Tag Archives: Matthew McConaughey

Cinema Dispatch: Fishing for Answers in Serenity

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Serenity is owned by Aviron Pictures

So now that it’s been a week since Serenity graced theaters, you’ve all had a chance to go see it and get your mind blown or hear other people regale you with their stories of seeing the movie themselves!  When I went to go see it, I was coming down with a pretty nasty cold and perhaps that’s why I ended up liking the movie more than a lot of other people (it’s got a pretty abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes), but I do think that there’s something at least INTERESTING in the movie’s ideas even if it’s not the most coherent use of a wacky twist and a high concept I’ve seen in a movie.  Well everyone else has already given their unfiltered opinions on what the movie actually means and how well it pulls of its absurd twist, so why don’t I go ahead and give you mine!  First things first…

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Just What the Heck is Going on Here?

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Since we’re going to be analyzing some of the film’s themes, we might as well start with a spoiler filled recap of the entire narrative.  For the first half of the movie, we’re following Matthew McConaughey who’s on a small island named Plymouth and he’s obsessed with catching a tuna fish that he calls Justice.  During his meaningless existence of waking up, not catching the fish, and drinking himself to sleep at night, he gets visited by his ex-wife played by Anne Hathaway who offers him ten million to kill her utter scumbag of a husband played by Jason Clarke, and also he had a son named Patrick with Anne Hathaway and the two of them have been viciously abused by Jason Clarke.  This back and forth goes on for some time as McConaughey keeps hemming and hawing over whether he should do it, but the whole time something seems off.  Anne Hathaway seems to have jumped out of a noir thriller and Jason Clarke is an absurdly exaggerated caricature of a bad person; not to mention that there’s this one dude in a dorky suit trying to find McConaughey the whole time but always just misses him.  Is there something else going on here?  Well yes there is!  When the mystery man played by Jeremy Strong finally catches up to McConaughey, he offers him a super duper fish finding device to use that will hopefully catch him that tuna once and for all which would be a good way to spend an afternoon instead of maybe sort of killing a guy.  Not that Jeremy Strong somehow KNOWS anything about that!  Okay fine, he does.  McConaughey ends up getting him to spill some of the beans (the rest of the puzzle he puts together himself) and we find out that what we’ve been seeing up to this point has NOT been a charming little island, but instead a simulation.  That’s right!  We’re in the Matrix!  Okay, more specifically we are inside a video game.  Which video game pray tell?  Well it turns out that IN THE REAL WORLD McConaughey’s character is actually a dead army veteran who left behind a wife (Anne Hathaway) and a son (Patrick).  His wife remarried an abusive construction worker (Jason Clarke) and so he spends all his time programming this video game where his dad is still alive, his new dad is a dangerous mob connected monster instead of some abusive loser, and his mother is a wealthy femme fatale instead of… well we don’t really get an idea of what Real World Anne Hathaway is like, but I’m sure that Patrick put just as much exaggeration into her character as he did everything else.  Now things are starting to come together as the somewhat unbalanced way that the characters were drawn start to make sense from the perspective of a confused and angry teenager who is finding a way to escape the horrors of his real life.  This does raise a few questions however about whether Patrick is directly controlling McConaughey and whether or not he truly has any free will, but if we’re gonna let Wreck-it-Ralph slide on that stuff, I think we can let it slide here!  Anyway, McConaughey starts to question everything around him and begins to see where the “seams” are in the programming which starts to react in a rather hostile manner to his break in the routine.  His “role” in the game as it were is to catch the fish, and entertaining the idea of murdering someone is clearly going against the programming at which is why he’s getting the ire of the NPCs that populate the town who keep telling him he should just catch the fish, and he even runs into a few… let’s call them “traps” that are intended to keep him on the right path.  This is also a rather confusing point in the narrative as it’s clear that Patrick is the one programming all of this… but it’s also clear that the scenario here about McConaughey killing Jason Clarke is what he wants… so did he add this scenario to the game?  If so, why is the rest of the game telling McConaughey not to do it?  That is something I wish the movie had a better grasp on, but in any case, despite ALL the resistance he gets from the other NPCs and whatnot, he does manage to kill Jason Clarke in the most symbolically ridiculous way possible.  He takes him out on the boat, manages to get the Tuna called Justice onto one of his poles, and hands the pole to Jason Clarke without strapping him in properly which causes him to be pulled overboard and dragged down to the bottom of the sea… by Justice.  GET IT!?  This is where things take a dark turn as while this is going on, Patrick has taken a knife that his father once owned (a knife we see Virtual McConaughey use frequently in the movie) and stabs the REAL WORLD Jason Clarke to death off screen.  Now this raises questions as to whether or not these things were happening simultaneously, if McConaughey was being directly “controlled” by Patrick as he simulated killing his own step-dad or if this may have been some bug Patrick witnessed that inspired him to do it, but I won’t get diegetically nit-picky here because the thematic thru-line itself is rather consistent.  Patrick feels that he needs to TAKE JUSTICE by killing Jason Clarke, and that attitude is reflected in the game as well as this specific scenario he either intentionally made or just somehow managed to work its way into the code he already wrote.  The movie ends with Virtual McConaughey getting a phone call from Patrick who says he’s gonna rewrite the game, and moments later a Virtual Patrick shows up.  The two reunite, the credits roll, and the house lights turn on before anyone has a chance to really grasp just what the heck it is they witnessed!  Now as I said in my review, I did enjoy this movie before the big twist when it was just a run of the mill Cohen Brothers knock off, and I enjoyed it after the reveal in terms of understanding the metaphor and what they were trying to do with the concept.  Maybe it’s not particularly deep, but I did find at least a few neat ideas about video games and how we can relate to them with the text of the film, so let’s go over some of those now!

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Cinema Dispatch: Serenity

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Serenity and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aviron Pictures

Directed by Steven Knight

Independent of the movie itself, I’d just like to say that this is PROBABLY the worst January I’ve had in quite a few years.  Not only did I get the flu which knocked me out of commotion for about a week, I THEN got a really nasty cold that I’m dealing with right now as I try to push through the fog and sinus congestion to try and create cogent points about this movie which certainly could use a much clearer head to talk about.  Seriously, we started the month off right with a crappy horror film and a Shyamalan Greatest Hits piece, but now we’re getting THIS utterly absurd art piece!?  It’s way too early in the year and I’m way too sick to stay all that coherent, but maybe that’s the best way to truly experience this movie which, after all feels like a total fever dream!  Is this movie as good as everyone says and its qualities can shine through even if I saw it under less than ideal conditions, or was this the last thing I should have gone out to see when I barely had my wits about me?  Let’s find out!!

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fisherman on the small island of Plymouth who works with his friend Duke (Djimon Hounsou) to take rich jerks out on the ocean so they can catch big fish to brag about on Instagram or whatever.  Mostly he does this so that he can pay for the OTHER days he’s on the ocean looking for… HIM.  You know who I’m talking about!  That ONE FISH that has eluded our hero and has occupied all his thoughts since… THE INCIDENT.  After yet another unsuccessful chase for his Great White Whale, which is actually just a big Tuna Fish, he is greeted by his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) who has somehow tracked him down to this nowhere island and wants to make him an offer.  You see, Karen has since married this total monster named Frank (Jason Clarke) who abuses her as well as the son she had with Baker before they split up (Rafael Sayegh), but she can’t simply divorce him or run away because the guy has some serious mob connections.  For ten million dollars as well as ensuring that his son no longer grows up in an abusive household, she wants him to take Frank out on a fishing trip and throw him overboard.  Seems simple enough, but there’s a whole lot of grey area for things to go wrong and Baker is quite hesitant to carry out his ex-wife’s dirty work.  However, there might be more going on than meets the eye as this latest bit of drama seems to have stirred up something on the island of Plymouth that Baker either never noticed or chose to ignore before now; not to mention the sudden appearance of some dude in a suit (Jeremy Strong) who REALLY wants to get a sit down meeting with Baker about something urgent.  Is Karen being completely truthful about what is that she wants Baker to do, and can Baker pull off such a scheme if he needs to?  What is it that’s suddenly so off putting about the island, and is it in some way connected to the sudden reappearance of his ex-wife?  Just how many video essays will be made about the DEEP MEANING of this movie, and how many will actually make sense!?

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“ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Dark Tower

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The Dark Tower and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel

2007.  That’s when the first rumblings of this movie’s production started to surface which it’s been LANGUISHING in cinematic limbo for a decade now. Remember when Ron Howard was gonna turn the Dark Tower into a simultaneous Television/Film experience?  I sure do!  Now I love me some Stephen King, but The Dark Tower was one of those things that I just let pass me by and it seemed like for a while there that Hollywood was going to do the same, but Sony decided to take this ball and cross it over the finish line in whatever state it ultimately ended up in.  With so much going against this movie, from the hit or miss nature of Stephen King films, the troubled production which included three directors working on this over its ten year gestation, to even the fact that releasing a high concept fantasy movie in the modern cinematic landscape that ISN’T tied to a comic book, video game, or eighties cartoon is pretty much flirting with disaster at this point, is it possible that a GOOD movie managed to come out of all that strife and discord?  Let’s find out!!

Despite what the trailers may tell you, the movie is ACTUALLY about a boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) who’s waking up every morning in a cold sweat due to his recurring dream about a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) and his horrifying sciencey magical experiments on children in hopes of destroying some giant tower.  A DARK tower, if you will!  He’s drawing images of what he dreams about every day (presumably in hopes of winning an Eisner once he puts all the pieces together) which along with his less than stellar coping skills over the death of his father has made him somewhat ostracized at school and has his mother very concerned.  Too bad for them that his stories about evil wizards, rat people wearing human skins, and dead children turn out to be COMPLETELY TRUE as he finds a portal to another world where all this very odd stuff is happening.  Gee, a misunderstood creative type who gets proven right in a Stephen King story!?  WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT!?  Anyway, from there he meets up with the GOOD GUY in his graphic novel who is Roland; THE LAST GUNSLINGER (Idris Elba).  Now Roland wants to put a few right between The Man in Black’s icy blues eyes (mostly due to the whole making him THE LAST GUNSLINGER thing)and this kid with seemingly psychic powers (where have seen THAT before in a Stephen King book) might just be the key to finding the sneaky bastard once and for all!  Can these two unlikely allies manage to stop The Man in Black from his evil schemes before he destroys THE DARK TOWER and the universe along with it?  What does The Man in Black have in store for them once they find his EVIL lair?  Could Idris Elba look any more BAD ASS than he does in this movie!?

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“Good.  Bad.  I’m the guy with the gun made out of Excalibur.  Which is a thing, apparently!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gold

goldcd0Gold and all the images you see in this review are owned by TWC-Dimension

Directed by Stephen Gaghan

It’s getting a bit late in the year, but I guess we’ve still got a few more Oscar holdovers that need to recoup a few bucks from the general public; especially for ones like this that clearly didn’t get the recognition it  was hoping for.  Still, the big award shows don’t always know what the hell they’re doing (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*), and it’s not like any of MY favorite films of 2016 got nominated for an Oscar, so maybe this one will turn out be to be a gem that no one else was able to recognize!  Can Matthew McConaughey pull off yet another great performance in a movie about yet another eccentric oddball, or will this be forgotten like most of his pre-McConaissance work once he realized he was ACTUALLY good at acting?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the misadventures of Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) who’s a down on his luck prospector; barely managing to make ends meet after inheriting a successful mining company from his father.  With his girlfriend by his side (Bryce Dallas Howard), he manages to keep from succumbing to total self-destruction, but his drinking isn’t helping the situation all that much and he needs ONE big score in order to get his company out of the red and his life out of the dumps.  His big harebrained scheme is to get a SIMILARLY down on his luck geologist named Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to help him find a gold mine in the heart of Indonesia.  It’s rough going at first, so much so that Kenny becomes deathly ill during the expedition, but he manages to pull through and they ACTUALLY find a gold mine!  From there, Kenny has to deal with the avalanche of wealth that has landed right at his doorstop, the people who will try to take advantage of him, and of course those who want to put him out of business altogether.  Can this schlubby guy with a TERRIBLE haircut manage to hack it in a world of millionaires and true professionals?  How can this one dude fend off the biggest mining companies in the world and even the Indonesian government who are looking for ANY opportunity to snatch his gold mine out from under him?  Seriously, what’s with that hair!?  Either get the hair plugs or shave the damn thing off!

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“Would you fuck me?  Well I probably would, but I’d need a few more of these first.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sing

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Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters.  We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out.  At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to.  Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions.  Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition.  I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary.  Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on.  Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better?  What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else?  Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?

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“We didn’t start the fire!  It was always burning since the world’s been turning!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features

Directed by Travis Knight

While Disney and Dreamworks are constantly fighting over dominance for CG animated features, studios like Aardman and Laika are still making an argument for more traditional forms of animation with films like Paranorman and The Pirates.  Now we’ve got this movie which hopes to stand alongside some of the bigger hits this summer like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets while also finding a spot in theaters just as the latter is starting to leave and Pete’s Dragon is under performing.  Can the latest Laika creation not only manage to be an excellent film but be the big hit to end the summer with, or is this movie all style and no substance?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows young Kubo (Art Parkinson) who’s living with his mother in a cave that’s within walking distance of a nearby village.  Why are they living there?  Well apparently Kubo’s mother is the daughter of some super powerful dude known as the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) who can do… stuff.  Okay, I’m not sure what his powers are, but he ripped out one of Kubo’s eyes when he was an infant, and his mother just barely managed to get away with him; though at a severe price as she was injured during the escape and now suffers from memory loss.  That only leaves Kubo to take care of her (though I’m not sure how they survived long enough for him to be able to do that) and he makes money by using his magic powers to put on fantastic origami shows for the people of the village.  Seriously, Kubo’s got some badass magic powers that he’s able to conjure up with his Shamisen which can put on very elaborate stop-motion performances by Origami dolls, and you’d think that powers like this would either earn him enough to move his mom into a nice home or would brand him as a witch.  Still, things seems to be going well as Kubo goes about his day to day life busking for coins on the sidewalk, when he stays out too late one night which gives the Moon King a chance to find him (I guess that guy can see everything at night) and sends out his daughters, who are also Kubo’s aunts (Rooney Mara), to find him.  Kubo’s mother however manages to find him first and uses her remaining magic to send him off somewhere else while also bringing a charm to life in the form of a monkey (Charlize Theron) because apparently Kubo’s mother can do that.  From there, we’ve got a whole lot more exposition as apparently the monkey knows what Kubo needs to do next and the end up finding a Beetle Samurai (Matthew McConaughey) to tag along on their adventure.  Can Kubo stop his evil grandfather and save his mother?  How exactly does this monkey know all this stuff if it’s only been alive for like a day or so? Most importantly, how many MacGuffins do they plan to stick in this movie!?

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“We have to find the sacred armor that was created by your father that can protect you from the Moon King so that-“     “YOU’RE A TALKING MONKEY!!”     “…yes.  Did you hear what I said?”     “We need to find some stuff?”     “Good enough.  Let’s go.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Free State of Jones

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Free State of Jones and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Gary Ross

Good old STX Entertainment!  They’re the little studio that’s trying so hard to be a respectable outfit, and sure enough they do have some good films under their belts like Hardcore Henry and The Boy… but then they also did Secret in their Eyes, which… yeah.  Let’s not go there again.  I hear The Gift is good at least!  Anyway, they’re latest effort is the quote, unquote, HISTORICALLY ACCURATE film based on a the man who started a rebellion within The Confederacy during the Civil War.  Does STX Entertainment have another notch in their belt with this Matthew McConaughey led biopic, or is this another disaster like… that one movie they made?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the tale of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), an army doctor for the Confederate Army who knows that they’re fighting and dying for rich white dudes to keep slaves.  Well, that and to keep the status quo of dehumanizing black people, but I’m SURE that’s not crossing any of these poor farmers minds as they march forward into battle.  It’s certainly not on Newton’s mind, THAT’S for sure!  Anyway, when his… relative (I think his nephew) gets shot and killed in the battlefield, he deserts the army and goes home to deliver the dead body to his sister and to see his wife and son again.  Eventually, he makes his presence known to local Confederate tax collectors (or rather Looters) when he starts stopping them from collecting way more than ten percent of the local farmers’ goods and is forced to hide out in the swamp with escaped slaves to wait out the war I guess; one of whom is Moses (Mahershala Ali) who is looking for his family and becomes a lifelong friend of Newton.  At some point though, Newton is unable to sit still any longer and ends up turning the runaway slaves and other deserters into a functioning society within the swamp that apparently the Confederates are completely unable to overtake and they soon become a huge thorn in their side as they start raiding supply wagons and burning rich peoples’ stuff.  That’s only half the movie though as eventually the war does end and we transition from the armed rebellion to Newton fighting for the rights of his fellow citizens who are now FORMER slaves in an area this not too happy about that.  So how exactly did Newton manage to outlast the Confederate army throughout the rest of the Civil War?  Are he and his friends any safer after the war than they were before?  Does Matthew McConaughey have a beard, or did something die on his face?

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Geez.  Is this what’s gonna happen to ALL of People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive winners?

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