Tuesday, November 16, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; The McBone Week in Movies

The Social Network - I spend as much time on Facebook as the next guy, I'm not too proud to admit, but it's never long before status updates and Farmville notices have me feeling all icky inside--kind of how I felt coming out of The Social Network.  Now don't misunderstand me; I'm with of the critics on this one.  Director David Fincher crafts a hell of a flick in retelling the founding of Facebook, its meteoric rise and the concomitant plunge into petty squabbling, betrayal and litigation among its inventors.  Is it good enough that I can forgive him for Benjamin Button?  No, but it's still pretty darned good.

The creation of Facebook, as Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin would tell it, is a story of overprivileged and talented Harvard douchebags simultaneously changing the way we interact as humans and never missing a chance to make total jackasses of themselves.  Chief among them is Mark Zuckerberg, whose foray into social networking begins one reckless and beer-fueled night in his dorm.  Slighted in love, he takes aim at a whole gender by giving fellow students the chance to 'rate' the hotness of Harvard coeds on a network called Facemash.  Thus are the noble origins of Facebook.

I don't know if Zuckerberg is as condescending as Jesse Eisenberg plays him, or if the Winkelvoss twins, whose idea he allegedly stole, are as maddeningly aristocratic in real life.  I can't help wondering if Napster inventor Sean Parker is the world's biggest prick, or if this is Justin Timberlake almost overplaying his role.  Movies exaggerate, and Fincher lays it on thick.  By the end, there is a lot of sleaze and very little sympathy to be squeezed out of this narrative.  Exceptions are Rooney Mara, as spellbinding as she is unceremonious in dumping Zuckerberg in a tour de force opening scene.  Every verbal whiplash that she lays on him feels good, because you know what?  The little shit deserves it.  I haven't been knocked out by Andrew Garfield as an actor in his short career, but you do feel for his Eduardo Saverin, Facebook's co-founder and CFO, whose role in the company is jeopardized when Parker waltzes in with big talk and a charlatan's swagger.  I'm not sure why Rashida Jones is in this, but it sure was nice to see her, even in a throwaway role.

Aside from feeling like I spent two hours rolling around in fresh manure, there isn't much to complain about here.  A snappy script, slick direction and strong performances merit a good rating.  I'm giving it one.  Facebook may not be forever, but it is a phenomenon.  500 million users made this a tale worth telling, and The Social Network does its job in capturing a bit of the Zeitgeist.  4.0 McBones

Wendy and Lucy - Agnes Varda's Vagabond meets Old Yeller.  I've always thought Michelle Williams was a swell actor without ever being blown away by her...until now.  Williams astonishes as Wendy, an itinerant young woman on her way to Alaska, her only companions a yellow dog named Lucy and an ancient and unreliable Honda Accord.  Trouble begins when the auto craps out in Oregon.  Getting arrested separates Wendy from Lucy, and thus begins her journey through frustration, loneliness and heartbreak as she seeks out her best friend.  4.5 McBones

Paranormal Activity 2 - I have a fondness for small budget films that make a splash simply because they're well crafted.  That was Paranormal Activity.  Somewhat better endowed with cashflow, the filmmakers make the right choice in sticking to their roots for part 2. Watching PA2 in a theater packed with nervous students was great fun, and a reminder that we watch movies foremost to be transported.  Though slow to get rolling, PA2 packs in more scares than its predecessor, and manages to weave the two tales in clever way.  3.5 McBones

The Bond Project: My sometimes popular wife and I will be watching the James Bond movies in chronological order and offering succinct yet cutting-edge insight into the evolving world of 007.

From Russia with Love

N: Revisiting this masterpiece reminds me why FRwL was once, and may still be, my favorite Bond flick.  Miles above Dr. No, Terence Young infuses this saga with the spirit of North by Northwest as Bond makes his way by car, train and boat from Istanbul to Venice.  Most shameless moment: Gypsy catfight that sets feminism back decades.  4.5 McBones

A: This used to be my favorite Bond movie but it didn't shine much upon revisiting it.  I liked this one better than Dr. No because the Bond 'girl' is much more central to the plot and wonderfully endearing (though I'm still recovering from the Gypsy fight myself). What a way to look at the Other these films have.  The big scary Russians are the ones who get it this time. Yikes.  3.0 McBones



Than said...

I have not seen Wendy and Lucy, but I cannot suspend disbelief enough to imagine an unreliable Honda Accord. Lost me there.

Kid Shay said...

We are, as usual, completely in agreement. Aaron Sorkin turns in yet another great script. Rashida was the only woman in that movie with a brain (besides the brief appearance by Rooney).

Who would've thought Michelle Williams would be the brightest star to escape from Dawson's Creek? Not I. Isis and I loved Wendy and Lucy, but it was just so sad.

Cait said...

Haha, that's funny, because I decided I was going to watch Bond over Christmas break, because it's one thing I can get away with watching at my parents' house without people making fun of me.

McBone said...

Than, Dammit! You're ruining my movie. You're right; they should have used a Chevy.

Kid Shay, Aren't you forgetting mega talent James Van Der Beek?

Cait, What's that drink you were talking about before? Rum something or other???