Matt Damon

School Ties

Year: 1992
Directed By: Robert Mandel
Written By: Dick Wolf and Darryl Ponicsan

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

It seems like the beginning of this “S” section is just flat out doomed when I’m following Schindler’s List with this film. How ironic that together these two films sit on the shelf. One being all out about the Holocaust and the other being about the racism behind it that never truly died.

This is not the greatest movie but it taught me an invaluable lesson when I was a kid. It taught me something about the nature of racism. How blind and unreasonable it can all be. In this movie all these guys are buddy buddy until they find out that all along Brendan Fraser is a Jew. The fact that they were friends before hand proves they couldn’t tell a true difference between him and themselves. When they learn his heritage he is suddenly ostracized for no other reason than the religion he serves. Nothing in particular changed about the person but all of his friends suddenly found reasons to dislike him simply because he was a Jew.

When I saw this movie as a kid it marked a lesson for me because I could see how foolish the racist feelings of these boys really were. Until they found out he was a Jew he was practically the most popular among them. How swiftly and quickly their perceptions changed based on a ridiculous notion that he was suddenly different just amazed me. I don’t doubt the truth to it and believe that these very type of situations happened countless times throughout history. The movie itself is actually based on personal experiences by the writer Dick Wolf.

I don’t understand racism in general, the type of hate that poisons a man’s heart to that point. For me it shouldn’t matter what a person’s ethnicity is when you know the person and like them. All these guys we see in this movie rally around Brenden Fraser up till that secret changes everything. They knew the person, but hardened their hearts when they learned something they could have never figured out any other way besides being told. When you know a person for who they are, it shouldn’t matter what the color of their skin is, the God they pray to, or their sexual preference for that matter.

When I watch a movie like this I relate to the main character as he struggles with this change of heart from his friends. When he is suddenly all alone for no reason and treated differently it is something I can see, and I understand his plight. I don’t know how any racist person can watch a movie like this and not take something away from it. Movies like Crash, Mississippi BurningSchindler’s List, Monster’s Balland many others have the power to teach us something but despite how popular these movies are the message just never gets through to some people. It’s a sad and unfortunate thing that I feel is getting worse as opposed to better as time carries on.

As to this movie it’s not really anything special. It’s an interesting opportunity to look back at younger versions of actors like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O’Donnell, and Brendan Fraser. At the time Fraser looked to be on his way to being big time leading man material but his career hit a huge roadblock years back and he has seemingly never recovered from it. When he became that silly guy everything went wrong for him because he was capable of more. He wasn’t bad in this movie but I don’t think he was very exceptional either. It’s funny to look back in hindsight when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have reached the heights Fraser will simply never see.

I think it totally sucks to have to sit down to this movie after avoiding Schindler’s List. This movie in no way compares to that one but it still centers on racism and that’s an ugly topic I never care to sit down with. I think this movie is worth your time and everyone should see it simply for the hope that it teaches them something as it taught me. Racism is an ugly thing, and the only way we can ever rise above it is by looking within ourselves and deciding to be better.

NEXT MOVIE: Secondhand Lions (2003)

 

Advertisements

Saving Private Ryan

Year: 1998
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Robert Rodat

RYAN’S REVIEW

I saw this movie several times in the theater, but there was one distinct experience watching it that I will never forget. It’s a story that matters little when discussing such a fine film but it mattered a lot to me. As for the movie, it’s a great war movie made by one of the greatest directors of all time and starring one of the best actors of his generation.

I think I had already watched this movie three times when I got a phone call during dinner one night. There was a big Pro Wrestling event in town and two of the stars were currently watching this movie at the local theater that I just happened to spend most of my time in. My brother and I bolted from the table mid dinner for the chance to encounter Diamond Dallas Page and The Giant, or some may know him as The Big Show or some other name I am unfamiliar with. They were just watching this movie and my brother and I were just eager fans waiting to flank them when they were out in the world.

We made it to the theater maybe half way through the film and took a seat on the back row. We were sitting maybe two or three rows back from men we perceived to be legends. In truth I was a fan of neither of these guys but that hardly mattered as we were sitting a merely 10 feet from them in the theater.

They were larger than life men and The Giant had stretch out one leg across the front row with his arm covering two seats next to him, literally blanketing an area usually occupied by several people. His head was so enormous and he had a huge mane of hair. The Giant was a loud viewer who screamed at the screen profanely even calling the Corporal a pussy in the climax when he is too afraid to aid his friend.A few seats over sat Diamond Dallas Page who seemed to glow in the darkness of the theater. I distinctly remember how bright of a man that dude was in all his tanning bed bleach blonde glory. He sat for the majority of the movie with his head in his hands and he cried openly during the movie while his friend screamed at the screen.

There were about 5 other people in the theater all sitting on the front row as if it were assigned to them. The precious wrestlers could not be disturbed during the movie in which one screamed at the screen and the other cried the whole time. The two could not have been more different but my brother and I were just so caught up in the moment.

I have always wished I could go back to that moment, knowing out ultimate goal was fruitless, and have yelled at The Giant. When he was screaming obscenities at the screen. How great it would have been to be the little smartass behind him and yell something like “hey! we’re trying to watch a movie here!” or something like that. What I would give to know how that scenario would have played out.

With about 5 minutes left in the film they got up and quickly left as if to avoid being rushed by the five people at the front of the theater. I followed them out hoping to get an autograph. I remember following Diamond Dallas Page to the front and standing a mere two feet from him as he talked to the manager. The Giant wasn’t looming about anywhere but I’ll never forget how DDP did not even acknowledge me. Even when he was done talking he turned away without so much as a glance in my direction. My brother managed to get a low five from The Giant as he exited the theater, but I got nothing but unacknowledgement.

I did not get an autograph that night but the memory of a lifetime none the less. As I said before I wasn’t really a fan of either of these guys so them being rude just strengthened my resolve. Also, the were both wearing fanny packs, so lame.

As to this movie itself what is there for me to say other than it is great? It begins with one of the most emotionally captivating and exciting battle scene of all time. It finishes with a nearly equal battle where the stakes are so much higher. I may connect this movie with a silly memory but there is so much more to it than that.

Truthfully, after recounting such a long remembered story, I have no interest in delving into this movie review wise. My apologies but the best you will get from me right now is that this movie was great. It’s a fantastic WWII pic and it would be worth your time to see it. This movie has one of the best battle scenes you will ever see and after that it only gets better.

NEXT MOVIE: Saw (2004)

 

Interstellar

Amber and I don’t get out to the theater that much these days. Life with two full time jobs and two rapidly growing children leaves us with little time for such a luxury. It requires the movies chosen to watch to come with a lot of confidence that it will be worth seeing in the atmosphere that has become such a rare chance. Amber surprised me last week with tickets to Interstellar and I was thrilled. I had even told people recently that it there was a movie worth us making to trip to the theater to see it was that one. Christopher Nolan’s newest had all my confidence that it would be incredible and mind blowing. I knew little of what to expect and appreciated that all the more. After such films like Memento and Inception I was certain that this movie was going to be a window into the future of films. Something that would be visually stunning and exciting in ways I could never have imagined.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was wrong. I walked away bewildered and confused as I checked the IMDB rating and saw a high rating of 9.0 out of 10. What did these people watch? I was walking to my car feeling like I had just watched a three hour Lincoln commercial. This movie bored me out of my mind. I specifically feel like it was nothing but a lot of monologues, a lot of crying, and an extremely long running time devoid of any excitement. I actually spent the last 15-20 minutes begging Amber for us to just get up and leave. At a certain point I was just so disappointed I didn’t care how it ended and had no interest in waiting to find out. Unfortunately I suffered through that ending that did nothing to change my already established opinion.

I think the biggest problem with this film is the story. I can appreciate that it was merely a platform to showcase the possibilities of certain scientific advancements but that isn’t good enough. They weren’t amazing enough to compensate for how everything unfolded. I think the biggest problem is how Matthew McConaughey comes to pilot the NASA mission. After a really long set up he figures out some coordinates by looking at the bookshelf and deciphering the code left on the wall from fallen books. OK, I could stick with them through that. Despite how strange that it is it doesn’t compare to how stupid it is when he is arrested at the super secret NASA facility before they more or less say “hey since you are here, can you be out last hope to save mankind?” Did the super secret NASA people not have an actual plan in place to the point they’ll just put everything in the hands of the guy that unknowingly showed up at the gate unannounced? Weak, and frankly I expect better from the Nolan team.

Another big problem I had is the role of Matt Damon. Does he qualify as the antagonist of the film? I think the character wasn’t really that bad of an idea but weak if that is all you are going to offer the audience. Here I was waiting for something to finally happen in the movie and when he makes his move I felt like he was just getting in the way of something that should be getting a lot better any moment now. When the realization that he was all that was going to happen actually donned on me I was so disappointed.

Now, another thing I just can’t deal with. I am no physicist and only vaguely familiar with science in general, but can it really be possible to convey advanced physics by way of Morse Code on a wrist watch? When his daughter figures everything out so quickly I just wanted to throw my hands up in disgust because it was all just so stupid. The new undiscovered fifth dimension being love made me want to scratch my eyes out. It immediately made the whole thing even worse than I felt like it had already been. Who knows? I get the idea that the whole thing hinges on technology and understanding that we haven’t yet acquired but it does nothing to make me hate the movie any less.

I do hate it too. I can find no other emotion for something that amounts to such a complete and utter disappointment. Christopher Nolan you let me down, I still believe in you but I consider this far and away your worst film. I think the robots were cool but that is the only good thing I can say about this movie. When I saw the trailer and the scene in which waves are mistaken for mountains I was so hopeful. I thought it was a glimpse of the possibilities and couldn’t wait to see what else was in store. The imaginative nature of the idea that on another planet waves might behave in ways we would never consider seemed like a taste of more to come. It wasn’t. I couldn’t even appreciate that scene because I was so excited about what else lay beyond that hadn’t been glimpsed in the trailer.

If you watched this movie and loved it please explain to me why. I was just so utterly bored and disappointed that maybe my opinion is overly negative at the moment. If this wasn’t an incredibly boring movie in which little actually happens tell me I need to see it again. I will need strong encouragement to ever try to get through this again. If you are on the fence about seeing it I would suggest you jump to the “No” side and spare yourself the loss of ignorance. If you don’t know how boring it is you can’t feel the disappointment I personally felt. If not then seek another opinion or make your argument by leaving a comment.

EuroTrip

Year: 2004
Directed By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, and David Mandel
Written By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg, and David Mandel

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a really stupid movie but I have always enjoyed it and it still makes me laugh.  It is pretty similar to Road Trip, which came out four years prior. I think this movie does just enough to set itself apart and make it memorable, for me anyways.  I know a guy from high school who looks exactly like Matt Damon in this movie, and he is the lead singer of a band now.  I love that song he sings “Scotty doesn’t know,” it stays with me for days.  Otherwise there isn’t much more worth mentioning here, mediocre cast in the leading roles with the support of several big names in cameos. Aside from Damon, Lucy Lawless, Vinnie Jones, Fred Armisen, Diedrich Bader, and the incredibly funny Jeffrey Tambor appear in cameo roles. They all came together for this movie and were very funny. In the lead cast Jacob Pitts was exceptionally funny and I will always remember him from this movie. The others were funny as well but have done little else with their careers. This is a quick and pointless movie so if you know that going in I think it is worth your time.  It’s a funny movie that I always enjoy seeing, but nevertheless it doesn’t deserve much more than this as far as a review goes.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Watch it! Simple and hilarious.

NEXT MOVIE: Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

The Departed

Year: 2006
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: William Monahan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was considered by some to be the pinnacle of Martin Scorsese‘s career after it won the Academy Awards for best direction and best picture, among others.  It won those awards honorably because this is an exceptional movie and aside from the fact that he had such a great cast to work with Scorsese has just gotten really good at what he does. I don’t think this is Scorsese’s best, as good as it is it’s still a recycled movie, and I think Scorsese has made much better films. I call it recycled because this movie is based off of a Hong Kong film that came out years earlier. I am disappointed with the idea that we have to borrow ideas from the other side of the world in order to have hits, but it’s hard to argue with such an exciting and entertaining movie.

Scorsese did do a great job making this movie but I think he had a lot to work with as far as script and talent go.  He gathered a great cast of very talented actors and some of them really distinguished themselves with this film.  Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his generation, he outdoes himself with nearly every film and has been doing so since a young age. I think he is terrific in this film but I think he and Scorsese’s best collaboration was Gangs of New York in 2002.  I am not the biggest Jack Nicholson fan but I think he did do a great job in this movie. He was given a lot of freedom with his character in order to make him more provocative and unpredictable. He used the freedom to great benefit for the film.  Ray Winstone as his right hand man Mr. French is awesome, I am a big Winstone fan.  Matt Damon is good and well cast in his part.  Alec Baldwin is great in his small but important role.  Martin Sheen was cast when Robert De Niro had a scheduling conflict and that’s too bad. I am a fan of Anthony Anderson but I don’t know that he was appropriately cast in this film.

I think the actor that distinguishes himself the most in this film is Mark Wahlberg, who really stood out among such an elite cast.  I do not like Wahlberg but cannot deny his talent due to roles like this.  I have had a problem with Wahlberg since seeing a documentary about him a while back.  When I found out that Wahlberg had spent time in prison for what pretty much amounts to a hate crime I developed a different attitude toward him.  When he was younger he was arrested for beating a Vietnamese man almost to death with a blunt object in order to steal a six pack of beer from him while screaming racial slurs. He spent some time in jail for that and when he got out of jail his brother was part of New Kids on the Block.  He became the opening act as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  Later he was discovered by Calvin Klein and used as an underwear model.  He soon began an acting career and the rest is history.  Today he is not only a superstar actor but a successful producer involved with HBO.  I have to admit he is talented but I really despise a racist douche bag and hate it every time I have to accept that he was good in something. Despite all his success he has never made an effort to make amends with the man that he blinded for life.  I consider it unfortunate when that kind of person reaches the level of success that Wahlberg is at, but it happens all the time.

This was a great movie and given that it won best picture of the year plenty of people saw it and offered their opinions.  You don’t need me to tell you this was a good film because you have probably already been told.  I don’t think this movie is quite as good as everyone makes it out to be but I do think it was a really awesome movie.  It is worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of those movies that will suck you into the story line. It is filled with stars that everyone knows, and it truly is an unforgettable movie. You can’t really guess what is going to happen and as soon as you think you have it figured it out, it changes and leaves you guessing again.

This movie is filled with attractive actors and seasoned pros. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it. It was very, very popular when it came out and I haven’t met anyone that has seen it that doesn’t like it.

NEXT MOVIE: Desperado (1995)

The Bourne Ultimatum

Year: 2007
Directed By: Paul Greengress
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ll be honest, I really didn’t put much effort into that last post.  I was caught off guard a bit by how boring Supremacy was and I didn’t care enough to write much about it.  This however, is a much better Jason Bourne movie.  It’s interesting, faced paced, and action packed.

This movie may be better. I may like it more than the second film and maybe the most of the franchise but I don’t have much to say about it nonetheless. Matt Damon is great as Jason Bourne.  Julia Stiles is again exceptionally beautiful and in an expanded role.  All the old regulars are back but this time around there is no Bryan Cox to deal with, which can only make the franchise better right? David Strathairn and Albert Finney are the newcomers. Strathairn is great and Finney isn’t bad but I am not a fan of Finney.  Paul Greengrass did a better job with this Bourne film but I am not really a fan of his work.

I have never read anything by Robert Ludlum but I am under the impression that the films are only loosely based on his books.  This genre isn’t really my favorite but I love a good action movie and this movie is full of great action.  If you watched the other Bourne movies then you will surely like this one.  I think this one is as good if not better than the first film.  It is worth your time and I would recommend it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love a good action movie and as a series I really enjoy these films. They take you on a ride and it is fun to watch. After a few though, I wish they would stop. People say they love Mission Impossible like these, but I feel like once you have made a million of them it is time to stop. Overall a really good series of films.

NEXT MOVIE: Bowling For Columbine (2002)

The Bourne Supremacy

Year: 2004
Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Written By: Tony Gilroy and Robert Ludlum

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have said several times that a good sequel should be a bigger and better version  of the original film.  That is not true in this case and I think this is the weakest of the franchise.  This movie has less action and a weaker story that tends to be confusing at times.  Karl Urban is a great choice for the villain and Julia Stiles is exceptionally attractive in this movie but there is little else I have to say about it beyond that.  I don’t really like the film and wouldn’t recommend it. It has its moments but it’s just not enough.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I didn’t like this one as much as the first one, but it is still just another fun and easy watch as far as action movies go. I don’t really have to think too much to watch any of these movies and I like that in an action movie. I would rather see how all the action pans out and how the story comes together. This is an okay bridge between the first and third, but not my favorite one in this series.

NEXT MOVIE: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)