Tag Archives: Jesse Eisenberg

TAKE TWO: 30 Minutes or Less

19 Aug

30 Minutes or Less

Rated: R

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Chris’ Take: Ruben Fleischer was the talk of the action-comedy town back in 2009, with his smash hit zombie comedy (or zomcom for short) Zombieland. The script was snappy, the action superb and it was enjoyable from start to finish. His latest comedy attempt, reuniting him with star Jesse Eisenberg, shows only a minute amount of the genius that he displayed.

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza delivery boy who spends his off time getting stoned and dating the sister of his best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). When Nick receives a pizza order that takes him out to an abandoned warehouse, he soon finds himself kidnapped by two redneck criminals, Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), who strap a bomb to him and tell him that he has 10 hours to rob a bank or he’ll blow up.

The film starts out fast enough, introducing us to two somewhat likeable idiots as protagonists and Danny McBride channeling his inner Kenny Powers, but we really didn’t get to know the Chet and Nick as well as I would hope. There is about one scene where they are together and we establish that they are “friends”, but immediately there is discord and you don’t feel like you know them enough yet to care. It seemed that Fleischer spent more time establishing who the criminals were, almost to the point of making them sympathetic, that I felt that the film was going to be more of a dark comedy about Dwayne and Travis trying to kill Dwayne’s Dad.

From there, we immediately moved into the second act of the film, which moved rather quickly as well. Chet and Nick try to figure out how to rob a bank and put together a terrible plan, which was sure to bring hilarity, and it did. However, the second act was far too short and a scene which could’ve easily been stretched out, or at least made more comically intense was squandered. Maybe it had something to do with budget, maybe it had something to do with the writers not knowing where to go with a potential hostage situation, but I just felt like it was wasted.

Or maybe the writers were...

Then, the third act was upon us and stayed for what seemed like forever. At this point, I cared very little about any of the characters involved since Nick and Chet could’ve easily found a way around the previous situations, so they are kind of too dumb to be concerned about. Dwayne and Travis were the funnier pair, but you knew things couldn’t end well for them so it was a waste to root for them too. Michael Pena makes an appearance as a hitman, and was probably the funniest character introduced to the plot, but he kind of brought the laughs a little too late and I was just hoping this would be over as quickly as it started, but it dragged out.

He a pimp!

I really felt that a good portion of the time allotted to the conclusion of the plot could’ve been given to the beginning, establishing the friendship between Chet and Nick, or in the middle, lengthening out the ridiculous bank robbing scheme they developed.

When all was said and done (I won’t be specific because I don’t want to spoil it for you if you still want to see it), the actions of the “protagonists” had me pondering whether they were the better people. I guess they didn’t really want to kill anyone, but they definitely weren’t on any moral high ground, which isn’t exactly necessary to establish in a dark comedy, but 30 Minutes or Less didn’t conform to that genre.

With all the talent involved with the project, I expected more, and while I think it was admirable that they tried to limit their time to 83 minutes, I don’t think it was paced well at all. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Ruben Fleischer is a bad director, he’s proven before that he has talent, it just seemed like he was getting lazy this time around. Maybe if he added some zombies this would’ve been right up his alley.

OVERALL: C

Pac’s Take: I couldn’t agree more.

OVERALL: C

Take Two: The Social Network (2010)

5 Oct

The Social Network 

Rated: PG-13 

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones 

Director: David Fincher 

Chris’ Take: 

I did an article at the beginning of September about the five films that I was anticipating the most this fall. The Social Network was not on there. When I was asked why I didn’t have it on there, I said that it looked like a quick way to make money off of the Facebook craze. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, what I saw last night was a thoughtful look at a complex person and the tragic side of the meteoric rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

The film starts with Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend, Erica, at a bar in 2003 as a conversation about exclusive clubs at Harvard leads to Erica breaking up with him. In a drunken stupor he writes a nasty blog about her and simultaneously creates a web page that allows users to vote on whether one girl is more attractive than another. This page, combined with an idea from two twins, Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss (Armie Hammer), as well as a little financial assistance from Zuckerberg’s best friend and roommate, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) evolves into what eventually becomes Facebook. From there, the film flashes back and forth between two lawsuits happening simultaneously, one from Saverin and one from the Winkelvoss twins, and  the sad story of how the success of  the company and Zuckerberg’s ambition hurt those closest to him while bringing the rest of the world closer to each other. 

 

David Fincher has another incredible directorial success with The Social Network, keeping the audience entertained through what could have been just two hours of drawn out dialogue by ensuring that the appropriate amount of humor and wit maintained a perfect pace. Obviously, without a strong script from Aaron Sorkin this film would  have fallen apart and probably wouldn’t have attracted Fincher’s interest; and Sorkin’s script really was fantastic. 

In my opinion, this was Eisenberg’s best role yet. He usually plays a mumbling and understated loser who is too weak to stand up for himself, and while there are elements of that in this role, he adds a biting tongue and a pompous air that he hadn’t had before. What made his performance amazing was his ability to create minor ways to make the viewer feel sorry for him when he realizes he has done something bad, but can’t figure out the appropriate way to make up for it and gets confused at why people can’t understand his misguided attempts at apology. 

I thought Justin Timberlake might be a hindrance on the film, but he didn’t overdo his role and he played the part Sean Parker really well. Armie Hammer, who played both Winkelvoss twins (sort of) stole some scenes as well. Josh Pence played Tyler Winkelvoss, but Hammer’s face was superimposed over his in post-production, which was really incredible because if I hadn’t known, I wouldn’t have notice at all. 

But will never be as cool as two Arnolds.

Andrew Garfield also did a decent job playing Zuckerberg’s  “just-happy- to-be-involved-but-am-very-naive” best friend. 

While this was definitely a great film, one of the best of the year, I have trouble seeing  it winning a Best Picture award, but it will certainly be nominated. I predict that it will win an award for Best Adapated Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin, and while Fincher will probably at least receive a directorial nomination, he will most likely have to wait again to be recognized by the Academy as one of the greatest directorial minds in the business today. I just hope that when he wins, it is for a film that truly encompasses his genius and that it is not just a bone the Academy throws him, like they did with Martin Scorcese.  

  • Characters: A
  • Cinematography: A-
  • Directing: A
  • Performances: A
  • Plot: A-
  • Overall: A

Pac’s Take:  

David Fincher is one of very few directors in Hollywood whose name is an instant draw for me.  There has not been a single David Fincher feature film that I have seen and not liked (Panic Room being the closest).  So when I first heard there was a movie coming out about Facebook and it was directed by Fincher I naturally thought the streak was over.  

Honestly, how many people reading this review weren’t skeptical; I thought with this movie David Fincher was going to “Johnny Depp” his way out of my instant draw list.  

Seen Above: pulling what I now refer to as a Johnny Depp

 

Add Aaron Sorkin to write and music by Trent Reznor and what you end up getting is the perfect storm to create the perfect Facebook movie.  

Being that the film revolves around Zuckerberg, the movie’s success depends on the performance of its star, Jesse Eisenberg.  I’ll be honest about Eisenberg, I don’t think he’s proven that he can be an A-list actor yet.  I think he is very one-dimensional in all the roles I’ve seen him play and he does not have very much charisma on-screen.  However, if there is one role that he is born to play it is this one.  I don’t know how it happened, but Eisenberg’s portrayal of the Facebook mogul made me hate him and root for him at the same time.  Complimented by a strong, young supporting cast including: Andrew Garfield (the next Spider-man), Justin Timberlake, and Armie Hammer (who played twins with very different personalities wonderfully), The Social Network was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.  

That'd make a great stage name!

 

The film isn’t perfect, some scenes in the film seems to drag on a little longer than necessary.  Also, while I love Fincher’s films it seems like he was given the cameras used to make Alien 3, didn’t realize there were green/yellow filters on the lens, and has used them for every movie he’s made since.  

Left to Right: Panic Room, Se7en, The Social Network

 

 Here are my overall scores:  

Characters: A-
Cinematography: B+
Direction: A
Performances: A
Plot: A-
Overall: A 

TAKE TWO OVERALL GRADE: A

Opening This Week (Sept 27 – Oct 3)

28 Sep

I am returning from my brief hiatus of a very busy week in the hopes of bringing you several articles today. I hope that I can get them all accomplished in a short period of time. This should be a very interesting week for wide releases, boasting an original screenplay about Facebook (The Social Network) as well as an unoriginal screenplay adaptation of vampire children eating other children and some adults (Let Me In).

Without further ado, here are the wide releases opening this week:

1. The Social Network (Oct 1, 2010) #1 Recommendation for this week

Rating: PG-13

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones

Directed by: David Fincher

Synopsis from IMDB: A story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook.

Chris’ Take: I was really skeptical about this one a month ago. It looked like a ploy to get people to see a story that most of them knew pretty well from the news. Also, it looked like Jesse Eisenberg was doing his whimpering nerd character again and continuing with his typecast. However, after doing a lot of research and reading a lot of early reviews, it sounds like it is a complex story behind the groundbreaking social networking site and is my recommendation for viewing this weekend. On the other hand, I still have no doubt that in the tradition of other awkward character actors (aka Michael Cera), Eisenberg will not depart too much from his usual style.

2. Let Me In (Oct 1, 2010)

Rating: R

Starring: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Synopsis from IMDB: A bullied young boy befriends a young female vampire who lives in secrecy with her guardian.

Chris’ Take: While I am usually skeptical about remakes of recent movies, in this case the Swedish Let the Right One In (2008), I think this one has some promise. The early reviews have been outstanding and it has two great child actors to shoulder the task. I still have some reservations, but I think this one will be handled with bloody care.

3. Case 39 #1 Movie to Avoid this week

Rating: R

Starring: Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Ian Mcshane

Directed by: Christian Alvart

Synopsis from IMDB: Case 39 centers on an idealistic social worker who saves an abused 10-year-old girl from her parents only to discover that the girl is not as innocent as she thinks. 

Chris’ Take: This is probably the 39th version of a script with the exact same plot to cross the desk of the producers and they had been so worn down of reading the same crap they finally conceded and did not have enough originality left to change the title. Also, the special effects in the previews  look borrowed from the mid-90’s. It also boasts Renee Zellweger as the leading actress….that alone was enough to scare me, but not in the good way.

That’s all for wide releases this week. If you have access  to a limited release theater in your area try checking out Casino Jack, starring Kevin Spacey as a Washington D.C. lobbyist and his protegé as their schemes to peddle influence and power lead to corruption and murder. Or, if you are into more artistic/foreign films try Leaving (Partir) a French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas as a well-to-do married woman who practices physiotherapy in her backyard and ends up giving up everything for a passionate love affair.

Which do you think will be the best film to come out this weekend?