Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dissecting the McConaissance

By Sati. Wednesday, March 5, 2014 ,
Ah, happy times. I can finally call Matthew McConaughey an Oscar winning actor. And his road to that point as well as to the acclaim and respect among movie critics and fans was quite an interesting one.

Matthew was just a young kid, who wanted to become a lawyer, when he was discovered in a bar - Richard Linklater offered him a role in Dazed and Confused, now a cult classic movie. From that point while there were roles in some pretty bad films - McConaughey actually stared in Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick, which is at least really entertaining, there was also a lot of high profiles roles like his work in A Time to Kill, Contact and Amistad. It was the first one that made him a star.

And then in 2001 came the Wedding Planner - amusing and charming movie, where Matthew stared as every woman's dream (enter the angry feminists who will yell at me now) - handsome pediatrician who repeatedly saves the protagonist. The film was successful and that caused McConaughey to star in several more romantic comedies - How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days - 2003, opposite Kate Hudson, Failure to Launch, 2006, opposite Sarah Jessica Parker, Fool's Gold, 2008, opposite Kate Hudson and Ghost of Girlfriend's Past, 2009 opposite Jennifer Garner.

There were also really bad films like Sahara and Surfer's Dude, but the ridicule McConaughey met was quite disproportional - he was a laughing stock, with people like George Clooney making fun of him always being shirtless. The fact that I claim he wasn't shirtless enough aside, some of these films had actual charm and McConaughey always had chemistry with his female partners. How often does that happen? This is a man who managed to convincingly portray being in love with Sarah Jessica Parker. That's masterclass of acting.
McConaughey gave his honest effort. So many actors out there - mainly Johnny Deep, just care about getting their paycheck and seem not to put effort even when it comes to doing their job. In the meantime when promoting things like Sahara and Fool's Gold McConaughey had fun, he talked about the projects enthusiastically and it really seemed like he had a blast working on them.

Even during that time McConaughey was trying different things which those who ridiculed him often forget - he stared in dark and surprising Frailty, he was badass dragon hunter in Reign of Fire and I'm told he was good in Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, there was also We Are Marshall - a far from great, but very entertaining movie with his solid performance.

But it's not until several years back and by that I mean when Killer Joe was released, when people stopped and went 'wait...this guy is good!'. For the last 5 years it was great role after great role in daring, unique and provocative brave movies.

10. Tropic Thunder (2008)

All right, you killed a hooker. Calm down. Here's what you're gonna do. Get your hands on some bleach, some hydrogen peroxide and a shitload of lime.

While I'm sure most will say that McConaughey's comeback started with The Lincoln Lawyer, back in 2008 when he was still making shit - remember Fool's Gold? -  he also starred in Ben Stiller's hilarious Tropic Thunder where he played his agent Rick Peck. From his hilarious expression during Tom Cruise's screaming moments to his perfectly timed 'A G5 airplane?', not only is he funny, he is funny in an actual good comedy.

9. The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

I checked the list of people I trust and your name ain't on it.

While this film may not be something hugely memorable, it is very entertaining and it's worth seeing for its cast alone. McConaughey plays badass lawyer Mick Haller who is not only compassionate but also very clever. He gets into trouble when he realizes his client is guilty and he can't get out of defending him. McConaughey is one of those actors who keep getting cast as lawyers - are people under impression that all those lawyer dudes running around in courthouses and law firms are hot and charming? Yeah, my life ain't that sweet. Anyways, back to the point - it's a strong performance and the movie wouldn't work without it. His character is flawed, but because of McConaughey's charm he is also someone you are rooting for.


8. Bernie (2011)

Now, come on. That's got to be about the lowest thing a man could ever do, ain't it? Shoot a little old lady in the back? Four times. 

Another legal system representative figure, Danny Buck. Here Matt plays the villain of the film - close-minded DA from the hick town who is focused on catching Bernie. Well, yeah, sure Bernie was guilty, but McConaughey makes his character so ignorant - hilariously so, in fact - that it's hard for you not to root for Bernie to get away with murder somehow.

7. Killer Joe (2011)

Now suck this.

This is by far my favorite McConaughey's film, a  movie that has very secure place in my all time top 20.  This film is just outrageous and the stuff required of actors to do is outrageous too. Joe Cooper is a horrible, horrible man. He is into teenage girls, he kills people and in spite of his seemingly well mannered behaviour, he is a beast. He's like the Devil the poor, stupid family signed the contract with. And when the facade of calm, cool, well mannered exterior slips, the horror ensues.

6. The Paperboy (2011)

Better be late and be right than be first and be wrong... boy!

This is another really provocative film. People keep taking about Kidman pissing on Zac Efron's face or the scene in which she is having sex with John Cusack even though he is siting few feet away from her. But McConaughey's character, Ward Jensen, is involved in some seriously rough stuff too - for me the scene involving him lying in the pool of his blood was truly shocking to witness.

5. Magic Mike (2012)

Fact is, the law says you cannot touch! But I think I see a lotta lawbreakers up in this house tonight...

This is probably the closest McConaughey was to an Oscar nomination until Dallas Buyers Club. His Dallas is a charismatic, cheerful but also aging and selfish owner of a strip club. Dallas looks down on education and thinks that perseverance and ambition is all you need to get ahead. It's amazing just how much McConaughey is able to do with such short screen tome. All of this culminates in his dance. I heard stories of electricity shutting down in cinemas during that. I'm not even kidding here. Nor am I surprised.

4. Mud (2012)

There are fierce powers at work in the world, boys. Good, evil, poor luck, best luck. As men, we've got to take advantage where we can.

In Mud McConaughey plays a romantic hero who would do anything for the woman he loves. Sounds like his romantic comedy work? No, no, no. As handsome as he looks in this movie, his Mud is a wayward man who lives outside of world and common sense. While him and Reese Witherspoon only have one scene together, it's the look in McConaughey's eyes in this moment that sells that love story - you can see it in his eyes, their years of romance and the love he has for her. It's one of the many reasons that scene is one of my favorites last year.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Cocaine and hookers, my friend.

It's a sign of incredible charisma if an actor can appear in a handful of scenes and still be on your mind once the film is over. So it's quite the charisma this man has, if he only appears briefly in the beginning of The Wolf of Wall Street and you still can't forget his scene after 3 hours. In one of the film's most memorable moment McConaughey steals the scene away from DiCaprio as a man who knows the secrets of Wall Street and coaches the young protegee how to survive. Jordan Belfort partied hard. But can you imagine what Hannah must have been doing?!

Cause I try to image that.

Every day.
2. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Let me give y'all a little news flash. There ain't nothin' out there can kill fuckin' Ron Woodroof in 30 days.

While there's no denying that the tremendous physical transformation McConaughey went through to play this part contributed to his win last Sunday, people tend to forget that Academy - and I think audiences as well - love when an actor takes quintessential traits of his or hers and amplifies them, tweaks them, uses them to make the performance feel more real. And Ron Woodrof, while he was a homophobic asshole, also had plenty of charm - and that's something that McConaughey brought in with him along with his charisma and yes, even some comedy skills - his banter with Jared Leto is incredible and infuses the film with so much energy. It's a moving, dedicated and utterly convincing performance.

1. True Detective (2014)

It's all one ghetto, man, giant gutter in outer space

Now this right here is my favorite work from Matthew. The biggest strength of True Detective is its great writing and when it comes to his character - Rust Cohle, that writing is downright brilliant. Rust is a hopeless nihilist, who after losing his daughter and getting a divorce from his wife just cruises through life - all he cares about is catching bad guys and getting drunk. The case that the plot of True Detective revolves around takes 17 years of his life during which Rust never gives up on chasing the answers. It's a beautiful work - McConaughey sells a character that is odd, harsh and truly bizarre but he makes him seem so vulnerable and heroic at the same time.
This year Matthew stars in one of the most anticipated movies - Christopher Nolan's Interstellar which for me can either be a true mess or an absolute masterpiece. The script revolves around his character and Matthew said it's the most ambitious movie he ever made, so at the very least we can expect another wonderful performance from him.

He will star in Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees - the script centers on an American man (McConaughey) and a Japanese man (Watanabe) who meet in the Japan’s infamous "Suicide Forest," where people go to commit suicide. But instead of killing themselves, the duo embark on a reflective journey through the forest together.

There is also rumoured sequel to Magic Mike and I'm sure I'm not the only one hoping that Dallas will return in this one.

In the meantime - alright, alright, alright!

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26 comments:

  1. Oooo fantastic post! I can't wait to catch up on True Detective and Interstellar is one of my most-anticipated flicks ever. OMG how could I forget he was in Tropic Thunder!! Btw, have you seen him in this comedy Larger Than Life w/ Bill Murray? His character is soooo unhinged it's really a hoot to watch, he played a truck driver. Worth renting just to see him, though Murray and the elephant are great too! :D

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    1. Thanks! He was so much fun in Tropic Thunder, with his epic quest to get TiVo :P

      I've never seen that one, but I want to see all his movies so I'll get to that one :)

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  2. Great piece Margaret. To me, the McConaissance really began with his appearance in Eastbound & Down. It was an unexpected cameo and not only was he funny but it was a reminder into why I liked him so much as I bemoaned over the fact that he was wasting his talents in these bland rom-coms. Bernie and Mud are the films that I hope to see in this McConassaince while Killer Joe is so far the best of them. The man is a monster. I wasn't expecting the luridness of the film and how vicious it was. McConaughey just fucking owned that film and he was the scariest thing in that infamous scene. I also love him in Magic Mike where underneath all of that charm and beautiful physique is a man fueled by greed. I just hope he can continue with this streak and do some comedies again. Good ones with Jonah Hill.

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    1. Thank you! I never saw that show but I'm curious about his appearance there - he recently mentioned he never done TV prior to True Detective and I went like 'wait, what?' :)

      He should do comedies, but really good ones, he is so funny and he has this natural charm, he was hilarious in funny moments in Dallas Buyers Club and I almost cried during his scenes with Cruise in Tropic Thunder.

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  3. Gotta love Matthew and True Detective is indeed one of the great masterpieces on TV right now. And hopefully there are many great roles ahead of him.. and part of me kind of wishes some of those roles don't involve a shirt...

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    1. He needs to be naked in everything, that's like the undeniable truth. Fingers crossed for that sex scene in Interstellar

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  4. Wow from your brief description of True Detective... I'm very tempted to start watching! Loved him in Dazed and Confused... great to see him at the top of his game. In unrelated news... this Cities of Dust tune is awesome!!!

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    1. TD is really awesome, definitely something to see while waiting for Thrones.

      It really is, Thrones has the best trailer music!

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  5. He was very good in 13 Conversations. His was my favorite performance in that flick, which was littered with strong performances.

    And I agree his career revival has been quite impressive. Looking forward to seeing True Detective once it hits VOD/DVD.

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    1. I really need to see this movie sometime.

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  6. Great post! I'll never be on the Magic Mike bandwagon, but it's amazing to see how far he's come. I really was one of those people that made fun of him being shirtless all the time too, but he's finally found his niche, and I'm happy for that. He's turning out quality work.

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    1. I think Magic Mike is average but it's worth seeing for the shit Matt does in that one :)

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  7. LOVE the post. I think The Lincoln Lawyer was the first post of his that really showed me he was heading in a different direction. Oh and Bernie! LOL! I love it!!!!!

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    1. The Lincoln Lawyer is such a cool movie, really awesome cast in this one. Bernie had so many hilarious moments!

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  8. As a longtime fan of his, I gotta say I wish I had written a post like this. Great showcase of his work, Sati! And such a great use of the gif set too - people often assume when a movie is bad that the actor expects those types of results while they're shooting. A lot of actors get quite abused by directors who make something that is the complete opposite from how enticing it looked on the script.

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    1. Thank you, so glad you liked it! Exactly, he really doesn't strike me as a person who would deliberately make a bad movie, he seems way too enthusiastic about the production process.

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  9. Ah, brilliant as always, Sati.

    I am 900% with you on Killer Joe. I always really liked MM, but after that, I thought this guy is the truth. Most of MM's characters use their charm and good looks to make things better. Joe does the direct opposite. That performance is so good I'm actually scared (and excited) to watch it again.

    More so than a lot of famous people, the guy truly seems to like not only what he does, but who he is. There's no pretense, no insincerity. Just a talented guy, doing some really cool shit. And that's alright, alright, alright with me.

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    1. Thank you!

      I actually saw Killer Joe a bunch of times already, I have a sick sense of humor :) And his ass is in that. That's a perfect movie right there.

      He really is very sincere and seems so content with his life and why shouldn't he be, being so cool :) And I'm fairly certain Nolan nerds are going to love him after Interstellar as much as they love DiCaprio now.

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  10. Brilliant post! No one can argue with his transformations. Quite simply, he's been the best and most consistent actor for years now. I'm so happy to finally see him deliver the great work I always knew he was capable of.

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    1. I just hope his amazing streak won't end soon, his last movies where some of the best in their respective years.

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  11. Amazing post, Sati! You and I both share a mutual respect for McConaughey...especially with Killer Joe! Such a homerun hit of brilliance from him last year, and I'm so glad he's got that Oscar. Going to have to watch True Detective...every person on planet Earth and beyond is raving about it!

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    1. Thank you! You're gonna love True Detective - it's seriously remarkable, but it's incredibly slow paced so you should be ready for that, most people complain about it.

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  12. Excellent post! I'm so glad to see Mud and The Paperboy so high. McConaughey really surprised me with those performances. Ugh, I really need to watch True Detective and The Lincoln Lawyer!

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    1. Both are awesome with TD being his best work, hope you'll like them!

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  13. This post is really great! The McConaissance has been amazing, even the word sounds cool. I love McConaughey’s acting and I can't believe how there is still some people - very few but I’ve read some silly comments - out there that are surprised at him winning the Oscar. I bet they haven't watch any of his recent films, so it makes me really glad to see people like you that appreciate his work.

    Killer Joe has to be one of my favorites too. A big cinephile friend recommended it to me, and McConaughey is awesome in there, his scenes with Temple and Gershon are ones of the best I've seen it in a long long while. It's pretty rough, but I like those kind of twisted noir films.

    Loved your comment about how they picture lawyers in Hollywood, I study law too, so I understand you. His role in Time to Kill was really great, Bernie was fun, and Lincoln Lawyer is entertaining at first, but I think they messed up the end with all the plot twists.

    Dallas was quite a remarkable character. I think he's a big scene-stealer. Whenever he was on stage you just forget about any other guy in Magic Mike. He proved that in The Wolf too. I felt exactly like you, I kept thinking about Hannah. That was my favorite scene in the film along with the pills/car bit. McConaughey's brief appearance with the money chant - so cool he actually does that in real life - was the highlight of the movie for me.

    And loved what you said about Mud, really endearing film, I really like Jeff Nichols’ work. I think McConaughey has an extraordinary ability to tell stories. Don't know why exactly, but there is something about the way he delivers his words and his manners, he catches my attention everytime. I think that's why I loved so much watching him on the interrogation on True Detective. I loved Rust Cohle and his incredible performance. Like Geraci said in the finale: “Quite some time, I'm gonna be thinking about you Rust”. Me in a good way, of course!

    And he’s beyond great in Dallas Buyers Club. My favorite part is when he’s researching at the library and he screams, you can feel how he realizes that he’s actually dying.



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    1. They're probably DiCaprio's fans, I heard actual journalist claim they hate Matt now because 'he stole DiCaprio's Oscar'. For shame.

      I worked in a number of firms over the studies and after finishing them and it's just...depressing :) I think The Lincoln Lawyer would benefited from better villain, Ryan Phillipe was wrong for the part for so many reasons.

      McConaughey is an amazing story teller. Seriously, whenever he does an interview the person interviewing him is so captivated they don't even bother to ask him many questions cause he just sits down, starts telling some story of something that happened on the set etc. and everyone is just captivated.

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