Thursday, February 28, 2008

Smiley Face

Movie name: Smiley Face
Year of release: 2007
Director: Gregg Araki
Stars: Anna Faris, Adam Brody, John Krasinski, Danny Masterson, Jane Lynch, Marion Ross, John Cho, Danny Trejo
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:
Following "Mysterious Skin" Gregg Araki goes to nonsense and delivers a quirky comedy that boasts one of the funniest performances of Anna Faris. Faris is a gifted comedian that thus far hasn't had the chance to really find material worth her natural comedic talents - until "Smiley Face" that is. Anna Faris plays Jane F. an actress (majored in Economics) that is constantly stoned, something that gets increasingly worse when she accidently eats her roommate's dipped muffins. The film basically follows Jane's attempts to go through her day totally high out of her wits. An interesting comedy definitely worth checking out.

Imaginary Heroes

Movie name: Imaginary Heroes
Year of release: 2004
Director: Dan Harris
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Emile Hirsch, Jeff Daniels, Michelle Williams, Deirdre O'Connell, Ryan Donowho, Jay Paulson, Kip Pardue
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis:
Dan Harris is mostly well known for his writing efforts with Bryan Singer (for whom he wrote "X2-United" and "Superman Returns")."Imaginary Heroes" opened in 2004 to mostly lukewarm reviews, most of them comparing the film to Robert Redford's "Ordinary People". Dan Harris actually managed to create a film that is captivating, dynamic and filled with well developed characters, that are really well flushed out by his wonderful cast. The film could've easily fallen into "film of the week" material, but it never does, mostly thanks to the really intelligent script and the great performances of the entire cast. Jeff Daniels is as always great, playing the absent and demanding father, Emile Hirsch is a revelation playing the young son trying to find his own identity, but the show really belongs to Sigourney Weaver. This is a great role for her - it mixes humor with poignant drama, and she gets a chance to really bring those elements together. A film definitely worth checking out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

Movie name: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Year of release: 2007
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Stars: Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alexandru Potocean
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis:
Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" was the surprise winner at the Cannes Film Festival of 2007. Anchored in a story of stark realism that depicts the attempt by a young woman of having an abortion in communist Romania, the film describes the hours of the day that lead to the event and the the aftermath of it. Mungiu manages to describe the bleak and controlling communist regime, one that leaves people as prisoners of everything and everyone. Knowing that doing an abortion is a serious penalty, the director shows how the three main characters embrace a situation that may result in the termination of their lives as they exist. This is a film that doesn't want to make a stand about the abortion issue - this is a film that tries to show how a closed and castrating society makes their own members shadows of what they could be. The film boasts a terrific performance by Anamaria Marinca, a face and talent to follow.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jumper

Movie name: Jumper
Year of release: 2008
Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Michael Rooker, AnnaSophia Robb, Diane Lane, Tom Hulce, Kristen Stewart
Genre: Thriller, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

Synopsis:
Doug Liman is back, bringing with him more sound and fury, but regrettably little substance or interest (much like "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" his previous directing effort). "Jumper" presents the life of David Rice, a young man with the capability to teleport himself, who finds that every action has a consequence. One of the consequences of his capabilities is being persecuted by the Paladins, a secret society that hunts people with his capabilities to exterminate them, because the power to be everywhere doesn't belong to humans. The premise however interesting as it may be, it's totally wasted away by a film that feels overproduced - too many special effects, too low on character or story development. The audience never really embarks in the journey of the main characters because they are non-existent. The terrible casting choices don't help: Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson are dreadful actors and Samuel L. Jackson feels as if though he's there just to get his check (as he as been in his latest films - time to stop doing every screenplay that comes your way and start being a bit more selective). Jamie Bell and Diane Lane are great and you wish they had more screen time, but alas no such luck. The film ends on an open note, possibly inviting a sequel. If so, time to pass the reigns to someone who can actually tell a story (a bit like the huge improvement that Paul Greengrass did to the Bourne films after the initial jumpstart that Doug Liman did).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Web Design Index and The Pepin Press/Agile Rabbit Editions

The websites Claud and Goncalo Varanda have been published in the international Web Design Book, "Web Design Index By Content, Volume 3" now released. It has been a great way of bringing attention to the talents of these friends and also to showcase the websites that supports their work. It is also a great inspiration to continue to develop better work! You can check the wonderful books this publishing house releases by clicking here.

Monday, February 4, 2008

El Orfanato - The Orphanage

Movie name: El Orfanato
Year of release: 2007
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Stars: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Princep, Mabel Rivera, Geraldine Chaplin
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Synopsis:
Juan Antonio Bayona's first feature is a ghost story that mixes elements from "The Devil's Backbone" (directed by Guillermo Del Toro, one of the executive producers of this film) and also "Dark Water" (both the Japanese and American versions). It follows the story of Laura and her family, who move to an old house which used to be an orphanage (where Laura had been adopted years earlier). Laura's young son communicates with invisible friends, and within that house he comes in contact with plenty more. When he disappears, Laura sets out to get in contact with another universe in hopes of bringing her son back.
This story also brings elements from Christophe Gan's "Silent Hill" to memory, however Bayona goes for a more grounded approach - this is a more heartfelt ghost story, one where the chills come from genuine suspense and not from some gruesome shots ("Hostel" this is not).