Tag Archives: Matt Damon

Father of the Bride as it should be watched

IMG_1839.JPG
Leo approved.

For those of you keeping track (me), I still haven’t finished watching “Afternoon Delight” but I did get to revisit “Father of the Bride” as it should be watched – on VHS and with a glass of Miller Lite at my side.

Let me be clear, I am talking about the classic 1991 (the year that brought us the equally nostalgic “My Girl” and me the lakeside house in Wisconsin where I have watched it many, many times) version of this film starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams and Martin Short as Frank, “It’s pronounced FRAHNK Dad.”

I understand that my critical acclaim for this film may be a product of nostalgia and anyone in my generation watching it for the first time now (although I assume this is not possible) would not appreciate the countless “It was then I realized” monologues from George Banks, but I still think it holds up among other films I watched in my formative years.

“Career Opportunities,” which I remember LOVING as a kid, however, does not.

I am sure “My Girl” is also among the films from my early years I would still like, but honestly I think it’s too sad to watch again. Hey, bees, you’re the worst.

Luckily I can see Anna Chlumsky on “Veep” and “Father of the Bride” has a scene set to the song “My Girl,” so I don’t need to go down the road of watching that movie again.

Besides, this week I am actually going to see some new movies screening during the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.

Demetri Martin’s directorial debut “Dean” is screening Wednesday and I am seeing a Finnish film “Little Wing,” on Thursday.

Martin is one of my favorite comedians and I already know I like his movie. Now he just needs to start a podcast. Oh no, maybe he has one. I am not allowing myself to look that up because there are 87 episodes on my podcast playlist. Help.

I picked “Little Wing,” (similar to my wine selection strategy) because of the name. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young girl who sets out to find her father and the lead actress in the film will be there for the screening on Thursday.

I am not sure I will be able to see any other films as part of MSPIFF, but luckily the Cannes schedule has been announced and I can just jet off to France to see Sofia Coppola’s new film, “The Beguiled.”

While the film looks really dark, it’s one of the things that’s making me happy this week (stealing from my friends over at Pop Culture Happy Hour) as is the fact that “Mustang” director Deniz Gamze Ergüven has a new film, “Kings.”

I still go back to “Mustang” as one my favorite films from the 366 movies in 366 Days challenge last year so I am intrigued by his next project related to the Rodney King trial in 1992.

Among other happiness-makers, I am going to Marc Maron’s show on Saturday and I learned – because of a mention from my other friends over at Indiewire – that Matt Damon has a new movie, “Downsizing.” I can only imagine that it’s a spin-off of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”

Here is the actual description of the film, “A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.”

I always thought my chosen super power would be to be invisible, as long as I don’t inherit any of the fatal flaws that come with having said power, but this makes me rethink my decision. Basically, I just want to shrink down and hang out with Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig (she’s also in the movie) and have Alexander Payne tell us what to do.

(Weird) happiness defined.

Bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Week in Review: From The Fog to Love

There were some flops last week as part of my movie challenge.

fog_poster_06It started out strong with John Carpenter’s The Fog, a film I knew little about but enjoyed both for its visual effects and solid scares. The film, based on a fable about shipwrecked—possibly murdered—men who attack the village of Antonio Bay on the 100-year anniversary of their death, builds slowly but it was an effective style choice.

As the Antonio Bay residents anticipate the anniversary, a green, thick fog approaches the village. By the time the fog is in full force, and night falls, the victims are only able to see glimpses of the disfigured monsters as they seek revenge for what happened 100 years ago.

Carpenter’s score, much like in Halloween, completes the fear factor in the film.

A test of a good horror film, in my opinion, is how often you think of it after the fact or feel the need to check if the door is locked or, even worse, if there is a mangled monster hiding in your closet. In other words, if a film has the power to send you back to age 10 and to thinking checking the closet or under your bed at nightfall is going to help you survive – it passes the test for me. Films are all about imagination and The Fog—again with its fable influence—is a creative story with just the right amount of fright that holds up today.

The Fog and Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (now streaming on Netflix) are loosely connected in the strength of their visual styles. In fact, a rarity for Hitchcock, I think the visuals of To Catch a Thief are one of its stronger points over the script and acting. Hitchcock, at least the films I’ve seen so far, usually presents a triple threat but some components of To Catch a Thief faltered a bit. Cary Grant, as a retired jewel thief bumbling away at his French villa, and Grace Kelly as a tourist who takes to him (and wants to solve a mystery behind missing diamonds) shine together on screen. It’s hard to top that but, given that the film won an Oscar for best cinematography, its stylistic points to depict the mystery burglar and capture the beautiful French countryside were more memorable components of this Hitchcock picture.

Other than the wonderful Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,  which I found by happenstance at the library, the memorable moments from the films I watched last week dwindled a bit after To Catch a Thief.

I’ll save Ali: Fear Eats the Soul for last so as to end a high note, but Margaret and Urban Cowboy presented some dark times for me last week in cinematic history. Maybe I’m being a little over dramatic but not as much as Anna Paquin in her role as entitled teenager Lisa after she witnesses, or possibly causes, a horrific bus accident in New York City in Margaret.

I am still kind of baffled about how a strong cast of Paquin, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon (although his role is small and he can be blamed for nothing wrong in this world) can deliver such forced performances that lack any depiction of real emotion. The film is nearly three hours long and I stuck with it hoping their character depictions would improve, with no such luck. Paquin and Ruffalo, as the bus driver, have the biggest roles and lack any real tension even as they are at odds with each other about what happened on the day of the accident.  At one point in the film it seemed like some of the actors with smaller roles knew how bad it was and just flubbed through their lines on purpose. It was almost like watching one take of the movie being made live and they had to release whatever they made it through. I hope to find other people who saw Margaret, and made it beyond the violent bus accident scene, to know if I am just imagining how bad it was or if there is a different take on the film that I am missing.

The same is the case for Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta, because I didn’t even watch the last 20 minutes. I tried, but the last hour of the film really went downhill, in my opinion. The first hour delivered what I expected as far as a 1980s story of a rural man moving to the big city to ultimately do the same things he did before with the addition of falling in love and getting married. It was like a less-serious Saturday Night Fever with nowhere near the depth and strength in it’s story but, at least at first, entertaining nonetheless. Someday I’ll have to watch those 20 minutes to technically count it in my challenge, but for now I don’t feel like I missed much.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, however, redeemed my week of ups and downs as a perfect, unexpected love story between a Moroccan migrant worker and a German woman 20-years his senior after they meet at a bar. The description on the library DVD sounded interesting, but I had no idea the film is so well regarded or that it is so wonderful.

It’s a simple story made deeper with its commentary on culture and society shown through the responses of Emmi and Ali’s friends and family to their unlikely relationship. Stylistically, not counting teh dialogue and music, it was beautiful to watch the camera angles that provided a voyeuristic view into the characters’ lives. Of all the movies I watched last week, I definitely recommend Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. We could all use something unexpected in our lives now and then.

“Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?”

Edgar Allan Poe

4 of 366: Good Will Hunting

 

good-will-hunting-oral-history-61
Boston Magazine

Good Will Hunting (1998, USA, Gus Van Zant, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck) is most certainly a film that has shaped my love of cinema. I don’t know if it’s because of the time in my life when I saw it or because it’s a cinematic “boy genius from Southie” or a combination of the two, but Good Will Hunting is worth watching again, and then again.

I took those notes as I was watching the film tonight only to realize I documented similar thoughts about it in 2013 for a post about five films I could watch over and over again. I didn’t even watch Good Will Hunting again at that time … I just knew.

Here are my thoughts from the post three years ago … “I chose Good Will Hunting because it is one of the many titles I associate with why I love film and I am okay with watching it over and over. This choice probably sounds silly and insignificant among all the other accomplishments in film, but I’ve admired and respected Matt Damon’s career from the beginning. This is my list and I am sticking to it. Now, when I actually have the time, I am going to watch Good Will Hunting again.”

I can’t say I am going to have the time to watch 366 films this year, but I am making the time.

As I watched Good Will Hunting tonightI found myself taking notes on the dialogue between the characters, especially Will and his therapist Sean (Robin Williams) and girlfriend Skylar (Minnie Driver.)

These characters, not to mention his best friend Chuckie (Affleck) break Will down just enough for him to learn what he really wants.

The screenplay by Damon and Affleck has so many good lines and, more importantly, insight into human nature that make it groundbreaking in the world of cinema.

It’s going on 18 years since the film was released in January 1998, and I am glad I watched it during the start of my 365 movies project.

Good Will Hunting is an inspirational story to study as a film and as how Damon and Affleck made it and received critical acclaim that shaped their careers.

“You do what’s in your heart son, [and] you’ll be fine.”

No surprises here … 4 out of 4 stars.

“Motivation is thought of as this magical, glorious, divine energy that takes you over when you need it most, but I have found that that’s mostly bullshit. The process of change isn’t always about having some deep insights into yourself and then deciding to alter your behavior as a result; sometimes it’s about making the changes whether or not your’re “feeling them”–and then letting your insights catch up.”

Emily V. Gordon

Up Next (still as of now): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I am waiting for the DVD to arrive) Macbeth, City Lights, Edward Scissorhands, Roman Holiday

 

Truth, Brooklyn, Room, Spotlight, Concussion, The Martian

I have a new blog/life project in the works but I did want to recap some of the movies I saw last year before moving on to my new venture. These movies are among my favorites of 2015 and are making the rounds on critics’ top 10 and award contender lists.

The performances in each of these films stood out for me and I think the way actors took on the characters in the films based on true stories should be the source of recognition as awards season continues.

In no particular order …

Truth

tru2Movies about journalism and the news business make me happy. They make for good drama and a peek into a world that informs us of what’s going on. Journalism has changed a lot, so films about “old school” reporting on true events to build a story and the following success or fallout are especially interesting to me. In Truth, Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford star as producer Mary Mapes and CBS News Anchor Dan Rather in the time leading up to his resignation. That time includes their investigative report and broadcast about George W. Bush’s military service as well as the career-changing aftermath it caused for Rather and Mapes and their reporting team. In addition to learning more about the facts of the story in the early to mid-2000s as it played out on screen, I found myself enamored with Blanchett and Redford’s performances and I think they really made this movie. The supporting cast has its highs (Elisabeth Moss) and lows (Topher Grace and sometimes Dennis Quaid) but I think this film is overall underrated. Some scenes were a bit over-the-top but Blanchett and Redford always brought it back and their moments alone together really honing in on what they were trying to accomplish and why, away from all the drama, put the story into perspective. Truth doesn’t have a strong presence on the awards circuit (at least Blanchett’s hairstyle should be nominated) but I think it’s worth watching for newsies and film buffs alike. It will be out on DVD Feb. 2.

Room

room_stillIf I ever write a movie, Brie Larson will need to be in it. She’s having a moment right now, which I expect will continue for some time, so I am sure she will be game to star in my rom-com that has a plot no one has ever used before. Brie, call me.

Larson has range from working in dramas and comedies and in Room takes on a role where I imagine she needed to combine those skills to play her character, Ma. Room tells the story of a mom and her son, Jack, locked in a garden shed for several years after Ma was kidnapped as a teenager.

A good part of the film is Ma and Jack together trying to maintain a normal life in one room with, seemingly, no way out. If you see Room only once it is a drama and suspense, if you see it twice — which I did — it turns into more of a character-driven story about a family trying to rebuild their life and relationships. Ma’s parents come into the picture in the film as well and what happens to her is an avenue for them to focus on and rebuild their relationships with Jack at the center of it all.

I didn’t read the book the film is based on, which I think is a good way to go into this particular film, but if you did I still think watching it on screen will present a dynamic and unexpected telling of the written story.

Room is probably one of the strongest award contenders on this list, in addition to Spotlight, and I just hope Larson will still star in my movie after she wins. Seriously, call me.

Brooklyn

brooklyn

Brooklyn is a perfect movie. It ends the way you want it to end, Saoirse Ronan is just compelling to watch and it presents a complete picture of her character’s dilemma to build a new life in Brooklyn or stay in her hometown in Ireland.

In some ways I felt myself wanting more conflict in the end and to be left with a dissenting opinion about Eilis’ (played by Ronan) life decisions – but then Brooklyn wouldn’t be a perfect movie.

It is not often I find myself with little to write about a film — and this does not mean I didn’t like Brooklyn — it’s just that good and I think it’s probably a story all audiences will like.

I will say Ronan’s performance stands out in this film and I would like her to be in my movie with Larson. Saoirse, call me. If you want to hear more of her lovely voice (and life story) I recommend listening to her 2013 interview with Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist.

Spotlight

S_09159.CR2

Spotlight is another movie about the news business – this time about print journalism and The Boston Globe’s coverage of abuse in the Catholic church. It is directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy and includes top character performances by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo (who could also join my movie if they would like) as well as Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber.

This NPR story focuses on how the cast, mainly Keaton as Walter Robinson, took on who their characters are as much as depicting how the Spotlight team uncovered and reported on the story of the Catholic church scandal in Boston.

I actually want to see Spotlight again but as it stands now I think the acting carried the film as much as — if not more than — the telling of the story it is based on.

Concussion

concussionTell the truth! Doug Loves Movies fans out there will know that Doug Benson has been working on his Will Smith character impersonation for the past few weeks when he asks his guests about their favorite movie that the actor stars in.

What’s interesting about Concussion is you will lose sight of the fact that it’s Will Smith playing Dr. Bennet Omalu not long into the film. Omalu, a pathologist performing autopsies, very thoroughly, comes across a disease affecting football players that can really only be detected after they die. Concussion is another true story and character-focused plot and Smith excels at playing a man fighting keeping his reputation and career as a doctor intact while trying to bring the truth out and ultimately help people while the NFL tries to silence him. It presents a well-rounded telling of the story but one that could be pretty forgettable without Smith’s performance.

The Martian

The-MartianI know I raved a lot about The Martian from the moment I heard about it and I am finally getting to writing about it now, months after I saw the film. It is nominated for Golden Globes in the best picture, directing (Ridley Scott) and acting (Matt Damon) categories. I think it has some strong competition as far as awards go and I’ve heard some critics pan it because they are sick of space movies and found The Martian didn’t live up to the hype. I, overall, liked the film and felt (despite all my bias about Damon) he did well acting alone for much of the film. While Damon (as Mark Watney) is stuck on Mars trying to survive, Scott and the film’s writers (including novelist Andy Weir) did well mixing in the story of people on Earth trying to save him or “Bring Him Home.”

You may or may not know what happens, but I like how understated the very end of the film was and overall how the narration by Damon as Watney (which I didn’t like very much in the book) played out on screen.

There are a lot of movies to see this year, but I wouldn’t mind revisiting The Martian. It is out on DVD Jan. 12.

In the meantime, I am starting out my year in movies by seeing Mustang today and I’m pretty excited for what’s to come.

Also Matt Damon, call me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Martian … and movies to help kill time until Nov. 25

Real quick, stop what you’re doing and watch the first trailer for “The Martian.”

martian-gallery3-gallery-imageIt comes out on Nov. 25 and it’s my favorite movie.

Here’s the rundown:

Matt Damon is lost in space (but not forever because he — I mean his character Astronaut Mark Watney — can survive anything.)

My girl Jessica Chastain (who says lines in the movie like “Let’s go get our boy”) stars opposite Damon.

Jeff Daniels returns to the big screen in what will be his best role since “Speed.”

Kristen Wiig is in the trailer twice making faces like a shocked emoji, as described by Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald on the Hollywood Prospectus podcast.

You’ve already watched the trailer,  I hope, by the time you’re reading this sentence so I shouldn’t need to tell you now to mark you calendar for Nov. 25.

In the meantime, I will try to catch up on the Matt Damon movies I haven’t seen. He’s had a bit of a science fiction kick lately with “Elysium” and “Interstellar” so maybe I’ll start there to prepare for :The Martian.” I suppose I could also read the book, which Greenwald and Ryan said on their podcast was sold for movie rights even before the author finished writing it.

If by chance you have seen every Matt Damon movie AND read “The Martian” then here are a few other film suggestions to occupy your time for the next six months.

Sunshine Superman

Sunshine_superman_StillThis documentary about “BASE” jumper Carl Boenish was briefly in the theaters and should be on DVD or streaming soon. I had the chance to see it in the theater, which added to the beauty of all the footage Boenish had from his skydiving and other jumping excursions in the 1970s and 1980s. I actually knew very little about Boenish’s story and watching it unfold on screen, again through his jump footage, home movies and some media interviews(with Pat Sajak!), made it all the more interesting to learn about.

“I don’t want to grow old or grow up.” – Carl Boenish

“Ex Machina”

exmachinaBack to the science fiction genre, “Ex Machina” delves into artificial intelligence and testing the ability of one, Ava, to display human emotions. Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected by Nathan (a bearded Oscar Isaac) to spend time with Ava over one week at his remote house. What could go wrong? The film has its share of twists and turns to keep the viewer in suspense about Ava and Caleb and how much power Nathan, as the inventor, really has. There are certainly scenes where I wanted to close my eyes, but trust me, don’t do it. Oscar Isaac dances, and you don’t want to miss that.

“While We’re Young”

youngIf you’re in the mood for some lighter fare, with a healthy dose of life lessons, try Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young.”

In a way, the film is “Frances Ha” with a focus on 40-somethings. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as Josh and Cornelia. Josh is a filmmaker struggling to finish a project who meets Jamie (Adam Driver) while teaching a class. Jamie and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried) befriend Josh and Cornelia, who are awakened by their bond with the couple.

It’s a funny film with moments of seriousness that bring Josh and Cornelia’s relationship and next life decisions to the forefront for the viewer.

Baumbach’s next film, “Mistress America,” stars his partner Greta Gerwig (also from “Frances Ha”) and he is also the writer on Lake Bell’s next project starring Jeff Bridges.

I hope Baumbach continues to work with actors like Stiller (“Greenberg”) and Driver and explore themes like life and love. In the meantime I’ll just watch the “Modern Love” scene from “Frances Ha” on repeat.

frances ha

Good news, “While We’re Young” will be on DVD June 30.

pitch“Pitch Perfect 2”

Last but certainly not least, I am sure you will have a free two hours before November to spend with the Barden Bellas. I kept my expectations in check with this one and the film started out a little weak, but I was pleasantly surprised by the end.

And, comedy nerds rejoice, Reggie Watts, John Hodgman and Joe Lo Truglio all have roles in the movie. Adam Devine, Keegan-Michael Key and David Cross round out the comedy cast and, what can I say, I do enjoy a good singing battle led by Anna Kendrick.

As soon-to-be star of “Pitch Perfect 3” John Hodgman would say, “That is All.”

A Most Violent Year

Well If there is one thing I learned from watching A Most Violent Year, Jessica Chastain certainly knows how to put a district attorney who interrupts her daughter’s birthday party with a search warrant in his place.

chastainI believe “This was very disrespectful,” was the line from Chastain’s character, Anna Morales, as she leaves the attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo) in the driveway with a piece of birthday cake while she politely ushers her guests out the door with party favors.

She does this while donning a 1981 haircut, outfit and manicure with her posh baby blue Mercedes somewhere in the vicinity. Oh and there is that cig in her hand. I don’t know how anyone cannot love Chastain after seeing her performance in this film. She is having a moment.

Chastain’s role is the wife of Abel Moreles (Oscar Isaac) who is trying to keep his business running and protect his family as violence in New York City runs rampant.

Morales’ business is a target of crooks, or perhaps his competition, who are stealing his fuel trucks to make a buck and put him out on the street. The crime goes so far as to impact his home life, case in point when his daughter finds a loaded gun in the bushes.

But Anna has her own ways of protecting the business and motives to keep Abel afloat and her children safe.

In the end it’s really a story of who you can trust and what people will do to get what they want. Even Lawrence, seemingly trying to save the city, might not be entirely innocent, even if he hasn’t broken the law.

Like Chastain, I would say Isaac is having a moment too. He certainly is a versatile actor, as demonstrated by his performances in the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and a darker, more violent film, Drive. He was also in The Two Faces of January (currently streaming on Netflix) last year. The film is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and costars Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen. I liked the film, especially because it has undertones of The Talented Mr. Ripley.

If you haven’t seen many of Chastain’s films, definitely see Zero Dark Thirty and, while it was extremely sad, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

She also has six films currently in production, including The Martian alongside none other than Matt Damon. All her other films look good too, but did I mention Matt Damon? It’s been a while, but I know I’ve done my share of gushing about him on this blog and now he’s doing a movie with my girl Jessica Chastain. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Damon’s character is an astronaut who becomes stranded in space after a failed mission to Mars. After a storm causes Mark Watney (Damon) to be left behind he needs to “draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive,” according to the film synopsis. if Matt Damon himself were actually stuck in space, I am sure he could find his way home. But I may be biased.

This brings me to a conversation I had with my coworkers at the movie theater … which celebrity would make you puke (from being nervous) if you were able to meet them? I certainly hope I wouldn’t actually puke, but my answer was of course Matt Damon.

And a close second, if not a tie, would be Bill Murray. But we all know how elusive he is these days. All you can hope is that he will randomly show up at your birthday party or something and not call you out for being disrespectful.

unnamedLucky for me, I do have his autograph as well as picture of him somewhere (which I need to find – so stay tuned.) He was playing golf at the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1994 and I gave my Dad a note to “Mr. Murray” with the hopes he would sign it.

I wasn’t allowed to miss school, as I remember it, to see Murray but I can’t complain about having this to show for it.

That is all.

bill murray 2 bill murray