Matt Damon

Memento Movie

We can learn a lot from the movies. Of course, sometimes what we learn has no basis in reality. For example, lawyers should not take their cross-examination techniques from Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, and doctors shouldn’t be too quick to use a defibrillator as demonstrated in… well… pretty much every medical drama ever made. Certain real-life afflictions make excellent plot points in movies and television, and one of the biggest cliches that’s still used today is amnesia. Whether it’s Jason Bourne trying to get a hold of his past or a poor widower chasing down a man named John G., amnesia makes for a compelling story where we get to learn alongside a person who already knows the thing that they don’t know. But is movie amnesia realistic, or is it total crap?

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Ridley-Scott-on-Prometheus-Set

Andrew Weir’s “The Martian” was marketed as being like Cast Away meets Apollo 13. But the movie version is certainly going to be compared to Gravity. The premise of the novel sees an astronaut stranded alone on Mars as he struggles to survive until a NASA rescue mission arrives. Since he’s at least on ground, we can say it has a bit of Moon or even better Robinson Crusoe on Mars. But The Martian won’t have a monkey, and also Gravity is such a big deal after raking in so much money and Oscars that 20th Century Fox will be hoping for something more along the lines of Alfonso Cuaron’s outer space disaster thriller, especially if it’s even half as successful. Fortunately, two new valuable assets have joined the mission. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ridley Scott is set to return to space for the adaptation, which was scripted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield). Goddard was also supposed to direct, but he’s too tied up with helming Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man spin-off The Sinister Six. So Scott will take over, and not even those disappointed with Prometheus can deny this is a terrific fit. On board with Scott is confirmed star Matt Damon. And this time he’s all rock-marooned without his Gerry pal Casey Affleck. Scott will also produce the movie along with Simon Kinberg (Elysium) and Aditya Sood (Let’s Be Cops). 

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Shia LaBeouf in Battle of Shaker Heights

I wonder if any of you are too young to remember Project Greenlight. The competition reality show was a big deal when it began back in 2001 on HBO, the brainchild of pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon with producer Chris Moore, then known best for American Pie. And Harvey Weinstein was involved through Miramax, which had a stake all the way through distributing whatever movie was made out of the winning script. Project Greenlight would begin each season with the screenplay contest, which fed into a directors contest, which fed into a making-of docu-series where we watched the champion filmmaker complete his feature. After three seasons of what could better be called Project Greenhorn, it seemed as though those features weren’t worth the effort. Actually, most viewers knew after the unsuccessful release of the first, Stolen Summer, that it this idea didn’t work. But now Affleck and Damon, sans Moore, are bringing it back. They think it was actually ahead of its time and will work better in the post-YouTube era. “A whole new generation of filmmakers has grown up sharing everything, and the next big director could be just an upload away,” Affleck is quoted as saying about the reasoning for the resurrection. Damon added that the first incarnation was actually a success, proudly noting that “careers have been launched and sustained as a direct result of this contest.” He is right, as the show’s past winners, who include Stolen Summer writer/director Pete Jones, season two combination of screenwriter Erica Beeney and directors […]

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monuments_men

George Clooney is an undervalued filmmaker. With Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Clooney showed he was the real deal behind the camera. He followed that, his best film, with the widely acclaimed Goodnight and Good Luck, as well as the overlooked Leatherheads, and one of 2011′s best films, The Ides of March. His films have no shortage of ambition or passion, but his newest movie, The Monuments Men, suffers from perhaps too much of both. Hitler started stealing art during World War II in the hopes of creating a cultural town made up of all these stolen pieces. He was robbing people of their history and culture, and in retaliation FDR commissioned a team to go retrieve the art and find their rightful owners. George Stout (Clooney) led the group and convinced FDR to support the mission and his team of non-traditional soldiers. For the most part, this ensemble features the kind of limited character definition we expect from The Expendables, not Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov. Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonnenville) is the only fully-defined character in the bunch. There’s a segment of the film where he goes off on a mission by himself resulting in a dramatic conflict that could make for its own film, and it’s a far more engaging possibility than the one we get.

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Monuments Men

The full trailer for George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men has dropped, and it’s tonally much different than the teaser released back in August. The film, about a ragtag platoon of (aging) art experts tasked with stealing back art from the Nazis during WWII, was presented in the teaser as more of a tongue-in-cheek look at bumbling older men trying to make in through their mission and complete this important task. In the full trailer, the tone has changed (or improved, depending how you look at it) and this film is now a tense thriller where the art must be rescued by these important men at all costs. Gone are the scenes of flustered old men barely making it through basic training (okay, there’s one still in there), replaced with gunfire, crumpled buildings and paintings being thrown on a bonfire as Clooney makes an impassioned speech about art being the cause for fighting…”for culture, for a way of life.” I suddenly really, really care about art now. A lot of the tonal shift has to do with the new music selection — backing anything with that tense score makes even the most innocuous dialogue sound like classified information. Now, will the actual film match the teaser or the trailer? Check out the new trailer here:

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Matt Damon

We still know next to nothing about Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar. Matthew McConaughey will voyage through a wormhole- that’s about it. But at least we can add one more name to the list of those joining him on his cosmic voyage: Matt Damon. The actor will be joining Nolan’s latest for a small role; one that only necessitates two weeks out of Interstellar‘s four-month shoot. Obviously, it hasn’t yet revealed who Damon will be playing, but presumably he’ll be another space voyager, or an alternate-universe version of McConaughey’s character, or a caveman in some elaborate sequence where the film jumps back to the dawn of time (as people are already comparing this one to 2001: A Space Odyssey).

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jason-bourne

Update: According to Variety, Universal is denying that they’re talking with Damon or Greengrass about returning to the franchise. This might be a tactic to futilely keep the possibility quiet until they can nail down specifics, or it may be the straightforward truth about a project that’s purely wishful thinking. Even though Matt Damon wasn’t down to do another Bourne movie around the time Universal was putting together The Bourne Legacy—which led to the studio going ahead and doing one without him—he’s always been hesitant to make it look like he was handing over the reins of the franchise to Legacy star Jeremy Renner permanently. As a matter of fact, he’s often made it clear that he and Paul Greengrass, who was Damon’s director on the second two Bourne movies, Supremacy and Ultimatum, intend on someday teaming up on another Bourne movie, but on their own schedule and not the studio’s. Well, now there’s a report out there that Universal has once again been getting an itchy trigger finger, and have recently been putting feelers out to see if enough time has passed for Damon to want to once again don Jason Bourne’s trademarked, um—t-shirt and gun, I guess—and go on another adventure. How do their efforts seems to be going this time?

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Monuments Men

We just got our first look at a still from George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men, but that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from releasing a new trailer immediately afterward. This one is a bit of a mixed bag. The pairing of Clooney and Matt Damon will always bring about one thing: that Ocean’s Eleven sense of suave. You see these two together, you know you’re about to see a film about cool guys who look good and pull off daring deeds. Stir this into the “stealing art to save art” story, add the little hint of WWII intrigue we get at the trailer’s end, and you’ve basically got Ocean’s for the greatest generation (even though the original Ocean’s Eleven already qualifies). The ragtag team of misfits introduced in this trailer really cements this idea. On the one hand, seeing a bunch of bumbling old men stumble through armed combat sounds terrific; especially so when those aging bumblers are played by the likes of John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Bob Balaban. But honestly, the whole idea seems a little played out. I’ve seen both Ocean’s Eleven and Saving Private Ryan. What exactly will The Monuments Men offer that couldn’t be accomplished by haphazardly cutting those two films together? A trailer should make you want to see the film in question, but this one just makes me wonder if the awkward music choice and fluctuating tone are more a product of the trailer or the finished film. Check out the first trailer […]

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blom

Neill Blomkamp became kind of a big deal after District 9. That film was the surprise hit of 2009, and it showed why Blomkamp was initially tapped to helm Halo. After a debut film makes that much coin, a director is fielding offers left and right, and Blomkamp was no different except that instead of jumping into bed with a big studio franchise-starter he took another risk with Elysium: an original 98 million dollar R-rated action movie. The movie plays with a relevant allegory, but for writer/director Blomkamp that’s just the sprinkles on top of his sci-fi actioner. The movie doesn’t dwell too much on its allegory or exposition, and for Blomkamp, it was important to give the audience just enough information to throw them into the deep end. Blomkamp had to plenty more to say in a roundtable interview about his specific approach to Elysium.

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THE-MONUMENTS-MEN

When the endless stream of awards-show talk begins its yearly smothering of the movie industry, expect the words The Monuments Men to come up. The film’s got all the necessary pieces: It’s based both on real-life events and on a book (Robert M. Edsel‘s “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History”) and will have George Clooney wearing both his director and lead actor hats. Presumably, if the film’s actually a good one, it’ll be racking up all kinds of neat little statuettes. And thanks to Entertainment Weekly (via Facebook), you can see the first still from The Monuments Men above. You can also read more about the film below.

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Elysium

Expectations are a dangerous thing, and right now few people realize that as well as Neill Blomkamp. Four years after his debut film District 9 wowed audiences and critics alike he’s finally ready to unleash his follow-up, Elysium. Audiences looking to see if he can avoid a sophomore slump may also be hoping to be rescued from a fairly underwhelming summer for sci-fi/action films, so expectations are doubled. Well, at least they’re already familiar with disappointment. Max De Costa (Matt Damon) is an ex-con trying to keep out of trouble and stay employed, but the reality of Los Angeles in 2154 isn’t making things easy. The city’s population, much like the rest of Earth’s, consists entirely of the poor and oppressed who can barely afford basic health care and clean living conditions. Luckily they’re all pure of heart. Floating high above them, teasingly just out of reach, is the space station Elysium. Home to the wealthy and the healthy, life up there is little more than a dream for those below. When an on the job injury leaves Max with five days to live he reluctantly returns to his criminal ways to facilitate a quick trip to Elysium and a life-saving visit to one of the station’s all powerful med beds. Standing in his way are Elysium’s Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her black-op henchman Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Complicating things further is the reappearance of Max’s childhood love, Frey (Alice Braga), whose leukemia-riddled daughter is also in need of medical […]

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Elysium Art 4

If destroying a corrupt system of impoverishment was as simple as having a weaponized skeleton grafted onto our bodies and infiltrating the most secure fortress in existence, we’d all do it. That’s a given. Fortunately we don’t have to because Matt Damon is willing to take on the challenge for us in Elysium. As Neill Blomkamp’s first project since District 9, anticipation is at insanely high levels (according to our applause-o-meter), and while the trailers have paraded a drool-worthy design, we can now exclusively share a few pictures from the forthcoming “Elysium: The Art of the Film” from Mark Salisbury (like a movie with pages!) that give us a glimpse of the future. But first, a brief excerpt from Blomkamps’ foreword:

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Wired Mech Stui

This morning’s fascinating articles from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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news elysium clip

Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium could be described any number of ways- gritty, futuristic, explosion-filled- but ‘funny’ is probably not the first (or even 20th) adjective to spring to mind. Well, prepare to be amazed, as the first clip released from the film (courtesy of Yahoo! Movies) shows off Elysium‘s lighter side. It’s not what you’d call a laugh riot, but there is something bitterly funny in Matt Damon‘s (as protagonist Max DeCosta) frustration over the poor quality of robot service in 2154. It feels very close to the little smidgens of black humor found in Blomkamp’s last feature, District 9 (especially the tabloid pieces that implied a sordid affair between the main character and the film’s alien life). Check out the clip below.

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Elysium

Man, they said that the economy was starting to get better. But from the looks of the new featurette from writer-director Neill Blomkamp and the stars of Elysium, the world in 150 years is a far bleaker place. In the sci-fi film, which stars Matt Damon and Jodi Foster, Earth has become a “third world planet,” devoid of fresh resources and plagued by overpopulation and poverty.

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trailer elysium full

It’s 2154, and the Occupy movement has essentially taken over the entire planet. Before you go thinking that’s a good thing though realize that it only happened because the 1% has left Earth to live in luxury aboard a space station designed solely for the elite. One man (Matt Damon) with nothing to lose has something to say about the arrangement. Writer/director Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with District 9 four years ago, and it’s finally time to unveil his follow-up. Elysium treads initially familiar ground with it’s mix of science fiction, action and heavy social commentary, but any worries that Blomkamp is being lazy with his second film are about to be smashed. The new trailer below shows all you need to know about the story alongside some spectacular effects, thrilling set-pieces and glimpses of the bad guys (Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley). Enjoy.

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review behind the candelabra

There seems to have been a decisive change in the mainstream biopic recently. Instead of attempting to chronicle a public figure’s emergence into renown from childhood to death, several biopics find their subject in a way that assumes the achievement of fame to be a given from the get-go. Movies like Capote, Invictus, Hitchcock, and Lincoln (not to mention the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks) choose to examine a particular episode in the life of a well-known person instead of justify its subject’s achievement of fame by depicting a summary trajectory of youth to adult achievement. Sure, J. Edgar and The Iron Lady stand out as conspicuous exceptions, as signs that the conventions of the biopic are still alive and well. But this newer approach to the biopic (Invictus excepted) seems to allow a great deal of opportunities that conventional biopics don’t (to the point where they’re arguably no longer biopics): the ability to understand the exceptional individual not through a portrait of their entire life, but through a detailed examination of a more narrative-friendly set of select events and circumstances drawn from a particular point in their life. Such is the same with Steven Soderbergh’s latest (and purportedly last) film, HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. By taking a more modest and focused route to the biopic, Candelabra is a close and fascinating examination of the bizarre phenomenon of fame itself.

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review behind the candelabra

Steven Soderbergh has for years been a director who continues to work entirely in spite of himself; he presses on, releasing a film a year (if not more) while constantly expressing frustration with the industry and claiming that his next will be his last. With his latest effort – a production from the increasingly prestigious HBO Films banner – it appears that the director might finally be sticking to his word, and if so, he goes out with quite the belter to his name. Doing huge justice to the oft-sneered at TV film delegation, Behind the Candelabra is a studious project shot through with the high production quality, dedicated craftsmanship and superior acting of a great theatrical feature, and went down a storm at this morning’s world premiere. Soderbergh trains his focus on the final decade of Liberace’s (Michael Douglas) life, from meeting his most prolific lover, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) to his eventual death from AIDS. After a chance encounter backstage, the two embark on a whirlwind romance that sees each confide more in each other than they ever have another person. Of course, complications inevitably arise, but their bond is one that endures at different levels right to the singer’s final deathbed conversation with Scott.

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1968HowardJohnson2001-20

No, those kids aren’t watching Star Trek Into Darkness or Oblivion. It’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was being marketed to children by Howard Johnson’s! Welcome back to another Reject Recap, where I highlight the best movie news and feature stories of the past week as posted on FSR (and sometimes other sites). Think of it more as a curation with which to review recent film history as opposed to a set of reruns (we have enough of those starting around this time — on the big screen as well as on TV). It’s not just about catching up with what you missed but also catching on to where we are in movie culture. Also in television culture, as you’ll see in the bonus 11th slot below (spoiler: Landon likens The Office to a Michael Haneke film!). Also, I’ve included the full trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end. Enjoy. This week’s theme, if there should be one, seems to be a mix of agelessness and timelessness. Words that may pertain to debates on remakes, reboots and reworking old cult classics so they’re more kid-friendly. Also to what Baz Luhrman does with retro-placement of modern music. Doesn’t it all make you want to get inside a human time capsule in the form of deep sleep stasis and wake up in a century to see what’s lasted, what’s been redone and what history and culture has been retroactively rewritten? Something to think about. Start your weekend right after the jump.

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Elysium

Director Neill Blomkamp has, thankfully enough, not kicked any of his thematic interests while making the transition to his sophomore effort. The District 9 helmer returns to theaters later this summer with his Matt Damon-starring Elysium, another sci-fi epic that deals with the inherent evils of rigid class division and the true measure of a man modified by technology far beyond his control. Put simply – if you were into District 9, you’re going to be into Elysium.

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