Thursday, 28 October 2010

'Easy A' Review

'Easy A' (dir: Will Gluck, 2010), Cert: 15

The hilarious and beautiful Emma Stone has finally landed her first leading role in Will Gluck’s new high school comedy. After giving great performances in ‘Superbad’ (2007) and ‘Zombieland’ (2009), it was about time that she took the limelight. Critics have praised ‘Easy A’ massively for its performances and its humorous script with some saying it’s the best teen movie since ‘Clueless’ (1995), so is ‘Easy A’ the teen comedy we’ve all been waiting for?
 Olive Penderghast (Stone) is an anonymous teenager attending a local high school. She spends her days living in her best friend Rhiannon’s (Alyson Michalka) shadow and hoping that one day she’ll be free from schooling. After refusing an invitation to a camping trip over the weekend, Olive says she has a date to cover her tracks. After returning to school, she has to lie about what happened with her imaginary date, including her ‘losing her virginity’ which causes a cyclone of rumours around the school. This misguided rumour points the finger at Olive and labelling her as a ‘slut’. Olive realises that this actually could work in her favour and could give her an identity that she has always needed. Olive starts to wear a red ‘A’ on her clothing as it stands for ‘adulterer’ and begins trading ‘sexual rumours’ for money which emphasises the film’s tagline, “let’s not and say we did”. Her rival, Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes) is a devout Christian who battles to make Olive pay for her sins. Her loveable and zany parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) start to notice Olive’s strange behaviour and realise that soon she is going to get hurt. Now Olive needs to decide whether having an identity at high school is actually a good thing or not.
 Firstly, the thing that really separates this movie from any of your other standard teen comedies is the style. ‘Easy A’ wants to be a John Hughes movie, and makes various jokes about it. This is an 80’s movie set in 2010. Rather than dwelling on boring stereotyped characters (‘The Jock’, ‘The Cheerleader’ ect.), this movie focuses on people who attend high school, not who ‘live’ it. It doesn’t even run any of the standard teen plotlines either (for example: A group of guys needs to lose their virginity before graduation), which considering this film is basically about sex, it could of very easily fallen into that dull repetitive trap, instead the movie is partly based on ‘The Scarlett Letter’ which Olive’s English class are reading; it’s an 1800’s novel about adultery and sin in which the female protagonist is forced to wear a red ‘A’ for her sexual sins.
 The other great thing about this movie is how it’s been advertised and promoted, hardly anything has been given away and only scraps of the story are apparent in the trailer which leaves the audience with some nice surprises throughout.
 So much credit needs to go to the movie’s writer, Bert V. Royal because the script is a knockout. It’s bittersweet, incredibly funny and immensely charming. The film is also beautifully made and crafted. Gluck’s direction is great and the film’s editing is fantastic.
 The performances are brilliant too; Stone is an utter star and gives a crippling funny and heart-warming account of a confused teenage girl. She nails the sarcasm Olive has which makes some of her jokes feel like a twisted blade; it’s her best performance to date. Bynes is also very funny as a crazy Christian and she packs some really funny lines, but the film’s best lines come from Tucci, his performance as Olive’s father, Dill, is wonderful. He easily has the funniest line in the movie regarding adoption and his wacky and loveable ego makes you smile and giggle throughout.
 In regards to the comments saying it’s the best since ‘Clueless’, I think that’s untrue. ‘Clueless’ is a classic Chick-Flick, I wouldn’t call ‘Easy A’ a Chick-Flick at all, in fact, it’s just an awesome comedy that everybody can enjoy. This movie doesn’t want a genre stereotype, it’s a blend of cinema; it’s a John Hughes cocktail with a sexy zest and a killer contemporary script.
 ‘Easy A’ defies the mundane cinematic style and substance of the common teen flick and pays homage to the greatest of schooling cinema, it revels in references and quirks that sweep a silly smile across your face and make you realise there is more to this genre than just some ‘ugly duckling’ dreaming to be the prom queen. It’s one of my favourites this year and I can’t think of a better comedy in 2010 than this.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 – Just go and see it; this is the perfect package. Side-splitting, original and Stone’s ticket to major stardom. It’s easily an A+
By Chris Haydon

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

'The Social Network' Review

'The Social Network' (dir: David Fincher, 2010), Cert: 12A

Director David Fincher brings us his latest film to the big screens, however this movie isn’t about a reverse-ageing man, or a notorious San Francisco serial killer; ‘The Social Network’ is about the creation of Facebook, one of the world’s most visited websites. The film is based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich and the screenplay was written by courtroom king Aaron Sorkin, so on the outside, this should be a pretty good picture. However, when I first saw the trailer for the film earlier this year I thought it looked like a terrible idea for a motion picture. Have I been proven wrong?
The film is a Biopic Drama that follows the life and times of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg); a young Harvard Computer student, who on a cold night in 2003, took a seat at his computer and in a drunken and angry haze formed a small social networking site that allowed fellow students to vote on the attractiveness of their female friends. Little did Zuckerberg know that this would soon expand into one of the biggest and important websites ever made; Facebook. Six years later and Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history, but his fortune didn’t come without a price; his best friend and financial supporter Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) sued Zuckerberg for fraud, corporate corruption and false contracts for the sum of $600 million.
 The film revolves around the acts that lead up to Zuckerberg’s various court cases and how they have affected his life, wealth and friendships. Writer Aaron Sorkin is famous for his brilliant and compelling tales of politics and court cases with shows like ‘The West Wing’ under his belt, and he really brings all his cards out to play with this movie. The script is incredibly sure-footed and is presented with perfection. The dialogue is witty, cruel and often side-splitting which I didn’t expect at all. Fincher’s direction is to the point and very human; he captures the character’s emotions and actions fantastically which makes the audience really enjoy spending time with these filthy rich twenty-something’s.
 The real Mark Zuckerberg had nothing to do with the film and wasn’t very approving of the movie; especially that he’s portrayed in a pretty bad light throughout. He’s the anti-hero; often very funny and charming, but a dark shadow sweeps over him every so often leaving others lost along the way. In one scene when Saverin is explaining about Zuckerberg teaming up with Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), he talks about the changes in shares in the Facebook site. After reeling out stationary figures for every other shareholder, he says how much of his share has changed. The number and Garfield’s deliverance of the line is like a knife to the gut. Every audience member took a huge intake of breath as he uttered the figures, which instantly made Zuckerberg the villain of the story.
 The performances in this movie are outstanding; Eisenberg is incredible as Zuckerberg, he’s edgy, charismatic and polite, yet his darker side sometimes gets the better of him. This is one of Eisenberg’s best performances and I think people will start taking him more seriously as an actor now. Garfield is also great as Saverin; he gives a really honest and heart-felt performance that makes you really feel for him as he’s taken for a rough ride along the Facebook wagon. Timberlake is fantastic as Parker; he’s funny, irritating and is a really faithful screen presence of the man behind music mega-site Napster.
 Let’s just say I was very wrong about the trailer; ‘The Social Network’ isn’t just a film about Facebook, it’s about people who stumbled upon massive success by basically cyber-bullying. These characters don’t feel like money-ridden scoundrels, their story is an important and influential one and Fincher’s movie has captured it wonderfully. The ironic thing about Zuckerberg in the film is that even though he founded the largest social networking site in history, all he wanted was a friend, and that never really happened. This is a pin-point perfect Biopic that works on multiple levels giving the audience a hilarious and harrowing emotional rollercoaster that will make you desperate to endure it again. ‘The Social Network’ is the surprise film of the year for me and I had a wonderful time watching it. I’m sure it’ll have a high spot in my top 10 of 2010.
Verdict – 5 out of 5: A marvellous achievement in every department; Fincher’s Facebook fable is engaging, immensely watchable and just a sheer delight.
By Chris Haydon

Thursday, 14 October 2010

'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' Review

'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' (dir: Oliver Stone, 2010), Cert: 12A

Cinema’s biggest shark has finally returned for a second round; after a 23 year wait, director Oliver Stone has opened the prison cell bars and released Gordon Gekko once again. Gekko was the king of Wall Street in Stone’s original picture, but now he’s a small fish in a huge pond trying to rebuild his financial empire. Michael Douglas won an Oscar for his role as Gekko in the 1987 picture, but will he be collecting another golden statue for this movie?
 Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is a young and successful banker working for Keller Zabel Investments, deep in the heart of New York’s Wall Street. He is driven by the idea of energy investment and production, and he’s eager to succeed. Moore is engaged to Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan); the daughter of Wall Street legend Gordon (Douglas) who has been released from prison and is promoting his new book entitled ‘Is Greed Good?’ Jacob wants Winnie to be re-united with her father so he goes to meet him. Gordon and Jacob become close and start working with each other, a relationship that’s great for business but terrible for his relationship with Winnie. Bretton James (Josh Brolin), the CEO of Churchill Schwartz has kept a close eye on Moore and he’s going to cause even more problems for the young businessman. Can the young idealist really survive in the deep and dark waters of America’s financial district?
  I’m surprised ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ actually even came out after all the delays and problems it suffered. Due out in February, which was then pushed back to April, and pushed back to 6th October in the UK, it seems that Stone and 20th Century Fox really wanted a decent gap in the market before releasing the movie, which is ironic as internet business movie ‘The Social Network’ has already started previewing around the country, but at least we’ve finally got to see it anyway.
 As a huge fan of ‘Wall Street’ I was eager and excited to see this film, especially as I’m a big fan of LaBeouf and Mulligan. It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. For a Stone film, it has real pace and doesn’t feel stupidly long which is refreshing. The film is beautifully edited; with graphs flowing across the New York skyline, and digits and figures scrolling down the screen and across the character’s faces, it’s really pretty to look at. It’s also very well directed; you can see Stone’s passion for the project ooze out of the shots and camera angles he uses, something which is a trademark of his filmmaking skill. The script is also marvellous; it’s laced with sarcasm, drama and wit which will have some viewers grabbing their sides and others lolling in the personal and work relationships and atmosphere that surrounds these characters.
 It also has fantastic performances; LaBeouf is brilliant as Moore, he has real energy and determination which is not only great for his character, but for him as an actor. I think he’s a real screen presence and I love watching his films. Mulligan is also very good as Winnie, she spends a lot of time crying but her emotional performance is believable and heart-felt. As for Douglas, he’s just fabulous as ever. It seems that even though he’s aged, Gekko really does live inside him and this film really allows the famous character to develop further. Brolin is also very good and seems to be the ‘new’ Gekko for this film, he’s the villain and he performs it perfectly. Frank Langella also appears briefly in this movie but he really engages the audience with his short slot.
 The only real problem with the movie is not much actually happens. You are involved with the picture because you like and care for the characters, but the actual events that unfold don’t seem to affect the script enough, but I’m going to see it again so maybe I’ll get more story from a second viewing.
 Overall, I really enjoyed this film and despite little problems, it’s a great financial drama that’s charismatic, funny and charming, plus it works well as a sequel or a stand-alone film. You really don’t need to see the original to understand this film.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 – Gekko is definitely back and he means business. Knockout performances, witty scripting and a heard of money terminologies you never thought you’d hear.
By Chris Haydon

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

'Buried' Review

'Buried' (dir: Rodrigo Cortes, 2010), Cert: 15

Ryan Reynolds; a Hollywood hunk, a strapping poster boy, a man trapped in a box for 95 minutes? Well that’s how he’s spending his time in Rodrigo Cortes’ latest picture. Reynolds has really stepped out of his comfort zone in the last two years and it seems that ‘Buried’ might just be the craziest film he’s ever starred in. He introduced the film at the London Frightfest by saying “I hope you like this film just as much as I hated making it!” so even he has realised that this project is just unheard of for an actor of his stature. So, has the clean cut star really pulled this off?

Paul Conroy (Reynolds) is a United States truck driver stationed in Iraq. After he and his team are caught in a violent attack, he is knocked unconscious. When Paul wakes, he is soon to realise that he has been buried alive in a tiny wooden coffin with only a Zippo lighter and a mobile phone that’s rapidly losing battery and signal. Now Paul must try to connect with the outside world and fight for his survival. Every move that he makes effects his outcome; he needs the lighter to see but it’s burning up valuable oxygen, he needs the phone to communicate with his abductors but he’s desperate to speak with his loved ones. Paul has just 95 minutes to escape his death trap, or he’ll be left to rot in his tomb.
 Notably, the first thing about ‘Buried’ that stands out is how it’s made. During the entire film, we never leave the box Paul is buried in. He is the film. The only other acting is the voices on the end of his phone; Cortes keeps the audience so tightly wrapped up with Paul it’s suffocating. The direction of this picture is second to none; to be able to keep a film so interesting, so tense and so blood-curdling all inside one set is incredible. The opening two minutes screen just darkness with only the sounds of Paul sobbing and groaning in despair and agony. It’s incredibly hard to watch because you feel the anguish and solitude he does, when you’re sitting in a dark cinema with just a black screen, it’s almost impossible to bear. The audience feel totally emotionally engaged with the movie throughout and this is how the movie survives. If the viewer wasn’t connected to the picture, it would literally be just a man in a box which seems pretty dull, it’s the suspense and emotions that allow this picture to unfold and open new doors that many haven’t dared to go in to. The film dances on different genres; some will say it’s a Horror and others will say Thriller, personally, I agree with the latter.
 On a technical level, the movie is brilliant; the lighting, the sounds and the camera techniques are flawless. Cortes is a fairly unknown director but because this is such a fine work, I’m sure his name will be popping up again very soon. However, Cortes isn’t the only one who deserves congratulations, Reynolds deserves them massively. This is one of, if not his best performance in his career. It almost seems impossible that the guy from ‘Van Wilder: Party Liaison’ (2002) could supply such a powerhouse performance that keeps the audiences’ hearts racing. Paul’s story is so gripping and disastrous that it really needed nailing in terms of acting, and Reynolds brings the goods, it’s a marvellous achievement for any actor; let only a Hugo Boss model.
‘Buried’ has a few little niggles that will make some over-critical people talk but ultimately the reason why this film is so good is because you actually care for the character, because you know this situation is believable and utterly terrifying, because this is one of most people’s worst nightmares. ‘Buried’ is an emotional punch to the gut that needs to be seen at the cinema; I think part of its atmosphere is because the audience is situated in a pitch black room; the only light is from Paul’s lighter. Watching this on DVD at home just seems less frightening because you’re surrounded by home comforts and not by strangers munching on popcorn.
 Go see ‘Buried’, you will feel utterly drained afterwards but it’s so worth it. A grand film that holds its audience by the throat and fails to let go.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 – A white knuckle rollercoaster ride in the space of 6 feet. You don’t watch ‘Buried’, you survive it.
By Chris Haydon

Friday, 1 October 2010

Who do you Think Should Direct the New 'Superman' Picture?

Who Should Direct The Man of Steel's Next Outing?

The shortlist of directors for the next 'Superman' project have finally been announced. Clark Kent has stayed on the small-screen throughout the Noughties with Alfred Gough and Miles Miller's amazing show 'Smallville' (2001-2011) and he's only had the one big-screen outing in Bryan Singer's brilliant 'Superman Returns' in 2006.

 With the success of DC Comics movies over the last decade ('Batman Begins', 'The Dark Knight' ect.) and with big films due out over the next few months including 'Red' and 'Green Lantern', it was inevitable that 'Superman' would swoop back into the cinema.

 Here are the list of directors who are potential directors for the new movie. After reading the list, post a comment on the blog and let me know who you think would be the best and why!


Duncan Jones (United Kingdom)

- Directed the wonderful Indie Sci-Fi hit 'Moon' which was an incredible achievement and an astonishing debut picture.

- He's young and has a keen eye for detail, character development and narrative formatting.


Tony Scott (United Kingdom)

- Is an Action nut with some of the best modern Actioners under his belt ('Man on Fire', 'True Romance', 'Enemy of the State' ect.) He would feel no pressure with the gravity of this project.

-His older brother Ridley could be a valuable asset to the picture.


Matt Reeves (United States)

- Like Jones, he has made an incredible picture on a tiny budget, 'Cloverfield'. He is also the director of the American Horror re-make, 'Let Me In' which looks more than promising.

- He's young, and he is close with JJ Abrams, who lets face it, would be a brilliant producer for the movie.

Zack Snyder (United States)

- He's used to madness on sets and locations so 'Superman' would be a walk in the park.

- He might love CGI a little too much, but Snyder is a huge fanboy at heart and has already made films that Comic Book fans love ('300', 'Watchmen' and new picture 'Sucker Punch' due early 2011).

Jonathan Liebesman (South Africa)

- Has mainly made fairly poor Horror re-makes but his next film 'Battle: Los Angeles' looks like a real nerve-shredding picture and judging from the trailer, it's directed with real skill.

- He's already been named the director of 'Clash of the Titans 2', so Hollywood clearly trust him with a big project and a huge budget

Darren Aronofsky (United States)

- Aronofsky's filmography is something of genius. With pictures like 'Requiem for a Dream', 'The Wrestler' and 'Black Swan' to his name, he is a truly talented filmmaker who will bring a lot to 'Superman'.

- At heart he's an Art director which could, if applied correctly, make this new 'Superman' the most original yet.

Christopher Nolan (United Kingdom)

- Nolan is the one to beat in Hollywood currently. With such an outstanding filmography including 'Batman Begins', 'The Dark Knight', 'Memento' and 'Inception', it's not too difficult to see that he will probably be DC Comics and Warner Bros. first choice.

- He's already producing the picture so he might decide to sit back on this one and focus on directing the third 'Batman' picture.

So, that's the list, now let me know who you think would be the best! Also let me know who you're choice of Superman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor would be!

My choices are:

Superman - Tom Welling or Jon Hamm
Lois Lane - Natalie Portman or Rachael McAdams
Lex Luthor - Jackie Earle Hayley, Michael Rosenbaum or Kevin Bacon