Posts tagged ‘Ben Affleck’

May 24, 2011

“Chasing Amy” – So why is her name Alyssa?

"It's not about who you love, but how"? Really? I think male or female might matter to some people. Just saying.

“Chasing Amy” 8/10

My Kevin Smith glacial marathon continues with the sexually charged “Chasing Amy” and I actually really liked it. Here Smith finally learns how to mix direction and a budget with his pop referential, super smart writing. It’s what I’ve been waiting for him to do and he figures it out movie #3. Not too shabby.

If you didn’t know, his hipster named Holden and Banky are two comic book writers or inkers or whatever. A bearded Ben Affleck is Holden, the relatable one, and Jason Lee plays Banky the Kevin Smith stand in of the movie (i.e. the bag of dick). Holden falls in love with local lesbian Alyssa, played by the girl with the most annoying voice ever, Joey Lauren Adams. Things actually turn into a bit of a sex comedy while having a great running commentary on sexuality and what sex means to different people without being preachy and awful. Alyssa is one of the least hate-able lesbian feminists out there for which there should be actual awards given out.

Holden and Alyssa ride a series of emotional ups and downs, as happens in any rom-com. It’s Banky that saves this from your generic “lesbian dates a straight guy” (whaaaaat?) movie. In the best friend role, he gets some serious comic mileage. There’s also a gay black guy who moonlights as a black power comic book writer played expertly by the clearly forgotten Dwight Ewell. It’s this colorful cast of characters, and the omni-present Jay and Silent Bob, that remind you you’re watching a Kevin Smith movie. That and the incredible dialogue. It’s like if Aaron Sorkin smoked a lot of weed and bought a heart at Target for a buck 95. Things get emotional, but not too bad.

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April 7, 2011

Movie Review: “Mallrats” – A shaky step in my Kevin Smith Marathon

Fake Cartooning = Cool?

“Mallrats” (**)

As I finally get to the next installment of my Kevin Smith marathon, his movie Red State has been getting relatively rave reviews, which I feel validates my marathon – success! However, that film seems to be apart from the Askewniverse, Kevin Smith’s movie realm. Mallrats, clearly roots itself into that universe very deeply with a couple related characters and a few related themes.

Apparently the Orange Julius of Kevin Smith’s writing prowess was closed, and those juices stopped flowing. Mallrats was uninspired and a definite regression in writing from Clerks. His jokes were lazy and drab, featuring riffs mostly on Star Wars and Spiderman. That’s not a very big step into the nerd universe, although that might just be a frame of reference thing. So I hear, Star Wars was unpopular before Phantom Menace made the first one retro and cool again, and all comics beside Batman and Superman were practically pop-culture pariahs. So I’ll pretend that the unoriginal and flaccid comedy were stepping-stones to greater phenomena.

The major difference between this movie and Clerks, however, is not the poor writing, or the lack of an existential theme (really Kevin? A true love message? Lame). In fact, it’s the money thrown at him to make this movie. It’s clear that this movie has a real budget and is actually pretty visually interesting. There are a lot of great visual gags with the Wile E. Coyote-esque blueprints for Jay and Silent Bob’s mayhem, there are batman costumes, some pretty cool opening credits, and a third nipple.

I don’t think it’s necessary to give any sort of plot review, because it takes about a sentence to say (fine. Two guys get dumped and use different and ultimately both successful tactics to win back their girlfriends. Spoiler Alert?). The most enjoyable parts of the story were the B plots. Ethan Suplee was hilarious as Willam, an angry worthless guy, like most of Smith’s men, but with a unique goal – to see the sailboat in the magic picture. So true, so ‘90s, and the little kids really made his story line work. Jason Lee is also unrecognizable as Brodie, TS’s best friend. I guess he sounds like Jason Lee and acts a little lake Jason Lee, but wow has he really matured as a performer. He’s definitely the Randal of this movie, but his lines sting a lot less and his quirks are so much more subdued. But he’s got the physical comedy down, and was way more tolerable than the swishy haired Jeremy London.

Total Stranger

Jason Lee.

I can’t write a review about Mallrats without mentioning Ben Affleck. What an inauspicious role pre-Good Will Hunting. He does his job well, and definitely as a little extra sparkle to him, but no more than Joey Lauren Adams. Who knew he would be the breakout star of this film?

Ultimately, I have hope that after two imperfect movies, one of these Kevin Smith features (not Cop Out) will be a real winner. Clerks had an extremely strong screenplay. Mallrats was visually interesting. Maybe, just maybe Smith has married the two in one of his future movies for a really effective and complete film. Fingers crossed.

October 21, 2010

Life and Times: Damon in Demand

In honor of Matt Damon’s new film Hereafter AND True Grit, I decided to feature him as this weeks Life and Times recipient. And he is truly an interesting one. Born on October 8th, 1970 (Happy belated 40th!) in Cambridge, MA, his life took the course of many who live there – he attended Harvard University. He dropped out to pursue his acting career, a move that while risky, clearly paid off. After a couple of less than stellar roles, he decided to make his own luck.

That's when the big breakthrough happened. He and his distant cousin Ben Affleck, maybe you've heard of him, wrote the screenplay for Good Will Hunting. After the movie became a sleeper phenomenon, Damon proved to the world that he was here to stay with a string of lucrative roles.

Since Damon’s movie star life is, well, kind of boring and his big Hollywood narrative was the plot of Good Will Hunting, I’ll just include my favorite smattering of random facts.

– He quit smoking with the help of a hypnotist.

– He founded the H2O Africa Foundation, the Not On Our Watch Campaign, and is a prominent supporter of the ONE campaign fighting AIDS in Africa.

And let’s take a look at his awards:

2 Acting Academy Award nominations

1 Writing Academy Award win

3 Emmy nominations for producing “Project Greenlight”

4 Acting Golden Globe nominations

1 Writing Golden Globe win

5 Screen Actors Guild nominations

I think we can tell that he’s very well respected and is just about due for a few big acting wins.

My least favorite thing about Damon is that in trailers, they always say starring Academy Award Winner Matt Damon, but his Oscar was for Original Screenplay… I’m not taking acting chops away from Damon, but I do see it as a bit of a lie.

But maybe the best thing about Matt Damon is that he’s not afraid to make fun of himself. I think his response to his “Jimmy Kimmel Controversy” says enough, but I’ll also include what may be the best cameo in any movie ever made. That’s right Bill Murray… better than Zombieland.

And now for the composite top 10 list of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, Metacritic, and Flickchart. And this one’s a doozy. We have a tie for tenth AND a tie for first place! Which is why I’ve put my first poll question up – to settle this tie.

1. Saving Private Ryan

1. The Departed

3. The Bourne Ultimatum

4. Good Will Hunting

5. The Bourne Identity

6. Ponyo

7. The Bourne Supremacy

8. Courage Under Fire

9. Chasing Amy

10. Ocean’s Eleven

10. The Talented Mr. Ripley