Posts Tagged ‘emma watson’

the circle

Mae (Emma Watson) works as a customer service representative in a small company, when her friend Annie, (Karen Gillian) gets her an interview at the Circle, one of the most famous tech companies in San Francisco.  She aces the interview and starts work in the customer experience area.  Mae goes home her first weekend to take care of her father, Vinnie (Bill Paxon) who has MS.  That absence on the weekend earns Mae a visit from Renata (Ellen Wong) and Matt (Amir Talal) asking Mae to fill out her personal social media page, and attend more company parties.  Eager to move up in the company, Mae does just that, at one of these parties she meets Ty (John Boyega) inventor of True You, the social media arm of The Circle.  They talk for a while and then she goes back to her residence at the campus of the Circle.   Mae is now fully devoted to her life at The Circle, she video conferences her parents, and hardly sees her childhood friend, Mercer (Eller Coltraine) who now works as a carpenter, and makes handmade chandeliers.   In an attempt to help Mercer, Mae shares a picture of a chandelier that Mercer made for Mae’s mom, but the picture causes a social media backlash, and people label Mercer a deer killer, and he disappears.

While attending another party, Ty takes Mae to a hidden part of The Circle, where the executives keep files of everyone in The Circle and friends and enemies alike. Mae is clearly disturbed by the secrets that the executives are keeping, and by Mercer’s disappearance, she goes kayaking to clear her mind, but she experiences some rough waters and almost drowns  if not for the underwater cameras in San Francisco Bay.  After this traumatic event, and meeting the CEO of The Circle, Mr. Bailey (Tom Hanks) Mae decides to go transparent, having every aspect of her life documented on video.  Not only that but Mae also starts work on the Soul Search software program, which can find fugitives from justice or lost loves in record time.  The Soul Search finds a criminal in under 20 minutes.  The next search is for Mae’s friend, Mercer.  How does that search end up?

Imagine if Google, Amazon, Apple and Go Pro all merged and imagine what the resulting technology conglomerate would look like?  That’s what this movie imagines.  The Circle is very good at identifying  the dark side of social media, the complete lack of privacy, the cyberbullying, the group think, even the vigilantism possible with social media.  Further it explores work life balance issues at a tech company, and how much of an employee’s life belongs to the company.  The Circle as a company feels almost cult-like.  But the story becomes derivative of the Truman show, when Mae straps on a camera, and it makes Mae much dumber than she should be,  and then turns her into a victim of her own success.  The growth of the Circle’s social media software seems a little too quick to be realistic, but there are still many thought provoking ideas in this movie.  The critics panned it, but for the most part, despite some flaws, this is an interesting story.

The acting is very good.  Emma Watson is very convincing as a naïve girl, who joins a tech company, and quickly learns how much of her time belongs to the company.  The writers make her a little dumber than she should be but Watson fights through bad writing and makes the character strong, yet vulnerable.Tom Hanks does a great job playing a lovable Bill Gates type, people forget how ruthless Microsoft was in creating a monopoly for its products, but that’s how Hanks plays Bailey, all sunshine and rainbows on the outside, and ruthlessly controlling on the inside. The writers definitely did John Boyega a disservice by making his role so small, and making his character a shadowy person.  He should have been much better defined and had a bigger role. Patton Oswalt was also very good as the sinister scheming co-founder of the circle.  Oswalt is a comedian, who shows surprising range in this role.

There is nothing visually noteworthy about the direction, but the pacing is good and the story moves briskly, to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion.  James Ponsoldt hasn’t directed anything of note, but he wrote the screenplay and adapted it from the books of the same name.

The Circle:  Tom Hankering to control all of us.

 

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beauty and the beast live

A headstrong, well-read French village girl named Belle (Emma Watson) is tired of life in her small village and can’t help but think that life has more to offer than her small town gives her.  She is relentlessly pursued by town hunk and resident harasser, Gaston, (Luke Evans) who she cleverly avoids. Belle is very close to her father, Maurice, (Kevin Kline) who raised her after Belle’s mom passed away.  When she visits Maurice, Belle asks her dad for a rose, and he promises to get her one. On a snowy night, Maurice loses his way and gets captured by a Beast (Dan Stevens) who has been cursed  by an Enchantress (Hattie Morahan) for his superficiality.  Belle hears that his father has been captured and rides off to save him.  She switches places with Maurice, and traps herself with the Beast.

Gaston sees an opportunity to be the hero, and rides off to save Belle with Maurice.  But Maurice refuses to let him marry Belle, and Gaston accuses Maurice of being crazy and wants to send him to an asylum.  In the castle, Belle and the Beast are becoming closer.  Lumiere, (Ewan McGregor) the candelabra Cogsworth ( Ian McKellan) the clock, Mrs. Potts, the teapot, and Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald) the wardrobe, are doing all they can to make the mood as romantic as possible.  They hope Bellle professes her love for the beast, because that will break the Enchantress’ spell on them too.  Things are going swimmingly until Belle checks on her father in a magic mirror, and sees that he is being taken away.  What does she do?  What happens to the Beast and his enchanted staff?

I was disappointed by Beauty and The Beast.  How could I not like a delightful movie such as this, you ask?  Easy, it was too much like its animated namesake, the live action movie followed the story of the animated movie, line for line shot for shot and scene for scene.  When Disney made a live action Jungle Book movie, they created a whole new story that was in every way better than the animated film.  That made me want to watch The Jungle Book, because I didn’t know what was coming with the next scene.  Since I had seen the animated Beauty before, not only did I know the scenes, I knew the songs, I knew the ending, I knew everything.  The few jokes that were added  for Josh Gad’s character weren’t that funny, and didn’t add much to the film.  Why is almost every actor speaking in a British accent, if the film is set in France?  Why does the Beast have blue eyes, is that important? The writers could have done a flashback and embellished the Beast’s character before the curse, and what made him such a superficial person, in the first place something to make it distinctive, anything.

The acting was good.  Emma Watson does the best she can with quite a limiting role, she is supposed to be an independent woman, headstrong, yet falling in love with a cursed Prince.  There is an inherent  contradiction in the role, but Watson is pleasant enough, and sings well enough to make Belle somewhat interesting.  Dan Stevens is pretty dull as the Beast, he doesn’t really bring much to the role.  Kevin Kline plays his role as comedy relief. Luke Evans is actually very good as Gaston, funny and evil at the same time, he put some real life into his role.  Of the Best’s household staff, only Ewan McGregor s Lumiere stands out, he infuses the role with humor and joy and a little sadness, he is truly a great actor.  Audra McDonald has a great operatic voice, I wish they gave her more songs to sing.

The direction is a mixed bag.  The visuals on some of the exteriors are visually appealing.  One of the opening scenes reminded  me very much of The Sound of Music, it was unintentionally humorous.  While the visuals were intriguing, the pacing is extremely slow, two hours seemed  more like four, and the performances were somewhat mixed.  The songs were great, just like the animated film,  but the CGI was overdone.

Beauty and The Beast:  It didn’t ring my Belle.

perks-wallflower

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy, bookish, high-school freshman.  He is so shy that he doesn’t say a word in his first day of English class.  Charlie is so shy that his English teacher, Mr. Anderson, (Paul Rudd) befriends him.  Charlie finds another friend in high school senior, Patrick (Ezra Miller) in shop class.  Patrick introduces Charlie to his half-sister, Sam, (Emma Watson) at a football game.  Charlie immediately falls in love with Sam, even though Sam is in love with Craig (Reece Thompson) who is in college.  At a party, Charlie eats funny brownies and makes more friends.  Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is a bossy girl, who wants Charlie to go to a Sadie Hawkins day dance with her.  Charlie and Mary Elizabeth go out for two weeks, but then Charlie kisses Sam during a game of truth or dare, and that one act puts their group of friends in danger.  But then Charlie gets into a fight with Brad (Johnny Simmons) and his bully friends, they are bullying Patrick. During the fight Charlie blacks out.  When he wakes up, the bullies are knocked out, and Charlie is still standing.  Why is a football player and his goons bullying Patrick? Why is Charlie blacking out?

One word for this movie is overwrought.  A lot of the experiences in this movie don’t exactly ring true to the high school experience I remember.  First Charlie is so shy, he can barely talk, but soon he has a bunch of high school senior friends, albeit outcast friends.  Seniors never hang out with freshman, that just doesn’t happen, seniors don’t have intense feelings for freshmen, no matter how many funny brownies they eat.  Everything in this movie is so intense and condensed that 4 years’ worth of angst packed into one year.  But then all of a sudden, the movie redeems itself with a reveal, I won’t say what it is, but it ties the movie together nicely.  The romance between Charlie and Sam is still unrealistic, but the story makes more sense and it’s grounded in something besides the everyday high school angst.  There’s a lot of drug use portrayed in this film, not the usual pot smoking, but there’s a scene where Charlie takes LSD, and so I don’t think tweens should watch it even though the movie is rated PG 13 older teens can watch it, and talk about it with your parents or an older sibling, because there are a lot of issues in this movie, and you will want to discuss these issues with someone older, if you are a teen.  I don’t necessarily agree with their point of view on peer pressure and drugs, but I will leave that to you, gentle reader of this blog.

The acting is quite good.  Emma Watson struggles a bit with her American accent, but it holds up well and she gives a good, heartfelt performance.  The real stars are the supporting cast.  Logan Lerman plays Charlie with a sincerity and earnestness that is rare in these coming of age films.  Ezra Miller is wonderful as Patrick, playing the serious and comedic scenes with equal aplomb.  Mae Whitman is also very good as Mary Elizabeth, she handles the complexity of her role well. And it’s nice to see Paul Rudd in a serious, contemplative, role, he acquits himself quite nicely.  It’s a refreshing change from his comedic roles. The actors that play the teens look a lot older than teens, but that’s a minor detail.

It’s a long movie, an hour and 45 minutes, but it’s paced well, and there’s a good story to be told, so watch it.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower:  Plant yourself in a chair and watch it.