Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’

Film Reviews! Hereafter

December 22, 2010

Clint Eastwood has a long and storied professional history that spans across half a century and includes some of the most prolific titles of all time as well as some of the most memorable Oscar contenders of the last ten years.  His latest flick, Hereafter, is certainly not one of those aforementioned movies.

Hereafter is the story of a retired psychic (Matt Damon) recently laid off of his  job in construction, just looking to find his place in the world while being hounded with a what he considers a psychic ‘curse’ that keeps him withdrawn and alone.  His brother (played by an alarmingly aged Jay Mohr) looks to drag him back into the psychic reading game in order to best ‘help people’ (see: make money).  Auxiliary stories revolve around a twin who desperately wants to reconnect with his deceased brother and a news anchor who experiences a touch of the afterlife after surviving a near-death experience.

The synopsis above does a good job of translating precisely what the major errors are within the film.  A lot technically happens, in Hereafter, but very little actually comes of any of it and said outcomes that do come to fruition feel forced, juxtaposed, and flaccid.  Eastwood has chosen a story that really has very little to tell, with three central characters who do little more than awkwardly bounce against one another.  By film’s end, you are left feeling unsatisfied, wishing that simply ONE of the three stories had some sort of substance to dig into.  Sadly, though, each character truly does have the propensity to tell their own, individual, 90-minute story, this is just a classic case of a screenwriter with too much to say ultimately saying nothing.

Matt Damon’s George Lonegan is the kind of tortured, hapless hero that knows the extent of his own abilities and simply cannot overcome the fears that he has associated with them.  While he’s certainly knowledgeable enough to know the positive aspects of his psychic craft, he also has clearly broken his fair share of human beings down by bringing up the past in ways they simply were not ready for.  The first girl that we see him get close to simply leaves in an emotional whirlwind after George relates a message sent to her from a relative who was too “touchy” in her past.  And while much is done to address Damon’s character’s clearly solitary, lone existence, it is the only piece of substantial acting in the entirety of the piece.  The other two main characters, young, now lone twin, Jason, played by twins Frankie and George McLaren and French newscaster, Marie, played by Cecile De France give two of the weakest performances I have seen in a theatrical release in quite some time.  They come to their roles without almost zero emotional investment and very little, if any sincere point of view.  Either the editing left out insurmountable chunks of dialogue which better flesh out these characters, or Clint Eastwood really knows how to sink a movie through a miserable supporting cast.

The score is another point of incredible weakness that merits speaking to.  Every single note that is played to underscore an action, mood, or tone in the film actually managed to bristle me out of my seat and call attention to itself.  I could not come across a single moment when I felt that the tone of the score even mirrored, let alone added to, the tone of the film.  The underlying trend seemed to be to actually put in musical underscores that were antithetical to the production progressing onscreen.  Horrible, cheesy, elevator muzak-ish guitar solos would wail as though an 80’s hair metal band was coming to the middle of their hit love ballad during the few poignant moments of the movie.  Casual outdoor establishing shots would be sprinkled with upbeat, strange, artificial musical musings that have ZERO correlation to one another.  The fact that any money was spent on this arrangement at all and it wasn’t simply composed using freesound.com ten minutes before the first screening is a testament to Hollywood’s oftentimes incompetence.

As mentioned before, the screenplay to this mess is equally frightful, and I assume acts as the cornerstone to the rest of the mess that this film becomes.  I can only assume that Eastwood and Damon both saw the potential for a sweeping character piece in this little movie.  Of course, that’s me being positive.  What probably happened was that Eastwood saw an easy paycheck and after a twenty minute read-through of the script decided that he may even be able to milk some critical acclaim out of this cow with his directing magic.  Damon, not even reading the script, but seeing Eastwood’s name attached, signed on blind, and we were given this mess.  I think the best word to sum up this movie would have to be “jilted.”  Yeah.  “Jilted.”

Score/Sound: 32/100

Screenplay/Story: 45/100

Performance/Direction: 48/100

Cinematography: 55/100

Overall: 39/100

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The Top 5 Hardest Working Actors in Show Business

November 10, 2009

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It’s easy to mock celebrities, actors in particular, who stress to the public how difficult and important their lives are and how much fame belabors those facts. Especially when we see them living such pampered and extravagant lives. I’m here to discuss five men in Hollywood who actually DO live rather industrious existanses and yet fail to ever complain about them. In fact, most are as hard-working as they are due to their love for what they do, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, check all your false pretenses at the door, this list takes NO monetary statistics into account to tabulate this list. I’m simply conducting an opinionated grouping of five actors who I feel have taken on more than most men can handle in the show biz…biz, and I’m compiling this list in relation to this point in time, Autumn of 2009. Yes, Seth Rogen has appeared in MULTITUDES of films over the last five years, but after Funny People and Observe and Report of this year, the guy has been laying pretty low. This list tabulates the mainstreamers who have been racking up leading role credits in muliple expansive flicks. So, without further ado…

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5. Johnny Depp

To say that I respect this man would be an intense understatement. His acting prowess is some of the best of our time, so it makes me EXTREMELY happy to see him inundated with work. If you’ve been living under the sea (visions of The Little Mermaid just popped into my head. Walt Disney prevails) for the past year then you probably haven’t heard of Depp’s numerous forays into film he has recently undertaken. Public Enemies was the only work he appeared in that was released in ’09, however, he has been fast at work on massive cinematic staples of the 2010 movie-going season that will almost-assuredly dominate the market. The first being Tim Burton’s reiteration of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Depp plays The Mad Hatter in Burton’s CGI-laden could-be-wonderful-could-be-terrible still up-in-the-air retelling of the classic story. Headlining next to Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, and Alan Rickman, the film has all the makings of a complete cinematic win, the screenshots and trailers, however, leave doubt in my mind, as CGI-laden, as I said before, is putting it nicely. Time will tell. Depp also was involved in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, filling one of the three roles created after lead actor Heath Ledger’s passing. Depp, along with Colin Farrell and Jude Law, will stand in for Ledger as alternate versions of Ledger’s character, to help the stroy along despite the events that took place prior to the film’s completion. The next chapter in the Hunter S. Thompson chronicles, The Rum Diary, is also in post, in which Depp will reprise his role as the gonzo-journalist.
In addition to these films that Depp has finished, the newest film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is slated for a 2011 release date and is currently in the earliest stages of pre-production. Sin City 3, which Depp has been rumored to be involved with basically from its inception, is also geared up for a 2012 release (funny considering Sin City 2 is still stuck in developmental hell).
And here’s the kicker. IMDB lists Depp as in development with FOURTEEN new titles, as well. Among them, a Dali biopic and The Lone Ranger. Wow, simply wow. While these developmental deals can fall through at any time, they can also usually indicate desire and co-involvement between the parties of the actors and the producers. It will be interesting to see where Depp’s career goes looking towards these titles.

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4. Brad Pitt

Here’s another guy with developmental deals in spades. The ‘ole rusty, trusty IMDB has Pitt pegged with sixteen deals, the most I could find. In addition to being attached to The sequel to Downey Jrs Sherlock Holmes vehicle, Pitt is also listed with World War Z and a Steve McQueen biopic. Goo.
Pitt tore up the screen in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds this summer, and has currently been attached to the fledgling project Moneyball, which is listed as being in the earliest stages of production, despite the fact that it has no director. Pitt is further attached to The Tree of Life and The Lost City of Z, as well as providing a voice to the upcoming animated flick Oobermind. He’s also rumored to be apart of 2012’s upcoming The Odyssey and The Sparrow.

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3. George Clooney

The former Sexiest Man in America has never slowed down since his rocket-propelled rise to fame in the mid-to-late 90’s as well. Clooney most recently has released The Men Who Stare at Ghosts, a loosely based adaptation of the book of the same name which regards a 1970’s to 1980’s military experiment that documented telepathic phenomena. In addition to this recent film, though, Clooney finished up providing voice work for the titular role in Wes Anderson’s upcoming The Fantastic Mr. Fox, alongside Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman, as well as polishing off his role in the Jason Reitman-helmed Up in the Air, which is also currently in post. These are merely his acting credits for 2009, though, the man also executive produced the Matt Damon vehicle The Informant! and Playground, a movie I honestly couldn’t find too much on. As far as his queue list goes, IMDB has him cited with ten in-development deals.

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2. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is a man of many faces. The actor became famous for his rubber-faced persona that landed him a slew of comedic work in the mid-to-late 90’s and a career launching pad that ANY actor would be proud of. By the turn of the century, however, Carrey was becoming far more versatile as an actor. Already dabbling in the dramatic with The Truman Show, Liar Liar,, and the INCREDAMAZING Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon. Carrey then went on to tackle the serious side of life full-tilt in Charlie Kaufman’s magnificent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, opposite Kate Winslet, The Majestic, and the box office blunder The Number 23. He has returned to comedy in recent years, however, and, as always, has fully immersed himself in his roles. Recently released is the Zemeckis-penned adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which Carrey provided the movements and voices to Scrooge at all ages of life AND the three spirits that visit him! Encompassing multiple accents, multiple ages of life, and multiple SPIRITUAL BEINGS, Carrey tackled the project head-on while keeping busy with multiple other projects, such as I Love You, Philip Morris, the tale of an escaped homosexual convict who goes on a quest to find his lover that was released from prison before he was. The film has been receiving stellar reviews and co-stars Ewan McGregor opposite Carrey in this bold and self-titled dark comedy. All the while that these two flicks have been in post, Carrey has both been bulking up and studying up to play Curly Howard in the upcoming Three Stooges revamp with Paul Giamatti and possibly Benecio Del Toro. This was all considered fact for the longest time and was referenced multiple times by Carrey’s apparent weight gain in the tabloids and public citings, but, as of late, Carrey has been described as withdrawing from the project. It doesn’t negate the fact that the man was taking on multiple roles immediately after finishing his previously mentioned two. Further, IMBD.com has Carrey listed in FOUR different upcoming development deals. Which may seem normal for a star of his status, but when you consider the work load he will indefinitely take on with these upcoming roles, it makes a profound statement on his desire to never be bored.
In addition to his films and the launch of a fully-functioning personal website that has actually made the rounds and received a warm/geeky reception from the film/internet blogosphere, Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy have consistantly maintained their involvement in the charity Generation Rescue, which strives to find alternative ways to treat autism in children. Not bad for a man who was talking with his butt a little over 10 years ago.

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1. Nicolas Cage

Go ahead and laugh (you’ve earned it) but the man has yet to produce a dull movie (I said ‘dull’ not ‘bad’) and his work output is something for ANY actor to admire, regardless of how badly he phones roles in. Before I continue, most of you know, but for those who don’t, everything I joke about Nicolas Cage comes from a place of sincere reverance. Yes, the man takes part in AWFUL movies (which, given his current economic situation could just be to keep the lights on) but in each film he’s in he is always FULLY committed to the story being told. And I’m sorry, but I’d rather watch Cage run around in a Bear suit any day FULLY EMBRACING THE ROLE than see Tom Hanks win ANOTHER Oscar for appearing in some adaptation of a story set in the 1940’s. ALL TANGENTS ASIDE, Cage has kept himself QUITE stacked as of late. In early 2009 the CGI-Fest known as G-Force dropped with Cage providing a voice as well as Cage’s vehicle Knowing, in which he played the lead. Throughout the remainder of the year he has worked on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, Season of the Witch, and Werner FOOKING Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Did I mention the voice that he provided for Astro Boy? No? Well, lump that in there as well.
IMDB has him attached to 4 deals in development, one of which being (GET READY!!!) Ghost Rider 2! Which creators have said will distance itself from the original as a revamp, not a sequel. Yet, it still stars Cage as the lead. Oh, how I LOVE this man! It simply amazes me what Hollywood will greenlight.

And speaking of hard working, (and by hard-working, I mean shameless self-promotion!) visit my sketch troupe’s Youtube or Facebook and comment/subscribe/hate/love/befriend/never talk to us again/enjoy our attempts at making you laugh!