Tag Archives: David Fincher

Is Gone Girl Good?

4 Oct

The movie Gone Girl is based on the bestselling novel of the same name, that I’ve read of coarse because I read a crap load of books. The novel starts out depicting a husband whose wife has mysteriously disappeared on their anniversary. The local police pursue the missing person’s case, while the husband undertakes his own private search for answers. Both investigations yield increasingly cryptic clues about the whereabouts of the missing wife. As the police gather evidence they have more reasons to suspect the wife met a violent end at the hands of her husband. Secrets about the couple are revealed and the overall tone of the story shifts from a typical crime drama to a dark psychological thriller. Neither of these people are who they appear to be. Then the stakes are raised as the media latches onto the case in a ratings frenzy. I liked the book because it’s pretty dark and twisted and I really couldn’t predict how it would end. The author Gillian Flynn uses this style in all her books (also great reads) meaning they’re all pretty messed up and show what cold and deceptive creatures human beings can be. But Gone Girl is different because it also deals with the media and how it has become a tool to sway public opinion rather than a communicator of facts and truth.

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I thought Gone Girl’s disturbing subject matter and unpredictable story would make a great movie especially when I heard David Fincher was going to direct it. Fincher has proven more than capable of taking a popular book involving violence, betrayal, and misdirection, and churning out a great film, look at Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. My expectations were high, which is a precarious position to be in, as it’s just as easy to disappoint someone with high expectations as it is to impress someone with low ones. With that said let’s explore the question “Is Gone Girl Good?”

If you’re someone who thinks a movie should follow the book as much as possible, then I am happy to report this movie is very faithful to the book. The major differences are things that were left out for time, but the movie is still two and a half hours long. That’s probably because author Gillian Flynn interestingly enough is also the screenwriter, who I’m sure wanted to get as much of her book onscreen as possible. There’s two bad things about this; firstly the beginning runs at a hurried pace, characters speak in fast short lines, and scenes jump quickly. So pay attention or you’ll miss something crucial. Secondly after two hours you’re ready for the end. I’m sure more stuff could’ve been left out to make it 20 minutes shorter and I suspect the author prevented those cuts. No matter how great a book is sometimes less is more. Especially if the story is light on things like action and special effects, but is heavy on things like emotional tension, psychological manipulation, and destructive relationships, which require more mental interpretation. I felt worn out at the end and know it was because the movie was a little too long.

After you get past the first 20 minutes of the movie. The middle part is excellent. Fincher’s signature dark and contrasty shooting style applied to the boring Missouri suburbs transforms the mundane locations into unsettling ones. Trent Reznor’s music doesn’t deviate much from his other two Fincher movies, it’s a haunting score of piano and distorted notes that helps to alter the reality of the film, complete with scratches and over-modulations that you notice but it doesn’t distract from the story.

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There’s some really great casting in this movie. Ben Affleck might be a little too perfect as the husband Nick. Not once did I think he was shady or suspicious enough to have harmed his wife, Amy. Maybe that was their point but in the book it’s more fun suspecting he’s guilty of murder. Amy is played by Rosamund Pike who’s English but speaks with a flawless American accent. Amy goes through a couple transformations and Rosamund glides through them effortlessly. When we find out just who Amy really is via montage and voiceover the story really takes a turn and it’s the one time when Amy’s intentions are really clear. I wish Rosamund had more scenes like that because she’s really great being a scheming psycho. I was really impressed with Kim Dickens, she plays Detective Boney, the officer investigating Amy’s case. This was a hard role, she had to be unattractive but feminine and not a cliché hard-ass. She had to be sympathetic enough for Nick to trust her while cleverly building a case against him. This actress turned Detective Boney into a much more interesting person than the book portrayed, good job Kim Dickens. Tyler Perry is trying not to play a Johnnie Cochran type defense attorney. He’s actually more of a media coach and has a few funny lines, my favorite being “You’re the most fucked up people I know, and I specialize in fucked up people.” Oh yeah Neil Patrick Harris is in this movie as a super-rich ex-boyfriend. I’ve never seen NPH be creepy and it’s the uncanny valley seeing Doogie Howser as a creeper. I think it’s because he’s playing a really creepy man trying very hard not to be creepy, it’s weird and it works.

I liked Gone Girl because it’s different and has a lot going on under the surface. It’s also fun to see such different characters interact with one another and see how the media exploits that and also how people can manipulate the media to their own ends. Honestly I felt the ending was unsatisfying and not just because it wasn’t a happy ending. You don’t have to have read the book to enjoy this movie but expect a slightly above average movie not a top notch piece of cinema.

 

Carl Wells

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There’s Some Not Good Parts in This, But Just Keep Reading

15 Feb

Stevie So-dee-berg is retiring because he thinks the time for the medium of cinema has past. Quentin Unchained thinks that digital projection is the same as watching TV in public. An Entourage movie is in the works. There is so much negativity toward movies, and the main culprit is brilliant television. The megaplexes have been abandoned by thinking adults and the tweens have gotten the keys to the kingdom and converted it to an asylum. Every film made today will ultimately ask at some point in the process, “Will fans of Selena Gomez pay to see this movie?” The future of cinema does not look bright, but is this the death rattle or just the darkest moment right before dawn?

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Here’s my stupid opinion about the whole thing; TV is great now, yes, but it’s a different medium. In the same way that a short story is a different medium than a novel or a poem. And I think those same distinctions may need to apply to the current age of visual entertainment. Television Series are like novels, movies are like short stories and short films then must be like poems (but nobody reads poetry and fewer people watch short films, so I have no obligation to talk about either of them). So, television shows are the perfect place to examine character(s) and deal with broader, far-reaching concepts. A place where there can be a ton of details and subplots and show creators can really do a lot of things. A movie is a better place to look at a specific event and how it affects a main character. And just like the difference between a novel and short story, the short story doesn’t allow for sub par bits, everything has to be perfect to be effective, but novels and TV shows can go full seasons where people will say, “Season X wasn’t that good, but get through that and it gets really good again.” Can you imagine someone saying the equivalent about a movie? No way, they’d just say it was a bad movie.

It’s harder to make a good movie than it is to make a good TV show. And that isn’t meant to take away anything from the all of the brilliant work people are doing with television, but the medium makes it easier to build characters over a ten-hour long episodes, than the first twenty minutes of hundred minute film. For the longest time becoming a filmmaker meant a lot of learning what was important and vital to telling a story. Everyone in film wants to, or should want to, tell personal honest stories, and those types of stories require a lot of information to build enough of a connection with the audience. Now with the full potential of television, and not television, HBO, allow the telling of the stories in more expanded form the artist doesn’t need to adapt to the medium, the medium has adapted to the artist. The craft of filmmaking is being replaced by the Marvel, and soon enough Star Wars, universes, which in all fairness are really just very expensive hundred-twenty minute serials with occasional cross overs.  Yes, TV is changing movies and the capitalist geniuses in the Disney head office trying to make movies just bigger versions of television, but there is still room for movies

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On the surface, TV looks closer to the artist’s vision that movie ever could be, and there was a whole generation of filmmakers whose goal was to write and make movies with the novel as inspiration. All they people that they inspired are now making amazing novel-esque television shows. Cinema still has life, but what it needs right now is the creator of a brilliant TV show to make a brilliant, stand-alone, non-franchise, original film and all the magic will be restored to cinema. Come on show creators, don’t concede cinema to calculated gloss of Christopher Nolan and David Fincher.

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-C. Charles