Rich people can be sad too.
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) are living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves them jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.
As everybody in the world knows, October 2008 was the time where we all found ourselves in an economic-crisis and yes, even though it is a bit hypocritical from a 19-year-old, who at the time, was 15 and lived with his parents, had no job, had no responsibilities and no bills to pay other than my money for lunch, I can still say that it was a sucky time for everybody and in a way, still is. Everybody was affected by it, not just the common-man, but everybody!
I start off with this middle-minded rant mainly because this is one of the biggest problems with this movie that we have here: who it focuses on. Having a story about a regular, average-Joe who loses his job out of nowhere and finds himself really struggling isn’t a story that hasn’t been done before, but would have probably been more engrossing than watching a bunch of millionaires go from everything, to nothing in a matter of a couple of weeks. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this did happen in real-life and it wasn’t just a certain group of people that were affected by the corporate downsizing, and that’s why this movie feels like it should hit harder, mainly because it’s so timeless and easy to connect with, but it just isn’t.
Watching all of these guys be pissed-off by the fact that they don’t have the money to pay for their golf clubs or their Porsches really just seemed stupid and something I didn’t really care about. It gets even worse when some of these guys still feel like they can’t tell their wives, or the people around them that they lost their job. Yeah, I get that losing your job is sort of like losing an ounce of your pride, but there comes a point where you got to nut-up, shut-up, and get moving on with your life in order to make that moolah fall from the skies. Sitting around, pissing and moaning about it, and not even telling your wife why you don’t have the money for the mortgage, isn’t going to solve shite.
But to back away from a topic and theme I guess I don’t know much about since I’m not necessarily the hardest working-man out there in the world, let me go back to something I do know a lick about: movies. The whole idea of watching these rich people be sad by the fact that they can’t spend 500 dollars on dinners any longer, definitely didn’t work for me but I was able to get past it and at least try my hardest to look at the brighter-things in this movie, which didn’t seem to come to me right away. The problem I think I had with this movie stems from what and how writer/director John Wells tries to tell his story. He tries to show us that maybe, just maybe by going back to an old-school America is the only way we’re going to live and survive in this world, but he he shows us in the most obvious and predictable way that’s enough to make the people on the employment-line just scoff at.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that this economic crisis was a very, very depressing time for all men and women of America, but Wells shows how sad and depressing it is in the most conventional ways possible. For instance, Chris Cooper’s character is probably the best example of what I mean because when his character gets fired, he doesn’t just go home, act as if nothing happened whatsoever and go out there and try to make another living with his life, no, he sits at the bar all-day, gets hammered, throws rocks at the old, corporate-building he used to work-at, and tries to act like he still works there by slugging-around the same briefcase. Same example can sort of go for Tommy Lee Jones who finds himself banging-around with the same chick that fired him, and choosing her over his dearly, old-wife, mainly because he’s just depressed. I get it, they’re sad and when you’re sad, you do dumb stuff. Get on with it!
The only light and shiny material actually in this flick, is actually the performances from the characters that try their hardest to make everything work and in a way, succeed in doing-so. “In a way”, however. Ben Affleck has the main-spotlight here as Bobby and definitely seems fit for the job of a guy who loses it all, tries to avoid it by acting like nothing has happened, only to get slapped in the face with reality and realize that he has to do a whole bunch of crap he didn’t want to do when he was rich. His character isn’t all sympathetic to begin-with, considering that he continues to blow-off the idea of saving money and not robbing the bank, but Affleck works through it and does what he can with this role. His wife, played by the always magnificent Rosemarie DeWitt, is always supportive, but at the same time, also never seems to notice how much of a dick he’s being and as hard as she can be on him for not accepting reality, she seems very lenient in terms of actually telling him what’s up in the world. I get it, they’re husband and wife and they forgive each other over everything, but she doesn’t seem all that strong and loving at all, so why the hell should be that way when the guy’s acting like a dick? Ehh, I don’t get it.
Tommy Lee Jones is doing his usual, crotchety old-man shtick that never seems to run dry, even if his character even seems to get tired of it about half-way through and begins to get all soft and weak in the knees. Tommy Lee is a great actor so this weakly-written role doesn’t do as much harm to him as it does to others, but it’s still obvious that there should be more meat for us to chew-on with this character and his emotions. Chris Cooper has the most sympathetic character out of the bunch, but like I mentioned before, seems a bit too obvious in terms of where his story goes and why. Like Jones, Cooper is a great actor so it’s not that glaring, but still, he should be given more material that’s suited for his great, acting-self.
Maria Bello is always good with what she does and is fine here as the chick that goes around firing people, and instead, more or less comes-off like a person doing her job, rather than a monster out to get people’s hearts, souls, and above all, their bank accounts. Kevin Cotsner also shows up as the blue-collared, American worker that makes a living off of hanging up dry wall every day of the week and it’s definitely a fun performance that Costner has a blast playing, even though that New England-accent seems to be way too heavy, especially in the seems with Affleck. How the hell do you have a movie that takes place in the state of Massachusetts that stars Ben Affleck, and not have him doing a Bawhstan accent? Seriously, the guy’s made for it and if you don’t believe me, watch The Town and Good Will Hunting, aka, two movies that will probably inspire you more than this.
Consensus: The premise and themes are as timeless as they may come, but when it comes to delivering on those important ideas and thoughts, the Company Men doesn’t seem to succeed with a bunch of great actors, working in thinly-scripted roles that seem to be placed-in the right category of “Conventional”.
The Ultimate Battle: Salesman vs. Farmers. Let’s get’s it on!
Matt Damon plays a salesman for a major natural gas company (so stow the “propane and propane accessories” quote) who descends upon a small town to tap into it’s natural resources, but finds himself having a bunch of problems with the locals, especially by a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski).
The topic of “fracking” is an act that has been brewing-around for quite some time and even though there have been some documentaries that talk about it, here and there, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood got their filthy, dirty paws on it and made a motion-picture, cinema-trip out of it. However, I don’t know how “Hollywood” Gus Van Sant is now, but hey, he made Good Will Hunting and that counts, right?
In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “fracking”, don’t worry, the film will let you know, every, single 5-minutes, too. It obviously seems like an action that makes people happy and filled their wallets/bank accounts, filled to the brim with moolah, but also, destroys the environment around us and makes those pot-smoking, peace-loving hippies all uppity, uppity. However, knowing this before-hand won’t do you any good and to be honest, neither will this flick because all of it just really seems to hit you over-the-head until you can’t take no more. Matt Damon is obviously a very political guy that likes to have his thoughts and opinions heard for the whole world, but maybe his script that he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers was a bit too much for him, or anybody else to really muster.
Instead of making this movie just one, big “message movie” that likes to talk a lot about what it’s declaring, Damon and his co-writers try their hardest to make us feel like there’s another story here worth watching and feeling something-for, even though we are all being preached-at from the highest choir. That highest choir, just so happens to be A-list actors and producers that may know a thing or two about how to make a good flick, but don’t know a thing or two about how to make one that can coincide with the point/message you’re trying to get across. It becomes over-bearing and by the third time that Damon’s character states, “I’m not a bad guy”, you start to think otherwise because who would really go on and on this long about a topic and a solution that could have been figured-out in a 5-slide Power Point production.
However, a 5-slide Power Point production is probably how long, in-fact, maybe even less, this flick could have been predicted in. Right from the beginning, we know how it’s going to start, how it’s going to coast-on through it’s story, and sadly, how it’s all going to end and what revelations are going to be made by that time. Yeah, there are some nice twists and turns that Damon and co. throws at us for good-measure, and mainly in hope to keep our eyes awake and our minds attentive to what’s going on, on-screen, but doesn’t do much good other than seem obvious. The message is obvious and so is the plot and that’s why I’m so surprised that Damon even co-wrote an intelligent script like Good Will Hunting because all of that fun, all of that flair, and all of that emotional-truth that was stuck underneath that whole flick, is barely even seen here at all. In my honest to god’s opinion, it’s all because Big Ben wasn’t around, and instead, is off doing his own thang and making a name for himself. Take notes, Matt. Start directing movies and see how current and cool you can stay.
I will say one-thing about Matt Damon here with this movie, that even though his script may not work to the best of his, or the film’s ability in keeping us interested the whole-way through, Damon’s performance definitely does and the guy once again shows why he is the most dependable actor, working today. Damon’s character, Steve Butler, may have an obvious-route he’s going to drive-on about half-way through, but Damon still keeps you on-edge, wondering when it may actually happen and whether or not we are going to be able to believe it or not. In a way, we do believe it, and that’s mainly thanks to Damon’s top-notch skills as an actor, while in other ways, we don’t just because it’s so conventional, but you can’t go wrong with Damon and the guy knows how to write some great lines, even if the only great lines are for himself, and him only. That damn Matt Damon! He’s always so stingy!
Playing his enemy, of sorts, is John Krasinski as an ecologist that challenges all of Butler’s way of living and making a business. Krasinski rarely ever plays dark roles like these and it’s great to see him really work with that aspect of his acting, while also making sure to keep his comedic-abilities in-tact, as well. I wish that Krasinski was given more than to just fuck around with Damon, in a way that makes it seem like he stole his girlfriend after Junior Prom, but with what he’s given (that he practically gave himself, if you think about it) and what he’s able to do, Krasinski does a very nice-job at it, and I really hope the guy continues to take darker, more-dramatic roles like these because even though that face may always be smiling and shiny, there’s still some darkness that’s waiting to just latch-out from underneath.
Frances McDormand plays Damon’s cohort that seems to be non-other than McDormand doing what she does best: the cool, older gal that still knows what it’s like to be hip, with it, and always one-step ahead of the dudes around her, no matter what it is she may be dealing with. Maybe that was a bit too much of a lengthy-synopsis of what type of characters she usually plays, but it’s the truth most of the time, and it’s the truth here and it’s still fine and dandy with me, because the girl is good with the act. She doesn’t seem to have much more going for her other than the fact that she may just be the brains behind the whole operation when it comes to what it is that they do for a living and how they make their business, but McDormand makes the most of it and in a way, would have liked to see a whole movie dedicated to her, where she was going around and dealing with this personal and professional-crisis, rather than seeing dudes like Matt Damon go through with it. Boo the men! Yay the ladies! That’s how I look at it here.
McDormand isn’t the only gal that gets to show the boys a thing or two when it comes to acting, nope, that honor also goes to Rosemarie DeWitt as the wild child of this small, rural town in Pennsylvania, who also just so happens to be the hottest, single-teacher in the whole world. Not just PA, the whole damn world! DeWitt has been on my “crush list” as of late, and she’s great here, especially in her scenes with Damon who just goes to prove the fact that the dude can make any great chemistry, with anything, as long as it has tits and a vagina. Seriously, they are great together and if it wasn’t for the whole fracking-issue popping-up every 5-minutes, I would have probably enjoyed their scenes together a whole lot more.
The rest of the cast is pretty fine, even if it is a shame to see how little they are used here. Hal Hollbrook is great as the knowing, elder farmer of this small-town that knows what fracking’s all about, why it’s not good, and why he doesn’t like it. Rather than making Hollbrook the annoying and obvious voice-of-reason throughout this whole movie and have us dreading his presence, Hollbrook actually comes-off as a sweet and tender, old-man that has come to terms with the way the world used to be and what it is eventually, going to turn-out to be. It’s sort of sad since how this hits so close to reality and what better person to deliver this reality-check than non-other than Mr. Hollbrook himself. Seriously, when the hell is this guy getting that Oscar!?! Lucas Black and Scoot McNairy show-up here as well, as the resident rednecks of the small town and as good as they may be, are still a bit over-the-top in the way that they are type-casted as a bunch of dumb idiots that work on a farm and don’t give a crap about anything else other than the big olde bucks. I’m sure that some of this is true, but it doesn’t need to be seen to try and get a point across even more. Come on Matt! Come on John! You should know better! You get your caviar and champagne from natural food stores!
Consensus: The topic of discussion in Promised Land is definitely an important one and what Damon, Krasinski, and Eggers get-across about it is an important-one, but it constantly hammers you over-the-head with it, that you begin to lose a care for what they say and an even bigger loss of care over the predictable story, and what direction it goes in.
Mrs. Doubtfire was such a good nanny but I guess as a daddy, she just sucked.
Lance Clayton (Robin Williams) is a high school poetry teacher in Seattle, Washington and is having a few problems. He also has possibly the worst son ever in Kyle (Daryl Sabara) who just hates everything, everybody (except his only friend Andrew), and only love beating off to porn all day. All of that beating off eventually gets him killed, and Lance (as all good fathers do) tries to cover it up as a suicide and writes his note for him.
It’s pretty strange to think about Bobcat Goldthwait as a writer/director but he’s actually pretty good at both. It also helps that he doesn’t feel the need to come out in-front of the camera and do his annoying voice. Thank God for that, people. Thank God, for that.
The premise right up there is pretty damn dark. Death is a pretty grim subject to talk about in the first place, but then to go forward with the story where the Dad is pretty much making all of this fame because of it on purpose, then that’s a little too dark. Is it? Surprisingly, it’s a very well-written film that definitely takes your mind off of what this film may be talking about in the first place. The film itself is definitely a dark comedy but it’s also one of the funnier ones I have seen in quite some time. Yeah, there is a couple of laughs where you can tell that this is pretty much a satire on people who somehow do total 180′s once death happens, but there’s also plenty of comedy that just works because a lot of this stuff is funny. That’s right people, suicide and death are in the same movie and are still both pretty funny.
It’s not all about being funny, though, because the film actually has a lot to say if you can believe it or not. There is a lot of insight into what it is to be a father and how hard it is for so many parents out there and to just sit there, and try their damn near hardest to get along with their kids but in the end, it never works out. I guess a lot of what goes on here (when the kid is alive) is what goes on in my life with my parents but it’s still very true and refreshing to see a movie show something that is very realistic even though a premise like this could only go so far. However, the film also talks about a bunch of other topics like death, suicide, family, and sex and they actually come together in a very strong way to where you can see the satire that Goldthwait but still never allow it to get in the way of the story itself. Nice job my man Bobcat. Freakin’ cool name.
Problem with this story is that it’s emotional side never really did anything for me. I think the story seems to get a little too dark and mean because even though a dude like Lance may be effed up with his life, I definitely don’t think he would ever go so far as to live off of the fame of his kid’s death. Then again, you never know what sort of parents actually do such a thing as this and I wouldn’t be surprised if a story like this comes up on the news soon. Also, a lot of Bobcat’s emotional stuff revolves around a bunch of indie music played to some montage that almost makes it seem like a music video. Bobcat does have a nice taste in music, but maybe it was placed in the flick a little too much except for one key track Queen and David Bowie. Come on, you all know the song.
What really had me going for this flick was the performance here from Robin Williams as Lance Clayton. Just recently, I watched ‘Good Will Hunting’ with my Theology class and it made me realize just how great of an actor Williams can be when he isn’t depending on doing the same old goofy noises and faces for a laugh or two. That shit always annoys me but he tones it down perfectly here, for a character that has a pretty shitty life. His character may do some terrible things throughout this flick, but Williams makes this guy so likable by just being a normal, everyday dude with barely any flash or zing to his performance. He’s pretty straight-forward the whole way through and it worked not only for this character, but for this movie and gave me somebody I could feel something for even though he didn’t have the best morals.
I was also very surprised by how great Daryl Sabara was as his son. This is the same little kid from ‘Spy Kids’ and I have to say that he seems like he has some potential to be a big star one of these days because the scenes he has with Williams here, are awesome and some of the best of the film. Shame he gets killed off so quickly though because I would have definitely loved to see more of him and Williams just cussing the hell out of each other. Reminded me of the verbal fights me and my fasha had. Instead those ones would usually just lead into fists being thrown.
Consensus: Since World’s Greatest Dad is so dark and messed up, there isn’t a lot of emotional connection here, but Goldthwait’s writing is very sharp, very funny, and also very true in the way certain people treat death and treat the dead when they start to remember them.
Never leave a spy alive, especially if that spy happens to be Will Hunting.
This sequel re-enters the shadowy world of expert assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who continues to find himself plagued by splintered nightmares from his former life. Except this time, he has a bigger threat in CIA agent Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).
I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you liked The Bourne Identity, you’re liking this one. As simple as that.
Director Paul Greengrass does a great job here with this material because instead of doing exactly what Doug Liman did with the first flick, he molds it himself. The first one without a houbt had action but focused way too much on its plot, which in turn took away from the little action there was. So what Greengrass does is just match the plot development it but tops it off with more action. And when I mean action, I mean action, baby! Yeah!
Greengrass films more than a few of the action scenes with his infamous “shaky cam” method, but it didn’t bother me as much here as I thought it would have; actually, it tweaked the film in just the right way. All of the fights that go down here feel like they were filmed by a drunken sports fan who just wanted to see some mono-e-mono brawls and happened to fumble in the right places for his camera. Maybe that doesn’t sound (look) so awesome right now but it really makes you feel like you’re there watching Bourne layeth the Smackedowneth on all of these CIA agents’ candy-asses. You can feel the action no matter how far away from the screen you are. The frenetic editing Greengrass did here may not be for everybody, especially the ones that were huge fans of the original, but most will appreciate the gritty vibe he brings to the film and if nothing else how good he is at filming a car chase.
This film isn’t all about its action though, because a lot of it actually is dedicated to its plot which keeps on moving and moving the plot along. If you saw the original, you will probably know everything that’s going on here in the first place, so therefore when all of these mysteries start to be brought up, solved, and twisted around like a curly fry, you can’t help but feel like you don’t know what’s going to go down next. So many things are being brought up here but somehow, it all works itself out and doesn’t become over-bearing.
However, as interesting as the story may have gotten to become, it was still pretty predictable in the end which bothered me. Yes, I know that this is all used for entertainment values and anybody going into these types of films expecting anything else but just pure, adrenaline-junkie action is a total dumb-ass, but I couldn’t get past the fact that almost every action sequence would pretty much end in Jason Bourne coming out on top no matter what the odds stacked against him were. Maybe the fact that I also know that there’s another sequel to this one is what had me thinking this too. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Damn, I just wish I saw this when it first came out!
Other parts of this film I didn’t like was when the film tried to get a little sentimental with some subplot about Boune’s first “job”. I don’t mind an action/thriller flick trying to be more than just that but the film tries to edge Bourne out more by giving him this plot to show that he really is a human and humans make mistakes. It comes up just about every 30 minutes when something strange goes down and when it’s all over, you feel like they totally dropped the ball on it. I don’t want to say how this whole subplot eventually plays out, bu the scene it ended with seemed to have left me a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Don’t know what it was but definitely didn’t feel too right.
Matt Damon once again proves himself to be a good action star, and an even better action star as Jason Bourne. He is able to handle this “plain-looking” guy style but also be able to come off as a ruthless bad-ass whenever it comes down to him taking on other spies and the CIA. Bourne is also a bit more interesting this time around because we see him go from a defensive position to an offensive one, which allows us to root him on some more as he battles these CIA punks. Go get ‘em Bourne!
Damon is also backed up by a pretty solid cast. Joan Allen is pretty awesome as Pamela Landy because she’s a strong character that doesn’t have to use her muscles to prove her ruthlessness, instead, she uses her brain and that’s a real tough brain to go against. Let’s also not forget to mention that she’s very sexy and a chick I wouldn’t mind going up against myself, if you know what I mean..? Rawr! If you have ever seen Brian Cox play a bad guy before, (which is almost every flick with the exception of Super Troopers) then his performance here as Ward Abbott will just be another example as to know what this dude is capable of and Karl Ubran gets some pretty bad-ass scenes where it’s just him looking all tough and ready to fight Bourne. Yet, none of them ever really stand a chance.
Consensus: Though it misses a couple of beats here and there, The Bourne Supremacy is still a solid action flick because it keeps the adrenaline moving at such a solid pace, that you rarely ever forget what you’re watching and you get more and more involved with the story as it goes along.
Shows that the dudes who clean the toilets in my school, aren’t as dumb as they seem.
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) spends his days as a janitor at MIT, but the aimless young man is also a mathematical genius. So when his talents are discovered, a therapist (Robin Williams) helps Will confront the demons that have been holding him back.
Good Will Hunting is directed by Gus Van Sant and right away you can tell that there’s going to be a little quiet, and subtle indie-feel to this film, but since it’s not written by him, it doesn’t go in that direction it goes plenty of other places you wouldn’t expect.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon both wrote this screenplay, which actually won an Oscar, and it was their first script ever written! I like the script because there is a lot of great one-liners and quirks here that will have you laugh with this story and enough truth about life here as well that will open your eyes to a lot of what is being said here. My problem with this script and the film as well, is that it does get overly sentimental at times and gets too carried away with it’s dialogue.
It’s hard to describe but there are times here that a lot of the things that are said here, just feel like long speeches that just seem overlong and not needed. This is about over two hours and for that time limit I was entertained but I have to say that there were many times where some of this could have gotten knocked down, because there were just too many speeches that didn’t need to be used, mainly because they didn’t feel like it was actual conversation between these characters, it was more of just verbal diarrhea. But for a rookie job at writing a screenplay, these two kiddies do a great job of creating a story that keeps you glued in.
Many times with plenty of Van Sant’s films, I feel like his direction and style can sort of get in the way of his story, but here it’s different. He just lets the story tell itself off for once and provides beautiful images of Boston during the “falling leaf” season. Let’s not also forget to mention Elliot’s Smith’s amazing score/soundtrack that adds perfectly to the overall feel and nature of this film. If you’ve never heard of him before, watch this film and you’ll see why he’s a great musician.
The characters in this film are fleshed out so well here and the performances add a lot to that reason too. Matt Damon is perfect as Will, the troubled working class man who needs to address his creative genius and with almost every scene shows why he is the real reason why Will is so likable. Damon has that cocky and smart attitude that makes Will seem so witty but he also has that emotional depth within his acting that makes him so damn vulnerable as a character. Robin Williams won an Oscar for his performance as Sean and shows why he should just stick with dramatic roles. The scenes he has with Damon are just about perfect and fully add up to the whole drama effect that this film gives off. Ben Affleck is good as Wil’s best buddy, Chuckie, and Stellan Skarsgard ain’t that bad either as Will’s math professor at MIT, Lambeau. Minnie Driver is good here as Will’s main squeeze, Skylar, and although her accent isn’t that good, she’s still equally as likable as the rest of the dudes here.
Consensus: Some toning down was needed here and there, but Good Will Hunting is still an emotional and at times witty tale of being the best to your ability, anchored by great performances from the cast, as well as a great first-time script job from Damon and Affleck.