Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All Creation Myths Need a Devil

Whatever your feelings regarding Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg before seeing The Social Network, you're bound to have them intensified. That's because the film, which details the early days of the site, portrays the guy as both a nerd superhero and total jerk, and it's up to the viewer to decide which label sticks. For me, it's not an all or nothing answer, and I suspect I won't be alone when I say I started on one side and moved more to the middle by film's end, but never crossed all the way over. Regardless of where you come down on the debate, however, it's hard to deny that The Social Network makes great entertainment out of one of this generation's biggest Internet success stories.

When the movie begins, it's the fall of 2003, and Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), a socially awkward Harvard sophomore who resents but longs to be part of the cool crowd, has just been dumped by his girlfriend. Drunk and seething with anger, he takes to the Internet, creating a site called Facemash, which asks his fellow students to compare their classmates and decide which is more attractive. Suffice it to say, the site is such a hit that it crashes the school's server — and garners enough attention that soon Zuckerberg is approached by rich identical twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Armie Hammer, playing both roles), who want him to help them build an exclusive social network. Zuck has other plans, however, and he decides to build a separate site, a better site,, which he hopes — he knows — will beat his privileged, cooler classmates at their own game. Yes, the site is a huge hit almost instantaneously.

The Winklevoss twins believe Zuck stole their idea, and he rubs their nose in it by expanding thefacebook and growing it bigger and bigger — so big that it attracts the interest of Napster founder Shawn Parker (Justin Timberlake), who seizes the opportunity to make Facebook the billion-dollar company that Napster never was. With Parker's help and guidance, Zuck almost single-mindedly pursues his goal of making thefacebook (later renamed simply Facebook) the biggest site in the world, never obsessing about money or any other distractions — unlike his friend and partner Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), whose fruitless attempts to monetize the site drive a wedge between the two friends. ("Like fashion, it's never finished," Zuck tells Saverin. "Yes," Eduardo responds, "but they still make money selling pants.") By pursuing his goal so doggedly, Zuck reveals himself as being vengeful, selfish, and cruel. He not only ostracizes the Winklevoss twins, but by film's end, he's no longer friends with Saverin or partners with Parker.

The Social Network was written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by David Fincher, and (loosely) based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich, and like the book, it's a fast-paced and highly enjoyable story, told in exciting and compelling fashion. The film uses two depositions (one with Saverin's lawsuit, and one with the Winklevoss twins' lawsuit) as a framing device, but sticks to a mostly linear narrative. Sure, the film gets a bit exhausting about 3/4 of the way in, but that's because Sorkin packs so much into his screenplay, and Fincher manages to cram it all into this 120-minute-long film.

In the lead roles, all are excellent. Timberlake is suave and charming (it's no wonder he's able to assume the role of Dr. Landy to Zuck's Brian Wilson), and Garfield makes a sympathetic and betrayed Saverin, but this is really Eisenberg's film. His portrayal of Zuck is so balls-out rude and, well, cool that you can't help but root for him and the site to succeed, and laugh when his opponents don't get their way. (It should be noted that Zuck comes off as much more of an asshole here than he does in the book.) And yet, Eisenberg also shows some heart at Zuck's core, some pain in his success, which only serves to put a fine-point on the irony of a guy with no friends who starts a huge network that's centered around that very word. (As a lawyer played by Rashida Jones says to Mark at one point, "You're not an asshole. You're just trying so hard to be one.")

Did everything in the film happen as it's shown? No. The story is essentially told from multiple points of view, and Zuck himself says, "That's not what happened." That said, as Jones' character notes, "Creation myths need a devil." By giving Zuck more of that role here than he had in reality and in Mezrich's book, I think it only makes his legend grow larger — in a good way. Call The Social Network the real Revenge of the Nerd if you will, but it's clear from the film that Zuck's the one having the last laugh right now, with few regrets. I'm giving The Social Network an A–, and I look forward to seeing it again.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Perks, No Power ... No Point?

I became the mayor of another place on Foursquare yesterday, and again, when that crown badge showed up on my iPhone screen, I thought it'd be accompanied by an explosion of confetti, balloons raining down on me, flashing lights, fanfare, a banner unfurling from the ceiling with my name on it, applause from the other customers, and the manager of the store rushing over to congratulate me on the achievement. Alright, maybe that's a slight exaggeration (maybe??), but after the smile went away from my face, and I was done mentally patting myself on the back, and I realized there wasn't any benefit to being the mayor, the same reaction I always have set in: So what?

A little background if you don't know what Foursquare is: It's a geolocation-based "game" that works on multiple levels: As a user, you can share your location with others and earn badges for going certain places or checking in a certain number of times. You can also offer "tips" about the place to other users. For businesses, it's a tool that allows you to learn who is coming in to your store or restaurant, how often they do so, and then lets you reward your loyal customers. Some places offer free desserts, drinks, or coffees, or discounts off purchases — small tokens that say, "We appreciate your patronage, come again soon."

Earlier this summer, I dated someone who used Foursquare, and often when we'd go somewhere, she'd check in and we'd get some kind of reward — a free game of bowling, 20% off time spent playing pool, a free topping on our ice cream/yogurt. I had been skeptical about joining Foursquare (I just didn't see the appeal), but going places with her convinced me that there was some merit to the whole thing. So I joined the service a couple months ago, and since then, I've checked in to a lot of places and have even become mayor of a handful of them — I'm currently the mayor of Johnny's Luncheonette in Newton Centre, Brooks Brothers in Chestnut Hill, Friendly's Express in Brookline, and yes, my own apartment. I also used to be the mayor of Crazy Dough's Pizza in Brighton and CVS/Pharmacy in Chestnut Hill, but, well, there were some coups and I got ousted.

At none of those places I just listed is there a benefit or value to being the mayor. No extra sweet potato fries at Johnny's, no free sundae at Friendly's, no 20% off my purchase at Brooks Brothers. All I get for achieving mayor status is a scenario like the one I described at the beginning of this blog post: a smile, a mental pat on the back, and some disappointment. Yesterday when I told someone about my new mayorship, I received the following text message in response: "4 square is dumb to me." And I couldn't argue. Yes, becoming mayor is fun. But that's all it is. And that shouldn't be the case.

I've read that only about 20% of Foursquare users share their check-ins publicly (if even that many). Speaking personally, I don't broadcast mine very often because a) I don't want people to know where I am all the time, and b) not every place I check in is so exciting or novel. However, if I was rewarded by places I frequented, then I'd be happy telling everyone I was there — and that they should go there too. I'd be more likely to suggest going there when I'm with friends and we're looking for somewhere to go. I'd be a much stronger brand advocate, not because I'm being rewarded for being one, but because the business has in essence told me it appreciates me, and is making it worthwhile and fun to spend my money there. As a result, with so few businesses that I patronize taking advantage of Foursquare, I feel like there's a huge missed opportunity.

Which is not to say I'm going to stop checking in places on Foursquare anytime soon. I may not get recognized for being the mayor now, but my hope is that more businesses will catch on to the value of this service sooner rather than later. And when they do, I'll already have so many check-ins that they will be more valuable, and will be worth more to me in reality than they are in my head.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Other Facebook Movie

The new film Catfish raises a few questions. Among them, which will be the bigger PR threat to Facebook, this movie or The Social Network? And perhaps more importantly, is this film even real? That second question hangs over this entire film, a "reality thriller" (don't call it a documentary) about a guy who meets a girl and her family on Facebook and comes to realize they are not exactly as they seem. I don't want to spoil too much about Catfish because most of the movie's appeal comes from watching things develop. But suffice it to say, where you come down on the "is it real?" debate definitely affects how you feel about the movie.

Catfish begins with New York photographer Yaniv "Nev" Schulman agreeing to let his brother Ariel and friend Henry Joost film him as he befriends an 8-year-old girl in Michigan named Abby, who has taken a liking to Nev's photos and who sends him a reproduction of one that she's painted. Then he's introduced to Abby's mother, Angela, and Abby's attractive older sister, Megan, who he begins flirting with and develops strong feelings for. They continue their long-distance relationship through emails, chats, texting, and phone calls — all documented by the cameras — but it's not until Megan's story begins to unravel fast and furiously that the three men decide to travel to Michigan and meet her in person.

Catfish is a very strange movie, and walking out of the theater I really didn't know what to make of it. Parts of it seem very real and parts of it just ... don't. If everything was on the up and up, then you have to assume that Nev, Ariel, and Henry would probably have walked away from the whole thing at multiple points. And some things that happen do so too easily and conveniently. But it's what happens in the movie's final third that stays with you and gives Catfish its real appeal — and much of its credibility. I won't say any more so as not to ruin it.

We all use social media sites differently — personally, I won't connect with people on Facebook unless I actually know them — and we've all heard stories of people meeting other people on the Internet, whether through an online dating site, social media site, or something like Craigslist, and how those people turn out to be not who they said they were. Catfish tells that kind of story in alternately creepy, fascinating, suspenseful, and heartbreaking fashion. I wish the film had been edited a little more tightly, and any person with common sense will question things before Nev does, but on the whole, Catfish is a compelling film that examines online identity in the social media age, and you watch it waiting to see what will happen next.

The filmmakers maintain that their movie is real (of course they do). I'd like to believe them, but I can't about everything. That said, proving how fake the movie is spoils the point, doesn't it? I mean, everyone knew Blair Witch Project was fake, but it still scared the bejesus out of audiences. So Catfish may not be totally legit, but I bought into it anyway. I'm giving the movie a B.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Not About the Money. It's About the Game.

When a sequel to a much loved movie comes out many years after the original, the chance is always there for it to suck, and for the characters to fall victim to too much nostalgia. For every Toy Story 3, for example, there's a Rocky Balboa. Thankfully, 23 years after the original, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps falls mostly in the first camp. Yes, Gordon Gekko is back in business, and does he ever make greed look good.

Before I continue, a little full disclosure: I never saw the original Wall Street. So I saw this new film with fresh eyes and nothing to compare it with or refer back to. But no matter. Much of the winks at the earlier film are dispensed in the first minute, as we watch Gordon reclaim his things (including that oversized cell phone) and get out of prison. (There are also some cameos by folks from the first film.) The rest of the story is a very current look at the 2008 collapse of Wall Street, and how greed did in some "too big to fail" financial institutions. Gordon's role in all this is just as you'd suspect: He wants revenge on the people who put him in jail and wasted eight years of his life.

Gordon's foil this time around is Jake Moore, a noble but ambitious financial whiz kid (played by Shia LaBoeuf) who's engaged to Gordon's daughter (played by Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan). Money Never Sleeps is Jake's movie, mostly, and LaBoeuf does a real good job in the role. He captures Jake's tenacity and drive, but also his conflict, and holds his own against major players like Frank Langella and Josh Brolin.

Is Money Never Sleeps a classic? No. It's an enjoyable, compelling film, but it's got a few hokey lines of dialogue, and at times, director Oliver Stone overdoes it with the symbolism (ahem, the bubbles). In addition, Susan Sarandon is not very good; her New York accent is downright embarrassing.

Who cares, tho, right? Michael Douglas makes this movie worth seeing. He's in total control here playing his Oscar-winning role again, and he looks like he's having a ball. A monologue he gives at Fordham early in the film is a highlight. And when Gordon really hits his stride, it's very cool. But it's worth noting that like in the original, Gordon's more of a supporting character, not the lead. So while there's plenty of him in the film, but when Gordon's not on screen, you sit and wait for his return. He's a guy you love to hate, and don't hate to love. Between this and Solitary Man, 2010 has been a great year for Douglas performances.

Stone infuses Money Never Sleeps with retro charm without ever making the film seem nostalgic. That said, at times, it feels like an '80s movie, with its bulk and weight — kind of like Gordon's old cell phone (I mean that as a positive). Do you need to understand all the financial stuff? It might help a little. Do you need to have seen the original? Well, I didn't and I still enjoyed the movie. I'm giving Money Never Sleeps a B.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tough Decisions Will Be Made

It's Wednesday, which means we're halfway through one of my least favorite weeks of the year. What? You thought I'd actually be happy about the start of the new TV season? Well, you're wrong. This is the time of year when there's too much on, and my DVR gets an extra-good workout. It's the time when I have to make some really tough decisions about what to watch, what to commit to, and what not to bother with. Most every year I post something here about which shows I'm going to try and watch, but it's always with the expectation that I won't stick to the plan. Which is fine, of course; there are movies, and sports, and, well, life to keep me busy otherwise.

So that's why I generally have a two-strikes rule: If I fall two episodes behind, chances are good I won't catch up on that show, so I don't even bother. Unfortunately, I'm already behind: I forgot to record Lone Star Monday night, so I'm hoping I can watch the pilot before episode two is on (thankfully, the pilot's re-airing over the weekend).

What else am I planning to watch this fall? Here's my week at a glance:

Monday: How I Met Your Mother, Lone Star, Gossip Girl, and Hawaii Five-0

Tuesday: Glee, No Ordinary Family, Running Wilde

Wednesday: Undercovers, Modern Family

Thursday: Community, 30 Rock, $#*! My Dad Says, The Office, Grey's Anatomy

Fridays and Saturdays: These are nights for catching up on what I've missed, if I'm home

Sunday: The Amazing Race, Brothers & Sisters

I know what you're thinking: That's a lot of TV. I wasn't kidding when I said my DVR gets a good workout; I couldn't have a life without it. The good news is I'll never watch that many shows, so check in with me a month from now and ask me how closely I've stuck with the plan.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hands Up

It's been pretty well documented on this site that when it comes to music, I'm no expert. However, like any fan, I know what makes my ears happy, and this week it's Maroon 5's new album, Hands All Over. I was able to download the album more than a week ago, and have had it on constant "rotation" nearly ever since. Notable about the album — other than its provocative cover — is that while the band's funk/rock sound is still present, it's almost overtaken by a more overt pop sensibility that results in Maroon 5's most enjoyable studio album yet.

If you listen to top 40 radio, then you no doubt have already heard first single "Misery," which, along with second single "Give a Little More," are the type of Maroon 5 songs fans know and love. "Don't Know Nothing" and "I Can't Lie," however, have a very different, almost 60s-ish pop sound (the latter is reminiscent of the song "Everybody Plays the Fool"). "Stutter" may be heavier on the funk side, but its hook is decidedly pop. Fans of earlier hits like "She Will Be Loved" will enjoy the slowed-down pace of "Just a Feeling" and "Out of Goodbyes," the latter of which features current country/pop crossover Lady Antebellum. And the yearning "How," currently my favorite track on the album, is just one of a handful of songs with a piano-driven rhythm.

There are other tracks that will take some time to grow on me, but overall, Hands All Over is a pleasing effort from Adam Levine and co. I suspect it'll stay on my featured playlist for some time to come.


Monday, September 20, 2010

This Side or the Other

Proving that Gone Baby Gone was no fluke, Ben Affleck's The Town is an excellent addition to the Made in Boston canon of films. Mr. Jennifer Garner — who co-wrote, directed, and stars in this Charlestown-set story of a bank robber trying to go straight, even though he's in too deep — may get criticized for only making movies that are based here in Beantown, but hey ... why mess with success? Clearly, the guy knows the town and he makes movies that have a real sense of place and look, sound, and feel authenticious (to use a great made-up word from this film).

In The Town, Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a career criminal, who falls for Claire, a woman involved in a recent bank robbery (Rebecca Hall, from Vicky Cristina Barcelona), who doesn't realize he was the ringleader. Claire provides the inspiration and incentive Doug needs to turn his life around, but not before he tackles one last job: robbing Fenway Park. At the same time, FBI Special Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm) is hot on the trail of Doug and his gang, which also includes Doug's BFF, Jem (The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner).

Acting in The Town is excellent across the board; in addition to those mentioned, the cast also includes Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver (aka Lost's Man in Black), and Blake Lively, whose drugged-out townie is a long way from Serena van der Woodsen. Affleck keeps things moving, and does a particularly nice job with the robbery and chase scenes, which are staged and shot impressively. I'm not sure Affleck was right to cast himself as Doug — his portrayal of the guy is too "nice," especially when contrasted with Renner's hothead, which makes you wonder why he hadn't tried to get away from it all much sooner — but another actor also may not have been so sympathetic, and as an audience member, you want to root for his character.

You also want to root for Affleck, and The Town gives us more reason to do so. It's an exciting, compelling, and fun film, one that does Boston proud. I'm giving it a B+.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Not the Sharpest Christian in the Bible

I'll apologize in advance. The new film Easy A marks the big-screen return of one of my favorites, Ms. Amanda Bynes. Here she plays Marianne, a devout Christian high school student who likes wearing short, short skirts and argyle sweaters. Alright fine, and she is the antagonist of Olive (Emma Stone), who lies about her sexual activities and brands herself a modern-day Hester Prynne — minus the Demi Moore part. (Full disclosure: the movie's really about Olive, and how she goes from nobody to somebody based on those lies.) Thankfully, Amanda is not just nice to look at in the movie, she's also genuinely funny. So take that all you Chicky haters. (I'm hoping a few other positive reviews will convince Amanda to stay unretired from acting for a while longer.)

Actually, to get serious for a second, Easy A is a better than average teen-oriented film. Featuring a notable cast that includes Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as perhaps the loosest, most freewheeling and modern parents I've seen on screen in a long time, as well as Thomas Hayden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Penn Badgley, and Malcolm McDowell, Aly Michalka, and Fred Armisen, the film's often a smart, very self-aware, and enjoyable look at teenage sexual politics. Much of the film is relatively unbelievable, and there's no actual sex involved, but Easy A manages to avoid most of the cheese and cliches of other such films in the genre — and when it veers in that direction, it acknowledges that it's doing so, or previews it before it happens. By no means is this a film that will appeal to anyone over the age of 25 (ahem, myself included), but it's not a cringe-worthy embarrassment to sit through, either.

Which brings us back to Ms. Bynes. I doubt I'd have been interested in seeing Easy A were it not for her, and I'm glad she's good in it, but I'm even happier that the movie is not the lame-o type of film I'm used to seeing her in (Hairspray excepted). And that's why I'm giving Easy A, no, not an "easy" A, but a "better than expected" B.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Twice Is Nice

Minnesota has them. Doublemint has them. Jennifer Lopez has them. The Olsen family has them too. And in March, so will my sister and brother-in-law. That's right: I'm going to be an uncle again — and again — because my sister is pregnant with twins! Identical ones.

You may recall how excited I was when my sister was pregnant with her first child. Well, double it. I knew I'd be an uncle again someday, but twins is just so cool. It's two for the price of one. It's two times as much fun. It's twice as nice. And one day, when I've got my niece, Abby, and my two new nieces or nephews (I won't know which for a couple weeks) chasing me all over the yard or crawling all over me or sleeping on me ... well, that'll just be the best. And it'll also be fun to figure out which is which, or to dress them up as Thing 1 and Thing 2 or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, or to make all the obvious other twins jokes. Ha ha ha ... I'm already laughing at the fun I'm going to have with these two.

Holy cow. If you thought I was a doting uncle before, just wait until I've got three kids to spoil. It's gonna be awesome. I'm so excited.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Facebook Book

I finally finished reading Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires last week. I say finally because it only took me, oh, about a year to do so. That's not indicative of how much I enjoyed the book. Rather, it's just that the book fell victim to my lack of reading time and my laziness about finding time to read. Actually, this summer, as I got more and more excited about seeing The Social Network, I made the time to read, and I spent a number of Sunday afternoons outside reading the book. And I'm glad I did.

You already know how much I enjoy social media, and how much I'm looking forward to seeing The Social Network, the movie that's based on The Accidental Billionaires, so I guess it's no surprise that I enjoyed the book as much as I did. A very quick read (all things considered), it tells the story of the founding of Facebook, and how Mark Zuckerberg single-mindedly pursued his vision of a website where people could connect with each other — in the process ostracizing not only some rich Harvard classmates, but also his best friend. Admittedly, it's hard to read the book without seeing folks like Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake in your head, but perhaps that's because Billionaires is more focused on story and less on character.

For example, we don't learn much about Zuckerberg due partly to the fact that he didn't cooperate with the book's writing, and also because there may not be much to learn. The kid's pretty focused on his programming for much of the book. (He seems like more of a jerk from the trailer.) On the other hand, Eduardo Saverin engenders much more sympathy, probably because he did help Mezrich and could tell the story from his (biased) point of view. Sean Parker, a public figure since the days of Napster, comes off as a fast-talking svengali — Dr. Landy to Zuckerberg's Brian Wilson — and I can't wait to see Timberlake play him on the big screen.

But what Accidental Billionaires lacks in character development, it makes up for in story — and what a great one it is. Billionaires is a real page-turner, one that I should have read much quicker and sooner. That said, I'm glad I did before the movie comes out. If you're a faster reader than I am (how can you not be?), then I recommend flipping through it before October 1.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

They're Going for Speed

Six weeks before she's due to move back to San Francisco, Erin (Drew Barrymore) meets Garrett (Justin Long) in a New York bar, and instantly they hit it off. They promise not to get too attached, but of course, they can't help it, and when Erin crosses the country to go back to journalism school, the two decide to give the whole long-distance thing a try. And that's what gives the new rom-com Going the Distance its double entendre title. Real-life on again/off again couple Long and Barrymore have a warm, believable chemistry, and they make this challenged relationship (and film) worth rooting for.

Actually, I dare say it's not Barrymore you root for here, it's Long, who ups his big-screen profile with a confident, affable performance that's light-years past the dweeby ones he used to give in films like Dodgeball and TV shows like Ed. Going the Distance is about him and Barrymore, but he mostly carries the film — and easily. Long is joined by SNL'er Jason Sudeikis and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Charlie Day, and these three help give the film more of a male POV than the typical romance. (On the west coast, Barrymore gets to play off Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan.) Also giving the film more testosterone is a frankness of language and distinct lack of cheese; sure, the film has its cute moments (mostly in the beginning), but it's hardly ever sappy. Day and Sudeikis make sure of that.

Director Nanette Burstein (American Teen) does a good job here keeping the action moving, and keeping the romance alive even though the leads are on opposite sides of the country for most of the film. And I appreciate that Burstein and screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe give nods to the current economic climate by acknowledging the high price of airline tickets and the difficult job market for both Erin and Garrett's music-biz professional — factors that would make frequent travel or an easily-decided-upon relocation for either character unbelievable. However, despite the fact that Long, Barrymore, Sudeikis, and Day all make Going the Distance better than it has any right to be, the film is still too long (no pun intended). We get it, long distance relationships suck. There's no reason we have to wait nearly two hours to learn how this couple will deal with it.

Still, Going the Distance is a film where you do ultimately care how these two kids are going to make it work — if they can make it work. The ending, while pat, is satisfying and not a cop-out. It's indicative of the film overall, which doesn't take the easy way out and actually has a bit of integrity. (You might say it's like a more legit, believable version of Fever Pitch, complete with Barrymore in the female romantic lead role.) So that's why I'm giving the very enjoyable Going the Distance a surprising B+.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Only One Word to Describe It

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, but if you ask me, there's only one word that comes to mind when I see this photo: Happiness, both in front of and behind the camera. Abby made her annual Labor Day weekend visit to Boston, and she just had a blast eating ice cream, feeding the animals and riding a horse at Davis Farmland, and hanging out with her friends Gabby and Morris. When it came time to leave earlier today, she definitely wasn't happy (and neither was I).

Rather than a longer blog post, I thought I'd just provide a link to my photos. After all, they tell the stories better than I possibly could. You can check 'em out here.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Italian American

Not much happens in The American, and for a while, that's alright. George Clooney's Jack, in Italy to take care of one last job, is a man of few words and even fewer personal connections. We watch as he befriends a priest and a prostitute, and builds a customized weapon for a client, but so little is known about Jack, and about his assignment as a whole, that it's hard to know exactly what's going on. Thankfully, photographer Anton Corbijn's film is gorgeous to look at. There are some striking images, many beautifully composed, and this elevates the film — but doesn't detract from it, like in Tom Ford's A Single Man. Also impressive is Clooney's controlled, quiet performance. Pretty much all the film's action takes place in Jack's head as he contemplates his life and just what all this violence is for, and while he doesn't say much in words, he says plenty in his reactions and facial expressions. Unfortunately, what little there is of a plot heads towards its inevitable conclusion in somewhat predictable fashion, and that makes this too subtle film a bit disappointing in the end. I'm giving The American a B.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Gimme Five!

I never thought this day would come.

My friends ... today, September 1, 2010, marks the fifth anniversary of my very first blog post. That's right: I've been blogging on Martin's Musings for five years. Never thought I'd get past the first year or two, much less five. But here I am, still writing. And more impressive, I still have people reading my blog posts. So before I go any further, let me take a moment to say thank you for that.

I'll accept your wood and silverware now.

If you're a longtime reader of this blog, then you've no doubt noticed the changes that have occurred. And you've probably also noticed that in the last year or so, posts have gotten less frequent — and more often than not, they've been movie reviews. For that you can probably thank my activity on Facebook and Twitter and the blog I maintain for work for giving me other venues to do my thing. But I'm not making excuses. Rather, let's spin this and say my blogging here has been so successful that I've branched out, and am now communicating in multiple places.

Or, let's just say that passing the five-year mark is a good reminder that I should do what I can to keep this blog going strong. After all, this is where it began. This is my communications hub. So as I start my second half-decade, I make this promise to you, dear readers, that I will try my best to keep this blog active and enjoyable. I've written a total of 1,407 posts so far. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Labels: ,