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Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Hill’

THE PAST

With the start of another semester approaching, I feel I should take a second to contemplate the year thus far. In short, I believe it’s been a cinematic drought. The past eight months have provided us with only a handful of noteworthy films. Otherwise, the lot has been filled with either cash-grabbing remakes, uninspired sequels, or straightforward disappointments. To assuage the disappointment of this year’s fruitless filmic delivery, I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorites. I should be a little optimistic, right?

3. Terribly Happy

Although Terrbily Happy hails from Denmark, it’s a film that is surprisingly inspired by some of America’s greatest directors. Impressions of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers are prevalent throughout the movie’s tensest scenes, and simple American iconography is seen percolating in the quieter, much somber moments. It’s an interesting tone for an even more interesting story. Consolidating film noir and western together, Terribly Happy saunters its way into telling a compelling and very tragic tale.

2. Inception

Unlike anything we’ve seen this year, Inception bends physics, alters time, and damns the viewers’ mind. Director Christopher Nolan imbues us with a cinematic pleasure that’s as precious as the the movie’s subject. Ornately dressed with special effects and great performances, Inception is one of 2010’s best moviegoing experiences.

1. How to Train Your Dragon

Yes, it remains! How to Train Your Dragon is still my favorite film of 2010. Sure, it’s a simple story of a boy and his pet, but to me, it’s a conglomeration of emotions so subjective and personal that it’s impossible to describe on this blog. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of things I can say…The film explores infinite terrain with whimsical scope, but the sense of danger that is projected is unmistakably real. This is done with great technical craftsmanship, but an equally satisfying core of characters also aids in making this film outstanding.

THE PRESENT

Despite my aversion towards this year’s catalog of films, there are some great titles out right now. For instance…

Cyrus

Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, the innovators behind the mumblecore movement, dually take on their first “Hollywood” film. To the movie’s benefit, Cyrus elegantly uses minimalism to naturally elicit deep characterization and pure emotional resonance.

The Kids are All Right

I’ll be seeing this in the next few days, so I will give my full thoughts then. However, reviews for this dramedy continue to be glowing with positivity.

Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone has been accumulating buzz since its premiere at the Sundance Festival. Winning the Grand Jury Prize, this literary adaptation is carrying a lot of momentum on its shoulders. Hopefully, I can check it out when it comes to the local art theater at school.

Some other films available now include:

  • Mother
  • Get Low
  • Animal Kingdom

THE FUTURE

So what is there to look forward to? Well, there’s…

  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (August 13)
    • Comedy action
    • Directed by Edgar Wright
  • The American (September 1)
    • Noir thriller
    • Starring George Clooney
  • The Town (September 10)
    • Gangster thriller
    • Directed by Ben Afleck.
    • Starring Ben Afleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Ham.
  • The Social Network (October 1)
    • Drama about the birth of Facebook
    • Directed by David Fincher.
    • Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake.
  • 127 Hours (November 5)
    • Directed by Danny Boyle.
    • Starring James Franco
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (November 19)
    • Part 1 of 2 for the final chapter of Harry Potter
  • Black Swan (December 1)
    • Psychological thriller
    • Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
    • Starring Natalie Portman
  • Tron Legacy (December 17)
    • Sci-fi action sequel
    • Starring Jeff Bridges
  • True Grit (December 25)
    • Western remake by the Coen Brothers.
    • Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin
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Of all the characters in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Russell Brand’s raunchy and downright sexy Aldous Snow is the most intriguing. Without question, his charming flamboyancy makes him the perfect candidate to be featured in a spin-off, and there is no better sidekick to have than, of course, Jonah Hill. Together, they are able to produce a fairly strong comedy– Get Him to the Greek— but it doesn’t have that resonance that almost every other Apatow-produced film does.

Simplistic in nature, Get Him to the Greek captures Aaron Green’s (Jonah Hill) quest to bring esteemed yet broken down rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from England to play a 10 year anniversary show in Los Angeles. Along the way, expected hijinks ensue, and both characters learn a little bit about themselves in a frenzied process.

Much like last year’s The Hangover, this film goes from one crazy subplot to the next. To say these narrative points are random isn’t necessarily true, seeing as that they frustratingly advance the film. It’s cleverly characteristic of Aldous Snow, himself. However, several scenes do overstay their welcome, and the funniness decreases with every vomit-joke and/or scene of drunken debauchery. This necessarily isn’t a problem (The Hangover is successful in that regard), but the film tacks on levels of emotion that don’t quite fit the film. Giving Aldous Snow and Aaron Green personalized arcs seems great on paper, but when the execution feels compulsory, I’m left with the question, “Why bother?”

Get Him to the Greek never gets the chance to earn its emotional scenes towards the end. By that point, the film is far too muddled in threesomes, parties, and drugs to ever get me to care about the subtext behind the characters’ actions.

The fault is not at the hands of Jonah Hill or Russell Brand though. The two play their parts fantastically, and the emotional scenes do give the actors opportunities to explore new territories. They succeed in practically every way; their chemistry, be it comedic or serious, is pleasant throughout, and a sense of realism is achieved by both their jaunty connections and their life-threatening disconnections.

Yes, Get Him to the Greek is pretty funny. The jokes come at a fast pace, and the addition of Puff Daddy makes the humor even more charming. However, it surprisingly lacks the quotability that Apatow’s other hits have. Minutes after seeing it, my friends and I struggled to remember moments we laughed at. That’s pretty strange…

6 out of 10

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Judd Apatow’s sincere production of Funny People is both a step in the right direction and a stumble all together. He delivers an honest illustration of loneliness and mortality before getting himself caught in a corner in the last act of the movie.  However, a level of maturity has been achieved by not only Apatow himself but also the rest of his family-Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Jonah Hill, etc-and for that, this movie deserves commendation.

The story follows George Simmons (Adam Sandler), a successful yet lonely comedian whose given the news that he only has a few months left to live. He employs Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a struggling, insecure comedian, to be his personal assistant. Together, they try to put George’s life in order before his eventual departure, but they suddenly receive word that George’s disease has gone into remission. Now that he has a second chance at life, George tries to go after Laura (Leslie Mann), the girl that got away.

The first two thirds of this movie hinges on the relationship between George and Ira. Sandler delivers his best performance since Punch-Drunk Love, conveying visceral reactions to the closeness of death. While his character might not be the most likable, Sandler still made me sympathize with him until the very end. I wanted him to become a better person. Apatow executes bright insights into George’s life. We see his elaborate mansion, but the essential emptiness of it gives us a precise image of what it can be like to be famous.

Seth Rogen gives us his deepest character yet. He exhibits joy and sadness in a highly believable manner that shows promise in his future efforts as an actor. His typical potty mouth is kept to a minimum, but he still manages to be one of the funniest aspects of the movie. Ira’s growth over the course of Funny People is completely naturalistic. He overcomes his insecurity slowly and meticulously, and the portrayal of this is done through the brief segments of stand-up comedy we see, and he becomes more comfortable with every piece.

The perpipheral characters offer humor and reflections of who Ira is. At times, though, they feel unnecessary. Ira’s even given a love interest, but it doesn’t hold up because of the lack of depth from Ira’s counterpart, Daisy (Aubrey Plaza) and the lack of screen time used to develop their relationship. The poor handling of this is upsetting; although he does get the girl in the end, Rogen’s great performance deserves a better written love story to match.

The first two thirds of the movie is wonderful. At times, it seems aimless, but its subtle examination of funny people eventually gives it a direction. Despite the repetitive use of penis jokes, the humor is great. Exchanges between Ira and his roommates show the power of their friendship and what it’s like to be a comedian. Their quips made me realize how fun it is to be around friends who are funny people.

The third act is an unfortunate turn for the worse. All subtlety and characterization go out the door. As George realizes he has a second chance at life, he goes after his ex-girlfriend, Laura. They develop an onscreen relationship based on information that is entirely offscreen. Their spark comes back because of the good old times. To me, it felt like a random and careless depiction at second tries. The entire love triangle-George, Laura, and Laura’s hsuband, Clarke (Eric Bana)-isn’t enough to keep the climax of the movie powerful because there isn’t enough chemistry or history that’s conveyed between them. Instead, it’s an awkward mess that makes the 2 and a half hour movie seem very, very long. It was at this point that I felt scenes were elongated just to produce one joke.

As the climax concludes, Clarke gives a superfluous speech about how they can change from such a terrible occurrence. I think all movies allow characters the opportunity to change after some type of event. There’s really no need to say it out loud.

After the heavyhanded speech, George goes through a very subtle change to end the movie. This was a brave decision to make by Apatow, considering his other endings end on such a high note. However, this choice shows us there’s always room for improvement. George’s change is very human because it starts with him taking babysteps.

This personal movie that Judd Apatow has given us is poignant at times and empty at others. The drama he creates is realistic and relatable, but an amount of slopiness and longevity make the message less meaningful. The imperfection we see in all the characters is fresh until the movie keeps them in drawn out moments. Apatow’s attempt at a drama deserves recognition, but it’s nothing amazing; it is nice seeing him mature as a storyteller. That being said, I await his next movie with great anticipation. I think he’ll learn from this experience and realize that less can sometimes be more.

6.5 out of 10

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