Matt Damon

It was kind of a head-scratcher when it was first announced that Universal would be making another Jason Bourne movie that didn’t have Matt Damon in it. How do you make a movie about Jason Bourne without Jason Bourne? The plan seems to be to keep the action happening in the same universe that it previously in Damon’s three movies, but to introduce another operative as our protagonist. That’s a dumb idea. Why not just make a different movie called something else? Stupid ideas aside, The Bourne Legacy managed to get a great actor in Jeremy Renner to play the new operative, so maybe it won’t be all that bad. It still leaves a lot of question up in the air, though. Who is Renner’s new character going to be? Is this movie going to look like the original Bourne movies, all gritty and handheld? Well, when recently talking with Empire, Renner managed to cough up some details about the new movie, and while revealing, it all sounds like pretty typical sequel speak. When asked about the tone of the new film, he confirmed that, “Yeah, it’s that same deal, it’s just a new set of agents with a different leash. It’s the same tempo and pace but more expansive and bigger. The differences are pretty vast but you’ll know it’s a Bourne movie.” I think there’s some sort of clause that gets put in your contract when you sign on for a sequel that you have to talk about […]

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Considering that the casting process for Warner Bros. and Steven Soderbergh’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. adaptation has given me, a completely uninvolved outsider, nothing but headaches, it’s not shocking that The Playlist is reporting that the filmmaker has dropped out of the project for that very same reason. The outlet reports that Soderbergh and the studio were unable to reach agreements regarding both casting and budget, and that the helmer has since left the project, which he has been developing with scribe Scott Z. Burns for nearly two years. The film was originally set to star George Clooney, who dropped out due to an injury, which only paved the way for WB to jump on younger casting options, the last two of which included Bradley Cooper (last month) and Channing Tatum (just this week). Other rumored names included Michael Fassbender, Matt Damon, Joel Edgerton, Ryan Gosling, and even Johnny Depp. Of course, none of these names have signed on for the film (with most of them never even getting an official offer), and most of them have moved on to other projects. Adding to those woes? The studio also reportedly offered up a $60m budget for the film, one that will need to have an A-list star, a slick sixties setting, and a globe-trotting sensibility. Ouch.

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In an unprecedented move, 20th Century Fox will be holding a massive “sneak preview” event for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo a full four weeks before the film opens for the Christmas holiday. The film, scheduled to go wide on December 23, will now take over a different holiday, playing in more than 800 theaters around the country on the Saturday of this year’s Thanksgiving weekend, November 26. The studio is reportedly holding the sneak previews based on positive test screenings, in hopes that the massive launch will spawn both good word-of-mouth from regular filmgoers and a spat of fresh reviews from critics who shell out their own cash to jump the review gun. Fox is also partnering with TOUT (some sort of social media hub that I’ve never heard of that relies on “video status updates”) to allow viewers to post reviews of the film (presumably via quick video snippet). Fox is also reportedly crafting a larger social media campaign that includes tie-ins with Twitter and Facebook. Based on Benjamin Mee’s memoir, the film follows a single dad (Matt Damon) who hopes to reinvigorate his family life with a new home – one that’s in the middle of a ramshackle zoo whose rebuilding the family takes on. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, and Patrick Fugit. The last two trailers for the film have won the hearts of both myself and our own Cole Abaius, so here’s hoping that the film delivers on its promise.

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Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

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The first trailer for Cameron Crowe‘s adaptation of Benjamin Mee‘s memoir We Bought a Zoo hit the interwebs back in September, and while that trailer aimed a bit too squarely for the heart, I’m a sucker for Crowe working for emotion, and the shades of Jerry Maguire (the quitting! the Tom Petty music!) work for me like nothing else. Throw in some animals, cute kids, and soaring music, and I’m a mewling mess of feelings-goo. But if you’re not as gooey as I am, this new international trailer might work much better for you. Check out the international trailer for We Bought a Zoo after the break, featuring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit.

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Fear not, fans of cinema’s favorite boys from Boston, it looks like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reteaming for a new project (and it’s not their long-rumored true-life wife-swapping story of baseball players Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, The Trade) that centers on one of their hometown’s most notorious residents. Affleck and Damon are looking to get their gang of two back together for a Whitey Bulger biopic; Bulger is the former leader of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, a cold-blooded member of the Irish Mob, responsible for both years of organized crime and reportedly (at least) 19 murders. Bulger was also a long-time FBI informant who was reportedly tipped off by his own FBI handler that was going to be arrested and indicted for federal racketeering. Bulger and his girlfriend fled Boston in 1995, and had been hiding out for sixteen years before they were caught just this June in sunny Santa Monica, California. Should Affleck and Damon’s film come together, Affleck will direct, with Damon starring as Bulger himself. Damon reports that Terence Winter, creator of Boardwalk Empire, is writing the script. The film would be produced through Warner Bros. and Affleck and Damon’s own Pearl Street Films. THR also reports that Affleck would co-star, with his own talented baby brother Casey Affleck coming on board the cast as well. Damon himself is not sure what years he’d portray the criminal or what period the project would cover, saying “If it’s a straight biopic, we’ll do it […]

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Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming spy movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is an adaptation of a popular television series from the 60s, has had some trouble finding a leading man. The movie will tell the tale of the teaming of two spies under the banner of the United Network Command for Law Enforcement. If Soderbergh’s vision of the material stays true to the TV show’s, then those men will be American secret agent Napoleon Solo and his Russian counterpart Illya Kuryakin. Originally, like in most of Soderbergh’s movies, George Clooney was just going to play the lead role. He had to drop out of the production due to the always looming scheduling conflicts or whatever though, so Soderbergh has been on a mad rush to fill Clooney’s shoes. Since all of the man’s movies that don’t star George Clooney usually star Matt Damon instead, he was the next guy to get a look for the role, but he ended up passing. Then things got desperate, Soderbergh went way out of his wheelhouse and tried to get Johnny Depp to play the part, but he passed as well. That’s a lot of Hollywood’s biggest leading men telling you that they can’t be in your movie. What is a director to do? What Soderbergh seems to be doing is moving on to the next big thing. According to Variety he is in intense negotiations with Bradley Cooper to step in and be his guy. Cooper has been in a good number of films […]

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One thing is for sure – Matt Damon is going to make his directorial debut soon. He was hunting down Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and another project called Eskimo Kisses, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, he’s attaching himself to direct and star in a legal drama of the Erin Brockovich style. Personally, I’d like to see him as the lead in a Grisham adaptation. His co-writer and co-star is John Krasinski, who apparently worked through the story idea (about a salesman arriving in a town, only to have his life dramatically change) with novelist Dave Eggers. This project would certainly remove a bit of the Office/Harmless Romantic Comedy vibe that Krasinski has been forced to emit for the past few years. The untitled drama could potentially start filming Spring 2012, and if it does, it will become Damon’s directorial debut. It has a lot of other movies to contend with, but the list simply ensures that we’ll see “Directed By Matt Damon” by next year. If not, if all of this stuff falls apart, it must mean someone is really fucking Matt Damon.  

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While doing some publicity for his current release Contagion, actor Matt Damon sat down to have a few words with The Shortlist, and they managed to get a couple quotes out of him that could spell good news for fans of Damon’s previous work. The next movie in the Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy, will be the first one made without Damon or his lead character Jason Bourne, instead Jeremy Renner will star as a completely new character existing in the same universe. When asked if this means he’s done playing Jason Bourne forever, Damon responded, “I was always fine with them doing another Bourne movie as long as it didn’t preclude me and Paul [Greengrass] from doing another Bourne. From what I understand, it doesn’t at all, so that’s fine. I really want to do another one with Paul and I’m sure it’ll happen someday, but for now they’re doing this.” That’s kind of surprising to me, as I thought them moving the franchise on to Jeremy Renner specifically meant that Damon was done with the property. Maybe next we can get a big Renner vs. Damon movie where Matt returns to the character. I could see that making a ton of money. That wasn’t the only moment in the interview where Damon waxed nostalgic, however. Back when he was just 28-years-old, Damon co-wrote the script for Good Will Hunting with his unofficial life partner Ben Affleck. The script won them the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, yet […]

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Steven Soderbergh has been trying to get a movie about the life of Liberace off the ground for a while now. Or, more specifically, he’s trying to make an adaptation of a book called “Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace” that was written by Liberace’s long-time live-in lover Scott Thorson. Thorson’s book details his relationship with the famous singer, what their last meeting was like, and gives a little bit of insight into both men’s childhoods. Even though it won’t be coming to a theater near you, Soderbergh will still get his wish, as HBO Films has greenlit the project for production. Don’t think that because HBO is doing this and not one of the big studios that it’s going to be any sort of B-level affair though. Very A-list actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon have already signed on to portray Liberace and Thorson, so this movie is set to be a big deal, no matter where audiences can find it. Of the HBO distribution model, Soderbergh had this to say, “From the inception of this project, we’ve had two priorities: getting it right creatively, and getting as many people as possible to see it. HBO’s fearless approach to original programming and their unparalleled ability to pull in viewers make them the perfect fit for us. Apart from my hair growing back, I couldn’t be happier.” Soderbergh himself will still direct the film from a screenplay by Richard LaGravenese. I’ll bet Douglas and Damon are off in a […]

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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Cameron Crowe is a heartstring-tugging force to be reckoned with. Even with a few low points, he still emerges as one of the best writer/directors of our time, creating sentimental stories that push us into an emotional space whether it’s because a band is singing Elton John or because a sports agent has a girl at “hello.” His next film, as if no one knew, is the adaptation We Bought a Zoo, which features Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Hayden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit. The trailer is a soft focus blend of tears and triumph, and you can check it out for yourself:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into the MMA ring to battle Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, after being trained by a strung-out Nick Nolte who looks like he’s ready to have an aneurysm at any moment. Then he is sent into a bird flu panic when someone coughs on him at the airport. Not wanting to suffer the same fate as Gwenyth Paltrow, he takes a road trip down to the Louisiana bayou where he runs into a hillbilly redneck alligator mutant. But at least he didn’t have to see Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.

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When a young executive (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a business trip to China, she returns with a bad cough and even worse headaches. Not long after, her young son appears to exhibit the same symptoms. Before her husband, the boy’s step-father played by Matt Damon, can even whip up a bowl of chicken soup, the boy and his mother are dead. The doctors are baffled by the mysterious disease, and soon more cases turn up around the world and scores of people begin dying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as The World Health Organization work to their furthest limitations trying to identify the disease, track its spread, and develop a cure. In many ways, this film is the essence of drama – an examination of what it is that connects people. The word contagion by its definition is the communication, or sharing, of a disease, and Contagion connects us through the most ubiquitous objects in our daily lives. Director Steven Soderbergh lingers on shots of coffee cups, subway handrails, and doorknobs; silently inviting us to ponder on all previous users. This device is microcosmic of his larger mission: to illustrate how a singular event can connect people of divergent backgrounds, nationalities, cultures, and personalities. This is nothing new for Soderbergh, as he used the flow of narcotics into the U.S. to create connections between very different people in Traffic. He also examines how bureaucracy and the media would factor into a global catastrophe just as much […]

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Due to an overwhelming need to embrace my inner hermit the last few weeks I have forgone my usual weekend gallivanting in favor of staying home with movies. It might seem as if I’m turning into a cat lady (I prefer dogs) who hopes to find solace in the virtual arms of Tom Hardy or Gerard Butler while I contemplate my Bridget Jones-esque death at the mangled jowls of a wild pack of voracious coyotes, but in all honestly there is just something comforting in spending Friday nights with a lover who is always in bed next to you – the remote control. I like to call my endless supply of romance, sex comedies, erotic thrillers, and documentaries “research” for this column, and that’s why it’s completely acceptable for me to leave my desk Friday at 5PM to watch whatever is inside that little red envelope. But this week I needed something different. Instead of a film about French sexploitation or sex in the Australian outback, I wanted a more mainstream offering. I desired a pretty film with the hint of romance but the full adrenaline rush of a psychological thriller. I also wanted to indulge my blazing Emily Blunt crush. Again, in the name of research.

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A box just landed on my doorstep, and as the UPS man drove away, I opened it up to find a device that gets rid of germs on cell phones using some sort of UV light. Why would a marketing department send me that? Because inside was a USB drive containing the first trailer for Contagion – the forthcoming viral outbreak thriller from Steven Soderbergh. What better way to kick everything off? Plus, the trailer is gripping. Matt Damon brings the intensity, Laurence Fishburne brings the expertise, the rest of the cast (including Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law) bring anxiety, but behind every single performance is a major element of fear. Holy hell, this looks great:

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Drinking Games

Would you vote for Matt Damon for Congress? The people of fake New York sure seem to be ready to do so, as long as his toothy-grin politician character in The Adjustment Bureau can keep his pants on… and with Emily Blunt running around in high heels, that’s not an easy task. But something tells us that a mysterious force might keep him in check to make that happen. One of this spring’s speculative fiction films comes to DVD and Blu-ray, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and we give it a $1000-a-plate treatment with our latest drinking game.

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Few modern war movies exemplify the courage of a fighting force quite like Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg deftly drew out performances from a varied cast of veterans and newcomers, and he even had a few tricks up his sleeve. For one, all of the actors went through military training except for Matt Damon so the cast would be bitter toward him. A more technical trick was attached drills to the sides of the cameras in order to make them shake the way he wanted them to. It wasn’t until they started shooting that Spielberg was informed that there were lenses that would create the effect (and that he didn’t invent some crazy new technology).

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If you were hoping for a trailer that created a mass of internal conflict, how about animated penguin babies singing about bringing sexy back? Would that do it for you? If not, you’ve probably already got some serious internal conflict. Happy Feet Two bursts onto the scene with some rap, some dance pop, and an elephant-nosed seal that looks like a real-life Snuffaluffagus got converted to CGI. Heartwarming or truly, deeply terrifying? You be the judge:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s waiting to watch the latest episode of Community because it promised its girlfriend it would. And that’s really hard to do, because that show’s really good. Also, Josh Holloway from Lost guest stars in the two-part season finale. How can that be resisted by the world’s most interesting nightly movie news linkdump? Must… hold… on… Must… do… the news… Quentin Tarantino went big when he cast Brad Pitt as his lead in Inglorious Basterds. So to see him considering Will Smith as the titular character, a freed slave trained by a German bounty hunter that sets out on a quest to save his wife from a head slave, is an act of pure bravado — he’ll just go get anyone he effing pleases to star in his movies, won’t he? And if that wasn’t enough to blow your mind, consider this: Christoph Waltz is said to be circling the role of the German trainer, with Samuel L. Jackson in consideration as the bad guy. That’s potentially a perfect storm of awesome, so we’ll see.

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