Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don Jon

It’s difficult not to get excited about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first try at the duality of director/actor. It’s a cross-over that many well established actors have attempted, but have failed miserably at. I will admit though that I was holding thumbs for Joseph, hoping that Don Jon would be the start of something that could lead him down a similar route as Ben Affleck, an actor/director that has surprised everyone with his natural talent for film direction.

And to ensure that he ushered in this new career path with a proper bang, Joseph Gordon-Levitt cleverly created a film that tackles a topic not often approached by Hollywood. I dare to predict that the only way you can’t know that Don Jon is about a guy addicted to porn is if you haven’t heard anything about the movie at all. It’s by far its most enticing and exciting aspect of the film and one that it does not shy away from.

Sure, the film’s numerous references to porn and actual porn scenes is awkward and difficult to watch with just about anyone, but I’m sure that it’s at its most awkward when watching it with a girlfriend, or worse yet, your parents. Clever and apt use of editing effects adds a sense of vibrancy to the film’s pornographic ‘flashes’, making then even more impactful, and yes, even more awkward.
"Clever and apt use of editing effects adds a sense of vibrancy to the film’s pornographic ‘flashes’, making then even more impactful, and yes, even more awkward."
But if you can handle the awkwardness, then you’re sure to find a lot to enjoy and appreciate here. Acting, across the board, is top-class. From the film’s chauvinistic and traditional-minded male characters; to Scarlet Johansson as a bossy and high demanding girlfriend to the slightly off-beat and damaged character played by Julianne Moore.

Another aspect of the film that I really appreciated was the honest and realistic dialogue that contributed significantly to the authenticity of the characters. Even though you might not be able to directly identify with any of the film’s characters, you will be left with a sense that the film introduced you to real people, with real issues.

Oh and guys, don’t worry that the film is going to try to teach you a hard lesson about the dangers of porn. Without sounding like I’m trying to make a joke, take comfort in the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt truly does give his subject matter the respect it deserves, allowing for an interesting exploration of pornography from the vantage point of a variety of characters and therefore, opinions.

If you look more closely though, you’ll soon realise that the film really isn’t about porn at all. It’s merely used as an interesting mechanism from which the film explores the complexity of human relationships. By the end of the film, you’ll have been treated to an insightful character study that cuts through pretences, revealing the real truth of its protagonist.

The last 30 minutes of the film is particularly interesting and it’s a shame that this story arc wasn’t explored in more detail. Nevertheless, Don Jon is a film that is likely to surprise you, proving that a movie about porn can have more depth than you would ever have dreamt possible.

Don's relationship with his father is funny, moving and strange. But in saying that, it still feels very real.
Highlight: The film’s last few seconds feel like the prelude to another movie, a movie I would really like to watch. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Walter Mitty

There's something very exciting about an actor trying out something new and unexpected. And that's exactly why I was so excited to see Ben Stiller in a film that he both directs and plays the lead role in.

In Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller plays a painfully ordinary guy who uses a mind overflowing with creativity to escape the daily monotony of life. He's awkward and shy in real life, but in the dream world he conjures up, he is a hero worth of song and praise.

"He's awkward and shy in real life, but in the dream world he conjures up, he is a hero worth of song and praise."

After a crisis at work though, Walter gets the opportunity to make his fantasy world a reality, as he sets off on an adventure that redefines the way he looks at the real world.

Ben Stiller does a stand-up job directing this fantasy comedy, introducing us to both a mesmerising world and the man behind its conception. Whilst you will find yourself laughing a lot through the course of this somewhat silly adventure, you will also find the film to have a truly inspiring message.

There's a great balance between the film's serious and more quirky moments, resulting in a memorable movie experience you'll find difficult to compare with anything else.

Highlight: A completely random but moving scene taking place in a bar on the remote side of the world really captures the essence of this strange film.