THIS DAY IS HERE! Inherent Vice trailer released!

The day has finally come. I can now stop typing “Inherent Vice trailer” into youtube every other day. Now that I’ve seen it, I will not watch it again so I can go into this thing as blind as humanly possible. I did get thrown off at first by the vibe. The last two films were so dark and complex and this seems more like a mix between Boogie Nights and American Hustle. Josh Brolin yelling broken Mandarin is hilarious and it seems like Phoenix is even more physical than his role in The Master. The film seems more erotic and funny than his previous efforts, but I’ll watch literally anything regardless of subject matter if it was written and directed by aul Thomas Anderson. He’s my favorite director living today and in my top three of all time. I can’t fucking wait for this.

Film Review : Gone Girl (2014)

Too early for ratings…

Directed By – David Fincher
Starring – Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, and Scoot McNairy

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

The film ended and the credits began to roll. I expected an applause but there was none. I expected hushed talking and the shuffling of feet as people started to make their way out of the theater. There was none. It was like everybody was afraid to move. Everybody, including myself, was sitting there waiting for more. That, or everybody was just too uncomfortable to be the first one to leave. There was some of that in my motivation to stay in my seat. I was also too embedded in the film to find the cognitive function to stand up and make my feet move. Gone Girl, which was the opening film of the New York Film Festival, had wowed me. I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the film with the stars. I was able to however get a ticket to see the film across the street where the people with the budget on their wallets were allowed to see the film. I actually kind of liked it this way. I was away from all the hoopla and was actually able to focus on what I came there for, to see a film. It was a pretty awesome experience.

I haven’t read the critically acclaimed novel by Gillian Flynn. My reading consists solely of Calvin and Hobbes collections and Anthony Bourdain. I am however very familiar with the man who made the film, David Fincher. I mentioned this in my NYFF preview, Fight Club kind of opened my eyes. Through seeing may other films I began to notice some flaws in the movie but the experience of watching Fight Club in high school and being absolutely stunned silent will live with me for a while. I would rent it, along with Se7en, from my local video store about once a month and show it to my friends. I had never seen anything so dark and dirty before but with just the right amount of light to give the scenes character. I saw Zodiac in the theater and fell asleep through half of it. I was so disappointed with how boring it was. I decided to give it a second chance at home and it’s now one of my favorite films of all time. Funny how that stuff works huh? Like many, I was disappointed with Benjamin Button and Dragon Tattoo but there was something different about his newest film. In a way I guess it just seemed more of a story that hit close to home. I had seen the Swedish Dragon Tattoo films and Benjamin Button seemed to fantastical for my taste. Gone Girl seemed like a story that could happen down the street from me and that just so happens to be the reason I love Zodiac so much. It just felt so real. I had to see it. I purchased my ticket and attended my first film festival.

This is certainly a story you want to go in knowing as little as possible. I mentioned that I didn’t read the book but what I failed to mention was that I really only viewed the trailer once and it was a distracted view. I stayed away from early reviews and TV promos and tried to know as little as possible of the plot. The IMDB description above is all you need. A mans wife disappears and he is left with the media and police who are trying to point fingers and figure out what happened. There really is no reason to read further. I’m obviously going to talk about the film more in depth and while I’m going to be as careful as possible not to reveal anything, you may want to just wait the week and see it for yourself. That’s your warning.

This film is totally about manipulation. The way two people manipulate each other in marriage, the way the media manipulates stories to get good ratings, and the way complete sociopaths manipulate their victims to get away with their crimes, all ever so present in this film. The media is most notably scrutinized by Fincher in a way that reminds me of the Amanda Knox circus that we all went through a couple years ago. The media will focus on what they perceive to be the criminal and they will stop at nothing until the reputation of that person is shattered. Since news is basically 24/7 now, you’re going to start to run out of things to talk about real fast, so you sort of coax more outrageous conversation and theory with your guests and all of a sudden your mole hill is the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It’s sad that instead of Edward R. Murrow reading the days events to us in an unbiased manner, we have Nancy Grace making Elizabeth Smart cry on television after she just returned from being kidnapped for half her life. The swarm of television crews, the swarm of people who are only reacting because of the media, all exist to further complicate and already complicated situation such as having your wife missing. It’s disgusting and the film did a great job highlighting it.

The film also delves into what makes up a marriage. How much are we willing to give up of ourselves to spend our lives with each other. Should we sign a prenuptial agreement? Does that throw trust out of the window from the beginning? Fincher does a great job balancing the past and present relationship between Nick (Affleck) and Amy (Pike). He tells the story from both sides up until the sides start to crumble and we’re left with the truth. Twists are featured but none seem unearned. I was fully engulfed in the story and didn’t think for a second that what I was seeing was poorly done or rushed. Their relationship just seemed so real to me. There are plenty of marriages that have perfect stories and happy endings. There are also marriages full of lies, resentment, and spiteful anger. Fincher gave us a film in which people play nice when other people are watching but deep down inside, they’re trying to destroy each other. It makes television almost seem like another planet. All of it fake.

The acting in the film was pretty concrete. Besides Pike, nobody gave otherworldly performances but rather performances that fit their character and purpose perfectly. I’ve always liked Ben Affleck. I thought he did an excellent job portraying a person who not only lost his wife, but also had no idea how to emotionally handle such a thing. There were times I felt for him and times I wanted to punch him in the face. Pike was the standout of the film. Getting into her performance too much will give away key plots points so lets just say that she goes through a full spectrum of emotions that she nails perfectly. There were a lot of subtle thing going on with both of these people due to the amount of media exposure the case ot and they handled it perfectly. The supporting cast was also great. Carrie Coon, who should be getting more work soon due to her phenomenal performance in “The Leftovers”, plays Nick’s twin sister Margot. She plays the only truly likable character in the film and also delivers the films funniest lines. Tyler Perry was not only not annoying but actually enjoyable as the superstar defense lawyer who is trying to save Nicks ass. Neil Patrick Harris is, well, you’ve never really seen him play somebody like this. Everybody did their job perfectly to form a truly believable and engaging cast.

Lastly, the film is a joy to the eyes and ears. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross team up together to deliver another knockout score to a Fincher film. There is a pivotal scene between Pike and NPH that is taken to a whole other world with the score. I was in shock by the end of the scene. That particular scene also showcased why I love Fincher so much. He leaks style into almost every shot and the beginning and ending fit perfectly into a nice round circle which reminded me a lot of Inside Llewyn Davis. The film had such a dark tone to go along with some black humor and to see mostly every scene shot with dark lighting was something I’ve missed since Zodiac. It helped create a sense of uncomfortability that couldn’t be shaken off even after I was walking out of the theater.

The film releases in a week and I’ll certainly be seeing it again. It’s one of the better mystery films of the last five years and a front runner for my film of the year. If you are a Fincher film in any way shape or form, this film is for you. Just don’t bring your wife or husband with you. You may see things a little differently by the end.

5/5




The New York Film Festival Preview!

Friday night is opening night of the NYFF! I already grabbed my ticket for “Gone Girl” premier which has me pretty fucking excited. I’m going to try to grab cheaper tickets for “Inherent Vice” and “Birdman” but it’s looking like I’ll only be seeing one of the big three. I am however going to try to pick up some tickets to some lesser known films during the next three weeks. I may be somewhat broke, but I’m hoping to see three or four films this year to go along with the Gone Girl premier. In case any of you are near the tri-state area and are thinking about attending this years festival like I am, here are, along with the big three, my most inticiapated films at the 2014 NYFF!

Gone Girl

Fincher is one of the first directors to really get me into film. I grew up being blown away by “Fight Club” and even though my liking for the film has subsided (I still like the film, just not as much as I did in High School), his filmography is filled with incredible works. Zodiac and Se7en are two of the darkest and bone chilling films I’m seen in mainstream film and that credit goes to Fincher. His ability to invoke dread and suspense through perfectly lit backgrounds has always impressed me. Benjamin Button and Dragon Tattoo were huge disappointments but this new film looks like a return to form for the director. I can’t wait for Friday.

Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite living director. Every single thing he has made is a damn masterpiece. If I wasn’t such a broke bastard I would be 1st in line to see his new film, a film which I know nothing about. I won’t watch the trailer if one ever comes out. I won’t look at the production photos that leaked. The image above is the only thing I know about the film besides the cast. I like it this way. I’d rather just be immersed in his films rather than wait for parts I liked from the trailer. I can’t imagine a world in which I’d like a film better than There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, or The Master but the fact that I know he can out do himself only cements him as the next coming of Kubrick.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

I love depressing films. Naturally, this fact means that the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu have struck a particular chord with me. When I heard that he was making a film that would star Michael Keaton as an out of work actor who used to play a super hero called Birdman and that the whacked out, bizarre, hysterical film would be edited in a way that it looked like it was done in one shot, well, I fell love. I fell in love with the idea. The film is closing out the festival and snagging tickets will be hard. I’m going to try though. Keaton looks like he might grab an Oscar nomination and the whole film looks bonkers. My kind of film.

Others that seem interesting…

Citizenfour

A documentary about Edward Snowden from director Laura Poitras. The Oscar nominated documentarian flew to Hong Kon to interview Snowden and while she was there, captured the unfolding of what we know as the life of Edward Snowden. The film is apparently a once in a lifetime film that captures the reaction of the world and Snowden as he continues his quest for freedom.

’71

Tells the story of an Irish soldier who was abandoned by his unit during the riots of 1971 in Belfast. The film looks like a tense action thriller and has tickets available right now. This is one that is definitely doable as far as price and ticket availability goes. It helps that it looks pretty intense as well. The film stars Jack O’Connell.

Foxcatcher

The film has made its round on the national/international film festival circuit and seems to be finding its final resting place before official release at NYFF. The film, lauded by some, shunned by others, offers without a doubt a lock for Best Actor during the academy awards with Steve Carell playing the insanely creepy John du Pont. Some of you may know the true story behind the film but for those who don’t I’m not going to spoil anything. I would also avoid the trailer because it seems to give away too much. Bennett Miller knocked it out of the park with his first two films, Moneyball and Capote, and I’m looking forward to seeing this one. The film is going to be playing towards the end of the festival.

Hill of Freedom

I’m a huge fan of Korean cinema. Sang soo Hong may not be as well known as his Korean contemporaries but his films such as “Woman on the Beach” and “In Another Country” were both well received. Having not see either of those films, this may be as good a starting point as any. The film is shot in a frenzy of non linear scenes as our protagonist tries to sort out letters sent to her from her lover after she drops them. She is sorting the chronology and the viewer is given the same task. I love the concept.

Map to the Stars

Cronenberg has always been hit or miss with me. I love History of Violence and Videodrome but found Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method to be somewhat disappointing. However, the man is a daring filmmaker who doesn’t shy away from doing something out of the ordinary or considered taboo. I like striving for something different which is why I’m interested in this. The cast includes Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack, and Mia Wasikowska. The story is about a hollywood family and the lives that are lived within that family.

Film Review : Afflicted (2014)

IMDB Score – 6.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 79%

Directed By – Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Starring – Derek Lee & Clif Prowse

Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely.

Winner of the best feature award last year at Fantastic Fest, Afflicted gives us yet another movie where the characters feel the need to document everything for our amusement. They document their meals. They document their parties. They document themselves trying to cock block their friend boning a french girl. This film at least tried to set up reasons why this would be going on. Derek has a serious illness and wants to travel the world before he croaks. Clif is his best friend and amateur filmmaker and will accompany Derek and film fucking everything. I’m actually okay with this premise. It makes sense although if I was Derek I would beat the shit out of Clif for being so goddamn annoying. For the constructs of the film though, I’ll allow it.

Like most found footage films, the first third consists of attempts at building character development by showing our lead characters having a grand old time doing what they originally set out to do. The curveball is thrown and we as the audience are left trying to figure out what is happening along with our dumbfounded camera man. “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU DEREK?” I share this mans bewilderment but I couldn’t help noticing small details that in hindsight are now glaring clues as to what was happening. I guess the film did a good job in covering up what that was but once the early twist occurs the film just starts to take the cliche train towards Boring Station. The fact that this also won a screenplay award is telling of what kind of competition was in the running. The script basically took a half dozen original ideas from the last couple years in TV and film and posed them as their own. It’s like Prowse and Lee saw Chronicle, *Insert Exorcism Movie Here*, and Dexter and decided to make a film with all three characteristics. The writing and story arc is nothing we haven’t seen before and unfortunately this is why horror films do so poorly at the box office. Originality is lacking but I understand how hard it is to come up with an original horror film when there are so many coming out that have good ideas but horrible production value. It’s hard to get both right.

However…

I will say there is promise behind this film. For a film that cost less than a million dollars to make, the special effects and camera work was actually pretty impressive. There were many scenes after Derek “changed” that were engaging and tense despite being something that has been done time and time again. If anything, the filmmakers have some promise.

Afflicted is a very flawed film that lacks originality in the writing department but the impressive special effects and camera work could mean something bigger for the two filmmakers. I didn’t like the film particularly but there was certainly some promise behind it. I just hope they find actual actors instead of playing the leads themselves because they’re better off staying behind the camera.

2/5

Related Films – Chronicle, VHS, The Last Exorcism, Open Grave, Grave Encounters



Quick Review : A Night to Remember (1958)

Directed By – Roy Ward Baker
Starring – Kenneth More, Ronald Allen, Robert Ayres, Honor Blackman, Anthony Bushell, and Michael Goodliffe

Ahhh, a film about the Titanic. I remember reading about it in elementary school and then waiting a whole year to see the James Cameron version on VHS. Remember when it used to take a whole year for a film to be released on home video? It’s like two months now. Crazy. I wasn’t allowed to see it in theaters because my mother heard there was boob in it. I remember being shocked when a few classmates were able to go see it with their families. “DID YOU SEE ANY BOOB?” I would ask. They saw boob. They also saw a ship of 2300 people go down and over a thousand people die, but hey, Kate Winslet got nakey. I think it actually took me three or four viewings before I even got to see her naked. My parents would watch the film before hand, figure out precisely the moment before she got naked, pause the movie, and tell me it’s time for bedtime. I saw through their shit. I stuck out of bed one night and watched that whole damn movie at three in the morning. You know what’s funny? I didn’t give a shit about Kate Winslet naked. I gave about as much of a shit as I do now, which is not much. I was more interested in rewinding the part where the guys legs hit the propeller blade and he does like 12 flips before he hits the water. Wasn’t childhood fun?

Anyway, that film sucks for the most part. In watching the “original” version from Criterion I learned a few things. James Cameron takes other filmmakers ideas and recreates them using his fancy technology. I’d honestly rather watch a Michael Bay film instead of a James Cameron film not named T2 because I think that guy sucks that much. I admitted to taking a lot of ideas, characters, and even full lines from the original film, so I can’t say that he stole from this film, but my god is he an unoriginal bastard. You remember that scene where the band plays as the ship is sinking? Re-done. Mr. Andrews going down with his creation? Re-done. Fuck, even the gypsie dance, the iceberg hockey, and the fact that they cast Kathy Bates to mimic everything Tucker McGuire did as “Molly Brown”. All re-done. There was so much more heart and soul in this film that “Titanic” couldn’t even touch with a ten foot pole. The look of terror on the kids faces. The snobby way the 1st class passengers treated the steerage passengers. It was just better. Hell, I even got a little teary eyed during the end. Titanic never had that effect on me. Not for a second.

“A Night to Remember” is a great telling of what happened on that ship. They used actual survivor stories to recreate that night and it shows. The terror that those people must have lived through was accurately portrayed by a crew in a studio. The film is a fantastic document of that night. The last 30 minutes in particular being pretty damn fantastic. I recommend seeing this film if you liked the James Cameron version even a little. It’s a vastly superior film.

4/5