Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Matt Damon

If youre from a group that has never been oppressed for reasons of identity you dont know what it feels like. The actor should know when to shut up, writes Guardian contributor Hannah Jane Parkinson

Oh, Matt Damon. Where did it all go wrong? Well, almost everywhere.

Damon is currently the focus of a mixture of derision, anger and disbelief after he made, in the space of three days, multiple boneheaded comments on sexual harassment. At some point between these tone-deaf interventions his Good Will Hunting co-star (and a former girlfriend), Minnie Driver, helpfully pointed out where he was going wrong. And yet, instead of taking a seat to reflect on her critique, Damon came splashing back into a lake of ignorance like a dog which repeatedly forgets it is not good at swimming.

First, Damon waded in to say that sexual harassment exists on a spectrum, and that theres a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape. On the face of it, this is clearly true (and something that women have also said), but Damon is too ignorant (HOW? STILL?) to realise that being patted on the butt a thousand times by bosses, male friends, colleagues, and strangers, is an insidious invasion of personal space and an exhausting erasure of individuality. Death by a thousand cuts. As Driver put it, [men] cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.

He also doesnt seem to realise that literally nobody is crying out for Matt Damons Opinion On This. As Driver also said, its galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms. In total, he has spoken about this topic no fewer than three times. Forgive me, Matt, but I think not being harassed should be a baseline expectation, and not something to be deified for. I dont offer a round of applause to the man at the bus stop who doesnt comment on my ass. And I am not about to start.

Damon is also guilty of the trope of men declaring themselves feminists after having daughters, as if the wellbeing of human women otherwise didnt matter. Good one, guys. Super grateful. Its good to know that someone being called a whore doesnt raise hackles if it isnt your mother, daughter, aunt or sister who is the target.

When Damon came on to the scene in the late 90s, he was part of a gang of up-and-comers, including the Affleck brothers. If he doubts the widespread issue of male toxicity, then he could do well to remember that Ben Affleck has since had to apologise for groping a presenter, and his brother Casey Affleck has been accused of multiple sexual assaults (which he denies). Meanwhile, Damon has been the epitome of East Coast Liberal. He made much of his background and upbringing (his mother was a college professor and his father a stockbroker); he attended Harvard, and has sold himself as A Good Egg, even establishing a non-profit to provide clean drinking water. His outspoken liberalness even had Michael Moore suggesting a presidential run.

Since then, Damon has become the perfect example of a phrase I coined last month, when right-on men were being unearthed as rats at the rate of one tail a minute: no woke without fire. Its the kind of un-wokeness in plain sight that was illuminated in Jordan Peeles Get Out. Damons past indiscretions include: suggesting that the Bush twins be forced to enlist in the military; downplaying the importance of diversity behind the camera, and carefully explaining this to a black producer, Effie T Brown; the time in response to a question about sexuality, he implied that actors should remain closeted; and when he declared I didnt take a role away from a Chinese actor when the subject of whitewashing was raised, rather than engaging.

This leads me to a simple truth: if one is from a group that has never been oppressed for reasons of identity, it is almost impossible to understand what that feels like. This often isnt their individual fault, which is where defensiveness comes in, but it is true. Women know, people of colour know, LGBT+ people know, people with disabilities know, those persecuted for their religion know. To an extent, perhaps straight white men know, if, say, they come from a state school, have a thick northern accent, and attempt to enter the media. Or Oxbridge. But if youve never been on the receiving end of a punching down, then of course it is possible to sympathise but you aint ever gonna feel the blow.

It was Damons character (right) in Good Will Hunting who was chastised by Robin Williams therapist for precisely assuming that secondhand knowledge could replace empirical, lived experience. Did Damon learn nothing? Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Miramaz

Its not that the effort of others to understand is not appreciated. That needs to happen for things to change and improve, and Damon seems to have good intentions. But he is never going to know what it is like to walk home with keys between knuckles. I am never, for instance, going to know what it is like to have a job application sidelined because apparently some people think, as a friend was told recently, African names have too many vowels. I dont know what it is like to have someone talk to me like a child because I use a wheelchair. I do know what it is like to have a male colleague take credit for my ideas, and to be vigilant when kissing a partner in case of abuse.

As someone who holds freedom of speech close to my heart, and who can sometimes be found eye-rolling at some of the more eccentric demands for safe spaces or some of the no-platforming decisions, I dont think though others do that certain people should automatically be banned for speaking on certain subjects. However, I do think certain people should recognise when their voice carries less authority, should know when to shut up, and realise that their voice is not needed, wanted, or helpful at a particular time. As a motormouth, I am sure I have screwed up here before. Damon doesnt seem to care, and continues, relentlessly, to #damonsplain.

Whats particularly ironic in all of this is it was Damons character in Good Will Hunting who was chastised by Robin Williams therapist for precisely assuming that secondhand knowledge, and reading from books, could replace empirical, lived experience. Did Damon learn nothing?

  • Hannah Jane Parkinson writes for the Guardian on pop culture, music, tech, football, politics and mental health

Read more:

In the latest in our 10-part series, the films we are most looking forward to next year by the worlds most singular directors

Based on a True Story

Now 83, Roman Polanski remains firmly in the public eye, despite not having shot a film since 2013s ropy Venus in Fur. But Carnage, released a couple of years before that, suggested there was life and fire in the old genius yet, and this one has the great advantage of being scripted by Olivier Assayas. Another meta-fictional thriller in the mould of The Ghost Writer, this one stars Eva Green as a writer who becomes involved with an obsessive admirer.

Call Me By Your Name

Maybe the most intriguing among a strikingly tasty-looking bunch of Sundance titles, Luca Guadagninos latest may not feature Tilda Swinton, but it does look of a brilliant, shimmering kind with the likes of A Bigger Splash. Armie Hammer stars as an American academic who starts a summer love affair with an adolescent boy (Timothe Chalamet) while staying at his parents house on the Italian Riviera. Michael Stuhlbarg is the possibly spluttering papa.

The Death and Life of John F Donovan

Dont expect it to show up at Cannes no way, no how, not after what happened last time but still were reserving space for the latest by enfant terrible Xavier Dolan. Another English-language debut, this one stars Kit Harington as a rising US actor accused by gossip mag editor Jessica Chastain of being a paedophile. The supporting cast is as wow-y as that premise: Natalie Portman, Kathy Bates, Susan Sarandon, Michael Gambon.


Heres one that should make someone who, say, might be on maternity leave from March, feel really sore to miss: Alexander Paynes follow-up to the masterful Nebraska. And its his most ambitious to date: a sci-fi comedy drama starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig (subbing at the last minute for Reese Witherspoon) as a couple who voluntarily decide to be shrunk. But then she backs out at the last minute. Margo Martindale (star of Paynes fantastic Paris short), Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin and Christoph Waltz co-star.

The Handmaiden


Heres the only one on this list any of us have seen already: Park Chan-wooks simmering adaptation of the Sarah Walters novel Fingersmith. It premiered at Cannes in May and was warmly received as one of the most erotic movies ever made.

Happy End

Michael Haneke and Isabelle Huppert reunite for his first film since Amour and hers since, well, the trio of brilliant hits she had this year. Details are sketchy, but we know it co-stars Amour lead Jean-Louis Trintignant as well as Mathieu Kassovitz, that it was shot in Paris, Calais and London, and that the migrant crisis might be a backdrop. Nous laimons dj.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

The Lobster might not have picked up the acclaim it deserved but Colin Farrell is still in with a shot at the Golden Globes and its certainly upped Yorgos Lanthimoss profile in the US. Hopefully that bodes well for a great launch for this Cincinnati-set drama about a surgeon (Farrell, again) who forms a familial bond with a teenage boy, with apparently disastrous results. Nicole Kidman plays his wife; Alicia Silverstone crops up too, amazingly.

Lean on Pete

Of all the projects to follow 45 Years, Lean on Pete wasnt quite what we anticipated from Andrew Haigh. But whatever that fella dishes out, well take it. Lean on Pete is a racehorse; he and a 15-year-old take the trip from Portland, Oregon, to distant relatives in Wyoming. Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny and Steve Zahn feature.

Mektoub Is Mektoub

The fallout from Abdellatif Kechiches 2013 Cannes win for Blue Is the Warmest Colour did not paint him in the rosiest light. This one is based on Antoine Bgaudeaus novel La blessure, la vraie, about a screenwriter whose personal and professional dealings intermingle during a visit to his hometown on the Mediterranean. Other than that, its a puzzle: the cast is a mystery, but were guessing well find our around late April, when the Cannes contenders are announced.


Its easy to see why Derek Cianfrance might want a change of direction. His last movie, The Light Between Oceans, was a bruising, heartfelt, 100-hankie weepie on which multiple critics poured scorn (leading to Cianfrances wife, no less, writing a letter of protest). The Blue Valentine director this time round is going down the quasi-documentary route with the story of a heavy metal drummer who blows his eardrums out and must learn to adapt to a world of silence.


As one of the few people who liked The Search, Michel Hazanaviciuss follow-up proper to The Artist (never released in England due to the brutal festival reception), Im a nervous for and excited about this biopic of Jean-Luc Godard, about his courting of the then 17-year-old wife Anne Wiazemsky. Louis Garrel plays the director, Stacy Martin the actor. Brnice Bejo is also in the mix; her relationship with husband Hazanavicius may also have informed their involvement in this one.

The Sisters Brothers

Joaquin Phoenix makes his first appearance on this list, this time in the first English-language film from Jacques Audiard. Based on Patrick DeWitts novel, its about sibling assassins (Phoenix and John C Reilly) pursing a gold prospector across 1,000 miles of 1850s Oregon desert. Audiard was the surprise winner of the Palme dOr at Cannes last year for Dheepan; this looks quite wildly different.


Wim Wenders latest sounds faintly bananas. James McAvoy plays an Englishman imprisoned by jihadists in a windowless room on the eastern coast of Africa. Alicia Vikander is a diver prepping to hit the ocean floor in Greenland. The previous Christmas, they had a romance which began on a French beach. How this one will play we have no idea, but Charlotte Rampling co-stars, which suggests swimmingly.


Read more:

(CNN)Much like its title character, “Jason Bourne” is an efficient automaton of a movie, stripping away any pesky qualifiers — “Identity,” “Supremacy,” “Ultimatum” — and getting down to what the whole exercise is about in the bare-bones title.

Nine years after their last outing (and ignoring a misguided spinoff attempt), star/producer Matt Damon and director/co-writer Paul Greengrass have reunited, offering the same visceral, kinetic thrills. The result is a movie that provides the requisite pacing and action, as long as one doesn’t spend too much time fretting about the plot or logistics.
Much will likely be made of the timely central conceit, which involves the government using technology for mass-surveillance purposes. Moreover, if Jason Bourne is a modern-day answer to James Bond, it’s worth noting the only nefarious group here is the CIA, without requiring made-up acronyms like SPECTRE, as the preoccupation with Bourne stretches all the way to the agency’s director (a perfectly cast Tommy Lee Jones).
    Whatever the foundation in Robert Ludlum’s novels, the politics now are merely an excuse to launch the taciturn hero into action, with Damon’s purposeful walk, set to that pulsating music, representing its own kind of special effect.
    Suffice it to say that the one-time killing machine has been living off the grid, before being drawn back by an old ally (Julia Stiles). She’s armed with hacked, top-secret documents related to the shadowy forces that molded him, which, the agency frets, “could be worse than Snowden.”
    That again puts the CIA on Bourne’s tail, with the director dispatching an “asset” (Vincent Cassel) every bit as talented as Bourne in the art of mayhem to neutralize the threat, auguring an inevitable showdown.
    Beyond Jones, the supporting cast includes Alicia Vikander (coming off her Oscar win for “The Danish Girl”) as an ambitious CIA analyst leading the operation; and Riz Ahmed (currently featured to better effect in HBO’s “The Night Of”) as a tech billionaire, whose privacy-invading app is enlisted to do the government’s bidding.
    The action is characteristically stylish and breathtakingly fast. Those sequences only hit a serious skid during a climactic car chase along the Las Vegas Strip, which seems to have parachuted in from the “Fast & Furious” movies and pays even less attention to the laws of physics than it does local traffic ordinances.
    In interviews promoting the movie, Greengrass has been fairly open about his reticence in returning to these films, and his irritation over “The Bourne Legacy,” which Universal produced without him. Damon was equally candid about helping coax Greengrass back by arguing that it would be foolish to walk away from a franchise with such a built-in fan base.
    From that perspective, there’s nothing complicated about why Jason Bourne wasn’t left out in the cold.
    Universal tried the equivalent of a “Bourne” cover band. Now they’ve brought back the original group to play the hits. And kicks. And explosions.
    “Jason Bourne” opens July 29 in the U.S.

    Read more: