on July 24, 2010
I wasn't sure about this movie at first but, as it unfolded I was intrigued by the main character. He plays a very strong character, not all that attractive but his character was powerful, Paz Vega is ready to bow down to this king, sit at his feet and make his every wish come true. Watch closely and listen to every word Ms. Vega speaks, she is captivating. At the end an important revelation. I would have to say that the casting and directing were superb, the story is extraordinary and I enjoyed it so much that I watched it twice and then I had to buy my own copy so that I could watch it again and again, and not because of the intimate scenes, because of the story. I hope that Jada will write more screenplays that are as good as this. thank you.
on July 18, 2012
I actually really liked this movie. The characters are flawed in ways that make some of them unbelievably annoying such that you do not sympathize at all. That can be a good think. I think Jada did an excellent job of drawing out fierce performances. Jason Clarke (Julian) is incredibly interesting as this very cold, somewhat disconnected but extremely successful marketing executive. He is on the verge of a divorce and his life seems to be out of his control just when he meets the beautiful confident Michael played by Paz Vega. (Paz works the screen lighting up the room with her dangerous curves and open gestures.) She is quiet mysterious and holds Julian's attention. He seems to struggle with his attraction and eventual repulsion of her.
Julian biggest struggles stems from unresolved issues with his mother an overbearing, uber-religious, controlling woman who'd rather see her daughter stay with an abusive husband than leave. Julian wants to be free of him demons but in order to do that the has to help others in his life be free as well. That is where the story lies. We are sometimes trapped by the past and need to complete before we can move on to live productive fuller lives.
Jada Pinkett Smith is an extremely emotional woman and movies like this can sometimes appear to be out of reach because there seems to be something missing. But that's not true. Everything that is right and true about this movie is right there on the surface. That's how Jada lives. Hiding nothing. This was a surprising gem one that should have garnered more notice.
on December 30, 2009
This really is a very good movie with one of the stars,Jason Clarke from the wellknown "BROTHERHOOD" series(lead actor).Other heavyweights are Jada Pinkett-Smith who wrote & directed, veteran actress Joanna Cassidy,Paz Vega,who did a wonderfull job as an adulterous woman having affairs with her husbands OKAY( everyone has issues,very real to life to daily living issues. This puts new meaning to "Dyfunctional Family Members".You meet a stranger and you never know a person until you "hang with them" animal attraction can be liberating but also destructive.
After watching this film I wanted to rate this much lower, but then I took in the featurettes and listened to the commentary and got a better idea of what Jada Pinkett Smith was trying to accomplish. And in the end - I think she managed to pull off a decent first film with a big budget look.
I would be wary of various plot descriptions that attempt to capsulize this as a corporate-themed film because they actually do it a disservice. This is a story about a rigid, professional and successful corporate divorcee who meets a beautiful, free spirited (and married) woman who tries to broaden his narrow life. Paz Vega excellently plays the sexual and passionate love interest (as always). Along the way we see flashbacks of his troubled childhood, his constantly dysfunctional persona that torpedoes any chance of the viewer liking him, a violent and bizarre family, and a plethora of character inconsistencies.
(SLIGHT SPOILER): Several summaries I have read outline the consequences he faces in his career over the personal end, but this film is almost entirely about his personal life and shows nothing about his career outcome in the last third of the film. Once you figure out that whole plot disappears I think it helps you appreciate the film better.
The music mix is slightly abrupt and misplaced throughout the "discovery" or "suspense" scenes, but the constant character meltdowns past the 50 minute mark takes your mind off that anyway. The epiphany in the end felt meaningless to me, but that is where I recommend you immediately watch the two featurettes to get a better grasp on what they were trying to show. The making-of lasts 21 minutes and covers all aspects of production, and in an almost hi-def clarity. The "Roll-of-film" featurette lasts 4 minutes and tackles the cast and crew's idea of what the human contract means. The previews section has over 20 films to screen through, several of which customers will assuredly be asking about (the Malkovich/Roberts one especially).
Overall, the picture, sound, story, score and supplements all make for a mixed bag film, but a purchase worthy product for fans of Jada (has a bit role and directs).
on November 16, 2009
I actually had to watch this movie a second time because I had a tough time understanding the dialogues the first viewing around (the so-so quality of the sound mostly?) and I missed some important exchanges. It made more sense the second time although I feel JPS missed the key scene at the end for which I expected a little more gut-wrenching, tear-jerking intensity through a more developed and explosive dialogue.
However, I must say that the style and rythm of the movie are excellent and it is perfectly paced. Although underlined with sex and violence (which are personal to the main character), the story is unusual and, simply for that, kudos to JPS for not directing another canned Hollywood product. Her directorial debut is quite remarkable, even if/because it is not mainstream.
Indeed, this film is not for everyone; it is sexually charged - but not shocking or uncomfortable by any means - and emotionally raw, and many viewers will not fare well with the mature,complex characters and issues.
I didn't know Jason Clarke before watching the film and I was very impressed by his intense and moving performance as Julian, a corporate player with complex personal issues, who goes through a few serious meltdowns after meeting a beautiful stranger who pretends to "free" him from the conventional "contracts" his life may be tied by. Paz Vega is gorgeous as usual, but I sincerely think she somehow missed her character Michael, the free-spirited jet-setting type of woman Julian falls for, and she did not ring true to me, even in the light of her own personal issues. I just did not get attached to her and found her sexual freedom a little overdone (the way she walks... seriously!), not very fresh. Every other role is perfectly cast, and it is always a treat to have accomplished actors covering even the "small" roles.
The soundtrack is different, off-beat and meets the unconventional layout of the story. Great use of Placebo's version of Kate Bush's Running up that Hill.
Also, kudos for the art direction as a whole. L.A. looks truly beautiful as seen from Julian's apartment, but also in the smaller, more intimate settings/locations (the art gallery, the brand management building, the museum, the cemetery...), and not often does this city come out as attractive as it does in this movie.
I recommend seeing the film for the various reasons I gave; and if it were for only one, I think that Clarke's top performance is to be recognized.
The special features are worth watching: the conversation with the director, producers, actors, etc. sheds more light on the project in an interesting and intelligent way.
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith ("The Matrix Reloaded", "Kingdom Come" and "Ali") and her friend/producer Dawn Thomas (wrote and produced segments for "I Am Legend: Awakening") came up with an idea of producing, writing and directing their own film. Thomas has never produced, Smith has never written a screenplay or directed before but the two had a lot of enthusiasm after coming up with the idea for "THE HUMAN CONTRACT".
The duo tapped into bringing in talent such as composer Anthony Marinelli ("Payback", "Young Guns" and "The Runner"), cinematographer Darren Genet ("All the Boys Love Mandy Lane", "South of Heaven" and the TV series "Kings") and production designer Carlos Barbosa ("LOST", "Coach Carter" and "CSI Miami").
And hiring talents such as Jason Clarke ("Death Race", "Farscape" and the TV series "Brotherhood") and Spanish actress Paz Vega ("Fade to Black", "The Spirit" and "10 Items or Less"), Idris Elba ("American Gangster", "28 Weeks Later", "Obsessed" and the TV series "The Office"), Ted Danson (TV shows "Cheers", "Damages" and "Becker") and Joanna Cassidy ("Six Feet Under", "The Grudge 2" and "Boston Legal").
The film revolves around Julian Wright (Jason Clarke) who is an advertising director for a successful advertising firm who is being merged into a larger corporation (that happens to be conservative and about family values) and the firm been selected among the top two who must prove to the parent corporation that they are worthy of handling several of their top accounts. Julian's boss E.J. Winters (Ted Danson) and the firm's lawyer Larry (Idris Elba) are putting their trust into Julian to win the over the parent corporation and win the account which is worth $5 billion.
If there is one thing that Julian is very good at, it's his dedication to work and while waiting at the bar for his ex-wife, he meets the beautiful and carefree Spanish woman named Michael (Paz Vega). Julian is surprised with his discussion with her of how attractive she is and definitely catches his attention for the night. That is until his girlfriend Brenda comes to join him.
We then get a glimpse of Julian's personal life and that learning of his successful work life but knowing that his personal life is not exactly the greatest. His relationship with his very conservative mother Rose (Joanna Cassidy) is strong but has signs of frailty, he is undergoing a divorce, his sister Rita (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a woman who is involved in an abusive relationship and that things are just a bit messy. We learn that Julian has put too much of a value on career than be there for his family and its pushed away his wife, any relationships he has with family or other women. But we also learn of an unusual hobby of Michael's of taking photos of people in pain and then keeping the images inside a locked room (that requires a pin code to enter).
But when he hooks up with Michael, his life starts to change. His life full of negativity becomes alive when she enters his life. But Michael may be too free. A married woman who has this "understanding" with her husband that they can be with other people and not abiding to contracts that many people tend to follow. At first, this puts Julian off but the more he spends time with her and the more she tries to persist in learning more about him (and getting into his locked room), Julian struggles as his negative side that wants to be in pain conflicts with his side that wants to find happiness.
But when his personal life starts to interfere with his career, can Julian continue to lead this double life of being a professional and a man who may have found the perfect person for him?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"THE HUMAN CONTRACT" is a film that is seductively stylish and featured in anamorphic widescreen (aspect ratio of 2:40:1). Each scene between Julian and Michael is sexually riveting, each scene with Julian's dark side is filled with darkness and overall, Director of Photography Darren Genet did a fine job in capturing the variety of shots in the film that is able to capture the sexuality, the despair but also the life in the big city.
For the DVD, there are some scenes that I've caught a few dust but overall, when the scenes feature a lot of light, colors take on a bluish but brightly color haze. When Julian and Michael are in engaged in something sexual, there is a good use of red and amber lighting and then when Julian is featured in his darker moments, a good use of blacks and darker colors.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and French) and the film is dialog and music-driven. For the most part, the dialog is understandable but some may have a hard time understanding Paz Vega's Spanish accent but overall, audio is quite clear.
"THE HUMAN CONTRACT" features the following special features:
* Commentary by Writer/Director Jada Pinkett Smith and Cinematographer Darren Genet - The commentary was very lively. Jada Pinkett Smith talked about the film, the challenges, hiring certain cast members and certain shots and locations that she wanted to get. Genet's commentary focuses more on the shots and talks about his favorite shots and how he was able to capture the shot, especially the challenges of getting the shot.
* The Human Experience - (21:34) The following featurette is about how the film came to be. From Jada Pinkett Smith and Dawn Johnson working on an idea and Jada Pinkett Smith taking on the reign and the challenge of how hard it was to be a director, writer and actress in the film. Also, how Jada selected the talents for the film. How Jada's husband Will Smith came to the set and encouraged her because acting and directing was a difficult task. Interviews with the talents and how they felt with working with Jada as a director and more.
* Roll of Film - (4:01) This featurette includes an interview with Director Jada Pinkett Smith and the main talents as they talk about life and the human contract and how they define what a "human contract" is.
* Previews - Previews for upcoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases.
"THE HUMAN CONTRACT" is actually an entertaining film! The storyline to capture the complexity of the character of Julian Wright was pretty well-done and the sexiness and seductiveness of Michael really does turn things up a notch for the film.
Jada Pinkett Smith did a solid job in her first screenplay and directorial debut. First of all, finding a talented crew and talented actors to become part of this film was essential. Both Jason Clark and Paz Vega heat up the screen with a lot of passion but Clark is able to show the volatility of his character. Despite the success he may have had in his career, the man has been damaged psychologically by some event that relates to the house he once lived in. And has affected him since.
The film captures the city life, the city landscape quite nicely but also very good cinematography with cameras shot in a variety of directions in order to capture the various moods and sensuality of the film.
And finally to see these lives of these individuals start to crash down like a roller coaster, these emotions find some redemption and sort of closure at the end of the film. For Jada Pinkett Smith's first screenplay and directorial debut, I was very impressed and I would mind seeing more work from her in the near future.
Overall, "THE HUMAN CONTRACT" is sexy, seductive and an emotion-driven film that is well-balanced with the imagery through well-done shots and cinematography with a pretty good screenplay.
"THE HUMAN CONTRACT" is simply a beautiful and sexy film to watch and a film that happens to be a very solid directorial debut for Jada Pinkett Smith.