Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Garfield’

Top 10 of 2010!

January 5, 2011

 

And here we are again!  Another year down and another slew of movies to comprehend and compare.  Unlike the last few years, 2010 brought a cavalcade of competent cinema that was absolutely unprecedented.  I was fully unprepared for the likes of the last few months and the intense entries into the Oscar season that began to give way as the year came to a close.  Now, as always, I’m certain that this list will be viewed as juvenile and haphazard (story of my life) but these are MY top 10 movies of the year.  I wish I could watch all of these entries over again to more properly gauge my level of enthusiasm and their prowess, however, I will stand by every one of these entries and will fight you to the death for any of them!  (Though I will admit, I give major kudos to originality and ingenuity in form over traditional cinematic bravado)  Let the ranking begin!

10.  127 Hours


Danny Boyle does so much with so very little.  In this masterful retelling of the infamous expedition-gone-wrong of Aron Ralston, Boyle makes the story of a man trapped in the desert for five days into a life-affirming, absurdly inspirational tale.  Boyle deserves immense credit for taking  a cinematically antithetical story and turning it into one of the most captivating of the year.

9.  Never Let Me Go


Mark Romanek made a big splash on the screen this year with this film, which delves into themes of humanity, fate, and despondency at the hands of one’s own demise.  All against the backdrop of a beautifully filmed, beautifully performed script.  Never Let Me Go reaffirmed Andrew Garfield’s, Carey Mulligan’s, and Keira Knightley’s prowess all in one fail swoop.

8.  True Grit


Being the second Coen brothers movie I have ever ACTUALLY enjoyed, True Grit put multiple stereotypes of mine to rest.  I was concerned about ANOTHER overly hyped Coen flick, I was concerned about another update of a classic western, and I was concerned about a story with a cliche, precocious, young female protagonist who comes across as seemingly unflappable.  But when you realize that the Coen’s entire body of work details the lives of larger-than-life characters that are seemingly unflappable, you begin to forgive this mini masterpiece for its very few flaws.

7.  The Kids Are All Right


Easily one of the best pieces of acting this year, the raw talent in this film makes me question how more fuss wasn’t made over it.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are irreplaceable in this comedy about the inner-workings of family and the importance of love, understanding, and functionality in the face of adversity, stress, and life’s constant ambiguity.  Did I mention that the performances are incredible?

 

6.  The Social Network


One of my more traditional choice for the year, Fincher’s techno-epic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is truly as efficient as the hype made it out to be.  With a spot-on score produced by Trent Reznor, and cinematography that would make lawn-mowing a fascinating, IMAX-worthy venture, the film is almost incapable of NOT delighting audiences.

5.  I Love You Phillip Morris

Ironically, this may be the most contested movie on this list, as it does have its fair share of tonal anomalies and inconsistencies, however, Phillip Morris simply cannot be overlooked as one of the most adventurous and insightful picks of the year.  It takes risks and utilizes techniques just as well as 127 Hours and The Social Network, both.  It merely uses them in different regards and for different outcomes.  Not to mention that the performances are absolutely fabulous.

4.  Kick-Ass

Again, this film can be RIDICULOUSLY tonally inconsistent at times.  It can even leave viewers borderline disenchanted and at a loss.  But for fans of the genre, and just movie geeks in general, Kick-Ass lives to deliver both a send-up of the entire superhero canon, as well as overtly-indulgent entry in and of itself.

3.  Toy Story 3

If you would have told me that a three-quel to one of the biggest Disney franchises of all time would make my top 3 of ANY year, I would be forced to furrow my brow at you in extreme doubt, but Toy Story 3 is one of the most adroit offerings that Pixar has put out since…well, I guess since Up.  Still, it speaks incredibly highly of a studio that is capable of making sequels to films without losing any of the magic and without giving in to any sense of pandering or desperation.  Pixar should literally be a class that all film executives at EVERY studio should have to take.

2.  The Fighter

Going into this movie with little to no expectations of what I was about to see gave way to easily one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of this year.  David O. Russell truly knows how to make an incredible film, both critically and for mainstream audiences.  Visually arresting, with performances that are EASILY Oscar-worthy (I’m looking at you, Christian Bale and Amy Adams) this entry came out of nowhere and proved to be my second favorite of the year AS WELL AS my technical #2.  The film simply cannot be denied as a masterpiece on multiple fronts.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

If you ever wanted to confirm my absolute geekiness, look no further than this #1 pick.  Is it a stereotypical selection?  Sure.  Is it a smidge over-praised by moi?  Perhaps.  But I simply don’t care.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was easily my favorite movie of the year and easily one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, as well, perhaps even top 5 (I told you I was willing to acquiesce that I may be a bit blind to this movie).  Everything about this movie takes the extravagances of previous cinematic treasures and expounds upon them.  I challenge you to find a faster-paced, funnier, better-choreographed film that speaks so directly to an entire culture and properly adapts six graphic novels into a story under two hours long.  Did that sentence just blow your mind?  Well that’s how you feel for the entirety of the movie, even after the tenth viewing.  I know from experience.

P.S. And to be fair, here is a list of the most-talked-abouts that I have yet to see:

_The King’s Speech

_Shutter Island

_Waiting for Superman

_The Town

_Fair Game

_Mother

_Tangled

_Despicable Me

_Catfish

_Blue Valentine

_Animal Kingdom

Film Reviews!: Never Let Me Go

October 28, 2010

The next time that you find yourself in the middle of a movie, knowing EXACTLY what’s going to happen next and the exact beats that the screenwriter is cultivating to get you there, just take solace in the fact that every so often we are given a movie like Never Let Me Go.  I went into this screening knowing nothing at all about the movie beforehand.  I had abstained from trailers, internet gossip, the whole nine yards.  I knew that the movie was primarily produced in the UK and nothing in this movie relishes in that of standard conventions.

Mark Romanek is given the helm as director and this work marks his third foray into full-length feature films.  The hallmark of Romanek’s work is that it always manages to invoke a sort of gritty, heartless, almost cruel realism that few directors have the capacity to engineer in their productions.  One hour Photo, shot in 2002 and starring Robin Williams, is a perfect example of Romanek’s style and how he manages to make the film’s aesthetics as central to the story as the script itself.  Known primarily for his expansive music video catalog, however, further examples of Romanek’s creative touch as it transcends mood and tone are best referenced in Weezer’s El Scorcho,  Fiona Apple’s Criminal, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt.  His incredible eye for detail and attention to not only the undertones of the story, but the overtones and all the tones in the middle, are what guides the images he captures to broadcast such a heightened sense of understanding.  Romanek truly knows how to tell a story through images and an overall aesthetic, which is exactly how Never Let Me Go manages to accomplish so much with so little in terms of production or back story.

One of the greatest accomplishments of this film (and there are many) is it’s ability to instill an overall sense of dread and hopelessness in the audience. And while many movies have the capacity to instill an audience with the equivalent mood to collaborate with the tone of their film, few flicks do so in such a masterful way as Never Let Me Go.  For it’s not the story that creates such an ethereal sense of abandon in the audience (though the story IS quite bleak), nor the dialogue or the superb writing.  The unending tone of dismay that Never Let Me Go so successfully conveys is explicitly broadcast through the heartlessness and futility found in the day-to-day lives of the movies characters, and of the film’s alternate world’s atmosphere that it has completely fabricated.  Fair warning, a bit of background into the film’s plot and some spoilers will be required to further flesh out my analysis.

Never Let Me Go follows the lives of three clones in an alternate version of Britain in which, as early as the mid-sixties, clones were regularly grown and harvested for their organs.  The story follows this love triangle of clones as they are brought up in an orphanage through their adolescence and  into their adulthood as they begin to be harvested for their organs (clones are kept alive for as many as up to three ‘donations’ on average).  The story isn’t about rebellion.  It’s not even about passive resistance, or really any kind of resistance at all.  The characters make a single attempt at preventing their own demise only to be told calmly, cooly, and in a warm, open environment that there is no such thing as a delay or an extension on life.  Once your number is called, it’s called.  So, while the characters do eventually have a mental break down, they never actually attempt to escape the fate that is bestowed upon them.  This, amongst multiple other tonal impressions, is how the inescapable sense of despairing fate envelopes the entire film and manages to drape itself over the audience, by proxy.

And this overbearing sense of dismal loss and submission does so much more than simply play into the movie’s central theme.  It helps to elaborate on the symbolism and specific messages that the film looks to project in its alternative universe.  For example, despite the fact that the characters in Romanek’s most recent endeavor have roughly half the life-span of most people, they still experience the exact same trials and tribulations, still wrestle with the same concepts of life’s futility, of love lost and unrequited, and dealing with reality as you are confined to it.  The characters in Never Let Me Go blindly accept the life they have been born into with little to no grievances, much as most do.  The story, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, works as a beautiful metaphor for the short lease we all have on life, and the way most of us waste our lives striving for mundane things or blindly accepting our fate.  Had the main characters in the story ever ventured out farther than an occasional trek into town or if they had even questioned things more than once, perhaps they could have escaped the early deaths that awaited them.

Finally, it needs to be noted that the acting and directing in Never Let Me Go help to translate the story beautifully, as well, with Kiera Knightly playing one of the most unlikeable-yet-understandable, conniving characters in recent memory.  Her portrayal of the back-stabbing Ruth rings so true as one of her sole motivations in life is to keep from being lonely.  Andrew Garfield continually reminds me why I am excited for the Spider-Man reboot, with his calm and impassioned portrayal of Tommy.  And Carey Mulligan easily gives the strongest performance of the film as the demure and complacent Kathy.  It’s certainly worth noting, as well, that the child actors in this film put on excellent performances, in addition to the star-power inherent in Mulligan, Garfield, and Knightly.

Never Let Me Go’s expert discussion of some of the most existential, overarching concepts in humanity makes it a textual masterpiece that comes alive through Romanek’s exquisite ability to create an entire universe through tone and atmosphere.  Without wasting a minute of screen time and without adding any superfluous content, which, in effect, usually ends up taking away from the original story, Romanek  and screenwriter Alex Garland paint a beautiful, haunting, and discouraging portrait of how often life is wasted on complacency and fear.

Performances: 92/100

Cinematography/Aesthetics: 85/100

Score: 67/100

Script: 88/100

Final: 81/100

Film Reviews!: The Social Network

October 6, 2010

Hello all my shway-keteers!  (wow, that needs work).  I know it’s been a LONG time but I’m back in what I THINK is “the saddle” and I’m ready to start the bloggin’ once again.  I’ve decided to add reviews to the site for a very significant reason:  I think it’s all I have left to offer.  After I made the startling discovery of what the kids are calling “the Twitter,” I realized that anything that I could want to share or distribute over the internet could be done in 140 characters or less.  Film, however, my most lasting love in this life, yearns to be discussed.  Film and television and entertainment, as a whole, cannot be critiqued or evaluated in passing.  It needs elaboration.  So I’m going to start throwing the proverbial hat in the critic’s ring, in the hopes of expressing what I feel is (terribly) wrong with cinema (maybe even some things that are right.  Yay?)  My approach is simple.  I will discuss the piece in general, its flaws, positives, indifferent moments, then I will rate it on a scale of 100.  100 being a perfect movie, 50 being an average movie and 0 being one of the worst movies ever made, a completely inconceivable pile of filth that didn’t deserve the print it was delivered on.  So don’t think of it as a grading scale, think of it as a full, 100 point bell curve.  AAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNDDDDD we’re off!!!

David Fincher has a knack for making mainstream movies both beautiful and relevant.  This is a skill that is absolutely paramount to acquire in the industry as Hollywood generally ends up splitting the bill during the fiscal year, funding a plethora of movies geared solely towards profit margins, as well as a more meager slate of flicks designed to seduce the academy towards the end of the year in order to keep the studio in a ‘respectable’ light. His filmography reads of some of the most successful films (both financially and critically) in the past decade.  Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and now, The Social Network.  The through-line in most of his work, is an attention to pace and fluidity.  Fincher is nothing if not masterfully-kinetic.  He can take a dialogue-deluged script and shuttle it along at speeds reminiscent of Michael Bay or Brett Ratner, while STILL maintaining the story’s integrity, imagine that!

A fairly base hypothesis for why the man has such a mastery over his craft would lie in the years of time he spent as a music video director for roughly ten years from the late 80’s to the early 90’s.  Being forced to tell a story in around three minutes with little to no dialogue set to music is a task that will develop a sense of energy in your work.  Just ask any film school grad.  And while these are all simply wild hypotheses, I seem to be able to feel fully validated in them as The Social Network exists entirely almost as one long, beautifully shot music video.  That’s not to take anything away from the movie, necessarily, it just speaks to the overall tone that Fincher has set, and I want to believe that that tone is set from an intentional, psychological place.

My generation, one of the very first to basically grow up with Facebook (To date myself, I first signed on to Facebook my senior year of high school.  I was attending a university during high school so I had a .edu e-mail address, allowing me access), seems to have become defined by our succinct attention spans and constant yearning for diversity and multiplicity in all facets of life.  We work fast, we play fast, we rest fast, and if something isn’t up to our immediately-gratified standards, we have no problem trimming away the fat, throwing away the fluff, and digging in to something else, something more immediate, something more enticing.  The internet, the very overarching topic of discussion in The Social Network, has given us every bit of information and ability to create/interact with the rest of the world.

And this is precisely how Fincher’s latest endeavor feels.  It feels like a 120-minute-long music video hurtling along at a 3-minute video’s pace.  And yet, it never feels sloppy.  It never feels forced.  Fincher is able to fully realize his world, in his time, on his terms within this seemingly expanded frame.  Of course, he also had all the pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly together, as well.  Trent Reznor’s score is a spot-on parallel for the action onscreen.  Every feeling, memory, and discussion caught on film seems to be perfectly buoyed by Reznor’s techno-tronic score.  While they highlight the different moments of each beat perfectly, they also manage to retain a sense of universality and act as a thread throughout the entirety of the production in order to keep the pace marching forward.  The overall emotion and ‘feel’ of the film itself is, ironically, conveyed through one of the most mechanized, digital scores of all time.  And yet, it works.  It perfectly works.

The cast of this film is quite impressive, as well.  Jesse Eisenberg has yet to disappoint me as he plays an emotionally disjointed version of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.  Eisenberg does a perfect job of bringing screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s interpretation of Zuckerberg to full-form as an emotionally misguided, driven, slightly misogynistic genius who sees the world in less than a three-dimensional sense but, instead, more of a binary code.   Andrew Garfield, our Godsend of a new Peter Parker, plays Eduardo Saverin.  Zuckerberg’s only true friend and the start-up CFO of thefacebook.com.  Garfield handles himself so well in the part of the ironically emotional and turbulent business end of the company, trying to act as a moral compass for Zuckerberg who he worries is simply getting swept up in the tides of the of fame as Facebook begins to become a larger and larger monster of itself.

And the supporting cast really adds so much to this film, as well, Rashida Jones works perfectly as the inevitable angel of reason to Zuckerberg’s beastly temperament.  Justin Timberlake continues to bowl over the competition by playing the greasy, snarky, but strangely-likable Sean Parker, founder of Napster, and one of the original entrepreneurs of the peer-to-peer revolution.  And Max Minghella, Josh Pence, and Armie Hammer respectfully play the suing trio behind Harvard Connection who look to profit off of Zuckerberg’s fortune.

The acting is absolutely spot-on, and is a testament to Fincher’s casting abilities and his artistic prowess as a director of actors.  Eisenberg shines the brightest in his highly nuanced, yet specified portrayal of Zuckerberg, yet this is perfectly acceptable, given the weight which Eisenberg is expected to uphold.  The glaring problem that The Social Network does run into is it’s slight emotional disconnect with audiences.  What is usually a monumental cinematic fault really becomes nothing more than a blemish on Fincher’s otherwise fabulous narrative.  In what may have been an effort, or even an after-effect, of producing a film centering on Generation Facebook’s digital dependency, The Social Network at times feels as though it is moving too fast or glazing over moments too casually that otherwise may desire to be fleshed out in other works.  And yet, that’s exactly what this entire parable of Fincher’s is all about.  In the age of instantaneous ALL things do move faster than we may desire them to, things may get lost in translation.  All we can do is sift through what we have and do the best to make moments of connection happen in an age where people feel much more comfortable giving out a webpage than a phone number.

It should also be noted that Sorkin’s script is not one for accuracy, in multiple facets.  While no one knows PRECISELY how the story went down, it should be noted that glaring inconsistencies have already been brought up with certain key elements of the film.  Zuckerberg has denied any wanted involvement of his own in attending any of the final clubs that the film almost seems to base his creation of Facebook on.  Zuckerberg is still with his Chinese-American girlfriend that was actually with him as Facebook was coming to fruition.  There is no failed relationship debacle with a one, Erica Albright, which caused Zuckerberg to spiral out of contral that one, fateful night.  Further, Sorkin seems to turn his girlfriend into a Facebook groupie, painting her as nothing more than a clinger-on after Facebook’s founder begins to reap the enormous rewards of his work.  While there are considerably others that I have been told of yet I am not adroit enough to have caught, it stands to be noted that Zuckerberg is painted in an increasingly negative light.  He is an anti-hero, at best, and the overall arch of the story is in the hopes that Zuckerberg will ‘see the light’ and realize the error of his ways.  It does an incredible job of making a story more fantastical, it just doesn’t seem fair to base a character off of an actual human figure and then paint in such a light with such distinct colors.

All that aside, The Social Network is an excellent cinematic achievement that manages to bring together all the filmic ingredients that best make a ‘good’ movie.  The flick’s tone, thematic construct, and score are among some of it’s strongest moments and give it an absolute edge over most of the other entries into 2010’s moviescape.

Performances: 88/100

Cinematography: Aesthetics: 84/100

Score: 94/100

Script: 80/100

Final: 84/100

The Next Actor to Play Spider-Man

January 14, 2010

I stumbled upon this quick, concise mash-up of ten Hollywood actors who could, and very well may, fill Maguire’s empty shoes as the new Spider-Man.  Something to consider with this list is that the new Spider-Man is said to be a reboot set in Peter Parker’s high school years.  Due to this, 9/10 of this list reads as a who’s-who of young, male Hollywood.  And while I take EXTREME grievance with much of the selections, I think it’s interesting to hear Empire’s take on the whole matter.  Some actors that they SADLY left off this list are the obvious, yet older, Topher Grace, and Andrew Garfield, who was recently quite spot-on in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.  Follow the link below!

Empire’s Top 10 Actors to Play Spider-Man