Matthew McConaughey is suddenly a role model. While the McConaissance exploded into full view at the Academy Awards with the actor taking home the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club (and providing a gift to late night comedians everywhere with his rambling speech), the truth is that was a clear build-up to that moment.
Starting with 2011's The Lincoln Lawyer, McConaughey crafted an impressive run of characters, going from the psycho cop of Killer Joe to the fugitive in Mud and then onto the cocksure trader in The Wolf of Wall Street. Buyers Club’s AIDS-stricken Ron Woodruff was just the icing on the proverbial cake.
Just before that run, however, McConaughey had fallen into a rut of starring in lightweight fare like Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, after showing promise early in his career in films like Lone Star and Armistad. The Texas-born actor never went away for very long, yet he managed to reinvent his image by choosing roles that offered a challenge… while still mixing in projects like Magic Mike to pay the bills. Loopy as he may be, there's a method to the madness.
That's a lesson that some of McConaughey's contemporaries should take to heart, even ones that are cashing nice paychecks for their work. Here's a look at some of his peers (in pairs) that could do with a little bit of that McConaissance magic.
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn
The Internship and Wedding Crashers costars both have a tendency to cash a check for any role that's thrown their way. There's nothing wrong with that — Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep aren't always choosy either — but there comes a time when an actor needs to commit to doing some strong work the way that McConaughey did. Wilson, thanks to his association with Wes Anderson, always has the opportunity to put a run together. It's even possible that he's already started after earning an Oscar nomination for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. Just like with his work with Anderson, however, the performance was credited more to Allen than Wilson. He needs to step away from the persona that audiences have come to expect from him and find a small movie to dazzle in.
Vaughn came through the indie ranks early on same as Wilson, so we know that he's capable. With his slightly dark manic streak, he could shine in supporting roles as McConaughey did in The Wolf of Wall Street. It also might not be a bad idea to get his buddy Jon Favreau to direct him in something hand-picked to let him flex some different acting muscles.
Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell
Much like Sandler and Ferrell's sophomoric comedies, McConaughey's various lukewarm romantic comedies weren't exactly high art, and both funnymen have shown something more than their usual silly humor on occasion: for Sandler, and Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, and Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction, and Melinda and Melinda. Though the SNL keep primarily to broad comedy, both are smart and capable. Even though there are millions to be made by sticking to what audiences want, there are legacies to be had if they can find time to jump on roles that let them be funny in a more natural way, like McConaughey's dying schemer in Dallas Buyers Club. Being at turns oblivious and self-loathing is what comedians do on a regular basis for laughs. Letting the audience see the actual pathos that it comes from isn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but start doing it consistently for a while and they start giving you awards.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
You might argue that Damon gets plenty of kudos for his acting and Affleck has turned into a respected director and producer with an Oscar to show for it. They don't need a career renaissance. In some respect, that's true. The Good Will Hunting wunderkinds have become Hollywood elite. That said, Affleck's track record as an actor still has as many misses as hits on it (Gigli, anyone?) and Damon falls back on familiar ground more often than not. How often do you watch either of their performances and think, "Man, he's really showing me something new!"? The beauty of what McConaughey has done is that in challenging himself, he challenged our expectations for him. Damon and Affleck could both use some of that. Taking the role of Liberace's lover, opposite Michael Douglas, in HBO's Behind the Candelabra was a nice departure for Damon, but he needs to put himself to the test on a bigger stage and with more at stake. Just as McConaughey found another type of character from his native Texas to play, it might be time for Damon to find a character from Boston that can't be described as "street tough."
As for McConaughey's Dazed and Confused costar, Affleck really just needs to put himself in the hands of directors other than himself that are interested in making him work, the way that McConaughey did with William Friedkin and Martin Scorsese. He doesn't have to lose 47 lbs. for a part like McConaughey, but he needs to lose the self-awareness and fully immerse himself in a character. How great would it be to see Affleck go "all in" on a character like McConaughey did in Friedkin's Killer Joe? He is proven he's a good director… it would be nice to see him live up to the same standard as an actor.
We all know, thanks to that acceptance speech, that McConaughey looks up to his future self. His peers would do well to use the Oscar-winner's past to come up with a whole new future of their own.
There are some days when all you need a movie to be is light and cheerful, but then there are others when all you want to do is wallow in sadness for a little while and have a good cry. For times like those, you need a film that will rip your heart out. Our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for this week's Bluesday Tuesday pick, The Fall, will do just that, and then probably stomp on it a few times for good measure.
After a string of young, professional women are murdered in Belfast, Ireland, investigator Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is brought in to find a break in the case, and she immediately begins putting together connections that the authorities have overlooked. But the show doesn't just follow the case from Stella's point of view; it also spends just as much time with the killer, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), a family man whose wife and two children have no idea about his deadly hobby. The Fall jumps back and forth between these two perspectives, demonstrating how the police slowly unwind the case while Paul attempts to remain ahead of them at all times.
Everything about the series unfolds slowly, ramping up the tension by degrees over long periods of time, rather than forcing characters to stumble over plot points just for the sake of excitement. The Fall places its focus on the bleak, gruesome nature of the murders, and doesn't undercut the graphic violence with campness or humor. Anderson's Stella is cold and reserved, which many viewers have found frustrating, and she's just as much of an enigma to the audience as she is to her colleagues, which the show uses to its advantage. And as creepy as it is to watch Dornan stalk and hunt the women that he preys on, the show never glamorizes or forgives his actions. His family humanizes him, but it doesn't excuse him. The world of The Fall is a dark, depressingly scary place, but with such incredible acting and clever plotting, it's almost a treat to spend time there.
The Fall is available to stream instantly on Netflix, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our recommendations for the perfect Docu-Wednesday film.
"I just remember arriving at set that day and they had talked about this scene with Ralph (Fiennes), Harvey (Keitel) and Wes (Anderson): 'OK, you're going to slap Tony', and I wasn't there. I arrived to set, he slapped me and, because Wes likes 47 takes, we rounded about 42 takes - and he's an ex-Marine; there's no small slap, he goes for it." Hollywood newcomer Tony Revolori endured a beating from ex-Marine Harvey Keitel while filming scenes in new movie Grand Budapest Hotel.
An abused elephant is still living in horrendous conditions in captivity almost two years after SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY spearheaded an apparently successful campaign to save it. The Beatles legend was among a number of stars, including Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson, who took part in a 2012 drive to re-house Sunder the elephant in a sanctuary after he was discovered being abused in a temple near Mumbai, India.
The celebrities believed they had succeeded in securing the beast's transfer after sending personal letters to Indian officials, and they were told the elephant would soon be roaming free in a rescue centre near Bangalore, India.
However, bosses at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have now revealed Sunder remains in the same poor conditions at the temple, where they recently filmed him being harshly beaten yet again.
PETA's Dr Manilal Valliyate says, "Sunder has only known chains, loneliness, darkness and beatings for at least half of his life. We look forward to the day that Sunder is unchained, in the company of other elephants, able to bathe in ponds."
"I thought it would be weird having sex with short hair, but then I kind of got into the mode." Pamela Anderson feared her short pixie cut would have a negative affect on her sex life with husband Rick Salomon.
"I don't know if they've seen it, but they know about it. They know about everything. Stupid Internet. I don't know why everyone is so impressed with it." Actress Pamela Anderson admits her two teenage sons with rocker ex Tommy Lee are well aware of their parents' kinky sex tape.
Lost star Jorge Garcia is heading back to the Pacific islands as a series regular on Hawaii Five-0. The actor previously guested in two episodes of the island cop drama, but he will be a full-time cast member when the show returns for a fifth season later this year (14).
Garcia plays conspiracy theorist Jerry Ortega on the show, opposite his former Lost co-star Daniel Dae Kim.
Hawaii Five-0 producers have set up a series of mini-Lost reunions on their show - as well as Garcia, Henry Ian Cusick, Tania Raymonde, Cynthia Watros, Terry O'Quinn and Sam Anderson have returned to the islands, where they shot the cult drama over six seasons, to team up with Kim.
Apollo 13 star Bill Paxton and Brendan Fraser have joined the all-star cast of new mini-series Texas Rising. The two actors will team up with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ray Liotta, Thomas Jane, Olivier Martinez and Chad Michael Murray, among others, in the Roland Joffe epic TV drama, which will air on America's History Channel next year (15).
The eight-hour series reteams Paxton with the producers of his hit drama Hatfields & McCoys, which earned the actor an Emmy Award nomination.
The project will chronicle the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the Texas Rangers law enforcers.
Paxton will play Sam Houston, the man known as "the father of Texas", while Fraser will portray Texas Ranger Billy Anderson.
History Channel bosses have released a statement detailing the new TV project. It reads: "In 1836, if west of the Mississippi was considered the Wild West then Texas was hell on earth.
"Crushed from the outside by Mexican armadas and attacked from within by ferocious Comanche tribes, no one was safe. But this was a time of bravery, a time to die for what you believed in and a time to stand tall against the cruel rule of the Mexican General Santa Anna (Martinez).
"From General Sam Houston, to rag tag Rangers to the legendary Yellow Rose of Texas, this is a story of the human spirit rising in the face of insurmountable odds and claiming a piece of history for all eternity."
Former Yes frontman Jon Anderson has formed a new supergroup with violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty. The Owner of a Lonely Heart singer announced the new band news during a recent solo show, revealing the odd couple is planning to start work on new material this summer (14).
Anderson told fans, "I’m going to work with one of the great violin players. We start work in June, I think. Then we’re going to tour next year. I love the violin."
Ponty is best known for his collaborations with rock legend Frank Zappa and he also contributed to Elton John's Honky Chateau album. But he is first and foremost a jazz great, who has worked solo and with Stephane Grappelli and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Illness forced Anderson to quit Yes in 2008, but he recently revealed plans to start a new band.
Weinstein Company via Everett Collection
Smack dab in the middle of your exciting weekend forays and your agonizing return to the work week, Sundays are best spend lazily. Even the movies you watch on Sundays should be slow, soft, and conducive to your passion for midday naps. Luckily, a whole mess of indie gems fit this description, and this week for Lazy Sundays, Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommends Submarine.
Written and directed by Richard Ayoade — perhaps best known for playing the magnificently geeky Maurice Moss on The I.T. Crowd — Submarine is one of the best and quirkiest coming-of-age movies you’ve probably never seen. Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), is a 15 year-old loner who is determined to win the heart of his crush, Jordana (Yasmin Paige), while at the same time attempting to hold together his parents’ marriage after his mother’s ex-boyfriend moves in next door.
The film is both surprisingly realistic and highly-stylized, and it’s thanks to Roberts and Paige’s performances that these two elements blend together so well, as their characters alternate between confusion, confidence, and quirky weirdness. Oliver’s story is set to a soundtrack by Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner, which Ayoade deploys at the perfect moments to create the kind of memorable music moments that every successful indie film requires. And since Submarine has drawn comparisons to both Wes Anderson and Holden Caufield, we’re sure the poster will find a spot on your wall between The Catcher in the Rye and Rushmore in no time.
You can stream Submarine on Netflix, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our recommendations for the perfect Case of the Mondays movie.
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