Loyal Blog Will Hunters Report

While Blog Will Hunting took the last half of the summer off from ruminating the Damon-Affleck masterwork, several of our loyal readers submitted relevant news that we’d like to feature at long last.

Ben Affleck as a T employee.
Ben Affleck as a T employee.

Thanks to Katherine for submitting a photo of Ben Affleck dressed as a T employee, in a new film shooting in Boston.  Unfortunately she could not illuminate what the deal was with “the state of his belt/pants,” responding “I guess we’ll have to see the movie.”

Will Affleck be texting while operating the train?  Will he save someone’s foot?  Will he yell at me for not paying my T fare even though I already paid but stepped out of the crowded car to let people out?  We shall see.

Thanks to Dave, for alerting us that “Matt Damon is NOT dead,” which we didn’t know was a possibility.  A few weeks ago the internet went crazy with the rumor he had died in the desert or something.  Associated Content cleared up the confusion, stating, “Academy Award-winning actor Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) is not dead, but, rather, is in Venice, Italy, attending the Venice Film Festival.” 

Bollywood 91, which looks like a fake website anyway, reported a very detailed account:

Matt Damon, an American actor and philanthropist, was found dead in California’s Palo Verde mountain area on Wednesday. He was 38.

According to TMZ’s web site, Damon, who was officially reported missing Friday, was on a camping trip. His body was found by an Imperial County Sheriff’s Department deputy on Wednesday.

The cause of death is unknown.

According to TMZ.com on Wednesday, law enforcement headed into the desert near San Diego on Tuesday. That day, TMZ.com reported, “Damon sent a text message to a friend that he was out of water and needed help. There was a massive search that ended abruptly.”

On his personal blog, Damon wrote last month he was going to the desert because of his friends talking about “treasure hunting and lost gold, and my own insatiable appetite for adventure and exploration . . . I plan on going so deep into the desert, that any failure of my equipment could cost me my life.”

Later on, however, he downplayed such fears, writing, “It seems some websites have reported on the story, posting up that I might die out in the desert, or that it might be my greatest opponent yet, etc. Come on guys. It’s really common down in southern California to go out to the off-road recreation areas in the desert about an hour away from L.A. and San Diego. So my plan is to go out to the desert, do some camping, ride the motorcycle, and shoot some guns. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. A lot of people do it. This isn’t a version of Into the Wild. I’m not going out into the desert with a pair of shorts and a bowie knife to try to live off the land. I’m going fully geared up, and I’m planning on having some fun.”

Damon won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his screenwriting in Good Will Hunting, and was nominated for his lead performance in the same film. Growing steadily in popularity from the 1997 film, he was since matched up with A-list actors in mainstream films, and today is rated among the top actors in Hollywood.

Damons agent, John Hayner, said his client led a simple life and always had an appreciation for the outdoors.

“He was always planning on going on some sort of adventure,” Hayner told TMZ.com. “And his my mom got scared and said ‘You’re moving with your auntie and your uncle in Bel-Air.’ I whistled for a cab and when it came near the license plate said “Fresh” and there were dice in the mirror. If anything I could say that this cab was rare but I thought, naw, forget it, yo holmes to Bel-Air. I pulled up to the house about seven or eight and said to the cabbie “Yo holmes smell ya later.” Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the prince of Bel-Air.”

Apparently no one who believed this report read the last paragraph.  Though I will now be using the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song lyrics in the place of lorem ipsum text for all future text-filler.

Thanks to Heather for forwarding the press release that Affleck and company would be shooting a scene in Harvard Square.  We thought it would cite exciting opportunities to be an extra or watch the magic happen, but apparently it was chiefly concerned with “parking restrictions.”

We received a film schedule from the folks that are currently in production of a Warner Bros. film called *The Town*. Cambridge native Ben Affleck will direct and star in the film. The film is based on Chuck Hogan’s novel, _Prince of Thieves_, a dark, heist-romance centered around Charlestown, MA.

They will be filming on Tuesday, September 15 (6AM-8PM.) In order to facilitate their production they will be parking some equipment vehicles on streets surrounding the filming location.

Filming Location:

Grendel’s Den
89 Winthrop St

There will be parking restrictions on:

*** Tuesday, September 15 (6AM-8PM) ***

JFK St from Eliot St to Mt Auburn St (both sides)

Eliot St from Bennett St to Mt Auburn St (Winthrop St. sides)

Plympton St from Mt Auburn St to Memorial Dr (both sides)

They assured us that they will do everything they can to minimize the impact of their presence on the area.

Boston.com provided some behind-the-scenes magic of sorts.  Well, a photo.  That’s cool I guess.

The Boston-based bank robber movie “The Town’’ - which has already filmed in Charlestown, Dorchester, and Fenway Park - made its way to Harvard Square on Sept. 15. Director and star Ben Affleck and his crew descended on Winthrop Park at about 6 a.m. to film outdoor scenes in front of Grendel’s Den and UpStairs on the Square.
The Boston-based bank robber movie “The Town’’ - which has already filmed in Charlestown, Dorchester, and Fenway Park - made its way to Harvard Square on Sept. 15. Director and star Ben Affleck and his crew descended on Winthrop Park at about 6 a.m. to film outdoor scenes in front of Grendel’s Den and UpStairs on the Square.

And thanks to everyone who urgently informed me immediately upon learning about a Zipcar-sponsored outdoor screening of Good Will Hunting.  It was in a little park birthed by the Big Dig, and in true Big Dig fashion, the screening was delayed for at least an hour and a half due to technical difficulties with an electrical problem blamed on the transit authority.

The inflatable movie screen would then begin to gradually deflate.  Zipcar: It's not your fault.
The inflatable movie screen would then begin to gradually deflate. Hey  Zipcar: It's not your fault!

As per Mike’s suggestion, Dave and I got a pizza in the North End and ate it sitting in the grass, and had a fine time despite leaving before it started… if it ever started.

Matt Damon: Blond Again

Just saw this on boston.com (my source for hometown hero news) this morning:

Damon

Blond Matt Damon is back! Hooray!

To readers of this blog, a towheaded Matt Damon has many nostalgic associations. But when was the last time we saw Matt Damon with goldilocks? A quick browse through his filmography leads me to believe that it was probably 2000’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, not one of Damon’s more memorable roles.

Which leads me to a second thought: while Damon hasn’t had the identity problems of his friend Ben Affleck and has managed to maintain a degree of both professional respect and profitability, I think we can all agree that there has been a second act to his career. And you can track it through his follicles.

Matt Damon burst onto the national scene as a fresh-faced young man ready to make good on all his potential, and it was a character we grew to love, from Good Will Hunting, through Rounders, to Titan A.E. As his darker roots grew out, though, he began to take on more serious roles (his turn as sociopath Tom Ripley being an obvious exception). The real shift came with 2003’s The Bourne Identity. Matt Damon reinvented his career. I think Paul Rudd’s character in The 40 Year Old Virgin best summed up the feelings of many pleasantly surprised viewers, who previously had ignored Damon’s talents: “I always thought Matt Damon was kind of a Streisand, but he is rockin’ the shit in this one.”

Yes, he was.

It was this Matt Damon we watched in the Bourne sequels, in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, in The Good Shepherd, in Syriana: a Matt Damon with a past he wasn’t ready to deal with; a Matt Damon with secrets he would hide from everyone, including himself; a Matt Damon driven by something he couldn’t understand or even name.

What will Matt Damon’s return to his blond roots bring for his career? We’ll have to wait and see. I will say this, though: It’s good to have you back, Blond Matt Damon. We missed you.

Ben Affleck, Pink Hats, and the Perceived Loss of Authenticity

How strange it was to glance up at the television screen during Tuesday’s Red Sox game to see NESN repeatedly zoomed in on none other than Good Will Hunting’s and Cambridge, MA’s own Ben Affleck. This is nothing new, I suppose. His presence has been documented in his sweet dugout-hugging seats before.

Actor Ben Affleck leans in to speak to players and coaches in the Boston Red Sox dugout during their baseball game against the Florida Marlins at Fenway Park in Boston Tuesday, June 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Actor Ben Affleck leans in to speak to players and coaches in the Boston Red Sox dugout during their baseball game against the Florida Marlins at Fenway Park in Boston Tuesday, June 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

But let’s step back a minute and observe how far we’ve come from Southie (and Cambridge Rindge & Latin)….

Brown-bagging spectators at Little League.
Brown-bagging it at Little League.

One of the many safe and stable realms of male bonding that Good Will Hunting establishes is baseball. This is of course a recognized Bostonian phenomenon: the Sox, the Curse, the brotherhood of “Red Sox Nation.” There is a key sequence in the film that invokes this (occasionally) unspoken bond among Bostonians — Will and his therapist’s nostalgic recollection of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Director Gus Van Sant intercuts archival footage, so soaked in nostalgia it has gone grainy and soiled, with the boys’ energetic reenactment of the game’s climax.

"Thirty-five thousand people went crazy. And I wasn't one of them." -- Sean (Robin Williams)

I can’t help connecting the dots from Good Will Hunting‘s grimy nostalgia for 1975 into the future to the Red Sox “Dirt Dogs,” mucked-up helmets, bunch-of-idiots, dirty-water sensibility. This aura clung to the authenticity of the true fans, sitting in the stands in rain or sleet or heartbreaking loss for decades.

That said, recent years have lent the franchise a slew of other connotations, many not in keeping with the underdog mentality so many have cheered for.

So here we are, back from 1975 and 1997, on June 16, 2009…

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Affleck and Kevin Youkilis (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

How weird and false and inappropriate it is to see a dashing, cleft-chinned version of Chuckie Sullivan on Boston’s plasma screens, in Fenway’s front-row, coyly sporting a Celtics t-shirt like an expatriate with something to prove.

How strange it is to see Kevin Youkilis (his shaved head distinctive though out-of-focus) and Affleck in the same AP photograph, their worlds-colliding romantic-histories seeming so much more Hollywood than Boston. (Youk is married to former Affleck beau Ezna Sambataro. Just please, don’t call them Kevezna).

(And Ben and Youk, encountering on this public stage…. Awkward!)

There is a real cognitive dissonance in seeing Morgan in the Little League stands and then Ben at Fenway. Affleck is such Glossy Movie Star these days (but hardly even in movies people sees anymore) and it invalidates that grainy authenticity of Southie, the unrefined Morgan Sullivan, and good ole Will Hunting’s modest dream to grow up taking their kids to little league together.

Affleck’s post-GWH transformation into Tabloid Cover Boy is paralleled by the Fenway Faithful’s transformation into “Pink Hats” (as lamented by tried-and-true Sox fans).  Are we mourning the loss of authenticity?  Has the Dirty Boston in Affleck been reduced to a crisp Pink Hat? Is the Matt & Ben we-won-Oscars-for-a-middling-screenplay-but-we’re-best-friends-so-it’s-adorable fairy tale just marketing hooey?

I don’t know, but I do know that the photographer at Tuesday’s Red Sox game should have been focusing on Youk (the first-baseman! leading the team in on base percentage and helping kids and awesomeness!); not on some Supertramp fan in the front row.