Posts tagged natalie portman

Review: Friends With Benefits

When you think about it… this movie came out already. It was called “No Strings Attached” and it starred Ashton Kutcher and the lovely Natalie Portman. However there is one stand out difference between “Friends with Benefits” and “No Strings Attached.” One sucks more than any movie I’ve been forced to sit through in the last few years, so much so I took the Blu Ray and I burned it. (Note to friend: I am sorry your apartment will always have that slight plastic burnt smell) and the other is “Friends with Benefits.”

"Friends with Benefits" is a film that is hard not to love. It’s full of non-stop energy from start to finish. There is not one moment to breathe nor a moment to reflect on what just happened, just a continual sense of being pushed forward. This freshness and energy feels a lot like that of "Easy A" (Same director/writers) but it’s even more so. What keeps this film feel fresh its unique wit and comedy. The jokes and references aren’t just re-hashing concepts and ideas that a movie that came out last year did (such as the iPad App joke that I still cannot believe made its way into any movie.)

At moments you might think to yourself that they are going for quantity over quality here by trying to get one good joke out of 100. (See “No Strings Attached”, where I remember laughing exactly 3 times, all at moments that I wasn’t supposed to). With Friends, the jokes that fly by are all so good it’s hard to keep them straight.

Right from the first time they meet, Justin and Mila have this fantastic chemistry which is what this whole movie is based on and revolves around. They play off each other so well it almost feels fake. Justin’s continual screen presence and Mila Kunis blinking her big beautiful eyes at the audience create a couple you might actually believe in real life are dating and enjoying each others company. Their passion may fly off screen but their supporting cast really makes this film. Guest spots all over the place including a gay Woody Harrelson and the “Easy A” mom (Patricia Clarkson) create a world where everyone just spues out one liners.

Black Swan costar Natalie Portman wishes she had this type of chemistry with Ashton. Mila is taking here revenge on Portman by being in a movie that is WORTH WATCHING. Friends With Benefits keeps itself going by being freshly funny while also hitting your emotional side in its clever family plot points. The acting at parts isn’t perfect. But are you really going to expect top notch acting in a movie about friends having sex? If you don’t like this movie, you are a sad, sad person with no heart, no love, and no emotion. Or you’ve been living under a rock which just seems very uncomfortable.

9 Criss Cross Songs out of 10

Cinedork.com Podcast - March 30th - 3DS and Natalie Portman

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Cinedork.com’s Oscar Hopeful List

Oscar nominations will be announced Tuesday. Ten films instead of five will vie for Best Picture. Five actors and five actresses will fight for a statue. Will Pixar win like it always does? Here’s our 2010 breakdown (instead of predictions for all nominees, the concentration is what we would vote for):

Billy’s Picks

Best Picture: Black Swan
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Actress: Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech (he gets a lot of screen time but I guess he still counts as supporting)
Best Supporting Actress: Sissy Spacek, Get Low
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Best Visual FX: Inception
Best Soundtrack: The Social Network
Best Documentary: The Tillman Story
Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon
Best Cinematography: The Fighter
Best Foreign Language Film: I Am Love (not sure if it’s actually eligible but it was released in the US in 2010)
Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, Inception
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Steve’s Picks

Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Actor: Ryan Gosling “Blue Valentine” - Seriously if he doesn’t win I might kill myself. Or at least throw a shoe at the TV.
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Director: David Fincher
Best Visual FX: Inception
Best Soundtrack: Scott Pilgrim should win, but we all know Trent already won with The Social Network
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Cinematography: The Fighter
Best Original Screenplay: The Kids are All Right
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Josh’s Picks

Best Picture - Winter’s Bone - Gotta pick an underdog with this one. Winter’s Bone did an awful lot with so little. See my review for my feelings on why this film has such an impact.
Best Actor - Sam Rockwell - Because he’s a cinedork.
Best Actress - Jennifer Lawrence - Anyone who isn’t shortlisting this young actress for an Oscar for Winter’s Bone is wrong.
Best Supporting Actor - Geoffrey Rush - Because I want to see the guy doing fewer Disney films with squid-face and more Marquis de Sade
Best supporting actress - Helena Bonham Carter - For all the same reasons I want to see Rush win. She’s played enough witches, for Burton or anyone else.
Best Director - Christopher Nolan - It was an immense story and he held it together, edited and sold the dialogue all in a way that worked for audiences. No small feat.
Best Visual FX - Inception - Man, I know I’m going to take flack for this one, but at the end of the day the FX were done well, done practically when possible, underplayed and enhanced the story.
Best Soundtrack: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World - Edgar Wright almost needs his own category. The must-have soundtrack of the 90s was The Crow and now we know what it is for the last decade.

Don’s Picks

Best Picture - In what actually promises to be a two-horse race between The Social Network and The King’s Speech, here are the ten English language films that SHOULD be nominated:

127 Hours, Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Fighter, The Ghostwriter, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, The Square, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone. Will Win: The Social Network.

Best Actress - Another two-horse race between Portman and Bening.

Will win : Portman. My five: Annette Bening (Kids Are All Right), Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Tilda Swinton (I Am Love), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

Best Actor…Will win: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech.).

My five: Vincent Cassel (Mesrine), Michael Douglas (Solitary Man), Jesse Eisenberg, (The Social Netwok), James Franco (127 Hours), and Tahar Rahim (A Prophet).

Best Supporting Actress…Will win: Melissa Leo.

My five: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), and Olivia Williams (The Ghostwriter).

Best Suppporting Actor…Will Win: Christian Bale.

My five: Christian Bale (The Fighter), Pierce Brosnan (The Ghostwriter), Matt Damon (True Grit), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech).

Best Director…Will win: David Fincher.

My five: Darren Aronosky (Black Swan), Danny Boyle (127 Hours), Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), and David Fincher (The Social Network).

Best Foreign Film Will win: No idea/ It’s a most convoluted, illogical nominating process. My five: A Prophet (France), I Am Love (Italy), Mother (South Korea), Poetry (South Korea), and White Material (France).

The Bests of 2010 - Part 1 - Films

2010 was a strange year. A year for geeks, a year for animation, more Kanye than you can throw a stick at, new comedies, new love interests, and zombies. We have compiled a list of all of our favorite pop culture things this year. We start off with our favorite films!

Alex’s Favorites

1.) Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World - The graphic novel series of our generation becomes an instant cult classic in the hands of cult-classic-factory Edgar Wright. This was the best superhero movie, romantic comedy, teen movie, and action film to come out this year, all wrapped into one.

2.) Easy A - I’m a sucker for teen comedies. I’m an even bigger sucker for Emma Stone. You do the math.

3.) How to Train Your Dragon 3D - In a year of great kids’ movies, this blew everything else out of the water. It made me remember what it was like to be a kid myself, and astounded by what movies could do.

4.) Exit Through the Gift Shop - Only Banksy would take a documentary about him and make it a documentary about someone else. The first significant street art doc could have just been lip service to the genre; instead, this movie exposes the herd mentality that defines the art market while still recording for posterity the scene’s biggest names and coolest moments.

5.) 127 Hours - No other film this year made me almost pass out. For that (and for the quality that is every Danny Boyle film), this gets a spot on the list.

Least favorite film/waste of time:
Iron Man 2 - Let’s not kid ourselves: compared to the first one, this shit sucked. Not even RDJ’s considerable charm could save it.

Biggest surprise:
Toy Story 3 - I’m far from a Pixar-worshipper, and I have no special tie to the Toy Story series, and yet, I loved this movie to death. Those trolls from the opening scene will stay with me for a long time.

Josh’s Favorites

1.) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World - The energy of the film never really connected with theater audiences, but I have the feeling Edgar Wright’s Canadian odyssey will inspire viewers and filmmakers over the coming years. Pure entertainment from start to finish.

2.) Rubber - Quentin Dupieux’s (aka Mr. Oizo) movie about a tire that comes to life and goes on a murderous rampage is somehow so much more riveting and entertaining than even that simple premise belies. I’m still sorting through the films ruminations on the nature of entertainment and the filmgoing experience.

3.) Tron: Legacy - I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I loved Tron: Legacy for resurrecting and updating a long since dead franchise that was a bit of an underdog in the market even in 1982. While the film cost ten times the original films budget, the oddity of the original film, it’s pacing, character interplay and creativity were all preserved. Legacy deserves more positive attention than it’s received.

4.) Inception - This film is such a hackneyed addition the the list that I hardly thought it proper to include, but the simple fact is that Inception is a triumph of filmmaking. A mega-blockbuster that’s expertly crafted and set the world ablaze asking questions about the larger themes and questions of the film.

5.) How To Train Your Dragon - This may have been the 3-D experience of the year. The film soared above it’s clunky title and Jay Baruchel’s maudlin lead performance to deliver solid entertainment for all age groups. Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch) is rapidly becoming my favorite American animator. I have nothing against Pixar, but I liked this more than Toy Story 3.

Least favorite film/waste of time:
A Nightmare on Elm Street - The less said about this film, the better. You’d think a movie where a guy kills people in their dreams… where literally ANYTHING can happen, in this day and age of copious CG, would at very least use the beloved original to create some wholly new cinematic nightmare. Instead we got a flaccid, nearly shot for shot, remake of an original film that wasn’t all that well sewn together in the first place… minus the scary. If this movie scared you, you’ve likely never left your house.

Biggest surprise:
MacGruber - I saw this film on a free ticket from my Regal Points Rewards in a theater with a handful of people and we were literally rolling on the floor laughing. I’d never expected to have as much fun as I had during this film. It’s very clear that the filmmakers found a lot of freedom from knowing that no one was anticipating or expecting anything from an extended SNL sketch. People will be kicking themselves for not giving this movie love when it hit cinemas.

Don’s Favorites

So I can’t pick my top 5… Screw Cinedork and your rules. Here are my top eleven and how each are thematically related.

1. Blue Valentine 1. The Social Network…Both sides are right/Both sides are wrong. Neither character is the good guy/neither character is the bad guy. The year’s two films most likely to keep their afterglow the longest share an uncanny evenness of their lead characters’ viewpoint, and a perfect balance of non-
judgement left blank for the viewer to fill in. Containing three of the year’s outstanding performances with Jesse Eisenberg (SN) and Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (BV).

3. Black Swan and 4. 127 Hours…Nearly as unforgettable, these two share near-insane lead characters who must head over the edge in trying to save themselves. Swan’s extraordinarily ambitious and wonderful use of genre elements gives it a Hitchcock-on-steroids immediacy. 127 Hours is a great pleasure to watch despite the film’s seemingly dour subject. Within his chosen limits director Danny Boyle and an amazing James Franco give an in-his-skin portrayal of a man’s courageous, and ultimately dynamic redemption.

5. The Fighter 6. Mother 7. White Material.…What lengths will a mother go to protect, revenge, and protect further beyond logic, her offspring in the face of terrible odds and circumstances? Three riveting performances (Melissa Leo, Hye-ja Kim, and the ever stunnimg Isabelle Huppert).

8. True Grit 9. Winter’s Bone…What lengths will a damaged daughter go to revenge/bring to light the circumstances of a father’s violent demise? Two more esteemed performances by Hailee Steinfeld and Jennifer Lawrence.

10. The Ghostwriter. 11. The Square…Film noir lives. Ancient, troubled icon Roman Polanski, and novice Aussie director Nash Edgerton produce two of year’s most exciting thrillers.

Honorable Mention - A Prophet, The Kids Are Alright, Inside Job, I Am Love, Fair Game, Greenberg, Fish Tank, The Tillman Story, Poetry, The King’s Speech.

Biggest Surprise :
Michael Douglas delivers one of the keenest performances of the year in the incisive character study, Solitary Man.

Biggest Disappointment:
As much as it bedevils and dazzles with technical virtuosity, Inception was ultimately an overlong action flick masquerading as a house of mirrors.

Steve’s Favorites

1.) Black Swan – Combine Arronofsky’s crazy requiem style with the storytelling of the wrestler and you have this brilliant masterpiece of cinema. Best picture for sure. Half way through the film your jaw drops and it stays that way the rest of the movie.
2.) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – I was excited for this film, then I heard Michael Cera was going to be Pilgrim and I went bleh, this is gonna suck. Edgar Wright proved me wrong, this film is brilliant from top to bottom. This movie is one that people will find on DVD and watch until their eyes bleed and then regret not seeing it in the theater 3 times like I did.
3.) Blue Valentine – This drama beyond dramas is one of the finest examples of acting I’ve ever seen. Ryan Gosling proves himself as an Oscar worthy actor in every heart wrenching moment of this film.
4.) Toy Story 3 – Put together the best parts of the first and second Toy Story movies and you have this one. A film that will make you cry and laugh, guaranteed.
5.) The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin’s masterful screenplay hits the witty nail on the head. It’s smart, it’s beautiful, and Jesse Eisenburg really does bring his A-Game. Plus the new Spiderman is pretty awesome and Justin “SNL wannabe” Timberlake is an asshole and who doesn’t want to see Mr. N’SYNC be an ass?

Least favorite film/waste of time
After.Life – Yeah I saw this horrible excuse for a movie. To boil it down, this film is Christina Riche naked for what felt like an eternity. Liam Nelson, I thought you would pick better projects than this….

Biggest surprise
The Last Airbender – I’m shocked how bad this movie was. The content it is pulled from is amazing, and then this… garbage movie came out and ruined it for everyone.

Trailer: Thor

Kenneth Branagh’s vision of the gods has been unleashed, and well… it looks a little bit like Masters of the Universe, the old Dolph Lundgren starring live-action He-Man movie.  Still it’s not all that bad looking even if Anthony Hopkins continues his Napoleonic assault on pompous British actors in low-brow properties.  Sir Alec Guinness must be proud.  The inclusion of Natalie Portman is what excites me, if only because she seems to have a clear head about choosing scripts and directors (even if she won’t eat a damn sammich).

It should be noted that this is the exact same trailer that leaked out of Comic-Con this summer, so if it seems a wee bit familiar… you are having powerful and troubling delusions.

Are you familiar with the concept of alternate dimensions?  Let me give you some perspective.  The world is hotly anticipating a film directed by one of the worlds foremost Shakespearean actors, starring another well known Shakespearean actor and an actress who has been described as the living reincarnation of Audrey Hepburn.  However, Chris Hemsworth, our titular Thor and the guy getting the lions share of the spotlight? He’s best known for playing Captain Kirk’s dad.

You tell me we haven’t slipped into a wormhole.

Trailer: Your Highness (NSFW)

The trailer for Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green’s next comedic foray, Your Highness has hit the interwebs courtesy of IGN.  Not that you can miss that fact, their watermark being plastered all up and down the thing as is.

Green is perhaps my favorite working indie director and I absolutely love his wildly original first film George Washington.  It speaks of a simpler, sparse visual storytelling not seen in American cinema for some time.  That being said, I also am a man, and I love dick and fart jokes.  So who better to finesse the heritage of sirs Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong than a maestro of independent cinema?

Your Highness features Danny McBride (The Foot Fist Way, Eastbound and Down) and James Franco (Freeks & Geeks, Spider-Man, Other Crap) as unlikely brothers who somehow live in the same universe as Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel.  Little is known about the script, but from the trailer it appears that Zooey Deschanel will continue to be inexplicably attractive to men who like moon eyed ice queens.  Meanwhile, Natalie Portman is seen to be firmly establishing herself as one of the worlds finest young leading actresses attempting feats unmatched by even the great Meryl Streep.  Oh and she backs that ass up too.

Push it, pu-push it real good.

This looks like a lot of fun for fans of 80s fantasy schtick like Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Krull and The Dark Crystal.  April 8th can’t come soon enough.

Warning: This trailer is red band and NSFW.

PFF 2010 Review: Black Swan

Review by Guest writer: Dan Tabor from the infamous Geekadelphia.com

Black Swan may very well be one of the best horror films of 2010, when it it finally hits screens December 3rd. I mean you’re probably saying to yourself, “isn’t this the film with Natalie Portman about her being a ballerina in Swan Lake?” Yes it is, but it’s directed by Darren Aronofsky, who you might recall from such films as Pi and Requiem For a Dream so with a track record like that you know you in for much more than girl-trouble and tutus. It was great getting to see this at the Philadelphia Film Festival over a month before it theatrical release will all the buzz its been getting online, and with a sold out opening night show and a line that literally stretched blocks I wasn’t the only one hoping to check this film out.

While the film does start slow, it does an excellent job introducing us to the world of the ballerina in a way that makes it not only accessible but engaging as well. I was  fascinated with the rituals of the ballerina we are shown through Nina, Natalie Portman’s character; an obsessive compulsive, self-mutilating ballerina striving for perfection and the lead in the companies newest production of Swan Lake. We are also introduced to Nina’s mother who spends her days living vicariously through her daughter in an extremely creepy way , still treating the adult as if she was still a teenager tucking her in and even dressing her.

Everything is fine in Nina’s small happy fluffy little world, that is until she is granted the part of the Swan Queen, the lead role in the production. See Nina’s is completely capable of playing the White Swan portion of the role with her sweet sixteen, perfectionist frigid persona but the issue will be her portrayal of the White Swan’s evil twin the full of lust, seductive Black Swan. This is her challenge masterfully set before her by Thomas Leroy played by Vincent Cassel whose performance literally stole the show every time he was on screen.


Another thorn in Nina’s plan, comes as Lily played by Mila Kunis who embodies everything the Black Swan is, and who is recently brought into the production from San Francisco. She has her eye not only one the Swan Queen role but Nina’s pure image persona as well. We then travel with Nina as she journeys through sex, drugs and violence as she tries to embody the spirit of the Black Swan and keep in touch of realty as her fantasies begin to bleed into her slipping reality as with most Aronofsky films.

Natalie Portman shows us a part of her I believe we haven’t seen since The Professional, and while proving herself capable of the role of the Black Swan in the film, shows us what made her a star in the first place. Her performance is flawless, and you could not only get lost in the character on the screen but all of her subtle rituals as well, which truly show how many levels this performance runs both mentally and physically.

Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis who support Portman throughout the film turn in some performances that really play with Aronofsky’s archetypes you would expect but with a new turn or two; and I can’t forget to mention Winona Ryder. Seeing Ryder play a role that is so tragically true to life as the ballerina being replaced by the younger generation was both poignant and bittersweet, I just wish she had more screen-time.

The film is visually stunning, the script is well paced and even when you think you know where you’re going with Black Swan, Aronofsky shows you the rabbit hole for Nina only gets deeper. Black Swan is a great suspense psychological horror film that harkens back to when it was reported that Portman would star in the remake of Argento’s Suspira and shows us just what we missed. Black Swan for me, definitely goes down as one of my favorite horror films of the year and really shows that Portman is still capable of so much more than cute and awkward. I highly suggest this film to not only fans of the genre but to people looking for something different and original in a sea of remakes and re-imaginings, while being on one hand very disturbing Black Swan is still a thing of beauty.

10 Swans out of 10


PFF 2010 Review: Hesher

ROCK OUT WITH HESHER!This odd, dark comedy caught me by surprise. I was excited to see this film because of the crazy concept and the three big names attached to it, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, and Natalie Portman. From those big names and a new, brilliant child actor Devin Brochu (who was also in “Rubber” Reviewed by Josh Here), this story of an asshole helping a family cope with his problems comes to life and is surely going to be a cult classic.

From  the first time we meet Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) the ridiculousness ensues. He throws a stick of dynamite at a cop, how much more bad-ass can you get? His vulgar mouth, and the middle finger tattooed on his back, create an over-the-top presence that is absolutely hilarious. Hesher meets TJ, a young kid who is constantly beat up in school, by coincidence in an abandoned housing complex. Hesher then comes to live with TJ and his crazy family who are depressed because of the loss of TJ’s mother. Put on top of this dysfunctional messed up group a “Garden State” esque Natalie Portman and you got yourself a coming-of-age story where Indie meets heavy metal.

The film itself is beautiful to look at. All the way through I was impressed with how pretty each shot was and how they spent time giving more meaning to the film with its’ visuals. This helped drive along the story when there were moments of pause or break in the crazy Hesher action. The pacing of the film is also something I found fascinating. A lot of films of the indie genre tend to have long stretches of that are drawn out and boring, Hesher keeps its’ indie vibe without losing any energy from start to finish.

This film is for anyone who wants to hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt curse like a mother-fucker and blow up some shit. Rarely is a film described well by still shots but this is a rare exception. Check out the awesome photos below in our gallery, and DEFINITELY go see Hesher as soon as you can get your hands on it.

8.8 Middle Fingers out of 10.

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Entertainment Podcast - Oct 12th - Rapid Fire and Jackass Karen O in 3D

Top Stories:
- Harry Potter Part 1 - NOT IN 3D!
- Noomi Rapace and Carey Mulligan hunted for Alien Prequel
- Sam Raimi produce RL stines Sitter
- Slumdogs Anil Kapoor - Role as villain in MI4
- Robert Downey Jr will be Steve mequeens yucatan
- David O Russell to write/direct Uncharted
- 20 minute sneak peak of Tron
- Blue Valentine gets NC 17 rating
- Karen O’s Jackass 3D song
- No Natalie Portman on Pride and Prejudice?
- Mike Myers is Pepe Le Pew
- Guillermo del Toro rebooting the Munsters
- Jersey Boys coming to the big screen
- Red State

Movies Last Week:
I Spit on your grave
kind of a funny story
My soul to take
secretariat

Next Weeks
Conviction
Jackass 3D
Red