Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Behind the Candelabra, Emmys, Directorial Debut)

Though Matt Damon has had a fairly lengthy Hollywood career, his Emmy nomination for lead actor as Scott Thorson, Liberace's lover, in HBO's "Behind the Candelabra" is his first. Of course, that's because Damon usually focuses on the big screen.

You may recognize him from movies like "The Bourne Identity" and, most recently, "Elysium." He's also that guy who wrote a script with his buddy, Ben Affleck, and won an Oscar for it. Surely, you remember "Good Will Hunting."

Then there's the roles he'll always be remembered for no matter what he does. The biggest of those is likely 1997's "Good Will Hunting," which introduced Matt to the world on a grand scale. While he'd had several screen credits before that point, everyone know who Damon and Affleck were after that movie. Source:

Matt Damon and Michael Douglas won't just be competing for an Emmy. They'll be handing one out, too. Emmys producers announced the pair as this year's first presenters Tuesday. Damon and Douglas are both nominated for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie for Behind the Candelabra. The HBO biopic about pianist Liberace's affair with Scott Thorson has 15 nominations in all. Source:

"Eventually stardom is going to go away from me. It goes away from everybody and all you have in the end is to be able to look back and like the choices you made." -Matt Damon

Matt Damon: From Harvard to Good Will Hunting and Beyond (by Jessica Jayne)

Matt Damon attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School where he was proudly a disciplined student. But his first two years was “terrifying” because of his shortness during that time. Though he did well at school, there were lonely periods in his adolescence. He has described feeling “such pain in wanting to belong somewhere and not belonging.” When he was 14, he dreamed of going to the Yale School of Drama to become an actor, but he ended up at Harvard instead. He found joy in performing as an actor in some high school theater productions, citing his drama teacher at Rindge and Latin, Gerry Speca, as an artistic influence. After high school, Matt was accepted into Harvard University as an English major in the fall of 1988. He was supposed to graduate with the class of 1992, but he had an idea that he wouldn’t actually graduate. Aside from appearing in school plays such as 'Burn This in Winthrop House', Matt usually skipped classes to pursue minor acting projects, including 'Rising Sun' (1993) and prep-school drama, 'School Ties' (1992).

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck struggled through a series of made-for-TV roles. They had shared a run-down one bedroom in Los Angeles during the lean times and also shared similar experiences in facing audition rejections.

Good Will Hunting received universal critical acclaim and was a financial success. It grossed over US$225 million during its theatrical run with only a modest $10 million budget. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, and won two: Best Supporting Actor for Williams and Best Original Screenplay for Affleck and Damon. Howard Zinn was mentioned in the script of Good Will Hunting and years later Damon would narrate in Zinn’s biographical film 'You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train' and an audio version of 'A People’s History of the United States'.

Lisa Schwarzbaum particularly noted Matt’s portrayal of his character in 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' (1999): “Damon is at once an obvious choice for the part and a hard sell to audiences soothed by his amiable boyishness… the façade works surprisingly well when Damon holds that gleaming smile just a few seconds too long, his Eagle Scout eyes fixed just a blink more than the calm gaze of any non-murdering young man. And in that opacity we see horror.”

Director Doug Liman had many actors in mind for the role of Jason Bourne, including Russell Crowe and Sylvester Stallone but finally settled on Matt Damon. The director learned that Matt understood that though the film would have its share of action, the main focus was on character and plot. This would be the first time that Matt would be playing a physically demanding role though he insisted on performing many of the stunts himself.

'The Bourne Identity' was both a critical and commercial success. Roger Ebert praised “Damon’s ability to be focused and sincere.” Film critic Walter Chaw also gave praises for the film’s pacing and action sequences, describing them as “kinetic, fair, and intelligent, every payoff packaged with a moment’s contemplation crucial to the creation of tension.” Charles Taylor also gave a positive review, saying, “The Bourne Identity is something of an anomaly among big-budget summer blockbusters: a thriller with some brains and feeling behind it, more attuned to story and character than to spectacle.”

Between 'The Bourne Identity' and its sequel 'The Bourne Supremacy', Matt Damon starred in three films. One was the comedy 'Stuck on You' in 2003 where Matt and actor Greg Kinnear portrayed the roles of conjoined twins. Matt starred in the equally unsuccessful 2004 film 'EuroTrip' as the lead singer of a college band. He also appeared briefly in 'Jersey Girl' starring his pal Ben Affleck.

Matt Damon was named "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 2007. He dismissed the award.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in 'The Adjustment Bureau' (2011) directed by George Nolfi

After 'True Grit,' Matt Damon starred in the 2011 romantic action thriller 'The Adjustment Bureau' based on the Philip K. Dick short story, “Adjustment Team.” Here he takes on the role of Brooklyn Congressman David Norris who unsuccessfully runs for the United States Senate. And then David met Elise, a character played by Emily Blunt.

He fell in love with her and wanted to be with her forever. But there was one major problem: David was not supposed to end up with Elise. Before long, men in fedora hats and suits began appearing and doing everything to keep the couple apart.

Matt Damon had a two-year relationship with Winona Ryder which ended in 2000. Winona said (in an interview with Black Book magazine), “Matt couldn't be a greater, nicer guy. I'm really lucky that I'm on good terms with him.” Matt Damon hadn’t much luck with the famous women (i.e. Minnie Driver) he dated and kept looking. In 2003, he was filming the Farrelly brothers comedy 'Stuck on You' in Miami when he met Argentine-born Luciana Barroso, where she was working as a bartender.

After they met, Matt was done looking. The couple had become inseparable then. Lucy, as he prefers to call her, and her 7-year-old daughter, Alexia, from a previous relationship had been with Matt throughout the European shoot of 'Ocean’s Twelve'. But the big test came in 2004 when Matt brought Lucy home to meet his family and friends in Boston.

Recently they’ve renewed their marriage vows in St. Lucia (April 13, 2013). They’ve had around 50 guests for the sunset ceremony. A whole luxury hotel in “Saint Lucia” was booked for a reported $600,000. Damon vowed to his wife, “to keep my sense of humor… to defend you in public and correct you in private, to hold the handheld shower when you're rinsing the dye out of your hair even though you say I don't do it right, to always respect your views even when we disagree — like about the fact that there's a right way and a wrong way to hold a handheld shower… to make a fool out of myself in front of you— but not too often… to be the dad our four beautiful children deserve, to be your best friend, and no matter what unpredictable direction life takes us in, to be right next to you loving you with everything I have.”

Matt and Lucy married in a civil ceremony on December 9, 2005 at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau in New York City. Matt became officially the stepfather of Alexia. The couple’s first child together, Isabella, was born on June 11, 2006. Their second daughter, Gia Zavala, was born on August 20, 2008, and their third child, daughter Stella, was born on October 20, 2010. Their first two daughters were born in Miami and the third was born in New York. -"Matt Damon: From Harvard to Good Will Hunting and Beyond" (The Incredible Hunks) by Jessica Jayne (2012)

Matt Damon May Make His Directorial Debut With The Conspiracy Thriller 'A Foreigner': Based on a New Yorker article titled "A Murder Foretold," written by David Grann, the film will tell the true story of a man down in Guatemala "who leaves behind a videotape after his death implicating the country's president and first lady." The adaptation is being written by Chris Terrio, who earned near-universal acclaim and won an Academy Award for his 'Argo' screenplay.

One of Damon's greatest assets going into his directorial debut is the simple fact that he's had the chance to work with some of the best filmmakers in Hollywood over the course of his career. The star has gone on record saying that each project he takes on is like going to film school, and if that's the case he has had some of the best professors imaginable, having worked with Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, the Coen brothers, Steven Spielberg, Gus Van Sant, Cameron Crowe, Paul Greengrass and many, many more. If he can successfully adapt what he learned from all of those film sets into his own movie we should be in for a real treat.

If Damon is lucky he'll carve out a directing career even half as successful as Affleck's. The latter star completely turned his career around with Gone Baby Gone in 2007 and has only managed to improve with each new feature. Damon's career doesn't really need much rejuvenation, as he remains one of Hollywood's most reliable stars when it comes to quality, but it will be fascinating to see him enter into a whole new era of his career. While The Trade and Father Daughter Time seemed to fall apart, we really hope 'A Foreigner' sticks and that we're now only a couple years away from seeing it on the big screen. Source:

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Women's Roles in Classic Hollywood

Esther Williams and Gene Kelly in "Take me out to the Ball Game" (1949) directed by Busby Berkeley

"The All-American man wears a coat of high finance, But the All-American girl wears the pants." -Lyrics from "Take me out to the Ball Game" (1949)

Loretta Young and Alan Ladd in "China" (1943) directed by John Farrow

"I forgot how much trouble an American woman can be," says Alan Ladd in 'China', and there's movie truth in those words. The American woman on film is not a weak creature. She may have a weakness, and it can bring her down; she may be confused and worried, which will cause her to make foolish mistakes; but she is not weak and she is not stupid. Men constantly have to cope with her. She can wreck their dinosaur models, outshoot them in a rifle contest, poison their mushrooms, and reduce them to gibbering idiots. She can, and she does. The American woman on film is too hot to handle. Sometimes the movies make it look as if all of American male culture is focused only on the task of figuring out how to control a force that is stronger than it is, stronger than politics, stronger even than nature: the force of the American woman. 'China' does not end in a close-up of a romantic embrace between Ladd and Young. It doesn't even end by lingering over the dead body of Alan Ladd, the sacrificial hero. It ends with a close-up of Loretta Young's face.

Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) directed by Billy Wilder

Sexual agenda regarding women takes all forms, from Marilyn Monroe standing over a grate with her skirt blowing up around her to nun Deborah Kerr sleeping alongside marine Robert Mitchum on an isolated island. When Susan Hayward does a wild Gypsy dance in 'Thunder in the Sun' (1959), she is watched by Jeff Chandler. It is a clear metaphor in which a man observes a woman letting herself go, cavorting freely about as an indicator of what she might be like in the act of sex. ("I like the way you dance," leers Chandler.) 'Thunder in the Sun' also has Chandler watch Hayward when she goes down to the river to bathe, swimming naked under his hidden gaze. (This, in fact, is pretty much all the action and excitement there is in the movie.)

In 'China Girl' (1942), Lynn Bari comes to rescue George Montgomery from the Japanese, and the two of them act out a metaphorically abusive relationship. Bari is carrying on her body the gun Montgomery will need to escape. She needs to pass the gun to him in front of his guards. To do so, she first triggers his jealousy. He spits out, "You can't wait for me to be dead so you can take up with these monkeys." She slaps him. He slaps back, hard.

Rosalind Russell in "Tell It to the Judge" (1949) directed by Norman Foster

In 'Tell It to the Judge' (1949), Rosalind Russell can't cook breakfast at the lighthouse. Robert Cummings has thoughtfully provided her with a nice fish to fry, but she can't clean it, cut off its head, or cook it. The viewer can watch him watch her fail and then triumphantly take it away and cook it himself. Spencer Tracy watches with similar amused tolerance in Woman of the Year (1942), while Katharine Hepburn, a world famous newspaperwoman, tries to make pancakes. Even a cup of coffee is beyond her ability. As Hepburn destroys the kitchen, Tracy shows us how to see her incompetence, and then he rescues her. (At least he has the grace to say that anyone can make breakfast. It's her he wants, not a cook.)

Claudette Colbert, Brian Aherne and Ray Milland in "Skylark" (1941) directed by Mark Sandrich.

In "Skylark" (1941), Claudette Colbert falls on her face, slipping all around the floor, as she tries to cook fish in a boat's galley. It is perhaps easy to make too much of these humiliation scenes. In all three cases, the women get their men anyway, and they do not fundamentally change themselves. Russell remains a judge, Colbert remains an elegant wife, and Tracy even lectures Hepburn on the folly of her having felt she should cook.

Comparing Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard, two stars who often played elegant women in romantic comedies, shows how subtle variations emerge that draw on possible audience differences. No matter what happened to Colbert, she maintained her cool charm, her throaty chuckle, and her ability to emerge a winner.

Even when she was playing a bedraggled poetess on the lain in "It's a Wonderful World" (1939) or was stepping out into a torrential downpour with nothing but a newspaper to shield her gold lamé (Midnight, 1939), she looked perfectly turned out, neat, trim, and competent. Whatever it was, Colbert never stepped in it over her shoe tops. No doubt women yearned for that level of subtle mastery and enjoyed Colbert's triumphs.

Lombard, on the other hand, didn't keep herself above it. She fell into it, taking the pratfall, but remaining a good sport. She might shriek and kick at a man (as she did to John Barrymore in Twentieth Century, 1934) and she might be socked on the jaw (as she was by Fredric March in 'Nothing Sacred', 1937), but somehow she managed to make it look desirable, appropriate, and not demeaning. Although both Lombard and Colbert played in dramas and were considered serious actresses, they were more appreciated for their roles in these sophisticated comedies about women.

Films provide other answers to the question of "What do women want?" "I want things!" cries out Peggy Cummins in "Gun Crazy" (1949), by way of explaining why she and her beloved should embark on a life of crime together. "I want things... big things!" She utters the battle cry of movie females, the anguished bleat for money, sex, freedom, clothes. Give me things. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, say movies, but a gal's gotta have what a gal's gotta have, and what a gal's gotta have is things. When women don't have the things they want, they become unhappy, suicidal, even murderous.

"This dime-store china," complains Sheila Bromley to Ronald Reagan in 'Accidents Will Happen' (1939), "it's making an old woman out of me."

Rosa Moline (Bette Davis in "Beyond the Forest", 1949) wakes up in her bed with a satisfied, sensual smile on her face, her equivalent of the Scarlett O'Hara morning after. Realizing that she has indeed aborted and can now marry her lover, she moves deliciously in the bed and picks up her mirror and lipstick to make herself presentable. Her joy is shortlived, as she soon begins to "burn up" inside. After making herself up like a grotesque caricature of a woman, she staggers downtown to board the night train to Chicago in one last attempt to get out of Loyalton, Wisconsin, and to get free of a typical female life. As she approaches the station, the train sits on the tracks, smoking and hissing and belching like the Train to Hell rather than the night train to the Windy City. The train appears to be waiting for her, but like the treacherous male symbol it is, it pulls out and leaves her, abandoning her to her fate. After the train moves out, viewers see Rosa, lying dead alongside the track, having died from the pain of being a woman.

In a perceptive article on the film's director, King Vidor, Eric Sherman says that Vidor "seems not at all concerned that we understand why she [Rosa] is this way," meaning why Rosa Moline is evil, desperate, murderous. Sherman is correct, but from a woman's point of view I would say that females in the audience understand exactly why Rosa Moline is "this way." No construction of an explanation is necessary other than her being a female character played by a woman. Rosa Moline fought on to the end, gallant but misguided, unwilling to accept repression and restriction.

Rosa Moline has called her pregnancy "the mark of death," which is what it will turn out to be for her. She's like Michael Corleone or Frankenstein's monster or Cody Jarrett. She may kill. She may look ugly. She may be something for the birds. But she never quits. Rosa Moline is an American hero.

Sally Forrest and Claire Trevor in "Hard, Fast And Beautiful" (1951) directed by Ida Lupino

Like 'Mildred Pierce' before her, Claire Trevor slaps her own child silly in 'Hard, Fast And Beautiful'. The destructive mother ends up losing her daughter's love and respect, and she also loses her husband.

As she sits at his hospital bedside, the two of them discuss Trevor's life. It's a kind of last chance for the husband to pass judgment, since he will soon die: -"Everything was for Florence, wasn't it? You made yourself believe that, but it was all for you. Nobody but you." -Millie: "No! That isn't true," Will Farley: -"You never gave love. That's the most important thing. You took it, used it, but you never gave an ounce of it to anybody."

Having delivered the death blow to her sense of herself, he suddenly goes as hard as nails, turning into a different man. "Beat it, Millie," he tells her. In the end, Trevor is left totally alone in the frame, in the dark of night in an empty tennis stadium. She sits alone, with abandoned programs and papers blowing about her feet, and nothing but the sound of tennis balls being batted back and forth. This is the fate of the destructive mother, the image warns. -"A Woman's View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960" by Jeanine Basinger

Monday, September 02, 2013

Jake Gyllenhaal & Matt Damon connection

Jake Gyllenhaal chews on his iPhone headphones while walking around the Soho neighborhood on Thursday afternoon (August 29) in New York City. The 32-year-old actor just secured an appearance on Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio, according to The Wrap. Jake‘s appearance on the show, which is hosted by James Lipton, will air on Thursday, September 19 at 8/7c. On the episode, he discussed his wide range of films, including the upcoming Prisoners, as well as his famous Hollywood family and his relationship with the late Heath Ledger. Source:

"The nice thing about ["The Zero Theorem"] is Christoph [Waltz], thanks to Quentin [Tarantino]’s films, has become bankable to a certain level and that was fantastic and that’s how we made it; not because of the ideas but because Christoph and I were able to work together. And then I sweetened the load even more with friends like Tilda [Swinton], Matt Damon, and David Thewlis all coming into play. Source:

Heath Ledger and Matt Damon in "The Brothers Grimm" (2005) directed by Terry Gilliam

-I remember asking Heath Ledger after Brokeback Mountain, “How’d you do that scene with Jake?” —meaning the scene where they start ferociously kissing. He said, “Well, mate, I drank a half case of beer in my trailer.” I started laughing, and he goes, “No, I’m serious. I needed to just go for it. If you can’t do that, you’re not making the movie.” -Matt Damon in Playboy magazine

Hayden Christensen, Anna Paquin and Jake Gyllenhaal in "This Is Our Youth" (2002)

Casey Affleck, Summer Phoenix and Matt Damon, on Opening Night of "This Is Our Youth" (2002)

"This is our Youth" has seen a number of productions featuring notable film actors, many of whom were in their first stage role. At the Garrick Theatre in the West End, it featured Hayden Christensen, Matt Damon, Colin Hanks, and Chris Klein as Dennis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Casey Affleck, Kieran Culkin, and Freddie Prinze Jr. as Warren, and Anna Paquin, Summer Phoenix, Alison Lohman, Heather Burns as Jessica.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga, co-stars in "Source Code" (2011)

Vera Farmiga and Matt Damon at "The Departed" New York Premiere (2006)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal at Hamptons screening of "End of Watch", 2012

Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow attending "Contagion" premiere during the 68th Venice International Film Festival, 2011.

Matt Damon "Something Else" video

Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem (first clip)

The clip from Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem first appeared over at Entertainment Weekly, which included accompanying written commentary from Giliam.

The clip features Christoph Waltz as the film's lead character, Qohen Leth, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst works on a mysterious project aimed at discovering the purpose of existence -- or the lack thereof -- once and for all. However, it is only once he experiences the power of love and desire that he is able to understand his very reason for being.

Here's how Gilliam sets the scene: The scene is a man going to work and a man leaving the safety of his burnt out chapel and being attacked by the modern world with all of its noises and all of its advertising and all these things that confuse and confound and make us all crazy.

Matt Damon, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis, Lucas Hedges, Ben Whishaw and Tilda Swinton co-star and, as of right now, the film does not have a domestic distributor.

The Zero Theorem played the Venice Film Festival over the weekend and the only review I've taken the time to see is over at The Playlist where they weren't over the moon, but seemed to enjoy it. Source: