Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Social Network - David Fincher

There are very few young filmmakers as dynamic as David Fincher. In fact, Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky come to mind. In his career so far, Fincher has taken on a piece of the Alien franchise, created the film that has, more than any other film defined Generation X, he's definitively proven the guilt of San Francisco's Zodiac Killer and he showed us that people who age backwards are people too...they just lead more complicated lives.

Two years ago, with the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher finally broke into the "Oscar Nominee" category; with October's release of The Social Network, it seems determined that David Fincher will join the immortal group of Oscar winners. Fincher's film may not be the best film of this year; it is; however, the most timely, generation defining and possibly, important film of 2010. When all is said and done, the 500,000,000 members of Facebook are very real. And when you're able to, not only show the genesis of such a defining tool of the age,  but to show it with the grace and power that Fincher and star, Jesse Eisenberg bring to this film, there is something special afoot.

If you're one of us--and by us, I mean the 500 M members of Mark Zuckerberg's website--this is a must see. If you're not one of us--and by this, I mean a person outside of the social networking generation, a generation that spans the concept of age--this film is a tool to help you understand us. Just like 1999's controversial but defining Fight Club, The Social Network takes the defining quality of a generation, boils it down to the elemental and puts it under the microscope.

In short: See. This. Film.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

10. Hereafter - Clint Eastwood: I, admittedly, have yet to see last year's Invictus; however, with the exception of that one film I have seen everything Mr. Eastwood has graced us with since 2003's phenomenal Mystic River. And, while his latest effort may not be to the same level of brilliance as Mystic River and its ending was slightly abrupt, Hereafter has a lot to offer, and represents the growth of an aged and ripened filmmaker at the peak of his powers.

9. Despicable Me - Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud: I know the heat that could possibly come my way for daring to name a DreamWorks animated film over a Pixar title. I don't care, Despicable Me was and is the best animated picture of 2010, Toy Story 3 included. It was a sheer joy to watch start to end, and while the parent inside of me isn't sure how I feel about thieves being put on a pedestal the way they are in this movie, it is still a delight, and one that the whole family can enjoy together.

8. Greenberg - Noah Baumbach: Baumbach has a theme that he works with, that he lives with, that he eats, sleeps and breathes. That is: grown men dealing with the pains of growing up too late and the disfunction that it creates in the oft-pathetic lives. Greenberg follows suit to perfection. While it does not have the raw emotional power of 2005's The Squid and the Whale it is also a more subtle and mature film in many ways. And, in it's subtlety, Baumbach is not withholding any punches and this one brings it.

7. Shutter Island - Martin Scorsese: For those of you who know me, or read this blog at all, you HAVE to know that if Scorsese releases a film, it will be in the top 10. You must also know that if he releases a film and its in the number 7 slot that it's not one of his all time classics and we're in the middle of a solid year in cinema. Both are the case. Shutter Island is not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas; it may not be The Departed or Bringing Out the Dead; it is, however, every bit as good as Gangs of New York and The Aviator. It brings a psychological depth that may be unsurpassed this year and the end leaves the audience with as many (or more) questions than answers.

6. The Fighter - David O. Russell: This loser cum champion story is the epitome of a sports film. In many ways it's generic. However, when you do the genre better than everyone else, generic doesn't mean much. The saving grace of this film are the performances from the ensemble: Bale, Adams, Leo and Whalberg. Especially Bale and Adams who are both dynamite.

5. Ghost Writer - Roman Polanski: Leave it to Polanski to make a thriller about a ghost writer. But, more so, leave it to Polanski to make a great thriller about a ghost writer. I guess when it comes to it, I don't have a lot to say about this movie. On paper it sounds a little weak. On screen it's anything but.

4. Black Swan - Darren Aronofsky: Natalie Portman kills it in this picture. She brings a depth to her character that is rare, and her performance may be the best by anyone this year. She is flat-out flawless from start to finish. Only Aronofsky could've pulled this film off. By that I mean, only the man who had the gaul to make a psycho-thriller based on mathematics could make such a devastatingly powerful and dark film about the beauty of ballet and the darkness inside of all of us.

3. Inception - Christopher Nolan: Can this man make a bad movie? I'll just list his films. Memento,  Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception. Allow me to answer my own question. If he can, he hasn't and God bless him for it. Some people allow themselves to become too wrapped up in the dream sequences to allow themselves to understand the film. There are four levels of dreams. Each time they go farther "down" the level above them slows down. It's a deceptively simple plot with mind-blowing visual effects. And, that's all it has to be.

2. Winter's Bone - Debra Granik: This story about a girl trying to save her home after her deadbeat dad puts the house up for parole is a haunting and beautiful film about survival, and perseverance. It is completely unlike anything I have ever seen before and I loved it.

1. True Grit - Joel and Ethan Coen: The Coen Brothers are, once again, at the peak of their super powers. And, while their True Grit is also an adaptation of the 1968 novel by the same title, it is not a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic of the same novel. Jeff Bridges plays a one-eyed, old, fat Marshall whose hired by a 14-year old girl to track down the man who killed her father and bring him to justice. You know the story. But you're missing something if you've not seen the Coen's take. Roger Deakins truly outdid himself on this film, and an 8th Oscar nomination and SURELY his first win are within his sights. True Grit is as close to flawless as we can get in most years and that is the reason why it is the best film of 2010.