Julian Left's Movie Reviews The best "unknown" movie reviewer in action http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews <![CDATA[ T2: A Personal Judgement]]>
T2: Judgement Day was the last unequivocally great movie the robot who will never stop starred in, and arguably his defining moment. Yes, the original Terminator movie is one of the all-time greats in action sci-fi, and a monumental piece in the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It also created the titular role of The Terminator as a very terrifying bad guy. While the entire spectacle was cloaked in a thick veil of action, writer/director James Cameron was still able to use the movie to explore the ideas of love and fate. James Cameron, the big time action director, basically wrote a love story about a woman and the man who brought her child into the world while dying to save her from a very nasty stalker. In the process, he threw the theme of fate into the mix by making the stalker a nigh-invulnerable robot, the woman a person who gave birth to the savior of humanity, and the man a time-traveling soldier sent back to protect her (by the kid they conceived). T2 is still one of the most thrilling action movies ever made, but it's even heavier than the first Terminator.

Central to T2 is a coming-of-age story running amidst themes about the possibility of changing the future and what it really means to be human. The future robots are at it again - they're sending back another almost-invincible killer robot back to the past to knock off a person who later became a little bit of a problem for them in their own time. They didn't get any smarter about doing it, though; in fact, if anything, they did something a lot dumber: Instead of, say, sending a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Conner the schoolgirl, they aimed their new terminator right at John Conner, her boy. This gets to be a little bit of a problem for the new terminator prototype, the T-1000, because John has an attitude problem. He's been in trouble with the law many times and has the street smarts to make the T-1000 really work for it. As if that's not enough, Sarah herself made the mistake of blabbing about her experience with the original Terminator. Maybe that wouldn't have been so bad in itself, but she also went about training herself and John for survival for the impending robot war, which effectively got her locked in the looney bin. John is with foster parents who don't know what to do with him, so he has survival training and a chip on his shoulder.

Oh yeah, the T-1000 has an even bigger problem: The T-800 model Terminator that was busy chasing Sarah in the first movie has been reprogrammed and sent back in time to be John's protector. His new mission is to ensure the survival of John, and just like the original movie, he's not going to stop, ever, no matter what's thrown at him. And that's saying something because the T-1000 packs a real punch. He's made of liquid metal that can form simple weapons, morph its shape, and even transform into and imitate things it comes into contact with. At one point, it even morphs into a floor.

What's really horrifying about this whole scenario is that there's not much John and The Terminator can do in a survival situation here except run. It could have been easier than it turns out to be for them, but John misses Sarah and insists on springing her from the nuthouse, not much of a problem since Sarah has attempted to escape many times, often violently. While the chase goes on, a large techie conglomerate is performing research that will allow the machines to become self-aware and wipe humanity out. When Sarah tries to take it upon herself to stop him, the odd trio is forced to make its last stand against the T-1000.

One of the ironies of The Terminator as a series is that, despite The Terminator being the icon and titular character, the series is never about him. The Terminator always serves as more of a peripheral character, and usually there's varying characters who take center stage. Even the first movie was about Kyle Reese and Sarah Conner. This movie squarely places the focus on John. John Conner in the universe of The Terminator is the pivotal character of the whole saga, and T2 is the all-time establishment of that fact. T2 is about John Conner and his forced growing up and taking responsibility for the person his mother is raising him to become. The oddity of John's life is that the two people who tried to give him a stable home are just side characters who get knocked off in short order, and the two people who get charged with bringing John to his ultimate mission are a woman who was considered insane and a reprogrammed killer robot from the future. It's noted in Sarah's voice-over narration that The Terminator is a better father to John than any human might ever have been, and John spends a lot of time teaching The Terminator what it's like to be human. John does develop a truly human attachment to The Terminator, which culminates is a very touching emotional climax in the movie's final scene.

In many ways, T2: Judgement Day marked the official arrival of the 90's movie. It contains many of the common archtypes of 90's movies: John is clearly a skilled computer hacker. He also carries a defiant attitude, but he's also still an outcast kid. The archtype animal that outcast little kids from 90's movies were always befriending is taken in this movie by the robot. There are also a handful of ridiculous EXTREME!!! stunts. Wait, my bad: I meant to write XTREME!!! since everyone forgot how to spell in the 90's. It's ironic that T2 managed to create such an outstanding movie out of all the most stereotyped - and in many cases, worst - aspects of movies from the 90's.

The one big problem with T2 is the same problem that plagues all of James Cameron's movies: As a director, Cameron is an outstanding director. As a writer, Cameron is an outstanding director. Yeah, the dialogue is monumentally terrible again, and watching the scenes - especially in the case of John - makes you think, my god, who the hell could ever be stupid enough to think people talk like that? John is meant to sport a 'tude, but the way it's written makes him come off more like a sheltered nerd trying to speak the way he thinks cool kids speak. It's another one of the ironies of T2 that the movie managed to spawn a number of catchphrases because James Cameron wrote a bunch of really bad phrases into the script that he seemed to think people would really use. His writing improved after T2, but not by very much.

If The Terminator as a series would have ended here, it would have gone out on a strong note. The end leaves Sarah Conner optimistic about humanity's future. Unfortunately, though, a few of the involved parties needed money, and the series ended up selling out later, betraying one of the overall messages of T2 completely. So it's good to go back and watch T2: Judgement Day every so often, just to remember what The Terminator once was. The third movie was fun, and the fourth movie made a plausible effort to return to the franchise's roots, and the TV show was good, but T2 is where the whole thing reached its greatest potential.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Terminator_2_Judgment_Day-635-1004205-242124-T2_A_Personal_Judgement.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Terminator_2_Judgment_Day-635-1004205-242124-T2_A_Personal_Judgement.html Thu, 28 Nov 2013 17:09:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ 90's Teen Movie]]>
Easy A doesn't even try to hide its source material - it makes references to it every chance it gets. The main character, Olive, even adopts the mindset of Nathaniel Hawthorne's main character and pins a scarlet letter to her shoulder.

Olive is not a popular girl. As she says in the beginning, Google couldn't find her if she was a ten-story building. But she does have a good friend in Rihannon, an overly enthusiastic bestie who is prone to jumping to conclusions which she never, ever lets go of no matter how often they're denied. One weekend, Olive refuses to go hang out with Rihannon, mostly because she would have to spend it with Rih's weird parents as well, and she has no desire to do that because they're weird even by California standards. So she stays home, but opts to tell her best friend that she's going out with a sexy dude named George fro the local community college! The following Monday, Olive is mum about the details of the date, so Rih makes the assumption that they had sex and doesn't let it go, and so Olive feels forced to make a story up.

Olive tells the story in the school bathroom, where it's heard by Maryann, who is the Mandy Moore character from Saved as played by Amanda Bynes. She's a religious fanatic who's watched a bit too much of The 700 Club, and takes it upon herself to save poor Olive's soul... By spreading the world that Olive is the school's easy girl. The rumor takes on a life of its own, and to improve her social standing, Olive actively encourages it. The rumors take on lives of their own, and Olive begins helping friends by telling the school she slept with them, and it comes to a point where she starts taking gift certificates from people who also want her to say she slept with them. More lies get told, scandals are uncovered, adults find out what's going on and start making assumptions of their own without listening to anyone but their inner morality judges... It's a late 90's teen movie! What else can I say?

As the driving device of a 90's teen movie, the plot works just fine and the movie itself is actually quite clever. But I wasn't feeling the reactions or outrage here - I knew a handful of girls in my high school who actually were what Olive is pretending to be, so I don't see a whole lot of students batting an eye to it. This isn't Nathaniel Hawthorne's day anymore. We live in an age where multiple schoolgirl pregnancies don't bat eyelids, and so in making Easy A relatable, a few people had to try harder. The great absurdity about a lot of this is that Olive ends up making a lot of apologies in the end. She even apologizes to her ditzy bestie Rihannon, for no reason I can see because Rihannon was the one who got Olive into the whole mess in the first place.

I keep wondering who I angered to not end up born into such a permissive household or school district. This is one of those movies in which the teenagers are entrusted with everything but the American nuclear stockade. I don't know how things are done in well-off suburban households, but there's one of those giant parties in this movie, and the school district allows Emma to pop out of a school display wearing some very skimpy clothing. My parents would have killed me for inviting friends over to our apartment at all, and my school administrators actually shut down the students' independently planned prom after-party when they learned that alcohol was going to be there.

Despite the deluge of critical acclaim, watching Easy A, I couldn't help but get the feeling that I'd seen it all before. As I keep saying, Easy A is a 90's teen flick right to the very core of its being, and it's very easy to imagine Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mila Kunis, or any number of other WB stars landing in the lead role were they not either pushing or past 30 nowadays. The lead in this movie is played by the eternally delightful Emma Stone (at 23, she can still get away with it), and Maryanne is played by Amanda Bynes, a onetime Nickelodeon staple. Stone is a gifted comedic actress, and her performance does a lot to redeem Easy A from a leftover been-there-done-that syndrome. Stone has the chops to steal this entire movie, and that's what she does.

The writing is very clever, and it helps the movie out at least as much as Stone's performance. But it's also one of those cases where the writer - Bert Royal in this case - seems to be trying too hard to come off as cool, hip, down, with it, or whatever other term is synonymous for current. Again, I point to the permissiveness of virtually every parent in this thing. The only people who aren't seen as cool are the religious fanatics Maryanne is leading.

For all my problems with the lack of originality in Easy A, I liked it quite a bit. Clever writing and Emma Stone are enough to rescue Bert Royal and director Will Gluck, but it will be a big help if they come up with their own source material and not write another movie immediately after watching a Freddie Prinze Jr. marathon. I don't think they can keep surviving in Hollywood if they keep churning this movie out over and over again.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-222776-90_s_Teen_Movie.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-222776-90_s_Teen_Movie.html Thu, 19 Apr 2012 20:55:35 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fight Club: Post-Modern Castration Paranoia]]> NOTE: This was formatted for my blog, so just in case you plan to waste your time reading(as in the pictures and spacing won't be correctly placed) , follow the link :http://rantsofadegenerate.blogspot.com/

"I am Jack's Raging Bile Duct."
Post-Modern Castration Paranoia

The 1999 film Fight Club is about..? Well what is Fight Club, here I am sitting on my sofa expecting a 2 hour blood fest of men beating one another within an inch of their life, yet I am served a cold, sardonic pitch upon ‘us’ - the consumer. Years ago, David Fincher served this oddity of a film to the mainstream audiences – ironically our beloved consumers and the impression left was not of the common film; controversy had spread for the films exploitation of filming style, often unconventional narrative structure and most importantly, the films ‘violent’ themes. Perhaps the most self-destructive effect Fight Club caused upon itself was the surprise audiences were given, not because of the films dark undertone, but the lack of violence and predictable plot; audiences were exposed to a film countering their original predictions with an insulting film, criticising the audience for their own admission. Now as time goes by, Fight Club reaches cult status, not necessarily just for its rich subtext, but its kickass approach which makes this film, for the lack of a better word, cool. We’re given a cool experiences which has created what many believe to be a guilty pleasure in filmmaking, garnishing the award for "50 Best Guy Movies of All Time”, perhaps the magazine itself doesn’t realize the misogynistic themes, insulting men’s lack of masculinity of the modern age often because of women and the removal of their endowments. Fight Club’s multiple subplots and themes, ask the viewer to see pass the surface, dealing with consumerism, emasculation and anarchy.  So let’s fall into the rabbit hole, which is Fight Club.


We begin with our protagonist, nameless – often referred to as Jack. Jack suffers insomnia from his modern lifestyle. The lifestyle he lives gives him very little reward for his boredom of an office job, requiring he endanger the lives of thousands (maybe millions) of people’s lives. Unhappy with his life in an office and buried in the IKEA catalogues; he searches for medical help, only to be denied help and mocked by a mocking doctor. Searching for a cure, Jack finds liberty in support groups for people with diseases. When he discovers crying at these groups results in his loss of insomnia, he becomes addicted because people “really listen”.

  Soon the introduction of a fellow female liar makes him seek other outlets of his suppressed emotions.  After meeting a ‘single-serving-friend’ on an airplane – Tyler Durden, a man who is the complete opposite of himself, strong, cynical and outspoken - Jack returns to find his condo has caught fire, as well as all of his possessions. From here, Jack moves in with Tyler, creating a Fight Club, for middle-aged men to express their oppressed masculinity.  Soon though, their ‘support group’ spirals out of control into an anarchist group – Project Mayhem. The group then spread anarchy throughout the cities of America, becoming a powerfully organised terrorist group. It is here when Jack confronts Tyler, discovering that Tyler is himself. Tyler was an alter ego created, so Jack could cope with his fears and depression. From here, he attempts to stop Project Mayhem, but only failing, resulting in the destruction of America’s credit companies.


So who is our humble narrator? Edward Norton plays what is only credited as ‘Narrator’. There has been large deliberation on what his actual name is, although some conclusions can be drawn in the novel (1), the film is a lot more complex in our protagonist’s identity. In addition, the mere existence of Tyler is a complex one, for it is questionable how many things occur throughout the film. First of all, the name of the Narrator is a debatable one. Never is the name revealed in the film or book, only speculation can be made upon it. Our protagonist is a living MacGuffin, to clear the air; Jack is not his real name. Jack is a way for the Narrator to describe himself. The only other possible known name is Tyler Durden. At one point it can be confirmed his name is Tyler, when he calls Marla asking her what his name was, she answers Tyler Durden. However, just because she knew him as Tyler does not mean that he had not created this identity by himself, and later grew it into an alter ego. Jack had used many fake names at his support groups, Cornelius for testicular cancer, perhaps Tyler is for Fight Club. In fact, numerous times throughout the film it is specifically said that he is not Tyler, but simply becoming what he had created. Tyler is an improved vision of himself, as he continues he becomes that vision.

“I am free in all the ways that you are not. People do it every day: they talk to themselves; they see themselves, as they'd like to be. Nevertheless, they don't have the courage you have, to just run with it. Naturally, you're still wrestling with it a bit, so sometimes, you're still you. Other times, you imagine yourself watching me. Little by little, you're just letting yourself become...Tyler Durden."

Such examples illustrate the slow transformation into another identity. The transformation itself is a long process taking “Jack” over a year to complete. Jack does not suffer insomnia contrary to his belief, but narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is the constant fatigue he suffers from his ‘insomnia’. However, Jack never has insomnia, instead he spends his nights as Tyler – working night jobs at the Pressman Hotel and as a projectionist, and most importantly making soap. All of ‘Tyler’s activities’ takes place while Jack is supposedly not asleep. “What about narcolepsy? I nod off, I wake up in strange places, I have no idea how I got there.” It is shortly after this when Tyler Durden begins to become an image, slowly integrating into Jack’s mind with short flashes leading up to their meeting. (4)  

Tyler’s lack of existence is obvious throughout the film (although these clues are not obvious until multiple viewings). There is a clever use of Pitt’s character throughout, some examples are:
One: When Jack and Tyler both go onto the bus, Jack only pays a fare for himself. As well as that, when a man walks past, bumping both Jack and Tyler, the man only apologises to Jack.
Two: Often Tyler will speak for Jack, and Jack will repeat himself, without the third party noticing Tyler. During the hospital scene, Tyler tells Jack exactly what to say, and Jack repeats himself. Furthermore, while at the Paper St. Residence Marla and Jack speak, but Jack is disrupted by the sounds of construction in the basement, which Marla cannot hear. Again, in this scene he is told what to say to the third party – Marla. 
Three: Jack attempts to call Tyler with no answer. Although, Tyler shortly calls him at the same pay phone he just tried to contact him. Tyler says he never answers his phone and he used ’69 to call him back. However, later the Paper St. Residence is revealed to have only rotary phones, which would not be capable of redialling, therefore, Jack had imagined the entire phone call. Later when Jack and Tyler finish drinking at the bar and go home, Jack asks where his car is, Tyler then replies, “What car?” It is then questionable how Tyler managed to get to a bar from such an isolated area – Paper St. 
Four: When Tyler finishes having sex with Marla, he opens the door to Jack who was ‘passing by’ and talks with him. Once Jack leaves Marla asks who he was talking to, since there was only two people in the house, this meant Tyler must have been talking to himself, or Jack was talking to himself.
Five: When Tyler (who is driving) purposely crashes the car, while recovering Tyler pulls Jack out of the driver’s seat, implying Jack had been driving the whole time.      
According to David Fincher, "We're designed to be hunters and we're in a society of shopping. There's nothing to kill anymore, there's nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman is created."
Feminism is not a detrimental on society (although the film may say otherwise). Feminism in the latest decades has been highly successful in ‘Western Societies’ (I have a personal dislike for this phrase). It has lead to the equilibrium of sexes. Since feminism, many other minorities and groups of social change have arisen, debatably shaping the world into a better place. However, Fight Club’s message is not necessarily that all this is a bad revolution, but it is being done to the point of reversing the problem, this time suppressing men; or alternatively, Fight Club mat very well show that equilibrium is an impossible feet. Of course at the present woman are not as powerful as men in previous ancient societies, but the beginning of this process is leaving men more damaged than ever before. The emasculation of men in society is not only taking the previous tasks that were once theirs, but also taking away the primal instinct of superiority. (2)
It can be easily seen that males are made to be a superior sex. Males generally are physically superior and evidentially more inventive – although it’s debatable whether women were given the opportunity to make inventive and creative contributions to our societies. Perhaps the most powerful theme throughout Fight Club is not the irregularity of men assimilating to an equal level with women, but whether it’s possible. In almost all (if not all) societies of past and present have seen men superior. The ‘hunter-gather’ lifestyle saw men the most important and physically powerful sex. What Fight Club asks is whether it is possible to ever fully lose this instinct of ‘hunter-gather’, whether it is possible for men to ever truly become equal – or if woman will abuse their latest increase in power. If men were one day capable of removing the shackles of primal instinct, at what cost would it be? Will assimilation conclude in ultimate depression and self-loathing?            
It would be pure denial to say Fight Club is not a misogynistic film. The film screams of fear for the future of the male sex, predominantly at the latest ill attempt to reach equilibrium among the sexes – feminism. The fear manages to effectively mask any other theme of the film, by using hidden subtext, or obvious signs. Jack’s condo and ‘IKEA lifestyle’ is the essential emasculation of our protagonist, quibbling over the fine details which would only gain attention of women in the pre-60’s. 
"Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee table in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogues and wonder, "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection. I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever."
Our nameless protagonist (referred as his own third-person description of him - Jack) is not the quintessential heroic, rustic man known to a previous lifestyle. In the eye’s of Tyler Durden, Jack is whinging little man, engrossed in the superficial world of consumerism and emasculation. Self-described Jack falls into the ‘nesting instinct’, miserable in the conventions of modern society’s plan – equality. Jack is the model citizen, living to empty his wallet and die, "On a long enough timeline, the survival
rate for everyone drops to zero." At times Jack is shown wanting to be a women. Ever so sarcastically, we are given the obvious hints, "I want bowel cancer!"
The crippling disease is demonstrated in Jack’s zombie-like state of self-loathing lethargy. Jack’s miserable attitude is caused mainly by his work, often requiring him to rest on a lovely airplane seat. Physically Jack deteriorates with his inactive lifestyle, and the crippling insomnia. As an insomniac, he searches for the miniscule excitement that is his impulse spending, rewarded with almost no sleep. With no excitement or rest, Jack’s life becomes a slow debilitating death, not only physically, but also to his morale’s. Despite all his problems, he is not a wreck of a person, but a perfect person, "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise". Jack’s lack of existence leaves him as a boring person. Perhaps one of the many reasons for this film’s unpopularity too many is their narrator is a soulless bore spewing words of self-pity. Jack is non-existent to the point of having no name, credited only as ‘Narrator’. It is for these reasons why Jack has Tyler, to support himself and bring out his own primal instinct of masculinity and impulse. For another alternative, Jack escaped his miserable state in various support groups. During the support groups, he was able to release his built up sadness and cry. Although his reliance on these support groups was a gapping weakness, it freed him mentally.
Of course, Jack’s temporary enlightenment is put to an end, and you guessed it by a woman. As soon as Jack begun to escape his entrapment of consumerism and gain some of his primal manhood, a woman goes for a kick in the balls and throws him back into the even more pathetic state he originated. In this early stage of the film, there are two major allegories,
Our macho primeval. One: The main support group shown throughout the film is the support for testicular cancer. Here Jack meets Bob, "Bob, Bob had bitch tits." This is our introduction to the support group and semi-important character, Bob (Meatloaf). Already in the line above, our Jack uses a womanly insult ‘bitch’ to describe his now womanly assets – large male boobs. Upon that, Robert ‘Bob’ Pulson has a very soft, high-pitched voice, resembling a woman’s. He also has a very kind nature about himself and no balls; Bob is the trigger for Jack to cry. Much like the rest of the film’s metaphorical motifs, Bob is the example of a man hitting rock bottom. He had previously been a body builder, a profession that screams machismo, yet due to the modern use of steroids, becomes the womanly figure he is now. It is at this point, where the small manliness retained is destroyed by a womanly figure, causing Jack to cry and lose his composed self. The rest of the group is no better of an influence, for none of them have their testicles anymore. We hear a story of man, brought to crying because of his ex-wife. The support group itself is a pool of fear of women, and the slow transition to becoming one. Jack’s reliance on groups of this general nature of weakness reflects his own emotional stability. For Jack to free himself of the constant pressure of his ideal modern life, he must further degrade himself, asking for help he does not even need, "And then... something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion - dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."
Two: Marla Singer, our one and only real female character. "If I did have a tumour, I would name it Marla. Marla, the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you would stop tonguing it, but you can't." Marla’s entrance into the support groups (and introduction to the film) results in the ultimate hatred of our humbly broken narrator. Marla is represented as a pest, infecting Jack’s Zen with her mutual lies and constant smoking. Marla lives in poverty dresses darkly and is portrayed as an antagonist. Although she is no out spoken feminist (the enemy), she is the essentially the final straw of Jack’s sanity (or insanity?) leading to the creation of Tyler Durden.
To conclude, Fight Club’s message is not of hatred towards the female sex, but fear for the ‘Westernised’ males. Through capitalism and social revolutions, attempting totally equality has changed the primal role of a male. Our film suggests that this is perhaps impossible to ever achieve in a healthy manner. The broken Jack manifests his emotions until he reaches insanity – or potential enlightenment – forcing himself to create what he wishes he could be. This idol he creates himself is a force of inspirations, resurrections and jealousy, which extends to not only Jack, but also huge groups of men wanting to break free of their modern lifestyle, "Our generation has had no Great Depression, no Great War. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives."  Fight Club is ultimately, what Tyler Durden is fighting for, the freedom of men, destructions of corporations and business, and the revival of the ‘hunter-gather’ customs.
According to Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud, the human psyche contains three main driving forces for our actions and desires. (5) Although rather complex, in short these three are what drives us to carry out what we desire - the Id, Ego and Superego. In Freud’s theory, we are all born with an id. The id is responsible for our basic desires, essential for infancy. Freud believes the id is responsible for our pleasure. To summarise, the id will want what is required at the specific moment, caring for no variables of the certain situation. When an infant is thirsty, the id wants water, thereby resulting in the newborn crying, regardless of whether water can be provided or the situation is appropriate for crying. The id can be describe as selfish as it cares not for anything else then satisfying its current desire. Therefore, the baby wanting water will cry until water is provided, the newborn doesn’t care for time, or if its parents are preoccupied or unable to satisfy the newborn, it will still demand water despite impracticality.
Our (and Jack's ) Psyche.
Freud believes that as a child further develops (age of 3) the ego will develop. The ego, theoretically takes into account the practicality of the id’s desire. The ego understands and analyses variables. The ego ultimately satisfies the id’s desires while taking into account other desires and the fallout its own.  
At the age of five, it is said we develop the final drive, the superego. The superego develops as societal customs and restraints influence the child. The superego is the moralistic aspect of a person, taking into account normative of society.  On whole, the id is responsible for our most primitive desires, taking in no consideration of potential hazards or impracticability. The ego controls the id with reason, and associates the superego, surpassing just logic to cultural preferences. The id is the aggressive and sexual desires, controlled only by modern civilisation’s customs, Freud stated:
 "Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him."
Jack’s creation of Tyler and ‘change’ into him is explainable by the extreme differences in the superego. Jack had been raised in beliefs positive to consumerism. As the Freud theory surfaced, it was used by business to exploit the id’s desire, replacing id’s original desires (aggression and sexual) with the product being sold. Jack’s altered id was responsible for his desire to fill his void will products, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” With the id effectively buried under the control of advertisers, his environment easily influences the superego. Jack’s superego, or ideology leads him to believe his current life of depression and boredom is the typical ladder to stardom and wealth. The path he takes is what he is raised to attempt, fuelling consumerism. Tyler is the polar opposite to Jack; Tyler’s superego is the same as his id’s desires. Tyler’s superego is as primitive as the id, being our desires without the account of potential hazard or fallout. Therefore, Tyler’s ideology is pure to his ancestors design in thought, like in Freud’s statement; Tyler’s desires are violent and sexual. However, Tyler himself does not directly circum to primitive thinking without thought; Tyler develops a divine plan to do what he believes is correct and essential for the survival of civilisation, which is to restore our original ids – by returning to the dark ages. Of course, Jack’s superego and suppressed id does not agree with Tyler’s pure ideology, resulting in the creation of an alter ego – ego being the balance between the id and superego, with the conflicting beliefs and loss of balance, another ego must be created to support the psychological stress.
Fight Club’s intention was for the viewer to realise the change of nature and ‘controlled’ ids in our post-modern society. After the turn of World War Two, the “middle children of history” were bombarded with latest societal trend: 
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. we've all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
Aggressive tactics.  Tyler’s philosophy is the alter ego of Jack, conflicting with his original ego. His rebellion stems from his id, defying the damage that has been done to him by society’s fast-paced consumerism. Tyler’s desire is to return to ‘the beginning’. This involves anarchism to counter modern technologies. Tyler’s specific policy on government is never revealed. Capitalism is the opposition of Tyler. Capitalism is responsible for the surge of business and freedom to own and sell assets, resulting in the growth of consumerism. In this case, Marxism is the obvious approach as a direct retaliation to Capitalism, highly influenced by the Cold War. Tyler does use some Marxism for the sense of equality, but in the very same time includes Fascism and Anarchy. "You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else." Here Tyler’s words stay true to the sense of Marxism of ‘equality’ of all, but in at the very same time uses Fascist techniques to gain control. Through series of brainwashing and intense conditioning, Tyler exploits the men’s weaknesses to gain full control. Fight Club and Project Mayhem are strictly for men only. Remembering the insecurities of post-modern men, Tyler offers the outlet for desperate men, thereby exploiting their desires – Tyler does this by appealing to their suppressed ids. Furthermore, although Marxism and Fascism is used for control and some ideology, anarchy is the ultimate tool of execution. Project Mayhem gains influences by committing acts of vandalism, often seeming random and for the sake of ‘slowing progress’. However, beyond mere execution using anarchy, Tyler’s final wish on society could quite possibly be Anarchism – returning to the dark ages. In Tyler’s vision he speaks of roaming through ruins of cities, hunting wild animals are all signs of the vision of our now obsolete primeval lifestyles (in most parts of the world).  
The infamous pink soap, like many other aspects of the film, is a symbol itself. Throughout Fight Club, pink soap is often just ‘around’. The soap proves that not a single frame was wasted in this film, but everything shown has some level of subtext. The soap happens to be one of the most important motifs. When asked what he does for a living, Tyler identifies himself as a soap manufacturer, ignoring his other jobs as a projectionist and waiter at the prestigious Pressman Hotel. Soaps significance plays a crucial role, as Tyler states soap is, the foundation of civilization”. First, soap is used for the productions of nitro-glycerine, resulting in the explosives used for Tyler’s ultimate plan; with this comes to explosives used to destroy Jack’s apartment, which symbolises the beginning of Jack’s new life, “the first soap was made from the ashes of heroes”. Therefore, soap as Tyler describes is the root and foundation of society, and especially in this case, the actions leading to Jack’s anarchist regime: purification, cleanliness and enlightenment. Furthermore, soap is also a drive for their plans. In order to make soap, the two (one) must steal fat from a liposuction clinic; thus, kick starting the chain of vandalism and anarchy. The ‘soap’ is made into either explosives; or the fat created into soap for “selling rich women their own fat asses”. Beyond the sense of purifying the negative effects of post-modern society, in the department store its shown as higher class. Tyler and Jack selling women their ‘own fat asses’ shows a contempt for the higher class, placing Jack in a lower level. Therefore, soap is seen as form of purification and drive for Project Mayhem and differences in people by financial classes.
Upon our final scene, we are given a message. 3 minutes. This is it. Here we are at the beginning. Ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?” (soon followed by the humorous remark, ‘flashback humour’.) It is this part of the movie, where it asks something of the viewer. The ‘ground zero’ remark brings up the thought of a beginning, asking men to understand the message and take action. Whether Fight Club intended for direct copycats on the film’s Project mayhem, or just for awareness to their consumerist lifestyle, we are asked to take some action.   
Fight Club’s overruling message has unfortunately been heard upon deaf ears. Its status as a Cult Film insists that only a select group truly understand what the film attempted to voice. It’s unfortunate that many have accepted Fight Club’s oddity as entertainment. Entertainment value of the film is quite powerful; although too many let the title itself discourage, many assume it’s a simple film about violence. And to be fair, Fight Club without its deep subtext is a whole bunch of seemingly random, far-fetched events, and this is how many see the film. Howard Hampton comments:
“. . . Fight Club generated no noticeably baleful side effects whatsoever. Are left-wing critics and right-wing politicians the only ones left who believe in the potency of "transgression"? What is the world coming to when a movie featuring charismatic performers revealing in anti-social behaviour and a host of semi-subliminal advertisements for the joys of chaos can't incite a single unbalanced loner to commit a kamikaze act of homage?”
Overall, Fight Club beckons many questions and ideology without ever fully creating awareness beyond a selective group. Fight Club takes on many challenging issues, expressing the fear post-modern society will have upon men. Although the film may not be anti-feminist, it does question whether it will be possible for men to ever adjust as society expects them. Through Capitalism, Consumerism and equilibrium we are denying our id’s desires to be met. Is it possible to deny our primeval drives and essentially evolve, or will our modernisation result in the deterioration of our sanity due to abnormal stress? Fight Club’s answer to this problem is to return to a simpler time, a time where primeval instinct ruled supreme. This may be our only options to retain not only our species sanity and survival, but the preservation of our future.      


(1)I have not read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, this writing is solely directed to the film; otherwise it may become a comparison. Therefore, any conclusions drawn are from the film only, even though it may contradict information in the novella.
(2)Any beliefs throughout the film may not be of my own thoughts and beliefs, although I will be writing what the film believes creating a biased style, I may at times put in my own opinions.
(3)Jack is not the real name of the protagonist; it is just a fake name replacing ‘Narrator’ (as it is credited). This originates from use of the phrase by the character himself, which he found in old medical books, “I am Jack’s cold sweat”.
(4) [Pictures of Tyler Durden]
(5) [Picture of Sigmund Freud’s chart]



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<![CDATA[ I "Like" The Social Network]]>
How do you make a good movie about the formation of a website? Well, hiring David Fincher to direct is a good start. It's pretty odd that a project like this would come from Fincher. The Social Network is, after all, a movie which is giving acknowledgement to the beginnings of one of the most dominant corporations in the world. One of Fincher's other indisputable classics (he's building an impressive resume of them) was Fight Club, a roaring primal scream from one person in a materialistic, corporate world wondering where the line between his gussied up material character and his real self is drawn. Also on the staff of The Social Network is the great screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote A Few Good Men, The American President, and created TV's The West Wing. The Social Network, as a result, is written and directed in a very engaging manner.

The Social Network's universe revolves around Mark Zuckerberg, a young Harvard student first seen mouthing off to his girlfriend with the cold bluntness and efficiency one might hear in someone with Asperger's Syndrome. She finally ditches him with equivocal coldness and efficiency, sending The Zuck back to his dorm to get drunk and badmouth the girl in his blog before setting up a hot-or-not site called Facemash, which crashes parts of the Harvard network. It also brings him to the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who have an idea for a Harvard alumi dating site and and thing The Zuck is the perfect guy to get it online. Zuckerberg likes the idea and uses it to create a whole new social network for people to stay in touch.

Long story short: It gets big. It expands in a way no one has ever seen before. Mark gets rich and inadvertently screws everyone over.

Mark Zuckerberg the way The Social Network portrays him is a tangled mass of contradictions. He is a genius who is easily led on by a very good snake oil salesman. He is a stone, thick and impenetrable for most people but he has an excellent idea of what makes people tick. He is a faithful friend to his friend and business partner, Eduardo, but doesn't seem to care that Eduardo was screwed over by Sean Parker. Zuckerberg has a personality set to the robot position for the entirety of The Social Network. He seems alienated from the real world most of the time, but is a creative innovator who is able to make billions by analyzing the base desires of humanity.

Zuckerberg likes the idea of a universal connections network, so he takes his inspiration from the Winklevoss twins and a grand from Eduardo for his startup fee. When two girls at a Bill Gates lecture tell Mark and Eduardo to Facebook them, they know they're on to something, and Sean Parker enters the picture as something of an advisor to Facebook. He has two things Mark and Eduardo need: The first is an excess of charisma shooting from every pore in his body at the speed of sound. The second and more important thing is connections, which Eduardo come in handy when Eduardo tries to make them himself in New York City and fails. Parker definitely plays a role in the success of Facebook, but he also turns into a wedge when he correctly calculates the respective reactions of Mark and Eduardo to him when they first meet. Mark, shooting for the stars, likes Sean. Eduardo, who doesn't like him, prefers a more conservative approach. Sean, acting like the average kid after doing something which results in his folks playing the good parent/bad parent routine, snuggles up to Mark and uses him as a shield.

The Social Network is set around a pair of lawsuits Zuckerberg faces from the Winklevoss twins and Eduardo. They are all suing Zuckerberg, the Winklevoss twins because they believe he committed intellectual property theft by using their idea to form Facebook and Eduardo because he came back for a slice of the Facebook stock which Sean Parker slickly tricked him out of. The story is told in flashbacks, but they are mostly unbroken so the interruptions to the boardroom scenes are kept at a minimum.

There is a little bit of a Shakespearean element to The Social Network. No one dies, of course, but Mark seems to be made into some shade of Hamlet. Lawsuits are used as vengeance killings once Mark wipes his formerly solid relationships with his friends right off the face of the Earth. Like Hamlet, The Zuck seems lost and uncaring in his own little world at times, much to the detraction of everything that isn't taking place in his head. The Social Network ends not with a massacre, but with a bitter irony: His Facebook site now has over a million members, but Mark Zuckerberg has no one left in his corner to help him fight his battles. The final scene is Mark, having the kind of money which society deifies, sitting pathetically in an empty boardroom, attempting to friend his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.

It's possible that by making Mark Zuckerberg such an alienated character even a the best of times, Fincher was turning The Social Network into an other social commentary about where the tricky location of a blurry line between materialism and reality, where the accumulation of things ends and the actual person is formed. If that's the case, maybe The Social Network has something in common with Fight Club after all.]]>
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<![CDATA[ A Mix of Pyschological Case-Study, Legal Thriller, "Documentary" and Underdog Story...]]>  In the opening scene of Social Network we eavesdrop on a conversation between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend. At the end of the scene Mark's now ex-girlfriend sums up his treatment of people in a succinct statement. She told him that he would probably do something big and complain that girls didn’t like him because he was a nerd. She went on to say that this was a lie. That girls wouldn’t like him because he was an a-hole. He went on to make the last part of the prediction true by drogging (drunk blogging) and starting a demeaning girl comparison website that very night.

The first part of the prediction took a little longer.
This is a look at why and how the monster Facebook was started, and reveals the players, the greed, the conniving and the strategy that has made it the thing that it is. And it reveals some of the consequences and the cost of doing business with those who play for keeps. Part legal “thriller”, part "documentary", part psychological study this film is a fascinating look at a man and his intense mind. I don’t know that you could mindlessly watch it and enjoy it because it’s not mere entertainment. I found it an interesting reflection of what the downside of social media has really become...for some a platform, for others "relationships" that appear real, for others an efficient way to disembowel enemies without all the mess.
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<![CDATA[ A boring, not-too-hilarious comedy that lacks both bite, ambition, and likability.]]>
"Due Date" is a mediocre follow-up to a fairly-solid film; that being Todd Phillip's "The Hangover", which was like an insane carnival of twisted, warped laughter. It took advantage of its Las Vegas setting and let its characters run wild; but without showing us how they took their precious little time about it. For the most time, they're just bumbling idiots.

"Due Date" takes a similar approach; but instead of three men in the "wolf pack", the part has been reduced by one; leaving two central characters. Also, the setting is no longer Vegas; but the entire open road and what lies on it or beside it. The film takes rest-stops both figuratively and literally. One could say that it is funny one moment, and then, unfunny another. That is what you could call a "rest stop".

Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) needs to get to Los Angeles so that he can be present at the birth of his first child. Things are going well, he boards the plane back, and then Ethan (Zach Galifianakis) comes into the picture. The two meet by accident, and then are destined to be together for the entire trip home from there. Peter and Ethan are kicked off the flight, although Ethan has a car. He offers Peter a ride with just him and his French Bulldog Sonny, and he accepts.

Two men, in a car, for several days; with a few stops along the way. Ethan is living, breathing trouble; a human tornado of certain destruction. Peter just wants to get to LA. The film's outcome is intentionally ridiculous, because if there is one thing that director Todd Phillips understands, it is that with all road-trip films, the journey is the center of the story...and perhaps, not so much the actual plotting.

When you think road-trip film, you think "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles". That was a funny film, and it's also the source of MANY of "Due Date's" problems. One very big one would be that the film seems to be copying the John Hughes classic. The Peter and Ethan characters seem to be the Steve Martin and John Candy characters, respectively. Not much originality there. I mean, of course the concept itself borrows a lot from the earlier film, but honestly, what's the point of movie-making if you can't offer up anything new?

I have little enthusiasm for this flick. It's not that I don't like it, but the case also very well may be that it just doesn't work. Laughs are earned; and Todd Phillips have proven himself worthy of crafting "good comedy" in the past. Maybe the problem here is that he co-wrote the film's script; something he left alone in "The Hangover". There's nothing special about the guy as a filmmaker, although he did good work in "The Hangover". However, he must be a poor screenwriter. I'm sure he "gets" good comedy, but I can't help but wonder why he couldn't make a good movie out of "Due Date" if he does. After all, understanding art is the key to creating it. And comedy is as much of an art as it is a gift; pure and rich.

I suppose there is an audience, a weekend-type audience, that will enjoy "Due Date" for what it is. Granted, there are a few laughs. 2010 was a year of many things; the party-loving drunkard rock-star, the melancholic animated magician, the final act of a popular Pixar franchise, and of course, the masturbating French Bulldog, which is one of the film's biggest laughs.

But a couple big laughs...that's not enough. "Due Date" is sporadically funny and entertaining. It never feels genuine, even if it contains the stars and director that it does. Downey and Galifianakis are an unusual and mildly interesting pair; and they make the most out of their respective talents, but they never clicked as I wanted them to. Fans of "The Hangover" will giggle at the many cameos (from minor actors who also made small cameos in the latter film), and fans of "Two and a Half Men" will find the film's concluding scene amusing. Otherwise, there are worse comedies; ones without the laughs that "Due Date" has. But I've said enough; and as much as I possibly can. "Due Date" is absolutely disappointing, forgettable, and not as good as it should have been. For a better road movie, see the film I mentioned earlier, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles". Embrace comedy at its purest and avoid movies like "Due Date"; films that can only have so much inspiration packed in their limited packages.]]>
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<![CDATA[ A stupid movie pretending to be smart. 25%]]>

"Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind's vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming."

-Taken from product description (too lazy to summarize plot myself).


What's a movie, regardless of how thought-out the plotting is without any interesting or properly fleshed-out characters? Unfortunately, Nolan overlooked properly developing characters or even giving them anything interesting or charming to their personalities so that we could latch on to them as the movie went along. With the exception of Cobb, the characters are either mere plot devices or exposition magnets. The biggest exposition magnet by far is Ariadne played by the miscast Ellen Page. She spoon feeds every little detail to the audience, not letting us think for ourselves. Some of the worst offenses are with the scenes with Ariadne telling Cobb after a flashback or dream "You have some dark stuff buried in you." You really think so? Whatever happened to "show, don't tell?" Cobb's inner demons revolving around his dead wife, Mal, had some potential, but I wasn't emotionally moved at any point in the film since Nolan was too focused on the architecture of the dreamworld and the little "ticks" going on with it rather than actual character development. Supporting characters like Saito and Arthur were very dull since like everyone else, were just plot devices.


For a movie acting like it's intelligent, it sure talks down to the audience. As stated before, nothing is left to the imagination. Much superior dream-related films like Total Recall (1990) and Paprika (2006) establish their own rules about dreams and create dreamworlds that require one or two little bits of exposition and after that, you fully understand their workings and can enjoy the rest of the films without further explanation. However, the dreamworld in Inception was way over-developed since there's too much to the structure as to where it requires constant explanation. This is a clear case of too much complexity killing a potentially good idea. Some might defend the heavy dialogue, stating that the explanations give people a full understanding of the universe Nolan created. However, it doesn't work with me because when I watch a movie, I care about character development and exploration of certain ideas, I could care less about every tiny detail in a certain universe since I only want enough information as to where I can follow it.


Lots of people are hailing this as very creative and original. I can't disagree more with this notion because this feels like a stale copy of Paprika. Paprika focused on psychotherapists diving into the dreams of their patients to understand the subconscious better and to get information important to them (such as the theft of their technological breakthrough, the DC Mini). Inception focuses on people diving into peoples' dreams so they can steal or plant ideas. While Paprika had better visuals and characters to go with its dreamworlds, Inception opts for very conventional imagery and bland characters, thinking that the "amazing" multi-layered dreamworld is enough to hold the movie together.


For a movie focusing on dreams, Nolan's take on dreams was terribly vanilla. I don't know about the rest of you, but while my dreams can relate to parts of me that are entirely personal, they're largely nonsensical, unpredictable, and depending on who you talk to, disturbing. The lack of predictability in someone's mind renders the idea of a "dream architect" successfully creating a dreamworld in someone's head as a pretty silly one. Having Paris fold in on itself and having rotating mirrors on the streets wasn't too imaginative, and that's the only "surreal" imagery you get in this dream-themed film, everything else looks very conventional.


It looks like Nolan made some quick searches on Wikipedia to shoe-horn in some "smart" ideas into the film. The best example of this would be when Arthur explains to Ariadne the concept of the Penrose Stairs and explains how it's an infinite loop, and how it's that concept that's used to confuse inception victims, then the camera moves down to show that it's a regular staircase. Wow, wasn't that genius?!! The other part that pretends to be "smart" is the plotting. Again, Total Recall and Paprika successfully merged fantasy and reality and really twisted the audience's minds questioning what's happening is real or not. With Inception, however, it's quite easy to follow the dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams because they're neatly separated from each other, you just have to keep track of them (I guess Nolan thinks we're too stupid to do that). The last quarter or so of the movie gets extra convoluted with quick cuts between the multi-layered dreams and Cobb facing Mal in others. I guess this was supposed to make the movie puzzle-like and give the audience something to solve.


Nolan depends on Hans Zimmer to deliver an overblown score for an overblown movie. Since Nolan forgot to properly develop characters and give them any legitimate tension, he depends on Zimmer to fill nearly ever second of the movie with music to drive home how we're supposed to feel in certain scenes. Look, music can be a great element in enhancing the emotion in certain scenes, but when you're depending entirely on it to drive home certain scenes, that's just unprofessional.


At the end of the day, Inception is just another "style over substance" over-priced summer cash-in (much like Nolan's previous movie, The Dark Knight), but unlike most others of its ilk, it really hurts itself by pretending to look like a thinking-man's film. At least the recent Transformers movies are honest with being loud special effects vehicles and the fans will agree with that notion. I'll give Inception some more points than that blue abomination Avatar since it felt a little more ambitious than that blue liberal propaganda piece, but it's still quite a wretched picture. If you want some great and truly thought-provoking sci-fi, go read the Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick and go watch Paprika (2006), Total Recall (1990), Solaris (1972), and Stalker (1979).

The day that people stop looking at Nolan's movies through rose-colored glasses can't come sooner.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Snooze Button]]>
As a pair of thieves who pilfer ideas for their corporate employers, DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt use portable technology to enter the dreams of their targets. This form of theft requires skills in the disciplines of psychology, architecture, chemistry, strategy and small-scale combat; as a result, their colorful collaborators are selected from a variety of professions. When a devious CEO (Ken Watanabe) hires them to implant a notion that will inspire the heir (Cillian Murphy) of a terminally ill corporate rival to disband his father's empire, they accept - not only for payment, but for the benefit of Watanabe's influence, with which he can easily dispel the criminal charges that prevent DiCaprio's master thought filcher from returning to his home and reuniting with his children. The complications of this task are compounded by the presence of projections - figures generated by the subconscious who defend the Super-ego by attacking intruders.

Though inherently cerebral, this could scarcely be more spectacular or suspenseful in execution. Nolan's characters explore dreams within dreams within dreams within dreams, and with the aid of his mainstay DP Wally Pfister (whose pristine photography imparts some momentous ambiance to even the most mundane locations), he grants each of these subconscious worlds its own distinctive visual character. As usual, both plot and characterization are equally essential elements of Nolan's story, which is motivated as much by underlying cognitive experience as by crashes and explosions; indeed, the former are often the cause of the latter! Because he's never satisfied with mere implication when defining the mechanics of any given phenomenon, perhaps half of Nolan's dialogue is expository, and only seems credible when voiced in the context of training, preparation and procedure. The abundance of visual metaphors that illustrated motive and technique alike in his extraordinary adaptation of The Prestige are here lessened to a few essential cues, and the earlier film's more complex non-linear narrative is eschewed in favor of a succession of simultaneous, tiered sequences deftly edited by Lee Smith, another of Nolan's regular collaborators. Hans Zimmer's score is a shade above mediocre, reminiscent of those that he composed for Nolan's Batman features. This music affords a palpable momentum to the proceedings, especially the intriguing preparatory formulations, but it's easy to wonder if a score as thoughtful as the story and its imagery could have been created by Nolan's inspired former composer, David Julyan.

DiCaprio is entirely convincing in the lead, never too emotive though always intensely involved. That would be an understatement for Gordon-Levitt and Watanabe, both of whom cleverly toe the line between steely cool and outright frigidity. Watanabe's presence and style here are comparable to Ken Ogata's in his prime; he exudes a restrained yet imperious confidence. Nolan directs Ellen Page as he did Scarlett Johansson, downplaying her limitations as an actress. She isn't granted the opportunity to revert to the snotty, vapid posturing that she's become habitually accustomed to, but she's nothing more than adequate. Were she just a few years younger, Alison Lohman - who's everything that Page is hyped as and isn't - could surely have imbued the same role with more poise and charm. Lohman's cuddly Drag Me to Hell co-star Dileep Rao is serviceably personable as the chemist of DiCaprio's crew. Both Rao and Tom Hardy, their dream-state impersonator, generate enough wry humor to offset the film's frequently morose tone. Now starting to resemble fellow Irishman Gabriel Byrne, Cillian Murphy is suitably chilly as the team's mark, though memorably affectional in a crucial, cathartic moment. Like Rutger Hauer and Eric Roberts before him, screen veteran Tom Berenger is put to impressive use by Nolan as both Murphy's godfather and the impersonation thereof by Hardy's character. Marion Cotillard fares far better than Page, totally plausible in a fervent role that could very easily have descended into shrill, annoying melodrama. Now a fixture in Nolan's pictures, Michael Caine is unfortunately relegated to a bit part.

Sharing both the same name and occupation of Alex Haw's prickly expert burglar from Nolan's first feature, Following, DiCaprio's otherwise entirely different character couldn't have less in common with him. This is just as well, as their very different methods are only a means to penetrate far more substantial themes in both films. Despite the maudlin sentiment too often uncovered at the heart of Nolan's well-crafted stories, it's great to see anything this challenging in a major American motion picture nowadays. Perfectly paced and extraordinary in its scope, there's wonder and invention here that's becoming too scarce in the medium. It closes on the sort of ambiguous note that Nolan's so fond of, denoting a vital dichotomy of possibility. It's a shame that this isn't a whit more subtle, substituting much more suggestion for exposition...but then, he does want to keep his audience.

There's not much to say for either the DVD or Blu-ray editions of this movie except that they're both of excellent quality. Naturally, the picture of the Blu-ray is far finer, containing fewer of the perceptible compression artifacts and none of the occasional posterization seen on the DVD. To this reviewer's ears, the sound mix of both discs is identical, but I'm not an audiophile. Good subtitles in English, French and Spanish are accessible, as are dubbed alternate soundtracks in Quebecois French and Spanish. Similar to those of the Prestige DVD, four short successive featurettes document the development of Nolan's vision for the film, the creation and calculated flooding of the Japanese castle set and the construction of an Escheresque stairway to nowhere and a street-bound freight train. At least as much assiduous effort was invested in the production of Inception as in its script.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Due Date... not waiting...]]> Robert Downey Jr how you break my heart. Not even my love for you can save me from the pains in which you inflicted upon me during Due Date.  Not even my love for the obseenly odd Zach Galifianakis spared me a pain that could only rival that of child birth.  OK, that is probably a bit of a stretch, but I think you get what I am trying to say.

In true Todd Phillips (director) style, this film fits right in with Old School and The Hangover.  Although not as good as The Hangover, Due Date has a handful of scenes that are so over the top you aren't sure if you want to run away or laugh. Zach Galifianakis stays true to himself and leaves you just as uncomfortable as ever watching his outragous character torment the poor expecting father (Downey Jr).  Even though I stuck it out throug the entire film, at times seriously wishing I hadn't, I will say that the only thing I wish it had included was a Mr. Chow.  THAT would have keep me wanting more.

Due Date was a poor attempt to keep The Hangover fans hungry for more as we wait for the follow-up film that will be release in a few weeks time.  Yes it will force you to laugh, but you will not feel good about yourself for laughing once the movie is over.  I'm sorry Robert, but do us all a favor and keep to your wonderful roles as Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes. I would much rather watch you kick ass than get your ass handed to you on a platter.

I give Due Date a 1.5 out of 5.

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<![CDATA[The Town Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Ben Affleck as an actor, he has shown himself to be a very talented director. Unfortunately, Affleck already seems to be repeating himself with the film The Town, a crime drama that is reminiscent of his earlier film Gone Baby Gone as well as Martin Scorsese's The Departed. The story follows a group of masked bank robbers lead by Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner as they plan one job after another, but early on in the film a complication arises when they are forced to take a hostage in order to escape from the bank unharmed. This later becomes an issue when the woman who was taken hostage develops a relationship with Affleck's character and he is then presented with the decision of whether he will continue his career of crime or go straight for the woman he loves.
The film follows a number of conventions, which make it very predictable, but it still manages to entertain. The cast is for the most part excellent as Affleck and Renner create a fascinating fraternal relationship on screen and audiences get to watch as that relationship splinters.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Going Nowhere]]>  

Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,”  starred his baby brother and the city of Boston, one of the few settings in recent movies that can almost function as a character.  I loved that movie; so much that I made it my number 1 film of 2007.  So imagine my excitement when I found out that Affleck was directing another crime drama set in his hometown.   And that it had Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall in it.  I needed a cup to catch the drool.

In “The Town,”  Affleck and Renner are old buddies who grew up in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston; the film opens by letting us know that there are more bank and armored car robberies within that one square mile than anywhere else in the world, a fact I find hard to swallow (wouldn’t the banks and jewelry shops just move out of the neighborhood?) and impossible to confirm (it’s not listed on the Wikipedia page for Charlestown, alongside the neighborhoods more historic tourist attractions.  Can’t imagine why.)   Naturally, Affleck and Renner are bank robbers; Affleck is the mastermind, and Renner the violent, unpredictable one.   There are two others on their team, but we never get to know much about them. During one of their heists, Renner decides to take the bank manager hostage, then set her free unharmed a few hours later.  There’s no good reason for it, and it just creates complications.  When they find out she lives in Charlestown, Affleck decided to check on her, make sure she doesn’t know anything that would help the FBI find them.   Naturally, she does, but Affleck really likes her, and you can see where this is going.

Well, nowhere, actually, judging from the complete lack of sparks that fly between Hall and Affleck.   Her post-trauma counsellor warns her against rebound relationships, and, as she and Affleck have so little in common, one keeps waiting for her to wake up and realize just what a bad idea whole thing is.   But she doesn’t, and the whole thing plays like the worst parts of “Good Will Hunting” meeting the worst parts of “Heat.”

read the rest of my review here.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-206242-Going_Nowhere.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-206242-Going_Nowhere.html Thu, 21 Apr 2011 18:48:50 +0000
<![CDATA[The Social Network Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mark Zuckerberg, nor can I claim to know much about the foundation of Facebook, but this film is told from an angle that is designed to be more dramatic and to a certain extent unflattering. This aside, I prefer David Fincher's earlier films which were more grounded in characterization and seemed to have better pacing. Here the film feels at times quite slow and others quite rushed. One thing that I did love about this film was the innovative score created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-13-1445381-206138.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-13-1445381-206138.html Tue, 19 Apr 2011 19:22:32 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Town... more important than the story being told]]> The Town is a film that gives you a handful of shining moments with it's characters and just enough suspense and action to keep you from walking out of the theater.

I will admit that the film does achieve it's goal of entertaining an audience, because I truly was entertained.  But the film had some holes that left me feeling a little cheated.  I found The Town to have built so much upon the idea of "suspension of disbelief" that it was almost a fantasy tale for criminals.  The logic, or lack there of, for FBI agents to focus all of their attention on one criminal team even though there is a boss seemed unbelievable to me.  Would the boss really never have been questioned at any point even though every guy they are going after has had some sort of connection back to him?  That wouldn't happen in The Sopranos. 

I love Jeremy Renner, and I would be lying if I said I went to see the film for any other reason (that being the main reason, and the other because I know several people who worked on the film).  I thought he pulled off the role in style, although he could have held back a little on the accent.  I almost felt like a pissing contest as to who could do a better accent when he was on screen with Affleck.  Even Affleck impressed me with his role as Doug MacRay.  He wasn't his usual mass-hole self and I actually found him tolerable which was a nice surprise because it's been quite a long time since I've been a fan of his.

But it wasn't the cast that kept me interested in the film.  Affleck brought the city of Boston to life.  I thought the with this being his second round as a director of a feature length film he did a pretty good job.  I have not seen all of Gone Baby Gone so I cannot compare, but unlike GBG I was actually able to get through all of The Town with minimal struggle.  I thought the story could have been a little cleaner and well developed, but over all I enjoyed the film.  I loves watching the city of Boston up on the big screen, and the chase sequence was probably my favorite part of the film.  It was also nice to see a few familiar faces up on the screen.

I give The Town 2.5 out of 5.]]>
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<![CDATA[The Town Quick Tip by FM_ALEX]]> This is one of my favorite films and that may be because I have been following Renner's career since his first film but hey I enjoyed it. I also recommend that you check out Renner in "Dahmer" as it is one of the best performances ever. I do highly recommend this film and say go ahead and buy it, skip the rental. I bought it the day it was released and have watched it many times since.]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-13-1445384-205984.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-13-1445384-205984.html Sat, 16 Apr 2011 20:45:13 +0000 <![CDATA[ EXCELLENT MOVIE]]>


When this film was first released I was all kinds of excited since I am a huge Jeremy Renner and a Ben Affleck fan as well. Add in that not only do I like those two as actors but I thought Affleck's first film "Gone Baby Gone" was great. So needless to say that we [my little group of friends and such] really wanted to see this movie and were excited about it. Of course we loved it but I must say that this DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack is great with an extended version. Add in the behind the scenes features and you have one great combo pack.

The story follows a group of Charlestown bank robbers as the FBI is looking into them after a recent successful heist. It turns out that while they did this they took a hostage and after letting her go they wonder if she will be a problem. So Doug MacRay [Affleck] takes on the responsibility of finding out what she knows, she won't recognize him because they robbers were wearing masks [of course]. But has the heat from the FBI increases and Doug's feelings for her grow the rest of the crew becomes restless. The problem being of course is has Doug falls for her he wants even more to get out of the game, but they have one more big job to do.

I have to say that while some of not liked this as much as me I really enjoyed this film and found it to be very well done. I have to give Ben create because I really do like this film and as a writer/director he is really becoming a top guy I the business. As an actor I have always liked him, he has a certain charisma that shines through. Of course my boy Jeremy Renner was excellent in this film as James Coughlin, in fact if Bale had not won the best supporting actor award at the Oscars I would say it would have gone to this man. While he brings a nice intensity to the character I actually see the sympatric side of the character that a lesser actor may not have brought out.

Rebecca Hall does a great job as Ben's love interest Claire and plays a very real character, very well done. Jon Hamm is the FBI guy after the crew and does an excellent job here as well as does every one in the film, very well cast and cast with actual residents of Charlestown. I would also like to point out that Renner spent all his time with actual bank robbers from Charlestown to get the character and the accent down right. Based on a novel called "Prince of Thieves" by Chuck Hogan Affleck has proven that even if he wants to leave acting he has a career in filmmaking.

This is one of my favorite films and that may be because I have been following Renner's career since his first film but hey I enjoyed it. I also recommend that you check out Renner in "Dahmer" as it is one of the best performances ever. I do highly recommend this film and say go ahead and buy it, skip the rental. I bought it the day it was released and have watched it many times since.


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<![CDATA[Due Date (2010 movie) Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]>
From the guys who made the uproariously funny and politically incorrect film The Hangover comes another film (perhaps more politically incorrect and certainly less funny) Due Date. The story is very straight forward and for the most part entirely predictable, but this is an American comedy and they haven't been known for their originality or complexity. The plot follows a fairly temperamental and tightly-wound upper-class father-to-be (Robert Downey, Jr.) who through a series of unfortunate incidents must accompany a crude, pot-smoking, incompetent wannabe actor (Zach Galifianakis) on a very long and unpleasant trip to Los Angeles where his son is about to be born.

The film is full of emotional outbursts, troubles with the law, silly arguments, gross-out humor, and all the typical trappings of modern American comedies. For most, the humor will be too over-the-top and mean spirited for the majority of viewers as we see the characters do things to each other and to others that are really inexcusable and yet the perversity and spitefulness of it all just sort of sends into this atmosphere of absurdity that I found to be quite amusing. Obviously, the film isn't one that I'd recommend to everyone, but if you're in the mood for a silly, stupid film that will make you laugh while you munch on pizza and slurp down a beer, this might be that film. If you like Cheech & Chong films (I may be the only person never to use drugs who thinks that their films are hilarious), then this is your cup of tea or coffee or beer or whatever.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Ben Affleck, fairly good actor to great director. Can anyone say Clint Eastwood?]]> A neighborhood in Boston called Charlestown is well known because it has the most number of armed robbers in the U.S. Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), Albert 'Gloansy' Magloan (Slaine), and Desmond Elden (Owen Burke) are all robbers living in this neighborhood. Doug and James are like brothers to each other, as the Coughlin family basically took Doug in since his mother died when he was young. The four together are very succesful bank robbers; however, one bank robbery they have to take Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) hostage. After letting her go freely and unharmed, one day Doug and Claire meet, and a relationship begins to develope with Claire not really knowing Doug's past. Doug begins to want to leave Charlestown and go off with Claire, but in this neighborhood it isn't that simple. Doug now must do everything he can to escape the Charlestown fate of life in prison, or death.

To start it off The Town was one of my favorite movies of 2010, and even as acclaimed as it was, I think it is underrated. If it were me making the decisions, I would give it a best picture nod, but maybe that's just me. We first saw Ben Aflleck's directing ability in Gone Baby Gone, which I absolutely loved, 80%. And for this reason I was a bit worried about The Town, very excited still, but I wasn't sure if he could pull off two excellent movies in a row. But oh how he did. In fact, I liked The Town even more than I liked Gone Baby Gone. I have always felt that Ben Affleck was a little weak on the acting talent, especially after he teamed up with Matt Damon to write Good Will Hunting, which made me think his strongest point was screenwriting. But after two excellent films in a row from the directing chair, Ben Affleck is the new really good director we have today, and I am very excited to see what films will come from him.

The Town was a very well-written film with a fantastic script. It really takes the audience into the lifestyle of the famous bank robberies of Charlestown, which is actually a very sad one. The opening scene is a bank robbery involving our main characters, and from there we begin to learn more and more about these people's lives. I found the character developement to be very good, though I thought the relationship between Doug and Claire was a little undeveloped, making it where we didn't care all too much about what happened to them. But other than that it was good. The direction by Ben Affleck was also very good, actually one of my favorite parts of the film. It was very similar to Gone Baby Gone. The action scenes were fairly limited, but I thought they were shot very well, and the whole film was just extremely realistic.

As I have already mentioned, I personally feel that Ben Affleck is not the most talented of actors. He is not all bad, but he has seriously struggled in the past, especially with Pearl Harbor. However, in this film I thought he was very good. Some may disagree, but the accent was good, and in my opinion one of his best performances. I could really feel for his character, and that was partly due to his performance. Of course it was not Oscar worthy, but he did plenty good for the part he was playing. The whole film was actually very well cast. Jeremy Renner achieved nothing short of excellence in his role as Doug's best friend in the film. He definitely deserved the honor he was just given of being nominated best supporting actor. Jon Hamm was great as well, I really enjoyed his performance. And surprisingly enough Rebecca Hall was very good. I first saw her in The Prestige, and although I absolutely loved that film, I personally didn't care much for her in it. But in The Town she was good, and she played her part well.

Overall, The Town was one of my favorite films of 2010. Having Ben Affleck being in the directing chair again, it was actually a film I was very, very excited about. After Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, and now The Town, Ben Affleck has not only proved to me how great of a screenwriter he is, but how great he is at directing films. I could not be more excited to see what comes from him in the future. The casting was brilliant, everyone acted well, maybe not all Oscar Worthy, but all very good. The musical score was absolutely beautiful as well. The Town is a film with a great story, and is one of the best of 2010 in my opinion. A job well done by Ben Affleck.



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<![CDATA[ The overall film is not too impressive, but Cortes shows promise]]>  Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American truck driver that is working as a contractor in Irag in 2006, and one day he wakes up to nothing but pitch darkness. He feels around trying to figure out where he is, and with a lighter lights up to what he finds is a wooden coffin. As anyone would Paul begins to panic, and has starts screaming and banging on the sides of the coffin. Then he hears this buzzing noise and the coffin lights up, and Paul realizes it is a phone that someone has planted there with him. He starts to frantically call different numbers, some of which being the police and his family, but he is having very little luck getting anyone to really buy into his story. Paul begins to remember that he was ambushed while driving, and he knows his best bet at survival is himself.

Honestly, this was a very odd film. Seemingly the story isn't too fresh of material, as we have all heard of a man being buried alive in plenty of movies right? But Buried was actually an extremely creative film, as the entire movie was shot in a coffin. I have really never seen anything like this, which did turn out to be a little annoying. I found some of the film to be horribly boring, and even my mom asked if we could turn it off about 30 minutes of the way through. Also, the story and characters get a little lost in the film towards the middle, as Rodrigo Cortes loses all focus and turns to proving his strong point, which is one I somewhat disagree with. I mean, I get what Rodrigo Cortes is trying to say, but I find it hard to believe that there would be such little effort to find a missing person, and that is where I thought the movie took a very unrelastic turn. Which is in the end my biggest complaint.

With that said, Buried is by no means at all a terrible movie. This being Rodrigo Cortes' debut, he really did an excellent job. The faults in this film were no doubt because of him, but some of the best parts of the film were also his good direction. Like I mentioned earlier, the film did get a little boring, but it all took place in a coffin, so what can you expect? Rodrigo Cortes really did a good job with the direction and keeping the crowd interested. Aside from the parts I mentioned, the film was really a nail biter. as the movie came to a close I found myself literally about to fall out of my chair I was so far on the edge. The ending was expected, but at the same time Cortes did a superb job keeping it unpredictable at times. I had pretty much decided before the movie started what I thought the ending was going to be, but there was always the last 10 minutes the really had me question myself, and it was a great ending.

However, the most impressive part had to be the acting by Ryan Reynolds. He really put everything he has into his performance, and I must say, I am definitely in no way a fan of his. I mean X-Men, Smokin' Aces, Paper man, and The proposal? Will someone shoot me please? He has played in good films, but seriously some of the bad ones are just a complete waste of money. Even if they only cost 1$. So as of recently I have really not liked him, but this movie started to change my mind a bit. The opening scene where Conroy relizes he is trapped starts of a little shaky. Actually a little laughable there for a second. But once the movie gets into the main parts, Reynolds performance becomes very, very good. Was it Oscar worthy? No. The guy was in a box the whole time, I can't give him too much praise. But yes, Ryan Reynolds did an excellent job acting here.

Overall, Buried does not fall under my category for one of the best of 2010. I would not really even give it an honorable mention either. This movie was just your basic entertainment, with a little bit of surprising direction, and above average acting making it better than it should have been. The creativity was definitely there, but it made the film a bit odd, and not necessarily in a good way. Also give credit to the music in this film, maybe nothing super special, but it really made some of the scenes in the film pretty intense. Buried was a good film that was an excellent debut for Rodrigo Cortes. No doubt worth a watch here.


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<![CDATA[Due Date (2010 movie) Quick Tip by Lopez15]]> Pretentious, dull, witless, stupid, cliché and quite frankly unbearable Todd Phillips'  follow up to his critical and commercial smash hit  "The Hangover",  "Due Date" is the biggest miscalculation of any comedy I have seen since oh... "The Last Airbender" this a gross disgusting film with two of the most unlikable lead character to appear in films in the last ten years  a truly god-awful film that thinks its funny and obviously knows it is not. This is one of the worst films of 2010 a true cringe inducing, hateful film that thinks it knows when it doesn't even have a clue.

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<![CDATA[The Town Quick Tip by Lopez15]]> Ben Affleck is undeniably a very gifted director but with his second outing "The Town" Affleck strikes all the right notes on all the wrong keys. "The Town" is a gritty, violent and at times intelligent heist thriller that lacks any (if it had any) originality to it. This film seems to meandering and uninterested in engaging in including its audience in on their plan. Now do not get me wrong this is a well made, exceptionally well acted and well-written film but it lacks any sort of joy in what it is doing. Truth is this film is nothing you have not seen before but thanks to its A-list actors, its tight direction and well-written script "The Town" warrants at least a view, who knows you might like it. 

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<![CDATA[ Easy A -- What an 80's film would look like today]]> Back in the day I used to love watching teen comedy films.  I loved the cheesey 90s teen comedies with Freddy Prince, Julia Styles and Rachel Lee Cook with their random mid-story group dance routines that had everyone and their mothers dancing.  But my go-to films are still the classic John Hughes brat pack films.  They make you laugh, they make you cry and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.    Then the 21st century came and we lost the soul of the teen comedy as just about everything had become a "modern adaptation" of one of Mr Shakespeare's plays (but don't get me wrong I am a total sucker for them all). 

Easy A brings back all the things that were great about the classic teen comedy films of the 80s, with a mix of the Y2K teen comedy concept.  I feel slightly hypocritical by saying this since some of my favorite teen films include She's the Man (adaptation of 12th Night), Sydney White (adaptation of Snow White), and 10 Things I Hate About You (adaptation of Taming of the Shrew) however with the exclusion of 10 Things I do not feel that the majority of the Y2K teen comedies can touch Easy A with a ten foot pole.  (My apologies Amanda Bynes, I still love you but I think Emma Stone has stolen your spot light on this one). 

The funny thing is last week I attended another "teen comdey" screening that I felt cheated and lied to, and even commented that I wish the John Hughes-esk films would come back, and here it is.  My prayers have been answered.  Writer Bert V. Royal has created a tale that highlights everything that was once great in teen comedies and brought it back with flare, and with the help of director Will Gluck the two have given today's teens what those of us from yester-year look back on and say "wow those were great times."  Yes, it's not quite the same as Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, or Say Anything (not John Hughes but just as amazing) but it has the heart and soul of what those films represent and the truth is I love that Olive (Emma Stone - Zombieland) makes a reference to all of the great 80s films that I'm talking about within the film. 

Easy A is a smart, fun, quick witted story of a girl who takes her suffering from the typical high school rumor mill, and turns the gossip in her favor, for better or worse anyways.  With her life quickly starting to resemble a book she is studying in school (The Scarlet Letter), she takes the gossip and turns in on its head and labels herself with the scarlet A.  But it's not until everything goes completely wrong that she realizes the mistake of her ways.  With a star studded cast within the school walls like Cam Gigandet (Twilight), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl and The Stepfather),  Dan Byrd (Cougar Town and A Cinderella Story), Amanda Bynes who plays the good catholic girl who tries to save everyone's soul, and Thomas Haden Church (All About Steve) who plays Olive's slightly untraditional yet of course favorite teacher Mr. Griffith it is no wonder things are taken to the extreme like they are.    However it is not just Olive's school life that is so entertaining.  Her home life is just as amazing and it's no wonder since her parents are played by the amazing Stanley Tucci (Devil Wears Prada and Lovely Bones) and Patrica Clarkson (Pheobe in Wonderland and Shutter Island) and it proves why Olive is a little brighter than the rest.  But keep your eyes open for the cameo appearance of one of my favorite actors who will make you laugh just because he's there (sorry I'm not telling who he is, you will just have to go and see for yourself).

Easy A is such a fun film that it will make you want to re-watch all of the classic teen comedies as soon as you can.  So if your looking for a fun film that will take you back to the "good 'ol days" check out Easy A

I give Easy A a 4.5 out of 5.]]>
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<![CDATA[ The Social Network -- the nerd is the new "bad boy"]]> The Social Network is the story of how Facebook came to be, and let me tell you it is a nerd's wet dream. 

A few years ago, had you asked any teen/college girl what type of guy she was looking for she'd most likely say the jock or the "bad boy", but if you asked today she would probably say that she loves nerds.  From 'The Big Bang Theory' to The Social Network, there is a group of new desirables making the "What's Hot" list these days.  It is the Sheldon Coopers and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world that are now getting all of the attention, and this Friday you will see what I mean.

The Social Network hits theaters this weekend, and it is a classic in the making.  Jesse Eisenberg plays the insanely intelligent, all be it slightly socially challenged, creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.  In this unbelievable role Jesse shines like the north star and shows that he is a force to be reckoned with in the acting community.  Yes, there are those of you out there that will confuse him with that kid from Scott Pilgrim and 'Arrested Development', but once you see this film you will surely know the difference between Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera.  You will know with absolute certainty that Michael Cera is just that kid that keeps making the same movies over and over again, only difference being the titles, while Jesse Eisenberg has gone from Zombieland to a role that rivals the genius of the amazing James Parsons (2010 Emmy winner for his role as Sheldon Cooper in 'The Big Bang Theory') as he gives the nerds we have grown to love on the home screen, a run for their money.  His portrayal shines a light on the man behind what we spend 18 hours a day on the internet, updating our statuses and poking our friends. 

From the opening scene (which I found to be a mix of genuine awkwardness and comedic genius) throws you into the deep end of the pool with a very special type of person, that most people either love or hate.  But as you watch this character, he grows on you until you realize that you cannot hate anyone like Mark because they simply cannot help themselves.  That sense of linear thinking draws a deep line in the sand and challenges anyone daring to get close enough to cross over to his side.  You will love to hate the man for his pure honesty and lack of bull-shit (if only everyone was that honest... although maybe not as that could turn out quite scary).  It is Jesse's expressions (or lack there of) and his seriousness throughout the entire film that makes you realize just how talented this young actor is.  I believe that there are very few actors today with the discipline to pull off such a complicated role with such perfection, yet Jesse is able to do so and make it believable is jaw dropping.  It is these unusual roles that challenge and set apart the "men from the boys" and I have to give kudos to the amazing actors that take on these roles and bring them to life like they do because it's not an easy task, especially when based on real people, and especially living people.

I'm not sure what the real Mark Zuckerberg is thinking when it comes to watching his college years played out on the silver screen, or if he even thought his life would be one that people would pay to see. The one thing I will tell you is -- The Social Network is sure to give you mixed feelings regarding some of the events that took place between friends and fellow computer geniuses, but I guarantee you, that after seeing this film you will have a new found love and respect for the men behind the life changing website.  You will walk out of the theater feeling intellectually stimulated just having had the ability to keep up with the quick jabs and techy dialogue between the computer nerds, while all the time being thoroughly entertained by the amazing talents of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield (who portrays Eduardo Saverin), and Justin Timberlake (who portrays Sean Parker - "the other Napster guy").  It is the combination of these three and their dynamic relationship and struggles to maintain their friendships while creating one of the world's most influential websites yet to be developed. 

So regardless of what your relationship status is, update your status and post that you will want to check out The Social Network.  I guarantee that you will be adding it to your favorite films list the minute you get home. 

I give The Social Network a 5 out of 5.    I love Nerds!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-203884-The_Social_Network_the_nerd_is_the_new_bad.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-203884-The_Social_Network_the_nerd_is_the_new_bad.html Mon, 14 Mar 2011 03:35:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ A nightmare, a labyrinth. A brillaint thriller as well as a taut drama.]]>
The last time I saw a movie opening as cool as the one in "Buried" was when I looked upon the super-awesome opening to "Vacancy", which sadly lead to an ultimately mediocre film. I kind of expected that to happen with "Buried"; and then again I kind of didn't. I wasn't exactly thrilled about being locked in a coffin with Ryan Reynolds for a little over an hour and a half, but the film is much more than the premise suggests. The genius behind "Buried" is that the suspense never softens. It remains consistent, taut, and pretty much perfect throughout. It's the kind of thriller that makes you uncomfortably claustrophobic, sympathetic for its character, and emotionally involved all at the same time. I thought that we weren't allowed to make thrillers like that anymore. But "Buried" is the kind of thriller that packs a hell of a punch in the way of tension. It's the kind of entertaining, nightmarish abyss of a film that you wish came out every weekend, but alas does not. The reason behind that is because not everyone is a genius. Very few directors can make a good thriller; let alone a good drama. The beauty of this film is that is succeeds, almost miraculously, at being both a drama AND a thriller, and often times it decides to mix the two together to the point where you just can't tell the difference. It's addicting, intoxicatingly brilliant filmmaking; and it's one of 2010's finest movies. I didn't expect a movie that virtually stars Ryan Reynolds-and-Ryan Reynolds alone to be this good, but here we are. "Buried" will piss off a lot of Ryan Reynolds fangirls since for once, the guy doesn't have to take his shirt off and act stupid. He's essentially doing the complete opposite of what he's lead us to expect out of him. He had me fooled. I seriously thought for a second that he wasn't a talented actor. And then this piece of work comes along. This is his best movie, his best performance, and all-together the best character he has even inhabited. I never thought I'd say this, but Reynolds; you rock. I was insanely surprised by this masterpiece, and I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't incredibly claustrophobic. If you can conquer your fears like the incredible hero of this story, then you can survive "Buried". Chances are, some will love it. There's also a good chance that most will forget it. Nevertheless, I loved it. It's one of the best thrillers I've seen in a long, long time. There are many reasons to want to see it.

You know the premise of this film. Admit it; you do. So why, oh why, should I explain it to you anyways? The answer: because I feel like it. So "Buried" is essentially all about a guy who wakes up to a lot of dust as well as the concept that he's locked inside a coffin. He doesn't know why he's in there, and he doesn't know how to get out. The top just won't kick out like it should. He's buried underground, no doubt. And he soon discovers that there may actually be a way out. He finds his Blackberry, a lighter, a flashlight, a glow-stick, and some booze in the coffin with him. He tries to make the best of what he's got; and makes a couple calls with his phone. He comes in contact with a few people, and then...well, that would be going too far. Some synopsis' start there; but this one has to be experienced by the individual viewer. The entire film takes place in the coffin. That sounds boring, I know, but bear with me. The thing is far more entertaining and ingenious than it seems. It even goes by faster than it should have; and I really appreciate that. You witness the guy coping with his sticky situation in extreme ways. Towards the end, it actually becomes more emotional; but still as thrilling as it always has been. And even though it's as good as it is; I should not have loved this movie as much as I did. "Buried", for me, was the kind of thriller that doesn't just come out of nowhere. It's the kind that does not seek to provoke through disturbing imagery; but rather ideas, or in this case, the premise. I enjoyed the film because it had edge; and lingered on so many things at once. It never feels weak, and it never slows down to let us rest. It's admirably crafty thriller-fare, and seriously, I can't complain about one damn thing. It's brilliant; unlike most of the thrillers that released in 2010.

Ryan Reynolds has never had a better role than that of Paul Conroy. I've seen Reynolds in some pretty decent or even good stuff; but this is the best he has to offer. I think the reason behind his grand success is the grit, inspiration, and pure dedication that the actor puts into his performance. All good thrillers have a good character; and this one has a very good one, at best. Reynolds somehow uses his talents to evoke tender emotion and intensity; and yes, often times at the same moment. He accomplishes what very few actors have in 2010; and this means he has a good future ahead of him. But that's just how it seems; they said the same for Jean-Claude Van Damme when he was in "JVCD". Look at him now. He's back to generic B-movie crap. Maybe Reynolds will avoid such a grim fate. Isn't it pretty to think so?

I'd expect a movie like "Buried" to be a indie flick; and a damn good one given the premise. But then Ryan Reynolds is in it; so it can't be THAT indie. But does it really matter? No, it does not. "Buried" is a superb, flawless example of thriller-filmmaking at its best. From the "Vertigo"-inspired poster art to the interesting trailers; something about this film intrigued me. Now that I've seen it, I also know how beautiful and genuine it is. This is one hell of a thriller; and if you want to make a damn good one, then look here for guidance. It's quite awesome how an entertaining movie such as this can also be disturbing, claustrophobic, and yes, quite frightening all at the same time. It's not every day you see a thriller as thrilling as this; or a drama as gripping as "Buried". There was something special about it. Something so special, in fact, that no other film possesses such positive attributes. The film is brought to life with beautiful, appropriately tense cinematography; some of the best I've seen in a film for 2010. The cinematography creates a certain unforgettable atmospheric quality for the film. The thing is so suspenseful and atmospheric that the slightest shift in tone can catch you off guard. There is one scene in which Reynolds' character forcefully cuts off his own finger. We don't see this in graphic detail (which makes it NOT torture porn), although we still find it pretty disturbing. This is because no matter how intense the thing is; nothing could prepare us for such a moment aside from our own anticipation; and even we aren't imaginative enough to think of such a thing occurring. This is an original film; with plenty of nightmarish and brilliant qualities. There's few like it.

"Buried" is not just a thriller; it's also a tender melodrama and an intense yet never active action film. It's a rare thriller that never (literally) goes anywhere aside from in the coffin; and while it should have been boring, the filmmakers make it worth our while. I go to thrillers to be thrilled. This is one movie of that genre that seriously knows what it's doing; it's never pretending to be anything. It was smart, unique, and quite entertaining in the end. And yes; I did indeed say entertaining. I know that this film, being as tense and claustrophobic as it is, should not have been labeled as entertaining. But when it's as well-made as "Buried", you can't help yourself. This is the kind of film that earns its stripes. Some may be thrown off by the nearly hilarious ending, but then again I can't imagine the thing ending in a particularly better way. The thing is just to crafty to have a happy ending; it was always to end as a tragedy. As of now, I think this film is missing from my DVD collection, and I need to give it a warm welcome soon enough. In a world where a lot of crap is dished out from every genre, in each year; there's stuff like "Buried" that exists to remind us just how good you can get with these kinds of films. I loved "Buried", and found it as nightmarish as it was emotionally sincere. It takes a damn fine thriller to have as much of an impact on me as this one did; but in the end, it's a matter of personal taste, I suppose. You will probably end up enjoying this film for its consistency, but few will love it as much as I do. Sometimes you just need to love a movie for what it does; and judge it on how well it does it. "Buried" just wants to thrill the audience. And guess what; it does just that. And that's probably why it's a brilliant genre picture, as well as a brilliant film that most definitely achieves perfection. I adore it, and I highly recommend a viewing. If the premise scares you, then the movie will scare you even more. But when beauty seemingly seeps through the cracks yet doesn't invade everything else, then you've got a real, genuine film on your hands. I'm not sure if "Buried" can be called powerful, but anyways; it can be called very, very good. Take it for what it is and nothing else. You may find yourself trapped as well.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Buried-635-1445413-203441-A_nightmare_a_labyrinth_A_brillaint_thriller_as.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Buried-635-1445413-203441-A_nightmare_a_labyrinth_A_brillaint_thriller_as.html Fri, 11 Mar 2011 02:34:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ Prepare for one nasty ride]]>
If you've seen Planes, Trains & Automobiles, it's basically the same thing but without any of the warm, depth or charm. Irredeemable asshole Peter Highman, "acted" by Robert Downey Jnr, is trying to get home in time for his wife to pop out a tiny human, while freakishly-weird-yet-naive Ethan Chase, "acted" by Zach  VerylongnameIcan'tremember, gets physically abused and generally crapped all over. Zach comes from the M Night Shamalamalamayan School of Long Names that explain why stage names are so popular.

In an update to the problem of getting on a plane from the first film, Due Date sullies the good name of our passenger-gropers at the TSA by placing our intrepid heroes on the no-fly list. There are some bag mix-ups and other really, really weak coincidences to force this situation, but needless to say they both end up in a rental car pegging it across the country while they get to learn about each other.

Before we get any further, I should point out that this is another "All the funny parts are in the trailer" movie, though anything that looks mildly amusing in the promo is recast to be more cruel and unpleasant when you watch the whole thing. For example, RDJ at one point spits in the dog's face - HE SPITS IN THE DOG'S FACE - and then threatens to rip it apart limb from limb. Violence to humans can be funny - it's the basis of the banana skin joke and most cartoons - but violence to animals always falls flat. He then goes on to punch an 8-year old - no kidding. 

Other things we learn from Due Date:
  • Mexican border guards are corrupt and incompetent.
  • The best way to babysit children is to punch them in the stomach and threaten them.
  • You can accidentally use ashes from your father's urn to make coffee and not possibly notice the difference.
  • People who called Los Angeles "Hollywood" will never work in the entertainment business.
  • Your best buddy is probably having an affair with your wife, 
  • You can drive for four hours without a .45 caliber bullet wound in your thigh - no problem.
  • Disabled war vets will beat the ever-loving out of you for making dumb remarks.
  • Pot will make you less uptight.
The character arc that's jammed into Act 3 is one of the most unconvincing in modern cinema. When RDJ decides to be best pals with Zach, I felt like I'd just accidentally cued forward 10 minutes and missed a bunch of important scenes. I mean, 5 minutes earlier he rams Zach's head into the side of a car panel, and now they're soul mates. 

God, I hated this film. Just hated it. It makes me want to open Microsoft Word and just start typing a script, since it can't be any worse than this mess. I didn't laugh once. A pox on ye, Todd Phillips!]]>
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<![CDATA[ 1/2 a star: This is a date you will want to miss]]> Comedies these days  are more common than a two-legged dog. Every year, every month,  every day a new comedy releases in theaters  some are funny some are less than funny  and then there are those rare comedies that are so god-awful, so nasty, so cruel so shamelessly unfunny that after seeing it you  absolutely cringe at the slightest mention of the name of the film. Todd Philips' "Due Date" is such a comedy, a comedy that takes no shame in ripping off one of the best comedies of the last 20 years   "Planes, trains and Automobiles" starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. This is comedy of the lowest level; an unbearable and undignified piece of comedy that tries its hardest to mask itself as comedy of the highest level but only comes out as nothing more than what it appears on the surface. "Due Date" is what I hate about comedy the most of how they can take a great premise, a fine talented comedic director and two of the best stars around and put them in one of the most disgusting and grudging comedies I have seen in years a comedy so lowbrow so disjointed you'll want to shoot yourself before it is over.

After the huge critical and commercial success of Todd Phillips'(Director of "Old School", “Starsky and Hutch" and "School for Scoundrels") "The Hangover"(which already has a sequel in the works and will be released this year) Phillips' became a worldwide sensation. He took the box-office by storm with his widely inventive- If not at some points- lowbrow instant stonier comedy classic "The Hangover" literally redefining the meaning of the hangover. With his newest comedy, Phillips has devised an extraordinarily lowbrow update of the classic Candy-Martin classic "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” The only difference between these two films is that "Planes, trains and automobiles" is considered near and far as a classic and “Due Date"...  well let's just say classic is not the word I would use kindly to describe this travesty of a comedy. This film lacks any dignity  at all  it has no shame in  what it does or who it is doing it to,  it lacks any  shred of  emotional  connection  between these  gloriously  mismatched stars  in Robert Downey , Jr. and the bushy bearded funny man  Zach Galifianakis. Who in a more respectable and laughter inducing film   they would have been an amazing team instead of a groan inducing, cringe worthy one. "Due Date” should work it should be funny sadly, it is not. “Due Date" tries to be a kind of bicker until they become friend’s kind of comedy but here is the sad part that premise ran itself into the ground about 35 years ago. The last great comedy to attempt to use that formula and succeed was the great "Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and after that film almost all comedies tried to recreate the formula that made that comedy a classic; they tried to no avail I must say. Now I  won't lie to you this film  had it's moments  there were a few scenes in the beginning that made me laugh  but sadly  those  scenes  in the beginning that worked  however,  as soon as Peter(Robert Downey, Jr.) met  Ethan( Zach Galifianakis) the whole film took the "Twilight" approach when Bella met Edward and went downhill from there. Now this very well made good-looking film that has the talent and the attitude to be a great buddy comedy. However, the overall Ricky Gervais-Golden Globes- feel atmosphere that the script from the script by Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykie, and Todd Phillips wrote never seems to give its characters or the audience much reason to care. You feel disjointed and almost utter disgust as you watch the despicable Peter and the insufferable Ethan go on a nausea inducing road trip. So Peter can go get home to his young pregnant wife (played by Michelle Monaghan) who is going to give birth in a few days so he can be there to welcome his child into this world. Personally after seeing Peter's treatment of other people's children I think that child would be better off being given up for adoption  to a mother and especially a father who would not sock him straight in the  stomach if he/she got annoying. "Due Date" is what comedy in this day and age has come to annoying, soulless characters who are bickering more than they should and falling into  A-typical comedic pratfalls and fights that are some of the most disgruntled I have ever seen put to film to date.

There is a scene in "Due Date" so deplorable,  so low down, so  laugh free that you almost  want to slap yourself. Peter is with Ethan at his drug dealer's(played by Juliette Lewis) house to obtain marijuana Peter  is left  with  here two kids a girl and  her extremely annoying  brother who  keeps pestering Peter. In a complete lack of morals, Peter sucker punches the young boy right in the stomach then proceeds to place him on the couch. That concisely explains the whole mood of the film where every pratfall every slapstick, overly mundane piece of shtick that comes flowing from this film is laden with malice and hatred. How anyone especially Todd Phillips could think that punching children and a constant air of hatred could actually induce laughter is beyond me this film obviously thinks that this is funny so, why not? I'll tell you why not  because in comedy you are not suppose to hate the characters on the screen you are suppose to be at least have some kind of feelings towards these characters and there plight. With this film, all you feel is nothing but disgust and hatred towards these not so likable fellows. "Due Date" has all the ingredients for a perfect road-trip comedy but what it is missing is the secret ingredient... a sense of joy. This film nor its characters takes any joy in what they are doing they just look like they are going through the motions without a care not even stopping for a moment to consider the irrevocable harm they are doing to both there film and the audience. "Due Date" has the right stuff if only it had taken the time to use that to its advantage instead of making it advantages its disadvantages.

I have been a huge fan of Robert Downey, Jr. for some years now in my opinion he is one of the best actors working in films to date. However, even great actors like RDJ have there off days as well Todd Phillips'   "Due Date" is one of those days. In  "Due Date" RDJ  plays such a deplorable, nasty, mean spirited, self-centered like cuss that from the very first moment  that you meet him you want to knock him  up side the head. RDJ plays Peter like a guy who doesn't care about anything but himself and if you see this film (which I hope you don’t). You will get that feeling as well Peter is so self-absorbed and so vile   that you hate him the very first moment he speaks  the rest of the film only  serves to deepen your hatred for this despicable character. Peter has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, I am sorry to say this but neither does RDJ’s performance. I don't really like Zach Galifianakis  I think to me he is a Robin Williams meets John Candy  knockoff, now  don't misjudge me  Galifianakis has shown to be a  talented actor  in such films as  "The Hangover" and  "It's Kind of a Funny Story" but in  "Due Date" he is singing  the song on all the wrong keys. Galifianakis'  performance as the overly obnoxious and quite frankly  irritatingly stupid Ethan Tremblay  is quite possibly one of the most  grating  "comedic" performances I have had the displeasure of  sitting through in a long time. Galifianakis lacks all senses of his surroundings   his dimwitted character just seems to plow through one contrivance after another after another after another without even stopping for a second to  use his brain to try and find out a logical solution to Peter and his situation. Sadly, Galifianakis just goes through the motions of the lowbrow script and derivative plot affords him, he never seems to get the chance to really make an impression or at least create an interesting character you can care for. Galifianakis has talent and definitely has a chance to make it big in Hollywood but if he keeps making low rent comedies like this  he will end up having a career mimicking that of Nicolas Cage, I know that is wrong to say but hey its the truth and the truth sometimes can hurt. The rest of the cast including Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA, and Michelle Monaghan give some adequate performances in this grossly overblown comedic failure.

"Due Date" is a film with so much potential   that   it is almost a shame that it is wasted on such an idiotic script and such mean spirited atmosphere that you almost feel sad for the actors and creators. You feel sad that they have created such an interesting idea and roped in such talented actors and in the end; they give them nothing really to work with beyond the dull execution of this derivative tale of opposites attracting. Sadly, they only repel each other   "Due Date"  is one of the most misguided  nasty films to come out  in 2010  it has no redeeming qualities  and it revels in  its own mean spirited nature almost daring the audience  to love it or hate it. The outcome in the end is much clearer then you think.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Due_Date_2010_movie_-635-1501705-203250-1_2_a_star_This_is_a_date_you_will_want_to_miss.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Due_Date_2010_movie_-635-1501705-203250-1_2_a_star_This_is_a_date_you_will_want_to_miss.html Mon, 7 Mar 2011 05:12:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Down the rabbit hole]]>
To most people the movie seems to be all about the question of reality. Are you really awake, or still in a dream, stuff like that. Philip K. Dick built a whole career out of it and is still cited as the master of questioning the reality of reality, which all the paranoia that comes with it. Personally, I never found this avenue of inquiry very interesting. What does it matter whether reality is real or not. If the reality-layer I'm living on is a place I like, something where I can be happy, I don't give a damn. And that's why I didn't dislike the ending of the movie as much, despite it being so stereotypical. I didn't felt like it really mattered whether Cobb had woken up or not, since he managed to find a place that gave him happiness.

Something similar happened to Fischer, the alleged victim of the whole inception operation. The whole plan to plant the idea of him breaking up his own heritage ended with him entering his own subconscious (unknowingly) and planting the seed of the idea himself. Pretty clever plotting, but what really sold the scene was that Fischer ended up being much happier than if he would have tried to live in the shadow of his dad forever. Humans create pretty complex self-deception all the time to remain sane. For me, this isn't about false or truth, about dream or reality, but about what ideas we allow to shape our fate. Questioning reality beyond any doubt is a fools quest, sometimes you have to accept to live with the uncertainty.

Okay, in the end I did thought the movie was much more clever than I was initially expecting. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. I wouldn't be the only one.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-203092-Down_the_rabbit_hole.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-203092-Down_the_rabbit_hole.html Fri, 4 Mar 2011 22:10:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ This movie may change the way you look at dreams again.]]> Inception is a movie directed by the talented and genius director Christophor Nolan. The film deals with this concept called "Inception" the ability to go into another persons dreams and steal ideas (or even learn something about them).Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb an Extractor who is very good at what he does (besideds the fact that he breaks his own rules) after failing a job he finds another but this one is tricky as he is supposed to plant an idea in someones mind instead of steal one. Trust me its easier said than done.

Now i pride myself on trying to figure out a movie before it even starts, but Inception is a triky tricky one(I had better luck with Shutterisland). Like the Matrix to get this movie you have to watch it multiple times as one watch isnt good enough. That being said Inception is an amazing movie I loved the story (mainly cause it was trippy and hard to figure out........I like that) the pacing was moderate but a little on the fast side, and the acting was top notch. Leonardo DiCaprio as always plays a very convincing character and so did Ellen Page as the quick learning new kid on the block. 
But you didnt need to read this short review to figure all that out. You and I both know Christopher Nolan like Martin Scorsese is an awesome director who hasnt made a bad film yet. You know that his movies are always awesome and always very well done. You know the actors are great and you know they always give an awesome performance. So as I always say if you havent seen this movie yet go out an watch it. Especially for those of you who are tired to the same old same old. Inception is a trippy thriller and you will not be disapointed.

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<![CDATA[ The Birth of a Billionaire]]>
The story takes place in 2004 when primary Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is on trial by his fellow friends and innovators in a hearing that recalls the times when fortunes provided alleged double-crossing by the powers that be.  It is both a memoir reinactment of post-modern innovation and a dramatization of the genesis of the flair that begets reinvention of today's modern aristocrats in the blogosphere, changing the hands of the rich and famous from the aristocrats of resources (like Carnegie) to the iconoclasts of modern culture (like rock musicians) to the information Superhighway Age.

Without having the familiar associations of a documentary or even the qualities we normally associate with a reinactment, 'Social Network' is so fascinating and absorbing, any words of praise seem tentative, futile, and non-descript.  One of the best qualities about the film is that it doesn't try to take sides or judge the key players.  There's the rich boy twins, real-life Harvard boys who compete abroad in rowing competitions, but dream big, barely mutating dream wishes that can only be replicated with the technical skill of Zuckerberg, who only is able to hone his own aspirations by the thoughts of others.  Does anyone get to the top on his/her own?  Then, there's the mischievous friend who founded Napster, Shawn Parker (Timberlake)  with all the possibilities of new horizons in music (including the fraud of piracy), and a friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) who has his own passions and foibles to share and clash with CEO Zuckerberg.

One of the other virtues of 'Social Network' is that it doesn't try to be condescending, judge the main players, or glamorize the party aspects of the rising stars.  It merely tries to tell the story with everyone having his day in court.  What a innovative and fascinating movie 'Social Network' is.  No wonder it's the talk of the town! ]]>
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<![CDATA[ Situations have ended sad, Relationships have all been bad.]]> The King's Speech (which I have reviewed separately) and The Social Network.

The key to the attraction of these movies isn't in the bare description of the movies which make them sound boring (I have fought this battle over King's Speech with my family, and won over only 1 of 4 to go see it, so this is a real problem for these movies)--but they are anything but boring.  Trust me, if you have not seen either of these movies, you must see them before you decide which movie you think should win the Oscar.  Either is worthy and both deserve your movie dollars.

The key to these movies is in the relationships.  In King's Speech, the unequal relationship starts hesitantly and ends in a lifelong friendship, but in Social Network, the relationship that begins between friends and equals ends in litigation and situations that ended sad (credit Dylan for the review title).  Mark Zuckerberg is a fascinating character, spewing ideas faster than anyone can understand them, while he not only has the ideas, he has the technical skill to implement them.  We see him first create a Facemash application that trolls the Harvard network to create a website allowing students (mostly guys, of course) to compare pairs of (all female, of course) student pictures.  But what we really see that gives the movie its attraction is that Mark created the website literally overnight after a bad date, a slight that he revenged drunkenly in public, and which we see during the deposition scenes of the movie continues to affect him years and billions of dollars later.

As one of the junior lawyers (played by Parks and Recreation's Rashida Jones) tells Mark in a concluding scene, Zuckerberg isn't really an asshole, but he sure tries hard to be one.  Yet I found myself fascinated by his personality, watching him jump from idea to execution to idea.  You may want to like him, but you really can't by the end of the movie as you see that that pattern of remembered slights and failure to consider or even understand the human element of any situation, relationship, or algorithm. 

The situation that ended saddest is that with Eduardo Saverin, Mark's first financial partner.  The true equality of that relationship which should have bound the two friends with unbreakable ties are symbolized by the comparison algorithm that Saverin provides and Zuckerberg immediately codes into the facemash website, and then the $1,000 that Saverin provides (from his own pocket) to buy the first server for thefacebook.com (Napster founder Sean Parker--played with convincingly creepy smoothness by Justin Timberlake--suggests dropping the article).   But when Zuckerberg moves from Harvard to Silicon Valley in thrall to the charms of Parker, and Saverin goes to New York to try to raise money, we see actor Jessie Eisenberg do a great job showing Zuckerberg withdrawing into his ideas while the financial and marketing buzz around Facebook snowballs into a cultural cornerstone.  Like Saverin on the screen, from my theater seat I found myself in near disbelief that just seven years ago Facebook didn't even exist; Saverin, as a one-time partner but now an outsider looking in as his trust and faith in the company that is Facebook and the relationship he had with his friend Mark Zuckerberg both exploded before him.

It is is this relationship, and others in Social Network, that give the movie its depth and power and make it Oscar-worthy. ]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-201171-Situations_have_ended_sad_Relationships_have_all.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-201171-Situations_have_ended_sad_Relationships_have_all.html Mon, 14 Feb 2011 00:12:19 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Social Network Review]]>
Jesse Eisenberg deserves to win the Oscar he was nominated for: Best Actor. He adds layer after layer of characteristic complexity to Mark Zuckerburg with a plethora of emotions and overall discomfort in being himself in the process. From his dorm days in Harvard to his beginning of his reign in the Facebook corporation and the lawsuit against him, Mark never seems to be content. It's as if his envelopment and committment to technology has alienated and driven away all love and tied-in relationships he used to have with people he once knew. When one finds a new idea, is it worth losing everything he once knew and cared for in the process of making that new idea successful and well-known. 

Andrew Garfield plays Mark's best friend Eduardo with ease and charm, yet as the idea for Facebook grows Mark further pushes him away and a spiral begins...Justin Timberlake is quite good as Sean Parker, the creator of Napster. His character is knowledgeable in corporate functions and cool in social outings, and Justin Timberlake's approach feels effortless. And to finish the praise for the acting, Rooney Mara's few scenes talking to Eisenberg's Zuckerberg are rightfully spiteful and disarming, as a certain action he did in spite of her allowed her to be in his face. 

And David Fincher, wow. He is a director who knows how to get results in the visuals he presents and the emotions he evokes with the story's intertwining narrative. Plus he's a perfectionist, as I heard from an article back in the fall that he did 99 takes on THE SOCIAL NETWORK's very first scene. No joke, folks. The muted, warm colors the cinematographer enables in the settings and Trent Reznor's pulsating score only add to THE SOCIAL NETWORK's pristine nature. 

In the universe of Facebook, words describe and detail one's day and these statements speak volumes about one's personality. In the mega-site's stages of inception shown in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, words are for the most part are used vivaciously to accuse and criticize Mark Zuckerberg's decisions on the road to becoming the billionaire he is today. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is the defining film of the Information Revolution, and if you disagree (about it being overrated), please, bring it on!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-200647-The_Social_Network_Review.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-200647-The_Social_Network_Review.html Thu, 3 Feb 2011 03:22:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ 4.5/5 "Facebook Me!"]]>
The story of Facebook is one so old and well known that making a movie that hashes it out again just kind of seems like padding now.  The movie opens with Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by this girl because he doesn't realize he's a jerk.  So in his rage he goes back to his room, writes some nasty things on a blog and then creates a site where the students of Harvard can go and rate the girls as hot or not.  This draws the attention of the board who feel that this was overstepping the line.  After this, however, the Winklevoss brothers become interested in his ability to program.  They invite him into a business venture and he agrees... but eventually takes matters into his own hands and eventually creates Facebook.  And as it starts to grow so do tensions among friends.  What The Social Network really seems to be about is how we connect and disconnect from those around us.

There isn't much to The Social Network.  It is certainly far better than I thought it would be.  The characters are certainly not that likable.  But you can sympathize a little.  Especially with Eduardo as he works hard for what amounts to nothing in the end.  But the actors do a good job at least.  Although Jesse Eisenberg is not quite as noteworthy as he is made out to be.  He's not bad by any means, but this is who Jesse Eisenberg always is.  That awkward nerdish kid.  I suppose that makes him the perfect choice to play Zuckerberg (or Michael Cera, but Michael Cera certainly didn't have the hair for it) but I'm not sure that just being able to play a more arrogant you is really all that Oscar worthy.  But considering that his last major thing was Zombieland... it can be considered quite a turn.

It's hard to talk about The Social Network without talking about the cultural impact.  Or rather how it showcases our culture as it is.  I will say that The Social Network is daring.  It is one of the few movies that is willing to put it's foot in the door and showcase a younger generation doing what younger people in the younger generation do.  From using actual phrases like, "Facebook me," to showing people constantly on laptops and computers.  There's even a portion where they're showing people playing video games, although you don't see much of it. 

On the other hand the movie shows there was also a lot of partying involved as well.  Particularly by Sean Parker (portrayed by Justin Timberlake here).  How much of the movie is true and how much of the movie isn't is hardly important in the long run.  I will say that what I do like is that it is actually willing to actually show the digital age in action with much more than just cell phones.

As I said, if the movie were just about Facebook it wouldn't be quite as fun.  It actually has to have something compelling.  And in ways it does.  It shows us how friendships were heavily damaged and it shows us betrayal and it shows us that as you rise to the top you'll make enemies... as well as having people wanting to take a piece of the pie.  Beyond that, who CAN you trust as you rise and rise and rise?  So the story actually is about much more than just the creation of Facebook. 

Another thing that's quite nice is that the movie is edited fairly well.  It's told in a fairly linear fashion but jumps between the present day of the movie and the past.  In the present day Mark Zuckerberg is being sued by the Winklevoss brothers as well as his friend Eduardo.  And it also goes and shows the meat of the story... which is how they came to get there. 

If anything the only real problem with The Social Network is that it spends a lot of time with one case than another.  By that I mean, the Winklevoss brothers start off being an important part of the film but as the film progresses we just sort of forget about them and then at some point they finally decide to sue.  We simply didn't spend enough time.  We do, however spend enough time with Eduardo and that's probably much more important in this case.  It's just that we watch with a magnifying glass as one lawsuit comes to fruition (Eduardo) while another just sort of happens in a snap.  At least the Winklevoss brothers aren't forgotten entirely.  The movie also starts off trying to hit the ground running.  It takes a moment to realize that the movie wants to jump between past and present.

On the other hand, it's a good ride because it's got some sharp and clever writing.  There are moments when you'll laugh while watching The Social Network and not sure if you should be.  There are other times when you'll be watching and appreciating the fast, snappy and often clever dialog. 

But that also brings about another small problem with The Social Network.  There are some parts that move a little too fast.  Not dialog snippets.  It's actually primarily the end which moves fast.  How the movie sort of feels like it has to wrap everything  up and then  ultimately does.  Getting to that point was fun, but then suddenly characters meet their fates a little too fast.  At least Sean Parker does.  And it's disappointing that all we get is a, "What happened to Sean Parker?" kind of moment.  Likewise when it comes to the Winklevoss brothers and Eduardo we have to settle for the words on screen telling us the fates of the characters involved.  Sure it's a non-fiction movie (we assume) but it's annoying that each time we watch a movie like this they can't take the extra ten minutes and show us the future of the characters. 

It's a minor complaint, however.  I actually don't have very many major complaints about The Social Network, but I will say that it was a very good movie with a well crafted screenplay.  Seriously, the writing is the best part about it and really shows a sign of the times that very few movies are willing to show nowadays.  And it's fine that they don't, but at the same time it's a little embarassing that we had to receive a movie about Facebook to really let us know we were in a digital age.  What separates The Social Network from other movies that try such as... well... Live Free or Die Hard... is that Live Free or Die Hard isn't exactly meant to be taken seriously and seems to pretend that computers are wizards, but The Social Network keeps them grounded in reality and actually shows you kind of can make a drama that incorporates social networking.  A lot of forensic shows on TV do it... but consider most of the time the result is, "Yeah, this guys a pedophile," where as in The Social Network it actually shows Social Networking as a part of every day life and every day culture.  That's not exactly something that should be looked upon lightly.  Dozens of film makers want to do something like that but generally can't.  So my hat is off to David Fincher for being able to do it without making it a laughing stock.  It's also nice that David Fincher doesn't waste time with jokes like how someone is just too old to understand Facebook or how someone is just to old to understand the younger generation.  The generation gap isn't even there.  It's concerned with telling a straight shot story... but with leaving a good deal of bull pucky out that most other film makers would feel has to include. 

I guess what I'm saying is that it's a sigh of relief to know that David Fincher didn't try too hard to connect with the generation and instead decided to just show them as they really were in the digital age.  Not all of it can be taken for granted, of course, but it is nice to know that you can show we're now in the 21st century instead of the 20th by doing more than just showing cell phones and people who know how to hack computers (which was actually a popular film trend in the 90's).  David Fincher has certainly opened a door here.

It's a surprisingly good, funny movie about rising to the top, friendship, betrayal and trust.  Themes that so many movies usually outright refuse to take seriously in the digital age.  In the past we've seen Facebook, Myspace and video games reduced to being convenient plot devices or showing us how strange young people are (in short, for comedic effect).  The Social Network seems to use much of it to humanize the characters.  Even if a lot of it has a dramatic touch, it's the fact that we're dealing with events that are populated by brain-dead characters who have spent so much time in front of a computer that they don't know how to function in the real world.  It's actually quite refreshing to see a film like that that drops some of the stereotypes for a moment.  We come to be angry with Zuckerberg and pity Eduardo while thinking Sean Parker is a jerk who is just out to get a piece of the pie.  It works.  But we get there based on the characters actions and not necessarily because they sit behind the computer for a lot of the film (they actually don't).

On the other hand, a lot of people say the film portrays Zuckerberg as a jerk.  That's probably only half true, really.  It shows how Zuckerberg was willing to do anything he could to get Facebook live (even showing his infamous Business Card that says "I'm CEO BITCH!") and what it cost him.  But in the end the character is not without sympathy or remorse for the events which transpire throughout.  The final scene in particular shows that even Zuckerberg is actually a human being after all.  In short it's not exactly the most positive portrayal of Zuckerberg, but in the end you're not as likely to leave thinking he was a heartless asshole either.  I've heard rumors that Zuckerberg actually enjoyed The Social Network, but someone will have to check that.

So is it worth seeing?  Most certainly it is.  I'm not sure if this'll get people to understand they can use social networking websites for more than comedic effect (or catching the pedophile on Law and Order) but it's definitely a start.  The Social Network is sharp and clever but it doesn't lack heart.  Certainly a fantastic film to be sure.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-200479-4_5_5_Facebook_Me_.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Social_Network-635-1445381-200479-4_5_5_Facebook_Me_.html Mon, 31 Jan 2011 04:21:01 +0000
<![CDATA[ Inception]]> Inception is a rare breed of movie. Firstly, it came out in July and thus can classify as a summer blockbuster, and secondly, it does not insult the intelligence of the audience and actually takes a few brain cells to keep up with it. It's incredibly well-acted, it has an original story in a time when they are becoming harder and harder to come by, and it's a movie that will definitely be apperciated come awards time. It will probably win more awards for its technical accomplishments, and that is definitely well-deserved, but the acting deserves some praise too because this is probably one of the most well-acted movies of the year.

First I'll talk about the acting. I adore the cast of this movie and every single performance in it was great. However, the only person that has a serious shot of being nominated is Leo and with actors like Colin Firth and James Franco in his category he doesn't have a shot at winning. The rest of the Inception team performed well too, especially Marion Cotillard (who kind of serves as our antagonist) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I loved Joseph Gordon-Levittin this movie, but unfortunately he's probably not going to get much love from the Academy. Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, and all the rest of the actors were wonderful as well and deserve praise even though they are probably not going to get much of it.

A lot of movies tend to ruin their good stories and great elements by adding in romance to please mainstream moviegoers. Thankfully, Inception is not one of those movies. The closest thing we get to romance in the movie is Leo's relationship with his dead wife and that one meaningless kiss between Gordon-Levitt and Page that drove all the teenage girls in the theatre crazy (granted, there was a big group of them in the theatre but they didn't prevent me from enjoying the movie). Nothing much else to say about the lack of romance, so I'll move on.

This is my second viewing of Inception and upon seeing it for a second time, some elements of the plot made more sense. For instance, I didn't understand limbo becoming your reality until I saw it for a second time, and I just picked up on tons more things that I didn't pick up when I saw this in the theatre. Another thing one should know about this movie is that you have to give it your full undivided attention or you run the risk of falling behind. I'm not going to explain the plot so as not to give away any spoilers, but some may find it hard to follow, so I direct you back to my first comment about undivided attention.

Okay, so next I'll say the obvious. The visuals and general technical work are stunning and deserve to be praised and awarded, especially by the academy. The matrix effects have now been perfected and Inception is fine proof that visuals don't have to trump story or character development. I can guarantee that Inception will get nominated for technical awards, although probably not for the acting even though it deserves it. I don't really have anything to say so I'll wrap this up.

Inception truly is a wonderful movie, one of my all time favourites. TIt has an intelligent original story, creative characterization, awesome special effects, and it was my personal favourite movie of 2010. All of that is sure to pay off come awards time and rightfully so. If you haven't seen this movie, I will tell you that it is a great one worthy of multiple viewings and deserves to be on my favourites of all time list. Probably one of the best films I've seen in a while.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-199645-Inception.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-199645-Inception.html Sat, 22 Jan 2011 01:09:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ 3 ½ Stars: Trapped In BLACKEST NIGHT....!]]>
There are three things that always serve me a nice spice of terror. Reality (as in it can happen), hopelessness and above all helplessness. I think helplessness is a more powerful element in human horror, since being helpless means that you can do nothing to help your cause; you can only depend on those around you to get you out of your bad situation. Well, director Rodrigo Cortes has made a horror-thriller built on beautiful simplicity in the film “Buried”. It is a 90+ minute ride of nail-biting intense claustrophobic thrills that happens a few feet underground…inside a coffin. Movies that portray the rescue efforts in a situation like this has been done before, but we’ve never seen the victim’s side of the fence.

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is a supply truck driver working in Iraq who had just woken up to see himself in a real scary situation. He finds himself in a small enclosed space in pitch black darkness, buried in a coffin somewhere in Iraq. Left with a lighter, a couple of glow sticks, some incidental items and a cell phone, Paul tries to find a way to get himself rescued as he calls government agencies, his family and his employer. His cries for help grow increasingly desperate as Paul has to contend with dwindling oxygen and the added pressure of the Terrorists who put him under the ground, as they demand a ransom to be paid.

                       Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy in "Buried."

                      Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy in "Buried."

Fear factor is what drives “Buried”. The film is a series of phone calls, mounting hazards and the panic of being buried alive inside a small space in a race against time. Cortes is a filmmaker who is dedicated to this idea and it is refreshing to see him go into the psyche of a man who had fallen as the victim for a terrorist ransom demand. What would you do if you were in this situation? Who would you call? I am trying to avoid spoilers but Cortes goes deep into the mind of his one character as the viewer is brought to understand the gravity of Paul’s situation and at the same time portraying his supposed “rescuers“ to not take his situation seriously enough. Others are shown on the other side of the phone calls; some try to comfort, some try to stall and to wash their hands, while others express indifference and ignorance. The script and the direction knew what they were going for; build suspense and terror until the viewer is left gasping for air as the main character.

This is Ryan Reynolds’ show. I’ve always thought the actor had some skill even when it came from his roles in “Van Wilder” and “Waiting”. Reynolds is flying solo, and about 99.9 % of the film happens inside a coffin. I may even go as far to say that this may be the best one-man performance I’ve seen since “Moon”. He has a pretty restricted space and he felt really cramped inside a coffin and almost as if Cortes just left him a camera for him to maneuver inside the wooden box. He twitches, he turns about, he cries, and flips over; all in a manner to display every possible emotion when one is in this very situation. The actor displays a lot of range in the one-man portrayal of extreme emotional distress; panic, fear, frustration, grief and maybe even guilt are all in exposition. I would love to have seen how the director pulled off these shots in a near pitch black environment.

                        Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy in "Buried."

                       Ryan Reynolds as Paul Conroy in "Buried."

Cortes makes the film a visual experience as the film comes up with some simple tricks to keep the viewer invested in its panic-inducing script. A cell phone call here and there, the lighter dies out only to be re-lit, a cell phone rings to give some hope of rescue, some heart-breaking moments as Paul tries to connect and the hazards of the situation itself keep the film moving and I was invested most of the way. I wondered how much a director could do with this premise in a 90 plus minute flick, but Cortes pulls it off in almost real-time precision. Despite some spots that felt a little heavy-handed and some parts of the dialogue faltered a bit, I found myself rooting for Paul all the way; I was really fearing for his survival and I was hoping to see him get out of this situation. There is a limited supporting cast and two of them is an Iraq crisis situation agent (Robert Paterson) and the representative of Paul’s employer (Stephen Tobolowsky) and they all form a dynamic form of chemistry with Reynolds.

I suppose I should stop here. I’ve already spoiled the movie by saying that Paul was stuck in a coffin (but hey, I thought it was fairly obvious in the ads and trailer). Paul is a man in a very scary situation and thanks to the people who are in the outside world, his rescue seems farther and farther away from reality. Seems like people are more concerned with covering their butts when they are faced with someone with a stark situation. It‘s almost like “teasing”, the more you see Paul desperate for a rescue, the more bureaucracy he encounters; and this type of pessimism will not doubt anger some viewers and it is an inscrutability that feels real. “Buried” is a film whose success relies on inducing claustrophobia and mounting helplessness; that plays with the uselessness of hope. I applaud the direction by Cortes as he manages to keep the film relentless with its intentions and it never backed down.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Buried" Poster art for "Buried."

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Buried-635-1445413-199613-3_Stars_Trapped_In_BLACKEST_NIGHT_.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Buried-635-1445413-199613-3_Stars_Trapped_In_BLACKEST_NIGHT_.html Fri, 21 Jan 2011 07:21:47 +0000
<![CDATA[The Town Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-13-1445384-199557.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-13-1445384-199557.html Wed, 19 Jan 2011 18:24:21 +0000 <![CDATA[ Packed with plenty of wit and charm; "Easy A" is an easy win for Will Gluck and Emma Stone.]]>
"Easy A" is one of the best teen comedies in years. It is less crude and more thoughtful than the premise suggests, and I found myself respecting it throughout. What makes it work is the fact that it has a good sense of humor, a pretty good cast, and charming sense of supreme, human decency. The film has the kind of charm that I wish every comedy had, and Emma Stone as the film's protagonist, is absolutely incredible as far as charming leads go. Sure, the film is pretty clichéd as far as the plot goes. Luckily I can get around that, mostly due to the fact that "Easy A" is just so darned appealing. It's a film that just about anyone could come to enjoy, as long as you go in knowing that it's going to be at least somewhat different from the other twenty-something teen comedies that bombard cinemas each year. It's a mystery how "Easy A", the work of a director who made a god-awful film with "Fired Up", could make something so darned good. I think it's because director Will Gluck actually hired good screen-writers and looked high and low for true inspiration before he decided to get started on this flick. This time around, he's also able to get a good cast in an equally as good movie. This is the kind of movie that John Hughes would have happily directed, that is if (1.) he wasn't dead and (2.) if he wasn't so darned indulgent. "Easy A" essentially has all the charm and entertainment of a classic Hughes-directed teen dramedy; aside from the fact that it's pieced together by a different man. Still, this means that maybe Will Gluck has an actual future to look forward to; a possibility which I doubted upon seeing "Fired Up" and revived upon seeing "Easy A". And while "Easy A" might not be exactly as its title suggests when you break it down to sheer quality, it's still an easy recommendation. I say give it a chance. You never know what you might find. Solace, perhaps? Maybe. Just maybe.

An unpopular High School girl named Olive decided to up her popularity through a lie. This lie regards her sex life, which is indeed non-existent but she decides to render it otherwise. Through the first strain of lies, she meets some new faces and decides to help one of them, a gay student by the name of Brandon, up his own popularity a notch. Olive gets used to all the verbal abuse at school and begins to cope with it in bizarre ways. She starts taking money from other students in exchange for a false sex story, although this kind of stuff is bound to catch up to her one day. She looses friends, of course, and then gains some. She's a good kid; just one who's made a living hell out of her life recently. I think what makes this genuinely familiar sort of story entertaining is the fact that there's actually a pretty good screen-play in-tact throughout the film. The dialogue is funny; and the subject matter is never treated in a particularly crude way. No, "Easy A" is truly funny and truly charming. An easy "A" in most people's book, but the clichés somewhat prevented me from truly loving it. Hear me out; "Easy A" is one of the more charming films of 2010, and it's sure to get more recognition in time, it's just that it's not as "great" as some people may think. I did indeed enjoy it; several parts were even treated with utter perfection. And the subject matter didn't hurt the film either, so for whatever flaws it has, "Easy A" has twice the amount of good attributes. Olive's character is instantly likable; in fact, she's the only character who we really get to know too well. Thus, she's really the only character worth caring about. While the minor characters are there to add conflicts and sub-plots, they never do much more than that. Nevertheless, it's all about Olive's story. And that's why the movie works once it's over, and it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. For that, it's a worthwhile experience.

Emma Stone is a real charmer in this film. While she's been in several awful-to-mediocre films recently, this is a role that I think will put her on the map as a common customer when it comes to teen comedy or other various roles. In "Easy A", she demonstrates all of her talent. I liked her character and Stone's performance was absolutely awesome. The supporting cast feels almost like somewhat of an ensemble cast at the least, and I'll tell you why. Stone's co-stars include the talents of Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Dan Byrd, and (get this) Malcolm McDowell. Is that not awesome? Please tell me it isn't; I'll color you crazy. The fact that the director was able to round up so much talent and put it into one big, hell of a comedy is admirable, and most of the cast works. Olive's parents (played by Tucci and Patricia Clarkson respectively) are funny and charming whenever they show up. I think these moments of family time between Olive and her parents are only icing on the cake, but they do help to make "Easy A" the winner that it is. Nearly everyone was entertaining to watch; even if some of them were former child stars on Television. It's good to see that they're growing up without shedding their snobby, obnoxious skin.

Surprisingly, "Easy A" is a pretty funny movie. The dialogue is often times hilarious, and while it's never a consistently funny film, it never stops being amusing. I liked the style of it, to start things off. Will Gluck has something good going for him here, and I think it's going to help him on his way to (potential) further success. "Easy A" is the entertaining film that it is because it's worth respecting due to the large amounts of charm. It's an average film in terms of production values and such, but it's a hoot in a year devoid of huge laughs. No, I didn't love it. It's not going on my "Best of 2010" list, although it's in there with the other few solid films to release around its time. It's a film for its time and place; it fits right in there when nothing else does. Strangely enough, I get the feeling that it's a Hollywood film made with not an overwhelming sense of passion, but yet it still wasn't made purely for profit. If it had been a potboiler than I would have hated it. Sure, it made money because of the likable leads and the success of the script. It's not perfect, but it's gotten just about all the recognition that it deserves. All I can say for Mr. Gluck is that I want him to hit me with his best shot; I'm ready for it. I think that next time, he can repeat his success. Or he can just make another complete stinker like "Fired Up". Who really knows; he could succeed or he could fail. It's a bit too early to tell I guess. Only time will confirm my suspicions.

"Easy A" is more Hughes than anything. It gets inspiration from bigger, older, and often times better teen comedies. However, "Easy A" will soon go on to be recognized as a modern classic in the teen comedy department. It's not raunchy, it's not incredibly crude, and it's not boring (which is a good thing). Teen comedies are so generic these days, and while "Easy A" may not truly shed its clichéd skin, it's not as flat-out familiar as most comedies. Long story short; it treads dangerous waters but emerges victorious when it comes to making a good teen comedy. It does what many more have failed to do; and I think that "Fired Up" was Will Gluck's way of saying "I'm going to do something better soon". I'm proud of his for his success. Why shouldn't I be? After all; "Easy A" is an easy win in my book. And that's what I like about it. By all means, if you're going to watch a teen comedy, watch this one. It's probably the only one that's really worth your time. As it is, that's about all I can say about it. But isn't that enough as far as earned satisfaction goes? I'd think so.]]>
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<![CDATA[Easy A Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Emma Stone was delightfully quirky and adorable, I just didn't think that this film had the charm or the intelligence that it was trying so hard to achieve. There have been quite a few great teen comedies in the past 5 years and some of them will go down in film history as classics alongside John Hughes' films of the '80s. This film wants to be of the same quality as those films... so badly that that the story is littered with references to those films, but what hurts it is that everything in the plot is so familiar.
I just kept thinking to myself, "Hey, that moment was like a scene in Mean Girls, those characters are like the parents in Juno, that joke was used in Charlie Bartlett, etc.!"
If you enjoyed those films, in all likelihood you'll enjoy this as well, but don't expect anything too clever or original.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-13-1445497-199134.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-13-1445497-199134.html Tue, 11 Jan 2011 16:45:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Boo to Affleck!]]>
Now, if I had been robbed and saw with my own eyes my colleague being hit in the head (and possibly died from it too) and then to be taken as a hostage, I'd have undergone an experience where I need to see my psychiatrist with immediate effect!

And yet, 4 days later, Claire went to a laundromat and "picked up" a guy from there and developed an intimate relationship with one of the robbers (naturally not knowing that he's one of them nor did she really know where he works either) in no time, that's just plain stupid, imho.

Well, either we over in this part of the world are trained not to trust strangers or the guy is Ben Affleck so she simply threw caution to the wind! If there is anything, I'd be shattered to know if my daughter (luckily for me, I don't have one yet!) or any of my nieces acted like she did! What if the guy is a murderer or a rapist?! Geez... 

Now, what did she do at the end of it all? She even helped him escaped! Ok, may be she was in love. Never mind that, yet she took those money and used it? Oh wow... what's the morale of this story or movie? What's society coming to? The guy start afresh by running away instead?! 

Ok, may be she used the money for a good cause, but whose money are those? Not hers to use! It's a bad bad movie for the kids and certainly for adults who don't know any better! 

I did say I don't need a movie to be real to enjoy it... however, this is not like a dream in Inception, nor is it like a world in Avatar. What this is is a movie about our real world. About policemen who safeguard our safety and who might even die in the course of duty. Yet, they made a film that make it seems ok for robbers to go scout free? & making a mockery out of a policeman's profession. Yikes!!!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-198810-Boo_to_Affleck_.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-198810-Boo_to_Affleck_.html Thu, 6 Jan 2011 12:43:17 +0000
<![CDATA[ There's nothing quite like it! A Paradox!]]> Inception is one such movie. It keeps the audience in suspense and guessing, anxious to KNOW what is ahead.
Dreaming is something that I had always been enchanted with all my life. It is through dreams that I see God the first time in my life! Yes, I’ve been fascinated by the reality of my dreams and the world we perceived as real. Inception is a world of possibilities, just like our dream world and sleeps each night, a place where we escape to for whatever reasons! I’m already engrossed the first 20 mins of the movie, which is normally not the case when I’m watching a movie in the comfort of my living room. There are plenty of distractions around me, that is.
Of course, I’ve never seen or walk in a world upside down in my personal dreams. But I have had been a bird, a Victorian lady wearing huge petticoat and also living & breathing under the sea! So, this is one movie which may not make sense and yet in the dream world, it makes plenty of “sense”. I must say I’ve even dreamt of the day the world is coming to its end, “living” in the reality & seeing with my own eyes what hell is! It certainly is one hell of a dream!

Inception is entertainment at its best. It doesn’t have to make so much sense that it becomes totally a bore. There is nothing quite like it! In fact, it is probably Leonardo at his best! Titanic was a bore, Inception is a challenge! A challenge to go beyond one’s own reasoning and to appreciate the intricacies of the mind. Yes, for someone who majored in Psychology, this is a highly interesting movie! A movie that challenges one’s understanding, logical thinking and reality of this world.  A film that explores the underlying human subconscious and questions about how that subconscious affects our motivations, behaviors and actions of life. It is possibly the very film (at least for me) that explores the different levels of our subconscious mind through dreams. Highly intelligent although it might not have been an accurate portrayal & effective way of explaining it. However, since it is merely a film (not education), it will therefore suffice. For a movie, it is quite an ambitious attempt!
Oh, as a warning, do not try to engineer your dreams. Dreams are best left alone and follow its natural courses.  Scientists sometimes try too hard before they are ready, imho.

As for Hollywood, I don’t need a film to be real, but I need it to be interesting and entertaining. This one fits the bill brilliantly! Great job!
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-198511-There_s_nothing_quite_like_it_A_Paradox_.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-198511-There_s_nothing_quite_like_it_A_Paradox_.html Tue, 4 Jan 2011 14:33:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ Film of the Year]]> Christopher Nolan, being relatively unknown until he rebooted the Batman franchise, has managed to produce the best film of 2010 and possibly one of the best films of the decade. He manages to take fantasy concepts and bring them into the real world, no matter how crazy they may seem. Batman is one of his projects that he wanted to remove from the comic book fantasy and bring it into the real world to the point the viewer would be thinking "so this is really possible". Although it may seem crazy, Inception is one of those movies. Although using technology and ideas that don't yet exist in reality, it uses concepts such as Lucid dreaming and dream incubation and places them in reality. Although it may seem crazy, I think that one day we will develop such an understanding of dreams and the unconscious mind that things such ideas as depicted in the film will be possible.

Although being a genius of film making, he's also excellent in confusing the hell out of the viewer, and if you aren't paying attention for the entire runtime, you will find yourself to be absolutely lost. The story centres around dream thieves, Dominick (Leo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Well they're not actual dream thieves, more secret thieves. They dream together and break into the unconscious minds of other sleepy people in the hope of discovering some deep and dark secrets about them. They're approached by Saito (Ken Watanabe) who offers Dominick the freedom to return home to the US (where he's wanted for murder of his wife) if he can perform Inception, the act of planting ideas in the mind of another person through their dreams. The victim of said Inception is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the son of a wealthy business man who is about to inherit a massive corporate empire. In order to carry the inception, Dominick and Arthur employ the services of the dream architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), identity forger, Eames (Tom Hardy) and the sedative guy, Yusuf (Dileep Rao).

If the story didn't sound complicated enough, it goes even deeper into the ideas and concepts of dreams that will really knock you if you aren't paying attention from the start. Involving numerous levels of dreams, you become lost in what is exactly the reality. This is a beautifully crafted film that blends stunning special effects with spectacular acting, dialogue and action. Some scenes are just bizarre but wonderfully put together, such as the scene showing Paris being folded on itself. One particular standout moment, however, is the anti-gravity fight sequence involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of those amazing, but criminally underrated actors. This is a visually mind-blowing scene which becomes a centrepiece of the entire film.

This is a genius venture by Nolan and seals his legendary status. He is a true cinematic master and this is just an example of the wondrous stories he can bring to the big screen. Everyone must own this film, because without it, you're better off dead.]]>
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<![CDATA[Inception Quick Tip by FM_ALEX]]> This was a really good film and worthy of the praise it got but I feel like it fell just short of classic status. Maybe because the characters were not as developed as much as the plot was or something but it felt kinda incomplete. I don't know maybe I am crazy, you tell me. However feel about the film I am sure everyone can agree that it is at the very least worth a rental right.]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-13-1436938-198363.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-13-1436938-198363.html Sun, 2 Jan 2011 08:57:01 +0000 <![CDATA[ REALLY GOOD FILM]]> A man in a suit with a gun in his right hand is flanked by five other individuals in the middle of a street which, behind them, is folded upwards. Leonardo DiCaprio's name and those of other cast members are shown above the words "YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME". The title of the film "INCEPTION", film credits, and theatrical and IMAX release dates are shown at the bottom.


There was a lot of hype surrounding this movie when it was released and all I would hear from people was "you have see this flick". I skipped going to see it in theaters because most of the time I am let down when something is overly hyped. So like I do with a lot I waited until the DVD release to finally catch this film. I must say that I am glad I waited and let the hype factor die down because I did enjoy this movie. I also will say that if I had been paying attention and realized Cillian Murphy was in this I may have went and seen it on the big screen.

If you have yet to see this I can assure you that what you have heard is true, you do have to follow what is going on the whole time [kinda]. Well at least at first but once you know the rules the film is playing by it becomes easier to guess what is coming. The film starts out with our Dream robbers inside the mind of a man who will become one of the center parts of this story. When we learn that you can be in a dream inside a dream things start to heat up. But once out the question is asked "can you plant an idea in some one's mind like you can steal info from them". This question is pressed by the man they just tried to steal from and he offers the thieves a job. So the plan starts to be laid out as a team is assembled to do what most think is impossible.

Written and directed wonderfully by Christopher Nolan this movie combines elements of other films and styles to create a very intriguing world. The effects and twists of the story keep you interested the entire time, and it is a long film. Take for example the building of the dream, when you see what "the human mind" can come up with and all the things it can add to these worlds are amazing. Visually this film is near flawless but there are other factors that bring it down. Such as when you figure out the film, you figure it out, sure the twists are there but you can kinda guess what is coming.

And while the film takes a while it does and some great actors keeping things going, one of my favorites Cillian Murphy is the mark in this movie. Of course lead Leonardo DiCaprio does a good job here as does Ken Watanabe who is actually a favorite in the film as he did a great job. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well was great as Leo's number one guy, Marion Cotillard was excellent as Leo's wife in this movie, Ellen Page as the dream weaver, Tom Hardy was another wonderful addition to the film, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, Dileep Rao all did great jobs as well. Add in a wonderful soundtrack and you a very good film.

This was a really good film and worthy of the praise it got but I feel like it fell just short of classic status. Maybe because the characters were not as developed as much as the plot was or something but it felt kinda incomplete. I don't know maybe I am crazy, you tell me. However feel about the film I am sure everyone can agree that it is at the very least worth a rental right.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-198362-REALLY_GOOD_FILM.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-198362-REALLY_GOOD_FILM.html Sun, 2 Jan 2011 08:55:35 +0000
<![CDATA[Easy A Quick Tip by FM_ALEX]]> I would say it is worth a rental at least especially if you are into this type of film. A fun cast mixed with a great script made for a good film, well worth the time.]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-13-1445497-198265.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-13-1445497-198265.html Fri, 31 Dec 2010 08:30:12 +0000 <![CDATA[ BETTER THAN I THOUGHT]]>


This film turned out to be much better than I had expected to be honest, I knew it would be good but it was better than I thought. Still to be honest I was not really looking to see this that bad, until my girl got it and had me watch it with her. Of course it was along the lines of these new John Hughes style flicks but it was good. I don't think it turned out as classic as Hughes's films but it was a nice homage to the man's movies.

Olive [Emma Stone] is your typical teenager in high school just looking to fit in even though she is an obvious individual with a personality. Still she tries to fit in any way especially with her best friend who she ends up lying to about not only a date but loosing her virginity. Like most news that is passed around in high school it all starts in the bathroom, and the wrong person hears it. Almost immediately the rumors start and she now has a reputation, although not the best one she is now noticed.

Of course now she is getting all kinds of offers and she even kinda takes them, kinda. She takes payment for her services but she only agrees to say she does stuff with people to help their rep. Of course her legend only grows as does her problems and her feelings about everything. She must deal with what people think of her, some religious students, and of course her best friend who is turning on her. Oh and did I mention the guy she actually likes, makes for an interesting time.

Written by Bert V. Royal and directed by Will Gluck this film manages to rise above being just another average film. The direction is nice and the script is excellent as it plays on not only John Hughes films but also on the book "Scarlet Latter". Of course if you know that story that explains the A part of the title of the film more s than her just being at school, I am sure you know what I mean.

Emma stone is excellent here as she has been in everything I have seen her in thus far; this may be her best performance yet. Every one including Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow but it was real nice to see Amanda Bynes in this. I will admit right now I am a fan of hers mainly because I loved a show back in the day called "All That". She did a great job as the arch enemy of Emma here with the whole overly religious thing. Of course the film makers had her play that stereo typical over the top religious person but it was good.

This film ended up being pretty good but as it went it started to slip a little bit, but not enough to hurt it. Over all I would say it is worth a rental at least especially if you are into this type of film. A fun cast mixed with a great script made for a good film, well worth the time. Also Emma Stone impressed me with this film, I liked more in this then I did in "Zombieland" which was another film I liked.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-198264-BETTER_THAN_I_THOUGHT.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-198264-BETTER_THAN_I_THOUGHT.html Fri, 31 Dec 2010 08:28:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ Easy A]]> Olive (Emma Stone) is a smart, attractive, but not particularly popular high school student. There's nothing obviously wrong with her, but for some reason, boys never notice her. That is, until she accidentally starts a false rumor about herself that she's lost her virginity to a college student. At first she tries to set the record straight, but when she realizes how much more attention she's now getting, she opts to keep her mouth shut.

As she's basking in her newfound notoriety, Olive is approached by her gay friend Brandon with a proposition. He begs her to let him pretend that they've slept together in order to trick his tormentors into thinking he's straight, thus allowing him to graduate from high school in one piece. It's actually a rather poignant scene in an otherwise light-hearted movie, and especially timely what with Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" getting so much press as of late. But Brandon isn't sure he'll live long enough for it to "get better" so Olive agrees to use her faux-slut reputation to help him out.

Next thing you know, unpopular boys are practically lining up to have Olive elevate their social statuses by pretending to sleep with them. And they're paying her to do so.  As her unsavory reputation grows, Olive takes to wearing a letter "A" on her chest, like Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Letter", and dressing in increasingly slutty clothes -- I'm not sure why exactly. This makes her the target of a campus Christian group which alternates praying for her with protesting her, nasty signs and all.

For my money, Olive is about as likeable as teenage movie characters come, with a healthy vocabulary, a wry sense of humor, and an immunity to peer pressure. She and Juno would probably be friends, though I think Juno would beat her hands down in a snark-off.

The movie itself isn't quite so flawless. Though it starts out breezy and clever, it soon gets weighed down by a slew of over-the-top characters and meandering subplots. There's Olive's back-stabbing best friend, her jokester parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson), the mercurial Christian queen bee and her followers, the stereotypical blustering principal, the cool teacher (Thomas Haden Church), his not-so-cool guidance counselor wife (Lisa Kudrow), and, of course, the love interest, who just happens to also be the school's woodchuck mascot. Before it's over, the film has touched on Chlamydia, infidelity, and sexual assault and has pretty much stopped being fun. Thank goodness for the rousing pep rally.

"Easy A" is peppered with enough funny lines to keep it entertaining despite all of the Christian and Chlamydia nonsense. But even so, it's Stone's charming performance that really makes this movie worth seeing, even if you're the sort who normally takes a pass on teen comedies. I saw it at the quaint $4 theatre that still sells its tickets from a little booth outside, so perhaps my expectations were a bit lowered, but I think it would've been worth it even in the comfort of the soulless $11 multiplex.

Though I can't really justify giving it an "A", I think it deserves a "B". Easy.

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<![CDATA[ I preferred when it was called Heat]]> The Town is not a good movie. And not just because the trailer looked interesting but completely misled the audience. I'm glad they gave Victor Garber a job, even briefly, since he'd probably be behind on his rent otherwise (and we know from Pretty Woman what happens then).

In case you don't know, it's about a bank robber doing "one last job" as a romance develops with a woman - previously a hostage - who doesn't know his profession. And it happens in Boston.

There are a couple of fairly average action sequences tied together by characters dialogging at each other like they've got a goldfish memory mixed with verbal diarrhea. And that's pretty much it, except for the fact that everyone says "Fuck" in Boston a lot, and Don Draper from Mad Men is a better ad guy than FBI agent.

I would leave it at that, but there are massive plot holes and leaps of logic all over the places. Here are some of my favorites:
  1. The first heist is expertly planned. Then the subsequent robberies were thrown together haphazardly for no apparent reason other than to attract cops and create chase sequences. Really incredibly dumb beyond words.
  2. The FBI suspects Affleck & Co from the start, but doesn't bother surveilling their activities, except at one barbecue. Basically, had the FBI agents acted like the real FBI (or the fictional FBI in any other movie ever made), Affleck's crew would have been shut down after 10 minutes - and I could have hit the local bar.
  3. Rebecca Hall complains that her Prius had bottles thrown at it "in the projects". Affleck and sidekick go to a specific apartment in the projects and beat the ever-loving Bejesus out of someone without ever making the connection between the two. Firstly, how did he know the guy? And - more importantly - why would he even care or take the pointless, pointless risk in the midst of planning heists amidst FBI stings?
  4. The A-Team quality skill-level with machine guns is really laughable and looks really dated, but I just threw that in for giggles.
Not content with a sieve-like storyline, it's then delivered to us amidst some truly awful dialog, where characters feel compelled to provide exposition in every damned scene (in between saying "Fuck" a lot):
  1. Hall, upon meeting Affleck for under five minutes, is pretty much gagging to confess what we all just saw happen, and it sounds like: "Btw, I was just in a bank robbery which I have to tell you because I like you and here's some more information about the robbery which obviously there's no way you're involved in because that wouldn't make any sense." The good news is that she doesn't say fuck very much.
  2. Renner (remember the guy from The Hurt Locker?) reminds Afffleck that he spent 9 years in the slammer more times than my mom reminds me I once left my jacket on a bus. Talk about repetitive, and that's in between his incessant ranting about needing "take cayrh of the fuckin' toonie bank bitch". What a charmer too.
  3. Postlethwaite meanwhile delivers a slight variant on the "I killed your brother" speech common in screenplays with something to do about how Affleck's mother died like a whore - you know, the sort of thing you'd say to encourage someone to shoot you in the "reproductive area", which (SPOILER!) Ben does at the end.
Before I get to some other gripes, I'd like to pause and reflect on Affleck's double whammy in The Town, even though I'm probably a toonie/townie or whatever, and here it is: he directs his own dismal acting poorly, so they kind of cancel each other out. The direction is on par with the average episode of Dexter, which is fine for TV but really sub-par for the silver screen. As for the performance, Affleck's acting is so stale that they could have used a week-old baguette instead...

See? But that's a cheap shot, since many actors do a bad job directing themselves. I just liked the idea of Photoshopping that image, especially since the sign to the right said something about "fried dough".

What's more unforgivable than his lackluster line-reading is the way that Heat was ripped off so mercilessly - and Michael Mann isn't even dead yet! Heat was such a definitive genre movie that you screw with its awesomeness at your peril.

"SIMILARITIES" betwixt the Amateur-Land Movie Called "The Town" and The Masterpiece Called "Heat":
  1. Super-obsessed cop chasing down the hero, and specifically remarks multiple times on how awesome the hero's crew must be and how they need to be shut down.
  2. The crew doesn't plan their own jobs - an established character-actor-slash-third party provides all the info.
  3. Cops rely on tiny fragments of information from informants to make giant leaps of faith to bust everyone in the crew. Should be picking lottery numbers instead, since it's pretty weak in both films.
  4. Cops photograph everyone in the crew at a casual event, but it's ok since the hero knows about it - and tells the cop later! "We've been made, boys!"
  5. Cop and robber sit down and have a tete-a-tete about which one is going down first. Great when De Niro and Pacino do it.... not so great when Hamm and Affleck give it a shot.
  6. Hero meets a sweet-yet-damaged girl who makes him realize that his awesome lifestyle is really terrible and needs to get out. Naturally, she doesn't know what he's doing but finds out and then hates him and loves him anyway.
  7. The cops stake out the last job but only at exactly the point where the gang is leaving with the money. Imagine that.
  8. Crew walks down street with machine guns and big bags full of greenbacks - cop sees one member and kills him.
  9. Hero disguises himself as cop/security to bypass cops in pursuit. I presume in real life this wouldn't fly, by the way.
  10. Cops use girlfriends to ensnare robbers, but girlfriends use magic signals that haven't been previously foreshadowed to save their beloveds. A little cheaty.
  11. Hero must deal with final "set things right" killing before it's all over. Even for Affleck, shooting a man in the rhubarb is really a little low.
I'm sure I could find another dozen if I bothered to watch this again, but I have better things to do, like boiling my hair. It's remarkable how similar they are - The Town is just like Heat but without quality acting, dialog, direction and suspense, though otherwise it's the same film. Now, don't get me wrong: it's not that the The Town is all bad - it's just that we already saw the good parts in Heat and Ronin.

Bring on the fanboy feedback - BRING IT ON!]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-198081-I_preferred_when_it_was_called_Heat.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-198081-I_preferred_when_it_was_called_Heat.html Tue, 28 Dec 2010 23:44:10 +0000
<![CDATA[ Easy A]]> Like I said in my review of Zombieland, Emma Stone is one of the big rising stars on screen today, and Easy A was made as her leading star turn. It definitely worked, because she did great and therefore, the movie was great. She was backed by a great story and a great supporting cast (especially Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents). Movies like this, Juno, and Mean Girls have been described as the John Hughes movies of our generation, and for good reason, because they reach the same quality as the likes of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.

The story is somewhat of a modern adaptation of The Scarlett Letter without being a straight-up remake. It's about Olive (Emma Stone) who unintentionally triggers a rumour about herself and her virginity (or lack thereof). This quickly spreads around and her friend Brandon asks her to pretend to have sex with him to make people think he's straight. This does work, and she quickly starts up a business of sorts. She lets people say that she had sex with them and they give her gift cards to various places. This all quickly catches up with her and she has to make amends with it over the internet, which she is filming throughout the movie (it's told through suspended flashback). This film sends a great message to who they market to. Namely, gossip spreads and you shouldn't start it.

Easy A relies on the talents of it's great ensemble cast, as well as the stellar lead performance of Emma Stone as Olive. As good as she is, the real show-stealers are Amanda Bynes as Marianne and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive's parents. I love Stanley Tucci and he is great in this movie as he is in every movie I have ever seen him in. When I heard that Amanda Bynes retired from acting, I was slightly disappointed seeing as she's a great comedian, but I'm glad to see that she's back. Honestly, Marianne (Bynes) isn't given much to do besides be a gossiping Jesus freak and she owns that completely, making for a great antagonist.

The movie also relies on the strength of its incredibly witty script that is sure to make audiences laugh. The jokes are all incredibly well thought out and provide charming timely satire without being goofy or distracting. There are also no kiddie jokes, like pratfalls or scatological humour and the movie is way better for it. The relationship between Olive and her parents is also hilarious, and Olive telling her mother about her "situation" makes for a hilarious scene with some serious undertones. Despite this being a comedy, there are some serious moments, and the funny moments make the serious moments all the more powerful.

If you haven't seen this movie, it's definitely worth a watch. I haven't seen any of the films that are considered the best films of 2010, like Toy Story 3 and The Social Network, but I have seen this, and I think this is one of the best films of 2010. Definitely worth a rental, especially since it came out on DVD recently. Just a fantastic movie, aided by a fantastic cast and a witty script.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-197727-Easy_A.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Easy_A-635-1445497-197727-Easy_A.html Fri, 24 Dec 2010 00:10:44 +0000
<![CDATA[ 2 1/2 Stars: this is not the town for me]]> Ben Affleck has never had it easy in Hollywood  he has had one of the roughest  careers of any actor I know and yet even tough times have been rough for him he always finds some way to bounce back  into the  limelight  and restore his image. In 2006 Affleck revived his fledgling career  with a Golden Globe nominated turn in Allen Coulter’s directorial debut "Hollywoodland"(2006) which had Affleck playing a washed up actor  named George Reeves(the second and most infamous of all the actors who have ever played Superman). Who now has become a legend as one of California's most notorious mysteries (that is a story for another time). Affleck has always picked the wrong roles unlike his Oscar winning best friend who he and Damon both co-wrote the classic drama "Good Will Hunting" his career has never been as prestigious. Affleck has never given up no matter how many bad films he has made (and trust me there are many films that are just plain bad). However, just when things were looking grim for Affleck he bounced back in the best possible way he   went behind the camera and directed one of the best films of 2007, "Gone Baby Gone.” With "Gone Baby Gone " Affleck proved that  he  may not be the best actor of all time  but he certainly has what it takes to direct a motion picture, now four years later Affleck is back behind the camera to direct the dark horse sleeper hit of the year "The Town".

Ben Affleck's second directorial feature "The Town" is a stunning grand epic on an unimaginable scale, a film that shows that he[Affleck] has what it takes to make a film but not that he knows exactly how to choose his projects. "The Town" is an immensely well made and well executed film with high production values and well cast stars (including a surprising turn from Blake Lively). This heist thriller suffers from the lack of originality it does not introduce anything new or groundbreaking and sad to say this film, unlike Affleck's emotional directorial debut, has no emotional resonance to it. At some points, a messy film leaps from one point to another without stopping to think deeply about the cause or effect of what it is doing. Now don't get me wrong "The Town" is an excellent film a well-told thriller/drama that has amazing performances all around   but the fantastic performances from this fine cast are not enough to save this film from its dullness and clichéd story. The plot for this film is as standard as they come a career criminal(played  excellently by Ben Affleck ) is growing tired and weary of robbing banks with his team and his volatile best friend(Jeremy Renner in one of hid best performances) he wants out  his buddies don't. They want to keep on robbing until A.) The cops finally stop them or kill them or B.) They pull of there biggest heist yet and never have to rob another bank in there entire lives, now I know this sounds familiar. If you have seen "HEAT" than you know the story of "The Town,” you know how this film is going to end even before it starts and that, sadly to say, is one of the most disappointing parts of this film. It has unpredictability the greatest part about watching a film is not knowing how it is going to end, if you know already how a film is going to end then what is the point of watching it. "The Town" means well and it tries its hardest to be compelling drama/thriller but it lacks the propensity to go out and grab its audience by the throats and hold them there until the end. The only problem is is that it lacks that kind of appeal to it, it lacks the hard edged slick style of other heist films before it   however, what this  film lacks in originality it makes up with  taunt pacing(even if a little dull at some points) some scene of compelling drama and excellent performances. “The Town" is able to save itself from being a total lose and comes out one of the more impressive, if not all that enthralling, films of the years. 

I liked this, I liked this film allot just not as much as I was hoping. You see I was hoping that this film would be just like Ben Affleck's previous directorial effort   “Gone Baby Gone" a taunt, tense, smartly written piece of emotionally driven filmmaking that transcends its story, its plot, and its characters. This second film from gifted director Ben Affleck lacks the emotional resonance of his previous film is more focused on the action than on the characters, which causes this film to leave the audience high and dry emotionally. Although this film does make up for that with gritty action, high adrenaline situation such as the "Heat" inspired end heist  including a romance between Ben Affleck's character and Rebecca Hall's. This is an excellent movie the only thing that keeps it from being great is  its self reliance on  old plot devices, stock characters and a formulaic plot  hampers what could have been one of the best films of the year. This film settles to easily for average when it could have aimed a little higher and become great, "The Town" is good but not good enough.

Ben Affleck is not one of my favorite actors in fact I do not really like him all that much. You see Affleck has never been much of an actor he tries to take roles that he thinks fit his persona but all he does is come out making trash films that have no substance what so ever such as "Gigili", "Reindeer Games" and  many more. He is not as reliable as a leading man is, as a director he has proven that his real gift lies behind the camera as the man who work behind the scenes to make the movie happen. Affleck has proved this with "Gone Baby Gone" and now with his new Boston set crime drama/thriller "The Town.” Affleck's performance is typical Affleck slightly dull and bland the only difference in his performance is the fact that he is actually trying   but Affleck is still Affleck and is still a relatively untalented actor in ”The Town" he turns in a relatively quietly strong  performance  as Doug McCray. Affleck's character Doug McCray comes off as a rather intelligent quiet man, the kind of person you would not peg for being a career criminal let alone a Bank robber of the sorts. Affleck wisely down plays McCray he tries not to make him seem like a sympathetic criminal or a sympathetic anti-hero no, Affleck plays McCray like a man who has very little options in life and has taken up a career that is less illustrious. What I found most impressive about Affleck's performance is the fact that he is able to play Doug as such a low-key kind of person. Yet able to make him such an interesting presence on the screen Affleck turns in one of his best and most prominent performances in one of the less impressive films of the year the rest of the cast including Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, and Rebecca Hall. Blake Lively, Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite all turn in fine supporting performances in this gritty crime drama.

"The Town" is admirable, beautifully shot and excellently well-executed film that is definitely one of the darker films to come out this year but it is one of the more lackluster films to come out this year as well. This film lacks all the essential needs that are required in a picture of this caliber  originality, enjoyment and emotion I was not emotional invested in these characters I did not care what happened to them because truthfully I never really got to know them ergo I never cared what happened to them. The most surprising thing this film lacked a sense of enjoyment in what it was doing  the actors did not seem to enjoy themselves very much they did not seem to take much joy or pride in what they were doing. They just went through the numbers as usual that, to me, took me out of the story of this film. It left me high and dry when I should have been drowning in this film’s deep and vivid story sadly it does not. "The Town" is an excellently well-crafted film with smartly written dialogue and fine performances all around however, the lack of an original story or truly compelling drama and action leaves this heist thriller in the dust.

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-197683-2_1_2_Stars_this_is_not_the_town_for_me.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-197683-2_1_2_Stars_this_is_not_the_town_for_me.html Wed, 22 Dec 2010 23:02:53 +0000
<![CDATA[ Stylized, Ambitious, Powerful]]>

Going into Inception was kind of a gamble for me as my friends and colleagues apparently know me better than I thought.  I’ve been hearing this is the “one to check out” since the day it arrived in theaters this past summer and while my friends have once again proven spot-on with their understanding of the kind of fiction I enjoy, it is always worrisome when so much hype comes my way.  I have to make a very conscious effort not to get swept up in it, as that is the sure-fire way to become disappointed with any project (however ambitious).

That said I was able to suppress my tendency to become the ultimate Inception fan boy until its home-disc release then quickly snatched up the Blu-ray with reservations on picking up a Leo DeCaprio T-shirt and matching coffee mug.  To cut the chase, I enjoyed this film quite a bit but perhaps not quite to the levels my buddies assumed I would and the reason for this stems from the fact that some of its finest conceptual moments have been done before in various mediums.  However, we’ll get to all that.  For now, let us get to the nuts and bolts of the picture.

Inception tells the tale of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DeCaprio), an Extractor (a man who enters people’s dreams to gather information).  With a team of dream-experts consisting of Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Ariadne (Ellen Page), Eames (Tom Hardy), and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), Cobb is hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe) to implant an idea (a unproven process called Inception) into the brain of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy).

If this sounds a bit muddled to you, then perhaps steering very clear of this picture will be your best bet.  For all of its intricate explanations, Inception is a venerable swirl of intense sequences that demands multiple viewings if any coherency is to be established.

I liken the initial viewing experience to the first time I went though the original Matrix (another Warner Brothers piece with similar themes): The line between reality and the construct is quite hazy and the laws separating them aren’t quite clearly understood despite plenty of exposition attempting to force-feed them to you.

I suppose in the interest of the average viewer’s sanity, Christopher Nolan was forced to integrate a technique that I personally am not too fond of here in that when the situation demands it, suddenly the rules established earlier on are said not to apply “in this situation”, hence upping the level of danger to the characters involved.  Again though, given the complexity of the material here, it is far more forgivable than if used in a more-linear piece.

And speaking of linearity, I will continue to summarize the plot without giving away any real spoilers.  Cobb could well be the ultimate mind thief except for one minor annoyance: The appearance of Mal (Marion Cotillard) who tends to turn up in Cobb’s dreams and jobs, botching them out of spite.  Additionally we learn that Cobb is a proud daddy in the real world and that motivation to be reunited with his kids is the catalyst for his agreeing to such a risky assignment.

In fact, so delicate is the act of incepting a persuasive motivation that it demands Cobb and company to enter into a dream within a dream within a dream! Each depth of the subconscious mind said to be far riskier, more unstable, and (what I found to be coolest of all) operating in its own relative speed.

The film is pretty stunning, visually, right from the onset with undeniable attention paid in the merging of gritty, moody dialog sequences with larger-than-life mind-bending effects.  Direction is spectacular here as well with camera moves and angles that dazzle continually.  Hans Zimmer’s score is spot-on as well.  Truly from a technical standpoint, the piece is a stunner.

The 2.5-hour runtime happens quickly and efficiently thanks to roller coaster pacing and a bit of disconnected editing work.

In all, if having gotten this far in my review and aren’t sure exactly how I feel about the piece, that’s a pretty accurate observation.  Parts of this one are brilliant but unlike 1998’s The Matrix or the 2005 novel Human Interface (both of which present some very similar mind-bending concepts), portions of Inception (especially the twist at the end) leave a flavor of forced existentialism.  There is potential for greatness here in every single moment of the picture but appreciation for it all takes time to settle in much in the same way one doesn’t guzzle a bottle of fine wine.

I suppose in conclusion the goal of science fiction cinema is to entertain and there is little doubt that Inception delivers in this regard.  It is certainly thought provoking, unique and technically impeccable.  I will conclude this review with a quote from the film that best describes the experience as a whole:  Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize how things are actually strange.”

http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-195913-Stylized_Ambitious_Powerful.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-Inception-635-1436938-195913-Stylized_Ambitious_Powerful.html Thu, 9 Dec 2010 06:13:11 +0000
<![CDATA[ 4.5/5 Get Lost in The Town]]>
Affleck also stars in the film.  He plays Doug MacRay.  A guy who works with a bunch of criminals to rob banks in Charlestown, Boston.  Charlestown is known primarily as "The Town."  One member of his team, James (played extremely well by Jeremy Renner) is disturbingly hostile.  During one bank robbery James takes one of the bankers hostage.  Her name is Claire (Rebecca Hall) and the event traumatizes her.  Doug and his gang decide that someone should watch her in case she goes to the cops or something.  Or finds them out.  Doug watches her, and eventually begins to associate with her and fall in love.  Helping her slowly forget the pain and trauma of being a hostage.  Just the same, she helps Doug to realize that he doesn't want to lead this life of crime forever. 

Meanwhile a cop (Jon Hamm) is on the trail, piecing it all together and getting ready to bust Doug, James and everyone they work with.  As soon as they can prove it.  It all boils down to how badly Doug wants to escape his crime life.  But that means leaving The Town forever.  With or without those he's closest to.

What makes The Town noteworthy is just how well captured some of its more emotional moments are.  It's "R" rating mostly comes from coarse language rather than coarse violence (but make no mistake the film is violent too, particularly the climax).  But the heart comes mostly from the characters.  We grow to like Doug.  Even pity him.  To the point where we are worried what will happen should Claire discover just who he really is.  In spite of his crimes you actually do want to root for Doug.  We also learn just how close he is to James.  So much so he considers James a brother.  And as we learn more about James we discover he's probably the one holding Doug back while Claire offers him a chance to move on... a chance for redemption.  It's an amusing dilemma, one that might get your attention.

Some of it is a little heavy-handed.  There are moments we learn a bit much about the characters in scenes designed for specifically that purpose.  Going into Doug's past is amusing, but do we really have to dig so deeply into Claire's?  I understand she's a major character but it isn't necessary to learn her life story.  Likewise, or someone who is supposed to be so close to Doug, we don't learn quite as much about James as you'd think.  His backstory is a little more scattered.  The good news is that Jeremy Renner plays him so well that at the very least you don't notice you haven't learned much about him aside from one large portion of backstory that's important. 

The movie isn't too long, it just has moments that can be a little stretched.  The good news is even the superfluous conversations can be very interesting because the dialog is great!  There are hardly any laughs but a lot of the dialog is quick, snappy, to the point and filled with character.  You probably won't mind some of those long drawn out conversations because they're done so well.  And there are moments when Affleck is meticulous to make sure the Audience sees exactly what he wants them to see.  He pays particular attention to James's tattoo and also shows us how the police discover just who Affleck and the gang is.

The are some action sequences but the movie is a drama through and through.  The climax is amazingly emotional and there is a really awesome care chase thrown in there, but if you're looking for action you're not really going to get it from The Town. 

It is, for the most part, a really good film.  Ben Affleck is showing that he can direct and produce a good movie.  He even shows that he can act in spite of making some poor career choices in the past.  The Town is worth seeing, even if little bits and pieces of it are a little stretched.  If character driven drama is what you want then The Town does deliver.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-194979-4_5_5_Get_Lost_in_The_Town.html http://www.lunch.com/julianleftreviews/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Town-635-1445384-194979-4_5_5_Get_Lost_in_The_Town.html Fri, 3 Dec 2010 04:44:13 +0000
<![CDATA[ Directing wise, Ben Affleck is THAT new kid on the block!]]>

After delivering us the beautiful movie Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck return to the big screen as both actor and director with his latest action-packed drama "The Town". This movie is the another proof of Affleck's intuition and knowledge of what a movie should deliver. He implements an interesting story that revolves around good developed characters by combining thrilling action scenes with dramatic personal issues. The depths of brotherhood and personal ego are explored along with the inner desire for changing which rises in each person in their lifetime.

During his travel to reach personal liberty, redemption and happiness, Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), an experienced thief tries to balance his way out of the business by trying to reason with his violent partner, James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), manage his personal feelings for Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and leave his old and rusty life behind. The problem is he has to do all these things while Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), an FBI agent is on his tail. The characters are very well written, the action scenes and the different situations that these thiefs are getting in are pretty realistic. The movie sets a dark tone from the beginning by bringing to the screen the differences between these two partners: James the impulsive one and Doug the reasonable. This conflict seems to take a different turn when Doug falls for a "witness" of one of their bank thefts, Claire Keesey. Despite the fights and disagreements, both find a way to remember that they're brothers till the end no matter what happens. Therefore, the subject of "brotherhood" has a really realistic approach. That's what impressed me about this movie: the realism. But that alone does not make a movie to be that good as this movie is being praised. What makes that is the perfect intersection of action and emotion. The only movie from this genre that succeeded so well to hit the audience on both the emotional level and pure action entertainment was "Heat", and that my friends was long time ago.

All the parts from this movie were chosen perfectly. Stand-outs being Jeremy Renner as James Coughlin, the violent and impulsive thief and Blake Lively as James's sister Krista, which was an actual alcoholic "prostitute" who had in the past a close relationship with Doug (Ben Affleck). These two portrayals of their characters got my attention and I'm not being naive if I say that they might have a shot at being nominated at the Academy Awards. Also, Ben Affleck did a great job but his directorial capabilities succeeds his acting skills by far. The cinematography was good, the sound was good, the effects were very realistic but what impressed me was the choice for the score, the background music which was pretty intense. Point is, this movie is easily one of the best action movies in the last couple of years and definitely one of the best in 2010. It has interesting storyline, good narrative drawing of the characters, a very good technical execution and it's both entertaining and touching at the same time.

Storyline/Dialogue: 8,5/10.
Acting: 9/10.
Art Direction: 7,5/10.
Cinematography/Editing: 8/10.
Score/Soundtrack: 8/10.
Overall: 8,4]]>
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