(Photo by 20th Century Fox/ courtesy Everett Collection)
Before his breakout with Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon was already something of an actor to watch, showing versatility as a gaunt military medic in Courage Under Fire and as a determined law school grad in The Rainmaker. But looking to take creative control of his own career, he and partner-in-crime Ben Affleck wrote Good Will Hunting, earning the two a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and an acting nom for Damon. After that, it was off to the races, working with the likes of Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), Kevin Smith (Dogma, though he already had a previous cameo in Chasing Amy), Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley), and Martin Scorsese (The Departed).
Damon worked with Gus Van Sant a few more times (Finding Forrester, Gerry) before finding a truly kindred creative partner in Steven Soderbergh. Together, along with another regular cast of collaborators, he’s starred in three Ocean’s movies, Contagion, The Informant!, and Behind the Candelabra, with small cameos in Soderbergh’s Che Guevara biopics. Around the same time as Ocean’s Eleven, Damon came into the Bourne series, whose first trilogy (Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum) would rewrite the book on action cinema in the 21st century, with its intimate shaky-cam presentation and intricate plotting and character work.
The 2010s were a big decade for science-fiction and Damon got in on the action, with work representing some of his best movies, and certainly among the most well-known: The Adjustment Bureau, Elysium, The Zero Theorem, Interstellar, and The Martian.
After a rough 2017 where he starred in only Rotten movies (The Great Wall, Suburbicon, Downsizing), and remaining off-screen for 2018, he made a late 2019 appearance with Ford v Ferrari, the high-octane true story co-starring Christian Bale, and directed by James Mangold. Next, he’ll be in The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott. Now, we’re ranking all of Matt Damon’s movies ranked by Tomatometer!
This week on home video, we’ve got Matt Damon doing action and uncovering a conspiracy under the guiding hand of director Paul Greengrass, and no, we’re not talking about a certain spy who lost his memory. Then, we’ve got a dumpy-guy-gets-hot-girl rom-com starring Jay Baruchel, a tearjerker featuring Edward Cullen himself (Robert Pattinson, that is), and an indie flick about a famous Russian author. If older stuff is what you’re looking for, maybe a cult classic on Blu-Ray, or a popular animated TV series waiting on its first big-screen adaptation? Whatever your bag is, maybe you’ll find something to put in it from this week’s list. Check it out!
Director Paul Greengrass and actor Matt Damon proved twice over that they made a formidable team when the two Bourne sequels solidified the franchise as a smash success, even prompting a fourth installment to come in 2012. So when the two were paired again for another actioner — this time a more overtly political thriller — audiences were split into two camps: those who believed the duo would create another hit, and those who more or less sighed, “This again?” Unfortunately, critics were equally split on Green Zone, in which Damon plays a warrant officer charged with investigating a post-9/11 Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, only to encounter a massive cover-up. The good bit is that the frenetic action and visceral editing of the Bourne films can be found here, moving the story forward at a brisk pace, but the bad bit is that the story itself was considered by many to be a bit clichéd and the characters too typical. It still registers a 55% on the Tomatometer, however, and those looking for a standard thriller with plenty of action will still enjoy the film. It’s available on DVD and Blu-Ray this week.
It’s hard to argue against the claim that Judd Apatow changed Hollywood comedy with films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, with their combination of raunchy humor, sweet sentimentality, and bromance-centric themes. Many have attempted to duplicate the effort, to varying results, and many of the actors in his films have gone on to do similar fare elsewhere. One such actor in one such effort is Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder) in She’s Out of My League, the story of an unremarkable TSA officer (Baruchel) who embarks on an unlikely romance with a knockout (played by Alice Eve), despite the protests of — and to the bewilderment of — pretty much everyone. League fell just short of Fresh at 58%, with critics largely calling the film pleasant, innocuous, and, at times, funny enough, but predictable and ultimately forgettable. It’s available this week on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Banking on the hope that Robert Pattinson’s sullen allure can survive outside the confines of Washington, waking death and the love of Bella Swan, Summit cast him in this three-hankie drama for the tween set. Here, Pattinson plays Tyler, a young man suffering from a family tragedy who encounters a woman named Ally (Emilie de Ravin of TV’s LOST) and, of course, falls in love. As their romance blossoms and Tyler begins to find healing in his relationship with Ally, long-kept secrets unfold and tragedy again presents a new threat. A Blu-Ray to be released the week before Twilight Eclipse emerges in all its soggy, moody, almost-glory, this romantic tragedy is nearly written for TV. As a result, the Blu-Ray presents this dialogue-heavy melodrama to some well-scrubbed audio. Extras include a 15-minutes making of featurette and audio commentary by Director and Cast.
At first glance, one might not be inclined to think that a biopic about legendary Russian author Leo Tolstoy would be something to get excited about. However, if nothing else, the star-studded cast, which includes James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti, Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy, and Helen Mirren as Tolstoy’s wife Sofya, forces one to take notice. Focusing on the twilight years of the celebrated count’s life, The Last Station centers on a conflict between Tolstoy’s devoted followers and the Countess. According to his principles, Tolstoy wishes to relinquish his copyrights to the public domain, but his more practical wife opposes, as doing so would leave the family without the financial support those copyrights would provide. The drama plays out as a new secretary (McAvoy) is hired for the author and finds that he must play mediator between the two opposing viewpoints. Critics all around felt that the acting — particularly that of Hellen Mirren — was exceptional, even if the script, adapted by director Michael Hoffman from a biography of the same name, left a little to be desired. Blending drama with bits of comedy and romance, The Last Station succeeds as a period piece and a look at the author’s life that many are unfamiliar with.
What with the recent popularity of zombie flicks and films like The Road and The Book of Eli, it’s easy to forget that visions of a less-than-perfect future have existed in film for many decades. Produced by B-movie king Roger Corman, 1975’s Death Race 2000 may not be the most distinguished example of the genre, but it still stands as a beloved cult classic, distinguished by its camp and violence, and it even spawned a recent remake. In other words, it’s just plain, old, dirty fun. The film is set in the year 2000 (natch), when a distinctly sinister new US government (really more like a military junta) sponsors an Annual Transcontinental Road Race for the entertainment of the people. But it’s not just any old Cannonball Run; cars are outfitted with weapons, and drivers get points for speeding and hitting pedestrians. Ultimately, the story focuses on one particular racer named Frankenstein (David Carradine), the most famous driver, and his plans for overthrowing the tyrannical government, but the real thrill is all in the action on the streets. Currently sitting at a solid 82% on the Tomatometer, Death Race 2000 is available this week for the first time on Blu-Ray, and it’s got tons of bonus features, including an interview with David Carradine, a retrospective on the film, and even a detailed look at the design of the cars.
The first A Star is Born, starred Janet Gaynor, (aka the actress to win the first ever Best Actress Oscar), as the small town girl who goes to Hollywood to follow her dream. The original screenplay by Dorothy Parker was full of success, failure and skeezy coat-tail skating–but the smarm was remarkably understated, perhaps to compensate for the muted, Technicolor which, in its earlier days was sometimes called “garish.” All that restraint flew out the window for Judy, the singing, dancing, Technicolor marvel herself, impeccably able to croon, cry and cavort without rumpling a pleat on her pencil skirt. Sure, there’s romance, and of course her bigger-than-marquis-sized man loses his foothold in the industry and wreaks emotional havoc. Sure. I mean, she’s gotta cry and wear navy and show all the guts and glory that Battlefield Hollywood has wrought. It’s what we’re paying for after all. And if the George Cukor directed spectacle isn’t enough for you, this Blu-Ray’s a 2-disc collector’s edition with four hours of extras including newsreel of the premier telecast, exhibitor reel, expanded post-party footage (maybe see the stars drunk!), trailers, deleted scenes and alternate filmings of four musical numbers and one dramatic sequence! A radio show and a rare music recording session are included as well. The Judy fan will be placated!
In the early 1960s, Michelangelo Antonioni was one of international cinema’s most acclaimed directors. In classics like L’Avventura and Blowup, he cast a harsh light on the lonely, ennui-filled lives of the rich and beautiful, and became one of the most discussed (and hotly debated) figures in the emerging arthouse world. Antonioni’s first color film, 1964’s Red Desert, is the spare, haunting story of a disaffected woman (played by Antonioni’s muse, the staggeringly beautiful Monica Vitti) initiates a tentative affair with her oft-absent husband’s colleague (Richard Harris). Set against a grim industrial backdrop, Red Desert dramatizes the toll of theological advances on the human soul. Now, it’s getting the deluxe treatment from Criterion, with a brand-new digital transfer, interviews with Antonioni and Vitti, outtakes, essays, and much more. Red Desert isn’t the most accessible of foreign classics, but it has a haunting power that remains prescient.
With M. Night Shyamalan’s (The Sixth Sense, Signs) latest film, The Last Airbender, hitting theaters next weekend, perhaps it’s about time to acquaint yourself with the source material. The movie is a big-screen adaptation of a wildly popular animated TV series on Nickelodeon called Avatar: The Last Airbender (the film dropped the first part of the title because of its similarity to a certain sci-fi movie you probably saw three times), focusing on the storyline of the first season of the show, which ran for three seasons. Based heavily upon Asian influences and set in a world where people have the ability to control the elements, the story revolves around a child named Aang, who is the last surviving “airbender” and the only one who can control all four elements, the Avatar. The series has amassed a worldwide fanbase, winning Annie Awards as well as an Emmy (among others) and establishing an impressive merchandising line. In other words, there are droves of fans just waiting to see what the live-action feature will be like when it opens, but in the meantime, this Collector’s Edition of the first season (“Book 1,” as it were), with all its special features, should tide them over.
Written by Ryan Fujitani, Sara Maria Vizcarrondo, and Tim Ryan
The Red Queen ruled once again as Disney’s Alice in Wonderland remained at number one for the third consecutive frame beating out another pack of new releases. Fox’s tween comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid beat expectations to open in second place while Sony’s Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler vehicle The Bounty Hunter enjoyed a solid debut of its own close behind in third. But Universal’s new action entry Repo Men flopped in fourth with a miserable showing. The overall box office was up over 2009 for the fourth straight weekend.
Audiences lined up again for some 3D fun with Johnny Depp with Alice in Wonderland easily defending its crown with an estimated $34.5M in its third round boosting the 17-day cume to a stellar $265.8M. It was Disney’s first three-peat at number one since Depp’s megahit Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest from July 2006. Staying atop the box office chart for this long is rare these days. Outside of Avatar, the last film to spend three weekends in first place was Tropic Thunder from the summer of 2008.
Alice smashed the $250M mark on Saturday after only 16 days and looks headed for the $350M mark. The Tim Burton pic is already the second highest-grossing film to ever open in the January-to-April corridor trailing just The Passion of the Christ which hauled in $370.3M in 2004 after a late February debut. This weekend, Alice also joined the list of the Top 50 all-time domestic blockbusters sitting at number 45 between Shrek ($267.7M) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($262M).
Fox posted brawny numbers for its kidpic Diary of a Wimpy Kid from 3,077 playdates for a strong $7,085 average. Based on the popular middle school-set book, the PG-rated film had no stars but instead capitalized on a built-in audience of fans attracting an impressive amount of business considering how Alice in Wonderland is still playing well to kids of all ages. With a budget of under $20M, the studio should not only see a healthy profit from box office and DVD sales but will also have a new franchise since there are still three more books in the series that can keep the cash coming in. Studio research indicated that 59% of the audience was under 25 and 51% was female. Fox is expecting upcoming spring and Easter school closings to keep the film going.
Opening close behind in third place was the battle-of-the-exes film The Bounty Hunter which seized an estimated $21M from 3,074 theaters for a solid $6,831 average. The PG-13 pic starring Gerard Butler as a bounty hunter assigned to capture his bail-jumping ex-wife played by Jennifer Aniston catered to an audience of adult women. Studio research showed that 58% of the crowd was female with the 50/50 age split at 30 instead of 25. The opening was almost identical to the $21.6M debut of 2008’s Fool’s Gold starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Both were battle-of-the-sexes action-comedies directed by Andy Tennant with poor reviews that were sold on the starpower of the beautiful people on screen. Gold, which enjoyed a holiday on its second weekend, ended with $70.2M and Bounty could approach the same vicinity which would be an encouraging performance given the budget that was in the low $40M range. Overseas potential looks solid as Aniston has been a bankable draw and Butler has seen his star wattage rise in the last year.
The new sci-fi actioner Repo Men failed to capture any meaningful business in its first weekend with a poor opening of $6.2M, according to estimates. The ultraviolent R-rated pic starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker averaged a wimpy $2,440 for Universal from 2,521 theaters. Critics panned the futuristic film.
Universal found more bad news in fifth place as its other March action title Green Zone tumbled 58% to an estimated $6M for a weak ten-day total of only $24.7M. The studio did what it could to hide the film’s Iraq setting and pushed it instead as a film from the Jason Bourne guys but audiences didn’t buy into it. With a production cost of more than $100M, Zone will end up with a domestic take of just $35-40M. The early overseas tally is $20.4M with many markets still to open, but recovering production and marketing costs internationally will also be a challenging task.
Paramount claimed the next two spots with the comedy She’s Out of My League which grossed an estimated $5.9M and the thriller Shutter Island which took in an estimated $4.8M. The R-rated laugher declined by only 40% in its second round and upped its ten-day sum to $20M with a $35M final likely – not bad for a low-profile and inexpensive pic that is sure to do even better on DVD. The Scorsese-DiCaprio flick dropped 41% and has banked $115.8M to date.
Avatar spent its 14th weekend in the top ten with an estimated $4M, off 39%, and a $736.9M cume. Fox’s overseas total climbed to $1.937 billion making the global haul $2.674 billion. Fox Searchlight’s Our Family Wedding fell 50% to an estimated $3.8M for $13.7M in ten days. Fellow sophomore Remember Me crumbled 60% to an estimated $3.3M giving Summit only $13.9M to date. Final grosses will be near the $20M mark for each.
In limited release, Focus scored the best average with its Ben Stiller pic Greenberg which bowed to an estimated $120,432 from only three sites for a muscular $40,144 average. Anchor Bay averaged a sturdy $17,500 from each of two locations for its Andy Garcia film City Island. The 45-minute IMAX science film Hubble 3D debuted to an estimated $453,000 from 39 large-screen venues for a $11,608 average. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opened to an estimated $340,408 from 34 for a $10,012 average for Music Box. And Apparition earned a weak $3,295 average for its rocker girl pic The Runaways which debuted to an estimated $804,000 from 244 houses.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $111.2M which was up 19% from last year when Knowing opened in the top spot with $24.6M; and up 18% from 2008 when Horton Hears a Who remained at number one with $24.6M.
This week at the movies, we’ve got Iraq War intrigue (Green Zone, starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear); opposites attracting (She’s Out of My League, starring Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve); brooding and bonding (Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin); and multicultural matrimony (Our Family Wedding, starring America Ferrera and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say?
At their best, the Bourne movies were models of mainstream filmmaking — intelligent, suspenseful, and timely. However, critics say that if you got a little queasy with those films’ use of the shaky-cam, you’ll need a suitcase full of Dramamine for Green Zone, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass‘ latest collaboration. Damon stars as an Army inspector in Bagdad in the early days of the Iraq War, on the trail of those pesky weapons of mass destruction. What he finds instead is a hotbed of intrigue, with various officials spinning the truth. The pundits say Green Zone is smarter than average, and features typically assured work from Damon. However, others say it feels a bit stale and simplistic, and its overdone technique does the material few favors. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Damon’s best-reviewed films.)
Can a dorky guy and a smoking-hot girl find love? This central conceit has been the basis for a number of comedies. She’s Out of My League, critics say, is periodically funnier and more insightful than most — until it gets bogged down in excessive vulgarity and buffoonish behavior. Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is an average Joe who, after a meet-cute, finds himself dating the stunning Molly (Alice Eve), much to the incredulity of Kirk’s friends and family. Is love truly blind? Maybe so, pundits say, but She’s Out of My League is often (tone-) deaf, squandering its smarter-than-average moments by taking the low road once too often.
Nobody can blame Robert Pattinson for trying to stretch beyond the sparkly confines of Twilight-land. However, critics say he’s going to have to find better vehicles than Remember Me, a so-so romantic drama with a tasteless final twist. Random happenstance unites Tyler (Pattinson) and Ally (Emilie de Ravin), two young New Yorkers with family issues — and more baggage than LaGuardia. Can these crazy kids make it work? Unfortunately, pundits say Remember Me isn’t elevated by its likable leads — it’s mannered and sluggish, and the film’s finale is just… wrong.
Weddings are usually joyous occasions, but they can also bring out the worst in people. Our Family Wedding attempts to mine this territory for laughs, but critics say it’s mostly an implausible, laugh-free affair. Mexican-American Lucia (America Ferrera) and African-American Marcus (Lance Gross) are deeply in love, but their families aren’t as smitten with one another, tossing bitter insults in lieu of rice. The pundits say whatever humor could be derived from this promising scenario — and the film’s stellar players — is strenuously avoided, with crassness and broad contrivance carrying the day.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Since his career breakout with Good Will Hunting in 1997, Matt Damon has won an Academy Award, worked for some of the finest directors (and alongside some of the most talented actors) in Hollywood, and proved his mettle as a dramatic actor, gifted screen comic, and steely action hero. But he’s never been given the Total Recall treatment — so in honor of Matt’s latest release, the Iraq War thriller Green Zone, we decided to rifle through the Damon filmography and take a closer look at the 10 most critically successful entries — an assortment of goodies so strong that Ocean’s Eleven just misses. Which of your favorites made the cut? Which ones have the critics blasphemously overlooked? There’s only one way to find out!
Even before the closing shot faded out on The Bourne Identity, moviegoers knew the door was wide open for a sequel — not only was there a whole slew of Robert Ludlum novels waiting to be adapted, but Identity was almost two hours’ worth of pulse-pounding, adrenaline-soaked action and intrigue. What no one could have counted on was just how solid a sequel The Bourne Supremacy would turn out to be. Drawing Damon’s amnesia-addled assassin out of retirement for another round of beating bad guys senseless with whatever happens to be nearby, Supremacy furthered the Jason Bourne saga with a storyline that was about more than just making more money. As Peter T. Chattaway of Christianity Today observed, “Where it could have descended into a revenge drama, it settles for justice instead — and not the kind that puts down one’s enemies, but the kind that calls for confession, even reconciliation.”
As conceived by author Patricia Highsmith, Tom Ripley is a deeply unsavory character — a psychopath who uses his natural charm and malfunctioning moral compass as the gateway into a lavish lifestyle built on lies, theft, and murder. Not the kind of role you’d expect to go to a wholesome-looking fellow like Matt Damon, in other words — but that’s part of what made Damon’s performance in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley so profoundly disquieting. Capable of communicating bottomless need, desperate rage, and cold calculation in a single scene, Damon proved his range was far greater than many may have suspected. “We all knew Damon was a fine actor after Good Will Hunting,” wrote Jeffrey Westhoff of the Northwest Herald, “but The Talented Mr. Ripley takes him much further much faster than anyone could have expected.”
It seems laughable now, but before The Bourne Identity reached theaters, there were a lot of people who didn’t think Matt Damon had what it took to be a convincing action hero. Those doubts were quickly erased with director Doug Liman’s sleek, powerful adaptation of the Robert Ludlum novel — a huge box office hit that was powered with equal parts explosive set pieces and a solid central performance by its star. As it turned out, Damon had not only the dramatic chops to realistically portray the fear and confusion of an amnesiac who slowly begins to realize he’s a lethal assassin, but the physical presence to make audiences believe he could kill a man with a pen. The beginning of a trilogy so successful that many fans don’t think three films is enough, Bourne provided smart popcorn entertainment for critics like Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix, who quipped, “Who needs an identity when you’re having this much fun?”
Think you’re committed to your job? Try being Matt Damon in preparation for Courage Under Fire. For his role as Specialist Ilario, Damon dropped 40 pounds, adopting a grueling training regimen that had him running miles a day and subsisting on a diet consisting of little more than cigarettes and coffee. It was not, as you might imagine, a decision popular with Damon’s doctors — or, more importantly, his body, which required no small amount of medical repair after shooting ended. But all’s well that ends well, and Edward Zwick’s Rashomon-style Gulf War drama helped Damon break the dry spell he’d been suffering since nabbing a role in 1993’s Geronimo: An American Legend. Oh, and the critics liked it too — critics like Steve Rhodes, who called it “An extremely moving picture that left me with my heart racing and my arms clutching myself and staring at the screen.”
The idea of a director as accomplished as Francis Ford Coppola bringing his talent to bear on an adaptation of a John Grisham novel might seem offensive to some cinemaphiles, but at least in the case of 1997’s The Rainmaker, it proved a match made in critical heaven. Damon stars here as Rudy Baylor, a young and (at least temporarily) naive law school grad who ends up filing a lawsuit against a shady insurance company, and he’s in very good company, surrounded by a supporting cast that includes Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Roy Scheider, Mickey Rourke, and Claire Danes. Critics might have gone in expecting something that would live down to Grisham’s lowbrow reputation, but they came away pleasantly surprised — as Madeleine Williams of Cinematter observed, “With numerous entertaining subplots, plenty of well thought-out characters, brought to life by talented actors, and an invigorating trial, what more do you want from a Grisham film?”
Steven Spielberg’s long-standing fascination with World War II found its most realistic and hard-hitting expression with Saving Private Ryan. Arriving alongside Tom Brokaw’s well-received book The Greatest Generation, the film followed the fictional (but inspired by real events) tale of a platoon gutting its way through France in order to find a soldier whose three brothers have just been killed in combat (Private Ryan, played in a small but pivotal role by Matt Damon). Anchored by another strong performance from Tom Hanks, studded with talented actors, and fueled by Spielberg’s lean direction and Robert Rodat’s stirring script, Ryan won five Academy Awards against 11 nominations, made more than $500 million worldwide, and earned glowing praise from critics like the Los Angeles Times’s Kenneth Turan, who wrote, “A powerful and impressive milestone in the realistic depiction of combat, Saving Private Ryan is as much an experience we live through as a film we watch on screen.”
It’s rare these days that an animated production doesn’t have a star-studded voice cast, but sending big names into the recording booth doesn’t turn a movie into a hit — just ask Matt Damon, who lent his pipes to a pair of high-profile ‘toon flops in Titan A.E. and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. And then a funny thing happened on the way to Damon becoming the Ted McGinley of animation — he scored a role in Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo, a stunning retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. Miyazaki’s most commercially successful American release, Ponyo may not have earned quite as much rapturous praise as some of his earlier efforts, but this is the guy who gave us Kiki’s Delivery Service — and a triumph that, in the words of Radio Times’ Lucy Barrick, “is a million miles away from the garish and crude cartoons that American studios often churn out, and serves as a reminder that animated films can be imaginative, enchanting and exciting while still telling a sweet, good-hearted story.”
Violent, bleak, and unbearably tense, The Departed earned director Martin Scorsese his long-overdue Best Director Oscar — but before that, it delighted critics and filmgoers by using Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs as the launchpad for an unflinching look at the personal toll exacted by the mortal struggle between law enforcement and organized crime. As dirty cop Colin Sullivan, Damon gives one of his subtlest and most heartbreaking performances, portraying a man who knows he’s living one step away from prison — or worse — and who you can’t help but feel for even as he works to ferret out the identity of Mafia mole and honest cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio). Though some critics compared The Departed unfavorably to Infernal Affairs, most agreed with the Academy voters who named it the year’s Best Picture; in the words of Beyond Hollywood’s Brian Holcomb, “Scorsese has made an incredible cover version of the original, imbued with every ounce of his artistic personality transforming it into something both familiar and new.”
By the time most trilogies reach their third installments, they’ve seen better days; heck, even the truly great ones tend to stumble after their second chapters (Return of the Jedi and The Godfather Part III, anyone?). For the Bourne films, however, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum marked a critical and commercial high point, as well as a satisfying conclusion to the story of Jason Bourne, the lethal government operative whose brush with death — and subsequent memory loss — blazes a global trail of high-speed car chases, conspiracy cover-ups, and hand-held cameras shakily capturing some truly impressive hand-to-hand combat. Whether Ultimatum truly marks the end of the Bourne saga remains to be seen; in the meantime, as Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News put it, “The Bourne Ultimatum leaps, scampers, scraps and drives its way into the pantheon of all-time great action movies.”
Before you even opened this list, you probably knew we’d end up here. And for good reason: Good Will Hunting is not only the massive left-field success that launched Damon and his pal/co-writer Ben Affleck into the Hollywood stratosphere, it’s a smart, tenderly written tale of the ways love and friendship can help build a bridge between the memories that haunt us and the futures we dream of. With empathetic direction from Gus Van Sant, beautiful music from Danny Elfman and Elliott Smith, and an Oscar-winning supporting performance from Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting was the kind of film that played equally well to the arthouse and cineplex crowds — and the kind of story that makes you feel good about loving movies. As Margaret McGurk of the Cincinnati Enquirer put it, “Good Will Hunting is another auspicious sign that the best of Young Hollywood is not only bringing back respect for the craft of acting, but for the cogent telling of tales as well.”
In case you were wondering, here are Damon’s top ten movies according RT users’ scores:
1. Saving Private Ryan — 96%
2. The Departed — 95%
3. The Bourne Ultimatum — 95%
4. The Bourne Identity — 95%
5. Good Will Hunting — 95%
6. Ocean’s Eleven — 94%
7. The Bourne Supremacy — 93%
8. Rounders — 90%
9. Ponyo — 89%
10. The Rainmaker — 87%
Finally, here’s a reminder of what can happen if you cross Mr. Damon:
How do you describe the career of a guy who started as the host of Talk Soup on E! and within five years was Oscar nominated for a role opposite Jack Nicholson? Greg Kinnear certainly hasn’t taken the usual career path. He may have starred opposite Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, but he was also conjoined with Matt Damon, played a sex addict and a meat inspector, guest starred on Friends and voiced a character in the Beavis and Butthead movie. Not to mention leading the SAG-winning ensemble in one of the best indie comedies of recent years in Little Miss Sunshine.
Now he’s on screen as the inventor Bob Kearns in Flash of Genius, and he was happy to be playing a real-life character no one’s ever heard of. “Well, it’s not like everybody comes in with a preconceived idea of who Bob Kearns is,” he says. “So it was kind of loose as to how I could portray him. You know, nobody’s ever going to stand up in the theatre and say, ‘Hey, that’s not what I remember the intermittent windshield wiper guy to be like!’ It’s not like with Clinton or Nixon or some sort of galvanising figure that everyone’s familiar with. At the same time, as an actor I felt absolutely obligated to try to, as best I could, make him real.”
Later this year he’ll be sees in Paul Greengrass‘ new film Green Zone, about the hunt for WMDs in Baghdad after the American invasion. “Paul is a remarkable director,” he says. “He just has an immediacy on the set. He doesn’t come in with a prearranged agenda of how things are going to go, and he’s always chasing something that’s not easily found. It’s his own journey as a filmmaker, but I think everybody feels like you want to give him everything you’ve got, because the thing that he’s searching for always translates to the screen, always creates these pictures that feel very vibrant. He has a way of making even smallest moments really big and lifelike on screen. It was wonderful.”
When asked about his five favourite films, he looks to the ceiling and comments that he’s going through his mental Rolodex…
“Great performances from a great ensemble of actors. Jonathan Demme did such a great job of making that look so real, creating an atmosphere that felt very immediate. It’s a funny film, but it’s scary as hell in parts. And it’s a completely unpredictable movie, I think. There’s no expectation, as you go into that film, what to expect or where it’s going.”
“For obvious reasons. It’s just painted on a giant canvas – it’s larger than life. There’s a reason it’s a classic, and I don’t know what else to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It’s just one of the greats. There’s not a character in it that I don’t like, and there’s not a performance in it that’s flawed. It’s incredible.”
“I had a chance to work with Jack Nicholson, which was a real thrill. You can scoop out a lot of performances from Jack, and consider them as possible films you could add to this list, but that was a great performance. Roman Polanski‘s direction is incredible too. It’s a movie where, the first time you see it, it’s kind of shocking because you don’t know where it’s going and how big the story actually is that’s being told.”
“I like the classics! I like a pretty eclectic mix actually. But if you want a great old movie, this is it. It’s in colour but it always feels like a black and white movie to me. It feels like a film with great history in it, and it’s got great style.”
“It’s one of the great endings to a movie ever when Willy asks Charlie what happened to the little boy who got everything he ever wanted. “You don’t know? He lived happily ever after!” And then the glass elevator breaks through the glass roof. It’s incredible. I worked briefly on a television show with Mel Stuart, the director, and heard all sorts of fantastic stories about that remarkable film. And of course I knew all the songs – I still do. I have a 5-year-old, but I haven’t shown it to her yet. It’s kind of scary – that guy who shows up with the little shopping carriage and makes that little speech about how nobody who goes in ever comes out. And the Oompa Loompas. And that boat ride – woo, acid trip!”
Flash of Genius opens in UK cinemas this week. It is on DVD in the US and in cinemas in Australia.
Well, not much, really…but they all had new images reach the Web this week, and we’re rounding up the related links here!
SuperheroHype! has been keeping an alert eye out for new Transformers 2 developments, and in the last week, they’ve picked up (via Internet Business Daily) shots of “three Saleens with the Barricade decals being towed around in Culver City,” followed by photos of “Optimus Prime on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.” Yes, they’re just pictures of cars being towed, but — as SuperheroHype! notes — “something is definitely going on.”
Meanwhile, over at TheBadandUgly, photos from the set of Paul Greengrass‘ Green Zone, starring Matt Damon as a CIA agent searching for WMD, surfaced. Again, nothing incredible — the shots are literally just pictures of Damon on the set — but they’ll give you a small idea of what you’ll see in the film.
Finally, last but certainly not least, IESB is featuring a quartet of new Dark Knight stills — three of them featuring Heath Ledger as the Joker. As IESB notes, “Ledger’s performance really does look like the stuff nightmares are made of.”
To get a look at all the images, follow the links below!