You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Andrew Garfield’ tag.

I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#30.  Ruby Sparks

ruby sparks

Saw this on my baseball road trip last year.  A decent Twilight Zone episode.  Not sure if reading any more into it is a worthwhile exercise.  Didn’t really have the indie feeling I was expecting, given it was written by Zoe Kazan and starring her and Paul Dano.  Chris Messina was a great presence, as always.

#29.  Headhunters

headhunters

Saw this with John at last year’s Filmfest DC.  Not quite as twisty as I felt I had been promised, but still an engaging thriller.  I do take particular umbrage with one facet of the film.  5’6″ is not short, and I, for one, was unable to suspend my disbelief that anyone could think it was, or have any resulting feelings of inadequacy.

#28.  Life of Pi

life_of_pi

I’ve written about this one plenty.  Given all the talk of visuals and spirituality, I was expecting to dislike it, so I was pleasantly surprised at how strong the story actually was.  I didn’t really get falling in love with it, but it was a worthy entry into the awards race.

#27.  Wreck-It Ralph

wreckitralph

Boasts a very clever premise and a generally interesting story.  I found the film to be more kid-oriented than I might have liked.  Of course, it is perfectly reasonable for a movie to be targeted at children.  But one of the things that puts Pixar in a class by itself is how their films can appeal to all ages.  I’m terrible at identifying voices, but I never would have gotten that Alan Tudyk was behind King Candy, in a splendid bit of voice acting.

#26.  Killer Joe

killerjoe

Matthew McConaughey should have received a Supporting Actor nomination for his role here, in my humble opinion.  In this grimy, sweaty, hot mess of a movie, his Killer Joe is a dark, twisted revelation.  The film is all kinds of bonkers, perhaps refreshingly so.  The rest of the main cast: Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Chuch, and Juno Temple are expertly cast to fill out this melange of nutty characters.  And the final scene really sealed the deal for me, I found it to be an instant classic.

#25.  Men in Black III

men_in_black_iii_ver3

A perfectly decent movie with unexpected heart.  One of the keys to the success of this franchise is the playful sense of humor, which this installment largely continues.  Casting Josh Brolin as a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones was rather inspired, as Brolin is note perfect.  Emma Thompson was fun addition, as was Alice Eve as her younger self.  Though the former went to Cambridge and the latter went to Oxford, and I’ve been told those shouldn’t be mixed up.  The film probably could have used more of the ladies.  I also liked Michael Stuhlbarg’s character.

#24.  Prometheus

prometheus

Full disclosure: This was the first film in the Alien franchise I watched.  I liked this one a lot, but I later watched Alien and found it to be pretty much the same thing.  So I wonder what I would have thought if I watched the films in reverse order.  At any rate the film was pretty taut.  There were maybe too many underdeveloped characters, and the ending was a little messy.  But I enjoyed the mythology, and the acting was first rate.  The people who were clamoring for a Michael Fassbender acting nomination had an interesting case, I thought.

#23.  The Amazing Spider-Man

spiderman

Another movie hard to evaluate in a vacuum.  Can we all just agree that everyone knows the Spiderman origin story at this point?  Frankly, it seems like I tend to not enjoy origin stories all that much.  I think comic book films would be vastly improved if we got away from the super long story of the character’s beginnings and went right into the interesting part of the story.  Or, just do something like the fantastic montage at the beginning of Watchmen.  (I know, I know, easy for me to say.)  In any case, the reason this movie ranks so highly is the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, so ably played by the pigdog Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.  As the next movie on my list shows, there’s a lot of good stuff that can be mined from the life of a teenage superhero.  There are now tons of movies with lavish special effects and epic fights.  What will set movies apart, I think, are the same things that always have: compelling stories and interesting characters.  This film took the time to build something with Garfield and Stone, and it paid off.  Of course, it helped having such dynamic stars.

#22.  Chronicle

Chronicle-2012-Movie-Poster

Max Landis obviously has thought a lot about superheroes, and I think he understands what makes them compelling.  This is a superhero origin story worth telling.  Because it is about things like growing up and becoming an adult and dealing with the world and friendship.  There are big fights where buildings get destroyed, sure.  But that’s not the essence of the film.  The movie instead looks how three teens deal with new-found superpowers and with each other.  It is a clever concept that’s well-executed.

#21.  The Loneliest Planet

loneliestplanet

This is a movie I should have hated.  Much of the film is devoted to lovingly and painstakingly capturing the beauty of the Caucasus Mountains.  The plot can probably be completely and accurately summarized in two or three sentences.  But somehow, it resonated with me.  It was the last film of a flurry I saw in an effort to cast a more-informed Spirit Award ballot, so that is part of it.  And the more uncouth of you might suggest the opening shot of a naked Hani Furstenberg jumping up and down perhaps unduly influenced my thinking.  Instead, and I hate to spoil/hype it up even more than descriptions elsewhere already do, but this film is about one scene, one moment, that defines who we are and what we become.  It feels almost pretentious as I’m typing it.  And yet, i believe it.  The long set up becomes worthwhile.  Gael Garcia Bernal is an extremely talented actor, and it feels like he’s wasted a little bit until the pivotal scene, when the casting becomes perfect.  Maybe I’m overselling it, and it was just a combination of a million factors leading to the perfect time for me to watch the movie, I dunno.  But I was kinda blown away by what it did.

Advertisements

Oscar nominees are announced on the 25th.  Yay!  So let’s summarize what we (the royal we, at least) know.  Keeping in mind, of course, that when it comes to the Academy, no one knows anything.  Especially me.  This time: Best Supporting Actor.

VIRTUAL LOCKS

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

These two have been nominated in pretty much all Oscar precursors and split winning them.  Both have gobs of screen time; it is fairly easy to imagine their respective movies undergoing relatively minor rewrites to portray each as the main character.  Bale plays a loose cannon crack addict who can’t let go of the past, constantly reliving past fights, which is getting in the way of training his brother.  His performance is all kinds of showy, especially contrasted with Mark Wahlberg’s patented stoicism.  Rush, as a speech therapist tasked with helping a future king, is tasked with a more subtle role, playing mentor, friend, inferior to Colin Firth’s regal stutterer.

LIKELY IN

  • Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

The Academy has tendency to shower films it likes with lots and lots of nominations, so if it has caught the lovefest bug for The Social Network, we could hear Andrew Garfield’s name called.  He co-starred this year in the mostly-ignored Never Let Me Go and will be donning Peter Parker’s spiderduds in the upcoming Spiderman reboot.  Garfield’s character in the Facebook movie served an interesting and perhaps necessary counterpoint to the increasingly powerdrunk Zuckerberg.  The Town raked in a ton of dough and is generally well-liked, for reasons I can’t quite understand.  It boasts a strong ensemble, but awards buzz has focused on Jeremy Renner, nominated last year for The Hurt Locker.  Renner’s character doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the sidekick who is always looking for an edge even (or especially) when bending the rules.  Think Worm from Rounders, only from Boston.  But Renner is clearly quite talented.  In The Kids Are All Right, Mark Ruffalo plays a laid-back restaurateur who finds out that a sperm donation from nearly two decades ago has yielded two kids.  The idea isn’t novel to me, but I believe Ruffalo’s talent appears so natural that his work isn’t appreciated nearly as much as it should be.

FIRST ALTERNATE

  • Matt Damon, True Grit

I haven’t seen the film yet, so I won’t comment on Damon’s role or performance.  Buzz has been waning some, but count out at a respected, well-liked guy in a critical and commercial success at your own peril.

DARK HORSES

  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • Sam Rockwell, Conviction
  • Justin Timberlake, The Social Network
  • Armie Hammer, The Social Network

In a just world, Hawkes would see a nomination here, he truly turned in great stuff.  I just saw Wall Street 2 on the plane to Vegas, and while the movie was nothing special, Douglas does have an Oscar scene or two, and is a beloved industry veteran who was just in the news for kicking cancer.  I don’t think anyone saw Conviction, including yours truly, but Sam Rockwell is supposed to be very good.  Since the inevitable backlash for The Social Network hasn’t hit yet, you can’t count out Timberlake or Hammer, especially since they both have memorable scenes and lines.

SHOULDA BEEN A CONTENDER

  • Michael Shannon, The Runaways
  • Tom Hardy, Inception
  • Vincent Cassel, Black Swan

I missed out on the free screening of The Social Network that Brian and John saw, I instead caught the film last weekend with Adam and Gavin.  From the very second the film begins, there’s no denying this is an Aaron Sorkin joint.  Full disclosure: I’m passionately in love with Aaron Sorkin’s writing.  Well, except for Malice, we won’t talk about what happened there.  I’m one of the few who will proudly defend Studio 60.

Anyway, I’ll freely admit that generally speaking, Sorkin only writes one character.  He writes that character very very well, of course, and his characters have minor nuances.  But in his world, characters are basically good people who adhere very strongly to their moral code, strongly protective of their team/group/substitute family, and are often boxed into situations where they are forced to question their ethics.  And who are intelligent, talk really fast and walk down lots of hallways.

The brilliant part here is that Mark Zuckerberg is unlike any character Sorkin has written before.  The Facebook (co-?)founder is unabashedly self-centered and would be wholly out of place in any of Sorkin’s dramas.  He’s decidedly not part of any team, and there are very few hallways at all.  Which means Sorkin gets to soften a character who would probably be unlikeable in the hands of a different screenwriter, but also is forced to explore a new venue for his creativity.

The end result is pure magic.  Sorkin and Fincher combine to tell a really interesting and engaging story.  As much as I may hate to admit it, I find myself agreeing with John here.  I’m utterly fascinated by the attempt to ascribe larger questions to the film.  I’ve seen people question the movie’s take on race and gender, not to mention positioning the film as generation-defining.  Because to me, this movie is much smaller than all that.  If you want to say it starts some discussion on ideas and intellectual property in the digital era, fine.  But mostly, it is simply a well-told story and something of a character study of a (kinda) genius.  Never overly dramatic or broadly funny, the film adroitly exploits Sorkin’s gift for dialogue to have drama and be funny, but not distract from the underlying story.

The only complaint I have was with the ending of the film.  Not entirely the fault of the filmmakers, I think, because I’m not really sure there is any good way to end the Facebook story, but it did feel abrupt.  I’m also not sure I would have framed the story with the two interview rooms.  I see why they did that, and it certainly allowed for some great lines, but I’m not entirely certain it was necessary.

I’m really curious to see how the film does come Oscar time.  A Best Picture nod is all but set, it seems like.  David Fincher is a good bet for a Director nomination at this point.  There’s been some hubbub over whether the script should be adapted or original (apparently Sorkin was writing the screenplay at the same time as and largely independently from Mezrich), but I’m fairly confident it will get an Adapted Screenplay.  I’m a big Jesse Eisenberg fan.  The Squid and the Whale was probably my favorite 2005 movie and Zombieland was obviously my favorite 2009 film.  So I’d love to see him get a nod, but I personally don’t see it.  His performance wasn’t flashy and I couldn’t point to any single Oscar scene.  His competition this year is shaping up to be a bunch of Hollywood vets and James Franco commanding a movie to himself, so Eisenberg may find himself just on the outside.  I’m between Brian and John on Andrew Garfield.  I thought he was fine, a good fit for the role, nothing spectacular.  He’s got a good shot for a Supporting Actor nomination, not sure he’d be my pick, but I won’t argue too much against it.  Especially if it will help the Spiderman reboot, which I increasingly think will be the greatest thing ever.

The Grouches got a sneak peek at Never Let Me Go, director Mark Romanek’s first effort since One Hour Photo. The film did the festival circuit and opened last weekend in New York and LA to very good business. It will expand throughout the country in coming weeks.

Never Let Me Go
stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield as friends who grew up together at an English boarding school. But this school has a sinister purpose. How will that affect the three companions as they move into adulthood?

John

I accidentally stumbled upon the film’s secret before seeing it. That made me quite mad as I thought it ruined the film for me. But the secret turned out not to be a big revelation. In fact, it’s essentially the premise of the film and explained rather early. We won’t spoil it for you here, but I imagine the secret of the school will appear in plenty of reviews as simply a plot point. Don’t be too concerned about getting spoiled.

I really like the idea of a twisty film laying out its big secret at the beginning and letting the film be about the characters living through the secret instead of building up to a shock revelation at the end. For instance, what if there was a sequel to The Sixth Sense? What would Bruce Willis do with his time now that he knows he is dead? It could be interesting.

But Never Let Me Go isn’t. It wastes its premise by not doing anything with it. I could see it moving in several directions. It could have become a plot-driven thriller, like how Children of Men took its premise of a world without childen and spun it into an action film. It could have used its premise to explore deeper themes, like examining what it means to be human or drawing a corollary to real world issues. Instead, Never Let Me Go gives us a tepid love triangle and an understated plot that’s hard to care about because the characters are under-developed. We barely even learn what the characters think about their predicament.

I’ll address too responses to this film that I’ve heard frequently. One is, why didn’t they just run away? This actually didn’t bother me as there must be some pretty intense psychological factors at play when one knows one’s fate from an early age. But I’m only surmising because the film doesn’t explain. It probably should have because it could have been a fascinating topic to explore. Two is that the film left viewer cold and I’d have to agree. I didn’t really care what happened to the characters, especially in their love lives.

Carey Mulligan is great, but I think its only Oscar hope is in Score. It’s beautifully shot but I think it either requires more flair or it needs to be a better movie to be recognized in visual categories.

Jared

I really want to compare Never Let Me Go to another film, but doing so would reveal the inner workings of this film’s plot, and as John mentions, we aren’t going there here. Even though I don’t entirely understand his reluctance, as I don’t really see any way to spoil this movie.

The lightly dips its toes into a number of genres while delicately avoiding any semblance of a coherent story. I could be wrong, but I believe I caught one of the characters reading a Virginia Woolf novel. I’ve done my best to put aside the painful memories I have of reading her work, but one thing I distinctly remember from To the Lighthouse was a particular insistence on focusing not on plot, where chapters are devoted to short periods of time and then years elapses in a throwaway chapter. I had a similar frustration here, where it seems that nearly every important moment in the story happened off-screen. Which helped make it difficult to be emotionally invested in anything that happened on-screen. As did the consistently drab, detached feeling generated by the cinematography.

The premise is certainly interesting. And the film does raise (or attempt to, at least) a number of fascinating questions. But the dogged determination to avoid delving into any moment, feeling, or relationship means the movie never really takes the time to adequately ponder any of them. So I’m not entirely sure what to recommend about the film. It does present an intriguing framework and series of ethical dilemmas, so perhaps if that’s all you need to get the mind racing, you’ll be happy. Well, not happy, because nothing could make this uber-serious film crack a smile.

I’ll be honest, I don’t see how the film could make a play for any major awards. I obviously had problems with the script and the movie as a whole. In Bend It Like Beckham, The Edge of Love, and this one, Knightley is mining a vein of bitchy best friend that continues to surprise me. I really like both her and Carey Mulligan, but I don’t think their characters here provided much of a canvas.

Brian

As the last one to do my not-so-quick thoughts, I’ll keep this short, but I just found Never Let Me Go so blah. Had I been drawn into the character’s lives– cared about their love triangle, tried to understand the psychological damage heaped upon them — I might have cared about the end result. And had the characters been developed at all, instead of trying to mirror the slow and minimalist tone of the book (or so I’ve heard), I might have stopped trying to figure out the macro-ramifications of the world in which they lived.

I thought the title screen could have been the biggest miscue of the entire film. Without that knowledge about cancer being eradicated, and the average life span extending to 100 years old, the mystery of Hailsham would have lingered much longer and been much more engaging. The dystopian elements were so obvious to me from the start (though the specifics remained murky) — that I kept trying to latch onto Carey Mulligan or Keira Knightley’s performances. Children of Men is one of my favorite films of all-time and hidden in its heart-stopping tracking shots and escapist futurism is a thought-provoking philosphy experiment: What WOULD happen if all the women of the world stopped having babies?

Never Let Me Go tries to pull a similar trick by offering similar ethical/philosophical quandaries hidden in a love story — one that never materializes amid the pretty cinematography.

Jared said it best, all the good stuff happened off screen. And I’d give him more credit, but he went ahead and referenced Virginia Woolf. What the hell, dude?

December 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jan    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31