Blog Archives

TIFF 2013: Don Jon (2013)

don-jon-official-poster-banner-promo-banner-23maio2013

It’s about as close to the perverse truth as any romantic-comedy has come close to depicting. It delivers the goods on its premise and is unique enough to distance itself from the genre. There is no denying the chemistry between its two wonderful, handsome leads and the laughs are consistent and real. Yet, one can’t help but feel that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut “Don Jon” is missing that certain climactic element. Essentially, there is nothing utterly wrong with the film itself. The fault lies in its inability to provoke any kind of meaningful reaction or reward the viewer for tagging along in the journey. Granted, the plots skeletal structure is anything but common and Levitt isn’t afraid to show a little skin, so to speak. However, the point in which the viewer joins the protagonist never diverts or scatters, resulting in a linear, anti-climactic, albeit impressive debut for Levitt.

josephgordonlevitt-scarlettjohansson-donjon-600

Jon Martello (Levitt) is a present day Don Juan who objectifies everything in his life, specifically women. His friends call him Don Jon because he is consistently able to pull “10s” every week. Soon, Jon’s addiction to internet pornography renders his sex life less than fulfilling and eventually his relationships begin to falter because of it. On his journey to discover a more satisfying love life, Jon falls for Barbara (Johansson), a beautiful woman who is obsessed with control.

Much like Joss Whedon did to the horror genre with “The Cabin in the Woods,” Levitt has disassembled, dissected, and rebuilt the conventional stereotypes and outlook of the romantic comedy. However, when blatantly poking fun at countless years of tradition and canon, the revolt better be a game changer. And for the most part, Levitt has this transformation pointed in the right direction. His outing is a raunchy, veracious, satirical romp…of course not to the same height, success, or effectiveness as Whedon and Goddard’s comedic fright-fest. However, with “Don Jon,” Levitt has genuinely created something brash, original, and straightforward. It definitely bursts with the usual charisma and wit that typically defines films of this genre and manages to lure the viewer in with likeable, terrifically performed, over-the-top characters.

don-jon-tony-danza-joseph-gordon-levitt

Although for the majority of its runtime, “Don Jon” is severely superficial. This reinvented concoction does offer more insight, intelligence, and endearing qualities than the majority of the genre’s entries. “Don Jon” is merely a half-realized revelation for the rom-com genre and is heavily directed at the male populous. It’s sure to not sit as well with the female market, but for those who can handle the harsh fact of differing motivations in opposite-gender relationships. It’ll conjure up some big body-aching laughs and a veritable gaze into the logical and emotional differences that continuously baffle our co-existing genders. Compared to its counterparts, “Don Jon” is a breath of fresh, sexually charged air into a genre that would rather play pretend than focus on truth-telling and authentic, situational humour.

Don-Jon-13

It’s rather comical, yet seriously obscure that I’m having this much difficulty writing up this review. As I previously stated, there isn’t anything actually wrong with the film. It’s funny, different, and Levitt, again for the most part, has done everything with his usual flair and charm. I just feel that with “Don Jon,” Levitt errs on the side of caution. As if he has intentionally pushed the envelope, but got cold feet halfway to his destination. You’ll find yourself watching the film and feel a bit naughty and excited by this new, uncharted cinematic territory. And then, when you’ve finally reached the end, flustered and gleeful, the slow realization that you weren’t overly wowed begins to take over. However, all this being said, “Don Jon” truly is an impassioned, touching, respectable debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So long as he keeps chugging along this road of ingenuity and continues to carve out his own way. Levitt will have a long, prosperous career behind the camera.

don-jon-image06

The one thing you can rely on when heading into the theatre to experience “Don Jon” is the consistent cleverness and turbulent coexistence of all the characters. Which are incredibly and ably performed by the entire cast, which features Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, and Tony Danza.

Marred in heavy makeup and a thick New Jersey accent, Scarlett Johansson is as striking as ever, even though she maybe a tad incoherent. Nonetheless, in a role that significantly depends on superficiality and surface pleasures. It’s her ability to transform and power through the external distractions in order to reach internal importance that is truly remarkable. Tony Danza is down-right hilarious in his supporting role. Hopefully this will lead to his emergence from the shadows and launch him back into the mainstream. Moore is just phenomenal in her supporting role, she hasn’t been this effective and stunning in a long while. As for Levitt, he’s as effective and suave as ever, but we shouldn’t have expected anything less. Levitt does a phenomenal job while pulling double duty and really adapted both physically and mentally, not only to play and capture the role, but create it. Although I have to admit, Levitt’s portrayal here is quite the oddity when you associate him with the heartbroken romantic from “500 Days of Summer,” quite the contrast.

don-jon09

It might dwell a little to close to safety, but its excess of honesty and hilarity is enough for “Don Jon” to overcome its faults. It is a respectable inception for director/writer Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Don Jon: 7.5 out of 10.

Advertisements

Top 10 Superhero Flicks

shield_of_captain_america-HD

Another week, another top 10!

With “Man of Steel” released recently, I figured now would be as good a time as any to deliver my 10, all-time favourite superhero films. I didn’t want to jump the gun just in case “Man of Steel” managed to crack the list and then have to go back and edit it, that’s why I waited. No doubt a lot of you will not agree with my choices, so let me explain a little before hand. I am a huge fanboy and while that does have its perks, it certainly comes with its own set of disadvantages. Such as being unable to admit a film is subpar due to my misplaced sense of invincibility and obsession. So please, while gazing at this top 10, be gentle :).

I’m getting real close to completing this segment’s header image so please bare with me at least for this week. Inevitably, “Captain America” did not make the list but I felt a powerful need to include him in this post whichever way I could.

Also, guys please follow The Cinema Monster on facebook and twitter. There are links to both on the right side of the page. It would mean a lot to me. I know its a hassle, but I just created them and if no one follows, they bare no purpose. I followed everyone on the blogroll already, so just simply go to your followers and follow me back…please :).

One last thing before we get started. Next Friday I will be unable to post a top 10. Would anyone like to contribute a top 10 of their own to the segment? I’ve been wanting to have a guest rank a top 10 for some time now, so I guess there is no time like the present. I’d like to start off with just one guest top 10 a month, at least until its popularity grows. So, if you would like to be the first to post a top 10, please e mail me with your idea for the top 10 and your website so I can quickly select one and we can prepare for next week. The email is thecinemamonster@gmail.com

Enough witty banter and self-publicity, let’s start the top 10.

 

10: “X-2”

Why?: Easily the best in the trilogy. “X-2” sees the mutants band together to defeat a common foe, and while this may be a comic book cliche, I love when it happens. Also, Wolverine vs Lady Deathstrike is enough on its own.

X2-wallpapers-x-men-the-movie-6889384-1280-1024

 

9: “Thor”

Why?: I am a huge Thor fan and I feel that he is the best Avenger. I was a little weary of his own full-length feature series, but the original proved me wrong and its sequel “Thor: The Dark World” looks fantastic. And…c’mon…Chris Hemsworth.

Thor

 

8: “Iron Man”

Why?: Seeing Tony Stark fight his way out of capture, build a formidable, almost indestructible suit, and destroy Jeff Bridges is enough. Let alone the fact that this film without question has the most heart and believability.

42-iron-man-iron-man-hd-8-free-spot-free-download

 

7: “Spider Man 2”

Why?: I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of Raimi’s “Spider Man” trilogy. I did enjoy the first film, but the third and final entry was a complete bust. However, the second film is outstanding.

Spiderman-2

 

6: “Man of Steel”

Why?: Remember when I said I’m a fanboy and essentially go into the cinema with blinders on, well, yeah, that’s why. But seriously, this film was amazing, I don’t understand why it’s taking so much heat. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still epic and utterly captivating.

Man-of-Steel-2013-Movie

 

5: “Batman Begins”

Why?: Odds are, if you’re not a fan of Christopher Nolan’s introduction to his reboot of the Batman franchise, I don’t much care for you as a person. Just kidding…sort of. Between Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow and the fact that my last name is Falcone, I couldn’t resist.

batman-begins-batman-49436_1600_1200

 

4: “The Avengers”

Why?: Directed and written by the masterful Joss Whedon. “The Avengers” is everything you’d expect it to be, and so much more.

the_avengers_movie_2012-HD

 

3: “X-Men: First Class”

Why?: Honestly, this flick blew my mind. The origin stories of essentially every single mutant, it’s clever, witty dialogue, and insatiable heart. “X-Men: First Class” is a no brainer for me. “I prefer…Magneto.”

1849126-first_class

 

2: “The Dark Knight”

Why:? Many argue that it is the greatest superhero movie of all-time. While it’s hard to argue, I must insist there is one better. Nonetheless, with Heath Ledger’s Joker portrayal, the bat-pod, and everything in between, “The Dark Knight” is down-right perfect.

the_dark_knight_7

 

1: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Why?: Christopher Nolan’s immaculate ending to his epic “Dark Knight” trilogy. Many thought he could never top “The Dark Knight,” but I, like many others, feel he did the job.

Bane

 

Honourable Mentions: “Captain America,” “Spider Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “X-Men,” “Unbreakable,” “Watchmen,” “Kick Ass.”

 

If you feel that I’ve overlooked a flick or that a film made the list that shouldn’t have, feel free to comment below. Also, if you are interested in contributing a top 10, please let me know. Have a great weekend!

Top 10 Emerging Directors

C’mon guys, we all know the truth. As cinephiles, we are apart of a very select group that don’t joke around about movies, unless they’re directed by Michael Bay. The sad truth is that not everyone is as inclined to obsess over cinema as we are. At times they can’t differentiate what is a truly good film and which is bad. After recently speaking to people I know at random about the film industry, I realized that not a lot of people are familiar with the actors on screen, let alone the people behind the camera. This list is for all of you out there who have better things to do than compile a cinematic top 10, essentially those who have a life, unlike me.

This list isn’t about household names like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg. This list is about the up and comers, those who’ve solidified a base for themselves and that we look forward to seeing add and build on top of it. Again, as always this is my personal list, not the opinion of the general public. So, let’s get started.

10: James Wan.

Why you should know him: Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010).

What to expect from him: The Conjuring (2013) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013).

Saw-James-and-Leigh-on-set

9: Ben Wheatley.

Why you should know him: Sightseers (2012) and Kill List (2011).

What to expect from him: A Field in England (2013).

ben-wheatley-interview

8: Rian Johnson.

Why you should know him: Looper (2012).

What to expect from him: Nothing in the works as of the moment.

Rian-Johnson-e1349365405963

7: Joss Whedon.

Why you should know him. The Avengers (2012) and Much Ado About Nothing (2012).

What to expect from him: The Avengers 2 (2015).

Joss_Whedon

6: Edgar Wright.

Why you should know him: Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).

What to expect from him: The World’s End (2013) and Ant-Man (2015).

Wright-Pegg-and-Frost

5: Derek Cianfrance.

Why you should know him: Blue Valentine (2010) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012).

What to expect from him: Nothing scheduled as of the moment.

place-beyond-the-pines-Derek-Cianfrance-Eva-Mendes-Ryan-Gosling

4: Duncan Jones.

Why you should know him: Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011).

What to expect from him: Warcraft (2015).

TFF+2009+Portrait+Studio+DIRECTV+Tribeca+Press+04iqdXJP4jfl

3: Nicolas Winding Refn.

Why you should know him: Bronson (2008) and Drive (2011).

What to expect from him: Only God Forgives (2013).

Gosling-director-Refn-just-clicked-UUCTPI9-x-large

2: Steve McQueen.

Why you should know him: Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011).

What to expect from him: Twelve Years a Slave (2013).

blog Fassy-Mcqueen-SHAME-1

1: Jeff Nichols.

Why you should know him: Shotgun Stories (2007) and Take Shelter (2011).

What to expect from him: Mud (2012-2013).

jeff

If you feel that I’ve overlooked someone or have an issue with the top 10 feel free to comment below. Actually if you have anything to say comment below. Have a good weekend :).