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Andrew Garfield Stars in I’m Here, Movie Trailer & Short Film by Spike Jonze

Andrew Garfield Stars in I’m Here, Movie Trailer & Short Film by Spike Jonze

The videos below are director Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are) short film and movie trailer, I’m Here (not to be confused with Jo Phoenix’s I’m Still Here). The film is broken up into three 10-minute parts, and stars the new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) and Sienna Guillory (Resident Evil: Afterlife). The movie is a love story between robots apparently, and I’ll be watching it shortly so that we can share in the experience together.

We previously posted the Spike Jonze short film Fairytale, starring hip-hop star Kanye West. Kanye of course recently shot and starred in his own short film, Runaway, so in a weird way it’s all coming full circle.

Famed movie critic, I guess the most famous movie critic alive, Roger Ebert, posted this material on his online journal. Thanks to R.O.S. for the heads up. Give it a watch and let me know what you think.

I’m Here Movie Trailer

I’m Here Short Film – Part One

I’m Here Short Film – Part Two

I’m Here Short Film – Part Three

Holla at ‘cha boy and we can discuss. Later.

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Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg, David Fincher in The Social Network BTS Videos

Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg, David Fincher in The Social Network BTS Videos

Here are two videos from David Fincher’s The Social Network known as B-Rolls, essentially behind the scenes, alternate camera looks at the filming process which feature Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg and other cast members during the shooting of the movie. These are the types of clips you might see end up on the extras of the DVD or Blu-ray disc release for the film.

The two videos are roughly 5-minutes each and feature footage that was used in the film, albeit often from different camera angles than you saw in the movie. You’ll see Fincher directing, the actors interacting with one another and other general insight into the filming process. Thanks to /film for the info. Enjoy the clips.

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Latest Movie Rentals / Movies Seen From My Netflix Queue

Latest Movie Rentals / Movies Seen From My Netflix Queue

Here is the latest in a series of posts I have been doing on movie rentals or video rentals from my Netflix queue.  You can read the first in the series right here, and the follow up post here.  These write-ups cover the most recent movies I have seen from the DVD rental service, in order of which I saw them.  They cover a spectrum of films, both in my instant watch activity as well as straight random and new movie rentals to my home.  You will indeed find spoilers in these write ups, so be forewarned.  These are mini-reviews of sorts, that include the star rating I submitted to Netflix, based on their somewhat flawed, IMO, 5-star rating system.  Enjoy.

Youth In Revolt (2010)

This Michael Cera led film had an intriguing trailer, though I have not traditionally been a fan of his, I took the plunge.  I can’t say that I was particularly rewarded for doing so, but the movie where Cera’s Nick creates an alternative law-breaking, risk-taking persona, Francois, in order to impress a girl had its moments.  The small town Nick is a desperate loner so Francois easily becomes the real star.  He eggs on Nick to do malicious things, which eventually catch up to him, all in the name of love.  Miguel Arteta’s direction hinted at Wes Anderson’s style with a welcome whimsical, is it real or not, presentation of situations on screen.  This was mildly entertaining, but nothing worth writing home about, so instead I write for you.  3 out of 5 stars.

Clash of the Titans (2010)

 

Medusa in Clash of the Titans.

Medusa was having a bad hair day for several years now.

 

Its been years since I saw the Harry Hamlin original as a youngster, but cheesily fond memories made me show interest in this remake.  Sam Worthington stars as an otherwise forgettable hero, who is caught in a war with the Gods in order to save civilization (or something along those lines).  The storyline was irrelevant, as the special effects were the show.  Impressive as they were, this obviously lacked depth and was predictable.  Louis Letterier handled the direction capably for the most part, which was a a bit of a surprise considering the bashing I have seen him take.  Liam Neeson’s “release the Kraken” was the most memorable line (although it seemed better in the trailer).  I was able to accept this as mindless entertainment at home, but it wasn’t worthy of my hard-earned dollar in the theater.  Perhaps its sequel, which is to be shot in 3D from start to finish (unlike this versions add-on in post), might improve on this film.  Who knows? 3 out of 5 stars.

What Doesn’t Kill You (2009)

Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke star as friends who grew up together in a life of crime.  When they get busted, one of them wants to go straight and the other, not so much.  Based on a true story and directed by Brian Goodman, who has a role in the film as well.  Ruffalo plays Brian. A little unevenly paced and shot, but still a reasonably touching film with decent performances from the leads as well as Amanda Peet as Brian’s wife.  The film is about the power of overcoming self-created obstacles and making “the right” decisions.  The film is a little above average and the tale is something that most all can relate to. 3 out of 5 stars.

Chloe (2009)

This thriller starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in a troubled marriage was a bit out there. Cue young, temptress Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to stir the pot. I thought Seyfried did a good job; I’d never seen the rising star act before. Additionally, I’d eard of Atom Egoyan, but never seen a film he’d directed.  This one was very much a Fatal Attraction wannabe. The film had a strange tone, one in which once you got the gist of what was happening, you could see the outcome from a mile away.  If you like sex, Seyfried, and/or twisted thrillers, this might be up your alley. I wanted to like this more than I did. Egoyan’s direction was very reserved and a little unsettling at times, to ratchet up the drama, but there wasn’t enough originality or “meat on the bones” so to speak, for me to recommend this. 2 out of 5 stars.

9 (2009)

Those that know me know that my Netflix queue is getting stretched when I end up reaching for an animated film.  Still, I had some interest in this off-beat animated film about some weird dudes in a post-apocalyptic world. Though I had seen the original, award-winning short film, there wasn’t much additional to see here overall.  I just can’t seem to get emotionally invested in animated creatures and this standard tale of fighting for their lives and fighting to be alive was no different. Decent animation I suppose, but nothing I would go back to again. Watch it “high” and you might enjoy it more. 2 out of 5 stars

Body Of Lies (2008)

 

Russell Crowe and Leo DiCaprio

Crowe scoffed at lending his razor to Leo for this scene.

Russell Crowe is a dweeby, political CIA man stationed in the US, with Leonardo DiCaprio his rogue CIA agent stationed internationally doing all the dirty work.  You know, putting his life on the line, getting involved emotionally with the locals, etc., while Crowe chats him up in deep-seeded discussions as he tends to his domestic family life as if nothing serious is going on. An interesting juxtaposition between the two characters, but the film never really takes off. Leo does his best to captivate and Crowe makes his straight man as smarmy as can be, but I can understand why it wasn’t much of a crowd-pleaser. It was just sort of flat and uninventive overall.  Ridley Scott is failing to move me as a director much anymore. I wonder if he has lost his touch (and I think he might have).  He needs to call up Boogie Nights-era Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly to get that touch back. This was an average affair, I’d give it 2.5 if I could. It ended rather blandly and was quite talky for a supposed action director. 3 out of 5 stars

Facing Ali (2009)

Documentary, as the title states, of boxers recounting their stories of when they fought Muhammad Ali. Ten men, including Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers, and George Foreman chime in on the champ.  Boxing fans will love it, as it is a bit of history wrapped into a strong package. I am a fight fan and learned a lot about the history of some of these fights, the stories of the challengers and their feelings for what Ali meant to them and their careers.  Good info, surprisingly touching, without a hint of bitterness from any of the fighters.  Not tons of actual fight footage, similar to Tyson in that regard, but just the boxers describing Ali in their own words.  A portrayal of the brutality of the sport (very different though from the likes of After The Last Round) as evidenced by where some of these men are now, but also the gratitude that the sport owes and shows Ali. A worthy companion piece to any number of Ali-related films that are out there in the pantheon such as Michael Mann’s Ali, the also very good When We Were Kings and Thrilla In Manila. 4 out of 5 stars.

Me and Orson Welles (2008)

A somewhat entertaining period piece about Orson Welles (a strong Christian McKay) directing a play that stars Zac Efron. This moved about fine, was paced okay, mixed in a coming of age tale for Efron’s Richard, and essentially broke no new ground.  Richard Linklater directs in a straight-forward manner and Claire Danes co-stars to add a little “star-power” to this tale.  No laughing, no crying, no real emotion. I thought it might be a little better than it was, but my watching this shows that my queue is nearing the end of the line, as there were several other films I would have seen but they were all rented out.  2 out of 5 stars.

Robin Hood (2010)

Have you seen Gladiator? Have you seen Braveheart? What about Kingdom of Heaven? Rob Roy? If you have seen any of these, then you have essentially seen Robin Hood, Ridley Scott’s latest period action epic. There is very little action to be had in this Russell Crowe/Cate Blanchett vehicle though. It is really just a tale where we follow around the main character as he acts out his destiny, falls in love, and fights for his new freinds/family/town. I would have rated it higher if I cared at all, or at least if I could understand the characters through their usual 12th century Hollywood talk. I think it would have been better off if if stuck with its original movie title of Nottingham. It was all so…bland. It’s no wonder it didn’t do well in theaters; its long and it offers nothing new. 2 out of 5 stars.

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Clint Eastwood Directed Hereafter Movie Review

Clint Eastwood Directed Hereafter Movie Review

When you look over to your right and seeing someone snoring during the screening of a film, it’s never a good sign. When you are exiting the theater and someone behind you states: “this makes two of Matt Damon’s movies that are among the worst I’ve ever seen,” things can’t be much bleaker. Such is the case with the new Clint Eastwood directed, Matt Damon starring snoozefest, Hereafter.  It’s a movie I had designs on walking out of, and believe me, I never walk out of films.

Hereafter is about retired psychic George Lonegan (Damon), who has trouble dealing with his visions and thus causes difficulties in his interactions with others. His pesky brother Billy continuously is on him about cashing in on his gift, whereas George sees it as a curse.

Overseas, two storylines will intersect with George’s in a bizarre way. One involves a French political reporter named Marie, who had a near death experience during a horribly acted CGI storm, while the other is about a young boy Marcus, who loses his brother in a tragic accident.

The three subplots play out separately. In George’s life, he deals with Billy’s advances and an apparent hope for love in the states. In Marie’s, she has curiosities surrounding her experience, which leads to professional trouble. For poor Marcus, he misses his brother, which is compounded by the fact that his mom is a dope fiend.  Stop me when it gets exciting.

You didn’t stop me? No surprise. The movie plods along at an atrocious snail’s pace and when you are hoping for a major reveal, none happen. Eventually, George comes into the lives of the others, but if you were hoping for some sort of catharsis for any of the characters, be prepared to be let down – severely.  Everything is so stiff and contrived, its ugly.

This is (at least) the third straight movie from Eastwood which has failed to deliver. His previous Damon led film, 2009’s Invictus, didn’t materialize into much and 2008’s Gran Torino suffered from some of the same issues here, with its wooden acting and unmoving storylines.  The clock is officially ticking for the icon, who made incredibly strong films within the last decade in 2003’s Mystic River and 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. Highly disappointing.

As for Hereafter, there isn’t much positive to report, the director at times shows touch, but the source material written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) is so poor, it leaves little option for the tree to bear any fruit.  It’s the type of film you hope would never get made, or at least one that with lesser names involved, would go direct to video. Not only can I not recommend this for the big screen, I don’t recommend it for a Netflix rental. Just stay away and discover the hereafter on your own when the time comes.

Posted in Empty Nest, Featured, Reviews2 Comments

The Social Network Movie Review

The Social Network Movie Review

How we communicate is constantly in flux. It used to be primarily via face-to-face interaction. Nowadays, it is largely via computer. In David Fincher’s riveting new movie The Social Network, based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, communication is exploited and exposed in many forms. One of those uses is the heavy, atmospheric score by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which signals the dark mood that Fincher employs for the story of how the communication mega-site facebook was founded and the power struggle behind the scenes of who came up with the original idea for the 500 million member social phenomenon.

Computer nerd Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, Zombieland) and businessman Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield, Never Let Me Go) are Harvard students and best friends.  When the concept of social media is introduced to him, Mark creates a program that crashes the Harvard computer system, and the power of how quickly information sharing can spread becomes amplified. Eduardo provides the financial means for Mark to realize his idea and turn it into an opportunity to meet chicks – and much more.

Humbly-beginning, facebook became the entity it is through college students sharing information.  From the dorms of Harvard to law offices in California, from exclusivity to being inclusive of all, facebook’s wide reach touched millions and became worth billions. The non-shocking irony is that the website that connects people worldwide was developed by Zuckerberg, someone who had next to zero connections himself.  He clearly wanted a more social life, and with facebook, succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Fincher’s film details how the site came to be and how it ripped apart the relationships of those involved in its formation.

The Social Network cast isn't staring at internet porn.

Strong performances abound, particularly among the potentially award-worthy leads Garfield and Eisenberg, but also extending to supporting players like Justin Timberlake’s swindler Sean Parker and Armie Hammer’s Winklevoss brothers (yes, he convincingly plays both twins with a bit of Fincher movie magic). Be prepared for Hammer to become a more well-known actor; ditto for Garfield (okay, that was a layup since he is the new Spider-Man).  Even Rooney Mara who plays Mark’s girlfriend Erica is set to blow up soon with the lead role in Fincher’s next film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Fincher continues to further his oeuvre, transforming himself from a more creative, avant-garde and visual filmmaker into a mainstream, award-worthy, polished storyteller in recent films. Fincher takes what might not be typically exciting subject matter and makes it compelling, telling the story in a series of intercuts between past and present, keeping us engaged throughout.

Aaron Sorkin’s script, which is already being largely buzzed about for an Oscar run and seems the odds on favorite for the award at this juncture, is also noteworthy.  His dialogue crackles, convincingly translating Mezrich’s work into a sharp screenplay for Fincher’s cast and crew to bring to life.  Despite the occasional one-dimensional character and an unnecessary scene here or there, The Social Network is a film worthy of making into a social event. Where there is a money trail, there is often tragedy, and this story is no different. Go see the film, even if you are like me and not on facebook.  Deep down inside, just like Mark, it only wants you to “like” it.

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Ryan Reynolds Stars in Buried – A Full Movie Review

Ryan Reynolds Stars in Buried – A Full Movie Review

If I have anything that resembles a known phobia, it is claustrophobia, so the prospect of watching someone trapped in a box for an hour and a half had me a bit uncomfortable.  But that’s exactly the predicament that Ryan Reynolds, star in the new film Buried, finds himself in. From frame number one, director Rodrigo Cortes, making his English language debut, throws us into the darkness and despair that would normally accompany someone who is trapped in a coffin and buried alive.

The premise itself is enough to make many shudder.  Reynolds’ Paul Conroy is a truck driver for CRT, a transport company delivering supplies in Iraq.  He awakens in a coffin, not knowing how he got there.  Conroy is not a soldier, but may be a political pawn in a sick and twisted game.  Immediately, of course, survival is of paramount concern.

The main question for Conroy is why was he kidnapped? Who buried the man in a pine box under dirt and sand and for what purpose?  Money appears to be a motivating factor, but the reality may be much different.  The balance of the film finds Conroy struggling to find answers as he uses his captors gifted foreign cell phone, a lighter, flask of alcohol, and a few other gadgets as his sole tools for survival, MacGuyver-style.

Conroy goes through various stages of despair, almost comfort, sadness, and uses his will to survive as motivation.  His emotions run the gamut but there are too many plot holes for you to really care too much.  So many questions that the film and its protagonist ask are left unanswered.  Its fine if you are one who likes to try to piece together a plot through what you have seen, but ultimately no reasonably accurate conclusions can be drawn based on the information we (and Conroy) have been given.  This is one of the drawbacks that make this excursion more befitting of a short film, than a long form 100-minute big screen spectacle.

Buried is an opportunity for Reynolds to shine as he holds the camera for the vast duration of the movie.  This movie is more of an exercise than a heavy plot driven film.  Despite its technical merits and strong acting, there isn’t enough to really grasp onto beyond what you get to experience on screen. Yes, it is more of an “experience” than some films, as you are trapped in darkness along with Conroy, but the end result means its something you likely won’t want to sit through more than once.

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Debating Oscar Chances Of Ben Affleck’s The Town

Debating Oscar Chances Of Ben Affleck’s The Town

After seeing Ben Affleck’s strong crime-thriller The Town this week, I immediately had the thought that this is a film that could be included in the Best Picture race for the 2011 Academy Awards.  I wanted to hold off on this post until next week, but since I wasn’t the only one who thought this (clearly), I decided to jump in now.  This apparently is a topic that has sprung up at other sites and seems to be making for some decent water cooler talk for late September which all adds up to decent hype for the current box office leader.

The Hollywood Reporter is talking about it. The LATimes is too, but apparently doesn’t think much of the film’s chances with writer Patrick Goldstein saying “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Gitesh Pandya, noted movie box office predictor at Box Office Guru recently hits on one of my points of the films hopes when he tweeted: “Ben Affleck’s road from A-lister to washed up joke to hot director will help TheTown w/ Oscars. Voters love a comeback.” Let’s look at a few things.

We have to bare in mind that Ben Affleck is a former Oscar winner himself, as a co-writer for the brilliant Good Will Hunting, which essentially launched the careers of he and his buddy Matt Damon (The Informant!).  While Damon has gone on to full-fledged movie star, and continues to be recognized for his work, Ben got married to Jennifer Garner and has been relatively out of the spotlight for a while.  This indeed would be a comeback of sorts for Ben (it already is), as his time to re-enter the spotlight couldn’t be better.

the town renner

Jeremy Renner adds some Oscar weight to Ben Affleck's The Town.

I also think that with the Oscars expanding to 10 films last year for Best Picture, helps the chances of this film drastically.  Keep in mind that the Oscars expanded this category specifically to get better television ratings, with the thought process by and large to be that this would include bigger, more popular films.  Affleck’s The Town might just suit this stereotype, and you know Christopher Nolan’s sterling Inception does.  Good TV, even if it doesn’t have a chance to win the big award, is always a potential coup for the film.  Ubiquitous screen shots of Ben, interviews leading up to the show, etc. all play a bigger role in the whole Oscars extravaganza than we’d probably like to admit.

Voters will indeed love a potential comeback, which I think could put The Town in the Best Picture race, and as a long shot outsider for Best Director.  Martin Scorcese won a directing award for his The Departed, which is a film that The Town draws some comparisons to (though I think the film is far closer to Michael Mann’s HeatGone Baby Gone, Ben’s first directorial effort, featured the likes of Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and garnered a Supporting Actress nod for then relative unknown Amy Ryan.  That movie helped make Affleck one to watch behind the camera.  Also, keep in mind that Jeremy Renner, who was largely praised for his role in last year’s Best Pic winner Hurt Locker which landed him a nomination, co-stars here and may have an extreme outside shot at a Supporting nomination. Yes, it’s doubtful but his menace is not entirely unlike Denzel Washington’s in Training Day to some extent (which won him an Oscar).

What does this all add up to? Not much but speculation ultimately, but time will tell and things will all be revealed in a few short months.  Other possible already released contenders in the film category in my mind are Inception, Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, and Scorcese’s Shutter Island. I am not necessarily saying that there is a strong chance that any of this happens, although I think Shutter Island is the type of film that could do battle with The Town for a possible nomination.  Remember that last year, the middling (at best) The Blind Side made it into the Best Picture category and star Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for Best Actress.   All I am saying here is, at this point, its hard to dismiss The Town of at least having a puncher’s chance in a few categories and as of today, I would almost be surprised if it got shut out entirely.

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Ben Affleck’s The Town Movie Review

Ben Affleck’s The Town Movie Review

The ads that promote the new film The Town as “Heat meets The Departed” aren’t far off at all, and that’s very high praise. Ben Affleck shows that he is undoubtedly a director worth watching here. The action is invigorating, the drama compelling, and the performances authentic.   His Gone Baby Gone was one thing, but the complex heist film The Town, a nickname for Charlestown, Massachusetts, enters into a new class of its own and may be a film worth checking for come awards season.

The Town follows Affleck’s Doug MacRay, a leader of a quartet of criminals; local “townies” where robbing runs in the family (literally). They figure, why stop at armored cars when you can knock off banks?  Thus, we’re thrown into a heist in progress where bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall from Vicky Cristina Barcelona) is held hostage during the crew’s escape.  Things become confusing as her hostage turned love interest turned the only person who can connect the gang to the crime is an unwilling pawn in the future safety of the clique.

The Town movie photo

Ben and Jeremy in disguise in Affleck's The Town.

While Doug may be falling in love, Jeremy Renner’s unplugged Jim carries menacing baggage with him into every scene. His 9-year stretch of hard time has hardened him, making him yearn for action and naturally question the motives of Doug. Things get deeper with the involvement of the FBI tracking the crew who continue to plot further thievery.  Claire becomes a pricey bit of evidence that will have allegiances tested and the heart fighting the mind.

This is a tale we have seen before, in both the aforementioned films, and many others (like Mann’s Public Enemies).  But what separates The Town is the grimy reality in the Boston locations and the three-dimensional relationships among the characters.  There are times when perhaps the movie is too ambitious but despite a script quirk or two we stay riveted to our seats just the same. The ambitious climactic boost job is one you won’t want to miss.

Blake Lively in The Town

Blake Lively sex-pot stirs the plot in The Town.

Strong supporting performances can be found throughout, such as the revelation that is Blake Lively and the solid Jon Hamm.  I know they are TV stars, but I am not a boob-tube watcher and have never seen either of them act before, which I guess puts me behind the curve here.  Additionally, Renner (Hurt Locker) again proves he is an actor on the rise and small roles from Pete Postlewaite and Chris Cooper also resonate.

By now, Ben Affleck should truly be a hero in his hometown of Boston. He has shed light on the working class and brought his love for the area to the big screen in grand fashion again.  The only thing left to ponder at this juncture, is whether The Town belongs in the Oscar race for 2010.  That discussion is sure to be right around the corner or at the least, lurking somewhere in your town.

Posted in 3 Nests, Featured, Reviews8 Comments

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