Tag Archives: Jesse Eisenberg

The Year End Review: Movies

Let me start off by saying that, if you don’t read this, I won’t hold it against you. I know this list is almost too small to even justifying being written, but I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and as the musical says, “Traaadiiitiooooon!!” I’ll say that I really enjoyed all three of these films and thought they were a cut above the standard A-Team crap we have thrown at us all year long. But still, this list feels a little like it looks the way it does more because of the movies I didn’t see this year rather than the ones I did see. Anyway, keep reading, if you dare!

Inception. It’s nice to see Hollywood taking a chance on an expensive sci-fi flick that actually makes you think, although they probably wouldn’t be if someone like Christopher Nolan weren’t in charge of the whole thing. This one also scores points because it managed to keep Leonardo DiCaprio out of a falling tank, shooting planes out of the sky. It was also one of Ellen Page’s first films that didn’t make me want to hit her. But seriously, folks, although the first half was a little exposition heavy, it was a great story that did a better job of incorporating its action scenes into it than most films. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Tom Hardy.

The Social Network. Everything Aaron Sorkin writes takes place in a sort of heightened reality where people have mountains of raw data and statistics at their fingertips, and almost everything they say is quotable. And if his cocaine habit is the price we have to pay for that, then I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice. I think we all understand that his version of Facebook’s creation was embellished just a little bit, but who cares? We expect that sort of thing, right? Major props to Jesse Eisenberg for snapping out of his Michael Cera funk, and Andrew Garfield, who just might make a proper Spiderman yet.

True Grit. I reviewed this one just a few days ago, so I’m not sure what else I could really add here. I’ll just say that nobody does it like Jeff Bridges. And nobody really does it like Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch. And why haven’t we seen Matt Damon in more westerns?

I admit that this is a pretty generic list. But it does represent the best of what I saw this year. I don’t get to watch as many movies as I’d like, so some, like The Fighter, Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 passed me by. I’d apologize, but none of you are here to read my movie reviews. You check back every week in the vain hope that I’ll start LOSTWATCH!! back up. Well, who knows what 2011 will bring. More movies, definitely. More LOSTWATCH? Definitely maybe.

“Your best friend is suing you for 600 million dollars.”

Ahh, award season. Let the onrush of good movies wash over you like the baptismal waters of the Pacific over Don Draper. Satisfyin’.

For a while, The Social Network was just called the Facebook movie, and if you’re like me you were probably wondering how they were going to turn trolling through my your ex-girlfriend’s pictures into a 2-hour film. Then I heard that Aaron Sorkin had been brought on to write the script and that David Fincher would be directing, and all was right with the world.

The film is adapted from Ben Mezrich’s book, The Accidental Billionaires, and tells the story of the company’s humble beginnings, the humble egos involved, and the million-bazillion humble lawsuits that ensued after whose brainchild Facebook actually was came into dispute. In a classic Sorkin move (classic!), the movie is set during a deposition, with Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and Cameron and Tyler Winklevos being questioned about those first days in 2003 when they were idealistic Harvard kids, setting out to change the world with little more than a pocket full of dreams.

Fincher and Sorkin both come from very different backgrounds. Fincher directed the I-Need-To-Take-A-Shower Seven, and Sorkin created the I’m-Smarter-After-Watching-This ‘West Wing.’ So what you end up with is a very dark, brooding film, filled with characters who never want for crisp, witty dialogue. Round things out with a score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that can best be described as “moody,” and what you’re left with is a unique piece of filmmaking that’ll be a shoo-in for a Best Picture nod at next year’s Oscars.

Because some parts of the film’s story have obviously been embellished for dramatic effect, you have to ask yourself which character traits have also been a little over-exaggerated. The film portrays Zuckerberg as some sort of borderline-autistic obsessive compulsive. I’ve never seen any interviews with the guy, so I couldn’t really attest to how accurate a portrayal it is. My wife saw him at a SXSW panel a few years back and says it seemed about right. In any case, the character is well-acted, and a real breakaway for Jesse Eisenberg, who, after seeing Adventureland and Zombieland, I was worried would spend the rest of his life competing with Michael Cera for a role in Just Me Being Me: The Michael Cera Story. I was glad to see him show a little more range, although you could make the argument that it’s just more range within the same character.

Justin Timberlake does his usual good job, although to me he didn’t figure into the story as largely as I thought he would. Andrew Garfield is a name that you’ll probably be hearing thrown around a lot more now. Especially because he’s just been cast as Peter Parker in the new Spiderman reboot. This should at least reassure those who weren’t sure he’d bring much to the role, although they may still be asking questions about a Spanish Spiderman. The film also stars Armie Hammer as the twins Winklevoss, who may actually be one of the film’s best kept secrets. He does a great job, especially considering that he’s playing two roles. Also keep an eye out for Rooney Mara, who plays Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in the opening scene. She’s just been cast as Lisbeth Salander in Fincher’s upcoming adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Her role in here definitely answers the question, “Who the hell is Rooney Mara?”

Now that I’m putting all this down on paper, I find that I’ve quickly run out of things to say about the film. I guess it doesn’t take 2,000 words to list the reasons The Social Network is better than movies like Daybreakers and The Book of Eli. The film is poignant, and really portrays Zuckerberg as a tragic if sympathetic character. You’ll definitely want to friend The Social Network and post on its Wall. Also Poke it and send it a Mafia Wars request.

“Nut up or shut up.”

I’ve got a short Zombieland review and a long Zombieland review. The short review: Go see Zombieland. Go tonight. Hell, go right now. Not convinced? Read on for the long review.

Zombie movies have a long, proud, history. It stretches from the shambling, not-so-scary zombies of Dawn of the Dead (1978), to the running, scary-as-f**k zombies of Dawn of the Dead (2004). Of course, it’s valid to look at the majority of zombie fare out there and say, “Not much variety here.” Zombieland is one of a few movies that have come along and helped mix things up.

The movie is set in – as Colombus calls it – the United States of Zombieland, after a zombie virus has killed off most of civilization. Colombus (Jesse Eisenberg) is heading to Colombus, Ohio (do you get the name now?) to find his family. Along the way he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a badass country boy who takes his rage and frustration out on the movie’s hoards of undead. Eventually they come across sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who when they first meet take them for their car and supplies. Eventually they come together and head for Pacific Playland, a west coast amusement park which is still zombie-free.

I had been watching the movie for about five minutes before asking, “Is Jesse Eisenberg supposed to be playing Michael Cera?” Eisenberg as the stammering Colombus isn’t exactly mind-blowing, but watching him together with Woody Harrelson is comedy gold. The chemistry between the two characters almost makes the movie. And while Colombus’ relationship with bad girl Wichita is central to the character’s development, you’re always drawn back to his scenes with Tallahassee. And speaking of the cast, there’s a fantastic cameo in here that I won’t spoil for anyone. Let me just say that it’s probably one of the most brilliant things about the movie, and if Eisenberg and Harrelson weren’t doing enough for you, there’s no doubt this guy will.

The small glimpses we catch of the zombie apocalypse aren’t very realistic. We miss a lot of the large-scale destruction and zombie mobs, but it fits the movie fine. And there’s still plenty of violence and gore for those who are expecting it. But while other films may give you a sense of the trauma and destruction the world has gone through, that’s not what Zombieland is about. It’s about these four characters, their relationships with each other, and the things they do to help each other survive. They each build the group up, and rely on the group to do the same for them. The family dynamic between them is the most believable I’ve ever seen in a movie like this.

When you watch other zombie movies you realize that half, if not all, of the cast is there only to be killed off later on. You always find yourself asking, “Are they gonna survive?” That was never a question for me. Everyone is playing a bigger role here, and as a result, you find yourself caring about them more than characters from anything Romero ever did. Shaun of the Dead headed in this same direction, although I think Zombieland did a better job of pulling it off.

The movie’s runtime is a little short – it clocks in at just under 90 minutes – but I didn’t walk out feeling shortchanged. This is a little comedy that delivers in a big way. The movie’s outrageousness is presented so that you never feel like anything is over the top or cliched. You connect with the characters, and although the landscape is bleak, the movie leaves you feeling hopeful. And it’s the funniest damn thing I’ve seen all year. As for whether or not you should check this one out in the theaters, refer back to my short review.

And holy hell, that cameo was awesome.

TRAILER MONDAY

People got their first glimpse of James Cameron’s Avatar at this year’s Comic Con, and people are already complaining that the movie’s aliens and giant robots don’t look real. The question we’re asking is, why is James Cameron putting aliens and giant robots in a live action remake of Once Upon a Forest?

The teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Inception isn’t giving anything about the movie away. I can give you a hint, though. The working title for the film was The Sweaty and Disturbed-Looking Leonardo DiCaprio. Discuss.

If you ask me, it’s about time they made a movie about underage girls falling in love and having crazy sex with zombies. Enough with all of this vampire crap, you know? Wait, there’s nothing like that in Zombieland? Amusement parks? Right. Amusement parks… Wasn’t Sunday’s True Blood great?