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.

Return of Trail Mix!

I’m in a weird state of mind where I honestly don’t know what to watch so until I get my mojo back I’m going to bring back an old favorite…TRAIL MIX! I usually hate trailers now but since I’ve seen nearly nothing in the last month as far as trailers go, I’m gunna post a bunch. Hopefully this gets you ready for the summer by introducing you to something you didn’t know was coming out.

Yup. This is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie. If I can recall, I believe this is going to be the fourth attempt to make a serviceable movie out of the franchise which features turtles kicking ass as ninjas. I was a fan of the first one but mostly because I was ten and it was the 90s. I remember an animated version that released about six years ago when I was an usher at the theater I would go on to manage, but remember it doing poorly. Hopefully this is better than its predecessors but considering Jonathan Liebesman is at the helm, I highly doubt it. His previous movies were Wrath of the Titans, Battle Los Angeles, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Yuck.

Releases July 11

This is one of my most anticipated films of the year. Richard Linklater spends twelve years constructing this film as a boy literally grows up. I can’t even describe in words how cool that is. The fact that Linklater is directing and writing the film only goes to show how amazing it will be. Linklater is in the club of directors who have literally done no wrong. I love all his films.

Releases October 3rd

Fincher has always been one of my favorite directors and even though I didn’t enjoy Benny Button or Girl With a Dragon Tatoo as much as everybody else, he’s still a visionary and I can’t wait to see what he does with this. Also, I love when trailers do this. I have no idea what the film is really about. Hats off to the people who cut the trailer.

Releases July 18th

I love Mike Cahill’s film “Another Earth”. It’s a movie that I would make if I had the ambition and the financial ability. His new film is equally as intriguing and and features Michael Pitt in a starring role which I’ve waited so long to see. I loved him in the “Funny Games” remake and finally he gets to shine. The trailer is a bit revealing so only watch it once and try to scrub your mind afterward.

Film Review : Pieta (2012)

IMDB Score – 7.0
RT Score – 75%

I think this statement has been true for a while but South Korea owns the revenge genre. Nobody else could match with the films that come out of that country that deal with the sweet yet cold dish of revenge. Kim Di Duk, the auteur who gave us 3-Iron and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, dished up the bizarre and disturbing in his new film Pieta. The film centers around a vicious loan shark who encounters a woman one day claiming to be his mother who abandoned him 30 years ago.

The film is of course beautifully filmed as are most films that come out of Korea. I don’t know what kind of film schools they have out there but every single director I’ve seen is a master at crafting these darkly lit shots that just pour on dread and misery unlike anybody else besides the likes of David Fincher. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the events of this film as it doesn’t treat us like children and relies on us to put the pieces together ourselves. I’ve always respected that in a film. It also makes for repeated viewing which is something I find necessary when trying to get a hold of the essence of a particular film. It also helps that this film is gorgeous to look at.

Pieta is another wonderful example of how South Korea is rising to the top of the art film culture.

4/5