Average User Score: 7.3Nov 22, 2014I love watching movies that feel like discoveries and revelations of vital new talent. This movie is smart, fun, slick, provocative, and kindI love watching movies that feel like discoveries and revelations of vital new talent. This movie is smart, fun, slick, provocative, and kind of beautiful.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Oct 17, 2014It's astonishing. A prime example of how much poetic beauty, grace and wonder a film can inspire with so little. Mr. Takahata designs the filmIt's astonishing. A prime example of how much poetic beauty, grace and wonder a film can inspire with so little. Mr. Takahata designs the film with minimal impressionistic dream scribbles that makes the whole thing like like a delicate precious jewel that is humbling to view — not with its story of divinity, but its strange, wonderful tale of humanity. That this same sense of passionate sensitivity went into developing the princess herself into a fully developed and emotionally complicated woman rarely seen in film, animated or otherwise, helps it to transcend to the level of an unqualified masterpiece. It's my favorite movie of the year.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Jul 12, 2014Before you see any image in the film, you hear the words of Aaron Sorkin. The film hits the ground running mid-contentious-conversation in aBefore you see any image in the film, you hear the words of Aaron Sorkin. The film hits the ground running mid-contentious-conversation in a bar between our stoic protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg, and soon to be ex-girlfriend. The movie some might refer to as “the Facebook movie,” in reality, has very little to do with Facebook itself. To me, the freshest thing "The Social Network" says about a generation on the verge of the Facebook-era is that it’s actually not very different to what’s always been true to human nature. These are characters as susceptible to their own petty whims as anyone else; they are young people of varying degrees of ego, hubris, and needs that transcend shifting technologies.
The film’s first act breezes through with brazen lack of convention. After shooting off 10 pages of dialogue in a few minutes, a newly single Mark runs back to his Harvard dorm room to drunkenly angry-blog. In the most striking sequence in the first half of the film, a lewdly lavish party from the famous Phoenix Club is intercut with Mark hacking into his school’s network from the seclusion of his room. Like with many artists, Zuckerberg’s masterpiece was borne in the resentment of heartache.
Jesse Eisenberg as a performer takes to Sorkin’s intricate dialogue like a snug glove, hitting each beat without fail at bullet-speed. On one level, there are things he seems to understand people in enough of a deeply profound way to be uniquely qualified to bring Facebook into the world. On the other hand, his near total lack of self-awareness makes him perpetually alienated from the rest of the world. And, every now and then, Eisenberg allows us to glimpse inside Mark’s enigmatic mind through quick and calculated cracks in the veneer.
The first cut to one of Mark’s two legal battles occurring years later happens right after the Harvard network crashes. The cuts are jarring, at first — the world in which the depositions occur is very different from the world of the rest of the film. The characters are different people. The colors are brighter and crisper, and the soundscape is less cloudy. And, to obscure matters further, Zuckerberg immediately discredits his ex-girlfriend’s testimony of their bar conversation read out from transcripts that Sorkin himself used for research. At the end of the film, Rashida Jones, functioning as the film’s Greek chorus, confirms that 85% of emotional testimony is exaggerated and the rest is perjury. David Fincher’s camera is an unreliable narrator.
After this, the film’s most compelling plot line— the betrayal of Eduardo — starts to come crashing down in a series of scenes leading up to his final eruption. It’s in these scenes that Andrew Garfield flexes his acting muscles (robbed blind of the Oscar, let alone the nomination), as the stakes in each scene he appears in from this point on only gets more and more intense. It starts as the team Mark Zuckerberg had assembled for Facebook convenes in Eduardo’s house in Palo Alto, unaware that Sean Parker (Mark’s celebrity crush-turned-mentor) lived across the street. Justin Timberlake might strike some as a bit of stunt casting, but it has a brilliant payoff as his superstar presence does justice to the mythology the film builds to Sean Parker. It’s a mythology that Eduardo finds deeply suspect (not wanting the company associated with his history of underage girls and drug abuse), and personally threatening.
Eduardo Saverin is a deeply flawed character. He’s naïve, occasionally petty, and didn’t have the foresight to know the full potential of Facebook to arm it more innovative structure. But his fate is the only one in the film seemed disproportionately crueler than any of the others (until the settlement). Eduardo signs the papers, underestimating just how deep under Sean’s spell he is (illustrated in a scene where Sean gets Mark to flip off potential Case Equity investors in a robe for nothing more than personal revenge for having fired Sean). When Eduardo is invited back to celebrate one million users, he instead becomes informed of his diluted shares.
It’s the most shocking moment in the film, and the catalyst for his emotional explosion. The film stops dead in its tracks as a mesmerizing Garfield marches down to Mark’s desk, smashes his computer, and confronts his character’s now former best friend. Eisenberg allows Garfield his moment, but he’s equally good as you can see the belated shameful realization of what had just happened. When it becomes official that Facebook has reached a million viewers, he should be happy, but the personal cost of his success his immediately and devastatingly apparent.
He does get one final victory: his ex-girlfriend is on Facebook.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.3Jul 12, 2014Part of what's so incredible about Jafar Panahi as a filmmaker is that it seems like he's only getting increasingly audacious with each newPart of what's so incredible about Jafar Panahi as a filmmaker is that it seems like he's only getting increasingly audacious with each new challenge. I have no interest in trying to articulate in words the strange, wonderful, challenging directions the film takes in its journey, but it's an important one. The walls of the home he's imprisoned in seem to, mostly figuratively, come crashing down; the ideas imprisoned in his mind from his ban on filmmaking are freed to flourish. The blurred line where fiction ends and truth starts has been a preoccupation in Iranian literary tradition for centuries, and continued by directors like Panahi for years, but now the harsh limitations set on his ability to express himself more inventively in narrative and experimentally in aesthetic — having the unintended consequence of advancing the form further. The film would have been forgiven for seeming more heavy-handed than usual as it did in its first half, seeing as how the urgency of his situation might have even necessitated more bluntness, but by the end Jafar Panahi has utterly annihilated any semblance of conventionality, simple-mindedness or easiness. And, even setting his particular circumstances aside (though partly as a result of it), the final product is a staggering achievement.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Jul 12, 2014For whatever reason, nuanced observations about the particularities of growing up in this generation has never really been captured honestlyFor whatever reason, nuanced observations about the particularities of growing up in this generation has never really been captured honestly in modern film. Thankfully, Richard Linklater had been working on an entire film of it for twelve years.
And although the approach of how this film was meticulously crafted makes for an intriguing initial selling point, it's about the furthest thing from your mind when watching BOYHOOD. What the method actually achieves is a richness of detail and passion that, in any given moment, can evoke melancholy, longing, love, laughter, regret, tears, smiles, and any other of the multitudes of words that come to mind in the experience of youth, and in reflection upon it. One doesn't even need to have grown up in a similar setting or time frame to Mason, our unsuspecting hero here. Regardless of the context of any of these characters' actions, it all feels like it's coming from a place of familiarity. Little looks, lines or cues will trigger your own achingly personal memories of the past — a fleeting time you wish you could do over again but would make the experience less beautiful. This is the most thorough immersion into another life seen in cinema since Satyajit Ray's APU TRILOGY (to me, the finest cinematic achievement in history).
Through Mason's eyes, you can see plenty happening in the stories of girlhood, motherhood, and fatherhood unfolding around him. Patricia Arquette gives the marquee performance of the film as the young mother who grows away from the father of her children and takes on a string of abusive husbands as she tries to make life better for children. It's a common story for a lot of single mothers in this country in this day and age, but it's rare to see ANY female role of this depth and magnitude. It also bears mentioning that any of the narrative elements throughout the film that seem even perhaps OVERLY familiar — divorce, alcoholic father-figures, conservative stereotypes, peer pressure, whatever — have the effect in this film of only showcasing its sincerity more. There's a reason these elements are seen as cliche, and BOYHOOD does a remarkable job at grounding what are common American experiences in sense of truthfulness.
I give this film five stars, rather easily, although I don't consider it a film without flaws. I think it was perfectly possible to trim the film a bit more, Mason himself is less likable in his later years and some scenes just worked for me better than others. But the film earns my full heart as all these things are in the service of a greater great. It's the intricate collection of 12 years of memories in carefully curated scenes, good and bad, happy or sad, significant or insignificant, that paint a picture of a life in a way. It's scattered, it's varied, it's precisely how we look at and feel our own lives over time and Richard Linklater has gotten closer to that in this film than any other filmmaker to date.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Jul 6, 2014The Most Brutally Honest Artists' Statement in Modern Cinema
I think the Coen brothers' most profound gift is their ability to translateThe Most Brutally Honest Artists' Statement in Modern Cinema
I think the Coen brothers' most profound gift is their ability to translate any message, text, or emotion to film. To me, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is so special because of its brutal honesty of what it looks like, for most people, to pursue your artistic dream. And it's a damn shame. We see people come and go every day with the talent of Llewyn Davis, the titular character at the heart of the film, but through a very distinctly Coen combination of situation, lack of luck, and very particular misjudgments throughout the course of his life prevent him from ever reaching the reputation he may or may not have deserved (but could very well have reached it under different circumstances, which is the larger point).
Oscar Isaac completely disappears into his performance as Llewyn Davis, someone who may appear as a very average person in the streets of New York who has as many dreams and ambition as anyone else. But he's not a perfect person — he doesn't have the foresight or moral flexibility it might have taken for him to have made a more comfortable living out of the passion of his life. Oscar is able to wear this character like a perfectly fit glove, but he made it fit; years from now, people will be wondering why he wasn't aptly recognized for this work in his own time. The performance itself is an intricate, if modest, masterpiece.
Another strength of the Coens' is their ability to bring out the best of their cinematographers. The camerawork from Bruno Delbonnel will, at any given moment, visually clue the audience into the place, position, and state of mind into this central character's mindset through color, focus, framing, and detail. Cinema is, first and foremost, a visual medium; and, as such, both Joel and Ethan Coen know what director of photography to trust most to convey the thousands of words they have to say with each frame.
Finally, what makes this more than a worthy look is the work of Mr. T-Bone Burnett himself. The soundtrack of this film is easily the best in the world of music in its year and helps this film to transcend into a world of poetic irony that has little else but the decibel of its own understated 60s-era East Village earnestness to cry out with.
The Coen brothers themselves tend to seem like shy and introverted individuals. And it's only them who could have painted such a rich and painfully honest portrait with the very artistry they excel at. This is a look at art that crosses every possible medium. The Coens are asking us, "how many geniuses have slipped through the crack? What kind of beauty has been made in any field that I've never been privileged enough to experience? Are we ever really at the ends of the spectrum of possibility of the art we so enjoy to indulge in when such brilliant voices can never quite break through?" It's almost a message of humility — that their ability to tell this man's story is the minimum they can offer back to their audiences for the good fortune they themselves have had to be able to tell such stories in the first place. And, appropriately, they've crafted a film that wasn't properly appreciated by their own successful peers in its own time. The truthful tone will turn many audiences off from its message, but INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is one of the most essential film offerings of the new millennium thus far.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.8Dec 30, 2011Nearly flawless in every aspect of its construction, from the intricately crafted screenplay (STAKES STAKES STAKES!) to the almost bizarrelyNearly flawless in every aspect of its construction, from the intricately crafted screenplay (STAKES STAKES STAKES!) to the almost bizarrely consistent top of the line performances across the board to subtle camerawork that established spatial relations between each character in crucial ways to the overall product, the result is a deeply felt humanistic piece with deep implications of social critique, gender relations, hegemonic religiosity, class struggles, justice systems and basic questions of moral and personal truthful ambiguity of right and wrong that can make the slightest statement or action make you as squeamish as the rapiest torture sequences in Dragon Tattoo.… Expand