Currently browsing the "Matt Damon" tag.

Review: Ford v Ferrari

Ford v Ferrari has all the key ingredients for an awards-season crowd-pleaser: two great actors (Matt Damon and Christian Bale) sharing top billing, a true story that many folks are probably not aware of, and an adrenaline rush that carries the film to the finish line. It’s a classic sports underdog story about two racing legends, Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, who helped the Ford Motor Company build and race a car that could hold its own against Italian racing icon Enzo Ferrari’s team at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans Race in France. More importantly, it’s about the friendship between the two men, so you don’t have to be a motorsports fan to get on board.

Review: Downsizing

Downsizing starts with a fun premise: What if you could make humans really small so our impact on the earth is also really small? It’s a great jumping off point for a silly comedy, but what makes Alexander Payne’s (Nebraska, Sideways) new film Downsizing work is that it winds up being more than that. Matt Damon stars as everyman Paul Safranek who’s convinced that he and his wife (Kristen Wiig) can have a better life as tiny people. More money, a bigger house, more leisure, (and yeah, save the planet.) But after he’s already downsized, she backs out and he’s left all alone in tiny town. Fortunately for the audience, he soon meets two new friends: the irrepressible Dusan (Christop Waltz, Inglourious Basterds), his upstairs neighbor and man of multiple schemes, and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau Treme, Inherent Vice), a former Vietnamese dissident and now Dusan’s one-legged housekeeper who drags Paul into a more interesting life. Not that Matt Damon isn’t good, it’s just that these two steal the show.

Review: Suburbicon

Clooney. Damon. Moore. The Coen Brothers. Sounds like a slam-dunk, no? Well, not quite. George Clooney’s Suburbicon is entertaining, to be sure, but ultimately it can’t quite seem to decide what it’s trying to say. Set in a 1950s perfectly planned suburb, Matt Damon plays Gardner Lodge, father of adorable preteen Nicky (Noah Jupe, The Night Manager) and husband to invalid wife Rose (Julianne Moore, Still Alice) whose twin sister Margaret is a regular guest in the house. The peace of their idyllic neighborhood is broken suddenly by two unconnected incidents: A violent home invasion at the Lodge’s house and the arrival of the subdivision’s first black family who move in right next door. You would expect that these two things might somehow intersect eventually. You’d be mistaken.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Great Wall; A Cure for Wellness

This is a really great week to catch up on one (or more) of those Oscar-nominated movies that are still in theaters or available on DVD or VOD. Why? Because, comparatively speaking, the new releases are rather dismal. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to see the new Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, about a couple of high school teachers engaging in a good ol’ fashioned afterschool throw-down. But I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that you can save that one for a rainy day or a plane ride. It’s probably mindlessly entertaining. Can’t really say the same about The Great Wall or A Cure for Wellness. But if I had to pick among those two, I’d definitely go with The Great Wall because at least it’s got Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Martian) — and cool views of one of the great wonders of the ancient world.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Jason Bourne; Bad Moms; Nerve

Jason Bourne – This was my least favorite of the Matt Damon Bourne movies. Granted, I can never remember the plot from installment to installment (much like Jason Bourne himself), but I do recall liking them well enough. This Bourne, however, is brutal to watch. Damon is in fine physical form, returning to his iconic role as a former lethal CIA operative/assassin with memory issues. And director Paul Greengrass is back to deliver his usual frenetic-paced editing and adrenaline-fueled car chases. But the movie lacks the fun, suspense and entertainment factor that made The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum cool action flicks that left you caring about the characters and their relationships to one another. This feels like more of a re-tread set in present-day global hot spots, yet re-asking the same questions of old and new characters. Julia Stiles is back, however briefly, as an operative with a conscience who wants to help Bourne fill in the blanks of his past and expose evil-doers within the intelligence community. There’s a menacing-looking assassin who has a personal vendetta against Bourne. Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander joins the cast in a role that basically amounts to a reboot of Stiles’ character. There’s a CIA black ops guy played by Tommy Lee Jones who looks a lot like an aging version of Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, The Fugitive, and the like. There’s also a Julian Assange-type character with a pro-Wiki-Leaks agenda, and a Steve Jobs software genius type who is in cahoots with the government to violate personal privacy – in the name of national security and a hefty pay day. Jason Bourne is certainly a visceral experience. It moves. It just doesn’t go anywhere. I’m bummed, ‘cause I really like Matt Damon and have appreciated his Bourne identity. Now excuse me while I go cleanse my palate with a re-watching of The Martian.

The Martian

Finally! A movie I can recommend to just about anyone. The Martian has soared to the top of my (extremely short) ‘what’s out there right now that you really should see on the big screen’ list. It’s smart, entertaining, uplifting and remarkably accessible to mainstream as well as geeky-fringe audiences. Seriously, this movie has it all: it’s visually immersive, the stakes are palpable, and despite the science-fiction nature of the plot, the characters are relatable and – certainly in the case of botanist-astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) – worth busting NASA’s budget to save!

Interstellar

As an astute co-worker noted, ‘If Inception and Gravity had a baby, it would be Interstellar. It’s a mind-bender with an exceptional cast and a story that those of us who (intentionally) skipped Physics in grade school will surely fail to grasp. No spoilers here – ‘cause I’m not really sure what happened!

Anyway, fans of director Christopher Nolan’s 2010 brain-strainer Inception will surely appreciate this flick as well. And like last year’s Gravity, Interstellar needs to be seen on the big screen in all its IMAX glory. It’s experiential. Sometimes loud and pulsating (bring earplugs). Sometimes eerily silent.

The Monuments Men

It was hard not to wonder WHY the release of The Monuments Men was delayed by several months, missing out on the awards-season bru-ha-ha. Now I (think I) know. It simply isn’t good enough. It’s not bad by any means, but it is disappointing, especially when you consider the raw materials that included an interesting story and an A-list cast led by George Clooney, who also directed the film.

The Monuments Men is based on the true story of an unlikely platoon of soldiers– museum directors, architects, artists, curators and art historians – who went to the front lines during World War II to help rescue, preserve and return some of the world’s greatest artistic masterpieces, jeopardized by Nazi thieves.

Elysium

Set in the year 2154, Elysium is a hero’s tale about one simple man saving the world’s poor from the evil grips of the moneyed elite. The über-rich have moved off earth and live on an idyllic space station known as Elysium, looking down on the earth where the retched poor live a horrid life under the control of all watching ‘droids. Matt Damon plays Max, one of the 99% earthbound masses, who works in an android factory and is just trying to keep keep his head down and stay away from the criminals who he used to run with. But that plan is thrown for a loop when he is the victim of a radioactive industrial accident that will kill him unless he can get up to Elysium and use one of their miraculous medical machines that can cure any and all illnesses. And of course the only ones with the wherewithal to get him there are those bad guys he was trying to stay away from. Damn it!

Promised Land

Promised Land is a well-acted and well-meaning movie that unfortunately lacks the one key ingredient that every good drama desperately needs… drama. It’s almost too balanced for its own good, raising issues that could easily provoke and placate supporters and opponents of ‘fracking’, the controversial process of using water, sand and chemicals to fracture underground rock formations to obtain gas, oil, etc. That may be the intent of co-writers and co-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinsky. But the result is a movie that plods along at a mellow pace, without any major spikes of heart, romance, humor, horror, or grit.