Strong acting can’t save sad plot

The combination of Clint Eastwood’s directing and Matt Damon’s acting seems promising at first, but two hours of dull, drawn-out storyline leaves the audience wanting something more. Hereafter shows the necessity of a strong and compelling story line. Three story lines compose the main account of Hereafter. The life of a French reporter, Marie Lelay (Cécile de France), is drastically changed by a mysterious near death experience during the Indian Ocean tsunami. She is then consumed by the urge to research life after death. A British boy, Marcus (Frankie McLaren), loses his twin brother in a car accident and attempts to communicate with him in the afterlife. And a blue-collar worker, George Lonegan (Damon), has the unique ability to communicate to people in the afterlife – an existence referred to as the “hereafter.” The depiction of the hereafter itself, a black-and-white, weightless existence, seems depressing and certainly not something to look forward to after death. Eastwood’s normal flair is evident in the film, as each of the three stories draws the audience into the characters’ feelings and emotions. However, the stories are written into a single screenplay, when the only common characteristic they share is the touch of death. The three stories finally combine in possibly the most anti-climactic setting possible, the London Book Fair. Marcus gets to talk to his brother, and George and Marie meet and begin a romantic relationship. Damon actually suggested Eastwood recast his character in an e-mail, suggesting Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, or Josh Brolin because of a scheduling conflict. But Eastwood, so impressed by Damon’s acting performance in the film Invictus, re-adjusted the filming schedule to accommodate Damon. Even Damon’s acting prowess could not improve upon Hereafter’s downfalls. It was three somewhat compelling stories, awkwardly intertwined and unrealistically...

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Hunger Games: compelling end
Nov02

Hunger Games: compelling end

With the weight and intensity of college reading, good fun books often get neglected. Textbooks dominate the time of red-eyed pupils. It is rare for pleasure reads to crack the schedule of the wearisome readers. But sometimes a book is worth putting your friends on hold and enjoying those precious free moments. Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games trilogy, which concluded this summer with the release of Mokingjay, are perfect for an escape from studying, and even this world. The series is set in the fallout of a massive futuristic war. What’s left of the world is divided into districts and controlled by the Capitol. After quelling a failed uprising of districts, the Capitol has decided to remind the poor, disunited and weak districts of their authority by sponsoring The Hunger Games. Every year, two children are selected from each district and placed in an extravagant area filled with traps, creatures and weapons. Only one participant, the victor, is permitted to leave alive. Cameras follow the bloodbath and broadcast it live to all the televisions – which sit dormant the rest of the year. No one is permitted to turn off the gruesome carnage. The series chronicles the young life of Katniss Everdeen. She enters the games in the first book of the series. Her mother and sister watch her at home. She and her father used to defy the Capitol and hunt to provide for the family. After her father dies, she continues to provide for her family and develops incredible and deadly accuracy with a bow. These skills prove vital in her time in the arena. The gladiator concept may seem tired, but Collins takes it much further. Katniss is the catalyst for a much bigger story about the districts trying to fight for their independence. The young girl becomes the face of a resistance she never intended to join. Her desire is to live peacefully with her family, but the world just won’t allow that. The books are more than futuristic sci-fi novels. Collins delves deeply into her characters and what makes them act the way they do. Katniss’s personality as it is affected by her circumstances is the focal point in such a magnificent tale that covers totalitarianism, murder, war, commercialism, poverty, revolution, genetics, depression and love. Technically classified as juvenile fiction, the series is an easy read that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Like Harry Potter, their location in the book store shouldn’t dissuade older readers. The Hunger Games are smart, passionate, fresh and even dark. The fast -paced prose begs readers to keep scouring through the book. All three can easily be read...

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Latest thriller brings twist to a social work case
Oct19

Latest thriller brings twist to a social work case

If you want to watch a movie that pulls you into the storyline within the first 15 minutes the new suspense/thriller Case 39 is a good choice . The audience is hooked by the story of a little girl named Lily who lives with abusive parents, or so the viewers think. Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, the social worker who gets Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland) out of her apparently bad situation. And then comes the scene that really kicks the movie off. Emily comes in on the parents trapping Lily in an oven as they try to gas and burn her. Little does the audience know, Lily’s dying would have been a happy ending. But 15 minutes doesn’t make for a good movie. So Emily saves Lily and allows the little girl to  live at her house. And with this, Emily’s life drastically begins to spiral down as she starts to unravel the mystery of who and what Lily really is. This movie definitely has the ability to make the audience jump in their seats. It also makes viewers cringe and have the urge to itch their skin as well. One scene nearing the middle of the flick, involves the regretful death of Doug, played by The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper. In a scene that shows Lily’s personality turning from an “innocent child” Lily gets Doug to tell her his biggest fear in life, wasps. The next time we see Doug, there are wasps coming out of places where wasps shouldn’t come, like his own ears and eyes. By telling Lily his fear, Doug seals his own doom. I went into this movie with the mindset of not expecting much. I did not think two of the three big name actors in the movie were capable of this genre of movie, partially because I have never seen them in this sort of role. The movie hasn’t received much publicity by commercials. In fact, the film was shot in Vancouver in late 2006 and was delayed twice before its final release date at the beginning of October. The reason for the delay has been kept unknown. I walked into the movie with low expectations and not knowing much about the plot.However, I was continually surprised throughout the film.  In the end, I thought it was an excellent thriller. Though Case 39 is not as chilling as Paranormal Activity or other films, people who are easily frightened should not pay $8.50. If they are not fans of demons or devil type movies then this film should be avoided. A scene in particular toward the end of the movie shocks...

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Facebook: Zuckerberg’s billion dollar idea
Oct05

Facebook: Zuckerberg’s billion dollar idea

Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in the world. How come? Because he created the largest social network on the face of the planet. Why? All because of a broken heart…. A headstrong Harvard undergraduate and computer programming genius, Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg embellished an idea in 2003. He created enemies, made long-lasting friendships, and began his career at the young age of 20. Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin take the audience back to the moment when Zuckerberg created Facebook. A heated argument and break-up ended a horrible night of furious blogging while simultaneously drinking beer — ultimately leading to the creation of connecting 500 million people all around the world. Facebook.com is The Social Network. On the window of Zuckerberg’s dorm room, best friend and later CFO of Facebook.com Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), calculates a formula that assists in perfecting the site. Working tediously and many endless hours to perfect the specific codes it takes to create such a website, Zuckerberg completed his plan, which soon spread nationwide, then to another continent. Fortune does come with fame, but Zuckerberg’s fame wasn’t always on the upside. He is hit with two different lawsuits after officially putting the site online. The Winklevoss twins, who hired Zuckerberg to build a website for them, claimed he stole their idea, so they sued him for ownership — for $65 million. Saverin, who signed some contracts that weren’t legitimate in keeping him as one who gets a certain percentage of the company’s money. Sorkin not only does a wonderful job of creating memorable one-liners that will live on after the movie goes off the big screen, but in telling a young billionaire’s story. Eisenberg’s character is not exactly like the real Mark. Sorkin and Eisenberg wanted to create their own version of the computer genius. Eisenberg said, “The character, as created by Aaron and me, is an intense and ambitious and serious person …. He’s accused of stealing this idea that he knows he’s the only one who could possibly create. He’s accused of betraying friendship when he feels his friend was taking his company in the wrong direction.” To think Zuckerberg even knew this social network would reach past the Ivy League universities and into the big world is fascinating. Facebook.com is ultimately everywhere. In the end, none of it really mattered — not the fame, not the money, not even reaching the one million  user goal. All Zuckerberg really cared about was Erica Albright — the woman who broke his...

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Television comedy full of laughs
Oct05

Television comedy full of laughs

The Thursday night lineup on NBC is set for more laughs this year, with the new Outsourced joining mainstays Community, The Office and 30 Rock. NBC comedies need to build up all the strength they can, with star Steve Carrell leaving his role as Michael Scott in The Office at the end of this season. The Office was getting back to what it does best, pranks and goofy office marketing, in the season premiere. The second episode finally had some reconciliation for Paul Lieberstein’s Toby, who Scott has hated throughout the series. In mandatory counseling sessions, Toby finally reaches Michael. It was one of Carell’s best performances. Outsourced is about an American novelty company that moved its call center to India to cut costs. Manager Todd Anderson  must move with his center or lose his job. The show focuses on cultural differences, and the pilot is certainly worth watching. Look for the show to improve each week, as the character nuisances become more defined. The second episode was already better than the first. Community was a breakout hit for NBC last year. The clever show about community college students brought in Betty White for the first episode. She even sang during the credits. Other networks are bringing back their comedy standbys. CBS still reels in viewers week after week with Two and a Half Men. Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother also return. These two shows don’t get the viewers Men does, but they do very well in younger, more educated viewers. ABC’s sophomore comedy Modern Family is also looking to return to its comedic geniuses. The show won an Emmy this year for Best Comedy. The first and second episodes were as good as ever. Over at Fox, it’s dangerous to follow shows that aren’t animated, chock full of singing, or focused on paranormal events. If Fox ever gets its hand on a cartoon about alien-investigators who also are in a  show choir, perhaps it could outlast the Simpsons. Glee is still dominating Tuesday nights, as it even held top spots on iTunes single downloads for a while. It has recorded 34 Billboard Hot 100 songs already this year. Unfortunately, the singing – does autotune count? – is more important to fans than plot lines. The people behind Arrested Development are showcasing Running Wylde on Fox Thursday night. Will Arnett stars are a businessman who is in love with his childhood sweetheart, who is also an environmentalist. Her daughter, Puddle, narrates. The pilot left much to be desired, especially compared to Development. If network TV still isn’t enough, FX’s late night shows are back as...

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Affleck paints The Town green with huge box office success
Sep28

Affleck paints The Town green with huge box office success

Ben Affleck’s new movie The Town hit the box office and stole the number one spot, taking in $23.8 million its opening weekend. The crime thriller from Warner Brothers takes place in Charlestown, a distinct blue-collar neighborhood of Boston where crime is a part of everyday life said to be handed down from father to son like a trade. In the opening credits the quote, “I’m proud of where I come from. It’s ruined my life, literally, but I’m proud.” from a resident there sets the mood. Doug MacRay (Affleck) was born and raised in the area. He is the leader of a gang of bank robbers but starts to realize things can’t stay like they are forever or he will end up in prison like his father (Chris Cooper, Remember Me). The opening scene has the gang taking down a local bank and forcing the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall, Everything Must Go), to open the safe and then randomly taking her hostage. The guys set her free unharmed, but the emotional damage is obvious. Doug’s best friend and right hand man James “Jem” Coughlin  (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker) worries about the girl as a possible tip off to the police and convinces the others that something has to be done. Doug steps in and says he will take care of things. Knowing he should stay away from her, he finds himself falling for the person who could mean the end of his life as he knows it. To add to the mix Jem won’t let him just  leave the business and the FBI headed by SA Adam Frawley (John Hamm, Mad Men) is hot on their tails. The script by Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard is based on the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan. This is Affleck’s second movie to direct but his first to cast himself in the lead role, a wise move and likely a big reason for its success. The locations are authentic, and the action is nothing short of intense. At one point there is a full-on car chase with gunfire in the narrow city streets with the gang dressed in full nun garb with automatic weapons. One of the funniest, yet nerve-wracking scenes is when the crew is in mid- switch to another vehicle during their getaway when they look over and see a lone cop in his car. After what seems like an hour-long staring contest, the cop just turns his head, and the gang is on the move once again. One of Affleck’s best moves was casting Renner as his co-star. Renner puts on quite a...

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