Film Review: DOWNSIZING (USA 2017) Top 10 *****

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Downsizing Poster
Trailer

A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.

Director:

Alexander Payne

 

DOWNSIZING marks filmmaker Alexander Payne’s departure from real life and real life drama as witnessed in films like NEBRASKA, THE DESCENDANTS and ELECTION.  DOWNSIZING is Payne at his most playful, a sci-fi adult fairy tale of sorts, but one in which real life drama still exists.  The film stars Matt Damon who like the role in his last film George Clooney/Coen Brothers’ SURBUBICON is about a man who strives for a better life but things end getting more f***ed up.  What a man will do to correct the situation is what SUBIRBICON and DOWNSIZING are about.  It is interesting to see how two different filmmakers deal with a similar premise.

DOWNSIZING, a film combining several genres offers the solution to the world’s problem of overpopulation.  If people can be reduced in size to a thousandth of their original, many of the world problems could be solved.  People will only eat, use and dispose much, much less product.  When science finally achieved the success of downsizing, many colonies were begun.  So, Matt Damon and wife opt to be reduced and live in their new reduced size colony for monetary benefit.  Things never go as expected.

The film centres on Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) who is married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig) and who has spent most of his life working  hard but still raying int he same old house.  He figures that downsizing will allow him and his wife to afford the luxuries they would otherwise never achieve.  But unknown to Paul, the problems he faces do not shrink like their bodies.  After his is shrunk, Paul finds to his horror that Audrey has chickened out the procedure.  Paul is left divorced in miniature Leisureland.

Paul finds truth though the Vietnamese cleaning lady Ngoc (Hong Chau) after partying at his neighbour, Dusan’s (Christoph Waltz).  He slowly but surely redeems his life in a story unfolded in Payne and Jim Taylor’s script that is both dramatic and hilarious.  There is a very funny segment where Paul gets high at Dusan’s glitzy party.  He walks around with a ridiculous wide smile on his face, remarking at one point: “I am going to take off my shoes.”

There are many good examples why this script should win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  This might be Payne’s second after winning Best Adapted Screenplay for THE DESCENDANTS.  One are the words Ngoc replies to Paul after giving him a farewell gift of a Bible in Vietnamese:”Words don’t matter.  Just remember me!”  Or the dialogue when Paul asks her “Who am I?”  She replies, pronouncing his name correctly the first time Paul has heard it pronounced correctly.  “You are Paul Safrenek!”   Or the classification of fucks into 8 categories, with Ngoc asking Paul: “What kind of fuck did you give me?”

DOWNSIZING’s script is brilliant with lots of attention to details.  The film does not go into thriller territory but attempts more ambitious aims.  Payne’s social satire is the most ambitious of all his films but it largely works thanks to the script.  Damon’s performance is fantastic (even the glimmer fem his eyes) with help from a host of impressive stars (Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis and Neil Patrick Harris).   The prize performance comes from Hong Chau, as observable in the scene where she convinces with happy tears,  Paul and company the reason she has to visit Norway.

Shot in Toronto and around the fiords of Norway.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKEPCcPVrx0

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Film Review: SUBURBICON (USA 2017) ***

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Suburbicon Poster
Trailer

A home invasion rattles a quiet family town.

Director:

George Clooney

Writers:

Joel CoenEthan Coen 

 

Written by the Academy Award wining Coen Brothers, Grant Heslov and George Clooney himself, this odd piece of satire on the American dream turning into an uncontrollable monster nightmare has its wicked charm but unfortunately fails.  But better an ambitious failure than a simple minded film with no faults – I always say.

The film is set in the fictitious community of SUBURBICON – of perfectly manicured lawns and white picket fences (as in similar films, FAR FROM HEAVEN, PARENTS), one can tell something is amiss or going to go terribly wrong.  In PARENTS, the boy discovers that his parents barbecue human flesh and in FAR FROM HEAVEN, the husband comes out of the closet.  In SUBURBICON, the father of the family, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) hires two killers to do away with his wife in a home invasion scenario so that he can be with her sister, Maggie (both roles played with Julianne Moore with blonde and brunette hair).  They plan to go to Aruba with the collected insurance money.  But things get complicated, particularly with the interference of an enterprising insurance investigator (Oscar Isaac) who ends up being poisoned by Margaret.  Their son, Nicky (Noah Jupe) is totally aware of everything that is going on, as he is always snooping or eavesdropping.  Father has no qualms  with doing away with the meddling son, just as the cannibalistic dad would gladly eat his son in PARENTS.  (The film feels very similar to PARENTS at some points.)  A lot of fun in the movie is observing how Nicky discovers what is going on and tries to save his own life.

SUBURBICON’s humour and writing has the distinct Coen Brothers touch, especially in the way events suddenly occur out of the blue and how violence can also suddenly come into the picture (reference: the Coen’ ARIZONA).  But the humour can be so sly and at times so dead-pan, that the humour can be missed.  Also, the film unfolds at a dead slow snail’s pace.  One would definitely fault the film’s direction and editing, though Clooney has directed a few outstanding films in the past.

The art direction of the 50’s idle housing estate is nothing short of perfect.  As the camera pulls back, one can see how all the houses and streets are interconnected.

The film also intercuts into the main story a side-plot of the first coloured family that moves into SUBURBIA.  From initial surprise to full outrage, the neighbourhood finally riots right outside the coloured family’s house.  Ironically the two boys, the coloured boy and Nicky become the best of friends, playing throw and catch baseball, the typical American sport.  The two kids show how adults should behave.

Despite the film that illustrates Murphy’s Law that if anything that can go wrong will and at the worst possible time, the film does end beautifully on an optimistic note, which almost saves the film. One plus of the movie is French composer Alexandre Desplat’s score that includes some suspense music as heard in a typical Hitchcock film.

SUBURBICON premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to mixed reviews.  Still, it is an interesting failure, and by no means a dull piece despite its slow pacing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBezc1S1BAQ

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1997 Movie Review: GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997

 

GOOD WILL HUNTING MOVIE POSTER
GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Robin Williams
Review by David D

SYNOPSIS:

Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT, has a gift for mathematics which is discovered, and a psychologist tries to help him with his gift and the rest of his life.

REVIEW:

If you can put aside the rumor that William Goldman doctored the Oscar winning script for Good Willing Hunting AND that it features funnyman Robin Williams in a serious role, you are in an excellent two hours of viewing.

Written by a young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the story focuses on a young prodigy named Will Hunting. Will (aptly played by Matt Damon and nominated for an Academy Award) is a genius foster kid that works as a janitor in a prestigious university (MIT) in South Boston. Ben Affleck plays his best friend, Chuckie.

The plot focuses on the discovery of Will’s genius and other people attempts to either use or save him from himself. Will Hunting, on the other hand, has plans of his own.

Robin William pulls in a great performance as Will’s therapist (Sean), pushing him past the anger and sarcasm, to discover what his life is really all about.

This film works on couple of levels. As a viewer, we admire Will’s photographic memory and his uncanny ability to solve incredibly complicated math problems with ease, but at the same time resent the fact that he takes these abilities for granted. The audience musters the requisite ‘If I had that kind of ability I would…’ rhetoric but the script and director ask a much harder question ‘How do we define happiness?’

Will wants a simple life; he doesn’t want the complications of his genius. His actions betray his words as he voluntarily studies late into the night on various subjects, espouses classic lines from English texts and solves mathematical problems on a university blackboard without being asked. Inside, there is a person wanting to break free.

The another level is questioning whether a person is chained to their past. Will was shuffled & abuse from foster home to foster home, and because of this, very wary of human closeness and contact. It is akin to the sting we feel when we fall in and out of love. He is chained to his past because of the anger he still feels towards these betrayals.

His session with Sean (Robin Williams) also belies his true desires. With Sean as his therapist, Will is critical, confrontational and always on the defensive. Fortunately, Sean never pushes too far and because of this understanding, a critical bound is formed between them. Will has a distrust of adults because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of a foster father – one of the many reasons he distances himself from figures of authority.

Will spends most of his time with his friends who would ‘lay down their life for him’. They provide the only human closeness that Will feels towards anyone. When a mathematician Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) saves Will from a stretch in prison, Will can only thank him with harsh words and scorn.

During Will’s sessions with Sean, he learns that it is ok to take a chance and falls in love with Skylar (Minnie Driver). This relationship has all the hallmarks of defeat as we learn that Will cannot deal with the closeness that comes from trusting someone.

This last plot point is truly what the film hinges on: Will’s inability to trust because of his past. The final reel is emotional and satisfying. We see the journey that Will takes both on an emotional and physical level; from a wounded, cornered animal to a person that realizes hurt is a part of life. As an audience we feel for Will and participate in his struggle to reconcile his past feelings with his chance at a better future and happiness.

GOOD WILL HUNTING.jpg

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: DOWNSIZING (USA 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Downsizing Poster
Trailer

A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.

Director:

Alexander Payne

Stars:

Matt DamonChristoph WaltzHong Chau
 

DOWNSIZING, a film combining several genres offers the solution to the world’s problem of overpopulation.

If people can be reduced in size to a thousandth of their original, many of the world problems could be solved. People will only eat, use and dispose much, much less product. When science finally achieved the success of downsizing, many colonies were begun.

So, Matt Damon and wife opt to be reduced and live in their new reduced size colony for monetary benefit. Things never go as expected, as in a similar film long time back in Michael Crichton’s sci-fi WESTWORLD.

DOWNSIZING contains a script written by Payne and Jim Taylor that is occasionally brilliant with lots of attention to details. The film does not go into thriller territory but into more ambitious aims. Payne’s social satire does not fully work and ends up too ambitious for its own good.

Still, the film is engaging from start to finish to a large part to Damon’s performance with help from a host of impressive stars (Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin, and Neil Patrick Harris). Better a film that with high aims that falters that a minimalist film with no faults.

The special effects and cinematography are also amazing. Shot in Toronto and around the fiords of Norway.

DOWNSIZING

Happy Birthday: Matt Damon

mattdamon.jpgMatt Damon

Born: October 8, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Married to:
Luciana Barroso (9 December 2005 – present) (3 children)

Some people get into this business and they’re so afraid to lose anything. They try to protect their position like clinging to a beachhead. These actors end up making really safe choices. I never wanted to go that route. If I go down, I’m going down swinging. I know that’s the way Heath Ledger feels and Ben Affleck feels the same way, too. We want to take the big swings.

Good Will Hunting
1997
dir. by Gus Van Sant
starring
Damon
Robin Williams
DOGMADogma
1999
dir. Kevin Smith
Starring
Ben Affleck
Damon
Salma Hayek
The Legend of Bagger VanceThe Legend of Bagger Vance
dir. Robert Redford
Stars:
Will Smith
Matt Damon
Ocean's ElevenOcean’s Eleven
2001
dir. Soderbergh
starring
George Clooney
Brad Pitt
Damon
THE BOURNE IDENTITYThe Bourne Identity
2002
dir. Doug Liman
Starring
Damon
Franka Potente
The Bourne SupremacyThe Bourne Supremacy
2004
dir. Paul Greengrass
Cast
Matt Damon
Brian Cox
THE BROTHERS GRIMMThe Brothers Grimm
2005
dir. Terry Gilliam
Cast
Matt Damon
Heath Ledger
THE DEPARTEDThe Departed
2006
dir. Martin Scorsese
Starring
Damon
Leonardo DiCaprio
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUMThe Bourne Ultimatum
2007
dir. Paul Greengrass
Starring
Damon
Julia Stiles
PONYO Movie PosterPonyo
2009
dir. Hayao Miyazaki
Voices by
Blanchett
Matt Damon
Liam Neeson
Ocean's ThirteenOcean’s Thirteen
2007
dir.Steven Soderbergh
starring
George Clooney
Brad Pitt
Damon
THE INFORMANT Movie PosterThe Informant
dir. Soderbergh
Starring
Matt Damon
Tony Hale
Patton Oswalt
Green Zone Movie PosterGreen Zone
MOVIE REVIEW
dir. Paul Greengrass
Stars
Matt Damon
Jason Isaacs
The Adjustment BureauThe Adjustment Bureau
dir. George Nolfi
Stars
Matt Damon
Blunt
HEREAFTERHEREAFTER
dir. Clint Eastwood
Stars:
Matt Damon
Cécile De France
INVICTUS Movie PosterInvictus
dir. Clint Eastwood
Stars:
Morgan Freeman
Matt Damon
True GritTrue Grit
dir. Coen Brothers
Stars:
Jeff Bridges
Matt Damon
MOVIE POSTERCONTAGION
dir. Steven Soderbergh
Stars:
Matt Damon
Kate Winslet
MOVIE POSTERHAPPY FEET TWO
dir. George Miller
Stars:
Elijah Wood
Robin Williams
MOVIE POSTERWE BOUGHT A ZOO
dir. Cameron Crowe
Stars:
Matt Damon
Scarlett Johansson
MOVIE POSTERPROMISED LAND
2012
dir. Gus Van Sant
Stars:
Matt Damon
John Krasinski
MOVIE POSTERSAVING PRIVATE RYAN
1998
dir. Steven Spielberg
Stars:
Tom Hanks
Tom Sizemore
MOVIE POSTERTHE MONUMENTS MEN
2013
dir. George Clooney
Stars:
Cate Blanchett
Matt Damon
MOVIE POSTERELYSIUM
2013
dir. Neill Blomkamp
Stars:
Matt Damon
Jodie Foster
MOVIE POSTERTHE GOOD SHEPHERD
2006
dir. Robert DeNiro
Stars:
Matt Damon
Angelina Jolie
MOVIE POSTERTHE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
1999
dir. Anthony Minghella
Stars:
Matt Damon
Jude Law

TAKE A LOOK AT 100 PHOTOS OF MATT DAMON

SEE – 2010 PHOTO

SEE – 2011 PHOTO

SEE – ABS PHOTO

SEE – AND BEN AFFLECK PHOTO

SEE – AND BRAD PIT PHOTO

SEE – AND EMILY BLUNT PHOTO

SEE – AND FAMILY PHOTO

SEE – AND LEONARDO DICAPRIO PHOTO

SEE – AND LUCIANA PHOTO

SEE – AND MARK WAHLBERG PHOTO

SEE – ANIMATION PHOTO

SEE – ARENA PHOTO

SEE – AS A WOMAN PHOTO

SEE – AS JASON BOURNE PHOTO

SEE – ATHLETE PHOTO

SEE – AUTOGRAPH PHOTO

SEE – BABY PHOTO

SEE – BALD PHOTO

SEE – BEACH PHOTO

SEE – BASKETBALL GAME PHOTO

SEE – BEDROOM PHOTO

SEE – BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTO

SEE – BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO

SEE – BLONDE PHOTO

SEE – BODY PHOTO

SEE – CALENDAR PHOTO

SEE – CAR PHOTO

SEE – CARICATURE PHOTO

SEE – CARTOON PHOTO

SEE – CHILD PHOTO

SEE – CLINT EASTWOOD PHOTO

SEE – CLOSE UP PHOTO

SEE – DETAILS PHOTO

SEE – EARS PHOTO

SEE – ESQUIRE PHOTO

SEE – EW PHOTO

SEE – EYEBROWS PHOTO

SEE – EYES PHOTO

SEE – FACE PHOTO

SEE – FAMILY PHOTO

SEE – FASHION PHOTO

SEE – FAT PHOTO

SEE – FEET PHOTO

SEE – GIA PHOTO

SEE – GIRLFRIEND PHOTO

SEE – GLASSES PHOTO

SEE – GQ PHOTO

SEE – HAIR PHOTO

SEE – HAIRSTYLE PHOTO

SEE – HANDSOME PHOTO

SEE – HARVARD PHOTO

SEE – HAWAII PHOTO

SEE – HEADSHOT PHOTO

SEE – HIGH SCHOOL PHOTO

SEE – HOT PHOTO

SEE – JEANS PHOTO

SEE – LIPS PHOTO

SEE – LONG HAIR PHOTO

SEE – MINNIE DRIVER PHOTO

SEE – MODEL PHOTO

SEE – MOVIE POSTER PHOTO

SEE – MUSCLES PHOTO

SEE – MUSTACHE PHOTO

SEE – NECK PHOTO

SEE – NO SHIRT PHOTO

SEE – NOSE PHOTO

SEE – ON THE STREET PHOTO

SEE – OSCAR PHOTO

SEE – PORTRAIT PHOTO

SEE – POSE PHOTO

SEE – POSTER PHOTO

SEE – PROFILE PHOTO

SEE – PUPPET PHOTO

SEE – RAINMAKER PHOTO

SEE – RED CARPET PHOTO

SEE – RED SOX PHOTO

SEE – RIPLEY PHOTO

SEE – RIPPED PHOTO

SEE – RUGBY PHOTO

SEE – SEXIEST MAN ALIVE PHOTO

SEE – SEXY PHOTO

SEE – SHOES PHOTO

SEE – SMILE PHOTO

SEE – SMOKING PHOTO

SEE – STOMACH PHOTO

SEE – STYLE PHOTO

SEE – SUIT PHOTO

SEE – SUNGLASSES PHOTO

SEE – SURFING PHOTO

SEE – SWIMSUIT PHOTO

SEE – T SHIRT PHOTO

SEE – TEAM AMERICA PHOTO

SEE – TEENAGER PHOTO

SEE – TUXEDO PHOTO

SEE – UNDERWEAR PHOTO

SEE – VANITY FAIR PHOTO

SEE – WALK OF FAME PHOTO

SEE – WALLPAPER PHOTO

SEE – WIFE PHOTO

SEE – WIFE BIKINI PHOTO

SEE – WORKOUT PHOTO

SEE – YEARBOOK PHOTO

SEE – YOUNG PHOTO

WATCH TOP MATT DAMON MOVIE SCENES

DAMON RIPS PALIN – Watch “CBS News RAW”: Actor Damon criticizes Alaska governor Sarah Palin, citing her inexperience in national politics and comparing her candidacy to “a bad Disney movie.”

TEAM AMERICA – Watch all of Damon’s puppet scenes from TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE

BOURNE IDENTITY – Top 100 movie kills. Watch all the fight scenes from the first Bourne movie. Fights that usually end in death

KICKBACKS IN CASH – Watch THE INFORMANT. Over Chinese, Mark reveals he’s been receiving cash kickbacks from ADM.

SEEING THE FIELD – Watch classic scene from THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Will Smith teaches Damon how to get into the zone and swing the way you’re supposed to swing.

ON KIMMEL – #5 interview of the 2000s. Watch Damon have a tirade on the Jimmy Kimmel show. It was a setup but it’s funny nevertheless

IDEALISTIC – Classic movie scene from Good Will Hunting with Robin Williams and Damon. Will Hunting gets called on his lack of life experience

DOGMA – The boardroom scene with Damon and Ben Affleck as banished angels Loki and Bartleby.

BRAD AND ANGELINA – Watch Damon do spot on impression of Matthew McConaughey

DAMON DOES MCCONAUGHEY – Watch Bill Maher interview Pitt on August 16 2009.

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