The Social Network

Swanner: First let me say that this fall has been just packed with really good films. With the exception of the awful owl movie everything I’ve seen has been really terrific. Which bring us to The Social Network. This is the film most people refer to as the “Facebook Movie”. It shows how in 2003 Mark Zuckerberg sat down at his computer at Harvard and developed the idea for Facebook … or did he?

Judd: Who cares? The Social Network was about as interesting to me as Facebook. And for those of you who don’t know, Facebook does not interest me at all. Maybe if the movie was about something important, I would have cared, but at it stands the movie was about over privileged college kids fucking each other over because of a website. Wake me when it’s done.

Swanner: You actually make it sound more interesting then than the preview showed. I was surprised how interesting the film was considering the plot, but Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) wrote the script and David Fincher (Se7en) directed the film and with that kind of experience you’ll almost always get something great. I loved the movie. I thought it was exciting and fascinating watching these over privileged college students screw each other over. I’d talk about how good the three leads are but then everyone in the film is good.

Judd: The script was fair but I’ll agree the acting was excellent. Jesse Eisenberg is breaking away from his poor-man’s Michael Cera image, and while I wouldn’t say it’s a stretch for him to play Zuckerberg, an intolerable nerd with Asperger’s, it’s definitely a step away from playing a mumbling pushover ala Cera. I felt the other characters fell away to Eisenberg, but again, I really didn’t care about any of them. At least they were all pretty – way too pretty to be computer geeks, mind you.

Swanner: There are attractive nerds believe it or not. I like Jesse Eisenberg. He’s really made some good choices and The Social Network should propel him into real stardom. Justin Timberlake was another stand out in the film but I’ve grown to expect good things from him since he blew me away in Alpha Dog. I did want to mention that the book which the movie is based was written by Ben Mezrich and was titled The Accident Billionaires. Look for this film come Oscar time to be a big player.

Judd: Attractive nerds? Have you seen the real-life pictures of Zuckerberg or Sean Parker? Not so attractive. The only ones in that don’t want to make you avert your eyes in real life are the Winklevoss Twins, and even then they have a certain Boris Karloff look to them. Anyway, everyone is screaming Oscar, Oscar, Oscar about this snoozer and all I can hope is that the best is yet to come, because if this is the best there is to offer, we’re in for a crap Oscar season.

Swanner: You suck

Swanner: ½
Judd: ½

Secretariat/It's Kind of a Funny Story

Swanner: New at theatres is the telling of one of the greatest race horses in history, Secretariat. Director Randall Wallace (We Were Soldiers) takes us back to the late 60’s where we are introduced to Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) the daughter of a horse breeder who has to do what she can to save her families ranch till a colt is born who would change all their lives. John Malkovich plays Lucien Laurin, Secretariat’s trainer and surprisingly I didn’t hate him in this.

Judd: Why is it that every time the economy is in the toilet someone releases a movie about a race horse? While Tom was seeing that, I was seeing the new release from Focus Features called It’s Kind of a Funny Story. A movie about a suicidal teenager, Craig (Keir Gilchrist, United States of Tara), who admits himself into a psych ward and is taught by one of the patients, Bobby, (Zach Galifianackis, The Hangover) that maybe life isn’t so unbearable.

Swanner: I sure hope there was more to that movie than just what you said. This isn’t a story about just any race horse, it’s about a champion…a Triple Crown winner. Secretariat is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time. It’s also a very enjoyable movie. The acting was all really good and the cinematography (Dean Semler) is amazing…but who doesn’t love beautiful shots of horses in the morning mist. The only problem I had with the movie was the script by Mike Rich. I was waiting for that “Oscar” moment in the movie and it never came. You’d have probably liked that they didn’t lower themselves but I really wanted that moment.

Judd: The Oscar moment where the lead stares into the camera lens and delivers his or her monologue? Blah. There really wasn’t much more to my movie than what I gave, however, the movie was not what I expected. With Galifianackis as the lead in a movie taking place in a psych ward, I was expecting slapstick and outlandish humor. Instead the movie focused on Gilchrist and his overwhelming anxiety over school, girls and family. I was happy to see Galifianackis get a chance to stretch a bit and play some pretty heavy scenes.

Swanner: One thing I really loved about my movie was that I knew how every race ended but I was at the edge of my seat. The audience that I saw the film with was somewhat aware of Secretariat but surprisingly a lot of people I know have no idea who he was and what he did. So movies like this are the only way his story will be passed on. As I said earlier, I really enjoyed the film. I think if the film takes of at the box-office it might have some Oscar chance, especially for Lane, Malkovich and on the technical side. (you know how period pieces do at the Oscars) It could also get a Best Picture nomination…I mean if the Blindside can do it….

Judd: I’m not holding my breath for any awards for It’s Kind of A Funny Story, but I do believe it’s a good teenage angst film that doesn’t suffer from the same clichés as similar films. All the performances are strong and the movie moves between light comedy and a dark-ish brooding well. Some people might think it seems a bit manic, but for a movie about a depressed suicidal teen in a psychiatric ward, isn’t that kind of the point?

Swanner: ½

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

I was never a big fan of the original Wall Street. I thought Michael Douglas was really good but the whole film and the mood of this country that followed just pissed me off. Let’s look past the age of Gordon Gekko … the movie starts out as Gekko is being released for prison. As he walks out he has no one waiting for him … he’s alone. Within a few years Gekko has written a book about his experiences and is now on the Lecture circuit. There Gekko meets Jake Moore, Shia LaBeouf, the young man who is engaged to Gekko’s estranged daughter, Carey Mulligan. The film follows Moore as he tries to unite Gekko with his daughter but also uses Gekko as he tries to play the big business card in 2007 right before the big crash.

The film is based on the 1987 film Wall Street also directed by Oliver Stone. The script is by Allen Loeb (The Switch) and Stephen Schiff. The script is very good and the production design is really top notch. Now I’ve already stated that I hated the first movie so I probably missed out on a lot of inside jokes but that didn’t alter my enjoyment of this new film for those who has never seen the original. The film has a huge cast including Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella and Eli Wallach … but the film is really all about Douglas. I can see why he won the Oscar, Gordon Gekko is just that big of a character. He’s not the same tool he was but he’s still no angel. This is a role that should have had every actor in Hollywood clamoring to play it and Douglas still makes it work.

Shia LaBeouf does a nice job in the film, he’s cute and intense and that works. Carey Mulligan keeps up with the two star which is a really an accomplishment consider how big the two men can get. The film is enjoyable because it makes its own way without relying on flashbacks or too many cameos to carry it through. I hate a sequel that can’t stand on its own. This may not be an Oscar contender, but it is a good film with some strong performances.


Legend of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Swanner: Not using our better judgment, Brian and I went to see the “owl” movie last night. I knew that it’s 90 minute running time promise that even if it wasn’t very riveting at least it would be done quickly. I was wrong. It was 90 minutes but that hour and a half felt like three hours. The film turned out to be a big boring, violent and confusing mess.

Judd: The movie is about good owls and bad owls. The bad owls kidnap and brainwash owlets to make an army so they can rule the owl kingdom. What is the benefit of ruling the owl kingdom? It was never addressed. Why are there good owls and bad owls? Who knows. Why are the bad owls bad? Because they are. The movie takes everything I hate about fantasy films and makes it worse. The plot is paper thin, the characters are unexplained archetypes, and the pacing is a slow crawl at best.

Swanner: The story follows Kludd and Soren, two brothers who are owl-napped by the bad guys only to have Kludd join the bad guys and Soren escaping and hoping to find the good owls (The Guardians) to once again bring peace to the owl world … I guess. Of course Soren finds the good owl, with help from his band of misfits, and the good guys save the day. The voices of the owls are a mix of established actors as well as some up in coming actors. Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush and Hugo Weaving voice the good and bad adult owls while Jim Sturges and Ryan Kwanten play the feuding brothers.

Judd: The bad brother’s name was Kludd? I didn’t know that. The movie is so chock full of fake gobbledygook words that I stopped paying attention. TS Elliot couldn’t have come up with more obnoxious names. The whole thing smacked of forced mysticism; and if the words and names weren’t bad enough there were at least three scenes where New Age vocals start wailing in the background.

Swanner: The movie was directed by Zack Snyder, the director of Watchmen and 300 and the writers are John Orloff and Emil Stern from the novel “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” by Kathryn Lasky. So at least we know who’s to blame for all this owl crap. Even though I was keeping up with this for the most part I didn’t care. I didn’t find the story or characters compelling and the music was over powering. I don’t know if this will work for kids or not and I really don’t care as long as I don’t have to sit through it again.

Judd: That’s what it comes down to. The movie is too deep, read pretentious, for young children and too juvenile for adults. Lack of explanation, motivation, and characters with real heart make the film unbearable to sit through. The animation is pretty, but unlike Avatar, it isn’t pretty enough to carry a mediocre film.

Swanner: ½
Judd: ½