My Top Ten Matt Damon Movies

As I’ve finally now seen The Martian, which has earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, I thought it was time to do My Top Ten Matt Damon Movies.

Holy hell, when did Matt Damon make so many movies?! I sometimes struggle to scrape together ten movies that I’ve seen for these actor lists but I’ve seen 22 Damon Films (counting the Bournes as one & not counting Field Of Dreams, in which he apparently had an uncredited role as “baseball fan at Fenway Park”. really??).

I’d never have called Matt Damon a favorite actor of mine but I like him just fine. To be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever really noticed him that much (which is why I was surprised when I looked him up & he was listed as being in 74 things). I was happy for the Damon/Affleck Oscar win for Good Will Hunting and how young, dumb, and full of… enthusiasm they were! Look at them accepting their Best Original Screenplay Oscar – they were so sweet:

I have to say I’ve always preferred Matt Damon to Ben Affleck, though. There’s something shifty about that guy! But their relationship has lasted longer than most Hollywood marriages so that’s pretty cool.

There are several Damon movies that I saw but just don’t remember that well (hey – I’m old & I’ve watched a lot of movies). I’ll list them all at the end so you know why they aren’t included. The one I really must admit to not remembering all that much of is Saving Private Ryan. So, I’ve given it an honorable mention to hopefully avoid a riot. I pissed people off enough as it was when I left it out of My Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies. I promise that if I ever re-watch it & think it deserves to be in the ten, I’ll update this list. Yes, I’ve put cameos and super tiny roles above Private Ryan. Sorry! 😉

So here are My Top Ten Matt Damon Movies (not performances) counting down to my favorite:

Honorable Mention (because it’s a worthy war movie & Steven Spielberg rules but I barely remember the film. I hope he got saved!):

Saving Private Ryan

Top Ten:

10. The Bourne Films

9. The Zero Theorem

8. Dogma

7. Mystic Pizza

6. Chasing Amy

5. Ocean’s Eleven

4. The Martian

3. Good Will Hunting

2. The Departed

1. The Adjustment Bureau

The Ones That Didn’t Make The Cut:
Interstellar
Elysium
Contagion
The Majestic
Jersey Girl

The Ones I’d Need To Re-Watch Before I Could Really Include Them In A List:
The Talented Mr Ripley
Courage Under Fire
Rounders
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
Hereafter
School Ties

And who doesn’t say “Matt Damon” in this way now whenever they hear his name? He must get sick of people probably still doing that to him. But he apparently found this hilarious because Matt Damon seems like he’s just so damn nice. 🙂

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The Martian (2015) Review

The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Based on The Martian by Andy Weir

Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

My Opinion:

I finally saw this! Can you believe I didn’t see this one until now? Especially as I absolutely loved the book (which I reviewed HERE). Hmm. Yeah, it’s good! It’s of course not as good as the book (not many films are). I never enjoy a film as much if I’ve read & really loved the book and the same is true with this one. But I still really liked seeing the book brought to life.

First of all, I should say that Matt Damon did a good job. I was at first annoyed when he was cast as he’s not at all how I pictured Mark Watney but I managed to accept him as the character. I’m disappointed, though, that the movie really didn’t capture Watney’s great sense of humor. It tried & there was a bit of that but I still didn’t connect with the character in the film the way I did in the book. The movie was much more a “drama” than the book was but I suppose that makes sense as to make it too much of a comedy could have been a flop.

All in all, the movie was quite faithful to the book until the end when things were changed a bit & added. I can’t really complain – I’m happy it stayed as faithful as it did. I hated Kristen Wiig – she was the only mistake as far as the casting went. The film looked great & I far preferred all the scenes on Mars (as to be expected). The movie got a little cheesy at the end but I can forgive that as, if this was a true story and a man was really left behind on Mars, it would be a very big story and I believe the whole world would rally around him in the same way.

I was surprised to look this up on IMDB and actually see a lot of negative reviews. Really?! I can’t say I understand that. I got the impression that those giving negative reviews were either “bored” because of all the science or were bitching that the science was “wrong”. It’s a fictional story, for crying out loud – it’s just meant to be entertaining. And for those who were bored, I hope they don’t read the book because there’s waaaaay more talk about growing potatoes and making water. How dare they stick some science into a science fiction movie! Whatever. People suck.

I’m sorry – I’m distracted. I don’t feel like writing reviews much lately. I’ve just gone & started The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and I have no idea why as it’s 1,183 minutes long. I’m 36 minutes in. Does it get better?! Because, so far, I’d have to say that Once Upon A Time In The West was way better by this point. Well, at least the score is awesome. Yeah, I’m done reviewing The Martian, I guess. Here’s a summary!

Summary:

The Martian, although of course not as good as the throughly entertaining book, still manages to stay pretty faithful and mostly captures the spirit of the book. It’s not quite as much fun as the book and takes itself too seriously at times but I can see why they made it a little more dramatic. Damon was good, as usual, but he’s one of those actors that I always just see as the real-life person. Not his fault, I suppose – it’s just that way with certain actors. So it was more “Matt Damon is stuck on Mars!” than “Mark Watney is stuck on Mars!” for me. Overall, it’s a sci-fi movie and I am rarely disappointed by sci-fi movies (except for Elysium, which I watched after The Martian! Ugh). I’d recommend this movie but, as you can probably guess, I’d most definitely recommend reading the book first.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**I’ve now seen all the Best Picture Nominees other than Brooklyn & Bridge Of Spies. Sadly, they both become available on DVD just after the Oscars so I won’t be seeing them beforehand. Still, I’ve done well this year! Here are My Best Picture Nominee Reviews & Ratings (from favorite to least favorite):

Room – 9/10
Mad Max: Fury Road – 9/10
The Martian – 7.5/10
The Revenant – 7.5/10
Spotlight – 7/10
The Big Short – 5.5/10

Elysium (2013) Review

Elysium (2013)

Directed & Written by Neill Blomkamp

Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.

My Opinion:

I had a bit of a “Matt Damon sci-fi” weekend: I watched Elysium & The Martian (finally – I’ll review that on Wednesday). I did really like Blomkamp’s District 9 and was very much in the minority, I think, in quite liking Chappie. I missed out on Elysium but after it got such bad reviews I didn’t rush to watch it. I still planned to watch it someday, though, as I love sci-fi and am always far more forgiving of flawed films in that genre. Elysium was a tiny bit better than I was expecting (but my low expectations due to bad reviews probably helped). Don’t get me wrong, though – it’s a total mess.

Elysium actually started out quite promising but, man oh man, it really lost its way. It looked impressive so I enjoyed watching the sci-fi elements such as the robots (that looked a lot like Chappie) and the utopian space station Elysium (although it was very derivative). I thought Matt Damon did quite well and I liked the story involving his childhood friend. I didn’t read any reviews of this in detail as I knew I’d watch it someday but I assume the main complaints were about the “baddies” (Jodie Foster & Sharlto Copley). They’re godawful! There are some pretty big problems with the script but the one-dimensional bad guys (with some really weird accents) are what let this film down more than anything else. Atrocious.


This movie had a good concept so I wish Blomkamp had managed to actually explore the themes and issues he clearly had in mind. Instead, the story becomes a messy & predictable action film in the second half.  It was just disappointing as I wanted the film to be a bit “deeper” than it ended up being. There are loads of mediocre sci-fi action films like this – I wanted a “smart” sci-fi (something like Moon or Ex Machina). It’s just frustrating when a film has the right elements but can’t make things work due to a weak script.

Summary:

I didn’t hate Elysium but it was certainly a disappointment. It “looked” good, though, and I liked the first half of the film plus I thought Damon did a good job. The movie showed a lot of promise until the second half when it totally lost the plot. A weak script that doesn’t at all explore the social & political themes as well as truly horrible, one-dimensional bad guys really let the film down. I’m glad I finally watched this but I’d only recommend it if you’re a big fan of sci-fi, otherwise you’ll probably feel like you’ve wasted two hours of your time. 

My Rating: 6/10

Good Will Hunting (1997) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Thanks for the review, Drew! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Good Will Hunting, IMDB rank 157 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I’ve received 2 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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Synopsis
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a mathematical genius but has no direction in his life. He gets recognized by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) who enlists help from psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). With assistance from Sean, Will begins to get his life together.

Review
To be upfront, this was my first time watching Good Will Hunting. Shocking, I know. It was one of those movies that I kept hearing and hearing about but never really got around to watching. But thanks to the wonderful Ms. Mutant, I thought her IMDB blogathon would be the perfect time to check it out. And I must say, it is as every bit as wonderful as it was made out to be.

At the center of attention is the late Robin Williams. He is not the center of the movie but Sean Maguire is at the center of discussion whenever this film is brought up. Williams won an oscar for best supporting actor for his role and, boy, was it well deserved. Looking back Williams’ filmography, I haven’t seen many of his more serious roles. After watching this, I really need to change that. He hit with such an emotion I haven’t seen from him before. Just one more reminder how phenominal of an actor he was and his versatility to take on any role.

Matt Damon as the titular Will Hunting and Ben Affleck as his friend Chuckie Sullivan were great on screen together. It was easy to feel their connection and friendship. This even extended to the minor characters in the gang. Their camaraderie bleed through the screen and seemed so natural that I wouldn’t be surprised if they are all best friends off the screen.

For me, character-driven movies are always the hardest for me to review because with action flicks, comedy films, or horrors, there are other factors I can look at. But with dramas, it simply comes down to the actors. It’s the little moments they bring to life and make them feel genuine that make or break the film. When actors or actresses make you feel what they feel and seem so realistic and sincere, that is the sign of a great drama. Every single member of the cast manages to pour their heart and soul into the film and it is palpable. Add that to an excellent script from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and you have nothing short of success.

Good Will Hunting is a heartfelt film that manages to shine thanks to a well-penned script and great performances from Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck and the entire crew.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gus Van Sant – Director
Matt Damon – Writer
Ben Affleck – Writer
Danny Elfman – Composer

Matt Damon – Will Hunting
Robin Williams – Sean Maguire
Ben Affleck – Chuckie Sullivan
Stellan Skarsgard – Prof. Gerald Lambeau
Minnie Driver – Skylar
Casey Affleck – Morgan O’Mally
Cole Hauser – Billy McBride
John Mighton – Tom – Lambeau’s Teaching Assistant

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of The Fluff Is Raging. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Niall! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Bourne Ultimatum, IMDB rank 182 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Bourne Ultimatum

*review written in shaky-cam*

“People, do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is Jason Bourne. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked.”

Pamela Landy

When I still watched TV the old-fashioned way, The Bourne movies seemed to be on all the time. They were on so much, in fact, that they began to blur for me and become one long, furiously-edited, shaky-cam mess of people speaking spy-jargon while looking at banks of computer screens, vicious hand-to-hand combat and incredible car crashes. Mostly, they provided a much-needed exciting jolt to the action genre.

There is a lot more to the Bourne movies than just action, of course, which is probably why they were so successful, touching as they do on ripped from the headlines topics like surveillance, rendition, sleeper agents, intelligence leaks, and torture. They are, in short, action movies for grown-ups and, if memory serves, they’re a lot better than the Robert Ludlum potboliers that are their source. They’re spy capers, but they are realistically grounded spy capers. After Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, the amount of eavesdropping going on in The Bourne Ultimatum is truly frightening.

To do justice to the third in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, you really should watch the first two. A quick catch-up on The Bourne Identity: an unconscious man is rescued by fishermen in the Mediterranean. He has no idea who he is, nor why he has a microchip with a Swiss bank account number embedded in him. He heads to Europe to find out, meets a nice girl who helps him get to Paris, and then the baddies come after him.

Mayhem ensues. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The second film, The Bourne Supremacy, is both a retread and a continuation of the story, with Bourne cracking bones and crashing cars in Berlin and Moscow. The film has an added twist of vengeance – they kill his girlfriend, and we learn more about the secret government assassin programme, Treadstone.

You may recall that after a climactic car chase in Moscow, The Bourne Suprenacy ends with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) in New York, speaking to Bourne on the phone, unaware he’s watching her from a rooftop. “Get some rest, Pam, you look tired.” The Bourne Ultimatum begins several weeks earlier, with Bourne still limping around Moscow, before stopping off in Berlin, London, Madrid and Tangiers. In real life Euro-railing is nowhere near as exciting as this.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a fitting end to the series. It’s a chickens coming home to roost story, as Bourne tries to find out who he really is and who started all this. I really don’t rate the follow-up The Bourne Legacy at all, and am dubious about the possibility of another Bourne film, even if it will reunite Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass.

Who started it all is Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney, seen in woozy flashbacks) as a psychiatrist who specialises in behaviour modification, and who erased the identity and personality of Capt. David Webb to create the hitman Jason Bourne as part of a secret project called Blackbriar. (except nobody would ever be so gauche to call him a hitman: in government-speak he is an asset – until, of course, he becomes a liability.) It’s inevitable that the two are going to end up in the same room together, so most of the film is about getting Bourne to New York.

Landy, meanwhile, is trying to help him, and playing office politics with a shadowy CIA operative Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Their scenes together are every bit as thrilling as the chop-socky fighting stuff.

There are several exciting sequences including Bourne performing a brilliant piece of tradecraft in a crowded Waterloo Station; a rooftop chase in Tunis that ends with the most brutal fight in the entire trilogy; and a thrilling Manhattan car chase.

Okay, it’s still a big Hollywood movie, and even the smartest movie can have dumb moments. There are an awful lot of coincidences in The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s mighty convenient that the hunt for Bourne is actually a news item (would that really happen?) allowing for him to meet a Guardian journalist, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who provides some necessary exposition. Bourne finds a photo of Finney that accidentally falls out of a file.

And it really helps that Bourne`s old handler, Nicki Parsons (Julia Stiles) is now stationed in Madrid, where Bourne meets her at the CIA office. I`ve always liked Stiles as an actress, and she has never got the breakout role she deserves; she does very well in a small but important role. It’s heavily hinted that she’s in love with Bourne. There’s a moment in this film that a lesser movie would turn into a love scene, but the closest we get to romance is the following brief exchange:

Bourne: Why are you helping me?

Nicki: It was difficult for me … with you.

They stare at each other silently for a long moment.

Nicki: You really don’t remember anything.

Bourne: No

As for Damon, he’s great as always in the role. He looks weary and hollowed out, not the relatively spry youngster he was in the first film. He doesn’t smile once. He trained for months for the fight sequences, and he does look like he could handle himself in a scrap. The fights were choreographed by Jeff Imada.

Of course, one of the reasons why these films are so exciting is how they are shot and edited. An awful lot of information is crammed into two hours, and the film seldom stops for a breather. And it’s urged along by John Powell’s score. Even a mundane moment like Bourne picking the lock on a door is given urgency by how it’s filmed and edited (four shots in less than two seconds). There’s a fascinating interview with the film’s editor Christopher Rouse  here.

Spare a thought for Dan Bradley. He was the second unit director and stunt coordinator on the film, and many of the movie’s more memorable action moments are down to him, including the Tangiers rooftop chase and the Manhattan car chase.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com

Ponyo (2008) Review

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Ponyo (2008) (aka Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea)
Gake no Ue no Ponyo
Japanese: 崖の上のポニョ

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Cast:
Tomoko Yamaguchi
Kazushige Nagashima
Yūki Amami
George Tokoro
Yuria Nara
Hiroki Doi
Rumi Hiiragi
Akiko Yano
Kazuko Yoshiyuki
Tomoko Naraoka

(English Dub Voice Cast: Cate Blanchette, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin, BETTY WHITE!)

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot centers on a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy, Sōsuke, and wants to become a human girl.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: Mainly the English dubbed version – saw the subtitled version years ago

Ponyo is very cute. Cutesy cute! Cute is a funny word, isn’t it? Like with Kiki’s Delivery Service & My Neighbor Tororo, Ponyo is a very kid friendly Studio Ghibli film. I’d say it’s actually aimed at the youngest age range of all as the two main characters are very young but it’s far more strange than Kiki’s Delivery Service so it MAY not be as popular with kids as that one. I guess it depends on the kid and if they like unusual stories or not.

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Ponyo is an adorable little goldfish who longs to be human, especially after tasting human BLOOD! Lol. (No, really…). Basically, her father is human but, I think, magic or something so he now lives under the sea with all his “fish children” he had with some sort of huge Goddess of the Sea. Or… Something like that. Am I selling this to anyone yet?!

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So… Ponyo’s father, who’s this weird cross between David Bowie & Alice Cooper, doesn’t want Ponyo to become human but she loves a little boy named Sōsuke who helped her & took care of her when he found her stuck in a bottle in the sea. She wants to be human & live with Sōsuke.

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Subtitled vs Dubbed:

Ponyo’s Bowie/Cooper father looks super cool yet sounds like… Liam Neeson?! I first saw Ponyo years ago with subtitles, which I always prefer. I’ve only seen the dubbed version since as I have it recorded off TV & it’s the only version I have. I have got to buy the DVD. A character that looks like that dude above should NOT sound like Liam Neeson. And Ponyo, as adorable as she is, is very shout-y in the dubbed version. I’d like to see the subtitled one again to hear what she sounded like as I can’t now remember. The shout-y overexcited thing kind of actually works for this character as she’s still learning to be human and is so very happy. Looking this up I see that she’s voiced by Noah Lindsey Cyrus, Miley’s younger sister. Ha! Well, I don’t think subtlety runs in that family so a shout-y performance isn’t surprising. Like I say, it kind of works but I really wish to stop seeing the dubbed version. Again, though, you’re likely to watch this one with a young kid so you’d be watching it dubbed. Oh! But I have no complaints about Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin, and especially Betty White as the three old women. Those ladies ROCK. 🙂

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Summary:

I haven’t really said much about this one. It’s a hard one to describe. It’s odd but also very sweet & innocent. It’s about unconditional love (Sōsuke must prove that he can love Ponyo whether she be a fish or human). I think young kids will love both Sōsuke & Ponyo and will just roll with the slightly odd story as young minds are usually more open to these sorts of things. It’s really not much more odd than a lot of Disney fairy tales. I do recommend this one to kids & to adult Studio Ghibli fans. Of all the Ghiblis, it’s definitely the most “sweet” and it’s hard to not like Sōsuke & Ponyo and seeing a love so pure.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Saving Private Ryan (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Rob of MovieRob. Thanks for being a part of this, Rob! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Saving Private Ryan, IMDB rank 39 out of 250… (as of 01/01/2013)

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Thanks again to Ms. Mutant for giving us all a chance to review our favorite movies that are part of the IMDB Top 250!

Certain movies fade within your memory not long after you see them and then there are others that remain engraved in your mind for years, if not decades afterwards.

Saving Private Ryan is a movie that fits into the latter category in my mind.

I recall seeing it in the theater during the Fall of 1998 and being mesmerized and riveted for the close to 3 hours running time.

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Steven Spielberg had given us all so many iconic movies over the years up to that point that spanned the whole gamut of Genres. From Jaws to Close Encounters to E.T. to The Indiana Jones trilogy to The Goonies to Jurassic Park and ultimately to his masterpiece Schindler’s List.

Few suspected that he would find a way to even top THAT endeavor, but he did. (or at least matched it)

Saving Private Ryan is truly a companion piece to Schindler’s List because they both deal with different aspects of the horrors of World War II. One deals with the inhabitants of Europe and how they had to deal with the cruelty of the Nazi’s, some due to their heritage and others due to their will to stop injustice from continuing. The other deals with the thousands of American soldiers who traveled far from home to help bring about the downfall of that cruel dictator and his nation that attempted to stop freedom and democracy from spreading.

In both of these movies, Spielberg didn’t hesitate to show the horrific face of war and in some instances strived so hard to show us the hurtful, but truthful shock and awe of those events in history.

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I cannot think of any other movie that opens as this one did. To have close to 30 minutes devoted to carnage, despair, fear, trepidation, blood and guts (literally), action, and lots of other very descriptive and poignant moments has been unprecedented in film history, let alone during the first 30 minutes.

Basically this movie charges right in, showing us that war truly is hell. By the time the shit hits the fan, we don’t know any of the characters and (at least back in 1998), we only could recognize Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore. The disorientation that the viewer was hit in the face with from the start was even greater because of the ‘shaky’ camera work that was purposely used to give us the feeling that we are within that very dangerous situation along with the soldiers themselves.

The rest of this movie follows suit and is amazingly done. The story is interesting, the characters are not just ‘stock’ soldiers like in many war movies, the dialogue between the characters and the action all add up to a movie worth seeing over and over again.

I don’t like spoiling movies, so I’m not going to go into much detail about the plot itself because I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few of you out there who have yet to see this.

Basically, like many ‘war’ films, this is an anti-war movie trying to show the futility of war and the importance of every person individually making whatever they do in life and in war count for something.

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Once the story gets going, we get to know the characters quite well and each one is developed well enough that we care what will happen to them.

Spielberg purposely chose unknown actors so we wouldn’t be distracted by stars. Ironically, just about all of his “unknown” choices became very popular afterwards. Who doesn’t know the names of Ed Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel and Jeremy Davies?

Shockingly, this movie lost the best picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love which in my book is the biggest mistake ever made by Oscar voters. As much as Shakespeare was a fun movie, this one is clearly better in every aspect besides comedy (DUH!!). Spielberg himself was awarded the best director Oscar which was extremely rare 16 years ago to have a split between Picture and Director.

This is a movie that is best if watched on the big screen. I personally saw this twice in the theater and am grateful that I did so. Certain films are even more powerful on the big screen and this is one of them even if it’s also quite enjoyable at home.

I’m actually quite surprised that this movie is so low on the IMDB Top 250. I mean c’mon 35!!!!. How is that even possible?

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The Zero Theorem (2013) Review

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The Zero Theorem (2013) (what?? it just came out in the UK!)

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Starring:
Christoph Waltz
Mélanie Thierry
David Thewlis
Lucas Hedges
Matt Damon
Tilda Swinton
Sanjeev Bhaskar
Peter Stormare
Ben Whishaw
Dana Rogoz

Running time: 107 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Zero Theorem is a 2013 science fiction film that centres on Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds meaning. Terry Gilliam has called it the final part of a dystopian satire trilogy or “Orwellian triptych” begun with 1985’s Brazil and continued with 1995’s 12 Monkeys.

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My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I’m too stupid for this movie. I’m also taking a bit of a break from reviewing movies but felt I should get this one out there (especially as we have a fun guest review coming tomorrow for another Terry Gilliam movie. In fact, one of the three of the “dystopian satire trilogy” Gilliam named above, of which The Zero Theorem is the final part). As Gilliam films are very artistic & fun to look at (and confusing), this “review” is going to be full of images from the film. Here’s a cool one (not great quality – it was fun seeing the different signs in the film):

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First off: Christoph Waltz is in this. I love him. I admit that the hubby kind of had to drag me to this movie but, when I saw that Waltz was the star, he didn’t have to try QUITE so hard to get me into the cinema. I ended up enjoying this movie more than I’d expected to and that was all down to the actors & the look of the film.

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As well as Waltz, we have the very sexy French actress Mélanie Thierry. She bares a lot of skin in this and wears outfits like the one below, which should keep a lot of male (and some female) viewers happy. I ended up really liking her character, who ends up being deeper than you first expect her to be.

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Then we had the young Lucas Hedges, who I also thought did a great job in this. He, Waltz & Thierry were the highlights of the film. I enjoyed their characters which, to me, is always very important in order for me to like a movie. The typical quirky types of characters you always get from Gilliam were played by David Thewlis in a fairly big supporting role and Matt Damon & Tilda Swinton in smaller but fun roles (especially Swinton’s – I kind of really like that crazy-ass woman. She seems like she’d be a blast to hang out with in real life. And she looks like David Bowie, the coolest person EVER).

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So Christoph Waltz is trying to figure out if life has meaning and it’s driving him mad and blah blah quirky characters and yada yada cool science-looking stuff and ooh la la sexy French chick. And what’s with Terry Gilliam & bald heads??

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Summary:

Basically, if you love Terry Gilliam, you’ll be perfectly happy with this film and I’d totally recommend it to you. If you hate him, avoid this. It’s very “him”. I had fun watching it, it gives you some food for thought if you like that sort of thing and, if you don’t, it’s cool to look at. That’s it, really. If you’re looking at this being part of some sort of “trilogy”, it’s the weakest compared to Brazil & 12 Monkeys but it’s been so long since I’ve seen those that I can’t fully comment. Time for a re-watch of both of those, I think…

My Rating: 6.5/10

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finger

The Departed (2006) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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To kick off the IMDB Top 250 guest reviews, we have the lovely Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger. Zoe writes fantastic movie & book reviews and top ten lists (and guest top ten lists, should you wish to join in on the fun). She’s super cool & friendly and Leonardo DiCaprio’s number one fan. She also reads LOTS of books & and is way smarter than me so you really need to check her site out if you haven’t already. 🙂

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now over to Zoe & her thoughts on The Departed, IMDB Rank 50 out of 250

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I got really gung ho involved with Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 list. I got excited and I basically took a whole bunch, filling my arms. But whatever, moving along, they are great movies that need to be honoured. I thought that The Departed is one of those films. I have an obsession with this movie. I love it. I really, really do, and I revisit it often. I know dear old Mutant is not the hugest Scorsese fan, but I love the man and was going to explore this, no two ways about it. Oki, I’m going to stop rambling now, and get down to it.

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“We have a question: Do you want to be a cop, or do you want to appear to be a cop? It’s an honest question.”
– Oliver Queenan

Plot Synopsis: An undercover state cop who has infiltrated an Irish gang and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat. (IMDB)

Now, for me I really enjoyed the story, it was sharp and tight and very well written, and had a stellar cast to carry the story as well as a phenomenal director to helm it. Leonardo DiCaprio (yep, here I go again) is just amazing. He nailed the role of Billy Costigan, truly amazing work from him yet again, I expected no less. Coming up from nowhere, working his backside off to get into the police force and being shot down was a painful thing, but when Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) offer him the chance to go undercover for them, to take down a big Irish crime lord, he takes it, not thinking twice. What I loved is how he went in, incredibly optimistic, a chance to prove himself, be more than was expected. Instead he ended up running scared, trying so hard to outsmart everyone and keep his real life separate from the undercover life that was designed for him, and struggling to distance himself as well as accept all the cruel and nasty things that he saw.

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“I’m gonna need the identity of your undercovers.” – Colin Sullivan

Jack Nicholson delivered quite the performance here. As Frank Costello, the Irish mob boss whose gang Costigan has wormed his way into, you can see exactly why he is being hunted. He is sharp as a tack, he is ruthless and psychopathic, calm and cool all the time, not much ruffling him. Never mind the mole snooping around his little unit, he as one up on the police: he has his very own mole really high up in their department. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has been working with Costello since he was a child, and is treated like the son. The two have a very solid relationship with each other, and work really well together. They rely on each other and they understand each other. Costello has his organisation so tightly wrapped up that even Sullivan is a very well hidden secret from within. Things are going fine up until the point that Costigan gets in. It dawns on the police as well as Costello at roughly the same time that someone is leaking information from the inside. This was really great for me, seeing how things started to heat up. The movie never dragged, and even though it took a while for both sides to make the realisation, it was a fantastic one to arrive at.

The camera work was amazing, and keeps bringing new things to the table, keeping it all fresh. The cast works so well together. On one hand you are rooting for the good guys, and the other you want to see the bad ones succeed. Again, this is an example of fine filmmaking for me, though ultimately your loyalty lay with Costigan and his shattered life due to his cover story, his one “big” opportunity that he was granted. Dignam proved to be an exceptionally angry character, though it was grand watching Wahlberg and DiCaprio together, and Sheen regulating them all the time. The score was great; it worked so well with this film, and the whole Irish theme. Vera Farmiga had her psychiatrist role as Madolyn, seeing police who have fired their weapons in line of duty. A meeting with Sullivan in the elevator and all his cocky confidence start their relationship, and all seems to be going well. Naturally, as all paths are crossing in this movie, she meets Costigan, and the two enter into an unknown thing together, which soon break the practitioner/patient boundaries and escalates into an affair. Costigan is hanging onto her like some kind of lifeline, and it is crazy to watch how her perfect relationship with Sullivan crumples when he starts to hide things about her, stripping her of her character, basically. He is a control freak, and everything has to be just so.

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“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” – Frank Costello

The movie pacing is great. It is a long film but never (for me) actually feels that way, which is just awesome. It starts off, sets the tone, introduces the characters, and works with them all a little bit so that we have some background understanding, making all the events that unfold into something more than just a quick smack dab crime flick. As the movie progresses, you witness the cracks that start to show in the characters, the perfectly uneventful lives suddenly have issues that they have never dealt with before. Everything slowly starts unravelling, and soon gains momentum, spinning out of control but never losing the audience or sight of what is going down. Costello’s cockiness is slowly but surely falling away, and he is devolving into something more brutal and his anger is barely kept in check. Nicholson, of course, played that down to a tee. From the relaxed but scary Irish gang leader before, he refuses to relinquish his power, and everyone that stands before him will pay. Sullivan is doing what he can to protect himself as well as Costello, and is desperate to wheedle out the rat that has upset the perfect balance.

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“I can’t wait to wipe that fucking smirk right off of your face.” – Dignam

All in all The Departed earns a 9/10 for me. A simply stunning piece of cinema, it was astounding to watch and never ceases to provide the height of entertainment that I am looking for, supported by a outstanding cast, great score and story, and stellar directing, this was destined to be a goodie. It is deserving of all praise, and you are sure that whenever DiCaprio and Scorsese come together, something beautiful will come from it!