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|78 reviews in total|
Facebook. We all use it, most of us love it, so it was a matter of time
before someone made a movie out of it. Hailed to be on par with the
invention of the telephone, Mark Zuckerberg's gargantuan internet
phenomena has infected the world with a brand-spanking new form of
communication. 500 million people worldwide have found themselves lost
in a realm of friend requests, statuses, tagging, news feeds and all
sorts of innovative little tid-bits. Bit of fun right? Well, I think we
can afford to be a bit more profound. Facebook isn't just an exercise
in escapist entertainment, it's trivialised the process of
communication in its entirety, figure-heading an explosive online
movement fixed on harmonising global liaison. Who'd have thought that
such an immense, world-changing concept could have come from one geek
messing around in his little university dorm. It's a remarkable story
that ached for an effective big screen adaptation. Was this ache
throbbing in vain? Definitely not.
But be aware folks, this isn't just a flat-out glorification of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). Aaron Sorkin's witty script paints a genuine portrait of the cyber-magnate, revealing his stark flaws as he battles a potentially crippling law suit. Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg, in a role which grew to be more complex and multi-faceted than first thought. Being a relative newcomer and, in my opinion, emerging star, all eyes were on this young actor. Does he have the ability to hold such a biopic? Can he conjure the ultimate technological hero, or even anti hero? These were questions I had to ask beforehand, and God, did I feel stupid as I walked out. Eisenberg perfectly captures the essence of flawed genius, delivering Sorkin's portrayal of Zuckerberg with ruthless efficiency. Rather than shoving Zuckerberg's genius down our throats, the script leaves his likability wide open. On one end, he's obnoxious, irreverent, socially awkward and incredibly controlling. Whilst on the other, he's a misunderstood, brilliant aficionado, driven by mere passion, uninterested in monetary needs. Personally, I fell in love with Eisenberg's interpretation of Sorkin's script, he was mesmerisingly dry, punchy, and deeply absorbing. He's produced a character that will grow to become one of cinema's great flawed protagonists.
In terms of plot, The Social Network pulls the Facebook creation story out by the roots and examines each twine with cracking detail. It drags us back to a time before the site's global explosion, a world where Zuckerberg is only known by his blogging alias, 'Zukonit' and his cyber creation is in the mere faetal stage, being classed as a 'book of faces' or 'The Facebook'. This was only 6 or 7 years ago but it seems millennia has gone by! This little fallacy symbolises the extraordinary rapidity of the spread of Facebook's infection across the world, making this picture eagerly fascinating. Every day, all of us are drawn to check our Facebooks, we meet new people and it's become a custom to ask if they're on Facebook, "Don't worry, I'll Facebook you", "You have that Facebook app?", "Can't believe you just fraped me", are but just a few sentences drummed into the status quo. This site has become an impenetrable feature of our society and witnessing its fruition from the very beginning captivates beyond all recognition.
So with Aaron Sorkin's sharp script and Jesse Eisenberg's impressive performance, all the film needed was some solid direction, of the likes David Fincher was happy to oblige. Fincher truly is a strong director, helming such pictures as Zodiac (2007), Fight Club (1999), Seven (1995) and, just recently, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Like Ron Howard, he doesn't overstate with his work, he possesses the maturity and discipline to direct a film that allows the story and characters to develop freely as the screenplay initially intended. He's the liberal middle-man rendering a script through the camera in a smooth, majestic manner. As much as I'd hate to use the word 'standard' here, Fincher's camera-work is standard in method yet far beyond standard in quality, it fits the script like a glove.
So, without further ado, let's knuckle down and discuss the Academy Awards. All of sudden we've drifted into awards season, the most exciting time of the cinematic year where the pains inflicted by the tripe blurted onto the summer screen are eased by a parade of fresh, top quality cinema. A new wave of technical scrutiny will hit viewers like a ton of bricks and The Social Network is one hell of an opener to this stimulating advent. To revert back to Eisenberg, he's sent ripples around cinema's critical forum, and rightfully so. He's pulled off a career-changing performance, emblematic of his blossoming into the great actor he'll very soon become. We'll expect to see him floating around the 'Best Leading Actor' category across the award ceremonies, but a win seems unlikely. As for Sorkin's expertly written script, it should expect top contention for 'Best Adapted Screenplay', and I can see a few supporting actors attracting recognition. The striking Achilles Heel for the film's promotion has been the inclusion of pop prince, Justin Timberlake in the cast. In the world of REAL cinema, his name falls under taboo. But, he's actually pretty bearable this time around, playing the super slick founder of 'Napster', Sean Parker. So try not to let that ghastly name impair your excitement!
If you're worried that The Social Network is just a lousy pop carnation programmed to juice the money out of the Facebook loving public, you couldn't be more wrong. David Fincher's picture is a magnetic analysis of troubled genius, personified by an exceptional Eisenberg performance. What a dose of post-summer refreshment!
As the opening credits ran and I saw a mystical, fairy-tale like image
of snow falling upon a desolate house in the woods, I knew I was in
store for another unorthodox, bizarrely affecting film from the Coen
Brothers. They dip into the ocean of satire in Burn After Reading,
tease us with jet black comedy in Fargo and dazzle us with baseless
fantasy in Hudsucker Proxy. These eclectic film-makers compile scripts
smashing convention, showing us that life's drawbacks can be funny,
celebrating dark comedy in triumphant fashion. 'A Serious Man' couldn't
encapsulate this more as we're given a fly on the wall view of Larry
Gopnik's (Michael Stuhlbarg) pious life implode before his eyes.
'A Serious Man' projects a cold, surreal world. Filled to the brim with plastic stock types isolating Larry in a fit of relentless mockery. This is, of course, the butt of the comedy. Gopnik's extraordinary procession of short-comings is hilarious as we watch his world plunge into a whirlwind of ill-fate. Throughout, we laugh at his constant encounters with a host of unhelpful, unsympathetic figures all differing in character. Larry has the pleasure of anti-Semitic neighbours, a socially exempt brother and a host of vacuous, unaccommodating Rabbis. Battling the effects of a failed marriage and a bitch-faced wife, Gopnik comes across Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), a character that steals the show with his ironic, lampooning nature. Sy hijacks Larry's wife, forcing him out of his house and destroying his domestic life yet he still greets him with a calm grin, smothered with a sympathetic countenance, assuring erroneously with his droning voice that "Everything is going to be fiiiiiine". Sy is the Coens' emblem of deep mockery, a coarse foreshadow of the film's omniscient undertones of irony. Stuhlbarg's bumbling depiction of Larry Gopnik serves as the epicentre of a corrupting, artificial world choked with a plethora of uproarious characters.
In typical Coens fashion, the film leaves us at the edge of our seats. As the credits suddenly start to roll, we're left wondering, betrayed by the incorrect thought that we knew where the film was going. The story is easing and simplistic throughout. Yet, the Coens' sudden end inspires a galaxy of thought, slapping the audience with a revelation that this picture is much more than a bit of black comedy, unveiling its daring complexity and impossible depth. Popular opinion dictates 'A Serious Man' to be an allegorical rework of the bible's Story of Job, but other more liberal critics rightfully suggest that this picture is a mere artistic flourish that should inspire many modes of interpretation. It's astonishing how the Coens continue to consistently produce such mysterious, intellectually endearing works of cinema.
Starless in its cast, 'A Serious Man' is a ground-breaking piece of cinema. The Coens dish out a thought-provoking, marvellously profound film that stretches the boundaries of comedy. Not since Barton Fink, have the Coens delivered such a mentally indulgent experience.
Simply Stunning. 9/10
Paranormal Activity follows a young couple, as they become tormented by
an evil spirit. The instant allure of this film is, of course, the
'super original' pseudo-documentary format otherwise famed in 'The
Blair With Project' (1999) and 'Cloverfield' (2008). While I can agree
that this approach to horror is a nice break from the usual gore-fests
we're terrorised by in modern horror, 'Paranormal Activity' still feels
ragged and radically uninspired. 'Cloverfield' offered a stagnantly
boring yet realistic point of view in the event of a monster attacking
New York (which we know is a tired scenario). 'Paranormal Activity' is
doing the same, getting a concept as old as death itself and filming it
with a crappy camera. That's OK with me; I admire the film's moments of
frightening intensity and tense entrapment yet for most of the 86
minute running time, I was left bored by the predictable story and
The desperate state of modern horror doesn't translate financially; 'Paranormal Activity' cost a measly $15,000 to produce while it enjoys profits exceeding $100,000,000 since release. This astonishing financial success is backed up by an ample plethora of positive critical acclaim, yet that doesn't leave me convinced. Nor could I ever imagine that this would really be a horror of true quality measuring up to the classics. So in that respect, the film met my expectation.
The quality of the film was largely two-fold. On one end, there's the psychological ferociousness and suspense of the night scenes yet on the other end, we got a bold disparity of archetypal characters and lame script-writing. The man of the couple, Micah (Micah Sloat), is more of a terrifying microcosm of Christian Bale, Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise than a striking male protagonist. His goofy, alpha-male persona was an annoying distraction even more so than his wife, Katie (Katie Featherston), who's plainer than Leona Lewis in a coma. The script was disappointing, unoriginal drivel, increasing the film's pivotal reliance on the somewhat dynamic format most obviously displayed in the night scenes. These moments had a great atmospheric nature; creating unbearable tension, entrapping the audience in a state of suspended inescapability. These snippets impressed me, showcasing a multitude of psychological horror that the genre has been starved of in recent years. As you can probably notice from my contrasting words, the quality of 'Paranormal Activity' is about as temperamental as a bipolar woman on her period.
While the pseudo-documentary format pioneers the moments of heightened terror, it simultaneously shoves the film down the road of mediocrity. Such a style demands short running times, which left the film feeling bare and undeveloped whilst the solitary camera use felt restricting at times, almost leaving too much emphasis on what we don't see rather than what we do. Of course, this restriction creates the suspense, but I felt there were missed opportunities for more climactic shocks that doesn't really come until the very end. I was left wanting more at the conclusion of the film, the immense night scenes wetted my appetite but I wasn't given the opportunity to take a bite. The film teases you with an intriguing point of view and dangles various semi-scares for the audience yet it doesn't deliver beyond that. That is where this horror slumps.
The independent, perhaps revolutionary transcendence of 'Paranormal Activity' is something to embrace horror being a dying genre, I respect attempts to refresh it. But, this attempt is futile and lagging. Its junctures of great quality only frustrated me as it shot itself in the foot with lame casting and script-writing. I can't help but wonder how the $15,000 budget was spent...
Literary Legend, Oscar Wilde has always been known for his boundless wit to see the beloved playwright's only novel be adapted to the screen should be a pleasure right? Haha, Nope not by a long shot! 'Dorian Gray' follows the story of a young English bureaucrat whose blind pursuit of hedonism lands him into a world of supernatural trouble. Visually, the film was stunning - the audience were frequently dazzled by a myriad of immaculate cinematography showcasing the artificial mess that was 19th Century London. That was the good thing, now let's get onto the bad. After the first 25 minutes, the film ran out of steam, it transformed into a lengthy, predictable chore. Furthermore, the film boasts some sort of philosophical edge that is bound to make the ears of some budding pseudo-sophistos to flare up. Once you get past the obvious moral, the film is painfully shallow, made evident by the faltering characterisation in a script that had horrible pacing issues. At times, the film slid over to something you'd find in an old, perverted Italian film rather than a British Costume Drama. But anyway, 'Dorian Gray' was a bore-fest I thought of calling it Sweeney Todd's more mature older brother but I really wouldn't want to place it in such a high-flying gene-pool...
- Tarantino is possibly the greatest cult director to ever live -
Originality and Passion is something that is relatively scarce in the contemporary film industry, many directors now simply produce films for the whopping pay check after release (Michael Bay, Jason Friedberg...). Yet, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is a gleaming example that there is still raw passion and bundles of originality nestled in the undercurrents of cinema. Tarantino's films most definitely have an acquired taste, his style is marred with obscure film references, heavy dialogue, dark comedy and you'd usually expect his characters to go into a burst of pointless chit-chat about pop culture. This is what his cinema is and he sticks to his guns, he's not tempted by the majority audience to cash in on. The beauty of Inglourious Basterds is that he sticks to his style, but he puts it into a totally different use to produce a wacky piece of cinema of the like that I've never seen before or never will!
Inglourious Basterds is split into five chapters that all have a distinct tone and direction. It involves two bloody stories of revenge and redemption coming together in a simply outrageous fashion. Melanie Laurent plays Shoshana Dreyfus, a vengeful cinema owner who witnessed her family get massacred by Nazi Colonel, Hans 'Jew Hunter' Landa (Christophe Waltz). Whilst, Brad Pitt plays Lt Aldo Raine as he leads a battalion of hate-filled American Jews on a rampage to kill Nazis. Both stories unite in a simply epic conclusion.
Once again, Tarantino gathers an admirable cast that fit the script. Waltz pulled off a great performance that should expect Academy recognition, Pitt was very good as the simple American lieutenant and Laurent was perfect as Shoshana. I could only complain about Eli Roth, but I don't want to waste my time explaining why as the reasons should be obvious!
Like a typical Tarantino film, there are flourishes of Morricone music, brilliant yet perhaps superfluous dialogue and plenty of violence. The film doesn't take itself seriously, it's just great fun and miles away from your normal war film. Tarantino treats sensitive issues like Nazism like anything else, producing a multitude of violence never seen before in his films.
Inglourious Basterds is a black comedy, we find ourselves laughing when in fact we should be shocked and disgusted. Yet, this doesn't suggest the story is lousy, it's actually brilliant. It's ironic and surprisingly gripping, all thanks to a script that I would describe as spectacular. The writing is subtle and at times, hilarious.
Tarantino's films have always been quite comical, yet this is his first all-out black comedy. The farcical story structure encapsulates a great atmosphere of stupidity, so much so that you can't help but laugh out loud at the end.
The film is most certainly an acquired taste, some may find the heavy scenes of dialogue as excessive or some may see Tarantino's attempts at black humour as immature and juvenile. Opinions were always going to be polarised as they were at Cannes. But I can tell you one thing, Inglourious Basterds sees Tarantino back on blistering form and I can't wait for his next project.
"Tarantino's hilarious film is an epic celebration of cinema"
"Laurent and Waltz shine in the best film of the summer"
"Wildly Original. A crazy, twisted, bloody war film that certainly has its dramatic moments exemplified by Tarantino's exhilarating music choice"
"Awesome, Dazzling, Beautiful. Inglourious Basterds fails to disappoint"
"Entertainment of the highest calibre"
"Has everything you'd expect from a Tarantino film. An experience for both film buffs and the ordinary film goer"
"I can guarantee, no-one has seen anything like this before..."
I've never had so much fun in the cinema.
Tim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands' is a beautifully constructed modern
fairy-tale detailing the life of an unfinished humanoid named Edward.
His inventor died before he could complete Edward so he is left with a
frightening set of razor sharp blades for hands. Edward remains
isolated in the darkness of his inventor's hilltop mansion until a kind
Avon lady comes to him and offers to let him stay in her house within a
sickly prim, proper and perfect suburban neighbourhood where your every
move is judged by the unforgiving inhabitants. Unexpectedly, Edward
finds a love interest yet his naive inability to distinguish between
right and wrong leads to him slowly being denounced by the
Johnny Depp is simply an astonishing actor. His character of Edward is heart-warming and extremely lovable. With very little dialogue to work with, Depp's body language is perfect, embodying Edward as shy but very benevolent. He carries the film in a performance that would withstand his position as one of the most versatile actors in the history of cinema. Perhaps he could have got an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Burton has never been one of the most conventional film-makers and 'Edward Scissorhands' is no exception. Elfman's haunting track is brilliant over the almost clichéd fairy tale shots of the great mansion on the hill. This film is almost like Burton's homage to all fairy-tales or rather a telling of his very own.
Such a film will always be open for any interpretation in terms of meaning. It could be a satire about the crushing effects of judgmental American suburbia or some see Edward as a metaphor for Jesus. However outlandish you want to go with your interpretation of the film, 'Edward Scissorhands' is a great mystical film that is surprisingly poignant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David Cronenberg's 'The Fly' follows a young scientist's ambitious
dreams of inventing something world-changing shatter due to something
as mind-numbingly trivial as a fly. Seth Brundle looked set for a
prosperous life with a happy relationship yet the intervention of bad
luck put his life at a stand-still, turning him into an inhuman freak,
isolated from society and the life that he once lived.
Sensibly directed by Cronenberg, the film presents a simple story that I believe to be one of the most understated cinematic tragedies. Jeff Goldblum stars as Seth Brundle; a great performance from one of Hollywood's under-appreciated actors. The effects were excellent for its time, presenting Brundle's descent in frightening and shocking detail.
'The Fly' documents a freak occurrence, a shockingly dramatic spectacle fuelled by one man's nonpareil ambition. Tragic how it was tarnished by one of earth's most insignificant creatures.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Federico Fellini's 'Amarcord' is a beautiful, surreal cinematic
showpiece that transcends teenage lust marred with naivety and innocent
curiosity. The main focal point of the film isn't really defined,
Fellini takes us through a series of episodes that have an enigmatic
link. The tone is of the film is perfectly consistent from the subtlety
of the rumptuous dance of the woman in the hair saloon at the beginning
to the shocking briskness of the frisky scene with the overweight
It could seem, due to the loose narrative, that this is a lazily made film. Yet one must not look at the narrative but instead look at the visual prowess of this picture, the tone of the film which is in fact very dark. The imagery screams temptation and lust; the luscious red woman, the peacock near the end and many other intricately planned sequences. Yet we never actually see graphic sex which in fact the film transcends and hints towards. The adolescents are constantly poised, constantly watching yet like the boys, the audience are waiting for the one scene where the boys release their carnal passion and desire. Yet, this scene doesn't come and in the way this mirrors all adolescent sexual fantasies.
Amarcord is visual candy, a delight on the eye that doesn't hold back on meaning but in fact makes it difficult to find; it's thought-provoking to say the least, a parody of the ridiculousness of adolescent desire.
Very Impressive 8.5/10
Salo follows a group of fascist libertines rounding up a group of
good-looking boys and girls to put through sexual, mental and physical
torture. As a fan of daring films, I felt it extremely necessary to see
such a film being a fan of A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. Salo
pushes the boundaries of shock and disturbia and makes any other
'violent' and 'explicit' films seems like excerpts of Barney the
dinosaur. The explicitness is constant and increasingly worse as the
Surprisingly, the film made me feel queasy. However, interpreting this film is impossibly hard. On one hand, you could see it as a pointless orgy of cordless sexuality or you could see it as a representation of how power corrupts the human mind. As far as I'm concerned, I could have given this film a 1 or a 10, yet the film is so unique it is almost impossible to decipher an accurate rating. So by default, I gave it a middle rating of 5.
Yet, Salo is a film all film fans should see. Its bold, daring and beautifully directed. Very interesting but impossible to interpret.
Network is about a retiring, troubled yet deranged news reporter (Peter
Finch) becoming sick with the artificiality of showbiz and at the same
time losing his sanity. Yet his trusted colleagues at his network don't
see this as an area of concern, but rather a business opportunity. The
producers exploit this reporter's state of mind to give him his own
show in which he furiously preaches the flaws of society, promoting his
viewers to shout of their window, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not guna
take it!'. However, the show's ratings start to falter and the network
need to find some way of bringing down the show, no matter how
Network reveals a shocking reality that the television business (or rather the media overall) is evil, partial and false. The peek of satire in the film is Faye Dunaway's character, Diana Christensen. She claims to be inept at everything except her work, she is engrossed in the falseness of the media which influences her own life in which she compares affairs with Vronsky and Anna in 'Anna Karenina' and sees mundane situations as a script.
Finch's performance as Howard Beale was powerful and boundlessly brilliant. He acts as the messenger of truth in the film, a beacon of light in this dark abyss of lies and hypocrisy. His character is worn down by the difficulties of life driving him to derangement and shocking insanity. Finch deserved his Oscar without a doubt.
Network is a bold satire of the false nature of the media whilst acting as a truly enlightening experience that is hugely ahead of its time.
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