Archive for Film

2010: The Year of The Dude

The Dude most definitely “abided” in 2010. Read why I believe Jeff Bridges really tied 2010 together.

http://hypervocal.com/entertainment/2010/2010-the-year-of-the-dude/

Social Studies

The Social Network is much easier to “like” than its protagonist. In a film that successfully fuses the energy of  the 2008 poker flick 21 with the darkness of Oscar-winning Mozart biopic Amadeus, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is depicted as a man smart enough to see everything but his own weaknesses. Unlike the world’s youngest billionaire, however, David Fincher’s masterpiece is flawless.

While Facebook is bringing people closer together than ever before, Zuckerberg has been a public enigma throughout most of the social media phenomenon that has defined my generation. This movie changes that, as Fincher and screenwriting icon Aaron Sorkin pull back the curtains on the revolutionary site’s Wizard of Awes.

Jesse Eisenberg will no longer be regarded as the poor man’s Michael Cera, as his portrayal of the Harvard genius will likely garner an Oscar nomination in February. The film’s star shines as a sort of Nerd Fonzie, blending creative and technological ambition with attitude.

Still, it’s Justin Timberlake who steals the show as Napster co-founder Sean Parker. JT, who was the only watchable element in 2006’s Alpha Dog (a movie that proved the pop icon has both stage and screen presence), delivers greatness as the puppeteer pulling Zuckerberg closer to financial heaven and personal hell.  He also gets the last laugh, embodying the music industry’s equivalent of Zuckerberg. Napster nearly crippled the music biz, and Timberlake gets ironic payback by making its innovator the true villain within the story.

At its core, The Social Network is a movie about pursuing one’s dreams (How’s that for an Inception connection?). It will resonate with anyone who’s ever yearned to date their dream girl, get famous, or change the world. Whether or not Mark Zuckerberg did so at others’ expenses, we are all undeniably living his dream. The Social Network’s greatest achievement is revealing to us that every big dreamer still has nightmares.

Town & Out

In The Town, Ben Affleck successfully breaks into vaults and out of Matt Damon’s shadow. I’ve never been a big Affleck fan, but his latest directorial/starring role is a triumph. While most of Affleck’s previous acting work is quite forgettable (with the exception of his parts in Good Will Hunting and Boiler Room), he is quickly becoming Boston’s answer to New York directors Spike Lee and Marty Scorsese.

While The Town takes place near the setting of Gone Baby Gone (Affleck’s critically-acclaimed directorial debut), it  stays exciting and original throughout. An excellent supporting cast (with standouts Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Chris Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, & Pete Postlethwaite) keeps the acting pressure off of the film’s lead, while giving audiences a dramatic view into a small breeding ground for many big-time criminals.

As a writer/director, Affleck has never shied away from his Boston roots. The Town takes this to another level. With a climactic heist scene in none other than Fenway Park (an instant classic rivaling the final bank job in Heat), the movie literally swings for the fences. It’s a homerun.

While Ben Affleck has frequently been mocked for not having as much cinematic credibility as Matt Damon (his former writing partner), it appears he’s found his niche. Ben Affleck…auteur? How do you like Dem apples?

Dream ONondaga

In one week, I’ll be returning to the Inception-like dream world that is college. Although I’m eager to be back at my second home, thinking about the upcoming year has put my mind in a Leo DiCaprio-like limbo.

While I’m stoked for what’s coming, it’s hard to remain in the moment. There’s no escaping the reality that this is my Syracuse University Farewell Tour, and no science fiction subplot can hide the fact that my future has never been closer to the now.

College is essentially one enormous “pre-game” that helps make your cultural, intellectual, and social integration into the real world less awkward. I still feel like an incoming freshman at heart, but no college kegger can compare to the wild party I’m about to join – a true “rager” called life.

Nevertheless, with only two semesters until graduation, I’ll strive to work and play harder than ever. Balancing academic responsibilities with the freedom from other demands is the best way to make these last months as exciting and memorable as my first days (back when I was a naive, orange lanyard-wearing neophyte in Brewster Hall).

College is also a place for students to pursue their life’s dreams in a dream-like atmosphere. The idea that “anything is possible” applies more here than anywhere else (except for maybe inside Christopher Nolan’s head).  While there are differences between dreaming while awake and asleep, our conscious goals and subconscious fantasies have much in common. We all want to visualize our happy dreams coming to fruition without interruption or nightmare. We also want to make discoveries along the way.

With this in mind, I’m excited to embrace new challenges, relationships, and ideas before my Syracuse dream comes to an end. I plan on “Carpe Diem-ing” my way through new experiences, while also making time for familiar friends and routines (as well as few Keystone Lights).

Although I’m starting the year with a positive outlook, I’m concerned that I won’t be able to accomplish everything I’ve set out to do in (and after) college. Dreaming big could ultimately set you up for big disappointments. I also realize that my determination alone may not be enough. While hard work can get you an A (at least in “Living Writersclass), it cannot guarantee success and fulfillment down the road. Still, there is no better time to explore the depths of our own curiosities and desires.

While my childhood dreams were shaped in Long Island’s Nassau County, my hopes for adulthood have been molded here in Onondaga. Syracuse University has provided me with liberation from adolescence, as well as a bridge to my life’s true journey. While a Magellan GPS can’t help anyone  arrive at a rewarding personal destination, maybe dreams can.

Inception, Hollywood’s biggest summer hit, teaches us the importance of adapting to life’s changes. With big changes on my horizon, I was moved by the idea that we are better served confronting our realities than looking for more convenient (or in the movie’s case, imaginative) escapes. Still, it’s beneficial to note how the blockbuster film also shows us that dreaming is often breathtaking, confusing, emotionally charged, and unpredictable. Sounds a lot like real life to me.

Throwback to the Future

Remember when it was cool to be retro? I sure do. Growing up on the Beatles, Converse, Nick at Nite, and Larry Bird highlight tapes made me feel generations ahead of my time. As a kid, I used to love chatting with my friends’ parents (perhaps even more than with my friends themselves) because it was exciting to bridge our age gaps through nostalgic dialogue. Referencing Lennon-McCartney and Lenny-Squiggy set me apart from others my age who were more familiar with Evan & Jaron and Keenan & Kel. Sporting “Dr. J’s” and a #33 Celtics jersey gave me character, and made me feel like a man among boys wearing Sambas and the Bulls # 23.

The only reason worth watching "Laverne & Shirley"

Nowadays, being old-school paradoxically means being with the times. Retro style isn’t truly “retro” anymore, and it often feels painfully uncool. When everyone including your eighth grade sister rocks several colors of low-top Chuck Taylor’s, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate our age’s love of all things past. Throwback jersey-filled stadiums, Journey sing-alongs, and high school chicks in Ramones’ t-shirts all make me want to vomit and immediately torch my vinyl record and baseball card collections.

I (REALLY) Wanna Be Sedated!!!

My generation is relatively apolitical, non confrontational, and cleanly, so why is it that we all want to dress like punks and hippies!  Why do we play “Beatles Rock Band” and quote  Across the Universe, when many of us would likely confuse George Harrison with the guy who played Han Solo (I’m right now picturing a future YouTube video called “I am the Wookie”).

"George" Harrison Ford

Perhaps we love what once was because we fear the uncertainties of what’s coming. Or maybe we find security with past styles in order to mask our age’s apparent lack of substance. I fervently doubt most of today’s music, TV, films, clothing, and automobiles will possess similar staying power as those we celebrate from prior times.

It’s scary to think that my generation isn’t contributing much worthwhile and long-lasting culture to the future. Still, it is probably more frightening to believe we are doing so! If my children grow up listening to the Dave Matthews Band, watching Gossip Girl, and wearing corny rubber bracelets around their wrists, I’ll feel partially responsible for cheating them of the sheer retro awesomeness my parents’ generation passed on to my peers and I.

Maybe throwing things back a bit has its perks, however. By continuing to follow trends of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, my generation can make history forget that we’ve never really had a distinctive cultural identity of our own.

Perhaps it’s impossible to establish a unifying, representational image for a generation so absorbed in the past. Our identity crisis is also complex due to addictive social networking and new media allowing individuals to strategically manipulate the ways they are viewed by others (as a blogger, “Tweeter”, and Facebook user, I’m as guilty as anyone). True individuality is hard to notice within collective networks, making it even more difficult for unique people to stand out and inspire positive cultural reform. Consequently, many revert back to older forms of expression (classic rock music, iconic images) to share how they truly feel.

As much as it sometimes pains me to see retro become so commonplace, I’ll have to bite my tongue and continue donning my “Larry Legend” attire quietly. After all, I believe John Lennon inspired many throwback t-shirts that boldly read “Give Peace a Chance.”

Imagine...all the t-shirts!