Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: The Social Network

Rocket Science (2007)

Think of it as the younger-son of The King’s Speech. Minus all of the royalty.

Reece Thompson plays Hal Hefner, a 15-year-old high-school student with a minor yet socially alienating (and painful) disability: He stutters uncontrollably. He soon finds a light at the end of the tunnel with his disability when a brainy female classmate (Anna Kendrick) cons him into being apart of the debate-team. Hal accepts, but finds problems when these two actually hook-up and start to question that maybe there’s something more between them, or maybe not. It’s all confusion in a high-school setting.

Oh, teenagers.

Take with it what you will, I was actually apart of the Debate Club when I was in high-school for a good year or so. Then, I switched schools, and ultimately lost my love and passion of debating. I still do it from time-to-time when people want to have arguments like, “Avatar or Hurt Locker?“, “Social Network or King’s Speech?”, or my favorite, “Artist or not the Artist?” Yep, that’s about the only type of arguments/debates I seem to have nowadays, but I don’t think even mentioning this slice of my life has anything to do with this review or this movie, because this movie is as much about being part of the Debate Club as much as this blog is about food.

Although I do make some references here and there.

Most indies that play out in the same vein like this, all try too hard. They have a certain bit of quirks that they are way too pleased with, love to show off, and never stop reminding us of. It can get quite annoying after awhile and that’s what has usually come to plague such directors like Jared Hess, Wes Anderson, and even Quentin Tarantino so much in the years. The last subject I never have a problem with, but for those first two? Eh, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the context of the story and what it brings to the table. That’s the problem that writer/director Jeffrey Blitz has here.

Too focused in on trying to hide that boner of his.

Too focused in on trying to hide that boner of his.

Blitz apparently took a lot of the material for this flick, from his own adolescence and it shows, because the movie rings very true to what the high school life is really all about. Granted, this isn’t really a movie that takes place in high school and shows you all of the cliques, relationships, friendships, clubs, teachers, lunch ladies, so on and so forth, but just shows the type of kids that go to it and what they think about, whether they are in class or not. Blitz nails down what it’s like to start growing-up, starting to realize that there is a world out there, larger than you even imagined, and start to question everything that you’ve believed in, prior to your next chapter in life. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s the type of idea that Blitz captures well.

However, where this movie loses itself in is trying way, way too hard to win you over with it’s crazy and wacky quirks. That’s bad because nobody likes when a person tries to show-off what they can do, how many times, and how well they can do it, but what’s even worse is that this movie was really winning me over. It’s not like I went into this movie, was totally taken aback by all of the quirky-humor and automatically made up my mind that this was going to be shit, but it was the exact opposite. I ultimately fell for it’s quirks and even realized that maybe I could get past it all with a sweet story, and an attention to character. But nope.

The film wanted to have it the other way.

Sometimes it’s clever, sometimes it’s not. But overall, it’s just bothersome to see in a movie like this, especially when you know the movie has so much more promise then what it’s actually giving us. Maybe a bit more drama would have narrowed things down for us, or maybe a teeny, tiny-bit more attention to the plot would have helped, but with a film like this that is so pleased with what it has to say or do, you kind of lose the point. And you can totally tell that this movie was trying to tell an important-fact of stuttering and how a person can get through it with time, patience, and determination, but they even sort of make that a joke by the end. It’s still sweet, but does make fun of the wrong things if you think about it. Okay, enough of this.

Back to the goods, baby.

Evil woman.

The determined eyes of a monster.

Newcomer Reece Thompson is really good as Hal Hefner, and does a magnificent job at keeping up his stutter the whole time. That may sound like a terrible thing to say about a character who has a real problem, that real people have to deal with, but it’s the truth: Keeping a consistent stutter must be a pretty hard job. That’s why it’s so great to see this kid pull it off with flying colors, but he’s not all about losing his train of thought, he’s actually more than that. Hal Hefner is a good character because he reminds all of us, a little bit ourselves. He’s young, rebellious, trying to make sense of the world, falling in-love for the first-time, and will stop at nothing to keep that feeling of love and tranquility in place.

Anna Kendrick is just about a household name by now, but people don’t remember when she was just a young, small girl, in a little indie where she got to not only show off her charm, but her comedic-timing as well. Kendrick is awesome at being able to show us how smart and perky a character like hers can be, but also how sinister underneath it all. You never know whether or not to trust this character and all of the hope that she gives to sweet, little old Hal, but you feel Kendrick’s a presence on-screen, and she keeps you watching the whole time.

Makes sense why she’s the star she is now.

Consensus: Rocket Science is maybe way too pleased with itself at times, but also benefits from smart, funny insights into growing up and high-school life.

7 / 10

Oh yeah, and he's a nerd too. Just adding insult to injury there, kid.

Oh yeah, and he’s a nerd too. Just adding insult to injury there, kid.

Photos Courtesy of: Thecia.Com.Au

Advertisements

The Fifth Estate (2013)

How much punishment can one laptop take?

Everybody knows what WikiLeaks is and its everlasting effect on the world of politics, humanity, and most of all, journalism. But does everybody know the man/creator behind it? Well, sort of, but if you don’t then here he is, in full-fledged form. Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the man of the hour, and the man with the power who is able to release all of these confidential, and somewhat threatening pieces of information that is detrimental to plenty of big corporations out there who are living happy and easy, all because of their sneaky ways of screwing people over. However, even though Assange has all of this information up on his site, he doesn’t have the marketing to make it be seen by all those peeps worldwide. That’s where spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) comes in and gives Assange and WikiLeaks all of the help that it needs to get out there to mass public audience, be seen by important politic figures, and have people aware of what’s really going on out there, without any strings attached like you would most likely find in a public newspaper. But, like with any company that finds its sweet-spot, WikiLeaks itself begins to show cracks of not only endangering the people they promised to protect, but also doing even more harm to the friendship of Berg and Assange, showing that one of them wants a bit more power and control than he ever originally imagined.

"Julian? Why do I hear moans coming from your computer?"

“Julian? Why do I hear moans coming from your computer?”

The story of beginning of WikiLeaks is a very interesting one, however, it’s one that I think can only be done justice through the documentary format. I know that there already is a documentary out there about the upbringing of WikiLeaks, Assange, Berg, and its overall impact on the rest of the world, but I have yet to see it, which means that this piece of mainstream media will have to do. And if that is the case, then so be it, because this movie isn’t half as bad as some people may be declaring as being. Then again, it is a movie that comes from Hollywood, so you can’t always expect the truth and nothing but it.

However, that’s what surprised me the most about this movie and Condon’s direction: It doesn’t necessarily take as many sides with this story as you’d suspect. Yes, you can tell that Condon definitely favors the idea of letting the general mass-public know what their government is doing to them, but he never gets too deep into it to where you can practically see him cheering the side on from their corner. He remains objective, shows both sides of the story, and while he’s at it, informs us just what happened and how this idea of a whistle-blowing website all come to fruition. If there’s anything that surprised the most about this movie, it’s that; the idea that not only can you inform me on a story I’d like to know more about, but you can also entertain me as well, without losing site of what this story means, who the characters are breathing inside of it, and why it all matters.

Although, I do have to say that the last aspect doesn’t really come into play as much, mainly because it seems like Condon is too infused with informing us, rather than actually giving us reasons to care in the first place. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it gives us plenty of ideas about what really went on behind those closed closets of the early days of WikiLeaks, but it still could have done itself an even bigger favor by reminding the audience that this all matters to us in the year 2013, and these are the reasons why. Another cyber-thriller of the same vein, The Social Network, performed this task expertly, however, that one worked on all cylinders when it came to its overall presentation. This, on the other hand, doesn’t really leave you with that lasting impression that our world is changed forever, and ever, and ever. It only reminds us that the government are a bunch of baddies that continue to do immoral, terrible things, and it’s up to us to pay attention.

Once again, not a bad idea to have in our heads, but is that really all WikiLeaks is about? I feel like there was more to it, but Condon didn’t explore it too much. Oh well, at least he made something like the constant clicking and clacking of computer keys entertaining and even, dare I say it, thrilling.

But where I think Condon takes the biggest misstep in his direction is in the way that he has Julian Assange himself portrayed. No gripes against Benedict Cumberbatch one bit as the guy is good at making us see all of these clear intentions behind the way he speaks, act, and interacts with the people around him, and still making us see that he has a heart. However, once this character begins to go sour and his journey to proving right and wrong becomes blurry, then the missteps in making this real-life character interesting and compelling, begin to show and make you understand why the real-life Assange was so pissed about this portrayal so much. They don’t really rain on his parade, as much as they just make him out to be a bit of a control-freak that loved all of this attention and glory he received, and couldn’t share that with the others who helped him get to that point. Which is fine because the real-life guy definitely was like that, but it seems like that’s all Condon was too worried about: Making him a negative person, rather than just a person. Once that judgement got cloudy, then so did my interest-level as it seemed like the guy was just a dick, just to be a dick. Nothing more, nothing less.

At least they got the long, beautiful, and curly flocks of white down correctly. At least.

At least they got the long, beautiful, and curly flocks of white down correctly. At least.

Regardless of his character’s problems, Cumberbatch was still good to watch and had me more interested in him playing the person, than the actual person himself. Same goes for Brühl who, with last month’s Rush, is showing his bright and talented face to American audiences for the greater good that they will all eventually latch onto the fact that not only is this guy a talented actor, but he’s also a very versatile one as well, able to make a character that doesn’t really say or do much throughout the whole movie, and yet, you still know what his true intentions are and best of all, you know they’re good and better than Assange’s turn out to be. That bastard.

The rest of the cast is pretty good with Stanley Tucci, Anthony Mackie, and Laura Linney showing up as a bunch of United States agent members trying their best to figure out what’s going on with WikiLeaks and its overall effect on their confidential informants in foreign countries. Though there is a subplot featuring Linney’s character that goes a bit overboard at one point, they all do fine and make their story somewhat interesting, rounding out what could have been a very one-sided story. Also, nice to see David Thewlis popping up in something and putting his charm to the works. The guy always finds a way to make me laugh, even if I’m not British and can’t get past his usage of various slang.

Consensus: More importance upon why WikiLeaks matters would have done The Fifth Estate more good, but with the solid acting and enjoyable feel, without ever being too convoluted or confusing for people who literally know diddly-doo about the actual true story, it still works as a movie to see, but not to expect too much from in terms of opening up your eyes and seeing the world. and your government, in a totally different way. If you want that, just go to the site yourself.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Together, let's fight crime and prove political injustice to the rest of the free world forever!!"

Proving political injustice, one illegal hack at a time.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Jobs (2013)

You’re trying to tell me Steve Jobs was NOT God?!?!?

This is the story of Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher). Some of you may know him as that guy who died two years ago, others may know him as the man who founded Apple and the world has never been the same since. That latter-choice is mainly what he’s remembered for, although you wouldn’t be wrong to go with the first one either because he did die two years ago, due to stomach cancer. Anyway, that’s the end of his story, the beginning of it all begins with his early days of getting kicked out of college, being a hippie, doing a lot of acid, and starting his own computer company in his garage with fellow iconic nerd Steve Wozniak (Josh Gad). Then, once powerful businessman Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney) came strolling through, poking his nose into Jobs’ business, then he, along with the rest of Apple, got big. Almost TOO big some would say, especially for Steve himself who was considered very difficult to work with and always wanted perfection, at the expense of the others around and supported him. That would all come back to catch up with him though, in a way that not only blind-sided him, but the rest of the technology world as well.

The story of Steve Jobs seemed almost destine for the big-screen. Think about it: How many people do you see out-and-about with iPods, iMacs, or iPhones? The answer is somewhere in the millions and it shows you the type of effect/influence this man had on our world. He changed the way we see, hear, and feel everything, not just computers, music, or video-games, EVERYTHING. The man was a visionary, and it still saddens me to this day to see him go. What saddens me even more, is that his legacy will most likely live on in made-for-TV movies like this; the problem being, this isn’t a made-for-TV movie. It’s released to the general, wide public, in order to inform the world on the person Steve Jobs was and why his story matters, but at the same time, not doing either of them. It just tells a story, and that’s it.

"Can we get a munchies break, man?"

“Can we get a munchies break, man?”

All we really get here from Joshua Michael Stern’s direction with this material is that Steve Jobs was a very smart dude, but at the same time, a dick. Which I will admit, I liked. It takes a lot for a biopic like this to not sugarcoat its main subject, and I liked that it showed Jobs as a dude that didn’t work well with others, for reasons that weren’t anybody else’s fault but his own. He was a perfectionist, arrogant, always felt like he knew what to do and how to do it better, and didn’t want to be anything or anybody that disagreed with him. From the stories that I’ve read and heard of Jobs, a lot this rings true, which is why I’m glad that Stern went for that aspect of the man’s story, but that’s about it.

Everything else we see here, like his failures and his victories, all play out without little to no emotion, insight, or compelling arguments as to why it matters at all in the least bit. Seriously, as soon as Jobs and the rest of his ragtag group are given their first task to create a keyboard and sell it to the wide audience out there, we are told it does something cool in a way that only full-on computer geeks will get and understand. As for the rest of the human-population that can’t tell the difference between a Dell or a PC, are going to be at a loss for words, which is wrong to do for a biopic of this. A lot of people have been bringing comparisons between this and another technology-centered biopic, The Social Network, and although I wanted to side-step away from that obvious route, I just can’t help it because at least that movie did everything right, that this movie could not do.

It gave us a reason to care, with fully fleshed-out characters; it made us understand why all of these inventions mattered, and still do in today’s world; and made us feel the hurt and the pain once the back-stabbing and betrayal began to happen between co-workers, and old friends. That movie, was a near-masterpiece and watching a misguided biopic like this only made me realize just how well-done that movie honestly was. This, on the other hand, while not being terrible like I had originally imagined it being, still can’t seem to get to the core of the events it’s depicting, or the person it’s about himself.

For instance, rather than this being a movie about Steve Jobs the person, it’s more about Steve Jobs, what he did, and how he did it. Not how he felt or who he was, but what he got done in time for everybody to check it out. In a way, it just traces all of the accomplishments he had over the years, while also shedding a dim-light on some of the biggest happenings of his life. Probably the most important event of his life was when Bill Gates “supposedly” ripped-off one of Jobs’ models, putting him into a total fit of rage and anger. You’d think that the tension and building-up to this one scene would be somewhere along the lines of Peter Parker on the verge of beating the shit out of JT, but it was the farthest thing from. Instead, we just got a simple phone-call from Jobs to Gates, where the man left an angry voice-message, saying he’s pissed and all of that other enraged crap, and that was it. Never alluded to once again, and just left to pan-out in mid-air. That’s not the only instance where we get something important in Jobs’ life alluded to, and never brought up again: There’s the fact that he was adopted, and didn’t want anything to do with his first-born; what he did in his meantime when he was first fired from Apple (and subsequently founded Pixar); and the fact that he abandoned and ripped-off of most of his co-founding friends within Apple.

Plenty more where that came from, and even though they do touch on those subjects in this movie, they never go anywhere deeper than just a nod, a wink, or nothing at all. Maybe just a mention, and that’s it.

Oh my gosh! It's Kelso! But he's old! And bald!!

Oh my gosh! It’s Kelso! But he’s old! And bald!!

However, I’d say that the only memorable part about this whole movie is Ashton Kutcher’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, which in and of itself isn’t even the best part of the movie; it’s just interesting per se. Because let’s all face it: I highly doubt I was alone in the world being skeptical and nervous hearing that Michael Kelso would be playing none other than Steve Jobs, a widely-regarded genius of the modern-day, right? And that’s not a hit against Kutcher at all; in fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I “like” the dude. He’s funny, he’s got charm, and seems like he can pull off some nice bits of acting when he needs to, but I think it may be just a little too drastic for him to go for the gut with a performance that’s centered all around him, what he can do as an actor, and how spot-on he can portray this famous figure. Some of it, surprisingly, Kutcher does well with, especially the gaunt-walk Jobs supposedly had and the way he was able to sound-out certain vowels. That “impersonation”, if you will, is good for him and he does a nice job with, but when it comes to getting to the meat of the performance and of this guy, then he loses all credibility.

Most of that blame is partially on the script, as well as the direction, but it’s also on Kutcher because I always saw him “acting”. Not once did I really see him BECOME Steve Jobs. I just saw him playing Steve Jobs, and try really, really hard at it as well. The make-up and facial-hair looked good on him and was able to make us see him as Jobs, but that’s all because it’s a neat little trick of the director, and not because Kutcher is that talented of an actor. However, I can’t hate on the guy too much because he surprisingly bearable to watch here, and it’s the type of performance that makes me wish I see him in more daring, challenging roles in the future, but as for right now: Just stick with saying choice words like “dude” and “sweet”, and you’ll be all good.

As for the rest of the stacked-cast, they all do fine as well and in certain spots, bring out the best within Kutcher’s acting skill. Josh Gad especially, playing Steve Wozniak in a way that makes him a rather rotund, but lovable nerd that knows what’s right for the technology world, but also has morals to where it’s no surprise to see him and Jobs have a bit of a battle on what constitutes “business, without being personal”. Also, it was very nice to see Dermot Mulroney get his best performance in what has seemed like ages. Seriously, why is this guy not getting bigger and better roles nowadays?!?! The man obviously deserves it, and shows so here. Whatever, it’s probably just me.

Consensus: While Jobs doesn’t stray far away from the ugly side of it’s main figure-head, it surely doesn’t do him many favors either in terms of getting to who the person was, why he was that way, why he mattered, why what he did mattered, and why we should fully believe Ashton Kutcher as a dramatic force to be reckoned with.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Steve Jobs: Also former GQ's "Sexiest Man of the Year" recipient.

Steve Jobs: Also former GQ’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” recipient.

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Apparently the sun never comes out in this alternate history, either.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them. It ain’t pretty, trust me.

I have never read the original novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and to be honest, that may have been a good decision on my-part, since I didn’t really know what was happening and also the fact that I had no idea what type of mood it was going to put me in, because damn man, it’s a total downer. No, I mean it. It is a REAL downer.

However, let’s not talk about all of that sadness that goes on here, let’s focus on the finer things with this flick (and in life) considering I’m not ready to walk into traffic just yet. It was really cool to see director Mark Romanek back after all an 8-year hiatus from movies and take a subject matter like this because he fits it’s feel and style very well. This whole film, from start to finish, is absolutely stunning and beautiful to look at. The whole look has this very dry sense of color the whole time, but it also ended up giving some of the most beautiful images of this movie such as onne image that stands out the most in my mind is the shot of a beach and a little old tugboat was lying on its side in the sand, with the orange sunlight just barely shining over it. That’s one-shot from this film that really stayed with me and made me understand just the type of world I was placed-in with this flick. It’s a dark piece of material we have here, but with Romanek on-board, beauty still finds it’s way of climbing back into the story and presenting itself the whole way through.

I also felt that the mood that Romanek set for this film was just the right way to approach this material to begin with. I don’t want to get into too much about what goes on in this flick and how it all happens, but the fate these kids are left to live are pretty damn sad to begin with and Romanek doesn’t try to gloss that up with any unnecessary humor or themes about the joys of life. No siree, instead he makes this a flick about how we as humans, are supposed to live out our lives and be happy even though it may not always go that exact-way we want it to be. Then again, I highly doubt that that is what the central message of this flick is all about, but it’s what I could get underneath all of the sadness that Mr. Romanek used so well.

The problem was that there was also a bad-side to that depressing mood as well. This flick is so based on being a total debbie-downer, that even the parts where the flick tries to bring some little moments of being happy, they don’t really do much because you know that no matter what happens, the violin score will just come right back on and thus bring on back the sadness that we thought we escaped. There’s no problem with a film being sad the whole time, especially if that’s what it’s mood is conveying straight from the start, but it’s a real problem is when it seems like that’s the only thing that the film has any time to focus on and rather than just giving us something to smile and at least be happy about for the meantime, we are instead treated to total and utter depression. I guess I don’t quite get it since I didn’t read the original source material but I seriously could have only imagined how bad that must have been.

What really brought me into this flick though was the performances here by this young and attractive cast that have all proved themselves in their own respective bouts, but come together here and do a nice-job with some dull-ass characters. Carey Mulligan is great as Kathy H., and once again shows that she has the emotional chops and presence to pull off any character and have you know she is always around. The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is also nice to watch as Tommy and feels like a real kid who just doesn’t know how to act around girls, or anybody for that matter. Then again, he also got jipped out of being the co-founder of the largest social network of all-time so that may add a bit of insult to injury as well. (teehee, Facebook jokes rule) The real stand-out here may be Keira Knightley though, who is very one-dimensional as the bitchy and manipulative chick, Ruth, but is very good at it unlike anyway we have seen her before.  However, her character does end up starting to change and show some real humanity by the end of the flick and was probably the only character I could actually feel something for once everything was said and done. Which brings me on to my last and final problem with this flick.

I get that these characters are here for a reason that I won’t say, but something just felt off about them to the point of where I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel for any of them. Since there was so much depth to the sadness of this whole plot, the characters themselves are sort of just left on the side and are there for you to care about if you want to or not. The film can be a little stuffy, but it barely let me feel anything for them and then when their fate is finally said to them, it was weird how I didn’t feel any emotional connection. Now it would be hard to say that I could ever relate to anything that any of these characters have been and are going through but I still think as a film, there should have been more emotions centered at the characters rather than just their surroundings. Maybe I was supposed to feel this emptiness or maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel anything for them, maybe it was just for the whole situation itself. Maybe. I don’t know really.

Consensus: If you are in happy mood and want to keep that going, then don’t check out Never Let Me Go, because it is sad, empty (in many ways), and doesn’t have any real moments of shining suns in the sky, but it is also beautiful to look at, a very moody piece that can really put you into its setting, and features a fine young cast that does a great job with all that their given.

7/10=Rental!!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

OK maybe I lied, Americans acting like a Swedish people are more effed up.

This is basically the same exact premise as the Swedish original with a young computer hacker, Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) becomes entangled with a journalist, Mikael (Daniel Craig), over a case of a young girl’s death that is over 40 years old.

Never reading the book but seeing the Swedish original, I kind of knew right away what I was getting myself into. Even though it didn’t fully come out the way I would have liked to wish, I still couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas night then watching 2 hours and 40 minutes worth of incest, rape, lesbians, and James Bond wearing glasses.

One of the problems with the remake was the fact that it didn’t really take too much time fleshing everything out from the characters to the mystery itself. Everything sort of just felt a little rushed but with this one, not so much. Writer Steven Zaillian does a great job of keeping this dialogue on many roads but giving them all enough time to flesh out and still seem effective at the end when it’s all said and done. You got to also give Zaillian a lot of credit for not trying to dumb it down for audiences in any way either.

However, this film is solely David Fincher‘s and almost every frame here, he reminds of you that. Fincher has been really getting farther and farther up my list for my favorite director and it’s inspired directions like this that make me understand why I feel this way. Fincher does not put in a scene here that doesn’t mean anything to the plot and instead every scene he puts in adds something more to the story every-time whether it being more material found out about Harriet, Lisbeth boning Mikael again, or just some more crazy-shit going down for this story. Fincher is working his A-game with this flick and doesn’t stop once to slow down or take a breather, don’t go into this blind, you will want to rip your hair out, and that’s something that Fincher likes to hear.

Even though his direction is incredible though, I still felt some tension was a little lost for many reasons. One of the reasons being here is that I felt like he should have at least taken more time with this story because when he does, it puts you on-the-edge-of-your-seat without any remorse. There also isn’t much time for Fincher to build up tension within a certain scene rather than just focusing on a lot of fast-cuts and quick chases in between two characters. There was probably one scene by the end of the flick where I really felt the real deal tension that I would usually get with a ‘Seven’ or ‘The Game’ or even ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ for that matter.

Another reason why I felt a lot of the tension was lost was because this is a re-make and even though some scenes are either changed, left out, or breezed right over that are from the original, I still couldn’t feel like I saw this story before but except with different people. The original film was all about the unpredictability of it and having no idea where this case was going to take either character, and just who was going to end up alive or dead. Here, the film didn’t change all that much so knowing all of the twists and happenings of the plot was kind of a real bummer and sort of felt lackluster for me even though I still do think Fincher gives it his all. You can only do so much with a film that has been by so many in the first place Finch, but I’m glad they gave it to you to direct.

The biggest selling point for this film was in fact The Girl herself: Lisbeth Salander who’s played by Rooney Mara aka that girl that broke up with Mark Zuckerberg in the beginning of ‘The Social Network’. I don’t think anyone ever thought that they would soon again be seeing the same chick about a year and two months later with tats, piercings, and full-on nakey scenes all-over-the-place. To say the least though, Mara is amazing here and brings a lot more to a role that was already down pat by Noomi Rapace. Mara has a lot to do here and in such a demanding role, she makes everything seem believable with a tough-ass character like Lisbeth that at times may go away but you never forget her and it’s only a short-time until she’s back on being a scary chick like usual. Mara definitely deserves an Oscar nomination probably because Rapace got one and I think that Mara should at least get a lot more roles now considering the last time I remembering her doing something this dark was ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ aka the awesome remake….

One of my biggest and bitchiest complaints of the original was the fact that the film barely even focused on Mikael, who was a totally cool character in and of himself. This is something that this film does not do and instead gave me what I would like to say Daniel Craig‘s best performance since he first decked out the James Bond look in ‘Casino Royale’. Mikael is an interesting character and it was cool to see him get a lot of time spent on him even when Lisbeth does come around to eff shit up. Even though he did not stand a chance from taking Mara’s spot-light, Craig is still great and offers up that real human-being aspect of a character that needed more attention to him in the first place.

Everybody else here is pretty damn good as well with plenty of creepy and eerie performances given by Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, and Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger who with this and ‘Anonymous’ earlier this year has found herself really heating things up and getting our minds away from the fact that she went out with the kid that played her son in ‘Nip/Tuck’. Yeah, it’s a little creepy but then again just watch one episode of that show and it will seem pretty normal after awhile.

Let’s also not forget to mention that this film also features another kick-ass score from the minds of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Every time Fincher teams up with these guys, they just somehow make magic together and almost every scene that is under-lined with another piece of the score music, the more and more creepy the film gets without over-doing it. Also, this film definitely features one of the best and most random opening sequences to a film that I’ve seen all year. You can basically that ‘Immigrant Song’ cover to anything, and I guess that anything here was whips, chains, and very black and oily people.

Consensus: If you have seen the original, everything here may feel a bit familiar and old, but with Fincer’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you don’t know what to expect with some great tension, non-stop fast pace, and great performances from the whole cast, especially Mara who shows her total role commitment and deserves some type of recognition come February.

8/10=Matinee!!

Middle Men (2010)

Goodfellas; if instead of mobsters, they had naked chicks.

After spotting a big financial opportunity in the future of Internet pornography, straightlaced entrepreneur Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) enlists his pals Buck (Gabriel Macht) and Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi) to help him develop an online billing company specializing in adult entertainment. But as the firm takes off, Jack finds some unexpected kinks in the business of kink — including mobsters, the FBI, con men and terrorists.

Internet porn is something everybody uses, especially in today’s world but it’s funny to see how when internet came about and everything, that porn wasn’t the first thing on everybody’s mind for it.

The best aspect to Middle Men right away is it’s script which really does work. While the script isn’t as quick-witted as some films about a major technology breakthrough like The Social Network, the film still moves at a good pace with enough clever lines of dialogue following each other well. Also, in a time where so many movies want to be about sex and violence but don’t really have the guts to follow through with it, the writing on Middle Men has an edge that keeps it exciting throughout all the laughs.

The problem with this film that it seems a lot of others had was that you may find it the same exact formula that was used in such films as Boogie Nights and Goodfellas, but for me, the formula worked here. The story moved well and it didn’t really leave out any details about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. The narration from Wilson may seem a bit annoying at first because it does pop-up about every 30 seconds but I thought actually helped turn the plot and keep the naughty bits of this film going. The soundtrack is also bangin’ because songs that you haven’t heard in awhile come out of nowhere here and bring you back to a time like this film portrays.

My problem with this film that I actually had was that some of it feels a lot duller than other parts of the film and by the end for some reason, it becomes more of a suspense film rather than an actual tale of how internet porn all came to be. I get that this is an actual true story, but for some reason it just played like a bad suspense thriller that I already knew how was going to end so therefore all the mystery was lost.

Another problem with the film is that we see Wilson’s character in the beginning as this wholesome, nice-guy Texas family-man but he soon changes as he gets himself caught up in business with these two morons and for a reason why he changed, was not explained. This character transition of character made his character seemed disjointed and unexplained and what the real problem here is that the film tries to show this character in a slimy light, and positive light. For some reason, either way didn’t really work out.

Luke Wilson is here as Jack Harris, who (finally!) lives up to his potential as a leading man, which we haven’t really seen since Bottle Rocket. He brings humility and likability to a ‘smartest-guy-in-the-room’ character that makes you identify with Jack Harris’ succumbing to the chaos surrounding him and  root for him to get out of it. His character may kind of have problems but Wilson knows how to keep this character likable and actually believable.

Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht are OK together as the two moron-savant programmers but nothing really special. They actually started to annoy me by the end of the film because their constant rambling and over-acting didn’t seem funny anymore, as much as it was just trying too hard for laughs. James Caan is brilliant with his turn as the shyster Las Vegas lawyer, Jerry Haggerty. The rest of the cast is backed up by good performances and cameos from the likes of Terry Crews, Kevin Pollack, Kelsey Grammar, and Laura Ramsey.

Consensus: Some of it is a bit messy, and a bit disjointed, but Middle Men also features some very good writing that gives us great detail about internet porn, while still providing good performances from the whole cast, especially Luke Wilson who shows that he can handle a film well too.

6.5/10=Rental!!

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

Hey, I say if a bomb is what gets us to get our pizzas faster, then I’m all for it.

Two small-town criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) planning a big-time bank heist wind up abducting pizza delivery driver Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and forcing him to commit the robbery — giving him a strict time limit to boot. To pull off the caper, Nick enlists the aid of a former buddy (Aziz Ansari). With the law, the crooks and the clock all breathing down their necks, the duo also try to patch up their troubled friendship.

After noticing that this was going to be done by the same dude who did Zombieland, and it had one of it’s stars already in the film, I was uber excited. Not too disappointing either.

My problem with this film was that the beginning it really didn’t know what exactly it wanted to be just yet. I mean we have this story that focuses on both guys and just where they come from, what they do, and how their like but you don’t know whether it’s just going to be a dark comedy or just plain and simply jokes filled with cursing.

Though when the film picks up, it really had me going. The premise here is actually pretty cool I must say and the actual comedy that pursues it is also good as well. I laughed a lot here because it’s lowbrow humor, but lowbrow humor done right with still enough funny lines to keep you glued in. Now of course there is the fair share of dirty moments here too but not a lot of the humor was based on that, which is a real surprise since almost any comedy that comes out nowadays seems to be trying to one-up the other in raunch level.

However, though the comedy here did get a little too dark for my taste at points. Some person suffers a gun-shot wound in front of a little girl while she screams in a scary, non-comedic tone in one scene, which wasn’t very funny and more of disturbing. Also, there was a lot of moments where this film just felt crude and offensive just for the sake of shock value. There was a couple of black people jokes here that made me nervously laugh because there was actually a black person right next to me and I just kind of shrugged off the laugh, but this proved that it didn’t really need to be in there in the first place.

I also like how director Ruben Fleischer kept this film going at a brisk pace of just 82 minutes without really ever trying to get any real humanizing themes about its character, or central message across either. It’s just basically a lot of laughs, action, and some sexy women thrown in there but not too much.

The cast here is what really makes this film a total blast. Jesse Eisenberg is playing the same kind of twitchy and kind of geeky but funny character he always plays here as Nick; Aziz Ansari finally got his big role here as Chet and just lets it all out every second he gets fully making me laugh every time he was on screen; Danny McBride does the same character he always plays too but that still works once again as Dwayne; and Nick Swardson is also very funny but sort of sympathetic as Travis. All four play off of each other so well and add so much more hilarity to this film than anyone could expect.

Consensus: Though it’s comedy gets a little lost and the film itself takes a little bit of awhile to get going, 30 Minutes or Less is still very funny with lowbrow humor rather than just raunchy jokes, a talented cast, and a slick time limit that keeps this film moving along as more and more fun ensues.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Also, did anybody else notice the little “The Social Network” joke? Maybe I’m wrong but for some reason, I think that there was one put in here. Let me know if you noticed it too.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

For a film that tries to tell us about the dangers of falling asleep, I couldn’t help but nod off during this crap.

Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), is a serial killer who crosses the boundary between dreams and the waking world to gut his victims with his razor-sharp blade-fingered glove. As Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her pals fight for their lives, they also uncover clues to a shocking secret from their past.

This is a remake of the 1984 classic from Wes Craven and what I don’t understand is why the hell did we need this?!? Oh wait that’s right because we want kids who don’t even know about the original to go out and see this in order to get lots of moolah. Smart plan, bastards.

The movie’s main problem is that it’s just totally dull. It all starts off as one kid dozes off into this crazy fantasy, and then Freddy comes in and kills them, and then it happens to another kid. Nothing new really happens here other than just the fact that the kill-count keeps on moving up and it all gets so damn predictable. The supposed “scares” didn’t do anything for me, because every time Freddy popped up it was just a jump scare, and I mean almost every single time too. This just annoyed me because I knew where this film was headed and then it just totally began to lose my interest.

However, I liked how they actually dived into a more interesting story explaining Freddy for what he was, and why he is doing this all. I liked this because we don’t just see Freddy as a killer, but more of a human, that did bad things. I also liked a lot of the dark and creepy visuals here too but I feel like they had so much opportunity here to actually do something good and be awesome, but instead just totally relied on a shitty story, and even worse action/kills.

Jackie Earle Haley does try his hardest to be Freddy Krueger. He has that deep and raspy voice, and brings out a lot of chuckles with his one-liners but he’s just no Robert Englund. I think most of that problem is the fact that here, Freddy looks more like a lion mixed with a frog than an actual monster. Every time he popped up, I just wasn’t scared and thought that he looked pretty ridiculous. The rest of the acting is pretty crappy. This kid, Kyle Gallner, he basically has one-note in this film and it’s that he looks like he is about to cry like a little bitch. I don’t know why they got the most emo looking kid to star as the main teen in this film, but I have to say he sucks anyway. Thank God for The Social Network, or else Rooney Mara would be a total laughing-stock after this. She plays Nancy and is terribly boring and brings nothing new to the table other than being scared, sad, or sleepy. The rest of the teens suck but since the film doesn’t really care about them all that much, then neither should I.

Consensus: It has a more interesting take on the story, but that doesn’t mean it is actually good at all one bit. A Nightmare on Elm Street is boring, horribly acted, and just nothing new or cool that we haven’t seen before despite a couple of cool visuals.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Catfish (2010)

Now I’m totally starting up a relationship with somebody I met on Facebook.

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman document the strange series of events that unfolds when a gifted 8-year-old artist named Abby contacts Nev, a 24-year-old photographer (and Schulman’s brother), through Facebook. After Abby sends Nev a remarkable painting based on one of his photos, Nev begins corresponding with her family — including her seductive 19-year-old sister. Realizing that something’s not quite right, Nev sets out to uncover the truth.

This film has been questioned by viewers all over the world, to whether or not this is actually real. For me, I think this is real, even though everything plays out so smoothly in a way. I can’t really talk about everything that happens in this film, because I don’t really want to give anything away, but there are moments where you wonder if it’s real, and if it’s fake, and you sort of have to make that assumption up on your own.

My favorite thing about this film is that it perfectly captures the world we live in, in the 21st century now. Our lives are controlled by Facebook, and it’s almost to the point of where we don’t know what’s real, or what’s fantasy. So instead of questioning, we go along with it all, and get crazy answers.

You may not think it now, but this film will have you on the edge of your seat sometimes, the only problem is that everything that happens, you still don’t know whether it’s a joke or not. That was my one main problem as to whether or not it was real, because every time I thought this was too good to be true, I felt like it was and they were fooling me. However, this guy Nev does seem pretty legit, and genuine, and the actions he does make you think what would you do in this situation, so he sort of makes it all seem real. And it also helps that the dude is pretty likable, and you kind of root him on as long as this film does go on.

Consensus: Catfish may have you question what’s real, and what’s not, but it’s a great film about the world we live in, and could also be used as a perfect companion piece to The Social Network.

8/10=Matinee!!

Oscar Predictions and Thoughts for 2011

So as everyone among the film community know, it is Oscar time babyyyyy!!! So that means get ready for some of the biggest upsets, wins, and probably tearful moments of the year. It was a great year in the film, and this is what has all come down to it people. The big night, and here are my predictions, I hope I do well.

Best Animated Feature: Will Win: Toy Story 3 Should Win: Toy Story 3 Wild Card: How To Train Your Dragon

Best Documentary Feature: Will Win: Restrepo Should Win: Restrepo Wild Card: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Foreign Language Film: Will Win: In a Better World Should Win: Dogtooth Wild Card: Biutiful

Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short: Will Win: Can’t say I care too much

Best Editing: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Black Swan

Best Cinematography: Will Win: True Grit Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Visual Effects: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Alice in Wonderland

Best Sound Editing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: Unstoppable

Best Sound Mixing: Will Win: Inception Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Social Network

Best Art Direction: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The King’s Speech

Best Costume Design: Will Win: Alice in Wonderland Should Win: Alice in Wonderland Wild Card: True Grit

Best Makeup: Will Win: The Wolfman Should Win: The Way Back

Best Original Score: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Inception

Best Original Song: Will Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Should Win: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) Wild Card: I See The Light (Tangled)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Will Win: The Social Network Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: 127 Hours

Best Original Screenplay: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: Inception Wild Card: The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress: Will Win: Hailee Steinfeld Should Win: Melissa Leo Wild Card: Amy Adams

Best Supporting Actor: Will Win: Christian Bale Should Win: Christian Bale Wild Card: Geoffrey Rush

Best Actor: Will Win: Colin Firth Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg Wild Card: James Franco

Best Actress: Will Win: Natalie Portman Should Win: Natalie Portman Wild Card: Annette Bening

Best Director: Will Win: David Fincher Should Win: David Fincher Wild Card: Tom Hooper

Best Picture: Will Win: The King’s Speech Should Win: The Social Network Wild Card: Toy Story 3

I must say that this is a pretty solid year for the Oscar’s this year. All the nominees look just about right the only problem is how will the picks turn out? This year, everything seems like it’s coming down to Old School (The King’s Speech) vs. New School (The Social Network). The past couple of years The Academy (I hate that word) has been looking more towards hip, new films to win it’s Oscar Best Picture. Films such as Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, and American Beauty have all been unconventional new films that have seen their taste of Best Picture gold. But there has also been countless period piece wins for films such as Gladiator, Shakespeare In Love, and The English Patient. Also, many other major award shows have already presented the Best Picture win to The King’s Speech which is really chasing up people’s noses, as many other award shows have been choosing The Social Network as theirs. In my opinion, I liked Inception more than both of them, and yeah it’s nominated, but in all honesty it has no chance of winning. When it comes down to it I think that The Social Network should win, because it is an age-defining film, that went from being known as “The Facebook Movie” to being known as the top contender for every Oscar it’s nominated for. I hope that The Academy goes for the new school, because if they had The King’s Speech win, everyone would feel robbed really.

As for Best Actor, I think that Firth deserves to win for all his years dedicate to films, but Eisenberg fully deserves it. I think what the Academy is doing more and more now, is honoring actors & actresses not for just a certain performance they had, but their careers and saying that it’s their time. I don’t mind seeing stars like Jeff Bridges, Kate Winslet, or Colin Firth win an Oscar, because of the career they have but I’d rather see the “best performance of the year award” go to the BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR.

When it comes to the Best Actress category, it seems like Natalie Portman is the sole winner for here, as she has won almost every single Best Actress nomination at every award show. However, there is once again that little idea that it’s Annette Bening’s “time” to win, as she has been nominated twice, and still has not won yet even though her career has been going on for so long. I want Portman to win, and most likely she will, but I still have a feeling that The Academy may pull something out of their pockets and surprise us all with a Bening win.

I’m very disappointed that my main man Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director this year. He was snubbed for The Dark Knight, and now he’s being snubbed again, and it just pisses me off knowing that certain directors that do such a good job with daring material, don’t get the credit they deserve. I think if Nolan was nominated, he should have won, but I know it’s The Oscars, and not everything works out the right way.

This year had great films, and I’m glad to see that the Oscars have turned out to be this way. I loved 2010 as a year, and the films made it awesome. Here’s to 2011, and let’s just hope that the Oscars are awesome.

Thanks everybody for always reading, and keep on checking!!

The Social Network (2010)

I never thought I would actually love a film, that is about Facebook.

David Fincher’s biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

Way back when, I remember hearing news that crazy, dark director, David Fincher, was making a film on Facebook. So I don’t know how everybody else felt, but I was basically wondering “why the hell are they doing this!??!”. I thought it was a dumb idea, then I saw the trailer, and that’s when my guilt was finally taken away.

When it comes to directing, deep, strange, and bleak material, David Fincher is the main for that job, and here he shows that he can branch out and take a story like the creation, and overall effect of Facebook. He does it so well, with keeping a fast pace throughout the film, but not forgetting to show us how Facebook came to be, and the people that were “the other creators” of Facebook. The film bounces back in forth between showing the creation, and also the lawsuits that soon followed, and at first, I felt like it was going to be confusing, but I feel like that was the best way for this film to be structured, through flashbacks, and then you see how these people react with each other, before and after the creation of Facebook. It really is something remarkable what Fincher can do with this big-budget, Hollywood story, and still keep his own type of style in it, but attract mainstream audiences.

However, the main reason this film works, is the amazing, and I do repeat, amazing script job done here by Aaron Sorkin. This is what all films should be like, smart, witty, dark, and true to the point. Sorkin blends a great deal of comedy, and drama within this film that keeps it going, as fast as these geeks are talking, and the lines that come out, feel so real, and so genuine, as if your actually hearing somebody talk from the 21st century, just as this was going on. It works as a character study because the script dives into the egos that these people create, as they get bigger, and bigger, but not without showing us how they get the job done. This literally is the perfect script, cause you understand everything that these people are saying, even though they are speaking 50 miles per second. You also don’t really know who to hate, or who to sympathize with. Sorkin doesn’t just show you how much of a dick Zuckerberg is, but it does show the true emotions when a friendship is tested between business’, and who the real, and the fake friends are.

I was so astonished by Jesse Eisenberg in this film, and can easily say he has gotten rid of the awkward nerd title, that has been on his forehead for quite some time now. There are moments in this film, where you can see that Zuckerberg is just ready for something genius, and you can tell through Eisenberg’s purely amazing performance, because he’s got the look of a smart, and witty geek, but when he gets the attitude of a kid that will just rip your ass to shreds, by how much more rich, and famous he is than you, your just amazed by how good Eisenberg really can pull this off. He plays a dick so well, but yet his charm also attracts us to him oddly enough, and he’s likable, and utterly disgusting at the same time. I really do hope he gets nominated this year, and that he doesn’t once shy away from playing even more serious roles, cause he really can do them.

But it’s not just all about Eisenberg, the supporting cast, has also got some very bright spots as well. Andrew Garfield (aka New Spider-Man), is just perfect, and sort of the wild-card here in this film. This film mainly shows Eisenberg as the big see in this film, when Garfield, gives some honestly great showings of emotion within this film. You can feel the anger within this guy, as he sees his best friend, and ultimately whole life, go right down the tubes, and you just watch him every time he’s on screen. Justin Timberlake goes back to the old days of his N’Sync curly locks days, and basically gives a surprisingly very, very good, and energetic performance. This one shows that he is indeed an entertainer, and if his music career starts to slow down, he can just keep on doing acting, he’s obviously good at it. Armie Hammer also plays both of the Winklevoss Twins in this film, and does a great job at showing, two both arrogant, and cocky son of a bitches, that rely on their last name for everything, and he plays both sides very well.

There is also an amazing score job done by the Trent Reznor, which at first struck as me as odd, simply because he’s known for making crazy weird songs like: “Closer“, or “March of the Pigs“, and adding a creepy score to a film about Facebook, doesn’t seem to match very well, but somehow it does, and gels very well with the story, and brings a lot more emotion to the scenes.

The only problem I had with this film that I can think of, was that I do feel some things were made up, just for the fact of dramatic effect. Which in ways is alright, but at the same time, it kind of gets you thinking, why would you dramatize something, if it wasn’t as interesting in the first place? I don’t know, but other than that almost flawless film.

Consensus: When it comes to modern film-making at its finest, The Social Network, is brilliantly directed, written, and acted, but will also be a 21st Century defining film, for the years to come.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!