The Social Network – A Movie Review

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Dec 132010
 

On a fall night in 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and heatedly begins working on a new idea. In a fury of blogging and programming, what begins in his dorm room soon becomes a global social network and a revolution in communication. A mere six years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history, but for this entrepreneur, success leads to both personal and legal complications.

Genres: Drama and Biopic; Running Time: 2 hr.; Release Date: October 1st 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG 13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Joseph Mazzello, Armie Hammer

Directed by: David Fincher

I went to see this movie quite a while back at the theater. I took a Friday off, and went in the afternoon. I love to do that. I don’t know why, but seeing a film on a weekday afternoon gives me a real sense of “playing hooky.”

This film which shouldn’t work, but it does, and very well. A story centred on a teenager who becomes the world’s youngest billionaire, a web site that reaches a million users in two years, and a cast of real life characters with names like Zuckerberg and Winklevoss just shouldn’t be possible. A convoluted tale of raw conflict on the origins of a new type of web site should not lend itself to an expensive movie as opposed to a television documentary. It succeeds because it is not about the technology but about creativity and conflict and about friendship and betrayal. It succeeds because of a magical combination of accomplished direction, scintillating dialogue and superb acting.

The direction comes from David Fincher who has had variable success, all the way from “Alien 3″ to Se7en”, but here he is right on form with a flashy, but tightly structured, presentation that never fails to command your attention and interest. The all-important script is courtesy of Aaron Sorkin who gave us “The West Wing” – the best television series ever – and yet apparently does not do social networking.

At the heart of the movie is a great performance from Jesse Eisenberg as the 19 year old Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, the genius behind “The Facebook” (the social network), the unsympathetic anti-hero of the adventure, a borderline sociopath variously described by women characters as “an asshole” and someone “just trying so hard to be” one. Andrew Garfield is excellent as Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate and co-founder of the site Eduardo Savarin; thanks to the wonders of CGI, Arnie Hammer manages to be terrific as both the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; while singer Justin Timberlake is a revelation as the Napster founder Sean Parker. This is a testosterone-charged fable with room for women only in minor support roles – ironic in that getting girls was the impetus for the Facebook project.

I would recommend this movie.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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Zombieland – A Movie Review

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Oct 272009
 

zombieland_smallposterTwo men have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss — but when you’re afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-totin’, zombie-slayin’ badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.

Genres: Comedy and Suspense/Horror; Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.; Release Date: October 2nd, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for zombie horror violence/gore and language.

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Produced by: Ezra Swerdlow, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese

We went to see this movie weekend before last. It was about what I expected, but could have been better. We laughed plenty, there was the ever expected startle scenes, and of course plenty of blood and gore.

There is not myriad of layers to pull back, there is no deep allegory or social commentary, nor Art House-like direction, bizarre script, or really anything that is beyond just comedy-flick. That shouldn’t be taken to mean it’s a bad film.

Jesse Eisenberg is Columbus. He introduces himself at the beginning of “Zombieland” with a funny and gory montage involving others while explaining his main rules for surviving in Zombieland. There is also a small flashback sequence that just barley touches on the beginning of the trouble with zombies.

Columbus is a neurotic loner and has never been close to his family. He feels the need, though, to see a familiar face – or even another non-zombiefied face – so he sets out from his college in Texas traveling to Columbus hoping that his family might be alive. Shortly thereafter he meats Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee is a zombie killing party animal who believes in one thing: Enjoy the little things. For Tallahassee the little things can be a good zombie kill, having nice wheels, testosterone enhancing firepower, or, his holy grail, a fresh Twinkie.

Though they are opposites, Columbus and Tallahassee form a partnership and decide to travel together. Once traveling they quickly meet up with Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) – a young woman and her aged sister. The two girls are more wary of forming alliances and leave Columbus and Tallahassee behind a few times before the four finally agree to head west together to an old amusement park outside of Los Angeles that is rumored to be a zomebie-free zone.

That’s pretty much it. The middle of the movie turns more to a light romance between Columbus and Wichita as Eisenberg assembles his typical charming neurosis while trying to woo the ballsy bad girl Stone. Franky the romance part does not work that well. Eisenberg is charming in the same way he is in every role he is seen in, but Stone was a non-factor. I didn’t buy the bad girl, I didn’t buy the romance, and in many ways Stone was slightly upstaged by her younger co-star Breslin. However Stone was cute enough and so little of the film was wasted on the romance as to make it forgivable.

There is a great surprise cameo in the film. It is one of the best cameos of recent memory with some cult worthy scenes playing off that actor’s well known body of work. It works as being ridiculously funny and as a great segue between the road movie first act and the escape and rescue third act. The cameo also does a nice job of helping one forget the romance side plot.

“Zombieland” has a running time of just over 80 minutes and some of those minutes drag some. “Zombieland” is not a story that takes 100 minutes to tell. It’s just a fun movie, probably worth watching, but won’t make it on anyone’s greatest films ever award.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 7.00 out of 10)
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Adventureland – A Movie Review

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Sep 102009
 

adventureland_smallposter2Welcome to Adventureland, where the worst job imaginable is about to inadvertently turn into the summer that changes everything. Adventureland, a self-professedly “funtastic” Pennsylvania amusement park, appears to be the bane of recent college graduate’s James Brennan’s existence. He previously had big plans to spend the summer on a life-altering trek through Europe that would initiate him into real adult life. But when his family suffers an economic downturn in the middle of the Reagan 80s, James’ only summer trip is straight to a minimum wage job manning a game booth so existentially bankrupt, no one is even allowed to win the giant stuffed panda. Yet, Adventureland isn’t quite what it seems on the surface. For behind the cloying cotton candy aroma, the grating disco songs and the near pathological customers, there’s a whole other world of misfit friends, hidden dreams and most incredibly, after-work encounters with the alluringly sharp-tongued arcade girl, Em Lewin. And when James discovers the hard-won courage to go to battle for Em, the result is a savagely funny yet sweetly heart-felt and unexpected encounter with “real adult life.”

Genres: Comedy and Drama; Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.; Release Date: April 3rd, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and sexual references.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig

Directed by: Greg Mottola

We rented this movie and watched it this past weekend. I think the problem I had was  expecting the “as advertised” comedy. This film is not a comedy. I think it has two jokes, and I don’t mean it has only two “funny” jokes, I mean it has only two jokes. The studio is pushing this film as the next “Superbad”, just because the director of that film directed this film. The truth is, this is far different from “Superbad”, besides a few gross out gags. Where that film prided itself on its crudeness and vulgarity, this film prides itself on heart and pure emotion.

“Adventureland” has the feel of teen movies both from the 80’s and 90’s (more the 80’s though). You have a sensitive character who is still trying to figure out who he is, and by a sequence of events, falls in love and more importantly, finds his true self. What makes the movie even more appealing is that it not only doesn’t treat its characters as generic stereotypes, but as humans, which makes them more appealing to the audience.

Our main character here is James (played by Jessie Eisenberg) who has just graduated college and is looking forward to his trip to Europe with his fellow pal. Things unfortunately go south with his finances, which forces him to get a job at the local amusement park. There he meets some interesting people: the two owners (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), nerdy Joel (the likable Martin Starr) and the beautiful “Em” (Kristen Stewert).

James and Em quickly fall for each other, but there is one small problem, she is in a very dysfunctional relationship with Connell (Ryan Reynolds), who plays the married park maintenance guy. Reynolds, who usually adds the goofy humor to every film he is in, holds back to really give the character a deepness that I was surprised he pulled off.

What makes this film work though is that director Greg Mottola doesn’t overdo any aspect of the movie. The comedy, drama, and situations are all well balanced, which makes the film feel real. As I stated before, Reynolds is grounded, as is the rest of the cast with their performances. Stewert gives Em vulnerability, but makes her lovable at the same time. These two give perfect performances because neither of them have all the answers and it is about the deep connection they share, not just about the sex.

So, overall the movie was good, but it takes time to get into it, because you are expecting one thing, but find something completely different.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.50 out of 10)
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