REVIEW: Gone Girl

gone-girl-DF-01826cc_rgb Gone Girl
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Gillian Flynn (screenplay & novel)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon and Tyler Perry

There are many, many spoilers in this review.

Amy is missing, yes.  Her blood is at her and her husband’s home along with a shattered glass table and an open front door.  Her porcelain skin, glowing smile and flowing golden hair is plastered desperately on “Missing” billboards and posters by her loved ones.  The media quickly catches Missing White Woman Syndrome and flocks to the scene to revel in and exploit the spectacle.  They want more blood, her husband’s blood, and the police are gradually running out of reasons not to give it to them.

None of them seem willing (or able) to fathom that Amy (Rosamund Pike) would flee on her own free will, let alone her other, more sociopathic impulses. It takes her clumsy, baffled husband Nick (Ben Affleck) a while to realize he’s ensnared in an intricate, sadistic web by his wife.  However, she’s also caught in a different but equally sinister web with everyone else in the movie, one woven by David Fincher and Gillian Flynn.

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Directed by: Gary Ross
Written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Rae (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (book)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson

The biggest asset The Hunger Games has in both the book and the movie is its insistence on making you think about war as a meaningless, almost ritualistic sacrifice of a country’s youth.  As many are likely aware by now, it is the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a gritty young woman raised in the poverty of a dystopian future.

She is chosen along with a young male tribute (Josh Hutcherson) to represent her district, District 12, in the country’s annual Hunger Games “celebration.”  This consists of 22 other tweens and teens being thrown into an arena and fighting to the death.  The winner returns a war hero, a champion lauded with spoils and congratulated for being turned from child to murderous shell.

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SPOTLIGHT: Tilda Swinton

One of the most wildly talented performers working today, Tilda Swinton brings the utmost care to every movie character she portrays.  Whether it’s glossy Hollywood productions like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, intense indie grime like Julia or a seductive romance like the Italian drama I Am Love, Swinton truly transforms on the screen.  She makes every character, no matter how weird and despicable, inescapably human.  Often pidgeonholed as an Ice Queen after playing them (sometimes literally) in movies like Burn After Reading, Michael Clayton and The Chronicles of Narnia, the truth is that Swinton simply has more emotional range and capacity for risk-taking than anyone else currently working in her profession.

Michael Clayton- Movies like this don’t intend to become a showcase for acting, yet Swinton steals every scene she is in, Clooney be damned.  As cutthroat corporate executive Karen Crowder, Swinton shows us a woman whose every ferocious stroke is driven by desperation.  For every scene showcasing her aggressiveness,  there is one that undermines it, including the legendary final showdown between her and the title character.

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REVIEW: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Steve Zaillian (screenplay), Stieg Larsson (novel)
Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer

Everything surrounding this American adaptation of a best-selling Swedish book seemed like a perfect fit.  Who better to chronicle a dark story about a serial killer that involves a clever computer nerd than David Fincher?  It’s a combination of everything he’s done so well as a director, from Zodiac to last year’s The Social Network.

Add in a cast full of talented character actors and a breakthrough star performance from the unknown actress Rooney Mara, and it sounds like a filmmaking and financial grand slam.  Though Fincher weaves his distinct visual pleasures through Steve Zaillian’s condensed/slightly altered version of Stieg Larsson’s bulky narrative, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a long movie filled with many names, twists and bursts of violence.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Zodiac

Zodiac
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and John Carroll Lynch

Unsolved murders haunt us.  As the detective played by Mark Ruffalo remarks at one point in Zodiac, there were 200 murders committed since a serial killer left his brutal mark on the zeitgeist.  Those murders were explained, though, and as a result they are boring to us.

There are several fictionalized versions of the story of The Zodiac Killer, because finding a narrative that rewards a viewer would be daunting and it would miss the point.  This is a story that is not about rewards.  There is obsession laced within every frame of it, driving all of the principal characters and not just the psychopath.  A need for justice, a need to definitively know lies buried beneath the daunting surface of this David Fincher masterwork.

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BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: The Social Network


The Social Network
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and Armie Hammer

There are girls playing PlayStation in the next room, and you’re uploading internet code.  Such are the ways of kings in the 21st century, and one of the keenest insights made in David Fincher’s The Social Network.

As you probably know by now, this is “The Facebook Movie.”  It’s also a potent drama, fueled by stories and themes as ancient as both stories and themes.  Betrayal, identity, and the nature of friendship are all at the core of Aaron Sorkin’s stunning screenplay.  The Sorkin/Fincher pairing, however unlikely, pays off in spades.

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And the winners should be… 2011 Oscar Predictions (Luke’s Picks)

Best Picture

The Social Network
Black Swan
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Winter’s Bone
The Kids Are All Right
Inception
Toy Story 3
The Fighter
True Grit

Should Win: This year has quite the list of great stories and well-made films. But this list lacks the crown jewel of 2010 that stands apart from the rest. Probably no film made in 2010 will end up on a best of the decade list in 2019. For this reason The Social Network should take it away for being more so relevant than The King’s Speech and more skillfully made than the rest of the list.

Will Win: It is between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. Does the Academy want to be hip and cool? Probably not, but The Social Network will have the most to gain from placing second and third place for voters who stray other ways from the royal snore.

Snubbed: This is a solid list, but a nomination for a solid, well-made genre film like The Ghost Writer or The Town would have been fantastic.


Best Director

Tom Hooper- The King’s Speech
Darren Aronofsky- Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen- True Grit
David Fincher- The Social Network
David O. Russell- The Fighter Continue reading