If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I know we all want to be the cool kids and hate on this 1997 Gus Van Sant dramedy that was a breaking out film for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (who also won an Oscar for the screenplay for it that they wrote). It's hard not to go with a guy as funny as Patton Oswalt when he calls out the film's script specifically as being read out loud by Avril Lavigne's face in the sky as one of the final stages of the Apocalypse. And if only it actually was a mediocre film, that would have made it one of the most perfect and hysterical routines in comedy history. The sober truth is, that "Good Will Hunting" got 9 Academy Award nominations (as the cover of the new blu loudly will not let you overlook) and it deserved them all. Damon plays Will Hunting, a mutant intellect living the life of the Bostonian drinking class along with his childhood friends (Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser). He spends his days as janitor at Harvard's Physics department, and his nights drinking, carousing, and fighting with his buddies. When he's caught red-handed easily solving complex equations left on a hallway chalkboard by Professor Lambeaux (Stellan Skarsgård) for his students, the gobsmacked professor doesn't know what to make of the mega-genius hidden inside the attitude of a stand-offish street kid. Determined to not let a mind like Will's mind go to waste, he saves him from a jail sentence in exchange for Will agreeing to meet with him to discuss Physics, and with a therapist to discuss his problems; naturally Will has no intention of admitting he has any. After going through a series of affronted psychologists, the Prof's last restort, his old schoolchum Sean (Robin Williams) ends up being the only one willing to stand up to Will's confrontational attitude and find a crack in the door to put his foot in. Terrific, even sparkling dialogue (sorry Patton) and top notch performances all around (not forgetting Minnie Driver as Hunting's Harvard girlfriend) makes this one of the best films of the late nineties, even if Van Sant seems to have pared his normal filmmaking idiosyncrasies down to practical non-existence. And that, I suppose, is what bugged some of the more grumbly art-crowd more than anything about this film. It seems to be a film by their champion in name only. I mean, God help you if you make a smart, yet accessible film.
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BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Sure, I've woken up from lots of parties in a tangle of unconscious bodies and fractured memories. Nothing too weird about that in Cyrus' life, to be sure. Now, normally I just crawl home at that point. I've found it uncommon to have my hungover walk of shame be punctuated by a car out of the "Road Warrior" movies busting through walls like the Kool-Ade man trying to kill me. Not saying it hasn't happened, just saying, it's not the norm. Neither are these Thai martial arts students prepared for the weird post-celebration situation they find themselves in at the beginning of "BKO: Bangkok Knockout". Turns out the contest they've won to go to America and appear in movies is just a front for a diabolical high-roller gambling operation that kidnaps one of their ladies and traps the rest of them in an abandoned (but wired for video) building. In a (low-budget version of) posh room, a evil white guy hosts a party of international rich folks who all watch the students go up against older, masked fighters and place bets on the outcome. And that's pretty much the entire plot. And I say: good. Who needs lots of story? I wanna see some people doing ridiculous stunts and getting their asses kicked in spectacular martial arts fashion. In that capacity, "BKO" largely does not disappoint, as these teens seem to really know what they're doing. Mainly unobtrusive camera work lets the performers show off how talented they really are and, I fear, how cheap life might be there; SOMEBODY got seriously hurt doing some of these stunts. The down side is, this is about as silly an action film as I've ever seen, with more than a little bit of disbelief suspension being required and not a single moment of dialogue that's anything other than utilitarian. But hey: there's a fight between a student, a Jason Voorhees analogue, and the "Road Warrior" car. Where else are you gonna see that?
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