in the movie game right now.  And here he is, playing a complete schlub, being everybit as convincing.  Brad Pitt certainly couldn’t pull it off, I don’t think Clooney could either.  Damon is mastering the Everyman character.

One last note, Steven Soderbergh was one of the directors I (and many others of my generation) looked up to for a long time.  sex, lies and videotape, Traffic, Out of Sight, Ocean’s 11 – that is a career and a half.  He’s kind of made whispers that he might be done with the game; I know about the various struggles Spike has getting his projects off the ground.  These two guys aren’t my age obviously, but they’re not that old.  I throw that out there to say, while we can kind of see the direction the Business is going in, if it forces artists to completely leave, it’s not necessarily a direction for the benefit of the Game.

And now I climb down off my soapbox…