Archive for Jesse Eisenberg

The Social Network (2010)

Posted in 2010, Based on True Events, Drama, Reviews with tags , , , , on December 7, 2010 by filmglutton

The Social Network is a film about Mark Zuckerberg, the man behind Facebook, and how he developed Facebook when he was a student at Harvard. As portrayed in the film by Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg is a man-child with poor social skills and extreme intellect. After getting dumped by his girlfriend, he drunkenly hacks into the college websites and creates a website where everyone can rate the hotness of undergrad girls. The website is extremely popular and is shut down quickly. Zuckerberg creates a name for himself and is approached to help create a a social networking website. Zuckerberg has ideas of his own and eventually launches The Facebook. It doesn’t take long for the website to take off, for friendships to fall apart, and for the legal battles to begin.

This is a wonderful film about recent events. Is it all true? Doubtful. But it does make for engaging entertainment. Mark Zuckerberg is a very interesting protagonist/antagonist. I came out of the movie thinking “What a douche!” But that’s not really the point. The point is that this brilliant student created the biggest website in the world. He is 26-years-old, and one of the world’s youngest billionaires. More than 500 MILLION people use Facebook. I’m one of them.

 The actors all do a fine job. Jesse Eisenberg is quite fantastic as Zuckerberg, managing to make you empathise with this largely unlikable character. The character you care about most is Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), probably because he’s a kind of naïve guy that gets totally betrayed by Zuckerberg. That’s gotta suck (but then again, don’t believe everything you see; it’s impossible to tell how much is fact and how much is fiction). Many of you may be wondering about Justin Timberlake. Well, JT is JT. He always seems to be playing a version of himself, and he hasn’t convinced me that he can act. But he’s fine in the role of Sean Parker.

I did come out of this movie wondering about my own involvement in Facebook. It’s the most addictive website ever created, and I find myself sitting in front of my computer, hitting refresh every two minutes. Seriously, how sad is that? But this is the phenomenon that Zuckerberg created, and it’s fascinating to get an insight into the origins of Facebook in this fantastic film.

It’s kind of a weird movie in a way, because it doesn’t seem like the kind of material that would make a good movie. Just imagine pitching this one to anybody! But the script is fantastic, and the film really works. It seamlessly moves between 2003, when Facebook was created, and 2007 during a lawsuit. It’s hard to rate something like this. It was totally engaging, and it was directed by David Fincher so of course technically everything was pretty perfect. But as far as emotions, it isn’t the kind of film that really moves you. I know I harp on about this a bit, but I think that’s the thing that makes a film stay with you long after you leave the cinema. I watched Frost/Nixon, for example, and thought it was a wonderful movie, but it’s quit forgettable because it doesn’t really move you. It’s the same with this movie. It’s great, but will I remember it in a year? Will I want to watch it again?

Only time will tell.

 My Rating:

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Adventureland (2009)

Posted in 2009, Drama, Romance, Teen with tags , , , on December 15, 2009 by filmglutton

Adventureland, set in 1987, focuses on recent college graduate James (Jesse Eisenberg). James has planned a summer trip to Europe with friends, followed by a journalism post-grad degree at Columbia University. His plans unravel when his parents tell him they can no longer afford to fund his trip and that he must get a job if he wants to make it to Columbia. So James, with limited work experience, has no other choice than to get a job at Adventureland, a run-down theme park in his hometown of Pittsburgh. We can all relate: that sucks. The job is far from glamorous, but James meets an eclectic group of young people his own age, including the alluring Em (Kristen Stewart), with whom he embarks on a tentative friendship/relationship.

Adventureland was directed by Greg Mottola, who also directed the hit teen film Superbad. I haven’t seen Superbad, but I rented this after reading a few favourable reviews. I’m glad I did. Adventureland was a really enjoyable film, a sweet exploration of the lives of these 20-something people who are trying to figure out what they want. I think that’s a strength of the film, it shows 20-somethings for what we are: slightly older teens with more freedom. We don’t hit our 20s and suddenly grow up, have corporate jobs. Most 20-somethings are still unsettled and changing university degrees or careers. I thought this film captured the age group really well.

The performances are good. Jesse Eisenberg is really likeable and natural as James (and he actually looks around the right age, which is a rare thing); he might draw comparisons with Michael Cera, but he is less awkward (and less funny, I guess). Kirsten Stewart is quietly charming as Em. I haven’t seen enough of her to judge if she is a versatile actress, but I really like her onscreen, I can’t help but be drawn to her. So much better that her work in Twilight, which was released at the cinemas not long before this one. All of the supporting cast are good too (Ryan Reynolds has a small role), and I liked that they weren’t insantly recognisable, it made me feel like these could all be real people, unlike the shallow, fake versions of real people that we so often see.

I think this was billed as a comedy-drama, but it’s not actually very funny. In fact, the parts where it tries to be funny (such as with the immature ex-friend who keeps hitting James in the crotch) are quite unfunny and a little annoying. I also didn’t particularly like Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as the managers of Adventureland. This film is not an absurd comedy (as I’ve heard Superbad was), and these two were a little over-pronounced in their roles, desperately trying to milk laughs but falling a bit flat (especially Wiig; I quite like her, but I swear she does the same thing in every film…)

This is much better than standard teen fare, but there is something missing, even though the performances are good and the story is quite fresh. I think the problem is that, as a drama, it lacks emotional punch (I know I just said a similar thing about Julie and Julia, but emotion matters, dammit!). The narrative development is fine and the characters themselves do experience turbulent emotions, but as an audience member you never feel too connected to the characters. You might recognise them, but you don’t really empathise or worry about what will happen to them. I hate melodrama, but a more focused emotional through-line would have been nice.

Still a film worth watching on a quiet night in. It might have some cliches, but it is well executed…and hey, who doesn’t love the eighties?!

My Rating: