Review: Finding Hope in a Time of ‘Downsizing’

matt-damon-downsizingBy now, many have seen the trailers for Downsizing, the new Matt Damon film in which a number of the Earth’s population undergoes a process of miniaturization supposedly for the betterment of the world. But while the trailers do highlight some of the more humorous moments of the film, like Matt Damon, you should all get ready for the transition.

The Alexander Payne-directed film does suffer a bit from trying to figure out what it wants to be, much like its central character of Paul Safranek (Matt Damon). The film starts off as a bit of a light comedy with some social commentary as Safranek and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) struggle through their day-to-day life trying to make ends meet. Paul is a people pleaser, often going out of his way for others, and wanting to give his wife what he thinks she desires. Upon reconnecting with a college friend (Jason Sudeikis) who got “small,” Paul is intrigued by the fresh start it seems to have given him and he and Audrey investigate joining Leisureland, one of the top resort establishments where their paltry savings translates to a sizable windfall.

The “size” jokes are sly and the actual resizing process is an intriguing visual, but poor Paul hopes for the future he always wanted to give his wife are dashed when she has second thoughts at the last minute, leaving him miniaturized and she skirting off to her family and friends leaving him high and dry. But while the early portion of the film seemed light and bouncy, the remainder is more of a dramatic piece with Paul finding his place in a new world.

A downtrodden Paul spends his next year separating from his wife, moving from his luxurious house to an apartment, taking a miserable job in telemarketing after giving up his occupational therapist position in the real world and seemingly wandering adrift in his new world. But his loud and very frank upstairs neighbor Dusan (Christoph Waltz) takes Paul under his wing and introduces him to a new world. It is through this association with Dusan and a number of his associates that Paul begins to start his journey to understanding who he is within the changing world around him.

Dusan is a capitalist cad, finding the ways to exploit the downsized world, who also employs a Vietnamese activist named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chou) who was imprisoned and downsized before losing her leg in a human trafficking operation. It’s Paul’s fascination with Ngoc that begins his transformation, first reclaiming a bit of his old self through assisting with her leg, and then being increasingly pulled into her orbit. Through his journey of self-discovery, Paul suffers a few highs and lows, but his hopefulness remains key to the film’s pacing and plot.

While there are light moments in Downsizing, it becomes more of a think piece, with Damon’s character thrust into situations we all may eventually face within our own lives. His journey is one worth following and one that will no doubt have the audience questioning how they would handle the same situations, which could be inevitable within our world. Downsizing is part comedy, part social commentary, part wake-up call for our future, which at times is uneven, but is fully worthy following. The film may not be for everyone, but it’s a movie that should make you think and have you talking upon leaving the theater.

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Posted by Ari Coine

Addison Timlin Goes Viral In Social Media Horror Thriller ‘Like Me’

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The addiction to social media, no matter what the platform, can lead to nightmarish consequences and that’s one of the aspects that’s explored in the upcoming thriller Like Me.

Marking the directing debut of Robert Mockler, the narrative centers on a loner (Little Sister and Fallen star Addison Timlin) who documents her crime spree on social media. During her travels she meets a drifter, another outsider, and an internet troll, and each of these individuals are swept up in her chaotic world. There’s a ton of horror flicks out there in the universe, but the trailer of Like Me is simply a visually mesmerizing experience, and it will be interesting to see if Mockler can keep up that fever pitch throughout the story. Timlin, who’s worked on her share of quality television and indie projects, may have finally landed her breakout role with Like Me. Last but definitely not least, Like Me is produced by prolific horror vet Larry Fessenden, so the film definitely has all the right ingredients.

Check out the trailer and tell us what you think!




Like Me opens January 26.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

Kate Winslet And Idris Elba Power First Rate Adventure ‘The Mountain Between Us’

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Now out on Blu-ray and DVD, the first rate adventure/romance drama The Mountain Between Us centers on two strangers who are stranded in a remote area with little hope for survival. Photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and brain surgeon Ben Bass (Idris Elba) were the passengers on a chartered plane which crash lands in this snowy and unforgiving environment, and now both have their own viewpoints on how to proceed. Ben is determined to stay near the crash site and wait for help while Alex wants to traverse new ground in hopes of finding civilization. Though the dead pilot’s (Beau Bridges) dog is also a part of the story, The Mountain Between Us is essentially a visually arresting two hander. Filled with spot on performances between the leads, the feature also is blessed with natural chemistry between Elba and Winslet, and their growing affection towards each other is palpable.

Click on the media bar below to hear Winslet talk about shooting in the high altitudes featured in The Mountain Between Us:

The Blu-ray version comes with several featurettes, and audio commentary from director Hany Abu-Assad, and deleted scenes. The fourteen minutes worth of cut scenes are, like most of the film, beautiful eye candy, and it’s interesting to hear Abu-Assad’s commentary on why these scenes are left out. There’s a particular scene in a cave which is particularly eye-catching, but the filmmaker makes a point to show that each of these sequences repeated similar beats that were already part of the story.

The Mountain Between Us is now available on Blu-ray and DVD via Fox Connect.

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Posted by: Greg Srisavasdi

A New ‘World’ Record: Ridley Scott On His Lightning-Fast Reshoots

atm_09220_rAs news of Kevin Spacey’s sexual indiscretions surfaced, Ridley Scott knew he had a problem. The Academy Award-winning director had shot a new movie, All the Money in the World, with Spacey. But he realized that, in the current environment, releasing the movie with Spacey still in the lead role would leave the movie D.O.A. So Scott did the unthinkable — with less than three months before the film’s theatrical release, he reshot all of Spacey’s scenes, replacing him with screen legend Christopher Plummer. With the reshoots and the additional editing necessary, Scott somehow managed to finish the film on time, and when we spoke to him, Scott told us the finished product was worth all the additional effort.

Scott’s amazing accomplishment has not gone unnoticed by critics, who have given many accolades to the film and its new star, Plummer. All the Money in the World is playing in theaters now.

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Posted by AC

Michael Weatherly Shoots The Bull With Dr. Phil

BULLIt’s not exactly a secret that the CBS hit drama Bull has famous roots: The show’s premise — and lead character, Dr. Jason Bull — were inspired by the pre-TV career of Dr. Phil McGraw, who was well-known in the legal field for founding one of the country’s most successful trial consulting firms. On the show, the character is played by Michael Weatherly, who met McGraw while working on NCIS and has been friends with him ever since. Weatherly told us that having access to the man who lived his character’s life has been a valuable resource, but he won’t tell us exactly how valuable. (Click on the media bar below to hear Michael Weatherly)

Bull airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.on CBS

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Posted by AC