Friday, January 28, 2011
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld
In My Own Words
Welcome to Movie Critical's first 2011 post Oscar nominations post! January and February are always the most exciting months for film because it is awards season! "True Grit" is one of the films in this award season that I have been waiting for in anticipation to be released. Reason being, it has cause for on big question in my mind. How could a film which has just recieved 10 Academy Award nominations have recieved no nominations at all at the Golden Globes? Absolutely none at all! "True Grit" is one of those films that had awards buzz about it from way before it was released. When the Golden Globe nominations got released and there was no sign of "True Grit", I decided in my own mind that it may not really be that good a film. Really naive and close-minded way of thinking I'll be the first to admit. I was still looking forward to seeing it regardless because the trailer made me very excited about it's release. So come 25th of January 5:30am, come the onslaught of "The Kings Speech"...and "True Grit".
So why did "True Grit" recieve no Golden Globe nominations? There isn't one reason, more a number of speculations. There is one speculation that "True Grit" wasn't screened for the Hollywood Foreign Press (HFP). Another speculation, is that the HFP isn't a fan of Joel and Ethan Coen. Personally, I don't know if this is the case. The Coen brothers have been around for awhile and this is their first film in quite awhile that hasn't been nominated for a Golden Globe. Yet, it is true that the Coen brothers are more popular at the Oscars than at the Golden Globes, but this is the first time the film has been snubbed completely. Or then there is the most obvious reason, maybe the HFP really just didn't enjoy "True Grit" It's unbelievable, but it could well be true. As they say, when there is a mystery, the most simple answer is normally the answer. The biggest mystery to me with all this, is how could they ignore Hailee Steinfeld's debut performance? And another question, could Steinfeld really be a contender for the Oscar even though she wasn't nominated at the Golden Globes? Of course she can, the Oscar's are a completely different ball game.
These are my own words and here is my review.
In 1969, John Wayne won his first and only Academy Award for a film called "True Grit". 41 years later, it is Joel and Ethan Coen, the movie making brothers known for ignoring the norm and doing it well, who take on the remake of this western. While in 1969 it was Wayne who was the star of the film, in 2011 it is Hailee Steinfeld. Steinfeld, the 14 year old who in her first feature length film appearence has earned herself an Oscar nomination, is undoubtingly the scene stealer in this film. It is almost a mystery that she has been nominated for Best Supporting rather than Best Lead as she is in every scene and the story is being told through her eyes. Mattie Ross, played by Steinfeld, is out to avenge the death of her father by Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) by bringing him to justice. She employs Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to accompany her into Indian territory to track down Chaney. They are also accompanied by another bounty hunter in pursuit of Chaney, LeBoeuf (Matt Damon).
One of the best things about "True Grit" is that it is unlike other traditional westerns. It is an adventure and a drama, yet it is also a coming of age story. It is a disruption of innocence and naivety. Mattie is a smart talking 14 year old who believes she is powerful and strong enough to endure everything which is thrown at her. She believes she is the rock of her family now that her father has passed and holds back all her emotion when dealing with bounty hunters, sheriff's and even when faced with her father's corpse. She shows her naivety by believing that she is going on a "great adventure" when she will track down Chaney and he will come quietly. Steinfeld's Mattie is the star of the film and the film would not be as intriguing without her. She is perfectly cast in the role and it is a brilliant performance by one so young and inexperienced in the motion picture field.
Not to say that Steinfeld is the only good thing in the film, because that is far from the truth. The Coen brothers have once again put together a tight, intriguing film. "True Grit" is the best western to come out in years. The ending is one which won't be to everyone's liking. Many may feel as if it should end one scene earlier to make the ending a bit more interesting. The script is very well written with the appropriate wording for every scene, especially those for Mattie. The character development for Mattie is fantastic as you know exactly who she is, where she has come from and her personality as if you knew her personally, yet the character development for the three other main characters is minimal. You know something about each character, but not enough to know them in the same way you know Mattie. Jeff Bridges' Rooster is the other character besides her which has a significant amount of character to him. Although you do't know his character's background, he is still an extremely significant personality of the film. Bridges does a great job at carrying through the character with consistency from beginning to end. Not in the same class as his "Crazy Heart" performance, but still a notable one.
The cinematography in the film is also quite beautiful. There are some really amazing images of the snow falling in the woods and the filming of the plains, woods and old town are really quite exquisite. The capturing of the 1800's old western period is amazing and is perfection with every aspect from the sounds and feelings which the visuals create, to the fine period clothing. The musical score is also wonderful. A musical score which send shivers up your spine is definately a commendable one.
"True Grit" is a wonderfully made western. What makes it so wonderful is that you don't have to be a western fan in order to enjoy it. The Coen brothers have once again made a successful film which steps outside the norm. While 1969's "True Grit" provided John Wayne with his first Academy Award, will 2010's "True Grit" provide Hailee Steinfeld with her first Academy Award
Monday, January 24, 2011
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassell, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
In My Own Words
"Black Swan" is one of those films I come out of and I have a million things to say about it. Whether I actually like the film or not, I do love a film which makes you talk and think. I think I will be thinking about "Black Swan" for awhile after seeing it today. My feet hurt just thinking about it.
Firstly, I know what you are all thinking. And yes, I do think that Natalie Portman will win the Academy Award for this film and I will tell you why. First and foremost, this is a powerhouse performance. As Nina Sayers, she gives the performance of her career thus far. She is truly amazing. For one to be amazing in a film, it has to be in a role which isn't easy. One can never be amazing in an easy role. Her commitment to this role is extraordinary. How much work both her and Mila Kunis put into learning and trying to perfect dancing which normally takes people their whole lives to perfect is commendable, as is how much weight they both lost. I'm impressed that Portman was able to get pregnant that soon after losing that much weight and being that skinny. And why else will she win? Because we all love it when someone who has been in the business for so long finally succeeds. Portman's been one of Hollywood's sweetheart's for years with never a bad word said about her in the press and going from child star to one of the beautiful women of film. So good on her, we all love an Oscar fairytale.
Besides the powerhouse that is Portman, there was something else that made my mind tick over after I saw the film. Portman's charcater, Nina completely loses herself in the character of the Black Swan so much that she starts to believe she is turning into the Black Swan. This is why I have such a love hate relationship with method acting. Method acting is a technique that is famously linked to the Lee Strasburg Theatre and Film Institute in New York where many actors go to study. Method acting is a way of enhancing one's dramatic performance by experiencing what your character is experiencing. Some famous method actors are Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Angelina Jolie. All brilliant actors who have and had gained so much for their performances from method acting. We've seen many Oscars won by method actors.However, one can imagine how dangerous it can be at times. If you undertake a role where the character is disturbed, talented and committed method actors may tend to go slightly nuted themselves. The one actor who makes me worry about method acting was Heath Ledger. Before becoming the Joker in "The Dark Knight", Ledger locked himself away in a hotel room for 6 weeks making himself the Joker and using his diary as a way of expressing himself. The Joker is a deranged character and even though The Joker was the best role of Ledger's career, one can believe that The Joker may have played a role in his untimely death. Method acting, friend or foe?
These are my own words and this is my review
"Black Swan" is much like it's lead character. On one hand it is beautiful, flawless and almost perfect, on the other hand it is completely disturbing, unsettling and dark. It is beautiful in a painful way. This film is definately not an easy watch and shows a side of ballet and dancing which, until now, no film maker has been game to put on screen. The brave and daring Darren Aronofsky, who obviously isn't afraid to show the dark side of occupations out of the ordinary as he did in "The Wrestler", is the best man for the job. It feels as in "Black Swan" reaches in and takes a strong hold of you from the beginning of the film and even when walking away after the film has finished it feels like the Black Swan is following you.Not only this, but it is terribly intriguing and a psychological thriller of a different kind. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is only a sheltered little girl in the beginning, who is treated by her mother (Barbara Hershey) like a fairy princess ballerina. She completely shields her from the dark side of ballet which she knows exists, until she can no longer when Nina finds herself in the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. Nina is the perfect White Swan with her innocence and romantic outlook on life, but she cannot master the seductive and scheming Black Swan. She finds herself becoming the Swan Queen, becoming both the extremes of the White Swan and the Black Swan.
"Black Swan" is a cinephiles dream. Every part of this film can be pulled apart and used as an example of what makes a film a great film. Firstly, the cinematography is extraordinary. It can leave you in awe of the beauty in the camera shots. The ballet and the close-ups of the feet of the dancers mid pirouette are just beautiful. However, it can also make your feel extremely uncomfortable and in pain, yet you cannot tear your eyes away from the screen. There is also so much symbolism in this film. Symbolism almost seems like a lost art in film. It is not often you see a film these days which the visuals represent something deeper. For example, Portman will always wear white in the first half of the film, and gradually wears more black to symbolise her being dragged over to the dark side and becoming more and more like the Black Swan. The character of Lily almost always wears black and has the tattoo of the Black Swan to symbolise her influence in Nina's demise. She is also symbolic of the disruption of the White Swan. Also notice how retiring dancer, Beth is never seen wearing anything bit dark colours as she has already drifted into the dark realms of the Black Swan.
This film is not for the faint hearted. It is not a film about ballet for little girls who hope to be the star of a dance company one day. It shows the ugly side of the world and does so in an extremely realistic way. It delves into parts of the world which people fail to see such as the physio and the unnatural things which ballet does to the body. While many people may find the film too confronting and uneasy to watch, it is a credit to the filmmakers that it is so emotionally taxing to the audience. The film is doing it's job by delving into your senses so you feel every physical pain Nina feels and feel uncomfortable as a result of so much confrontation. It is very much like Aronofsky's last film, "The Wrestler" where you are consistantly faced with emotinal and physical strain right from the first scene.
Also like "The Wrestler", "Black Swan" is extremely character driven and has one main character who is in every scene of the film. Not an easy task for any actor. Natalie Portman is the perfect woman for the job. One of Portman's trademarks is her smile, something we do not see much of in this film. It is an extremely hard part to play and a role which could only be completed well by one who has 100% commitment to the film and the character. Portman does this and is definately worthy of her recent Golden Globe win and quite possibly the Academy Award next month. You see her go from a fragile and naive little girl who just wants her dream to come true to a troubled and self destructive woman. Portman becomes NIna and just watching her on screen, you forget everything else she has ever done, she is the Swan Queen. Her acting is truly brilliant and her final scene is absolutely breath taking. Vincent Cassell is great to watch and is actually quite scary and unnerving. Winona Ryder is great as the "has been" Beth Macintyre. She is pathetic and like a car crash, you cannot take your eyes away from her. In her role as Lily, Mila Kunis is good but not wonderful. The role is not a hard one for her and it doesn't feel as if there is much acting being done. She does her role well, but it is not an overly originally written part. Barbara Hershey also does well as Nina's over protective and controlling mother.
Natalie Portman has always been a star, but "Black Swan" is the film that has established her place in the league of Hollywood stars who will never be forgotten. "Black Swan" is not what you would expect it to be in any way and is far from a walk in the park. A film lovers dream and a parent's worst nightmare.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Director: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
In My Own Words
There is nothing more magical than a Disney princess movie. There is no other type of film that will always take you back to the days when you believed in perfect true love. Songs were sung of dreams of this perfect love before the beautiful girl and her handsome prince met. Yes, Kate Middleton this is a challenge for you to release you debut single of "Once Upon A Dream". People often jokingly say "Disney ruined my expectations of true love". Would we have it any other way? Unrealistic or not, there is something so magical about a Disney princess movie. Disney's first full length animated film, "Snow White And The Seven Dwarves" was a princess film released way back in 1937.
Now, 73 years later, Disney has announced that their 50th animation, "Tangled"will be their final princess film. The reason behind this is that Disney do not want to alienate young boys in their future films.They are so paranoid about the alienation of the male audience taht they named this version of the fairytale "Tangled" instead of "Rapunzel", so more boys would go to see it. I'm a bit unsure of what to make of this. There is a niche in film for young girls and this has always been the princess movie. Yes, young boys wouldn't want to go and see a princess movie, but does that mean that a Disney film like "Cars" shouldn't have been made because then it alienate's little girl's? No matter what type of film you will ever make, some group of people will always be alienated. Hopefully Disney will see the light and princess movies will make a comeback after a few years.
These are my own words and here is my review.
It is almost hard to believe that Disney has taken so long to get around to making their version of Rapunzel. However, it is a good thing they did. It is truly amazing what Disney can do in this day and age with an animation. "Tangled" shows just how Disney's animation is only getting better, with or without Pixar. "Tangled" is just beautiful to watch and completely entertaining at the same time. As the Rapunzel fairytale goes, the long haired, blonde beauty (Mandy Moore) is confined to the top room of the tower and unable to leave. She has been placed up there by her "mother", who is actually an ugly, old woman, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) who is using the power of Rapunzel's magic hair to keep her young. When outlaw, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) stumbles across the tower while on the run, his and her lives are turned upside down. With each other, they enable each other's dreams to come true and have a great adventure while doing so.
"Tangled" once again shows the true movie making genius of Disney. They know exactly what it is that makes a movie work and there is no doubt as to why their animated films have been so successful for now well over 70 years. The script is well written and very funny, particularly the use of the saucepan. It is astonishing how even though "Tangled" is an animation, there are still so many aspects of the film which are just so close to real life, like the way Flynn and the horse, Maximus fight among each other and the reverse psychology of Mother Gothel. The songs are maybe the only real downfall of the movie. They are not catchy in the way that Disney songs have always been and are not particularly memorable. Many of the songs sound like typical Disney songs which have been released before, except not quite as good as the originals. Having Mandy Moore's voice doesn't hurt the quality of the soundtrack though.
The graphics are completely astonishing and definately make the 3D version of the film worth seeing. The production budget of "Tangled" was approximately $260 million and it is easy to see where all of that money went. The visuals of the breaking dam and the floating lights are just beautiful to watch. Although the character of Rapunzel can sometimes look like a plastic Barbie doll, the facial expressions of her and Flynn are extremely lifelike. One can even forget at times that Flynn is an animated character as many of his mannerisms and facial expressions are exactly like that of a heart throb movie star who knows that he is, right down to the smoulder. The animal charcaters of Pascal the chameleon and Max the horse are both funny and great additions to the story.
"Tangled" may not be the greatest Disney animation of all time and it will not appeal as greatly to boys as it will to girls, but it is nevertheless a very good film. Disney always sets the bar high and expectations will always be high for a Disney animation. "Tangled" does not disappoint. It is light and beautifully made and a wonderful princess fairytale told with a modern day twist and the complete use of all the modern technology which can be used for an animated film.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Rachel McAdams,Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson
In My Own Words
I was starting to get worried about Rachel McAdams. I became a fan of her's when I watched "Mean Girls" for the first time. She was perfect as the perfect mean girl Regina. Then she did a 360 degree turn and appeared as the soft, beautiful, loving Allie in "The Notebook". It was like she had completely exploded onto the scene and eeveryone knew who this new girl was. She could play the good girl and the bad girl and do both well. Since her new found stardom back in 2004, she has only done 9 films in 6 years, which is unusual for a young, bright star as they try to strike while the iron is hot. However, in the last two films she went downhill. She tried her hand as Sherlock Holme's flame in 2009 in "Sherlock Holmes" as Irene Adler, but it wasn't her best choice of role. However, in her defense, she didn't get as much screen time as what she normally recieves so it wasn't as easy to make an impact. In 2009's "The Time Traveller's Wife", she once again played the young girl in love as Claire. Again, it was far from her best and there was nowhere near as much emotion in her performance as Ally. Was it the downfall of McAdams?
Thankfully, with the release of "Morning Glory", the answer is no. "Morning Glory" is McAdams first venture where she is the lead actor and is supported by Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. She shines in the role as Becky. It is her most natural role to date and she can definately carry a film herself. With a smile like her's which light's up the screen, how can you not be happy for the Canadian born actress? Her next film is the Woody Allen directed film, "Midnight In Paris" with a talented cast of Martin Sheen (her rumoured new boyfriend), Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates and Marion Cotillard.
These are my own words and here is my review.
It's been a long time coming, but in "Morning Glory", Rachel McAdams finaly gets her chance at being the first billed and lead star of a film. And she shines in her best and most relatable role in years. "Morning Glory" is a fun, light piece of entertainment which is refreshing and funny. It is not and not going to be included in the whitewash of Oscar buzz related films being released at this time, but this can be a good thing as you can watch the film and just relax. Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) has donated all her adulthood to her career in television production, specifically morning television. Her life comes to a halt when she is sacked from her job in New Jersey. Becky scores a job at New York televison station, IBS on their morning show, Daybreak. On her first day, she sacks the lead male anchor and decides she would like to hire long time news reporter, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to co-host Daybreak with Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Working on Daybreak is a nightmare for Becky because of Mike's notorious bad attitude and failing ratings. When Becky is informed by boss, Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) that her show is in danger of being axed, she takes matters into her own hands and makes some changes.
"Morning Glory" starts off very blandly and for awhile doesn't look like it will amount to anything.The script is dull and lifeless and there are really no giggles. Yet, with the point in the film when Becky makes a change, the film also makes a change. Suddenly from that point in the film, it becomes a lot funnier and the script actually improves dramatically. When Becky starts to get weatherman Ernie Appleby ( Matt Malloy) and Colleen to do segments out of the ordinary, the movie becomes a lot more fun and the script becomes a lot wittier. Yet, there really is no suspense throughout the film and no feeling of real hope that Becky and her crew succeed. There is a real feeling of disconnection between the film and the audience and at no time do you forget that you are watching a film. This isn't completely unusual, but you don't become emotionally invested in the film at all. It is just a piece of enjoyable fluff entertainment.
Rachel McAdams is a natural in this film. She plays the role of Becky with complete ease and is extremely likable. Granted this isn't a very hard role to play, but she still does it to the best fo her ability and no one could have played the role as well as she did. This isn't Diane Keaton's best role, although she is very funny. It is completely obvious she is acting and isn't very natural this film, which is unusual because that has been one of her strong point in past movies. Harrison Ford is again quote dull in the first half of the film and he becomes a lot more interesting a character after the breakthrough. He is especially likable in the final television piece scene. However, the film makes it out that Mike and Becky have a special bond, which is extremely unbelivable as there certainly seems like there is absolutely no connection watching them. One would expect McAdams and Ford to have a father-daughter relationship, yet they have absolutely no on screen chemistry. Yes McAdams does give him teary eyed looks, but the way they interact is completely disconnected from each other.
"Morning Glory" is Rachel McAdams moment in the spotlight and she is just delightful. The film itself is light and fun and great entertainment for the family.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The King's Speech
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce
In My Own Words
Wow. No really...wow. I am still in absolute bewilderment nearly two hours after I walked out of the cinemas after seeing "The King's Speech". I have nothing but praise for this film and I truly believe that I have just seen the film that will win the big one at the Academy Awards in March and I have no doubt that I have also witnessed the performance that will win Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role. It was only one scene into the film that I realised when watching Colin Firth in his role as King George VI that I was witnessing something special. Halfway through the film, I whispered to my soon to be husband, "He is going to win the Oscar". I sincerely hope that "The Kings Speech" is also the source of the Best Supporting Male and Female Actor's too. Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were truly brilliant. I'm not usually one to make huge and confident predictions like this, but I feel like I have become so emotionally attached to this film that I will be absolutely devestated if victory is taken from it's grasp for the Golden Globes in the next few weeks and the Oscars in March.
The point about this film that I really want to make is that it is one of the most emotional films I have seen in a long time. Unlike the large majority of emotional films, this film does not contract the emotion from death or romantic angst, but rather from everyday human feelings show by an amazing man. I had tears in my eyes for the large part fo the film and found myself weeping in the final scene. I have never had this type of experience with a film that, as I said, does not have any death or hard core romance in it. Some of the tears were from feeling "Bertire's" pain and some of them were from the overwhelming feeling of seeing so many amazing things on the screen at once. I think I may break down in tears once again if Firth takes home the Oscar because I haven't seen a performance more deserving in a very long time.
I feel like this was the perfect time for me to be watching this film which is a great representation of an important time in British modern history as I will be visiting England for the first time in the next few weeks. I am extremely excited and seeing Westminster Abbey on the big screen has just heightened my excitement.
These are my own words and here is my review.
It is a very rare occasion when a film comes along which can be described as near flawless, but when it does, it is a film and time to be cherished. "The King's Speech" is an extremely powerful and awe inspiring film. It does not have visual effects or crazy CGI images in which many films are these days measured by, it relies purely on the amazing performances by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter and a brilliantly written screenplay to create an emotionally charged film which is almost completely character driven. The film opens with the Duke Of York (Colin Firth), affectionately known as Bertie by his family, giving a speech at Wimbeldon. As soon as he opens his mouth, realisation sets in that he has a bad stammer and is incapable of speaking in the same manner as others because of it. His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) seeks out the help of Ausralian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to help with her husbands problem after a series of failed attempts by advised psychiatrists. Although Bertie is cynical at first of Logue's methods, the most unlikely of friendships starts to form and Logue becomes an even more crucial part of his life when he becomes crowned King George VI.
This movie is an amazing story of real human emotion which can be felt by anyone, not just the King of England. There are millions of people out there who have problems with public speaking or have low self esteem because of one reason or another. This movie reaches out to those people and pulls on their emotional strings. It is extremely rare for a film which is based on a powerful and historical figure to become one which everyday people can relate to. This film would not be what it is without the amazing acting by the three lead's. This is very much a character driven film, which means that the acting had to be superb in order for it to be any sort of success. Tom Hooper certainly knew what he was doing when casting this film. Colin Firth is absolutely incredible as Bertie. He well and truly becomes the character and the audience becomes completely lost in the character to the point that you completely forget that this is Colin Firth you are watching. Gone is Mr Darcy and every speck of "Pride And Prejudice" and "Bridget Jones' Diary" which Firth used to project when he appeared on the screen, this man is the real deal. He shows the pain and embarassment he feels over his stammer right from the first sight of him on the big screen. He truly becomes the character right down to the smallest detail. Firth carries himself like royalty and his stammer brings tears to your eyes. He has indeed reached he pinnacle of his career, and there seems to be no real threat in sight for the Best Actor Oscar.
Geoffrey Rush is great as Logue. Unlike Firth, it is not the hardest role he has ever done, but he nevertheless is brilliant and extremely likable. Like Bertie, the audience feels pity for Logue. His character is extremely witty and funny. Helena Bonhom Carter is also brilliant as the future Queen mother. In this role which see's, for the first time in a long time, take on a film role which is not a quirky Tim Burton or Harry Potter role. It is not the first time she has played royalty ( as she was cast as Anne Boleyn in the TV movie "Henry VIII" in 2003), but it is defiantely her finest. She is sublime as Elizabeth and you can see the love she has for her husband and the pain she feels for him in his eyes. Timothy Spall was also brilliant as Winston Churchill, taking on the persona ansd mannerisms of the man to perfection.
The screenplay is brilliantly written. The reference for this film was the diaries which Lionel Logue left behind and these diaries were available to Hooper and and writer, David Seidler when putting together this film. The research which has gone into this film is just incredible. It is also quite funny in parts, such as when Bertie is learning how to swear, which is quite unusual for such an emotional drama film. The cinematography and musical score enhance every emotion throughout the film and create suspense and intrigue. The monologue of Bertie and Logue's therapy sessions is very clever and highly enjoyable.
In colnclusion only one thing can be said to sum up everything which "The King's Speech" is. The future best film of the 2011 Academy Awards, and that is no light statement.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara
In My Own Words
"The Social Network", otherwise known as "The Facebook Movie", is one movie I should have reviewed a long time ago. Facebook is a big part of our world today, whether we like it or not. Everything is on Facebook, even Movie Critical is on Facebook (free plug!). It's hard to imagine what life was like before Facebook. What did we do when we were on the internet? We didn't spend as much time on it as we do now. I am on Facebook right now, how about you? It's not hard to understand why Mark Zuckerberg is such a powerful man. Anybody who creates something that ultimately becomes part of our lives is a very rich and powerful person. The concept of Facebook really seems quite simple, so couldn't we all be billionaires just by thinking up something that seems obvious and then putting it into motion? It is quite empowering though isn't it, anybody can be an entrepreneur. Of course, you need contacts and finances to get it going. "The Social Network" can be empowering, if you let it be. Don't be empowered to betray all your friends though, that's not really a nice thing to do.
So how much of "The Social Network" is true? That is what everyone wants to know. Mark Zuckerberg wanted everyone to know taht even though he is not depicted as so in the film, he really is quite a nice guy. Zuckerberg has said that there is many inaccuracies in the film, but the film makers did get his clothing right. "The Social Network"is based on the book "The Accidental Millionaires" by Ben Mezrich, which is a piece of fiction. It is based on actual events, but there is a lot of exaggeration involved. However, what is exaggerated makes good entertainment.
These are my own words and here is my review.
On December 15th 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named TIME Person Of The Year. Zuckerberg is no doubt one of the most influential people in the world at the present time due to his major success in the business world with Facebook. "The Social Network" is the film based on his rise to success and fame and all the bits in between. It is not the most accurate of films, but is definately good entertainment. "The Social Network" is immaculately made. It is thrilling, unsettling at times and an absolute pleasure to watch. David Fincher has once again shown his film making talent, turning a film that could have been a typical college film into a dramatic and tidy piece of art. Jesse Eisenberg is Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard student who is a little too much of a genius for his own good. He's not popular at all and all the girls think he is a jerk. However, when he creates The Facebook his luck changes. What was first supposed to be just a social network for Harvard students starts to reach schools across America and then across the world. However, as the tagline for this film says, you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.
"The Social Network" was one of the most anticipated films of 2010 and also one of the great successes. It is nominated for 6 Golden Globes including Best Motion Picture-Drama, and deservingly so. Without the right director, it could have been cheesy and just another film about American college lofe. Fincher was the perfect director for the job. The musical score is perfect for each scene, especially the rowing regatta scene, and the cinematography is brilliant. The editing is perfect and the film is full of little surprises for each scene. In it's own way, it is a lot of fun to watch the film and there are many scenes which will ring true to how Facebook has changed interation in the world. For example, when Eduardo's girlfriend, Christy says to him "How come your relationship status on Facebook still says you're single?" The script is also very clever and witty. The opening scene with Mark and his then girlfriend, Erica is a great piece of scriptwriting. Their banter and conversation piece is a brilliant way to start the film and get the audience's full attention from the word go. The ending of the film is probably the only thing that seems a little out of sorts. It ends quite abruptly and it feels like it ends where it does because it isn't quite sure where it should go from there.
Jesse Eisenberg was a great choice to play Mark. He plays the part so well. He isn't the stereotypical nerd you normally see in films, but he still differentiates himself from the "cool" crowd at school. Eisenberg is extremely unsettling at times and can seem quite evil considering how obsessive he becomes. Andrew Garfield gives the best performance of the film as Facebook's co-founder, Eduardo Saverin. He is brilliant and scene-stealing and could well be taking home the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe he is nominated for. Unlike Eisenberg's character, he is extremely likable and has that "good guy" air about him. Justin Timberlake gives the best performance of his career so far and it is ironic that a successful musical artist plays the character of the person who people in the music world strongly dislike. Rooney Mara is also perfectly suited to smart talking Erica and Disney personality, Brenda Song shines in a role that is completely different for her.
Overall, "The Social Network", like the man it is based on, is a great success. It is well written, well directed and well acted. A great film to see for anyone who is on Facebook...which is almost everyone.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius
In My Own Words
I have been looking forward to seeing "Somewhere" ever since I first heard about it. I am a Sofia Coppola fan, but she wasn't the main draw for me to this film. Nor was it Stephen Dorff. It was the Chateau Marmont. The Chateau Marmont is a beautiful hotel in West Hollywood which overlooks Sunset Boulevard. It was built in 1929 and since then has been the playground to the rich and famous. Such celebrities as Montgomery Clift, Jim Morrison and Leonardo DiCaprio hve stayed there are comedian John Belushi died here in 1982 after a lethal cocktail of heroin and cocaine. I visited the Chateau Marmont in January of last year and was in complete awe of it's beauty and the place completely fascinates me. I'm a big fan of old Hollywood hotels, especially the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.; The Roosevelt played host to the first Oscars in 1929 and, like the Chateau Marmont, has been played host to many celebrities over the years and their antics. Although the Roosevelt has been featured in many movies over the year, I am still waiting for a film to be about the Roosevelt. As Sofia Coppola quoted regarding the Chateau Marmont, "It was an essential element, the third (main) character of the film" (courtesy of Universal Studios, 2010). Next time I am in Hollywood I am going to take advantage of the Chateau Marmont's hospitality and stay a night or two there....if I can tear myself away from the charms of the Roosevelt Hotel.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" may seem like just a film about a Hollywood actor's life on the surface, but it is so much more than that. It is a film about the emotions which run through father and daughter relationships. The big thing to take into account before you see "Somewhere" is that you will take as much as you want to take out of the film. Take it for purely the words said on the screen and you take the images at face value, you won't see "Somewhere" for what it really is. If you see the words in each facial expression and see the symbolism in the script and visuals, you will see "Somewhere" as a masterpiece. Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is a Hollywood actor enjoying the high life and living in the Chateau Marmont. He is drifting through his life with not much bother until his 11 year old daughter, Cleo's (Elle Fanning) visit becomes longer than intended and he realises that even though he has always been in Cleo's life, he hasn't been in her life as her father.
"Somewhere" shows modern day Hollywood in the most visually beautiful way in the past 10 years on the big screen. The cinematography and images are absolutely stunning. Scenes such as Johnny and Cleo's tea party under the water at the pool at the Chateau Marmont are just a treat to watch. Unlike Coppola's last film, "Marie Antoinette", it isn't beautiful in the way that it is overstocked with images of amazing ball gowns and cupcakes, but it is all in the way in which objects and people are filmed. Coppola manages to make even a scene where Johnny is getting a facial mask made beautiful. However, the scenes are very strung out and there is no suspense in the film at all. It feels as if not much really happens throughout the film, and this will really irritate some members of the audience.
The script is quite simple. Unlike other films of the subject matter, there are no long speeches in which feelings are described and how father and daughter want to become closer. The dialogue is all very simple and the images and actors facial expressions do all the talking. In hind sight, so much more could have been done with the screenplay and the script. The film has many directions in which it could have gone so it isn't surprising that if feels like it has been limited. Yet, if it had taken one of these directions, whose to say that it wouldn't have ended up being a cliche film and much like every other film out there where a dead beat father finally connects with his son or daughter. The film also gives great insight into the life of a single Hollywood actor these days. It isn't all glitz and glamour and it is all a game of filling in free time while waiting for their next call to duty, and that may well be with sex and drugs.
The acting in this film is extremely natural. For the most part, it doesn't seem as though Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning are acting at all. Dorff is perfect as Johnny Marco, truly becoming his character. It is completely evident how Johny chnages throughout the film, and again not by the words spoken, but by Dorff's acting. Coppola requested Dorff herself for the role and the result is the best role he has played in well over 10 years. Fanning is a pure joy to watch on screen. She can seem a little too mature for an 11 year old at times (even though she is just shy of 13 years in real life) and at other times she presents the perfect amount of naivety and innocence for her role. Her best moment is when Johnny's overnight guest joins them for breakfast in the morning and the look she gives her father says a thousand words and would make anyone stop and question themselves. Coppola directs these two so well that it feels like you are just watching a home video for the majority of the film.
Some people will find "Somewhere" utterly frustrating due to the lack of tension, suspense and dialogue, while others will find it a complete work of art. Simply, those who see film as for purely entertainment, won't be overly impressed. Those who see film as a form of art as well as entertainment, will love and praise it. As a modern day work of art, "Somewhere" is truly a wonderful and beautiful construction.