Tag Archives: Oscar

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010)

You know, you really don’t need a forensics team to get to the bottom of this. If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.

During last weekend I finally got around watching The Social Network, which scooped a couple of Oscars last night. It was just released on DVD in the UK for people like me who missed it in the movies; who then had to listen to everybody talking and writing about how brilliant it is. And yes – they were right – it is a brilliant movie.

                                                                In the beginning there was a Man with a Computer

It could have easily been a boring documentary about the birth of Facebook and how it revolutionized the way people connect. But because of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant rapid-firing screenplay there is no time to be bored – you have to keep up with the dialogue which is like a Nadal – Federer tennis match on speed. If you blink – you missed it! Sorkin who created such TV favorites as The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (the latter maybe only my favorite) has turned Ben Mezrich’s book (The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal) into a captivating movie. It lets you decide yourself if Mark Zuckerberg is a ruthless, disloyal asshole or a übermotivated computer genius, who did not let anybody get in the way of his vision. The New York Times investigated how this movie divides the audiences generationally. The older audiences see Zuckerberg as a tragic, unsocial figure; while younger people applaud him for being a go-getter who does what he needs to do to protect his creation.

You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount

If you are not aware of the story and lawsuits behind Facebook’s rise to a phenomenon, you must have been living under a rock. Most of the movie takes place around the time when the idea is born and is put into action by Mark Zuckerberg, who is so brilliantly played by Jesse Eisenberg. If you ever had the question in your mind about Eisenberg being a secondary Michael Ceraish nerd, you have been proven wrong. Later the movie shifts between the early years and the two lawsuits launched against Zuckerberg by the Winkelevii (Winklevoss twins played by Josh Pence with a little help from CGI) and Eduardo Saverin (fantastically acted by Andrew Garfield). In to the mix enters the Napster co-founder Sean Parker and things really take off. Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker is a revelation. Inspirational casting, which really pays off. There is so much betrayal, envy and resentment in this movie. It also has a lot of innovative visions, outside-of-the-box thinking, ambition and just pure computer geniuses. And of course there is a girl.

                                                           Soon The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher, who has given us gems like Seven and Fight Club, has directed another gripping movie. You can’t find any fault in the directing and editing of The Social Network. But what really shines is the screenplay and the acting.

                                                     Safety first – nobody is stealing my briefcase

At the end of the day, nobody knows what really happened in real life. But who cares? The fact remains that Facebook affects each one of us on a daily basis. It now has over 600million members and is valued at more than $ 50billion. I for one have to thank Mr. Zuckerberg for getting me back in touch with my childhood best friend.

We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!

No. 83 TITANIC (1997)

When you got nothing – you got nothing to lose

After taking a week off from watching the movies on the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list I am back in action with Titanic, the $ 200 million James Cameron pre-Avatar movie which was expected to sink like the unsinkable ship of dreams. But instead it has been quoted as the most popular motion picture of all time. I have seen it a couple of times, so now when I began watching it again I was feeling quite blasé about it. It’s a movie I like, but not a movie I love. Then something happened when the images of the ship in all its glory started flowing onto the screen – I got once again sucked into the story.

You remember what I told you about the boats

Titanic is like two movies is one. One is about the unthinkable tragedy which saw more than 1,500 of the ships 2,200 passengers die, because the ship was thought to be indestructible. As said by James Cameron “The lesson of Titanic is, just don’t go so fast when you’re dealing with that much of power and energy. Give yourself time to turn, because that’s all they did wrong”.

The other movie is an epic love story between a girl who has everything except her freedom and a boy who has nothing except his freedom. The love story unfolds smoothly even though at times it’s overpowered by the story of Titanic sinking, which is probably why the screenplay was one of the few categories in which the movie was not nominated for an Oscar. Funnily when you really think about the screenplay, it is nothing new. Love story between two people who are separated by social class – has not that same story been told millions of times? But what makes this movie special is that everything works. The chemistry between the characters has been fine-tuned to perfection. Kate Winslet as Rose and Leonardo Di Caprio as Jack are perfect casting. I have to say that for me Victor Garber as the ship’s builder Thomas Andrews steals the show. He pretty much summons it up with lines like “She [Titanic] is made of iron, Sir – I assure you she can [sink] and she will”.

                                                         Flying without wings

James Cameron is like an all-in-one moviemaking machine – he wrote and directed the movie. He even drew all the sketches used in the movie as Jack’s drawings, including the most famous one of naked Rose wearing the Heart of the Ocean. Damn, if he could act he would have probably acted in it as well. But if you remember his acceptance speech at the Oscars in 1998, where Titanic scooped 11 golden statues, you can be sure it is a good idea for him not to act. “I am the King of the World” just did not have the same punch as said by Leonardo Di Caprio in the movie.

                                                                 I am the King of the World

But he sure made one cinematic masterpiece and proved all the doubtful people wrong. The recreation of the sinking of the Titanic is stunning. It makes chilling watching each time. I also found fascinating that footage of the actual Titanic is used in the film. Even though much of the underwater footage was filmed on set with miniature models and special effects. Inarguably the most visually stunning special effect scenes of the movie are the ones when the ship breaks up just before it plunges to the bottom of Atlantic. In the words of the unsinkable Molly Brown: “Now there is something you don’t see everyday”.

The level of detailing throughout the movie is also amazing. The sets representing the interior rooms of Titanic were reproduced exactly as originally built, using photographs and plans from the original builders who are still in business. Titanic must have really been something else. I wish I had been there – except for the sinking part; obviously.

I found the last scene of the movie the most touching – together at last on Titanic. A fitting ending to an epic story, which I am sure, will live on as one of the Greatest Movies ever made – also in my mind.

All life is a game of luck

No. 55 NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)

I never discuss love on an empty stomach

Neither should you – I think – as only bad things happen then. Half of your brain is thinking of food and not running on full power. You don’t necessarily make the most rational decisions then – at least I don’t. But that aside – the original line in the North by Northwest script was actually “I never make love on an empty stomach”, but that had to be edited as it was ahead of its time. Nowadays nobody would even bat an eyelid at that! How times have changed!

North by Northwest was filmed in 1959 – at a very different era. The cold war was a reality. Moviemaking was different back then – there were no computer made special effects. Somehow the movies filmed back then now look more glamorous even though we have much more sophisticated techniques now. The men looked like real men and the women looked like elegant temptresses. This movie is a bit slow-paced as one has gotten so used to the spectacular special effects and fast-paced action movies where things seem to happen at 100 miles per hour; but it still holds your attention all the way thru. And to be frank I actually enjoyed the slower pace as you have time to concentrate on the characters’ expressions and almost see the wheels turning when they think what to do next. It is actually quite relaxing. The movie is fantastically shot by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock whose attention to detail is amazing. Every scene has hidden meanings. I am sure I missed crucial elements that make this movie one of the Greatest Movies. Like the last scene in the movie when the train that is carrying Cary Grant’s and Eva Marie Saint’s characters shoots into a tunnel. Just before that you see them kissing on a bed. And no, I did not make the connection – I wish I would be that smart. Instead, I watched the Behind-the-Scenes documentary on the DVD!

North by Northwest is like Mad Men meets CIA. Cary Grant’s character Roger Thornhill looks like a tanned, suave ad man / gentleman spy; who likes to suit up. If this is ever remade – please, don’t – I could see George Clooney running towards the cornfield and smooth talking to a dangerous blonde on a train [I am sure now it would be some kind of a bullet-train]. In the movie CG’s character is mistaken for a government agent [who later in the film we learn does not really exist], while taking a business meeting in “Mad Men style” with some tasty looking Martinis. From this misunderstanding starts the chase thru the country by trains, planes and automobiles – from New York to Mount Rushmore. It seems that Roger Thornhill is being chased by everybody. Not to forget about the blond oh-so-dangerous-vixen, who does some different kind of chasing! And Roger Thornhill is ready for wife number 3. But not before some spellbinding twists and turns that are Alfred Hitchcock’s trademarks.

This film also features probably the most famous chase scene ever – Cary Grant’s character is being chased by a crop-duster plane in the middle of nowhere where there is nowhere to hide. Run, Boy, Run!

Would you buy a holiday from Alfred Hitchcock?

This is truly a movie where all the little things matter. Like the matchbook, that Cary Grant’s character tosses downstairs from the balcony towards the end of the movie. And how it ends up at the feet of one of the bad guys, who actually lifts it up without looking at it and not realizing that it has R.O.T (Roger O – O stands for nothing – Thornhill) on it. The whole time I found myself holding my breath – and grinning at the initials…

I also love that Cary Grant’s character is so self-conscious that in the first scene of the film he asks his secretary to put a note on his desk in the morning, which says “Think Thin!” How times have not changed that much!

This movie is worth watching as long as you pay attention to every little detail; that is where the cleverness of this movie lies. Not my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, but enjoyable watching.

War is hell – even if it is a cold one.

No. 94 PULP FICTION (1994)

I do love the taste of a good burger

And so do I – love the taste of a good old-fashioned American cheeseburger – nothing beats that. The only thing I disagree with Samuel L. Jackson’s character is the choice of the drink with that burger. Sprite with a burger – really? To me the drink that “hits the spot” with a burger is a Coke.

I decided to start watching the “100 Movies” list with Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction – DVD which I actually own. Though I have not watched it for years. Pulp Fiction is considered one of the most influential films of the 1990s with its pitch-black humor and pop-culture touchstones. The film has withstood the test of time — and I think will continue to do so even though a five-dollar milkshake is no longer a joke.

    What’s so special about foot massage?

Once again I was reminded how clever this movie actually is. It is violent like all other QT’s movies, but it is so cleverly written and shot that it holds you from the first scene to the very last. All the main characters are believable and fantastically delivered. They are no saints by any means, but they all show a little bit of vulnerability and – that much talked about – likeability factor. I especially love Samuel L. Jackson’s bible-quoting mob hit man Jules Winnfield. Now there is a man with a mission – obviously his mission drastically changes during the movie. The story unfolds through many twists and turns like a puzzle, which in the beginning might not make any sense but at the end paints a clear picture how all the characters’ lives are intertwined with each other and how one little action causes a ripple effect that changes everybody’s lives.

The movie starts with a scene in a coffee shop in which a young couple – Honey Bunny and Pumpkin – discusses how to better their lives by choosing smarter places to rob. After Pumpkin points out that nobody ever robs coffee shops [yes – wonder why?!], they decide to act on that impulse and rob the place they’re in. From that point on when Pumpkin jumps up waiving his gun around and shouts, “This is a robbery”, you know that this can only go one way – from bad to worse. So clever is the storyline that you find out only at the end of the movie how that situation is dissolved.

QT himself has been quoted saying that Pulp Fiction was always meant to be a comedy. It does have comedic undertones throughout. But for me the most comedic scenes are in “The Bonnie Situation” towards the end of the movie. “The Bonnie Situation” starts with the unfortunate event of Vincent [played by John Travolta] accidentally shooting Marvin in the car in broad daylight while they are driving thru the Valley, where the all-around bad guy Marcellus Wallace, for whom both John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Samuel L. Jackson’s  Jules Winnfield work, has no friendly places. Even the whole premise of the situation that develops from now on, is so absurd that this does make you laugh or at least grin. Who can watch without laughing the last scene when Vincent and Jules walk out of the first scene’s coffee shop wearing t-shirts and shorts while stuffing their guns into their shorts and still managing to look badass?

If you have never seen Pulp Fiction, I suggest that you watch it. If not for the movie itself then for the killer soundtrack it has. And it does give a whole new meaning to going to powder your nose

Dusty Springfield – Son of a preacher man