A Series of Film Based Thoughts

Occasionally I like to say something about films, relevant or not.
I tend to read books, watch tv and complain about politics.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time *****

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) ***** - Mamoru Hosada, Riisa Naka, Takuya Ishida, Mitsutaka Itakura, Emily Hirst, Andrew Francis, Alex Sahara

This was a completely spontaneous buy. For a few years I have heard my Mum talk about it when she’s mentioned new anime’s we need to purchase. I am so, so glad that I have seen this film. It is completely amazing. A favourite in Japan after being adapted from the 1964 novel, this film has fans all over the world and it’s just gained another one.

Tom-boy Makoto is an average student with a tendency to trip over, forget and completely lack the ability to pick up on boy signals. When she gains the ability to ‘time leap’ what began as harmless fun has serious implications on her life and the lives of her friends. This is a sad film, or at least it has sad moments, but it is also filled with some of the funniest dialogue ever. Aimed at teenagers, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time honestly portrays how friends talk to each other and its great!

Once again Japanese film has managed to do so well what Disney and the like fail too, highlight completely normal teenager behaviour. Makoto rolls across her bed to reach her phone,  she gets super irritated when her sister eats her pudding, so irritated in fact that the first thing she does with her new power is go back to eat it before her sister can. She’s cute; she tries to fix things to make everyone happy and in the end has to learn that that’s not always possible.

I’m always in awe of the character development that takes place in these films. In many ways I come away with a more in-depth understanding of an anime character than the majority of live action characters I see portrayed on my screen. This is most likely due to the meticulous detail that goes into the animation; from varying facial expressions that you wouldn’t catch in a live action film, to the elaborate room decoration that gives a clear insight into the head of our lead character. Rivalling Miyazaki in its animation, this is up there as one of my favourite animes.

As I watch more and more of these films I am beginning to notice that the main underlying themes are extremely similar. In films like ‘Ocean Waves’, ‘Summer Wars’, ‘Whisper of the Heart’ and ‘The Cat Returns’, that all focus on a teenage girls/boys at high school, the emphasis is always there to show the viewer how to make their decisions regarding education and their friends. In many ways I feel like these films are educational as well as pure entertainment. The moral messages ring clear to me and I don’t even understand or work within the Japanese schooling system.

Another fantastic film by the Mad House animation company who brought us the similarly fantabulous film Summer Wars. I loved watching this film and I can’t wait to get home from Uni and watch it with my dear mother, who is most likely reading this review horrifically jealous that I’ve seen it before her. Well she should be, and so should you. Even if you aren’t an anime fan, I think you’ll enjoy The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. With its grown up humour and fantastic plot this will appeal to a range of ages and will not get old.

 

Les Miserables *****

Les Miserables (2012) ***** - Tom Hooper, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen

                                       

I haven’t read the book, I haven’t seen the stage production and yet I watched this film feeling like I knew it backwards. This is most likely due to the 9 months prior to its release I spent reading articles, listening to Mum rave about when she saw it on stage, and being treated to spontaneous renditions of the songs by my boyfriend. (I don’t think you can appreciate this play until you’ve heard Master of the House sung on repeat throughout a 3 hour train journey to London).
Anyway, I’m going to start this review on a bit of a controversial note by saying that I actually thought Russell Crowe’s performance in this film was amazing. I am fully aware of the criticisms other reviewers have had over his singing but I think they have been completely unfair. I watched this film, fully aware that the majority of actors were good singers BUT were first and foremost actors. Anne Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ highlights this in the extreme – on screen it is a singing masterpiece bringing grown men to tears, however, take away the visual ACTING aspect and the song actually sounds very weak.  When Russell Crowe belted out his solo number, ‘Stars’, I wasn’t sat there picking out the slightly bum notes and laughing at his slightly gruffly voice. Instead I was watching a truly emotional performance, which was acted superbly. So well-acted in fact, that out of all of the songs that are intended to make you shed a tear, this is the one that had its greatest effect on me.

The combination of Crowe and Jackman as Javert and Jean Valjean was mind blowing. Jeez, Mr Jackman is a bit of a star?! There were similarly good performances all over this film. Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ really was superb. I’ve never been her biggest fan but that song was heartbreakingly good.  Eddie Redmayne, who I’ve only ever seen in one episode of Birdsong, blew me away! From watching the 30 second preview of his duet with Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) I was completely unprepared for the strong and riveting performance he gave as Marius. Similarly, Amanda Seyfried gave a very delicate and well sung performance as Cosette.
The Thenardier duo (Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen) were well played and underplayed the comedy that is normally present in the stage production, which I appreciated. The only performance I found to be weaker than the others was Samantha Barks as Eponine. Whether it was due to her lack of experience as a screen actor I don’t know, but despite her singing of ‘On My Own’ being flawless, I didn’t feel the emotion was there.

I feel I should complain slightly about the use of CGI in places. The opening sequence with the boat that we’ll all recognise from the trailers just looked a bit… bad. There were some other shots of the Paris skyline which also looked terribly CGI-ed. But aside from that I felt that the actual authenticity of the film was there.

It is another long film, (directors this year appear to think 2 hours 30 is a normal feature length) but the pacing and momentum didn’t suffer in my opinion. You should probably just be aware that the stand-off at the barricades isn’t the climactic finish that you expect it to be and actually ends with another 30 minutes of the film to go. I’m going to let IMDB sum up the plot as, after 6 attempts, I couldn’t summarise in less than 2 paragraphs.

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

I compliment Tom Hooper on his directorial choices. Live singing worked. It felt ‘human’ and, considering this film is a study of human nature, this was extremely fitting. Some of his camera shots with the spinning and such left a little to be desired but I wasn’t too upset by them and, like the singing, they gave the impression of it being real.  

This isn’t a happy tale. Note the title – ‘Les Miserable’. You don’t walk into this film thinking ‘yes, this is going to be a cheerful film viewing experience’, because it isn’t. Les Miserable… is miserable. Each time Jean Valjean opened his mouth to sing I could see my Mother reaching for her hankerchief. However, it is outstandingly well performed, well sung, and well-made. It definitely should be watched and loved. *Applause*

Django Unchained *****

Django Unchained (2012) ***** - Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, Leonardo Di Caprio, Samuel L Jackson.

First thing that stands out about this film is its super-duper soundtrack. Tarantino films seem to have developed a tradition of having good music, but Django’s just wahhh, excelled. The original theme ‘Django’ by Luis Bacalov deserves a listen; the whole soundtrack deserves a listen. And this film definitely deserves a watch.

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There are those people out there in the world that can’t deal with the very obvious stamp Tarantino imprints onto his films - the big bold writing across the screen, the excessive use of blood, the very particular style of humour and the occasional cameo’s by the man himself. Well, to those people I say, this film might (maybe) change your mind. In comparison to his other films Django felt slightly more… restrained. Yes it had all those things I just mentioned, but in a limited, not so in your face way. Did I love this film? Maybe not love, but definitely very much like. But were there faults? M’thinks yes.

There are a few things that I’d complain about. The pacing for one. This film throws a lot at you in the beginning and does it well, but towards the end it began to feel like Tarantino was just trying a bit hard to keep the whole thing going. It probably could have ended 30 minutes before it did. Be warned! The trailer gives a very different impression of where the films plot is focused.
Complaint numero two would be with the character of Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who, once re-united with her lover, only had a couple of words to say and, considering how in love Django appears to be, lacked much emotion.  
Complaint numero three - Why the cameo Mr Tarantino, why?! You have a funny looking face that is obviously very funny looking, so it’s rather funny looking and obvious when you turn up in your own film. Take a leaf out of Peter Jackson’s book. Keep the cameos to a minimal 2 seconds screen time, with lots of prosthetics and disguises.

I say these things, but in truth I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Tarantino has created a film that really does show the horrors of slavery and the terribly racist attitudes of white Americans in 1850’s southern America. (It was a nice forerunner to watching Lincoln; I felt I was getting the back story.) Tarantino tells the story of Django (Jamie Foxx) who, on being freed by bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to assist in some bounty hunting, goes on a mission to rescue his wife from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio).

At this point it seems fitting to compliment the fantastic acting of Christoph Waltz. He had me smiling from head to toe each time he opened his mouth to shoot someone down with a quick, German accented witticism. I know Django is the focus of this film, but I felt a lot more attached to Dr Schultz than I did him. Jamie Foxx? Well the guys just too cool for school. Simple. I found myself struggling not to shout ‘Yeaaaahhh’ each time he picked up a gun.

On watching the trailers I had no idea what I expected Samuel L Jackson to be like and was quite shocked to see his performance turn out to be rather comical (it definitely got lots of laughs in our cinema). I can’t fault his acting, and the pairing of himself and Di Caprio really did work well. Do I need to say that Di Caprio gave a great performance? Nah, the guy always delivers in my eyes.

All in all, this film will be added to my DVD collection. No, it’s script doesn’t compare to the likes of Pulp Fiction and Tarantino’s cameo does stick out like a MAHOOSIVE sore thumb, but I really really enjoyed this film and recommend it to everyone –even if you aren’t a Tarantino fan. 

Reviews on their way…

Apologies for the delay, but snow has distracted me from review writing. Expect reviews of The Hobbit, Les Mis and Django Unchained. 

Lincoln *****

Lincoln (2012) ***** - Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon Levitt.

                                      

Words can’t really describe how utterly awe inspiring Daniel Day Lewis’ performance of Abraham Lincoln is. It is an honour each time I watch Day Lewis in a film because he really is giving his everything. Evidence for his dedication to the roles he plays is in his study of each character – for Last of the Mohicans he learnt to live off the land and added 20lbs of muscle to his body mass, for the Crucible he lived in the replica village without electricity, planted fields with 17th century machinery and built his characters home. For his portrayal of Lincoln he spent months perfecting his voice and texting Sally Field (Mary Lincoln) completely in character to establish their relationship. And it completely pays off. I, for one, didn’t feel like I was watching an actor in a film about Abraham Lincoln, I was watching Abraham Lincoln.
I’ve heard a few complaints that the actual content and style of this film wasn’t clear from the trailers. Personally, I think this is hogwash. The trailers clearly show that the bulk of this film is political and not focussed on the violence and battles that took place. The politics is heavy. I’ve studied this period in detail and I still felt bamboozled with names and reasons why the Amendment should/shouldn’t be passed at certain times. Saying this, the confusion was mainly restricted to the beginning of the film and was cleared up.

I don’t think I really need to explain the ‘plot’ because of how monumental the passage of the 13th Amendment and Lincoln’s presidency is in American (and world) history. However, I was shocked to see that the film purely covered the month running up to the vote. I had been expecting it to encapsulate a wider time frame, but I wasn’t disappointed when it didn’t. Everything felt so real! At times when they were arguing in the House of Representatives I wondered whether they were quoting exactly what had been said. I can’t imagine how immense it must have felt to deliver some of those lines as those actors, making history. 
This film was packed full of fantastic performances. Sally Field was every bit the First Lady and every bit a real wife. I could be picky and say that at times I felt that the relationship she held with Lincoln felt confused. But even I admit that I would be being picky. Tommy Lee Jones simply shone in his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens, a pro-equality politician. The House of Representatives was bursting with well played, believable, old-fashioned looking actors. Even Joseph Gordon Levitt, an actor I was worried would be swamped by the surrounding talent, managed to make an impact in his scenes.

I can’t really fault this film. I am more than happy for it to pick up Best Picture at the Oscars and for Day Lewis to be awarded Best Actor.
Cracking film about a fascinating subject.  

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs ****

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009) **** - Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell

Where has this film been all my life?! I’ve given this film 4 stars because of sliiightly chaotic plot, but my heart is saying ‘Hell, that film deserves 5 stars and more.’ 
I wasn’t expecting to be watching this film last night, in fact I was under the impression I was going to be watching Evita, very different I know. But after seeing the screen shots online of the sequel it was pretty obvious that I needed to see this film. I’m a food person. I love food. I’ve spent the past week wizzing up any vegetable I could find into a soup and I find hours of enjoyment in watching food programmes. This film was already onto a winner even before it had been put into the DVD player. 

Inventor Flint Lockwood creates a machine that can turn water into food. When his invention is shot into the sky (where all those water filled clouds live) he makes the town world famous by making it rain food. He becomes a hero, the people love him and he impresses the girl. But when the machine starts to overload, mutating the food into human sized portions, Flint has to save the day. 

            

This film is ground breakingly hilarious. I mean really. Phil Lord and Chris Miller deserve claps on the back and hugs, because I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at any film in my life. The combination of superbly written characters, ranging from Flints fisherman Dad who communicates through fishing metaphors to the local cop who gets around by doing back flips and army rolls had me crying with laughter. Oh and there’s a monkey. The animation itself is fantastic. Those eyes! So big and comic! It’s hard not to just laugh at the characters facial expressions. Children will love watching this but really it’s the older audiences that will benefit the most from this film. 

The father/son sub-plot is a lovely bonus. Flint’s father has never appreciated his ‘talent’ and has stayed well clear from technology - evidence for this is his panicked attempt to send an email to his sons phone which mimicked many a conversation I’ve had with my Granddad. ‘Move it to the email window, type in my name and press send…’ ‘Um… window?’.

I don’t really think I can fault this film. The love interest was well thought out and sweet, the father/son story wasn’t too soppy and the evil character wasn’t ludicrously evil. All in all, it hit every nail on its comedic head. It was fast paced. So fast paced that a timely toilet break so you can pause the film, collect yourself and carry on may be needed - but that isn’t a bad thing. At no point will you be thinking ‘Hmmm, this film may be starting to drag’. 

Watch this film. Just do it. Go. Now.  And laugh. 

Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect *** (2012) – Jason Moore, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

                                    

I’m not going to lie, I may have been waiting for this film to come out for a while. I have a bit of a thing for Anna Kendrick since I watched her performances in 50/50 and since watching her grow in the Twilight series. However, having not done any digging, it came as a bit of a shock when I saw her singing in the trailer for Pitch Perfect. Since then I’ve learnt that she’s performed on stage alongside Kristin Chenoweth at charity events and been nominated for a Tony Award after her performance in ‘High Society’ on Broadway. It has become a bit obvious that this girl has talent - move aside Anne Hathaway we have another triple threat performer in our midst.

Before you watch this movie you have to ask yourself two things. One, have you watched a Bring It On film? And two, have you watched Glee? If you answered yes to both of these questions you probably don’t need to spend one hour and 52 minutes of your life watching this film. If you didn’t answer yes to those questions here is a rundown of the oh-so-simple plot. Anna Kendrick plays Beca, an alternative DJ-ing genius who joins a super traditional, all female accapella group ‘The Bardon Bella’s’ on arriving at University. The Bella’s are aiming at winning nationals and beating their rivals, the all-male group The Treble Makers. However, unwilling to accept Beca’s attempts to revamp the group, arguments strike.  But it all ends happily.

It’s all very obvious and stems from the Glee hype that has been left embedded in the minds of a generation.  I mean the line, ‘If you think you can sing your way through high school issues and sexual confusion then you’re wrong…’ definitely screams, ‘THIS IS GROWN UP GLEE!’

Various sections of plot were unneeded. We are introduced to Beca’s Dad, who is the reason she is at University in the first place, determined for her to get a degree before heading after her LA music dreams. But none of that side of the plot is followed up. We see him at the end cheering her on, but he never had an issue with her singing, so it seems a bit obvious that he’d be there. Not exactly a momentous ‘wow, he turned up’ moment.

Similarly the love interest with co-worker Jesse (Skylar Astin) was rather weak. Nothing really happens much. It’s obvious that the main couple will get together but only because of the forced interaction on screen. The Breakfast Club watching scene was sweet and a nice thought but it felt a tad awkward and random. It was nice however to see it followed through when Beca remixes the end song from the film, ‘Don’t you (Forget About Me)’, into their nationals song.  That was a nice touch.

What was good? Well, definitely the singing! A great selection of songs, nice harmonies and moments that make you go ‘helll yeaaaa’. The ‘riff off’ was a fantastic moment for me, but that’s because I’m a music loving freak who goes gooey at a good harmony.

Anna Kendrick was good but not anything special. Rebel Wilson, who appears to have shot to stardom in the past year or two, was so-so, just doing that ‘comedy thing’. But she wasn’t ‘hilarious’. Her character seemed a bit stupid. I mean, who willingly lets people call them ‘Fat Amy’ and what friend keeps it up?! And Aubrey (Anna Camp), the resident evil bitch, was messed up. Anyone in the 21st century knows singing modern songs will go down better than old routines… so what’s her issue.

There were funny moments. The shower scene was chuckle worthy but to be honest, if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve watched all the hilarious witty moments.  

Watch this film for the music. The music is good. But the plot is the same as any teen movie that involves a competition. It’s all very predictable. Average performance, average funny rating, average romance factor…. A pretty average film.

 

The Impossible *****

The Impossible ***** (2012) – Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Juan Antonio Bayona.

I questioned whether I was going to manage to watch the whole of this film after a failed first attempt to go see it. But after choosing to go see it again I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve made so far this year. (Yes, I know we’re only 8 days in.)

I’ve found it quite upsetting to read so many reviews that seem to side line the actual performances and the directing and focus on complaining about the ethnic recasting of the family. Yes, the family the film was based on were Spanish. Yes, there were thousands of Thai families affected by the Tsunami. But for one second can we try and push our complaints about this aside and focus on just how amazing this film is? Amazing enough to have found its way to no. 2 in my ‘Top 5 films of this year’ list.

This film isn’t for the faint hearted; I had to leave the cinema the first time I watched it because I felt queezy (hence the need to see it again). Whether this was due to the film content or something I ate earlier I don’t know, but either way my comment stands. You are subjected at a couple of points to some pretty nasty injuries. But it isn’t just the injuries that make some of the film hard viewing material, the emotional struggle and absolute destruction that is shown is heart wrenching. I’m not a crier at films but this had me blinking back tears and trying to swallow the lump that had arisen in my throat. In a few cases this was due to the superb acting provided by our two adult leads, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. McGregor makes a heart breaking phone call that should win him an Oscar. But prize for the best acting in this film has to go to Tom Holland playing eldest son Lucas. He just needed to look into the camera for a few seconds and I could feel that lump appear in my throat. A relative ‘unknown’, with his largest role being on stage playing Billy Elliot, he stole the film for me. This isn’t to say that the other actors in this film don’t shine, they most definitely do, but he shines the brightest. I have to mention the other two boys Oaklee Pendergast and Samuel Joslin who also gave fantastic performances as sons Simon and Thomas. I normally hate all child actors and feel that they are the make and break in most films, but there was nothing to hate here. We appear to have established that the acting in this film is top bar.

               

Credit has to be given for the creation of a fully desolate, destroyed and deadly environment. I could have been looking at the film footage taken in 2004. At no point did anything feel like a set, anything feel a bit too safe, or anything feel overdramatized. This film had a budget of $45 million and its use of CGI blows any stupidly budgeted blockbuster out of the water.

The plot doesn’t sound like much. Family is separated, family reunite. But it is more than enough. Any other plot would have left you feeling like an emotional wreck unable to move for a month as you rehydrate after weeping buckets of tears. As it is, I felt unable to move for 3 minutes as I absorbed the pure genius I had just watched and picked up the half full tango ice blast I’d forgotten I even had due to the intensity of the film. My boyfriend summed up that ‘it is the precision combination of fear and hope that you might anticipate, but writ larger than you could imagine’ that makes this film so fantastic and I agree. Director Juan Antonio Bayona drags you heart and soul into the film and doesn’t let you go until the credits end. To be honest, you’ll still feel emotionally strained after the 30 minute drive home.

This film is a must see. Go watch it at the cinema, or rent it, or buy it. I don’t care. But watch it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) **** - Tim Burton, Henry Selick, Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

I did say that I was going to review this film around Halloween, however illness and birthdays led me to forget and seeing as there are only two times of the year that it is suitable to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas I thought I’d get this review in before Christmas.

                                      

This film was released on October 29th 1993, 2 days before I was brought into this delightful world. Because of this, The Nightmare Before Christmas became a film favourite very quickly in our household.
I’ve always been a fan of Tim Burton, and not just because I went through a very hormonal ‘goth’ stage aged 14. He isn’t your typical animator despite working for Disney. You would normally expect someone who worked in the land of sparkles and cheerful musical numbers to have a very Disney-esque view on animation, but no, this film shows quite the opposite. I grew up watching the classic Disney’s and Studio Ghibli’s and Tim Burton was the first to introduce me to a different style of children’s film, a style that wasn’t colourful and rounded but jarring and grey. And I loved it.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is set in a dream land where seasonal holidays have individual worlds devoted to the preparation of that particular day each year. So when a disillusioned Pumpkin Jack stumbles from the grey and scary HalloweenTown into colourful, cheerful and charming ChristmasTown things get a bit jumbled. Fed up of organising the same day each year he convinces the residents of HalloweenTown to take over Christmas, but when all they can relate too is Halloween, Jack’s idea of Christmas doesn’t go exactly to plan.

I will hail this film as one of my favourite childhood films, suitable of getting me excited for my birthday and for Christmas, however this favouritism mainly stems from my childhood associations.
Watching it now at an older age and trying to detach myself from the familiar memories that cross my mind it is hard not to notice a distinctively weak plot. The introduction of the worlds, the first few songs and the entire premise starts very well and grabs your attention, but once you get past minute 45 things get a bit slow. It is around this point where you start playing with your phone, looking up occasionally when another stonking Danny Elfman song begins. This film is extremely suitable for Christmas or Boxing Day when you need something on in the background while you’re busy playing with new toys and gadgets.

There is no doubt that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a classic film, showing off the artistry of stop motion and the musical skills of Danny Elfman.  I find it very hard to find things that irritate me about this film. Yes, the lack of plot past minute 45 is annoying but in general I think this film is a pleasure to watch. Tim Burton creates a delightful world that you wish was actually out there somewhere. Who doesn’t want to imagine that somewhere there is a town devoted to Christmas, where elves work all the year round making presents and gingerbread houses?  The characters are fantastic! The Oogey Boogey man, a sack full of bugs and beetles, is terrifying despite his more up-tempo jazz number. Jack oozes charm that you wouldn’t expect from a spindly skeleton with an extremely spherical head. And the inhabitants of Halloween town will give you Halloween costume ideas for years to come.  Burton has filled this movie with unforgettable characters and film shots. Who doesn’t know of, or has seen, the image of Jack posing in front of the moon? He manages to create what should be a horrifying and nightmarish land and make it wonderful, like something out of a child’s imagination.

Yes, this is a children’s movie that will delight a range of ages, but it’s also a film for adults. Any parent will enjoy watching this, it’s a world making masterpiece.  

A common question that gets asked in relation to this film is ‘Is it a Christmas film, or a Halloween film?’ My answer is 55% Christmas, 45% Halloween. Suitable for either, but considering the end occurs at Christmas and the whole musical score is littered with tinkly bells and chimes I’d say it’s (just slightly) more of a Christmas film.

If you put it on this Christmas I’m positive it won’t disappoint. Even despite its pacing flaws this film will forever remain a classic in my eyes. 

The Social Network

The Social Network (2010) **** - Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, David Fincher

                  

My baby brother had his parents evening yesterday and was informed that he needed to become more of a nerd. (He wants to be involved in computer forensics). Aside from this he was told to learn to hack…. Not your average advice from a teacher, but hey, it’s probably sound advice.

Anywho, this made me want to watch the Social Network for the second time. I love a bit of computer hacking, or at least watching it happen on screen. Spooks, Mission Impossible, anything. It makes me want to sit down and tap away at my computer as if I’m Ethan Hunt.

But there is more to this film apart from the fantastic opening sequence.

The Social Network is a great film in two aspects. One, it doesn’t feel like a film. Or at least, it does around 60% of the time but the other 40% I feel like I’m watching a documentary, which is okay, because it’s sure as hell interesting! The scenes where Mark, the Winklevosse’s and Sarverin battle out legal rights feel slightly disjointed from the rest of the film, in a good, hard to describe way. I feel like I’m being educated whilst watching it. I’m learning about this massive corporation and becoming an expert on how it arose out of nothing. It’s like a history lesson and, as a history student, I love that.

The second aspect is that I now find it hard to differentiate between Mark Zuckerberg and Jesse Eisenberg. I mean jeez, their names are practically the same. So many ‘bergs’! But it isn’t the just the names, it’s the superb acting. Eisenberg just, worked. Andrew Garfield was another fantastic casting decision. And along with an okay, but not astounding performance by Mr Timberlake this film was captivating.

The Social Network follows the creation of Facebook by sophomore student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) using two court cases, one with his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and another with the Winklevoss twins (Arnie Hammer) to put the events in context. It successfully gives viewers a glance into the whirlwind life of Zuckerberg when, what started as a creation in his dorm at University, turned into a worldwide phenomenon.

The film starts with a pre-credit scene between Zuckerberg and his ‘at the time’ girlfriend. As opening scenes go this is fairly intense, not only does it introduce you to the main character but it makes you dislike the main character and frankly your opinion of the guy doesn’t improve. You go through the film thinking – ‘hey, this guy is a complete tool, I don’t like him. But I guess that’s just his personality, hmm maybe I do like him?’ It’s a complex emotion and it’s interesting. We aren’t meant to be viewing Zuckerberg as a film character, our opinion of him isn’t meant to be moulded for us – he is real, and that’s where the documentary feeling kicks back in.

As films go this is rather understated. No car chases, murders, kidnappings. The closest that we get to anything of that is a fairly short and sweet, one-sided shouting match from Garfield. Oh and a house raid.

This film simply studies the relationships. The relatively easy to follow relationships involved in the founding of Facebook.

Many people complain about films made about the recent past, but this is fantastic. This film was made up of outstanding performances, fantastic directing and a tremendous leap into the dark. A highlight of my 2010 film year.