Monday, October 23, 2006

"Rounders" Is a Great Movie

Matt Damon is one my favorite actors in a generation or two. (He was born in 1970.) Two of my favorite roles for Damon have been in two of my favorite films of recent years. First is Matt's turn as the title character in Good Will Hunting (1997), directed by the remarkable Gus Van Zandt, from a touching script written by Damon & his childhood Boston pal, co-star Ben Affleck, which richly deserved its Oscar for original screenplay. Second is John Dahl's fascinating card-shark tale Rounders from 1998. The brilliant script by David Levien and Brian Koppelman is set at a quizzical tone by Damon's high-stakes, all-gravy turn as card pro/law student Mike McDermott, well-matched by Edward Norton, & also by John Turturro, Famke Janssen, Michael Rispoli (as Grama), & the wild John Malkovich (as Teddy KGB). Please add to these two movies, then, if you're still with me, two more Damonisms: Francis Coppolla's 1997 Rainmaker (as John Grisham's idealistic young lawyer Rudy Baylor), & Anthony Minghella's 1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley (as an astonishing chameleon named Tom Ripley). That's at least four amazing film performances by Matt Damon in three years or so. But I mustn't forget Spielberg's heart-boggling Saving Private Ryan (also 1998). Before any of these, Matt played beautifully in Courage Under Fire for Edward Zwick (1996). There were also a couple of strange Ocean movies (2001 & 2004) that looked like they were a lot of fun to make, & three portraits of Bourne (between 2002 & 2007). What's more, I haven't even yet seen the recent Syriana or The Departed.

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