Sean K. Cureton

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

127 Hours

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on January 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

127 Hours
Directed by Danny Boyle
3 out of 4 stars

Since the success of his Oscar wining film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, director Danny Boyle has come into the spotlight as a great director. Slumdog, which was a rather dull film about an Indian boy winning a million dollars on a game show, among other things, was interesting to say the least. But was Slumdog truly that great of a film? And is Danny Boyle really that great as a director?

With 2010’s release of 127 Hours, some critics think Boyle has produced another Oscar worthy film. Based on the experiences of canyoneer Aron Ralston, 127 Hours tells the true story of how Ralston had to live for five days in a canyon where his arm had been caught between a boulder and the canyon wall. With such an interesting idea, and such a respected director in tow, what could go wrong?

Here’s the truth of the matter: Danny Boyle is not as good as some of the acclaim he has received might suggest. While some might think his direction lends itself to a more commercial and easier to grasp style, the simple fact of the matter is that Boyle is not a great film maker in the classic sense, in that his films often don’t feel like films at all. In 127 Hours, Boyle repeatedly edits the film so that there are several sequences where we have a split screen with three images at the same time. It’s hard to tell why Boyle does this so often in the film, as it doesn’t seem to lend the film anything, and is quite frankly a bit disorienting and ugly to look at time and time again. Beyond that, the split screen shots could have been done in a much more fluid way by just simply pointing the camera directly at James Franco’s face, who plays the lead role of Aron Ralston in the film.

Luckily, James Franco’s largely solo performance, which takes up the bulk of the film, is spot on. Franco plays the part of Ralston so well, that the audience can feel everything that Franco’s character is going through. Franco again shows himself to be a great actor in this film, and furthers his range in the process. It is a sheer joy to watch Franco act largely by himself for the entire 94 minutes, even in the most gruesome scene of the film, where Ralston has to sever his own arm with a dull knife.

In conclusion, Danny Boyle is not the best director in the world, he certainly does not deserve another Oscar for this film, but because of James Franco’s performance, 127 Hours pulls through by capturing one of the best performances in film in 2010.

Oscars 2011 Predictions, Hopes, and Wishes

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on January 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Keep in mind this is only going off of the films I have seen from 2010, and does not include every film, actor, director, ect. It is a list of some of the major categories and who I think should win and be included in those categories.

Best Actor:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
2. Ben Stiller for Greenberg
3. Jeff Bridges for True Grit
4. Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
5. James Franco for 127 Hours

Who Should Win:
Ben Stiller

Who Will Win:
Colin Firth

Best Actress:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. Natalie Portman for Black Swan
2. Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
3. Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
4. Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right

Who Should Win:
Natalie Portman

Who Will Win:
Natalie Portman

Best Original Screenplay:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. Noah Baumbach for Greenberg
2. Christopher Nolan for Inception
3. Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right

Who Should Win:
Christopher Nolan

Who Will Win:
Christopher Nolan

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
2. The Coen Brothers for True Grit

Who Should Win:
Aaron Sorkin

Who Will Win:
Aaron Sorkin

Best Director:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. David Fincher for The Social Network
2. Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right
3. The Coen Brothers for True Grit
4. Christopher Nolan for Inception
5. Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
6. Noah Baumbach for Greenberg

Who Should Win:
Darren Aronofsky

Who Will Win:
David Fincher

Best Picture:
Who Should Be Nominated:
1. The Social Network
2. Toy Story 3
3. Black Swan
4. True Grit
5. The Kids Are All Right
6. Greenberg
7. Inception
8. The King’s Speech

Who Should Win:
Black Swan

Who Will Win:
The Social Network

Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on January 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Somewhere
Directed by Sofia Coppola
3 out of 4 stars

Towards the end of every year, there are a number of films that are released with the hopes of being considered for Golden Globe and Oscar recognition for the previous year, despite the fact that they could very easily have been released within the beginning of the next year. Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere is a film that seems to fall into that category. While it was technically released in 2010, Somewhere was released so late in the year that many theatre goers may have not seen it before the end of 2010. However, given that it is a Sofia Coppola film, the judges of the Oscars will certainly put it under consideration, as it is obviously a film of substance.

But regardless of whether or not Ms. Coppola was trying to get her film released in time for the 2010 award season, it still stands that Somewhere may not in fact be one of the best films of the year. While being a very interesting film, and a film that keeps the audience’s attention for the full 97 minutes allotted to it, Coppola’s Somewhere, despite being a well directed and interesting film, just doesn’t feel like a great film, especially when compared to other films released in 2010, like Black Swan, True Grit, or The Social Network.

While Coppola’s character study of Johnny Marco, a young and misanthropic actor played by Stephen Dorff, is interesting, it is also very empty and leaves much to be desired. The point of the matter is that Somewhere doesn’t seem to be about anything at all. Much of the film feels like a dragged out character description of Johnny, who is quiet frankly, an asshole bum who would be hard to watch if it were not for Ms. Coppola’s superb directing ability. Without a plot, the viewer is instead shown a series of events in Johnny’s life, including various parties, sequences of Johnny driving his sports car, and two very long and somewhat awkward scenes of Johnny watching strippers.

Luckily, Ms. Coppola did not force her viewers to watch Johnny alone, but also included his daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning, whose relationship with her father partially makes up for Johnny’s lack of ambition. The scenes with Johnny and his daughter, which largely make up the second half of the film, are great in that they seem to offer some kind of narrative to follow, even if it is not a very complete one.

All in all, Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere is a good film, but not a great film, nor one of the best films of the year. It certainly seems to situate itself among the better films of the year, but does not quiet cut it as one of the best. Released in 2011, who knows how it might have fared come award season, but the fact is that 2010 has produced some of the best films in a long time, and Somewhere just doesn’t seem to measure up to some of the other films of 2010. If you haven’t seen Somewhere, you should see it, as it is certainly a fine example of great film making, but do not expect another Lost in Translation. Just enjoy Somewhere for what it is: another example of how talented Sofia Coppola is as a director.

Tron Has Never Looked This Good

In Movie Reviews: 2010 on January 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Tron: Legacy
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
3 out of 4 stars

After 28 years, it would seem as though Hollywood had completely forgotten about the 1982 Sci-Fi epic Tron. Based in a world very similar to our own, the 1982 film centered around video game designer Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, who was sucked into the computer program he had helped create. Inside the program, Kevin must fight for his own survival against evil “programs” within the computer system, which all look and act like neon-colored human beings. With the help of such good “programs” as Tron, played by Bruce Boxleitner, Kevin is able to make his way through the program by playing “games,” such as racing on high tech motor bikes and fighting in arenas against other “programs” with his identity disk. Eventually, Kevin gets back to the real world, and takes control of the company that he had been previously working for.

Now, with the 2010 release of Tron: Legacy, Disney has polished the world and basic plot-line of the 1982 film, and made it again for a whole new generation. Although Legacy is technically a sequel, one could very easily go to see it knowing nothing about the original film. This time around, the world of Tron focuses on Sam Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund, the son of Kevin who has been left by his father for nearly 28 years (seems fitting). Sam then enters the same program his father entered in the first film, only to find a much more colorful and sleeker world than the one his father entered 28 years ago. Sam then fights for his life, just like his father did, and finds his father who has been imprisoned by a “program” called Clu, played again by Jeff Bridges, and modeled after a much younger Kevin. After Sam and Kevin reunite, they decide to push ahead together to find their way past Clu, and out of the computer system. Ultimately, Kevin sacrifices himself for Sam, Clu is defeated, and Sam comes back to the real world to take control of his father’s old company.

Obviously, no one will be going to this movie for an exciting script and interesting characters. But that is not what makes this film franchise so much fun. Despite the fact that some of the characters are clunky, and the story is very predictable, the uniqueness of the world in Tron in and of itself is worth the price of admission. Where the 1982 film had very subdued colors, and a lot of the world was very confusing and hard to understand at times, Tron: Legacy is bright and polished, and the basic workings within the world are much easier to grasp this time around. Frankly, it’s been a long time since a Sci-Fi world looked this good.

Beyond that, Jeff Bridges is back, which is always great, and Olivia Wilde is fun to watch as the naïve program Quorra. Also, Daft Punk supplies all of the score in this film, which is original and fitting for the action taking place on screen. The electro-duo even makes a cameo appearence in the film, as two DJ’s in a club.

If you haven’t seen Tron: Legacy yet, and you tend to like Sci-Fi, go ahead and see it. If not, go and see it anyway, as it is very assessable, and has special effects that are much cooler than anything else these days (I’m looking at you Avatar). By being loyal to the original film, and by expanding the ideas of the original film so that it’s world is even more expansive and easier to understand, Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy is the best Sci-Fi film that has been released in a long time.