REVIEW: Jobs

15 08 2013

Joshua Michael Stern’s “Jobs” finds itself caught between “Lincoln” and “The Social Network.”  The film teeters uncertainly on the precipice of canonization in the Spielberg/Kushner model and humanization in the Fincher/Sorkin mold.  It ultimately settles on an unhappy median, providing a portrait of Apple founder Steve Jobs that feels like laughable corporate folklore.

Just because the film’s characterization is fickle does not mean that its message is muddled.  Stern is clearly pushing an agenda to persuade his audience that Steve Jobs is the American Einstein, a visionary misunderstood in his early years.  And just like Einstein, we will not fully comprehend his genius until years after his death.  But eventually, we will come to use his name as a synonym for innovation.

Ashton Kutcher does do a half-decent job of resurrecting the essence of Steve Jobs.  The 35-year-old actor takes the icon from his college years, a barefoot braniac that seems to have escaped from a Terrence Malick film, to his introduction of the iPod as a slower sage.  At times, though, it does feel like quite a studied portrayal.  His Jobs is often much robotic imitation, opting for parroting over true personality.

Even with such faults, he’s the only thing that “Jobs” really has going for it.  Stern’s script is an overlong mess where Steve Jobs, even from his days at Reed, speaks not in sentences but in maxims that seem to be adapted from Confucian teachings.  When it delves into emotions and not just events, the drama of “Jobs” becomes quite laughable.  All in all, though, the film just feels superfluous.  Why do I need to sit through a two hour “for your consideration” ad for Steve Jobs to inducted into the pantheon of great minds when practically every computer, cell phone, and music player in my house is an Apple product?  C2stars

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REVIEW: New Year’s Eve

2 01 2012

What were you doing this new year’s eve?  I hope you were celebrating with those you love or just celebrating in general.  But if you happened to be at the movie theater, I pray that you were nowhere near the egregious load of crap disguised as a movie called “New Year’s Eve.”  If you were one of those looking to get in the holiday spirit, I surmise you walked out not blissful for the year to come but rather disgusted that movies like this are allowed to exist.

Only see the movie for the following reasons:

1. You for some reason like to watch bad actors doing bad acting.  Yes, Katherine Heigl, you should not have spit in Judd Apatow’s face because he actually gave you a multi-dimensional character.  Now, enjoy being stuck in movies like this and “Life As We Know It” for the rest of your life.  Zac Efron … it’s official, your glory days were in the “High School Musical” era.  And in case you need a reminder, many musicians can’t act – looking at you, Ludacris and Jon Bon Jovi.  Oh, and Lea Michele too, who somehow to forgot how to act between “Spring Awakening” and “New Year’s Eve,” picking up how to be a gratingly obnoxious diva.  (Wait, she got that from “Glee!”  Thanks a lot, Ryan Murphy…)

2. You for some reason like to watch good actors doing bad acting.  Can you count the Oscar wins and nominations on this poster?  13 Oscar nominations and 5 wins.  While we can’t get the Academy to reclaim the statues (and indeed they shouldn’t), we as a public can take away their credibility and prestige.  I just don’t understand why Robert DeNiro can’t seem to stop the out-of-control downward spiral that is his career.  Strangely enough, the most unbearable members of the cast is a horserace between two-time Oscar champion Hilary Swank and three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer.  Any good will for a career comeback after “Hairspray” just went down the drain.

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REVIEW: No Strings Attached

23 07 2011

It’s pretty unfair that “No Strings Attached” was the first sex friends movie of 2011.  Simply by the calendar, it automatically made “Friends with Benefits” the other movie, the rip-off that people would avoid on principle.  Too bad, as the Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher combination is inferior to Justin and Mila’s tryst in just about every way.

Not even judging it against its doppleganger, it still disappoints, falling at the low end of the already low romantic comedy spectrum.  Kutcher and Portman have such an awkward chemistry that unfailingly feels fake and manufactured.  Their two acting backgrounds – he from “Punk’d” and “Dude, Where’s My Car,” she from working with Luc Besson, Mike Nichols, and Darren Aronofsky (not to mention her Harvard education) – make them a mismatch from the get-go.  Their incompatibility makes the inevitability of their relationship’s end just that much more unbearable.

Portman as doctor Emma and Kutcher as TV writer Adam make for strange bedfellows, quite literally.  Their relationship hardly qualifies as friendly before having sex, and how they wind up starting their casual affair makes even less sense.  Everyone surrounding them is just as brutal, including his father dating an old ex-girlfriend (Kevin Kline), his encouraging friends (Ludacris among others), and her flat and useless colleagues (Greta Gerwig and the very funny Mindy Kaling, undeservedly wasted here).  It’s an unfortunate blemish on Portman’s otherwise very impressive résumé, and perhaps the film’s reception will give her more caution in her selection of comedy films from now on.  As for Ivan Reitman, the family mojo has clearly shifted to Jason as this is clearly not the same filmmaker who made classic comedies like “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters.”

Turns out you can’t have sex without falling love in an American romantic comedy … who knew?!  In case Hollywood hasn’t hammered this into your head enough over the past decade, the studio executives gave you TWO movies this year that literally say it to your face.  So if you don’t want reruns of a rerun, choose “Friends with Benefits” because it will actually make you laugh on the way to its predictable conclusion.  “No Strings Attached,” on the other hand, will bore you with its unconvincing romance and bland melodrama.  C- / 





REVIEW: Valentine’s Day

6 07 2010

As much as I wanted to say that all these stars couldn’t save a movie, I can’t. Much to my surprise, “Valentine’s Day” was a relatively charming and very entertaining look at just about every kind of love that might exist. And given the day it is set on, all the love stories are as pumped up on steroids as the size of the cast.

The line-up is like a romantic comedy all-star team, and to top it off, they’ve even peppered in some serious actors. Oscar winners Kathy Bates, Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts (who falls into the rom-com category as well), and Shirley MacLaine all make appearances. “Grey’s Anatomy” fans can rejoice at getting McDreamy AND McSteamy together outside of Seattle Grace hospital. Teen idols for both boys and girls are represented through Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner. In case you had any doubt, you can find at least one star to make your valentine in the cast.

And there’s every kind of love story you can imagine. The movie rounds all the bases and covers all the definitions of the L word that keeps the world spinning. There’s young love and old love, pure love and cheating love, parental love and physical love.  And of course, because you can’t have love without it, there’s heartbreak.

Now, just because it tells all these stories doesn’t mean that they are all told well.  There are plenty that are just plain boring to watch or so horrifyingly predictable that the movie would have done well to shuck it and lose a few minutes off a pretty bloated running time.  At over two hours, it’s a marathon romantic comedy.  You can feel the fatigue starting to set in as it crosses the hour mark, dragging along under the weight of too many characters and storylines.  Most are wrapped up with class, albeit in a fairly typical and predictable fashion.  Be sure to stay tuned until the very end because there are some nice and touching twists up its sleeve.  Turning it off would be a big mistake.  Huge.  B /