Saturday, November 13, 2010

Movie Reivews: Scott Pilgrim, Social Network, The American

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: This is probably the best movie of the year. It's utterly charming, original, captivating, stylish, quirky, and relevant. The acting, storyline, direction, effects, and production are all fantastic. The movie is quotable, sometimes hysterically so, from beginning to end.

The movie is a straightforward presentation of the graphic novel of the same name by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 21 year old dating 17 year old Knives Chao but who sees - in his dreams and then in real life - a funky girl closer to his age named Ramona Flowers. To win Ramona, not only does he have to ditch Knives life a man, he has to fight Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends. In the movie and book, this is done physically in video game fashion; in both, this transparently represents the not-too-deep metaphor that people have to overcome past relationship crap before they can move into a healthy one.

The movie is not for everyone, just like The Breakfast Club was not for everyone; it's geared to a young generation, immersed in modern culture. It's not incredibly deep. But oh, man, is it entertaining.

Entering movie quotes legends: "We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff."

The Social Network: For a movie about a hacker and the lawsuits he defends against after creating a successful website, the movie is surprisingly appealing and accessible to the general public. I suspect that hackers and their ilk will find that their sympathies lie more with the protagonist of the movie than do members of the general public.

I heard that the movie was a negative portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg, but aside from social awkwardness and conning his friend and initial backer out of his rightful share of the company, Jesse Eisenberg's Mark is a hacker hero. The Winkelvoss's, Harvard students who ask Mark to create a website for them but provide him no code or design - just an idea - and yet end up extorting him out of $65 million when Mark "steals" their idea, raise no sympathies at all. Their claims, as seen in the film, appear to be entirely ludicrous. At best they should receive $650.00 for breach of contract, or something.

The story is told as flashbacks from the two lawsuits he faces. Acting and direction are good. Women don't have much of a role to play in the movie, other than as eye candy. The script takes you from the night that Mark creates a girl comparison site called Facemash to the night Facebook cracks 1,000,000 registered users.

Mostly I learned how big a role that Napster's Sean Parker played in Facebook's development. It was a fun movie, for Facebook fans.

The American: Like the last two George Clooney movies I've seen - Up in the Air and Michael Clayton - this movie is a straightforward drama without any high pretensions. All three felt short, like adaptations of short stories. All were well acted, tightly shot and directed, clean and cold. Clooney plays loners on the edge of society and barely cracks a smile in any of them; when he does, it's usually in response to irony.

In The American, Jack is a guy who can craft precise weapons, which he does for a nefarious contact. He tends to have a problem forming relationships, sometimes having to kill people who get close to him if he suspects that they are trying to kill him (which turns out to be the case, occasionally).

He wants out, and you know what that means. He's going to have trouble with his contact. A simple thriller, with good acting and direction, an appealing prostitute, and well done. And that's about it.

1 comment:

Jeff Coon said...

"It's not incredibly deep. But oh, man, is it entertaining."

Very true. I didn't know what to expect going in, but I came out smiling. Very entertaining.