Film Review: THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT (Canada/Belgium 2018) ****

The Hummingbird Project Poster
Trailer

A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal.

Director:

Kim Nguyen

Writer:

Kim Nguyen

Canadian Kim Nguyen (EYE ON JULIET, WAR WITCH) directs his most commercial film to date based on a script he wrote.  

The film is about THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT.  This project will enable one of the characters, a bespectacled nerdy telecommunications fibre genius named Anton (the hardly recognizable Alexander Skarsgard) to earn millions in order to purchase a cottage in which hummingbirds abound and sing.  It also refers to the saving in timing provided by the fibre which is equivalent to a fraction of the flapping of the hummingbird wing.  

Young entrepreneur, Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) dreams of making millions by saving a millisecond of communication speed by building a direct fibre link involving drilling under ground beneath personal residential property as well as protected natural parks.  He succeeds in getting finance.  He just has to make it happen  This is what the film is all about – capitalism, done is a clever, entertaining and largely humorous way.  Vincent gets the aide of a telecommunications genius, his cousin Anyone (Alexandre Skarsgard) and buddy, Mark Vega (Michael Mando) to do the project.  The villain of the piece is Anton’s former employer, Eva Torres (Salma Hayek).  Vincent had to have Anton quit his job and Eva Torres is furious and killing to sabotage the project.  Another complication arises – Vincent is diagnosed with stomach cancer and requires immediate treatment.  All this craziness ceases more mayhem or vine and everyone.

The film’s best segment captures Trump’s white racist American to a ‘T’.  In the scene, the Eisenberg character and his driller approach the owner of a house whose property they need to drill under.  The driller, clearly of some non-white background asks the owner permission, who then asks the driller where he is from.  When the driller says he is American, he is questioned again  where he came from before arriving in America.  Eisenberg steps in, saying, clearly white American saying he is proudly American and explains, in sweet talk how the drilling would financially benefit the owner.  “You have this all on paper?”  A contract is immediately pulled out.  Similarly, Trump has fooled his whole America and promised benefits if he gets the vote, and he succeeded.  If you are offended by what is written, you are likely one of these people.  Hopefully, you are able to appreciate a little self-conscious humour.

Eisenberg reprises his sweet taking millions of words a minute sweet talking role he had in THE SOCAL NETWORK.  He is not able to convince the people in the film to accept what he says but also able to have the audience on his side rooting fro hi character.

THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT, which premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival to general favourable reviews.  What is also impressive is the turn the story takes towards the end where the project turns into complete mayhem (beautifully created) and then everything closes in compete synchronicity with nature.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-IlhKbakFA

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Happy Birthday: Jesse Eisenberg

jesseeisenberg.jpgJesse Eisenberg

Born: October 5, 1983 in New York City, New York, USA

This [The Social Network (2010)] was not the sort of script you improvise on. With Aaron Sorkin, it’s immediately clear what the rhythm of the scene is. It’s similar to reading Shakespeare. In fact, it’s a lot like great theater. I looked at some of the lengthier scenes as if I was doing a play. You find the story arc of the scene, discover different moments, build upon them to make it as rich as possible. reconciled his intense control with his disengagement. He might appear detached and bored, but he’s always working to control the entire room.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK
dir. David Fincher
Stars:
Jesse Eisenberg
Andrew Garfield
MOVIE POSTER30 MINUTES OR LESS
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MOVIE POSTERROMEO AND JULIET
1996
dir. Baz Luhrmann
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Leonardo DiCaprio
Claire Danes
ZOMBIELAND Movie PosterZombieland
2009
dir. Ruben Fleischer
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Woody Harrelson
Adventureland
dir. Greg Mottola
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The Squid and the Whale
2005
dir. by Noah Baumbach
starring
Daniels
Laura Linney
rioRIO
dir. Carlos Saldanha
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Anne Hathaway
MOVIE POSTERTO ROME WITH LOVE
2012
dir. Woody Allen
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Greta Gerwig
MOVIE POSTERNOW YOU SEE ME
2013
dir. Louis Leterrier
Stars:
Jesse Eisenberg
Mark Ruffalo
MOVIE POSTERRIO 2
2014
dir. Carlos Saldanha
Stars:
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Rodrigo Santoro
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Movie Review: NOW YOU SEE ME 2

now_you_see_me_2NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Jon M. Chu

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

Review by Gilbert Seah

NOW YOU SEE ME 2, the sequel to the unexpected hit NOW YOU SEE ME has the same 4 horsemen return for another round of magic trickery to astound audiences, whether they love magic or not.

Except for Lizzy Caplan taking over the female role from Isla Fisher, most of the original cast returns. Jesse Eisenberg plays the main role of Daniel “Danny” Atlas, the group leader followed by Woody Harrelson as Chase, Dave Franco as Jack Wilder, Caplan as Lula and Mark Ruffalo as the FBI mole. There are two sets of bad guys here. One is the FBI – a favourite target organization hated by (most) Americans and non-Americas alike. The other is Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) an unethical magnate that the Horsemen want to expose for unethical tactics, together with his father, Arthur Tresslr (Michael Caine).

Performances are key to a movie like this. It is not surprising for the filmmakers to assemble such an an impressive cast, all of whom inject sufficient seriousness and energy into the venture. But Radcliffe (HARRY POTTER) looks ill at ease at playing a bad guy as does Michael Caine.

The magic tricks performed in the film are especially outlandish. The are also performed really quickly with the solutions provided ever quicker. When the horsemen first appear again in public, they chose the most famous venues in London such as Trafalgar Square. The tricks include making rain disappear and people transported by plane. But the trickery is explained with the solution often so simple. The disappearing rain is accomplished through rain machines and strobe lights.

The best trick on display involves the horsemen forced to flee from their enemy. They leap off a rooftop through a chute and land up in China. If this act appears impossible, the revelation of how this occurs illustrates the power of imagination in a script that writer Ed Solomon constantly impresses. Though the film runs more than 2 hours, it is too long even though one hardly feels it.

Just as magic often uses doubles, the script cleverly adds a component of Merritt’s evil twin brother, again played by Harrelson, hamming it out the best he can in two different roles.

The business aspect of the film? NOW YOU SEE ME 2 hopes to pull in some big bucks for the flailing Lionsgate, the studio responsible for HUNGER GAMES and the TWILIGHT films, now in dire need of a big hit after the shares took a plunge last earnings session after a drop in quarterly revenue. But the bottom line is that this film provides just more of the same tricks – nothing more, nothing less. The first film was a surprise hit taking the box-office by storm. Lionsgate has lumped a larger amount of $90 million into the sequel, a sort of ‘we need a hit regardless of expense’. The film is up against stiff competition with WARCRAFT and CONJURING 2 both opening this same weekend. Looks like Lionsgate needs some magic on its own.

Movie Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN (2016) #BatmanvSuperman

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batmansupermanBATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (USA 2016)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot

Review by Gilbert Seah

Before the film starts at the press/promo screening of BATMAN V Superman, director Zack Snyder appears on screen practically begging the audience not to give away plot points and spoilers to the rest of the world in order for them to enjoy the film. True to word, there are a lot of spoilers that could be revealed but this latest multi-million dollar effort is so bad that no spoiler could have made the film any worse.

Snyder makes no qualms at reminding the audience that he directed the Spartan film 300. At the film start, after Bruce Wayne rushes into the dust from the rumble of a fallen skyscraper, a lone horse is seen on the screen. 3/4 through of the movie, a cop and a horse is again shown on the screen. Of course lots of muscled bodies like the Spartans in 300 are on display throughout the film.

One can tell that a movie is bad from its continuity. The car chase segment makes no sense whatsoever. The reason for the chase is zero. When it takes place, there are lots of overturned other vehicles, lots of explosions but the scenes could have be taken out of 4 different streets for all that matters. The editing is awful and continuity is non-existent.

At the promo/press screening the executive introducing the film touted the imax technology involved in the making of the film. 40% more images can be seen in the imax version. But in the in the imax version that I saw, only the last sequence and the Batman Superman fight was in full imax top to bottom presentation.

There is little to enjoy in this film – the main problem being that the film is all over the place and all the filmmakers seem more content with the special effects. Comic book fans will be flabbergasted at the way the filmmakers have taken liberties to change what fans deem unchangeable and a staple to the comic book fan base. The main premise for example, would be that if ever anyone would want to see Superman fight Batman? And who would care which one would win? A true comic book fan would cringe every time anyone of the heroes, Superman or Batman was hurt.

The plot of the film involves Superman and Batman questioning each others tactics in order to save the world. The reasons are superfluous and unconvincing. All this leads to a confrontation and fight at the film’s climax.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a very dark film no doubt. So was the recent DEADPOOL. But DEADPOOL was smart enough to be funny and tongue-in-cheek while the latter took itself far too seriously.

And there is the question of the villain and a few other loose ends. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an odd one. Eisenberg seems to have sculptured his role from Heath Ledger’s edgy Joker before his death. Esisenberg does what he does best – speaking his lines at a thousand words per minute but in this film, with creepy twitchings. It is not what is expected from classic Lex Luthor. Eisenberg dons his long hair till shaved off bald when in prison. Aquaman and Wonder Woman make their appearances but for no real reason. It seem a total farce and they should have been better totally omitted from the script.

In one segment of the film, a character says that people hate what they do not understand, referring to the suspicion they have of Superman being an alien doing good but causing destruction of the planet. Audiences might hate this film for it is impossible to understand for its purpose or plot.

*****

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