Tuesday, March 30, 2010

At the Movies – April 2010

Must See in Theatres:

Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn) – Action – Apr 16
Based on the comic book series by Mark Millar, the film is about an unpopular high school kid and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, regardless of the fact that he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. Director Vaughn, best known for Layer Cake and Stardust (which he famously left X-Men: The Last Stand to make), is a perfect choice for the material as he is a master of mixing action, adventure and comedy.  From Stardust, Vaughn brings his behind the camera creative team of co-screenwriter Jane Goldman, cinematographer Ben Davis and composer Ilan Eshkeri to the project along with newcomer composer Henry Jackman, who contributed additional music to The Dark Knight and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The cast features Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Flemyng, and Clark Duke along with two young actors poised to have breakout years: Chloe Moretz and Aaron Johnson. On paper, aside from Mark Strong, the cast does not seem like anything to write home about, but based on the trailer they are perfect for the material and tone. Advanced reviews from the SXSW Film Festival rave about how much fun the film is and how great its young cast performs. What sets this apart from the bigger releases of the month is the quality that Vaughn brings to the project, based on his past work, as he is one of the better filmmakers (this being his third feature film, he also produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.), the awesomeness of the trailer and the great advanced reviews the film has been receiving. Check out the trailer.

Good for Dates:

Date Night (Shawn Levy) – Comedy – Apr 9
The film is about a couple that goes out for a night on the town in an attempt to spice up their seemingly boring marriage, who, upon taking someone else’s reservation, is mistaken for another couple turning the evening into something more thrilling and dangerous (it is a bit like North By Northwest meets Adventures in Babysitting or The Night Before, no?). The film is highlighted by its stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, but also features a fantastic group of supporting actors including: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo, Oliva Munn, Leighton Meester, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta, Taraji P. Henson, Jimmi Simpson (from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Common, and (the awesome) James Franco. However, with all this talent the film may still be undone by its director, Levy, who is not know for his ‘great’ films. The screenwriter Josh Klaussner was an assistant to The Farrelly Brothers and worked on Shrek the Third and he wrote the Shrek Forever After script, so his background is rooted in writing comedy (I guess). But on a brighter note behind the camera, Christophe Beck is scoring the film. But not to worry, no doubt the film will be funny and entertaining (I mean just look at who is in it again). Plus, there is no way Carell and Fey will not make a good on screen team (right?). Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

Clash of the Titans (Louis Leterrier) – Adventure – Apr 2
A remake of the 1981 film of the same name, the movie is about the mortal son of Zeus who embarks on a treacherous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from taking over Earths and the heavens. Director Leterrier, known for his action filmmaking, will likely bring more action to the story, which is probably a good thing. The film will be big, fun and in 3-D (it was delayed a bit to outfit it for the latest trend), yet do not expect loads of quality filmmaking. The film stars Sam Worthington but impressively features Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Mads Mikkelsen, Pete Postlethwaite, and Danny Huston in supporting roles, as well as young actors: Gemma Arterton, Nicholas Hoult and Alexa Davalos. Behind the camera, Leterrier has assembled the team of production designer Martin Laing, who did decent work on City of Ember and Terminator Salvation, composer Ramin Djawadi who did Iron Man and FlashForward, and Peter Menzies Jr. who shot Leterrier’s last film The Incredible Hulk. The creative team behind the film as a whole does not make this a must see, but the film does have a strong cast and should make for a fun theatre experience. Check out the trailer.

Death at a Funeral (Neil LaBute) – Comedy – Apr 16
A remake of the 2007 film by Frank Oz (and oddly using Dean Craig’s same screenplay, only adjusted for Americans, as the original is British), the movie is about a funeral ceremony that turns into a crazy fiasco involving family secrets, drugs, missing bodies, and revelations. Another odd thing about the film is that playwright LaBute is directing; it just seems like rehashing a perfectly good film of three years ago is not the best use of his talent (but what do I know). Based on the trailer (having seen the original), the film looks to be the same as its predecessor, even Peter Dinklage returns in the exact same role (but maybe I am missing the point, and the film is merely being reworked for a new audience). Though, the movie does feature a pretty great ensemble cast including: Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Keith David, (Mr. AT&T himself) Luke Wilson, Martin Lawrence (does he ever need a decent film), Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock (who is sort of the main character, if there is one), Danny Glover, Columbus Short, Regina King, Ron Glass, Loretta Devine, and Kevin Hart (who is usually a riot) – there  is a lot of comedic talent here. Check out the trailer.

The Losers (Sylvain White) – Action – Apr 23
Based on the comic book series, the film is about members of a CIA black ops team, after being betrayed and left for dead, who seek out those who tried to put them down (a bit like The A-Team). It should be interesting to see how White handles the material given his lack of experience in the genre, but based on the trailer the action looks good. Plus, the script is by action veterans Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. The cast is also strong featuring Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (not playing a ghost), Idris Elba, and Jason Patric. And fitting to its comic book origins, White has enlisted Superman Returns and X-Men composer John Ottman to score the film. The film should be an action packed (it is produced by Joel Silver after all) per-summer summer blockbuster style film – big on spectacle, light on depth. Check out the trailer.



A Nightmare on Elm Street (Samuel Bayer) – Horror – Apr 30
A remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 original, the film is about a serial-killer who kills people in their dreams. The film was re-imagined by Michael Bay’s horror production company Platinum Dunes.  The film also marks famed music video director (dude did Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit video among many other icon others) Bayer’s first feature. Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy Krueger which seems to be an inspired choice to go along with a fairly talented young cast including: Katie Cassidy, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, and Kellan Lutz. It is odd, though, that the film is coming in April opposed to October. While re-…(take your pick: dos, makes, imaginings) runs rampant, like it or not, this looks to be one of the better rehashing on the horizon. Check out the trailer.




Art-House Watch:

Leaves of Grass (Tim Blake Nelson) – Comedy – Apr 2 (LA/NYC)
The film is about an Ivy League professor who is convinced to return to his hometown in Oklahoma, though reluctant, where his twin brother, a small-time marijuana grower, has come up with a plan to take down a local drug lord. Tim Blake Nelson, know more for acting than directing, makes his fourth feature film and it looks to be his best (course one of those three priors is O). The draw of the film, however, is the fantastic dual performances from lead Edward Norton (as he plays both brothers). The film also features a good supporting cast with Nelson, Susan Surandon, Keri Russell, and Richard Dreyfuss. Norton’s performance got a lot of attention at the SXSW Film Festival and should make the film worth a rent (for those not in LA or NYC). Check out the trailer.




Warlords (Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip) – Martial Arts – Apr 2 (LA/NYC)
The film is about a heroic tale of three blood brothers who struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on a Qing Dynasty story: ‘The Assassination of Ma’. The film is by veteran director Peter Chan and won many awards in Asia before being exported to the U.S. The movie also features big stars including Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jet Li (which is likely the person whose name got this U.S. distribution, likely Magnolia Films is hoping it will be like Hero, House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). It should be an interesting work for genre fans. Check out the trailer.






The Perfect Game (William Dear) – Sports – Apr 16
Based on W. William Winkur’s book, the film is about the true story of a group of boys in 1957 from Monterrey, Mexico (yet it is in English), who became the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series (spoiler alert!). The film is by Disney B-movie veteran William Dear and features music from Rocky composer Bill Conti. So, it will likely be a bit over the top on the heartfelt cheesiness, but that is not always a bad thing in these types of movies. The film stars Clifton Collins Jr. and Cheech Marin, while featuring Louis Gossett Jr., Bruce McGill, David Koechner, and Emilie de Ravin in a supporting roles. The film looks to be a feel good story and is being compared to The Blind Side. Check out the trailer.





I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra & John Requa) – Comedy – Apr 30 (Limited)
Based on the book by Steve McVicker, the film is about a married con man who, after a dramatic car accident, reassesses his life and realizes he is gay. He decides to live his new life to the fullest, something that lands him in jail where he meets his soul mate, Phillip Morris. He is then committed to getting himself and Phillip Morris out of prison. Is it love or all just one big con? The film is the directorial debut of comedy writing team Ficarra & Requa (they did Cats & Dogs, Bad Santa and Bad News Bears, the remake) and oddly is produced by Luc Besson. The film stars Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann, a pretty good comedic lineup. The film is being heralded as having Carrey’s best performance as real life con man Steve Russell, while others state that it is just another in a long line of outlandish characters. Check out the trailer.



Please Give (Nicole Holofcener) – Comedy – Apr 30
The film is about a New York City couple who butt heads with the daughter of their tenant, an elderly woman, renting their apartment. Director Holofcener is known for her films dealing with a sort of snobbiness of upper middle-class white America and how that attitude or way comes into conflict with those of other classes or dispositions (as seen in Friends with Money). The film features a solid cast including: Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener (who seems like she appears in all the director’s features), and Oliver Platt. The film should appeal to fans of director or actors’ prior works, or those looking for something depicting social confrontation with comedic implications. Check out the trailer.

Prudent Purchase List – April 2010

Prudent Purchase New Releases:


1.)        Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] – Apr 6
2.)        Avatar (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] – Apr 22

Other New Releases/Updates:


1.)        The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions) [Blu-ray] – Apr 6 (Wait for the Extended Cuts)*
2.)        A Nightmare on Elm Street [Blu-ray] – Apr 6
3.)        Party Down: Season 1 [DVD] – Apr 6 (By the creator of Veronica Mars)*
4.)        Gone with the Wind (The Scarlett Edition) [Blu-ray] – Apr 13
5.)        Batman [Blu-ray] – Apr 18 (Tim Burton film)*
6.)        Fist of Legend [Blu-ray] – Apr 20 (Best Jet Li movie)*
7.)        The Young Victoria [Blu-ray/DVD] – Apr 22
8.)        Crazy Heart [Blu-ray/DVD] – Apr 22
9.)        Minority Report [Blu-ray] – Apr 22
10.)      Tombstone [Blu-ray] – Apr 27

Movie of the Week - Chasing Amy

This week’s movie is Chasing Amy (1997).

The film is about two friends, Holden and Banky. Things are going well for them until Holden falls for a girl, who happens to be a lesbian. The film is written and directed by Kevin Smith and is the third in his View Askewniverse series (the first two being Clerks. and Mallrats). The film is probably the best of Smith’s filmography and features great performances from Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams, while other View Askewniverse actors and characters pop up or are mentioned throughout. What makes the film great is Smith’s script coupled with the performances that he got form his actors. The film is much more of a drama then any of his other works in the series, but is also bitingly funny. Smith was able to achieve a good balance between the two complementing the material. The film is a must have for fans of Smith, and a must see for fans of dramedy. Check out the trailer.

Chasing Amy [Blu-ray/DVD]

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Ghost Writer (2010) – Review

The Ghost Writer is an effective thriller but at times suffers from an average lead performance and some resulting pacing issues in the middle. Robert Harrisnovel, to which the film is adapted from (by Harris and Roman Polanski), is a thinly veiled commentary on Tony Blair (and other world leaders), whom Harris was once a political advisor to, and as such the film makes reference to the current political climate. Much like many political films of late, this has an ambience of mistrust to it, which works quite well in the narrative structure of the film as well as the visual composition (the overly gloomy weather for instance). Just hearing the score in the opening shot is enough to alert even the most ambivalent of filmgoers to the nature of the story – something is afoot, and the viewer knows it right off. So then, the question becomes: can the filmmakers still sustain their interest during the buildup when they already know, more or less in a narrative way, what is coming – sort of. Polanski is a fantastic filmmaker, it is completely clear that this is the case just looking merely at how the film opens and closes, both shots are brilliant. But what Polanski has not succeeded in, at least to a degree that he should, is his ability to drive the narrative in such a way as to keep viewers glued to the screen and on the edge of their seats. Rather, he structures the film to sort of meander as it unravels clues to what is going on. But once the thriller aspect of the film does kick in, it is quite good and engaging. Though, it just might leave some less interested audience members behind. The film instead relies on the performances of the actors to carry the film’s middle, and they are rather strong, mostly, but not where it counts the most. Ewan McGregor does satisfactory work here, but not great work in a film whose narrative demands great work and this is really the weakness of the film. McGregor is unable to fully compel, charm or otherwise grip viewers. Kim Cattrall is also not great in a role that needed her to be better. She is not able to sufficiently convince the viewer as to the complete nature of her relationship to Pierce Brosnan’s character, which given her limited screen time and interaction theatergoers must rather gather what they know about the characters through other performances – and more to the point Olivia Williams’ fantastic performance. She is perfect in the film. She has a great talent to play off the other actors in the film and without much she invited the viewers into her world, yet she also conveys something not quite describable underneath, as if she is a fa├žade. Brosnan is also good as he brings a lot of bravado to his character, which seems very fitting. Tom Wilkinson, in a very limited role, is also wonderful. (Similar to Michael Clayton) his performance again demonstrates his fine talent, while setting up the second half of the film – in a sense changing the whole pace of the film. Much in the same way, Eli Wallach is good in his brief scene. Alexandre Desplat (who seemingly could occupy all five best score nominations at the 2011 Oscars, he certainly works enough to do it) delivers another tremendous score which utterly fits the atmosphere of the story and is maybe the highlight of the film. It has the audience’s ear from frame one and throughout. Cinematographer Pawel Edelman also produces great work here, his best since The Pianist. Albrecht Konrad’s production design, specifically the beach house that was entirely built on a sound stage is masterful. The house with its modern over-the-top art and almost out-of-place design again clues in the audience that things may not be what they seem. Konrad also did a terrific job of transforming Germany to look like New England. The film does have an Alfred Hitchcock feel to it, from Polanski’s slowly unraveling mystery narrative to Desplats’ score that is a bit like one of Bernard Herrmann’s. The book itself almost has a MacGuffin aspect to it. While this may not be Polanski’s best, it is certainly a good film (that could have been better with a stronger lead). The film is able to enthrall the viewer with its story though its expert use of music and picture, while also  appealing to the audience on a more in depth analytical way, as it references the political climate and actions of leaders in the last decade or two. 7/10

Movie of the Week - The Trouble with Harry

This week’s movie is The Trouble with Harry (1955).

The film is about a small town whose residents discover a dead body in the woods and each member of the town has a different idea of what needs to be done with it. The tagline for the film is ‘A comedy about a corpse’ which seems to fit perfectly with director Alfred Hitchcock’s sense of humor. The film stars Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine, and features a great score for frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann and wonderful cinematography from Robert Burks. What makes the film great is how well Hitchcock mixes the genres of (almost screwball) comedy and thriller. The film is quite funny, but also exhibits moments of suspense and it is a strong representation of Hitchcock’s mastery of narrative. Check out the trailer.

The Trouble with Harry [DVD]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Zone (2010) – Review

Green Zone is a mix between a great thriller and interesting, if not heavy-handed at times, political review of the early days of the Iraq war. The film works best as a thriller set against the backdrop of the war. Director Paul Greengrass, known for his overly documentary style, is able to engage the audience as they follow the exploits of Matt Damon – he tries to uncover the mystery behind why he cannot find any WMDs at the sites that are supposed to have them, while navigating the obstacles he faces. Greengrass’ style puts the audience in the same shoes as the characters. It is chaotic, blurry and yet effective in many ways. While not everyone likes his style (his use of almost entirely handheld camerawork), those willing to accept it will be submersed in the business of the scenes – which is just what a great thriller does. However, this is not just a thriller, it is also blatantly a political statement about the current war in Iraq – in that its villain is almost a completely unveiled summation of those in the Bush Administration that put forth evidence (now generally accepted as bad, unverified and false) that lead to us going into Iraq – aka the WMDs that they supposedly had. The villain is completely plausible if the movie took place in another context, in terms of what generally makes up movie villains, yet here it is somewhat hard to believe that this villain could do all that he did alone. Though, returning to the reality of what actually did happen, it did not take many to convince the masses and congress and the senate to go to war either. But more to the point of the movie, Greengrass wanted to tell a story that was simple and easy to understand and he did just that, the one villain makes the most sense in a simple film structure. The villain also works in the context of Greengrass’ apparent political views on the war (again as a summation of those in the Bush Administration) is his complete confidence in the fact that he truly believes that he is doing what is best and right, that the end justifies the means, and that no one else, minus a few characters in the CIA (which again harkens back to real life), seems to really care, rather they are content to go to war without fully breaking down the data and checking it in detail. Greengrass does look at other aspects of the early days of the war that are not as commonly known as well. The film suggests that instead of bringing outsiders in and disbanding the current ruling party and military, the US should have worked with members of the ruling party and military to stabilize and police the country. Of course, today, there is no telling what would have happen had that occurred, but it is somewhat obvious that the plan taken has been an utter failure. Another aspect of the film that works quite well and separates it from the other Damon Greengrass collaborations (the Bourne films) is that Damon’s character is not a superman action hero. He is just a regular soldier, not even a high ranking one. He is good at his job, but there is a scene in which he is effectively taken down in a fight, showing that there is nothing special about him. The thing that is different, though, is that he is not completely willing to just follow and take orders – he questions why his intel is bad and when he does not get adequate answers, he digs deeper. While many of the characters are just content to follow, it is Damon’s story as he wants to uncover the truth. Greengrass does get a little preachy at times through in his political views – best seen in the final shot of the film, Damon’s unit off on another mission driving past a huge oil refinery suggesting that the real reason for the US being there is oil. One of the best parts of Greengrass and screenwriter Brian Helgeland’s narrative is the perspective of Iraq characters and how they interact and impact the story. Their perspectives give insight into the situation (at least that of the film) for the viewers to have more of a holistic understanding and perspective. And while some of the political elements of the film will rub some viewers the wrong way, as they are forced upon the story, the narrative structure of the film is strong and captivating, mixing action, mystery, suspense, and drama well. On the technical side, Damon’s performance is very good in the film. As sort of the everyman (to some extent), he is able to guide the viewer through the story as it unfolds. Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson and Jason Issacs (as usual) give good supporting performances. Greg Kinnear is adept at delivering a pompous ego and morally driven villain (moral being that which he believes to be right, even if it means doing things generally considered wrong). Two standouts are Yigal Naor and Khalid Abdalla. Their performances are key to rooting the film in reality and giving more perspective to the overall narrative. Like The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd provides gritty docu-style cinematography that compliments Greengrass and the subject matter. Editor Christopher Rouse also does standout work cutting the film. Dominic Watkins’ production design is also great, especially in the ‘Green Zone’ scenes, which is somewhat new territory design wise for Iraq war films. All in all, Generation Kill is still the best of the Iraq war films, miniseries and/or TV series, but Green Zone, while completely fictional, plays both as an excellent thriller (though alienating for some due to its director’s visual style) and an intriguing look at the politics (though seemingly slanted) behind the motives for why the US went into Iraq, and to a lesser extent how the people there, both Iraqi and military/government/CIA, initially felt about it. 8/10

Movie of the Week - Garden State

This week’s movie is Garden State (2004).

The film is about a young man, disconnected from society, who returns home to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. There, he reconnects with friends and his father after being gone for a decade. He also meets a girl who might finally bring some meaning to his life. The movie is directed, written and starred in by Zach Braff and represents one of the better first features of the decade. The film through its soundtrack also helped establish for the mainstream bands like The Shins, while sort of letting everyone in on what music was cool then (as some movies seem to do now and then). The film features strong performances from Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard and great small bits from Ian Holm, Jim Parsons and Ron Leibman. What makes the movie great, however, is the script and Braff’s visual composition focusing on the fringe element of society (so to speak) – those not totally outside, but not the norm either. Check out the trailer.

Garden State [DVD]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Matt Damon – Movies Spotlight – March 2010

Matt Damon has become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood over the past two decades. He is in this month’s action thriller Green Zone, marking his third collaboration with director Paul Greengrass. Damon has been able to grow his career balancing dramatic, action and fun roles in both independent and Hollywood movies, which has now firmly established him as an “A List” actor – and a great one at that.

Early Career:

In 1988 Damon got his first film role in Mystic Pizza (which was Julia Roberts breakout film), though he only had one line. From there, he continued to take small roles in the television movie Rising Son and School Ties (which also features Ben Affleck). In 1993 he finally got a decent sized role in Geronimo: An American Legend, however he would continue to toil away in small roles in Glory Daze (a college-comedy which stars young Affleck, Sam Rockwell and French Stewart) and Courage Under Fire until his breakthrough finally came in 1997.

Breakthrough:

1996 was a good year for Damon. He began work on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker and his breakout film Good Will Hunting. Damon and best friend Affleck wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting and pitched it around Hollywood. They even wanted another of their friends, Kevin Smith, to make the film, as he broke into the industry as a director on the success of his film Clerks. But Smith thought they should get someone who could do justice to their film. It turned out to be good advice as they were able to attach Gus Van Sant to the film. In 1997, Good Will Hunting was met with critical and commercial success garnering Damon and Affleck each an Oscar for best original screenplay and bolstering both of their acting careers tremendously. The film was also nominated for best picture and won Robin Williams a supporting actor Oscar as well. On the set of Good Will Hunting, Damon met Steven Spielberg who then cast him in Saving Private Ryan. There is a rumor that famed screenwriter William Goldman did extensive rewrites on the script, but they have been disavowed by all parties. Goldman did however offer notes on how to make the film more marketable to Hollywood, as did Rob Reiner. With the success of the film, Damon took roles in Rounders, Smith’s Dogma and The Talented Mr. Ripley. In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Damon solidified himself as not only a fine actor but a bankable and marketable rising star. The film proved to Hollywood that his success in Good Will Hunting was not a fluke.

The Hollywood Game:

Now having established himself in the film industry, Damon began receiving many offers and many roles. Thus, the Hollywood Game had begun. Picking the right projects to build a career is delicate with some luck sprinkled in. Coming off The Talented Mr. Ripley, Damon took a voice-acting role in Titan A.E., co-stared with Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance (which is a little underrated) and the lead in All the Pretty Horses. All three were considered failures. But, as luck would have it, Damon had a role in the first of two franchises that would propel him to the top: Ocean’s Eleven. It is in Ocean’s Eleven that he would meet, now good friends, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who would also get Damon involved in charitable work, which he is a strong proprietor of at present. It is also in this film were Damon would establish a long working relationship with Steven Soderbergh. In 2001, Damon would also start the first of three Project Greenlights with Ben Affleck, giving new filmmakers a chance to break into the industry, and he took another voice role in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron as well as appearing in Van Sant’s indie Gerry, which he co-wrote. Then came his next big franchise and hit: The Bourne Identity. Again, maybe some luck, or just good foresight by director Doug Liman as Damon did not fit what people typically thought of as an action star. But Damon was and is fantastic in the role. From there Damon took roles in Stuck On You and The Brothers Grimm (a frenetically strange film, which also stars Heath Ledger and Lena Headey), working with The Farrelly Brothers and Terry Gilliam, respectively. He also made Ocean’s Twelve and his first with Paul Greengrass The Bourne Supremacy, which took the series to a new high critically.

Elite Actor:

Starting in 2005, Damon started to take on more serious dramatic roles. Elevated by the success of the Bourne films, he was able to have more control over his career and who he would work with. He first took a role in the Clooney Soderbergh produced political thriller Syriana, then Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award winning The Departed and Robert De Niro’s underrated The Good Shepherd. Those three films, staring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Angelina Jolie in the later two, cemented Damon into the Hollywood elite as not only an actor capable of receiving acclaim for his performances but also an actor to bring audiences to the cinema. Now fully established, Damon capped off his two series with Ocean’s Thirteen and The Bourne Ultimatum. Damon then took some time off, only doing a few cameos and a voice role for the English dubbing of Ponyo. He was back in 2009 with two award nominated performances a golden globe nod for Soderbergh’s The Informant! and his second acting Oscar nod for Invictus (the first acting Oscar nod was for leading actor in Good Will Hunting).

Cameos:

Damon has made a number of memorable cameo appearances throughout his career. For director Kevin Smith, Damon appears as an executive in Chasing Amy and later mimics the role in Jersey Girl. He also pokes fun of Good Will Hunting in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forester harkens back to Good Will Hunting in its story nature, and Damon has a timely cameo near the end. Damon does a small voice role in The Majestic, plays one of the bachelors on the game show in George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and has a humorous role in Euro Trip. More recently, he has short appearances in Coppola’s Youth Without Youth and Soderbergh’s Che: Part Two.

Future and Upcoming Films:

Along with Green Zone, coming this month, Damon also has a small role in Margaret, The Adjustment Bureau, Hereafter, and likely True Grit coming this year. Margaret is a drama staring Anna Paquin about a girl who witnesses an accident and gets wrapped up in the aftermath. The Adjustment Bureau is a sci-fi romance co-staring Emily Blunt about a couple that is affected by mysterious forces keeping them apart. It is from the screenwriter of The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean’s Twelve, George Nolfi, and is based on a Philip K. Dick short-story. Next is Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter; written by Peter Morgan, it is a supernatural thriller centered on three people who are touched by death in different ways. True Grit from the Coen Brothers is a western based on the Charles Portis novel about a tough U.S. Marshall who helps a young women track down her mother’s murderer. It also stars Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin. John Wayne also stared in an adaptation of the same novel in 1969 also called True Grit, but the Coen Brothers have not based their script on the film, rather on the novel. Farther in the future, Damon has been linked to two Soderbergh projects: Liberace and the ensemble piece Contagion. Damon is also attached to play Robert Kennedy in Gary Ross’s film. And finally, Damon wants to work with Affleck on a film about members on the Yankees in the 70s who wife swapped. Damon also wants to start directing his own films.

Matt Damon Box Set (Selected Filmography/Career Highlights):

1.)          Good Will Hunting (1997) – leading actor, writer [Blu-ray/DVD]
2.)          Saving Private Ryan (1998) – supporting actor* [Blu-ray/DVD]
3.)          Rounders (1999) – leading actor* [Blu-ray/DVD]
4.)          The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – leading actor [DVD]
5.)          Dogma (1999) – supporting actor* [Blu-ray/DVD]
6.)          Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – supporting actor [Blu-ray/DVD]
7.)          The Bourne Identity (2002) – leading actor [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
8.)          The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – leading actor* [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
9.)          The Departed (2006) – leading actor* [Blu-ray/DVD]
10.)      The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – leading actor [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]
11.)      Invictus (2009) – supporting actor [not yet released]

* Editor’s picks