Posts Tagged ‘Max Minghella’

Two Pals in Palo Alto

The Internship

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Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Szohr, Max Minghella, Rose Byrne, Will Ferrell, Josh Gad, Aasif Mandvi

It’s very difficult to make the internet appealing, funny or sexy onscreen. Director David Fincher achieved this in The Social Network with the brilliantly adapted screenplay by Aaron Sorkin of the Benz Mezrich novel The Accidental Billionaires about the rise of Facebook.

In a much lesser way The Internship once again teams up The Wedding Crashers comic duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two middle aged wristwatch salesmen Bill McMahon and Nick Campbell who find their sales talents are no longer required in the 21st century digital age, forcing them to apply for an unlikely internship at Google Headquarters in Palo Alo, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

What follows is a humorous tale of two friends who have to compete in a so called mental Hunger Games scenario rife with geeky sci-fi comicbook references from X-Men to Harry Potter as part of a summer internship with a group of graduates half their age at the search engine’s playground themed headquarters. Whilst the Internship does not have the plot substance to sustain a two hour film, it nevertheless remains a clever comedy taking a poignant look at how the 40+ age group is coping with the sudden onslaught of the digital age especially all that Google has to offer.

Thankfully director Shawn Levy does takes some of the action of The Internship away from Google headquarters otherwise the entire film would be a product endorsement for the search engine giant, offering viewers some wonderful shots of San Francisco particularly the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a very funny (The Hangover inspired scene) where Bill & Nick take their young team mates on a night out on the town landing in a pole dancing club and naturally the narrative is driven by the same onscreen chemistry between Vaughn and Owen which made The Wedding Crashers such a smash hit.

The late director Anthony Minghella’s son Max Minghella (The Social Network) plays the rival team leader Graham Hawtrey, a competitive alpha male who gets his laughs by putting down his fellow teammates, while Nick and Bill show that despite their age difference, collaboration is the best form of winning in a competitive environment. The Internship at times comes across as trite, supercilious, but it is nevertheless funny and is helped by a lovely appearance by Australian actress Rose Byrne, who plays Nick’s love interest Dana.

Cinematically The Internship is in not in the same league as The Social Network, but is a fun look at how 40 somethings have to re-evaluate and reinvent their professional lives in the wake of a 21st century youth inspired digital revolution whether its through Google, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook. For fans of The Wedding Crashers, then The Internship will certainly appeal, despite it being ageist, sexist and at times mundane, only highlighting that the American dream is still obtainable even if you have to Google it!

Besides uncredited cameos by John Goodman and Will Ferrell, the film also stars Dylan O’Brien, Josh Brener and Jessica Szohr.

 

 

Amid Celestial Harmony

Agora

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Alejandro Amenabar’s film Agora about the ancient woman astrologer and Neo-Platonist Philosopher is an absorbing tale of religious strife in Alexandria, Egypt in the declining decades of the Roman Empire. Caught between the rise of Christianity and the intolerance of the Christians for the Jews and vice versa, the Roman pagans especially the nobility who are still laying offerings to pagan Gods soon realize the extent to which Christianity has swept the Roman empire by the end of the 4th Century A.D.

Hypatia is more concerned about the alignment of the planets and encourages logical mathematical inquiry, philosophizing over the causes of gravity, the earth’s rotational spin and an heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the sun at the universe’s centre. Her theories on relativity, mathematics and astrology were way ahead of her time and all the knowledge of the ancient world, stored at the gorgeous library of Alexandria is soon sacked by the marauding Christians, Hypatia realizes that she is in a world, which is rapidly changing its social structure in the waning years of the Roman Empire.

Her once proud father Theon, a Roman nobleman, is played with suitable panache and misguided wisdom by Michael Lonsdale, seldom seen in many features any more. Lonsdale become famous to international audiences as the arch villain Hugo Drax in the James Bond film Moonraker. He was later seen in a cameo role as the French diplomat in The Remains of the Day.

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Academy award winner for The Constant Gardener,  Rachel Weisz embraces the complex role of Hypatia and relishes in the range of emotional depth and intellectual strength the character is given, especially in relation to her former slave, Davus a wonderful performance by Max Minghella, son of the late film director, Anthony Minghella, acclaimed for The English Patient and also to Orestes a Roman prefecture played by Oscar Isaac, who is hopelessly in love with her since the student days when Hypatia was  head teacher of philosophy before Alexandria was plagued by religious strife.

Agora is a superb historical epic detailing a little known time between the fall of the Roman Empire and those tumultuous days when religious fervour swept and changed the ancient world, eventually plunging the entire ancient and once sophisticated societies of Egypt, Greece and Italy into the Dark Ages.

The ending of Agora is symptomatic of the transitional times from crumbling Empire to a  new world order and while Hypatia stands firm in her beliefs as a philosopher and astronomer, she was sacrificed as a victim of her rapidly changing city, leaving her discoveries to be lost forever.

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Alejandro Amenebar the director of The Others and the Oscar winning The Sea Inside uses his flare to bring the texture and brutality of the 4th century Alexandria to life especially in contrast to the crumbling world of philosophical endeavour in favour of religious supremacy and intolerance. The sacking of the Library at Alexandria as scrolls burn and all the ancient world’s discoveries vanish is effective and is always a lesson against those who prefer ignorance to critical research. In the case of Hypatia her knowledge was her power and her greatest liability in a world ruled by megalomaniac men blinded by faith and not vision.

Harvard Harassment to Global Phenomenon

The Social Network

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 Canadian director David Fincher’s latest film The Social Network could fit more comfortably in the made for TV film category, but is nevertheless a fascinating examination of how one idea can affect the world.

The Social Network traces the rise of the Facebook phenomenon from the frat houses of Harvard to going global, the lawsuits that ensued and how the lives of over 500 million users have been transformed by using of Facebook from Silicon Valley to Henley-on-Thames, from Brazil to Cape Town, from Sydney to Toronto.

Harvard Harassment

Jesse Eisenberg makes a superb entrance in a major role as Mark Zuckerberg the genius behind linking the Ivy League American University social networks from Harvard to Stamford and supersedes any former attempts by creating a user-friendly interface for virtual network, sharing photos and updating one’s relationship status, now known universally as Facebook. Love it or hate it, the rise of Facebook is now a commercially viable form of communication, which has taken the digital world by storm. Fincher’s film shows the rise of the Facebook phenomenon from Zuckerberg’s cocky online response on his blog after being spurned by Erica, a lovely cameo by Rooney Mara at Harvard to his rise through several collaborations firstly with Eduardo Saverin, a diversely perceptive performance by Andrew Garfield, and then with Napster founder Sean Parker, the colourful and confident character suitably played by Justin Timberlake, proving that his acting abilities are certainly maturing.

Fincher responsible for some high end thrillers including Seven, The Game, Fight Club and Oscar nominated Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a prolific choice for a film which if left in the hands of a lesser director, could have become a slightly drawn out geek match about intellectual property rights, failed love affairs and immense wealth bestowed on a set of twenty-something’s who surely were given an added advantage already being at Harvard in the first place. The Social Network is an engrossing look at a very recent digital phenomenon and the ingenuity, entrepreneurial savvy  and success of three men who clearly realized that they had discovered a gaping hole in the social fabric of Anglo-American society and filled that void with a network which combines privacy with a sense of community.

Global Phenomenon

Facebook, like the invention of the light bulb, the car, and most obviously the internet is here to stay and will definitely grow, transform and has embraced the real 21st century notion of a global digital village. Watch out for a wonderful performance by Armie Hammer playing both the affluent, rowing crazy twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and of course the cleverest part of The Social Network is the poster, – You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies, reminding the viewer of a similar poster?

Every face tells a story…

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