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Denebola » Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 The truth about Lying http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/the-truth-about-lying/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/02/10/the-truth-about-lying/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2010 08:27:11 +0000 Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3654 Mark Bellison lives in a world where no one can tell a lie.

This world, dominated by often surprisingly harsh truths, is changed forever when Mark develops the gene for lying.

The Invention of Lying begins very promisingly. It follows Bellison, played by funny man Ricky Gervais, as he lives out his mundane existence as a writer for the only movie corporation in the world, which makes dull and entirely true documentaries.

When Bellison invents the lie, the movie takes a humorous turn. He soon learns that the entire world is at his fingertips, for he is able to bend the will of any person.

For a time, the movie is funny, using Gervais’s dry humor to illustrate Bellison’s revelation.

Bellison uses the lie for personal gain initially, and then he turns into something of a philanthropist, giving homeless people financial aid and preventing suicides.

The movie hits a rough patch when Bellison accidentally invents “The Man in the Sky theory to comfort his dying mother. Bellison essentially creates the Bible.

From that point onward, the movie depends too heavily on the “Man in the Sky theory, every scene being shaped by Bellison’s “rules that the Man gave him (they have talks together in private).

Although the movie is generally funny, it is only so at select moments, unlike Gervais’s previous American-made film, the far funnier Ghost Town.

Initially, The Invention of Lying is not presented as a religious parody, but the second half of the movie is exactly that.

If Gervais had avoided the heavy religious jabs, the movie would not have dried up.

Even still, the movie is worth seeing. Gervais has a talent for alwaysmaking us laugh. In this case, he demonstrates some drama under his belt too.

The movie has its moments, both dull and clever, but ultimately, it comes out alive in the end, resuming where its better parts left off.

For all its flaws, it makes you smile, and that’s all that really matters.

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A comedy that lifts audiences up into the air http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/a-comedy-that-lifts-audiences-up-into-the-air/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/a-comedy-that-lifts-audiences-up-into-the-air/#comments Wed, 23 Dec 2009 07:57:54 +0000 Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3348 Up in the Air kicks off with a laid back rendition of the song “This Land is Your Land a couple of pristinely timed f-bombs, and Ryan Bingham, played by the dapper George Clooney, as he helps a corporate company downsize staff count.

This new comedy from Jason Reitman, writer of the equally hilarious tongue-in-cheek satire Thank You For Smoking, stands out as a unique blend of comedy and drama. The movie is concocted of a miraculous recipe, balancing dramatic moments that crush you and the humorous ones that make you cackle.

The story, generally bland in summary, follows Bingham as he racks up frequent flier miles en route to downsize the company for corporate. Along the way, he meets Alex Goran, played by Vera Farminga his female counterpart with whom he shares steamy hook-ups. Bingham, an anti-family man, enjoys his nomadic life all in an effort to become the seventh man to fly ten million miles.

Bingham’s career hits a speed bump when Natalie Keener, an ambitious newcomer, develops an electronic method of firing workers, ending the need for Bingham’s travel. Bingham struggles through the ensuing events, rethinking his lifestyle and future options.

Clooney’s casual narration sets the mood for the excellent comedy. The actor proves he has terrific comedic skills as well as moving dramatic techniques up his sleeve.

The funnier scenes in Up in the Air, like when Bingham proves to Natalie that firing people electronically isn’t as simple as it seems, rarely fail to make you chuckle, and never cease to make you smile.

The serious moments, such as when Natalie first fires a veteran over the computer, leave a tense air in the theatre. It’s not the yelling or crying in these moments that hits you; it’s the long, blaring silences after. That’s what I consider to be a good drama.

In an age when Judd Apatow, his team of no-names, and immature jokes, dominates comedies Up in the Air is just what everyone needs.

Based on the 2001 novel by Walter Kirn, Up in the Air is one of the first comedies in a while with solid integrity and wit.

Bestowed with an amazing script, Reitman was also blessed a cast of professionals.

Clooney and Farmiga are both in their prime here, while Anna Kendrick and Jason Bateman add to the fun. Danny McBride, playing the numskull as usual, lightens the mood when he’s onscreen.

Additionally, Air contains reliable themes like isolation and unlikely love. The messages stick with you long after the credits roll, and Clooney’s parting words leave a confused sense of sorrow in your mouth.

The film’s message is ideal for today’s age. With a material world evaporating into a digital one, we catch a glimpse at the struggle of millions who are told they are simply no longer needed.

Up in the Air is a good old-fashioned comedy with subtle innuendos, moving silences, some physical humor, and memorable messages.

It stands as one of the year’s best films without breaking a sweat. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry (almost), but most importantly, it just makes you feel what the characters are going through.

In one scene, Bingham says, “Everyone needs a co-pilot. For 109 minutes, you feel like his.

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Wild Things not wild enough even for its youngest audience http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/wild-things-not-wild-enough-even-for-its-youngest-audience/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/wild-things-not-wild-enough-even-for-its-youngest-audience/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 07:53:06 +0000 Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=3222 How do you turn a beloved children’s book about ten sentences long, into a feature-length film?

Director Spike Jonze had this challenge when transforming Maurice Sendak’s classic book Where the Wild Things Are into a live action movie.

The movie offers much from the beginning, prolonging the protagonist’s journey to where the wild things live. The audience learns that Max, the imaginative and mischievous main character, played by the promising Max Records, feels secluded from his family as his mother tries to begin a new relationship, and his sister delves into the world of adolescence.

The real world sequences are surprisingly the most enjoyable moments. When Max first meets the wild things, the movie starts to grow stale.

From the get go, it doesn’t seem that Jonze really knew what audience he was targeting, if any at all. Some scenes are too deep for children to grasp, while others are so simplistic that adults will want to tear their hair out. Furthermore, the wild things are rather violent, as they demolish everything when angered. Violence is often present in children’s films, but several scenes in this movie threaten to cross the line.

During Max’s trip to the island, the film’s inconsistency rages. The scenes rapidly dart from violent to boring to meaningful to pointless. Here and there, the movie offered funny moments, but more often than not, it tries your patience.

Since the film is based off of such a concise book, the writers improvised to draw out the length. Unfortunately the poor translation from text to screen is blatantly obvious, and drawn out sequences last for what seems to be a life time, and the middle hour or so of the movie could have been condensed into thirty or forty minutes. After, though, the momentum picked up and suddenly, “Wild Things becomes sensitive and touching.

There are moments in which the movie soars over the top, and then in the next moment, you’re wondering when it’ll get back on its feet.

I have nothing wrong with a movie without action, but to be a succesful movie, there must be true depth and meaning during the tranquil scenes. Where the Wild Things Are jabs at this, but misses narrowly.

It’s a shame that Where the Wild Things Are isn’t as lovable as its germ. The movie requires patience, something many viewers are not willing to give nowadays.

However, the movie has its moments, spitting out humorous remarks and boasting visionary graphics.

Max’s time with the wild things mirrors his life at home. Carol, the outspoken wild thing, shares Max’s short fuse and temper while Alexander, a quiet goat, reflects Max’s seclusion from the rest of his world, etc.

Even amidst its obvious flaws, Jonze’s adaptation might grow on you. His version is not as amazing or memorable as other book-to-movie adaptations, such as Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. It might just be one of those adaptations that was made because there was a classic book lying around, and Hollywood couldn’t think of another movie to make.

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Comedy and horror morph together in Zombieland http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/comedy-and-horror-morph-together-in-zombieland/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/comedy-and-horror-morph-together-in-zombieland/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2009 07:38:35 +0000 Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2950 I love horror movies. Or rather, I love good horror movies, the ones made over 30 years ago in the days of The Shining.

I also love comedies. Can you think of another feeling better than laughing so hard your gut hurts?
Hollywood’s given us a handful of memorable flicks in both genres recently, but in Zombieland, they kill two birds with one stone.

Jesse Eisenberg, star of last year’s painfully underrated Adventureland, leads an A-list cast, including Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and the gun-toting 12-year-old Abigail Breslin.

Eisenberg’s quirky, awkward style may remind you of Michael Cera, but he makes it entirely his own.

Eisenberg plays Columbus, our unlikely hero on a mission to find out if his parents have survived the zombie apocalypse.

Columbus supplies a list of rules for surviving Zombieland, a recurring motif throughout the film. After surviving several zombie attacks, he meets Tallahassee.

Woody Harrelson plays Tallahasseecx, a professional zombie killer on a desperate mission to devour every Twinkie left on earth.

A massive asset to the film, Harrelson portrays a memorable funnyman with creative ways of slaughtering zombies and a dark, somber past that adds great depth to the story.

The dialogue is smart, the action is dazzling, the characters are real, and the ending is touching.

The two survivors travel cross-country to find any other survivors of the apocalypse, exchanging humorous banter along the way.

Adding to the fun are Stone and Breslin, who, play the sisters Wichita and Little Rock, respectively. They play bright conwomen who can outthink anyone.

Even when Zombieland morphs into a horror movie, the actors find a way to make you chuckle. The film is chock-full of motifs, all of which arise with pristine timing during suspenseful moments.

While Columbus’s “survival rules quickly grow irritating, before you’re ready to pull your hair out though, the script intelligently ends the motif, leaving room for the funnier gags.

The silly lines will always stick out, for instance when Tallahassee declares, “It’s time to nut up, or shut up, but Zombieland remains surprisingly suspenseful; I found myself on the edge of my seat more than once.

The reason I loved Zombieland so much was the way it seamlessly flowed from horror to comedy to drama. The script is wisely crafted to avoid, any cheesiness or astonishingly boring moments, both parodying its laughable predecessors, and providing nail biting moments of its own that are executed wonderfully.

The back stories of each character are revealed in small doses. Each character has some loss they are dealing with, a cliché that moviemakers seem to thrive upon lately.

That’s the only problem I really have with Zombieland. But hey, in an apocalypse, who doesn’t have a problem?
Last word of advice: don’t see Zombieland if you’re queasy. It may be funny, but there’s still that bloody gore no horror movie can do without.

The dialogue is smart, the action is dazzling, the characters are real, and the ending is touching.

Zombieland is a great movie with stellar actors, and you’ll have one heck of a time watching it. ‘ËœNuff said.

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Praise to Peter Jackson’s new film: District 9 revitalizes alien science fiction genre http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/district-9/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/district-9/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2009 06:02:48 +0000 Alex Frail http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=2586 Throw a cast of no-name actors into a genre that’s been recycled, regurgitated, and beaten to death, and then selling it to a country that primarily sees movies based on celebrity name recognition is no small task, but Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp have succeeded gloriously.

The newest blockbuster on the sparkling résumé of Jackson, District 9 is a wildly fun and imaginative film that revives the alien and science fiction movie genre.

Following years of stale, one-dimensional snores like Knowing and The Day the Earth Stood Still, audiences can finally appreciate the “aliens-are-invading recipe and enjoy a decent movie.

Other alien films have probably failed because they didn’t have what District 9 thrives on: a quality actor and a solid plot.

Sharlto Copley, the excellent newcomer from South Africa, plays Wikus van de Merwe, a worker for a military organization who strives to conquer the aliens condescendingly known as prawns. Wikus is assigned to lead the alien evictions from District 9, based on the real District 6 used during the Apartheid, to a new, smaller home.

During his mission, one learns the true nature of the prawns and the havoc their chemicals can wreak if ingested.

District’s first selling point is its setting.

Unlike its predecessors, the alien mother ship doesn’t come to vaporize New York or the White House, nor does it turn humans into a bloody food source.

Instead, the immense ship lands above Johannesburg, South Africa and simply sits there. After months of dormancy, humans break in to find a race of starving aliens.

Conditions rapidly plummet for the prawns after they move into District 9, essentially a fenced off ghetto.

Humans treat the prawns like dirt, igniting what becomes a small war.

20 years later, the story begins as the military initiates a crackdown on the prawns. Copley leads an unknown cast through the bloody blockbuster that satisfies both the scholar in you and your childhood appetite for sheer destruction.

Based on the real Direct 6, Direct 9 contains Apartheid metaphors run rampant through the film, strengthening the plot’s integrity in the process.

The movie successfully portrays the hatred and aggression between races that existed during the Apartheid as well as the internal resistance needed to break it.

During the first half an hour or so, the film is shot in a nauseating documentary style that is reminiscent of Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project. Much of this time is spent telling the audience what has happened since the aliens arrived, so does try your patience; however, it is well worth the wait to see the rest of the movie.

After this sections through ends, the movie soars on adrenaline and the documentary style continues to improve.

At first, I thought the prawns were simply people in costumes, like many of Jackson’s orcs in The Lord of the Rings.

They look so genuine that I simply couldn’t believe that these creatures are computer generated.

The film is so original that it is impossible to predict the ending or even what may happen in the next scene.
I have no shame in calling District 9 a masterpiece. Though not for the faint hearted (alien weapons are not kind to humans), the movie proves to have Transformers’€like action with Good Will Hunting-esque poignancy.

You may never have heard of District 9 before now, but you won’t be able to stop talking about it once you’ve seen it.

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