Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Social Network – Now we’re going to live on the Internet!

If a person looked at the Internet history on my computer the most visited website, by far, would be Facebook! I LOVE Facebook! Therefore, it was a definite that I would go see this movie. I was intrigued by the story of how a college undergrad created an internationally known website. David Fincher (director) created a feel to the film that embodied the tone of pure, fresh creativity. The timeline of the movie is of the “flash-back” nature, going from litigations to dorm rooms. Re-telling the instances that lead to the formation of the world’s largest and most extensive social network along with the personal losses of it’s creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The best adjective that comes to mind to describe this film is pure. Which is representative to the origins of “TheFacebook”, it was a pure and unadulterated site that’s sole purpose was to connect with friends and peers in the college life-sphere. This film depicts the journey that a forward thinking entrepreneur takes to create and keep an advertisement-free, exclusive social network for only college students. The anticipation and uncertainty of the consequences from the actions taken by the main character, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), kept me on the edge of my seat. The audience was never sure what he would say or who he would insult or turn on during the entire course of the movie! The dynamic between Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and co-founder of the site Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) was full of best-friend angst and jealousy, thickening the emotional uneasiness one feels for Zuckerberg.
Jesse Eisenberg was phenomenal as Mark Zuckerberg. He was just enough geek-sheik and had just enough jerk-ish charm to portray Zuckerberg as the savvy, up-and-coming Internet mogul. The audience related to and rooted for the main character in spite of his somewhat shady decisions due to his crude charm. Eduardo Saverin, portrayed by Garfield, was the victim that was wronged by those closest to him. Garfield sketched a portrait of Eduardo as a helpless pawn in Zuckerberg’s game against the elite groups Zuckerberg was desperately trying to impress. He brought a depth and helplessness to the scorned best friend. Justin Timberlake’s performance was impressive; he brought an effortless charisma to the role as Sean Parker. He was smooth-talking, egocentric character that wanted to grab onto the shirttails of Zuckerberg as he was moving up. Overall, the cast created a vibe and flow that allowed the film to masterfully unfold.
Overall, this film fulfilled its purpose. It told the tumultuous story of the beginning of not just a social network, but THE social network that is redefining the society and socialization of not just our generation, but the world. There are definitely small parts of the film that are entertaining for Facebook users, such as the story of the creation of the relationship status. As well as an overlying theme to what Facebook was and how it has become a forum for redemptions and reconciliations in the world today. So go forth and enjoy, then post your thoughts about the film on your fb page… just like I’m about to do right now! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alice in Wonderland - Curiouser and curiouser…

This was my first 3-D experience and I couldn’t have chosen a better film. Needless to say Tim Burton (director) set the bar high, Alice in Wonderland was a joy to experience. The film is not a duplicate of the book or animated feature. The story follows nineteen-year-old Alice as she flees from the expectations of her friends and family, only to find herself in Wonderland where she has new expectations to live up to and different things pulling her in all directions, literally and figuratively. Burton did not disappoint, his style and aesthetic definitely was enhanced by the 3-D technology. The scenes were extremely fresh; the colors in the wardrobe, make-up and setting were rich and bright creating the perfect template for experiencing the wonderment of Wonderland. 
The movie did not follow any stories previously written, this was an excellent way to use the already developed characters to build a new story for all to enjoy. However for the viewers that have read Lewis Carroll’s works, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, can be assured that the essence of the stories are still intact. The film incorporated aspects of the books into the storyline, such as the Jabberwocky, which gave it a genuine feel. Also, the characters from the novels were authentically portrayed. The film did a wonderful job of developing the characters, especially Alice, in a way that seemed seamless and effortless, as well as true to the character created by Carroll. The essence of the story, as well as the masterful directing, created the perfect base for a marvelously artful film. But, it would not have been complete without the great performances by the entire cast. Every player portrayed their character with such mastery I could write pages on each performance, however, I will limit myself to the exceptional ones.
Between Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (Red Queen), I’m not sure which one stole more scenes. Both were so engrossed in their characters they were almost unrecognizable. Depp was phenomenal, from his hair and make-up (which changed colors!) to his swinging pendulum of emotional outburst he WAS the Mad Hatter. He created a character that was kooky and endearing all at once, you will want to keep from blinking, so not to miss a moment of him. Bonham Carter brings the same type of an all-encompassing performance in her portrayal of the Red Queen. The viewers are torn between pity and disgust as she tyrannically rules Wonderland in her efforts to find adoration from her subjects. Anne Hathaway played the other royal character, the White Queen, she moved and spoke with such an extreme amount of grace and sweetness it was completely whimsical, almost overwhelmingly so. As for Alice, newcomer Mia Wasikowska effortlessly portrayed her as the curious, questioning, presumptuous girl that was created by Carroll. Her frankness and stubbornness was ideal, as well as cleverly placed and disturbed throughout the film in order to fully develop her character. Also, all of the voice actors were perfectly cast and articulated beautifully.
Overall, this was a great film, plain and simple. Tim Burton took a classic story of silliness and nonsense and transformed it into a film that is not only pleasing to the eye and entertaining, but kept the heart of Lewis Carroll’s story beating. The idea that thinking differently and seeing things for not what they are, but what they could be, can be extremely rewarding.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ode to the Outstanding Tom Hanks!

So thanks to AMC and their “Can’t get enough Gump week”, I’ve watched Forrest Gump at least six times this week, in it’s entirety once and then in parts the other five times! Now, A League of Their Own is on Bravo and I find myself unable to go to sleep…
On to the point of this post, Tom Hanks is one of the best actors of our time. As I’m watching him in A League of Their Own, I realize that I don’t see Tom Hanks, I see Jimmy Dugan. He is one of those few actors that doesn’t just portray a character, he creates a persona that takes of life of it’s own. After pondering his filmography I begin to gain a new appreciation of him. I’ve always refered to him as the “all-American” actor, but in reality he’s extremely versatile. Able to not just portray Carl Hanratty (Catch Me If You Can) but become him and generate a completely believable character with personality, quirks, likes, dislikes, etc. On the other hand, becoming the strict, somber prison guard Paul Edgecomb (The Green Mile), he embodied the character, heart and soul. I could go on and on describing all the different personalities he’s created and portrayed.
So here’s to you Mr. Hanks, I love to watch you become these people! Thanks for creating them and portraying them so well I don’t even see “you” in them.
p.s. So who’s your favorite Hanks persona? Here's his filmography.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shutter Island - You’ll never leave this island.

I love to watch all types of movies, but I especially love the movies that require a second watch in order to be truly appreciated. Shutter Island is definitely one of those films! It’s set in 1954 and follows two US Federal Marshals as they investigate the disappearance of a patient in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. Martin Scorsese (director) is a master behind the camera. He created elegantly intense scenes using simple, but unique camera angles, coupled with an astounding musical score that kept the viewers on the edge of their seats from the first frame.
There was an air of mystery woven through out the film, the audience kept questioning what was truth, what was a ploy, who do you believe? Teddy Daniels (Leonard DiCaprio), the protagonist, seemed to be the only person that the viewers could ultimately trust, because the story was being told from his perspective. He took the audience on a quest through the vast grounds of the island, from trekking in the wilderness to lurking through the halls of the fortified ward C.  The scenery and extensive details to the set strengthen the film, especially in coordination with the perfectly articulated script. Another aspect of the film that added mystery were Daniels’ memory flashes. They were artfully placed and assisted in the unfolding of the twisted plot.
As for the acting performances, DiCaprio was amazing! His portrayal of the tormented US Marshal Daniels was phenomenal. He developed a bond of trust through acts of genuine sincerity for justice and morality. This was a crucial part of film. The other notable performance was Sir Ben Kingsley as Dr. Crawley. He created a man with such smooth, suave charisma he was almost untrustworthy, however he had enough compassion and care for his patients the viewers want to believe and trust him.
This film was definitely created for a viewer that appreciates the see-saw of emotions as well as the opportunity to generated a load of conspiracy theories on how the plot will pan out. It will most assuredly keep you guessing and questioning while on the edge of your seat holding your breath! It is Scorsese, so there is a bit of vulgar language and some graphic scenes. Overall, it is a MUST watch film!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine’s Day - All we really want is loves confusing joy.

I was very skeptical of this film, all the stars, all the hype, I just didn’t have much faith in good ol’ Garry Marshall (director). However, I was pleasantly surprised, Marshall definitely delivered. I didn’t love absolutely every storyline, but the film had a very nice flow and spoke truth about our desperation and desire for love in all walks of life. I also appreciated the connectivity of all the characters, how every storyline was connected in some way.
The film followed the life of couples and singles during the day devoted to love. The stories consisted of young love, new love, old love, imagined love, and all the kinds of love in between. I’m just going to touch on a few of the storylines, as to not spoil all the little twist and turns the movie takes.
  • The story of Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) was one of how love can withstand not only the test of time, but the test of forgiveness. True love is loving someone in spite of themselves, loving them completely no matter their previous mistakes. The scene at the Hollywood graveyard was perfection.
  • On the flip side, the story of Jason (Topher Grace) and Liz (Anne Hathaway) was the predictable cheese-fest. Hathaway was charming and charismatic in her portrayal of Liz, but the idea of acceptance to moral differences is not love to me, it’s the recipe for disaster. I’m not saying you should judge people for their choices, however, you have a right to have standards and morals in your choice of romantic interest.
  • The young love story with Grace (Emma Roberts) and Alex (Carter Jenkins) was also an interesting one. I was not a fan of the openness of sexual activity of high school students, but thankful that this film encouraged waiting for emotional readiness. Emma Roberts brought a unique freshness to her scenes as Grace, she had a quiet force that made you remember your “first love” and all the emotions that went with it.
  • Finally, who hasn’t been in the same shoes as Kara (Jessica Biel)? The single person on the one day that everyone else seems to be coupled. The desire to fall apart and turn to sugar induced happiness in the form of circus peanuts and chocolates. Biel was amazing as the “hot mess” Kara, showing the pure, irrational emotions that Feb. 14th can involuntarily bring up in a single woman. I loved her!

Another surprise was Ashton Kutcher! He stole the show as Reed Bennett the overly romantic florist. He was the sweet, sincere guy that you love like a brother and just want the best for in all situations, especially love. Reed’s interactions with Edison (Bryce Robinson), the young boy who must get flowers to his Valentine, was precious, building more on his genuine character. George Lopez was a great comic relief as Alfonzo. He was full of funny one-liners, as well as tidbits of romantic wisdom. Other shout outs to the start-studded cast include Julia Roberts with her effortless beauty as an Army captain on leave to see her Valentine and Jennifer Gardner as a sweet school teacher that finds love right under her nose. Also, Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift were hilarious together. Swift portrayed Felicia the typical high school sweetheart that was uncontrollably in love, she was perfection.
Garry Marshall did an excellent job weaving all of the stories together and developing a film that connected all these relationships to one another, as well as bringing out the true meaning of love. I also appreciated the Marshall cameo! If you are in the mood for a funny film that speaks to true human interaction and emotions, this is the film for you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crazy Heart - The harder the life, the sweeter the song.

This film was a story of a man that was lost and needed someone to help him find his way back home to his music. The music is what really stood out in this movie. It was phenomenal! I bought the soundtrack the same day I saw the movie, and haven’t stopped listening to it yet. Scott Cooper (director) used a compilation of country music (original and vintage tunes) and the huge, southwestern sky to tell Thomas Cobb’s story of the weary singer/songwriter Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges).  
The storyline follows Blake as he is on the end of a second rate tour of venues that consist of bowling alleys and piano bars. He traveled through the gloriously beautiful Southwestern US in his ’78 Suburban. The openness of the road and the vastness of the sky seemed to represent the possibilities and opportunities Bad was hoping for in his career and his life. On this tour he meets budding journalist Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As Blake falls for her and her adorable son Buddy (Jack Nation) the audience sees how truly, heartbreakingly pathetic he has become, the shell of a once creatively gifted musician. The words of the theme song, “whiskey has been a thorn in your side”, clearly showed the hold that alcohol had on him and how it affected every aspect of his life. Through some bad choices and the consequences that followed, Bad hits rock bottom and is forced to find his way back to life, on that journey he finds the music in him again.
Scott Cooper stated that he needed “a man who’s one part Waylon Jennings, one part Merle Haggard, and one part Kris Kristopherson”. And that man IS Jeff Bridges! He portrayed Bad Blake as the down and out protagonist that, even in his drunken, disheveled, beer-gut glory, you can’t help but want him to overcome it all. With a gruff, but pure voice similar to the late Chris LeDoux, Bridges sung the music with such heartfelt emotions you’ll believe he had lived the life of Blake. As for the secondary characters, Duvall was as charming as ever. Colin Farrell was surprisingly believable and musical as Blake’s protégé Tommy Sweet, who had surpassed Blake in fame. Finally, Blake’s love interest, Jean, gracefully portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, was a woman that had been wounded by love before and was hesitant to be wooed by Blake. She brought such a believable intensity to the emotional scenes in the film, fighting the feelings between mother and lover. Her acting was extremely powerful and the connection between her and Bridges was excellent.
If you are a fan of great country music and the tales of woe that help to craft the sweetest songs you’ll enjoy Crazy Heart… especially the soundtrack! 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Young Victoria - You'll enjoy this. She has a real flair for description.

So I’m not one to love the love stories, however this one I really enjoyed. This might be because it was based on truth and actual events. The Young Victoria was a beautiful film that definitely met my expectations. I was taken aback by the graceful, vibrant wardrobe, which brought to the film the essence of the coming Victorian age. Jean-Marc Vallee (director) created scenes that showed the grandeur of the palaces and the beauty of the countryside. All the actors (and there were a lot) worked together seamlessly to enhance the retelling of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s reign. But at the base of the film there is a story of love. A love that was resilient and true, even in the face of strife.
The story showed us the complex relationships of monarchy with Victoria in the middle being pulled every which way except the way she’d prefer. Coincidently, the mood of the movie reminded me of Elizabeth, but Victoria (Emily Blunt) had more of a romantic air to her character. When conflict came she was strong as well as portraying a softness and a vulnerability, which made her seem much more real. Also, the secondary characters brought a depth to the film that made it believable and realistic. One of my favorite characters was the Duchess of Sutherland (Rachel Stirling) she had such a quiet, almost translucent countenance, which fit her character and played well into the storyline of the film. I also loved King William who was played by Jim Broadbent with an exuberant flair that was fitting for a king. However, be warned, if you don’t pay attention, it would be easy to get lost in all the dukes and duchesses.
From the beginning of the film Emily Blunt commanded the performance of Victoria with a regal air that was even evident in her articulation of her words. Blunt’s Victoria displayed emotions that gave her an accessibility to the audience. She was fearful, temperamental, and even lonely at times, but throughout it all she relied on herself (and Albert) and remained strong. Now, if you know your history, you are not surprised that Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) is the suitor she chose to be her husband. Friend brought a pure and lovable quality to Albert, which makes it easy for him to weave his way into the hearts of the audience. You will love him from the start. The two have a wonderful chemistry together.
This film is a recollection of the beginning of the longest reigning monarchy to date, but foremost it was a love story. Showing that even though Victoria was queen, ruler of all England, she was also a woman that wanted a man to help her enjoy the game of life. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Precious - And in that tunnel, the only light they had, was inside of them. And then long after they escape that tunnel, they still be shining for everybody else.

Wow. That is all that I could utter for about twenty minutes after leaving the theater when I saw Precious. The story is about a young, abused African-American girl and her struggle to rise above the uncontrollable circumstances that surround her life. I haven’t had the chance to read Sapphire’s novel, Push, so I cannot give any comparison to the book. But as for the film, Lee Daniels (director) created a work that felt as real as if you were a fly on the wall in Harlem witnessing these unbelievably events as they unfolded.
This film shocked and stunned the audience with the raw, harsh scenes of abuse by both her mother and father. Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) opened our eyes to the reality of the situations, which she narrated in a monotone, disconnected manner that mirrored her attitude toward life. After her second pregnancy was discovered the school authorities transferred her to an alternative program to obtain her GED. Precious was placed in a class taught by Ms. Rain (Paula Patton) who saw potential in all of her students. Ms. Rain, as well as the social worker, Mrs. Weiss (Mariah Carey) both took an interest in this girl whom had become invisible to others. They both invested time, emotional and physical energy to help her lift herself out of the mire that she was born.
The newcomer Sidibe was masterful in her portrayal of Precious. Creating a girl who built a fortress of hard, apathetic emotions out of necessity to protect her. Also, she funneled the monsoon of anger and terror into her scenes, displaying the break down of a sixteen year-old girl who suffocating under the weight of circumstances that were completely out of her control. However, Mo’Nique, who played Mary the abusive mother, was the force that made this movie. She was compassionless and irrational in hatred toward her child. Without her unbridled performance the film wouldn’t have been as real. As for the other actors, which included Patton, Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Sherri Shepherd, they created an ensemble that complimented the rare beauty of Precious. They all fed off her unrelenting spirit and never let her give into the horrors of her life.
Precious shows us that there are people in the world that are monsters to the innocent, but there are also other people that value humanity above all else. Those people are willing to struggle to help the innocent find a way to escape the grip of the monsters in their lives. This film gave me a glimpse into a world that seems light years away from my reality. However, it is world that needs to be brought into the light in order to protect the pure. With very raw, vulgar language and vivid flashbacks I warn all the faint of heart to view this film with caution and a box of tissues. The tissues recommendation is for everyone!  

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It’s Complicated - Uh-oh, not the best time to be feelin’ groovy.

This movie was a delightful, heart-felt comedy that was packed with star performances by Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and the sweet John Krasinski, but had an unethical premise. The story follows Jane Adler (Streep) a divorced mother of three that owns a bakery and her ex-husband, Jake (Baldwin), a lawyer that has started a new family with the young mistress, played ever so sultrily by Lake Bell. The film begins with the feel of “life after divorce” for the modern family. The Adlers, after ten years, seem to have it down to a tolerant art. However, after a scandalous encounter while in New York for their son’s graduation the paradigm of their relationship shifts. While, Jake relishes in the new found excitement of an affair and hopes to continue the escapades, Jane is hesitant to disrupt her post-divorce life. Then, as if her life isn’t complicated enough, she begins a courtship with her nerdy architect, Adam (Martin).
Now, not being divorced, or even married for that matter, I think there are aspects of this film that I just don’t comprehend. But, omg, my jaw was on the floor during the scene in the psychiatrist’s office. He advised her to continue her adulterous relationship with her ex-husband! Does that sound crazy to anyone else? After that scene, I wanted a title change to “You’re Making it Complicated”. Clearly, I don’t agree with some of the choices that Jane makes, however, she does stand up for herself and her feelings when it comes down to it later in the movie. And I praise her for that.
But, oh how I love Meryl Streep! She played Jane with the breezy confidence, but a subtle vulnerability that made her “soft spot” for Jake completely believable. She was the strong, capable heroine that this kind of film needed in order to flourish. Alec Baldwin created a Jake that actually made my skin crawl, which worked with the character development perfectly. Also, you saw glimpses of regret and realization of responsibility to his past actions, but like any man-child they were only glimpses. Adam, on the other hand, was an excellent opponent in the fight for Jane’s affection. Martin brought a light, nervous sweetness to Adam’s character, along with the same kind of post-divorced vulnerability, which Jane complete understood. As for the secondary characters, Krasinski stole the show! Sorry to the three cookie-cutter kids, but Harvey (John Krasinski), the soon to be son-in-law, was the only sort of-sibling that brought depth to the scenes. Maybe I’m a little bias to the beloved Jim, but he was a delight every time he came on screen. With Harvey it was all in the eyebrows, he had the best nonverbal reactions to all of the “complications” in the film. And his chemistry with Meryl was great! I would love to see them together on screen again.
So if you’re in the mood for a fun, flirty flick that has some emotion and depth into post-marital bliss, it’s not a complicated choice… I give it a thumbs up!  

Bright Star - “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

For anyone who has read any work of John Keats and has been left breathless in the wake of his genius, this movie is for you. From the first note of the prelude to the last eloquent word softy spoken by Keats (Ben Whishaw) I was in awe and rapture of the beauty and truth of this movie. Jane Campion, writer and director, created a film that retold the three-year love story of Keats and Fanny Barwne. Throughout the coarse of the film, you feel like you are walking through a fog, a fog that is in essence the embodiment of Keats’ works. It was the combination of the beautiful music, flowing and rich fabrics of the wardrobe, and even how the characters moved around one another and the natural scenery that created this humbly, beautiful film.
I also commend Campion in her ability to incorporate actual text from letters of Keats into the dialogue. There is one scene in particular that is an exact representation of an account written by Charles Brown depicting the day Keats wrote “Ode to a Nightingale”. She interpreted the scene with such a quiet magnitude that it seemed seamless, yet if you’ve read the account, there would be no other way for it to be. It was perfect! Another scene that I can not help but mention, was when Keats was explaining the art of poetry to Fanny. He compared the act of reading a poem to jumping in a lake. It was an excellent analogy that encompasses his actual views on poetry that can be interpreted from his writings and letters. 
The actors brought a fresh, youthful feel to the film that allowed you to connect with them and feel their joy along with their sorrow. Abby Cornish played Fanny with such effortless passion. She wore Fanny’s self-made fashion with pride and confidence, as well as honed the emotions of a maiden in an impossible love affair. Charles Brown was wonderfully played by Paul Schneider, he brought a crass, unlikeable balance to the characters. Brown, along with impending death, was the needed friction in the plot. Ben Whishaw recreated a John Keats that walked with a wise calm beyond his years and held a melancholy in his eyes that foretold his untimely death.
Now, for those of you that haven’t had the elating experience of reading and loving John Keats, this movie may just spark your interest. However, be warned that the tempo of the film is slow and steady, where the majority of the movie is set in one house. So if you don’t have an affinity for films filled with beautiful language and set in 19th century England you might want to steer clear. ☺ But as for me, I give this movie a giant thumbs up!

p.s. I want to thank Kim for her love of all things Keats, that assisted me in this post.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Begin, Lets Start at the Beginning...

Hello friends and bloggers! As you might have assumed, this blog is solely dedicated to my opinions on movies. All movies? (You might ask.) Yes. All movies. From the beautiful to the disgusting and all the glorious cinema that lies in between. I have always had a love of movies, they way they can transport you to other places, dimensions, and minds. As well as, an appreciation for the beauty that is seen and then reproduced by the directors and cinematographers of yesterday and today. However, my love does not only lie with the beautiful movie, but also the raw, real movies that can stab full forced into the center of your heart, making a person feel more deeply about a character than you ever thought possible. And to go further, I even love the bad, the movies so bad they are an art form in themselves. With this little blog, I will go through and give my thoughts on all the movies that I have seen! And if you know me, you know that this is no small feat! So sit back and enjoy my quirky take on life through the motion pictures I see. I might even throw in a few book reviews sometime, just to spice it up a bit!