Gone Girl Review

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Marriage is a Battlefield

 

Gone Girl Review

Director: David Fincher

Stars: Ben Affleck/Rosamund Pike

Based on the book by Gillian Flynn

Year Released: 2014

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Running Time: 149 Minutes

How Well Do You Know Your Spoilers

        Who the heck did I even marry? This is the question that so many couples ask themselves and it’s not surprising. Just think of the people you consider yourself close too. What do you actually know about them? It’s amazing how much we let slip in between the cracks of our conversations. Most of us spend so much time talking about issues that aren’t even important at all we never get to anything of substance. In David Finchers 2014 mystery slash battle of wills “Gone Girl” this is best shown when husband Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) is asked his wife Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) blood type and he doesn’t know. It’s not that Nick doesn’t care about his wife; it’s simply that he never thought to ask. In “Gone Girl” this lack of knowledge comes back to haunt Nick as he finds out exactly what his wife is capable of.

“Gone Girl” tells the story of Nick Dunne a former New writer who now makes his living co-owning a small Missouri bar with his sister Margo (Carrie Coon) and teaching at the local college. On his fifth anniversary he comes home to find his home in shambles and his wife gone. Since Amy is beautiful and smart, this triggers a massive search along with an equally huge media circus, as Amy becomes a celebrity. But, a Nicks lies and infidelities slowly start getting reveled to the world, the public turns on him and soon he is the number one suspect in his wife’s disappearance.

It’s about an hour into the movie when we get the big reveal, Amy Dunne is still alive, it turns out that Amy is an extremely cunning sociopath who’s taking revenge for Nick’s crimes against her by making him look like a psychotic wife killer. It’s long until Nick relies this and decides that he will have to resurrect his image to save his life. While Margo and high price attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) assist him in the media war, Amy’s pettiness and impatience ruin her escape plan and she is forced to seek shelter with Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) her millionaire ex boyfriend turned stalker who may be even more dangerous than she is.

My enjoyment of “Gone Girl” was almost totally from it’s characters. I knew from the first scene that Nick didn’t kill his wife because that would have been too simple and these types of movies are never simple. The big twist was never in doubt for me, so the only things that would keep me invested were the characters and the ending. I’m happy to report that one of those was really good. While both Nick and his wife were varying degrees of fucked up and awful, they were the kind of awful that inspired fascination rather than revulsion. Amy is a shockingly manipulative sociopath and Nick would be just as bad if not for the fact that he still has love for his family and guilt for his misdeeds. The relationship between the two isn’t interesting just because of how damaged they both are but also despite the hurt they inflicted on each other they can’t imagine a life without each other. It’s not even hatred, it’s the simple fact that they have revealed their horrible inner self to each other and found themselves intrigued rather than horrified. Isn’t that what everyone wants out of a relationship, someone to accept you for who you really are.

The dialogue was what kept me invested over the long running time. Amy’s was especially good. Every line out of her mouth seemed careful crafted to produce the reaction she wanted. Like any good Sociopath she sees most people as puppets to manipulated and she is ready to say or do anything to make that happen. Still it wasn’t perfect as characters actually use the words vagina and feces in casual conversations. Ask yourself, have you ever heard such ugly and clinical words used in anything even resembling casual conversation. Fortunately these are small bumps in an otherwise good script that was supported by “Gone Girls” other strengths

Since this is a David Fincher movie you’ll wont be surprised to hear that the cinematography is excellent. Each shot’s has exactly what the Fincher wants at the forefront. The lighting is another strongpoint, the excellent use of bright lights and heavy shadows brings to mind the detective movies of the nineteen fifties and forties. Sadly with all this in “Gone Girls” favor it all comes apart in the end.

Despite what I’m about to say, “Gone Girl” is worth watching and I’d advise anyone who likes thrillers to see it and decide on it’s quality for themselves, but for me the ending has more than a few problems. It not that Amy’s grand plan was absurdly complicated (I’m used to that in movies) but by the movies end Amy has killed Desi and forged evidence to make it look like he kidnapped, tortured, starved and raped her. While this is a good plan, it’s a shame that she looks perfectly normal. While Amy’s giving this tearful confession to the F.B.I she still looks like a beautiful Hollywood actress. You’d thing the Feds would be curious why some one who has been starved and tortured doesn’t have a mark on her well fed body. That sad part is that this could have been fixed with a good makeup job. I was also sad that some good parts from the book got cut form the script.

In the book we get more background on both our main characters. We learn about Nicks horribly abusive father made childhood hell and how Amy’s writer parents modeled their character Amazing Amy after her and expected her to spend every moment trying to live up to that image. While some of this does make it into the movie, what’s really missed is the narration from Amy that descries her warped worldview. She talks about how she could feel joy like other children and how “all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls. It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else. I would have done anything to feel real again.” If this doesn’t show how phenomenally messed up the lady is, then nothing will.

What I missed the most was one of the final conversations between Amy and Nick ““My gosh, Nick, why are you so wonderful to me?’ He was supposed to say: You deserve it. I love you. But he said, ‘Because I feel sorry for you.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because every morning you have to wake up and be you.”” Amy latter admits that she can’t get this out of her head and it bothers her. This shows that Nick really has seen inside Amy and knows why she is the way she is. Amy’s actions may have been monstrous but her motivation was all too human. All she wanted was to love and to be loved in return. Whether it’s because of irregular brain chemistry, a bad upbringing or just because she was born an evil bitch, she just can’t do it. It’s actual sad, here’s this woman who has so much, but she can’t fell that one simple thing that even the most unfortunate person feels at least once. Even worse is that like every other sociopath she’s managed to convince herself that everyone’s as broken as she is. I guess when the good part of a person is gone it never comes back.

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: no

A husband get a box with note saying his wife’s been kidnapped and that her fingers in the box to prove it. The husband sends the kidnapper a messages, saying “that could be anyone’s finger, send me her head so I can be sure”

 

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True Love

 

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Hangmen Also Die Review

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Live by the gun Die by the gun

 

Hangmen Also Die

Director: Fritz Lang

Stars: Brian Donlevy/Walter Brennan/Anna Lee

Year Released: 1943

Genre: Thriller/Noir

Spoilers Will Be Used

       Could you do the right thing even if meant hundreds of other people would pay for it? This is what’s faced by our hero in this dark and complex film that manages to simultaneously be a grim film noir and a patriotic World War 2 thriller. In 1942 Czechoslovakia the country is being ruled by the utterly ruthless Nazi commander Reinhard Heydrich A.K.A the hangman, who more than lives up to his nickname. After executing a careful trap, Czech resistance fighter Karel Vanek (Brian Donlevy) shoots and kills the brutal tyrant. Unfortunately, the getaway driver is forced to flee early and Vanek is forced to run for his life. With the Gestapo closing in and no other options left, Vanek hides at the home of Masha Novotny (Anna Lee) who he saw throw the Nazis off his trail. While both Masha and Karel are afraid of possible harm coming to Masha’s family, her father the patriotic Prof. Stephen Novotny will not give up a man who has done such good for their country. Tragically the professor pays for his Patriotism when he and hundreds of others are taken as hostages who will be executed one after the other until the assassin gives himself up. From there on it’s a race of double crosses and traps as Vanek and Maha attempt to fool the Gestapo while trying to decide whether to save Vanek’s life or the lives of all the hostages.

“Hangmen also die” was the brainchild of three massive talents that all had one thing in common, they all fled from Germany once the Nazis took control. The Director is legendary cinematic master Fritz Lang. For those not in the know, Fritz Lang helped create the film genres of both Sci-Fi and Film Noir. He was also an eccentric, eye patch wearing maniac that constantly got in fights with actors, agents, and producers. Regardless of that, Langs talent was so impressive that Josef Goebbels himself asked him to be the head of the new Nazi film studio. When Lang asked how he could do this when he had Jewish ancestry, Goebbels reportedly said, “Herr Lang, we and we alone will determine who is a Jew”, Lang fled to Paris that same day. If Langs talent wasn’t enough the move also has a credit from legendary German writer Bertolt Brecht and music from his close friend, composer Hanns Eisler. “Hangmen also Die” is a fascinating film, not only because of its content but the authentic passion that the three German expatriates. Despite the patriotism that drips from every scene, none of it feels forced or phony and this helps immensely.

Fortunately, it’s not just the trio’s beliefs that are strong but their talents. Lang shoots scenes with an artist’s eye, which makes almost every frame of this movie either beautiful, informative or both. If these any complaints to be made about Langs directing, it’s that he can be heavy-handed, in the way old movies sometimes are. Fortunately, even when being heavy handed the film is gorgeous so it’s not much of a problem. Brecht’s script kept me interested until the very last scene and has one of the best climaxes I’ve ever seen. For once I’m not going to spoil it because it’s just that good. Eisler’s score compliments the movie perfectly and never feels like it’s drowning out the scene. For anyone interested in film-noir, World War 2 movies or just German cinema in general“Hangmen also die” is required viewing.

 

 

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Good name for an Indiana Jones based kids show: Fedora the Explorer

 

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One against Many

 

Blue Ruin Review

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A Man Must Dig Two Graves

 

Blue Ruin

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Stars: Macon Blair

Year Released: 2014

Genre: Thriller/Drama

Running Time: 90 Minutes

This review isn’t crazy it’s just got spoilers

             How far does a man have to go before he can say that justice has been done? The fascinating new revenge thriller “Blue Ruin” asks that and many other questions as it gives us a new spin on one of the oldest stories, the story of a man seeking revenge. The man in question is Dwight Evens (Macon Blair) who appears at first to be another lost and broken homeless man, who lives out of his car on the beach. This all changes when a local police officer informs him that Wade Cleland Jr. (Sandy Barnett) has just been released from jail. At that moment a terrible change comes over Dwight, he packs up his battered blue car (one of the possible meanings of the title) and  goes to kill Wade Cleland. After a failed search for a gun, Dwight decides to just ambush Wade at his release party with nothing more than a pocket knife. Then in a twist that separates “Blue Ruin” from most revenge movies, Dwight actually kills Wade. This would be the finale of most movies, but in “Blue Ruin” it’s only the beginning, as new facts come to light and the lives of Dwight and everyone he knows spiral out of control.

“Blue Ruin” is subtly different from its first frame. Not only does it not have any opening credits but it also throws the audience into Dwight’s hobo life without any explanation of who he is. Most of the film is like that, instead of explaining things; it relies on the audience to figure things out for themselves. Some people might get confused by this, but I could follow it and I think anyone who pays attention won’t have any trouble

What’s also different is the subtle tweaks “Blue Ruin” puts on the typical revenge story. Most revenge movies go like this: main character guy’s Family/Friend’s/Second cousin twice removed gets killed/raped/kidnapped and the killers avoid punishment so main character guy must now use/learn badass commando ninja skills in order to f#$% up the lives of the poor dumb basta#$% who messed with his loved ones. These usually star someone who looks like a badass so it won’t be too much of a stretch when he slaughters a dozen people. Take the “Death Wish” the granddaddy of revenge films for example. The main character in that movie is supposed to be a simple architect, but because he’s played by Charles Bronson, the jump from grieving family man to ruthless vigilante is easy for the audience to accept because Charles Bronson could look like a badass even if he did the whole movie in a dress.

“Blue Ruin” takes every critical part of the revenge move and warps it. Dwight’s family has been hurt but the killer was caught and punished. While Dwight does go on a rampage of revenge, he begins and ends it as nothing more than an especially clever homeless guy without any combat skills. Most important is how Dwight looks. In the begging of “Blue Ruin” despite sporting tattoos and an impressive beard, Dwight never looks tough; he just looks sad, lost and confused. Then after he cleans himself up he looks like a suburban wimp who couldn’t be less threatening if he tried. All these factors help create one of the rarest things in a film, realism. I actually found myself being believing “Blue Ruin’s” story and for a guy who’s seen as many movies as me, that’s a rare occurrence.

Fortunately, “Blue Ruin” doesn’t only need to rely on just its story. The acting is good overall, but the special focus should be given to Macon Blair who manages to communicate Dwight’s broken spirit from his first scene to his last. “Blue Ruin” is shot very well and it’s clear that the cinematographer knows how to frame a shot right and present a long take without overdoing it, sadly this is a skill that’s vanishing in modern films. While “Blue Ruin” isn’t an action movie when the bloodshed does start it’s quick, brutal and fit’s the movie’s tone perfectly. “Blue Ruin” is a rare thing, a movie that provides a new spin on a classic genre without being obvious about it. That alone is a good  reason to see it, but even without that “Blue Ruin” is tense tragic and very engrossing.

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Put a new twist on an old joke: A man goes to see a Psychiatrist. He tells the Psychiatrist that he’s overwhelmed with life and he doesn’t know how long before it will be before he hurts someone he knows. The Psychiatrist tells the man “you should go see Pagliacci the clown, he’ll cheer you up.” The man starts to look very embarrassed and the Psychiatrist asks him what’s wrong. The man says “well I’m really starting to regret strangling that clown I met on the way over here.”

 

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Paybacks a Bitch

 

Eye in The Sky Review

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Eye In The Sky

Director: Gavin Hood

Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi.

Year Released: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Running Time: 102 Minutes

You Are Now Entering The Spoiler Zone

             “Eye In The Sky” is academy award-winning South African director Gavin Hood’s return to his traditional brand of highly political filmmaking, after an ugly run with some sub-par big-budget Hollywood projects. This complex thriller documents a joint British/American operation to capture high-level Al-Shabab members (including a radicalized American and British national) in Kenya with the help of local intelligence and military personnel. The situation is complicated when the terrorists move to a fortified neighborhood that prevents any possibility of capture. Things get worse on the ground as surveillance reveals that they have bomb vests and are planning a suicide attack in the very near future. The cherry on this sundae of s@#$ is the fact that a young girl is in the blast radius of the proposed drone attack, leaving everyone involved to debate whether or not they can/should proceed.

While it may be due to the bigger budget nature of the movie, I thought the moral choice was frustratingly simple. It’s really just a spin on the old question of whether it’s moral to kill one to save a hundred. Even with all the debate, it’s obvious that the drone attack will go thru and the girl will be caught in the blast because it would be a complete anti-climax for anything else to happen. Though it speaks to the skill of the cast and the director, that despite the obvious conclusion I was drawn into the movie and was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everyone gives a good performance but special thanks should be given to Helen Mirren, who plays a badass British Colonel despite looking like a Grandma. She commands every scene she’s in while radiating power and authority without simply becoming a one note war hawk. There’s also a special place in movie Valhalla for the late great Alan Rickman who brings his acid wit and unmistakable voice to one of the other British military members. I hope this posthumous appearance reminds people, that while Rickman might only be known for playing Professor Snape and Hans Grubber he had loads of talent.

Since the ending is never really in doubt and the plight of the little girl did not tug a single one of my heart-strings (I seen enough movies with cute kids, I’m immune now) where does the story draw you in? Well, for me it was seeing the bureaucracy of war. Much of “Eye in The Sky” is spent watching how disparate groups of politicians and military personnel all try to come to some kind of agreement despite holding wildly different opinions on absolutely everything and for the most part, not even being in the same country as each other. Needless to say, the British military is ready and willing to make the strike but only after they consult with their on base legal counsel (apparently those exist). However, the American drone pilot is not exactly thrilled about having to be the one who actually pulls the trigger that kills a child and tries to use military rule-fu in order to buy her more time to escape.

While all this going on the British politicians are desperately passing the buck in hopes that they won’t have to be the one who went on record as authorizing a missile strike on an African prepubescent. There’s something darkly funny about all this panic over who’s culpable for a secret assassination, it’s like a war drama starring the cast of “Yes Minister”. It almost goes without saying that when the British Foreign Secretary asks the American Secretary of State what his position is, he takes all of two seconds before saying they should vaporize the hajjis and the camels they rode in on (though not in those exact words). Overall “Eye in the Sky” is a good thriller with a great cast but I’m left thinking that with a bit more time on the script it could have been even better.

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes but only with other people so we could discuss it

Would I buy it: No

Recite a proverb: Light a man a fire, you warm him for a day. Light a man on fire and you warm him for the rest of his life.

 

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The Toughest S.O.B in the Room

 

 

Green Room Review

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Hard Core

Green Room

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Star: Anton Yelchin/Patrick Stewart

Year Released: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Spoilers Ahead:

            Green Room is a new thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, one of the more interesting and unique, independent filmmakers working today. When a dirt broke, scraping the bottom of the barrel punk rock band called The Ain’t Rights goes out of their pre-planned tour path to do an interview and a show in Oregon they find that the show is much smaller than they thought. Pissed off and low on cash, their host tries to placate them by getting his cousin to book them at an out of the way roadhouse. There just happens to be one small catch, their audience and hosts are Neo-Nazi skinheads. The band isn’t intimidated by the hostile crowd and plays the show anyway. Except after the show when guitarist Pat (Anton Yelchin) goes back for his phone, he stumbles across a gruesome crime scene. Soon the entire band, along with a defector from the skin head’s named Amber (Imogen Poots) have barricaded themselves in the green room as the Nazis led by the sinister Darcy (Patrick Stewart) plan to wipe out all witnesses.

This was quite the pleasant surprise. I knew very little about this film before seeing it (I actually thought that the Patrick Stewart part was being played by Bryan Cranston) but I was impressed. For a director who is only on his third movie, Saulnier has impressive skills. “Green Room” is well shot, constantly suspenseful, very well acted and its ending managed to surprise me, even though I’ve seen plenty of these siege thrillers.

The scenery and lighting were especially good. The roadhouse that was the main setting definitely looked as grimy and greasy as an out of the way skinhead club should look. The setting also helped make the brutal and faced paced action look better. The plot was nothing new; it was the performances that separated Green Room from the rest. When the siege started the band reacted quite realistically. They panicked, disagreed with each other and didn’t just automatically all become killer ninjas.

Patrick Stewart brought his usual high caliber of acting, as he infused skinhead boss Darcy with a quiet menace. While I was disappointed that Stewart didn’t have a grandiose Captain Picard style speech, it wouldn’t have fit the script and in the end wasn’t necessary. Stewart showed himself to be absolutely in control of his followers in every scene and casually ordered deaths in a way that you felt it was utterly normal for him. Imogen Poots as the skinhead defector Amber was the standout of the cast. She started off scared and confused, but overtime proved herself the most ruthless person in the movie. In the end, Green Room goes above its standard premise with excellent acting and action definitely recommended.

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

What’s good motivation for a jogger: Tell the ice cream truck to drive just ahead of you

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You ain’t from round here are ya boy