Archives for posts with tag: Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t look like himself in the promotional photos for “The Art of Self-Defense” (2019). Dressed in his karate outfit, fist and jaw clenched, he looks like a 1960s British spy. At least he does to me. And perhaps to himself, because the reason his mild-mannered character takes karate is to become more masculine. That’s the pivot point upon which this dark, dark comedy rests. There’s humor and horror within his desire to become the thing he’s afraid of, and we are witness to both. But the thing that makes this film worth watching is the courageously quirky dialog.

I once argued in a high school lit class that readers see symbolism in places where authors never intended. A nun once told me that if you’re looking for a sign, you can find it anywhere. As I watch “The Hummingbird Project” (2019), I see a film that’s very small (a look at nanosecond-driven, algorithmic stock trading) and very large (an audacious plan to build a thousand-mile, high-speed, fiber-optic pipeline). But there are also symbols (cue the rain) of life and death and greed and genius that are spoilers – or exist only in my mind – so I won’t mention them.

The core audience for “American Ultra” (2015) is 20-year-old gamer types, not 50-year-old stay-at-home-on-a-Friday-night types. I get that. It was a wise move, since the gamers paid $10 to watch it in a theater, while I paid 60 cents to rent it from Redbox (and stay at home on a Friday night). So the fact I thought the violence was waaay too cartoonishly bloody means little. The fact I thought said violence put a damper on the ingeniously compelling story of a sleeper-cell stoner means little. I’m sure the gamers ate it up. My reward? Friday night with Connie Britton.