Matt Damon

August 4, 2016

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 72) August 2016

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

On this August edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, the boys come back from their vacation and catch up with what they missed.  JD Duran from Insession Film joins them for a game of Word Association and a brand new game called Simplistic Submarine.  The entire Insession family also helps the boys with their ode to Jason Bourne.  Yo-Ho-Ho mateys! All that and more on this episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

NOTES
Dr. Strange Trailer
Wonder Woman Trailer
Justice League Trailer
Blair Witch Trailer
Kong Skull Island Trailer
Rocketeers
Fantastic Beasts Trailer
Hacksaw Ridge Trailer

MUSIC
Let It Happen By Tame Impala
1976 By RJD2
I Dream Of genie Remix 
Chronos By Hi-Finesse

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March 2, 2014

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men: Bland

118mins | Biography | 2014 

A complete mess of a film due to reasons that kill me and make me cry.
The story behind Monuments is a beautiful one. A group put together to rescue art stolen by the Nazis in World War II. I myself like this story unlike a lot of people online who apparently think its no worth tell. I think it’s one of importance and therefore one that should be told, just not in a theater.
My biggest issue with this film is the amount to be told and not enough time to tell it. Sure 118mins is long enough for most stories but not this one. What they tried to do was fit 10 lb of shit in a 5 lb bag.  This would of worked better as an episodic show on HBO, History Channel or whatever. A 10-part show, 1hr long would be more then enough, not 118mins.
Sadly with the 118mins that they had they wasted it on scenes that didn’t need to be in there. Also having a cast of 7 well-known actors sharing the screen caused issues with time. The amount of unneeded scenes and the editing back and forth of current scenes killed me. Even the camera work and blocking just seemed off, I thought in the theater that this felt very amateurish filmmaking. So much could have been reworked and cleaned up; even the jokes seemed really dare I say it, lame.
So much of this film seemed wasted, and yet I wanted more after it was over.
I wanted to like this film a lot. I adore the time period, the actors and in general filmmaking and at the end I just had a, Whatever vibe. That’s not what I wanted, and that’s not what I expected.

It’s disappointing and I expected better from this company of men.
August 12, 2013

Elysium (Matt’s Take)

Elysium – Preaching

PREACHING

As the Summer movie season winds down, we start to enter this zone of thoughtful Summer fare where the lines are blurred between balls-to-the-wall action and films with a message.  When Fall movies begin to roll out in the next month or so we’ll start to see legit Oscar contenders and not as many giant-robots-punching each-other-in-the-face films.  It’s the natural order of things.  This brings me to “Elysium” a solid, yet heavy-handed, sci-fi epic from “District 9” director, Neill Blomkamp.

“Elysium” is the story of Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) a former car thief who now works for Armadyne, an infrastructure/munitions manufacturer for the aforementioned city in space.  An accident at Armadyne forces Max to seek the help of local hacker and gangster, Spider, who offers him a way up to Elysium if he puts on a metal exoskeleton that resembles what Mickey Rourke was wearing in “Iron Man 2.”  Political intrigue, exotic sci-fi weapons, and weird accents are the highlights of “Elysium” which is a little ham-handed with the way in which it deals with class issues and immigration, but at least one movie this year will call out the elephant in the room we are all dealing with as a global society these days.

Coming from a middle class family and living a middle class life, I know the class gap is widening even as I write this sentence and who knows, one day there very well might a space station where all the rich One Percenters live, while the Earth degenerates into a cesspool of crime and poverty, hey, have you seen Detroit lately?

The one problem ‘Elysium” definitely DOESN’T have is how it looks.  This broken vision of Los Angeles looks beautiful, on par with what Alfonso Cuaron did with London in “Children of Men.” The world looks lived in and is populated with actual people, not CG fill-ins.  The fact that Blomkamp decides to shoot scenes in actual trash heaps and squalor shows his dedication to his world and how he intends on making it look. You feel gritty and grimy on your time on Earth, but funny enough, that grim and grit carries over when you visit the world of Elysium.  Despite it’s pristine surface, there is a rotten underbelly to the wealthy off-planet with it’s ID-scarred citizens and the use of primitive looking robot helpers offering cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres.  There is something off-putting about Elysium, but at the same time you have to ask yourself; would you prefer Elysium to Earth?  I think most of us would sympathize with the citizens of Elysium, who seem to be under attack a lot, even though these people were likely the cause of the Earth’s plight in the first place.

The acting is solid in “Elysium” with Matt Damon leading the way.  But the real revelation is Sharlto Copley, who plays Kruger, a sleeper agent for Elysium’s Secretary of Defense, played by Jodie Foster.  Copley plays a villain with deranged glee, almost of the level of Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight.”  Kruger is built up as a psychopath, which fits the bill nicely based on his enjoyment in his job, namely killing immigrants without a second thought.  But there is a certain mystery and sadness behind his eyes.  Was he a psychopath before he was made a sleeper agent or did years of death and Med-Pod treatments warp his mind into what we see on screen.  I’d love to see a prequel with just Kruger.

Speaking of Med-Pods, this brings me to another important aspect of the film; healthcare.  In the time of “Obamacare” and free healthcare for all citizens, at what cost could free healthcare mean for us as a society.  Yes, we all love free, but when government is in charge of what we put into our bodies just because it’s free, is it plausible to believe that something could go bad.  Most of the citizens of Elysium seem to be in a haze, almost dead from the outside, as they live their carefree and safe lives.  Could too much exposure to medicine and these “Med-Pods” cause some long-term damage, and psychosis?  Take Kruger as an example.  In his line of work I’m sure he’s met plenty of bullets, knives, lasers, and grenades where he’s had to make some pit stops into a Med-Pod.  The “free” healthcare could have some side effects, couldn’t it?

This is just me reading in-between the lines, and who knows, this could just be be preaching at this point as well, but Blomkamp has said, quote, “No, no, no.  This isn’t science fiction.  This is today.  This is now.”  Now who’s preaching.

Bottom line, “Elysium” is a step in the right direction for “intelligent sci-fi,” but with films being a medium for escape, especially during the Summer time, it’s odd to see such a preachy film in August.  However, Blomkamp raises the question(s) as to what should we need to do in order to stop this potential future only 140 years away.  Are we doomed to live on Earth while the most wealthy skip town and leave us the scraps?  If Blomkamp is the minister to this sermon, we should listen up, but still keep an open mind and hope that there is still some humanity left in our future.

Fun Fact:  “Elysium” marks TriStar Picture’s return to big budget pictures, their first since 1998’s “The Mask of Zorro” who’s budget was $95 Million, compared to $115 Million for “Elysium.”

August 12, 2013

Elysium (DJ’s Take)

ALLEGORICAL

Neill Blomkamp tops the list of my five favorite great directors of the future.  (Duncan Jones, Rian Johnson, Matt Reeves, and Josh Trank are the others)  His first film out of the box, District 9, is probably the most original, groundbreaking, sci-fi action film we’ve seen for two decades.  Though, that film’s faux documentary style allowed Blomkamp some leeway to radically tell a story.  A style that worked like gangbusters.  However, I hoped and knew that Blomkamp wouldn’t want to be pigeonholed to that type of filmmaking.  The question was how well could he tell a story in the more traditional fashion.  His sophomore effort Elysium proves that Blomkamp can be a multifaceted director.  However, he might need a bit more subtlety as a writer.  Because for all Elysium’s pulse pounding action and jaw dropping visuals, its message seems to clumsily get in the way.

The concept is great.  The rich and affluent people of earth depart for a super advanced space station called Elysium.  There, food shortages, crime, and diseases are nonexistent.  A small group of earth rebels, led by a recently dying Matt Damon, fight to get up to Elysium before his time runs out.  An ALLEGORY that is clear enough to understand even for the normally oblivious.  However, Elysium’s flaw is not allowing the audience to absorb the “We Are The 99%” ALLEGORY on its premise alone.  The film seems to beat you over the head with it over and over again.  So much so, the last three minutes become a montaged commercial for financial equality.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  District 9 is also based on the huge ALLEGORICAL message of racial inequality and South African apartheid.  However, I believe District 9’s documentary style and alien creatures mask that film’s message a bit smoother than Elysium.  Elysium suffers from not being able to sugarcoat what it wants to say.  Thus, distracting from and sadly short-changing all the things great about it.  And trust me, there is a lot of great here.   The world building is strong.  The acting is solid.  And the action is tremendously outstanding.

It always floors me how Blomkamp seems to make every action scene he does original, gritty and exciting.  No one does a clusterf%*k action scene like Neill Blomkamp.  NO!  NO!  Not Michael Bay.  Bay’s action direction, admittedly one of the few things he does well, is hyper-stylized.  Blomkamp’s action direction feels out of control.  Out of control in a good way.  You feel exhausted after each crazy entanglement Blomkamp puts you through.  Did you forget that mech suit battle in District 9?  His fights are sloppy, unpredictable, harrowing and great.  Elysium is no different in this regard.  The fighting style of the exosuits, the spaceship crashes, the corridor battles, the desert plain assaults.  They are all amazing.  Blomkamp also flexes his muscles again in the futuristic tech department.  He seems to always know how to introduce and use unique weapons and technologies just enough so we buy them as an audience, but not get bored of them.  Sanctimonious self indulgent statement here but…THEY DIDN’T WANT THIS GUY TO DO HALO!!!  DAMN IT!!!  Sorry.  It always bothers me.

As stated before, the performances are solid.  Matt Damon, while not breaking any new ground here, is still his usual charismatic self.  Jodie Foster playing a baddie always seems to vibe with me.  Though, her accent is a tad inconsistent.  A joyfully over the top performance by actor Wagner Moura as Spider also entertains.  However, there is one actor that steals EVERY SINGLE scene he is in.  One performance that people will talk about when they talk about Elysium.  And that is Sharlto Copley.  I was partially avoiding any spoilery trailers leading up to this film’s release.   This led to my surprise when I saw Copley was in Elysium as much as he is.  He’s Blomkamp’s boy, so it makes all the sense in the world.  However, he isn’t really promoted as much as he should be.  The guy completely owns this film.  After his role as the psychotic Kruger and his apparently terrific performance in Spike Lee’s Old Boy, Copley has got to be a star on the rise.

Elysium is another strong sci-fi follow-up from Neill Blomkamp.  Its only sin is a slight difficulty to get out of the way of its own ALLEGORICAL message.  If you aren’t prone to eye rolling from preachiness or a registered Republican, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it.  Even if you are, you’ll still be entertained.  Suit up…be careful of hand grenades to the face…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

May 27, 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra: Fabulous 

118 min  –  Biography | Drama  –  2013

I know its shouldn’t come as such a surprise that HBO hits another home run, but they seem to have their shit together then most of TV (and as well as a few movie studios).

Brief History
At first Steven Soderbergh was having a hard time finding a studio who would back this film. Everyone’s reasoning was that “it is too gay”. Sadly that’s the world we live in, lucky for us HBO threw its hat in and said we’ll back it. First it was rumored to have Robin Williams set to play Liberace, then came Douglas. Soon after in 2008; filming was put on hold. In 2010 Michael Douglas began his treatment for throat cancer which put the film on hold.

The Film
Casting is heavy on talent. With Michael Douglas as Liberace, Matt Damon and Scott Bakula join in. Also Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd and Debbie Reynolds who plays Liberace’s Mother.
The acting is what stands out in this film. First off Matt Damon really holds his own opposite Douglas. Toward the end during his character (Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson) downward spin, you really feel the power of anger and love his character had. My favourite part of his, is when he screams at Liberace during a fight about another “young boy” Liberace may or not be sleeping with.
Rob Lowe plays a Doctor, creepy yet fun at the same time. He is part of this club but it takes time as a viewer when you first seem him onscreen. It’s very creepy in a way I haven’t seen before. Dan Aykrod is Dan Aykroyd and that not bad. I thought he was perfect for his role as was Scott Bakula and Debbie Reynolds.
Liberace himself is the reason I love this film. Michael Douglas give one of his best, if not his best performance. He kills it with such ease. The look and voice just worked so well, that I could without a doubt, believe him as Lee. I’m amazed by Douglas’s career as I write this. I’ve never not like him in a role and he always brings something that makes watching movies so damn fun. I’m always taken away by how far he jumped over his father in the art of acting, not to say Kirt isn’t good, he’s damn good but he just seems to be a whole different Douglas and I love that. I hate not seeing him in more films and it seems that will be changing soon. I have a feeling we will be talking about Reykjavik where he plays Ronald Reagan, with Christoph Waltz (who we all love here at SR) and Frank Langella whose not playing Nixon and yet I believe the whole time I’ll be thinking of that. 
Soderbergh did a good job with this one, he makes up for The Girlfriend Experience which I have a ton of issues with. He says this is his last film, thou he has said that more times then I can count with my hands. But if this is really the last one, then I’m glad he’s going out like this!   

August 26, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

LACKING

All my cards on the table.  I love the Bourne Trilogy.  I absolutely love it.  It pretty much redefined the spy genre and possibly the action drama genre into what we see now.  Daniel Craig’s realistic Bond is a DIRECT RESULT of Jason Bourne.  The popularity of gritty realistic action films and shaky cam action scenes (Some done right.  Most done WRONG) are a DIRECT RESULT of Paul Greengrass’s Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum.  The trilogy starring Matt Damon is in my top three favorite trilogies of ALL TIME.  They are perfect to me.  So much so, I actually didn’t want them to make any more.  A rarity for me because I always want more.  But for Bourne, because it was so perfect, I wanted it to end the way it did.  And for a while there, I got my wish.  Greengrass dropped out of a planned fourth film and Damon said he wouldn’t make another without Greengrass.  My perfect trilogy was safe.  But then Universal realized that other than that dumb street racing franchise…they had no other cash cow.  Enter The Bourne Legacy.

The Bourne Legacy isn’t a sequel.  It is a side story that takes place in the same universe as the Bourne Trilogy.  To the franchise’s credit, they never make the following film a stereotypical sequel.  Events in each film jump around through a linear timeline set up by story mastermind Tony Gilroy.  He and most of the original cast are back with some new blood sprinkled in.  I appreciated this as an effort to make Legacy stand out and be different while still using the foundation set by Damon and Greengrass.  However, these things hinder Legacy’s success to either the uninitiated or the…how should I put this….simple minded populous who want their films to just have stuff that blow up real good.

Days before I saw Legacy, I still heard people saying that Jeremy Renner was the new Jason Bourne…He’s Not.  I still heard people saying this was a reboot of the franchise…It’s Not.  I heard people saying Matt Damon would make a cameo…He Doesn’t.  This isn’t entirely the people’s fault.  The way Gilroy sets up the story, the way the film was marketed, the way the title reads all aids in the confusion.  The word Bourne isn’t what you should focus on in this film.  The word you should focus on is Legacy.  The film is entirely about how the actions of Jason Bourne and, more importantly, Pam Landy effect certain people in the government.  It is a film about fallout.  And though I understand that The Landy Fallout isn’t a particularly catchy title, it would be a more accurate one.

With all that baggage out of the way, how is the film?  Its just fine.  Gilroy, now writing and directing instead of just writing, is a fine replacement for Greengrass.  Jeremy Renner’s character Aaron Cross, though a little less likable than Damon’s Jason Bourne, is fine as a lead.  The story, though a tad too complex for the uninitiated, is fine.  Ed Norton and Stacy Keach are fine as the baddies.  But what is still LACKING from Bourne Legacy?  I’ll give you two guess and the first one doesn’t count.

Matt Damon is what makes this franchise go.  He is the heart, the engine, the…fill in a metaphor relating to importance…that drives this universe.  Without him, without Jason Bourne, any installment in this series just feels like a really expensive fan film.  The universe itself isn’t strong enough to carry a film without him as it was for, lets say, The Dark Knight Rises.  You need more Jason than they give you, if only to serve as a smoother transition into caring for Aaron Cross.

And on a personal note, replacing composer John Powell with James Newton Howard is a HUGE MISTAKE.  Powell’s scores for Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum are legendary.  It would be like switching John Williams from Indiana Jones or Danny Elfman from Batman ’89.  Howard’s score is color by numbers at best.   In a film DEPENDANT on it’s audience following the Bourne universe, how do you not use the man that sets that universe’s perfect tone?  John Powell is sorely missed.

Rumor has it that a film with Damon and Renner teaming up could come as a result of Legacy’s success.  For that reason alone, I support it.  However, I’m a fanboy of the franchise.  I don’t expect anyone else to see a possible Bourne/Cross team-up as a good enough reason to watch a film that is fine but is also LACKING.  If you watch it…you’ll be hard pressed to tell me I’m wrong.

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