Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Social Network

Posted by ron On September - 29 - 2010


Within a Harvard dorm, two college friends will embark on a journey that will ultimately define their relationship and lead to a discovery worth billions.

How much equity is in popularity contests? Apparently, the answer is in the neighborhood of 15 billion. The Social Network was a snarky dialogue driven film allegedly based on the two principle co-founders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. When Zuckerberg’s jealous rage and obsession with college fraternities got out of control, academic probation led to the creation of Facebook, a networking website that later established Zuckerberg as the world’s youngest billionaire. Unfortunately, his ascension wasn’t without a few casualties in friendship. Zuckerberg may have redefined networking but in the process alienated every one around him including his best friend, Eduardo Saverin.

Directed by David Fincher, the characters in the Social Network were reduced to personalities within one long internalized dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin. The seamless dialogue was delivered so that words flowed from one person to the next as if one character finished the other person’s thought. Jesse Eisenberg epitomized Zuckerberg’s one track mind and his propensity to act without fear of consequence. He was every bit as convincing as a hopelessly jaded Jewish kid whose explosive insecurities needlessly damaged his relationships. It was hard to empathize with Zuckerberg. He wanted to be sociable. He just wasn’t any good at it. Eisenberg was more than effective at making that point. Perhaps not every thing in life such as popularity can or should be rationalized. Andrew Garfield played the film’s protagonist, suave ambitious business oriented co-founder Eduardo Saverin. It’s extremely difficult to believe what really happened to Saverin and Zuckerberg’s friendship. Garfield depicted Saverin with naive loving nature for his friend, so much that it ultimately was his downfall. Can the viewer buy that he was this naive the entire time? Difficult to say. It was Saverin’s equation that served as Facebook’s search engine. Unlike Zuckerberg, Saverin believed in the idea of beating the odds in life with the terms placed upon them. He jumped into the monotonous games of sororities. Saverin also had something Zuckerberg desired, money. Enter the flamboyant and opportunistic Sean Parker played by Justin Timberlake. No stretch of the imagination, Timberlake played a rock star. He tipped the scales in the favor of leaving the East Coast with the powerful seductive financial strategy: get rich now. Only problem, hedge funds required Zuckerberg to do something very underhanded. The movie needed no visual aids for the ensuing blood bath of scathing insults. By the end of the settlement, neither Zuckerberg nor Saverin could look at each other after all the emotional damage they inflicted upon each other.

Director David Fincher’s direction, camerawork, and Trent Reznor’s incredible soundtrack encapsulated this fantastical story from the cold Harvard dorms to the warmth of the California sunshine that ultimately ended in the cold unfeeling glass room for the settlement. It was a seductive, powerful fairytale and yet, by the end the audience almost felt betrayed by an unfulfilled promise that left one wanting more. What was the real motivation behind Facebook? It’s up to you to decide.

In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One beer I am giving the Social Network a very satisfying bourbon because the intelligent aggressive dialogue, the precision and execution by the actors, and the flawless direction to captivate this bizarre tale of one young man’s ride to billions.

Cheers,
Ron

Animal Kingdom

Posted by ron On September - 26 - 2010


Mother knows best in Australian crime film, Animal Kingdom

When an orphaned boy was fed to a dysfunctional family of criminals trapped by their own devices, it’s live to survive in the Australian crime film Animal Kingdom. Meet the Cody family, a narcissistic group of thuggish thieves who pulled off a bank heist so heinous that the corrupt Australian police department has made them out to be more dangerous than the Gotti family. When a random cop crossed the line and drew first blood, the stakes are raised as these criminals caged like animals within their homes plotted retribution that resulted in an all out war between hoods and cops.

Stuck in the middle of this escalating war was Joshua Cody played by James Frecheville, a precocious teenage boy whose mother died from a heroin overdose. Orphaned by his mother, he was taken in by his grandmother played by Jaki Weaver who delivered a surreal performance as a manipulative mother figure. A mixture between past TV characters Mrs. Garret and Livia Soprano, she was both nurturing and ruthless in the face of self-preservation. Guy Pierce lent his star power in a supporting role of a good cop in a bad town. He delivered his best impersonation of Commissioner Gordon. Within this family full of alpha males, Ben Mendelsohn was the Pope, Andrew Cody who was not only the architect of the bank heist but also the revenge plot gone bad main. His paranoia over his actions led to irrational antagonist behavior for most of the tension in the film.

Animal Kingdom didn’t offer any surprises. It’s literally the crime film that followed “An Offer you cannot refuse” to the letter. You can easily draw your own conclusions from the moment a Cody member was killed in cold blood. The acting wasn’t especially memorable and the movie struggled to find to end on some meaningful note. However, it is the one crime film where you never the money or hear the amount taken that every cop in Australia was after. This also might be the first crime film where the criminals did absolutely nothing but sit in their living room watching television and playing Playstation video games for almost a good 2/3rds of the film. In one scene, the young man Joshua left the living room of the Cody family to meet with his girlfriend and her younger brother was playing Playstation as well. If you’re a voracious Tea Party supporter, this film could come in handy to denounce socialist programs because from this film every one seemed to be sitting at home doing nothing.

Animal Kingdom delivered nothing but a predictable plot, uneventful performances, and a contrived ending. In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, and one beer I rated Animal Kingdom a flat warm unsatisfying beer.

Cheers,
Ron

The Exploding Girl

Posted by ron On September - 17 - 2010


All eyes are on Zoe Kazan who played Ivy, a young college girl who is about to learn a tough lesson in being young with a fragile heart.

The Exploding Girl chronicled the events of a epileptic naive college girl headed towards her first major heartbreak during Spring Break in Ithaca, NY. Writer/director Bradley Rust Gray captured the sensitivity of emotionally confused youth without laying a thick coating of cream cheese dysfunctional family syndrome, an exhausted trope ever since American Beauty commanded Oscar gold.

At the center of this character study, Zoe Kazan played Ivy with cute curious complexity. There’s nothing to divulge her thoughts when she was alone but her obsessive cell phone checks. At the same time, her soulmate Al played by Mark Randall doing his best impression of Seth Green needed a place to stay after getting kicked out of his parents’ home in NYC. Young men don’t come as uncomplicated as Al. His role was served as just to advance the character and be there for her till the end. As one might have guessed by now, the man who can’t appreciate Ivy by cheating on her will ultimately nudge her to see her best friend in s new light as a committed lover who will be there for her when she’s in sickness or health.

Romantic films similar to the plot in Exploding never seem to progress beyond the cliche’ difficulty communicating feelings between young people. Even through the marvels of modern technology, the ability to reach someone always leads to yet another cliche’ way to ignore someone and yet, they can’t seem to notice what a jerk one person was over another until the 90 minute mark. In the film’s most therapeutic scene on a secluded NYC rooftop at Dawn, the Ivy finally unleashed a meltdown of tears as pigeons in formation fly around them. Its a sweet release to a tender story about two aimless young hearts finally acknowledging that the best person for them was right in front of them all this time.

In an era where romantic films accentuate career and distractions, this film kept it simple and in some ways it was easier to get through. However, the acting performances were extremely limited by the lack of content to work with. Hence, a beautifully shot and contemplative climax never goes beyond the superficiality of a story that was nonetheless predictable.

In my ode to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, one beer I am rating the Exploding Girl a modest beer that is easy and smooth but not anything complex or full of richness.

Cheers,
Ron

Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

Posted by ron On August - 16 - 2010


More than just an exercise in T-shirt culture, Scott Pilgrim might be in over his head if he can’t find a way to defeat all of Ramona’s evil Ex-lovers.

Whether or not you are a gamer, every one can relate to love as a game. Scott Pilgrim vs the world was the 7th level of a no holds barred fight to the finish for the girl you love. Director Edgar Wright took the best elements of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s 6 book series by emphasizing the video game spoofs and clever visual language. For all intents and purposes, the adaptation worked on the cinematic stage.

In a similar set up to Shaun of the Dead, the main protagonist was a slacker, content to simply exist in his small fish bowl world until a crisis threatened to take away the one thing he desperately loved more than garlic bread. Not much of a stretch for Michael Cera to play a self absorbed amoral puppy who often took the path of least resistance when it came to his prior relationships. Cera’s comedic limitations were identified in the scene where his character was so desperate to get dumped, he resorted to racial insults. Without the right comedic timing, the delivery felt awkward. Pilgrim’s love interest played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead captured Ramona Flowers’ reserved, mysterious beauty with poker faced emotionally withdrawn expressions. Is she concealing her emotions for Scott or is she emotionally immune to his charms? The ambiguous nature of her character was necessary to convince us that a reckless young man’s pursuit to capture what was deemed unattainable seemed logical and convincing between two young people.

The more enjoyable super hero movies are attributed to great acting performances by the villains. Have no fear, the performances delivered by each evil ex exhibited their best characteristics and most fun in the film. Balancing the theatrical dialogue with the physical demands, each fight scene was brilliantly choreographed and executed. Even if the viewers didn’t catch all the homages to specific old school video games, they certainly enjoyed the vibrant colors, stunts, and camerawork.

In my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, one beer I am giving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a rating of a great tasting bourbon that provided good times, action, adventure, and a righteous score for the good guys.

Cheers,
Ron

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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief

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