Side Effects (2013)

sideeffects_1Starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Ann Dowd, Polly Draper, David Costabile, Mamie Gummer

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

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Side Effects is ultimately a thriller, but you’d never know it by the way the film sets itself up. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is a depressed woman whose husband (Channing Tatum) has just been released from prison. He was locked up for insider trading, but now that he’s back on the right side of the bars, he’s trying his best to set their lives back on course. Meanwhile, Emily is having a hard time dealing with her mental issues, and one day while exiting a parking garage she decides to take the exit sign painted on the brick wall literally. She drives her car straight into it, and thus sets into motion the twisting that must occur for any thriller to be successful.

But those expecting a thriller right out of the gate will be disappointed by the slow, dramatic crawl towards the thriller content in Side Effects. It’s there, and it’s rather intriguing and interesting to unravel, but less patient viewers will definitely feel the urge to switch the film off before it gets there. Even acknowledging this fact, the film is a little slow in places, and the some of the second half isn’t as strong as it could be. Regardless, Side Effects is largely a successful film.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James

Directed by David Fincher

Expectations: Low. I’m expecting the same reaction as the original, but hopefully Fincher can do something with it that excites me.


Didn’t I already write a review for this movie? Oh yeah, I did. The American version and the original Swedish adaptation of Steig Larson’s explosively popular novel are nearly identical, and therefore I feel almost exactly the same about both of them. There are some minor differences that allowed me to follow certain aspects of the story better in this version, but there were also underplayed moments where I only knew what was going on because I had already seen the Swedish version. This leads me to believe that the target audience for the American remake is specifically people who read the book, but didn’t want to see the Swedish film. And this gets me to the main reason I think this film exists: Americans don’t want to read subtitles. But you knew that already.

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the original Dragon Tattoo film, and while Fincher’s version is a more entertaining version of the story, there’s just something inherently fucked up about remaking a movie that was literally just made. From an artistic standpoint, it’s pointless; the story has already been realized in the modern era and anything that Fincher added is minor to the point of meaningless. The biggest boon for this version is Trent Reznor’s score which amps up the tension perfectly in spots, but at other times it sticks out and forces its coolness on the audience without much impact.

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The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones, Joseph Mazzello, Rooney Mara, Dustin Fitzsimons

Directed by David Fincher

Expectations: None. It’s the Facebook movie.


If you’ve heard the hype surrounding The Social Network, and I don’t know how you would have avoided it, you will have heard that this is the movie of a generation. I can’t really argue against the sentiment of the statement as the film could easily be seen as such if you were so inclined, but I can wish that the movie of the generation was at least a little more substantial.

Yes, I said substantial. The main character here, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a one-dimensional immature caricature of a human and Jesse Eisenberg plays the character to a T. Eisenberg does a great job of making Zuckerberg look like a man devoid of any emotional response other than petty retaliation that he seems to unleash only incidentally in his quiet desire for acceptance from a girl. It works for the sake of the story Aaron Sorkin wanted to tell, but it does so at the mercy of the audience’s interest in the main character of the film, as he features no arc to speak of.

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