Showing posts with label Matt Damon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matt Damon. Show all posts

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Rounders is a 1998 film set in the world of underground poker featuring early performances from Edward Norton and Matt Damon. Mike McDermott (Damon) is a law student and gifted poker player who loses his entire bankroll on one hand to Russian mobster ‘KGB’ (John Malkovich). After briefly quitting the game to concentrate on his studies under the advice of his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol), Mike gets back into it following the release from prison of his close friend and loose cannon Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy (Norton). With Worm’s debt’s mounting up and Mike mistakenly vouching for him, the pair is given two days to come up with the $15,000 needed to pay the debt but begin with only a few dollars to their names.

I played a bit of poker while at University both with friends and online but was never good enough to play for more than small change. This film has been credited as an influence behind the careers of many professional poker players including World Series Poker winner Brian Rast and one of the game’s foremost sex symbols Vanessa Rousso. Along with many other players, they have both credited the film as being what drew them in to the sport. Pro Poker player Michael Rocco even wrote this piece, heralding the film’s influence over his career.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


A married woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) stops off in Chicago on her way back from a business trip in Hong Kong to engage in extra marital activities with an old boyfriend. When back home in Minneapolis she feels ill and believes she has contracted a cold while away. It turns out to be something much more serious though when she suffers a fit and is rushed to hospital. Unable to save her, doctors inform her husband (Matt Damon) that she has passed away and medical examiners begin tests to figure out what the deadly virus is. Meanwhile people all over the world are contracting the virus and it soon becomes clear that there is an epidemic on a global scale. WHO epidemiologist (Marion Cotillard) travels to Hong Kong to try to find the source of the infection and Disease Control boss (Laurence Fishburne) sends field agent (Kate Winslet) to Minneapolis to get a grip on events there. In a final strand to the story, blogger (Jude Law) is informing millions of his readers about Government cover-ups and conspiracies but has an agenda of his own.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Adjustment Bureau

David Norris (Matt Damon) is the youngest Congressman in history but is about to lose the race to become a New York Senator. While practising his concession speech in the bathroom he bumps into Elise (Emily Blunt) and the two have an immediate connection. Despite numerous attempts to be with Elise, Norris finds that he is always thwarted and uncovers the truth that all of our lives are kept on a pre designed plan which is implemented by The Adjustment Bureau. Norris spends the film trying to find a way to outsmart and outmanoeuvre the Bureau in order to be with the woman he loves. 
I really like the idea behind this film. It has drawn comparisons to Inception in that it is a smart, sci-fi blockbuster and I can see why but this is a completely different film. The design of the Bureau and its operatives is wonderfully period. The Bureau look as though they’ve just got off a bus from 1963 and this is heightened by the inclusion of John Slattery looking like he’s come straight from the set of Mad Men. The reason for the look is explained and makes sense. The Bureau’s offices are intimidating yet sterile and feel as though they are untouched despite being full of people. New York looks, as always, picturesque and a lot of the city is seen throughout the film.

Matt Damon does a fantastic job portraying David Norris. Despite his age he has the look of a politician and the script helps him to beef out his character’s political credentials. When things start getting a bit strange he shows no fear but rather an understanding of what he must do and a determination to get it done. Emily Blunt is very much a secondary character but is light and quirky. Her and Damon’s relationship feels realistic and this helps to drive the romantic element of the film. The Bureau is filled with stern and intimidating types and all are fine. Anthony Mackie brings a human edge to the Bureau in his portrayal of Harry, the Agent who helps Norris.

The film is not without its problems. The Bureau is investing so much time and resources in Norris because he is destined for great things but with all the hassle he is giving them and with three hundred or so other American’s to choose from I’d have thought they might have cut their losses with him. The themes of religion and free will were interesting but I’d like to have seen the film makers explore them a bit further. It felt as though we only touched the subject rather than delved into it. Unlike Inception, The Adjustment Bureau isn’t the sort of film that will have people thinking or discussing much afterwards. The film is quite neat at tying up any loose ends and there is only really one area which could be open to interpretation. Despite the odd flaw, the film remains very good. It is nice to see a romantic story that doesn’t just appeal to women and a sci-fi film that doesn’t just appeal to men. The film is definitely worth watching.


Monday, 19 March 2012

We Bought a Zoo

I walked seven miles, there and back to watch this film on a quiet Monday afternoon. This should tell you three things; One) I have too much time on my hands, two) I really like Scarlett Johansson and three) I’ve hit rock bottom. I sat in an empty cinema auditorium in the hope that the seven miles would have been worth it. I sat through the Orange advert and the painfully annoying M&Ms/FTRC advert, wishing the film to be worth the trip. Well it wasn’t.

The plot, based on a true story which I was familiar with goes as thus. Recently widowed writer, Benjamin (Matt Damon) is struggling to keep his family on the straight and narrow. He is close to losing his job and has a fourteen year old son who keeps getting into trouble at school. After his son is expelled, Benjamin decides to up sticks and finds a lovely house in the country. The house has one drawback though, it’s a zoo. With the help of a dedicated team which includes Head Zookeeper Kelly (Scarlett Johansson), Benjamin tries to bring the ailing zoo up to standard before a grand opening in the summer.

I think from the trailer and even my paragraph above, 95% of people could guess how this is going to turn out. There are no shocks or surprises and you can see all the jokes from a mile off. The film over uses the families loss to try to inject heart into the film and I think this is a mistake. It constantly pulls on the heart strings by showing Damon looking at picture after picture of his wife while terrible music plays underneath. We know how hard it must be but the film keeps pulling the audience back to it. The family also only appear to miss the mother at convenient moments which doesn’t feel very realistic. The whole film is also miss-sold by its trailer as a comedy. Pretty much all of the comedic moments are in the trailer and it is much more of a drama.

There are plenty of plot holes here too. Damon’s son Dylan (Colin Ford) is expelled for drawing an inappropriate mural in class which is put up in a corridor anyway along with murals depicting love and recycling etc. Also, Scarlett Johansson’s character complains that she doesn’t have time to see her friends or find a man but spends all of her free time in a small bar at the zoo with the three or four people she works with. The whole story is oversimplified which makes it feel unreal, even though it is based on actual events. Both Benjamin and his son spend half the film oblivious that they both have attractive women after them. I know they’ve just had a loss but come on!

It wasn't all bad...
Neither Matt Damon nor Scarlett Johansson are stretched by these roles and you have to feel that it was just a paycheque for them. Johansson is wasted and Damon’s only good moment comes when he is yelling at his son. He plays the likeable everyman well though. The supporting cast are mixed. Colin Ford is fine as a mopey teenager and Maggie Elizabeth Jones is cute but annoying as Damon’s young daughter. If I was annoyed by the first time she shouted “We bought a zoo”, by the third time I was ready to leave. Elle Fanning who was wonderful in Super 8 was ok but like the stars, not stretched. Her whole character was a bit odd. She plays a thirteen year old who doesn’t go to school but works at the zoo and everyone seems fine with this. Curb Your Enthusiasm’s J.B. Smoove plays an Estate Agent but I wish his part had been bigger so he could have injected some humour.

The film does pick up in the final few minutes for the sweet ending that we all expected. I’d expected more from an interesting true story and great actors but it is nothing more than mediocre.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012


In recent years I’ve come to expect good things from Director Clint Eastwood and actor Matt Damon (I still say it in the Team America voice) but I was disappointed with Hereafter.

The film’s protagonist, Damon plays George Lonegan, a man who can communicate with the dead. Lonegan does his best to hide his power after an earlier career making money from it left him unable to get close to people for fear of what he might discover. To him, his gift is in fact a curse. This is shown to be the case when his psychic readings wreck the beginnings of a promising new relationship.

Damon shares a moment of tenderness with love interest Bryce Dallas Howard

The two other strands to this story about a young boy who loses his twin in a car crash and a Frenchwoman caught up in the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 are unfortunately dull. While the Tsunami scene itself is exciting, you are left feeling detached and wondering where all the locals were. (Most of the victims appear to be European).
The acting is for the most part, terrible. Some actors seem as though they are reading their lines off a piece of card in front of them for the first time. It must be said however that Matt Damon delivers a believable performance of a man troubled by his gift. 

It is perhaps difficult to get into a film about a psychic as the profession is in my opinion a disgusting attempt to use pseudoscience and guesswork to con bereaved people out of money. I could see past this in The Sixth Sense though so perhaps the fact that I was thinking about what bollocks psychic abilities are tells me that I was not gripped by the film.