Currently browsing the "Jesse Eisenberg" tag.

Review: Resistance

When you think of mime, you naturally think of Marcel Marceau. But you probably don’t know how he saved a group of Jewish orphans from the Nazis during World War II. Resistance tells the story of his joining the French resistance and helping to sneak them across the border into the safety of Switzerland. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social NetworkCafe Society) plays Marceau, the son of a Kosher butcher in Strasbourg, France, who’s more interested in becoming the next Charlie Chaplin than being a hero. But his cousin is a commander in a secretive Jewish relief group and convinces him to help them smuggle Jewish children from occupied France to neutral countries. It’s an uplifting story, though not a great film.

Quickie Review: The Hummingbird Project

If you’re looking for something thought-provoking, but less terrifying than US, The Hummingbird Project is the smart person’s financial thriller. That means, it helps to be somewhat of a geek to embrace what is surely meant to be a cautionary tale for our modern, digital world. The movie, from writer/director Kim Nguyen (War Witch) grew on me as it went along, even though the subject matter didn’t exactly thrill me and I didn’t particularly like the ending. Perhaps if it were based on a true story – which it seems like it would be, but isn’t – I’d have felt more invested in the characters and the plot, about two cousins who concoct a plan to build a fiber-optic cable line from Kansas to New Jersey to shave a millisecond from the transfer of stock information, thus enabling traders with access to the line to make millions. In case you’re wondering, one millisecond is the speed of a hummingbird’s wing-flap (at least, I think that part is true!).

Cafe Society

Woody Allen’s latest feels very familiar and not terribly original. It’s like he has a drawer full of ideas for film scenes and he just grabbed a hand full and shot. It has a bittersweet love story at the center, set in Golden Age Hollywood and New York, and the usual Woody stand-in character. This time it’s Jesse Eisenberg playing Bobby Dorfman, a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who comes to LA to work for his “Agent to the Stars” Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) and falls for his beautiful secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), but eventually returns heart-broken to New York, takes a job with his mobster brother, and marries shiksa goddess Veronica (Blake Lively). The first part in Hollywood is kind of fun, but sadly it runs out of steam when it gets back to New York, almost like it’s two different movies.

American Ultra

I’m not sure what this movie was trying to be but it’s a hot mess. Here’s how it was pitched:

American Ultra is a fast-paced action comedy about Mike [Jesse Eisenberg], a seemingly hapless and unmotivated stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend, Phoebe [Kristen Stewart], is suddenly turned upside down. Unbeknownst to him, Mike is actually a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent. In the blink of an eye, as his secret past comes back to haunt him, Mike is thrust into the middle of a deadly government operation and is forced to summon his inner action-hero in order to survive.”

When I read the synopsis, I expected to see something along the lines of the fairly entertaining action-comedy-crime-stoner movie Pineapple Express. Ha! Joke was on me.

The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour is not a biopic so much as an homage to a great writer who killed himself relatively young. In the film David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother) is the biggest writer of 1996, and David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is a new reporter at Rolling Stone who talks his editor into sending him on a book tour with him. It is the first time Rolling Stone has done an author piece, but Wallace’s latest book, Infinite Jest, is earning him comparisons to Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Lipsky, a novelist himself, is jealously in awe of Wallace. What transpires is mostly a road trip interview. Yes, it is an interesting conversation, particularly so for other writers, and it is pretty much all talk and nearly no drama, but as Lipsky notes at the end of the film, “It was the best conversation I ever had.” And it surely is one of the better ones I have listened to in a while.

Now You See Me

So I had a choice of overlapping screenings: After Earth (a sci-fi adventure with the father-son team of Will and Jaden Smith) or Now You See Me, a heist movie involving a quartet of illusionists. I chose the latter. That was probably a wise choice given the less than stellar buzz I’m hearing about Earth. But Now You See Me isn’t all that great either, despite having a few good tricks up its sleeve. Overall, it’s a decent movie for anyone in the mood for a moderately entertaining mind-bender with a solid cast. Or, if you’re a fan of magic and illusion and need to get The Incredible Burt Wonderstone out of your head. If Wonderstone had gone down a somewhat dark and twisty path, this is where it might have led.

The Social Network

When I saw the early blurbs about this movie, I was thinking it would be either a big yawn or a lot of youth culture that would make me feel really old. But The Social Network is neither of those things. It is a really involving, well-made drama based on the story of the creation of Facebook (or as it was originally called, The Facebook.)