Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Social Network

It was a slightly surreal experience watching this movie. Usually when a film is based on fact, it's set some time ago. This is from events of only six years ago. It's the story of Mark Zuckerberg brilliantly portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg and his rise to becoming the youngest billionaire and creator of the much loved 'Facebook'. It was invented during his time at Harvard with his friend Eduardo Saverin. The origiinal basis for the site was based on the elitism of the 'Finals Clubs' in the prestigious Ivy League schools. If you didn't have a Harvard email, you couldn't be on 'Facebook'. This appealed to Mark, as it appears that he was driven by being in the cool group of kids and social climbing oh, and a girl, there's always a girl. The girl in question is played by Rooney Mara, soon to be seen in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (English speaking version). She takes over the mantle of Lizbeth Salander from Noomie Rapace and has to fill some very large shoes. Money was not Zuckerberg's motivator. Andrew Garfield plays his loyal friend Saverin who stumps up the money to get the company off the ground. It is told in flash back as Mark has two law suits to contend with. One from Saverin who was shockingly stabbed in the back by 'Facebook'. The other from impossibly handsome twin rowers (Armie Hammer) who accused Mark of intellectual theft by stealing their initial idea of an elite website. Justin Timberlake stars as Sean Parker, the inventor of free music download site Napster who gives input into the development of 'Facebook'. Now singers do not have a good track record when it comes to acting, think Madonna, David Bowie and Mick Jagger eeewww. I'm happy to report that old sexy back is quite wonderful as the charismatic if a little paranoid Parker. Andrew Garfield is brilliant as the sympathetic Eduardo but the film belongs to, as it should, Jesse Eisenberg. He plays his role with a complicated mixture of naivety, confusion, profound intellect, social ineptness and a little question of where he stands on the austism scale thrown in for good measure. I read that the film portrays Zuckerberg in a poor light. I don't feel this is exactly true. The essence of the whole film is that these brilliant young guys had an idea and ran with it. None of them had the experience emotionally or business acumen to handle the overwhelming phenomenom of 'Facebook'. It's also documented that this is the director David Fincher's idea of what went on during those years and not a verbatim account. This was a really great movie. I do not understand the attraction of 'Facebook' or wanting to belong to any of those finals clubs, it's a strangely American school thing I think. You do understand the character's commitment and passion to them though. It is a moving and sad story which, though exclusive to the 21st Century in technology is timeless in it's emotional story. THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Tell your friends about it on Facebook. 8/10.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Me In

Now I'm not usually a fan of spooky films. This is a remake of the much acclaimed Swedish film, 'Let the Right One In'. As a movie lover, I sometimes feel it's my duty to get out of the rut and see a film that I don't really want to see. I'm glad I saw this one. It's a dark tale, as you would imagine. The story of a lonely and much bullied boy named Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Owen has no friends, until a shoeless girl appears in the apartment block named Abby played by Chloe Moretz last seen using the 'c' word as Hit-Girl in Kick Ass. Owen and Abby strike up a sweet friendship even though Abby warns that they can't. Of course Abby has a little secret in that she is a vampire. She lives with an older male who procures her food in a variety of awful ways. The local murders arouse the suspicions of the local police thank goodness. Investigations are led by a policeman played by Elias Coteas who looks disconcertingly like Robert De Niro. So the film unfolds as we find out what happens to our two young friends. The acting is very good. Abby is beguiling and sympathetic, well, as much as a blood drinking twelve year old can be. Owen is heartbreaking as a lonely young boy longing for a connection with someone. The adults are admirable as is the gore. The CGI is a little unbelievable though, which detracts a bit from the whole atmosphere. All in all, a very well made horror movie. Let's just say that I had to take a deep breath before kissing my kids goodnight when I got home. LET ME IN: You might think twice before being too hospitable. 7/10

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We had a very special trip this weekend, and were lucky enough to be staying across from an Arthouse Movie theatre. I had been wanting to see this film for a while, so obviously took it as the ideal opportunity. Starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried as Chloe, this is a sloppy adaptation based on a novel. The film suffers from delusions of grandure. Neeson and Moore are always faultless actors but not even they could save this one I'm afraid. It's the tired old tale of a Gynaecologist (handy as it turns out) played by Moore who believes that her Tutoring husband is doing the dirty after he lies about missing a flight home. Enter Amanda Seyfried as the all knowing high class hooker Chloe whom the good Dr hires to initially attract her husband to confirm his cheating ways. Will she be happy with what Chloe finds out about ol' teach? Thus unfolds an hour and a half of angst, miscommunication and awkward seduction. What's so wrong with this story of sexual intrigue you ask? Well, the script is disjointed, stilted, doesn't ring true and just isn't, well, sexy. The actual story is one that is as old and tired as I am, with no new twists and you care so little for the characters that it doesn't matter anyway. The role of Chloe is miscast. Amanda Seyfried is pretty and acts well, but is unconvincing as a beguiling, seductive prostitute. She still looks as if she should be bopping around a Greek Island with Meryl. The movie doesn't make much sense at all. Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson are great, especially when you consider that Natasha Richardson (Neeson's wife) sadly died whilst he was making this film. The locations and clothes are gorgeous,but it's style over substance I'm afraid. You just don't believe in or care for any of the characters that much and the ending is quick and far fetched. The 'twist' at the end is baffling and leaves you wondering just what the director's final message was. Whilst I'm nit picking, why does almost every couple with children in movies opt for only one child? Is it cheaper, are they lazy or does it have a deeper meaning that has gone totally over my head? Chloe: More street walker than High end hotel, though if it was a hooker would charge you $1000 a night and think you should be very grateful for the privelege. 3/10.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Town

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this gritty drama set in his native Boston, in the city of Charlestown. It's a bleak tale. Doug (Ben Affleck) is a criminal who masterminds bank and security van raids. He is aided and abbeted by his lifelong volatile friend Jimmy (Jeremy Renner) and two other ne're do wells. After a particularly violent bank raid, Doug follows a woman {English import Rebecca Hall)when he becomes concerned about how much she witnessed during the crime. They fall in love, oh dear, no good can come of this. The gang are hounded by the FBI, headed by the man of the moment, John Hamm of Mad Men fame, looking slightly out of step in modern day clothes. So begins a game of cat and mouse. Doug also has the burden of his past, his father is in prison and he is accountable to a florist (nice touch) played by Pete Postlethwaite. It appears he is the equivalent of the Godfather in this notoriously Irish territory. The outlook is dark for all who appear in this movie. Doug desperately wants to get out of his environment. He has the memory of once being a star ice hockey player and is in AA, scraping hopelessly away from the life he was predestined to live.
It's a really great film. Ben Affleck is swiftly becoming a director to be reckoned with, his directorial debut was the incomparable 'Gone baby Gone'. This doesn't quite have the punch that had, but it's close. You find yourself really caring about all the characters. Affleck has an air of calmness and security surrounding him, and Renner alternates malice with an endearing vulnerability. I really enjoyed Rebecca Hall's character, she is real and likeable. Blake Lively plays Ben Affleck's on off ahem, booty call and is shaping up to be one to watch in the future. All in all, it's a really interesting take on an old tale. As the tension mounts, and there's plenty of tension, you find yourself at odds. You know who you should be hoping gets out in one piece, but you find yourself in a moral dilemma. You see, I'd take Ben over Doug Draper any day of the week.
The Town: Wouldn't want any of them as my neighbours, well, maybe one. 8/10

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eat Pray Love

It was with great anticipation that I went to see this film. Not particularly due to the content, but more to see the luminous Julia Roberts back on the silverscreen. What a joy to see this fabulous actor. It was not a joy to see the film, however. The story, incase you haven't been on the planet, is about a woman unhappy with her lot, who decides she deserves more from life. Away she flies, to eat in Italy, pray in India and love in Bali. Surprise surprise, by the end of the film, she has discovered her 'authentic self'. What a journey into the land of self indulgence this is. First she leaves a husband, who whilst a little flighty, is lovely and loves her. Fair enough, dump him love, we all make mistakes. So then she falls for the adorable James Franco, an off off Broadway actor that she meets whilst he is, wait for it, performing in a play that the egotistical Ms Gilbert has written. In this play, she describes how the female character morphs into each boyfriend of the moment. It is then bizarre to witness her self realisation that she has indeed morphed into James Franco during their relationship. She seems so into her very being that I thought she'd be more self aware than that. So after much handwringing, off we go, leaving a dumbfounded friend (Viola Davis) and angst ridden Mr Franco a mere memory. Elizabeth's Italian adventure goes swimmingly. The food is mouthwatering and everyone thinks she is bellisima. Italy is beautifully shot, and her friends are both beautiful and witty of course, to match her. Then across to India, where she changes to a suitably hippy if rather stylish wardrobe to suit the backdrop. Here is where the self indulgance factor goes off the chart. Lots of praying and meditation, meeting new people (one of which is the ever wonderful Richard Jenkins) and once again changing everyone she meets for the better, even a rogue elephant picks out unique aura. Next to Bali, and another new season's garments. There are almost as many costume changes as Sex and the City 1 & 2 combined! She has a great time, meets many people, changes lives again; builds a house for a parasytical friend and meets the man of her dreams (Javier Bardem). At this point you feel like screaming out to him "Run Javier, run for your life!" There are ups and downs in this relationship and just when you think it's all going ok and Javier makes a grand gesture, poor little Elizabeth throws a hissy fit and almost ruins everything. In the end, she knows a daft sucker when she sees one and decides he's worth the commitment afterall. Lucky lucky man.
The script is so thick with self satisfied smugness, the neverending naval gazing is exhausting. The worst scene is when our heroine is lying prostrate on the floor stating that she doesn't know how to 'be'. Come around to any house around 5pm on a school night. Then attempt to cook tea, walk the dogs, shower kids, ensure homework is completed and remain cheerful whilst working full time. I and millions of other women around the world will show you how to 'be' Ms Gilbert. The film is in danger of disappearing to a location where the sun does not shine, ever.
Are there any redeeming factors? The scenery is breathtaking. The acting as you would expect from a cast of this calibre. It's a testament to Ms Roberts that you still like her as an actress at the end of this homage to self. That's about all the nice things I can say about this one I'm afraid folks. I have no idea what Ms Gilbert is like in real life. The book never appealed to me, neither did the film as it turns out. The impression one gets is not good. The book was a best-seller so obviously plenty of people found her shenanigans profound and interesting. Still, it's nice to see Pretty Woman back.
Eat Pray Love: Me Me Me. 2/10