Friday, October 10, 2014

"Gone Girl" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Gone Girl," the DVDs "Third Person" and "Breathe In" and Dick Cavett's new book, plus I bring you up to date on my "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project." 

And new feature:  My A-HA! Moment of the Week:  This week I've discovered Wendy Williams!]

***NOTE:  Change is afoot.***

I have decided to make a bit of a change with my blog. 

Instead of writing a full-blown piece or rant on both Tuesdays and Fridays (plus my Friday reviews), I will rant on Tuesdays and review on Fridays. 

So if you are a fan of my rants, stories and observations, check in with me on Tuesdays.  If you are a fan of my witty and cheeky reviews and/or want to follow me as I work on my "1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project," check in on Fridays.  I will also include an "A-HA Moment of the Week" on Fridays.
And if you are a TRUE FAN, I will see you here both days, right?

"This Girl is Gone in More Ways Than One"

Gone Girl
(now showing)
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) discovers his wife missing and he becomes the prime suspect in her possible murder.
Nick had been visiting with his twin sister, Margo (Carrie Coon, who does look amazingly like Ben/Nick as well as looking amazingly like Janeane Garolfalo), at The Bar, a bar he and his wife own.  When he returns home and finds his wife, Amy (Rosamunde Pike), missing and what looks to be a crime scene in his living room, he calls the police. What they find is more than a smashed coffee table in the living room.  They find blood spatter. Not good for Nick.

Through a series of flashbacks, we also get a portrait of Nick's and Amy's courtship and marriage via Amy's voice-overs and diary entries.  As the police investigate Amy's disappearance, we learn that Amy is a well-known children's author who was the inspiration for a series of children's books, "Amazing Amy," that Nick and Amy both lost their jobs due to the recession and moved from NYC to Missouri to care for his ailing mother and that their marriage is also ailing.  Motive for murder?
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, I can't comment on how well this was translated to the screen since I didn't read the book, but since Flynn also adapted the screenplay, I would say if it's OK with her, it's OK with me.  And I am glad I hadn't read the book.  This is the kind of film where you don't want to know the plot twists and how it's going to end, though it's my understanding that the ending of the film is different from the ending of the novel.
The characters are complex.  Amy grew up rich and may have been the inspiration for "Amazing Amy," the fictionalized character in a series of children's books her parents created who could do anything, but she felt she never lived up to that character.  Nick came from Missouri and worked hard for what he had but alternates between smarmy charm and disloyal husband.
Director David Fincher, whose body of work includes "The Social Network," "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and "Se7en," here deftly creates a fast-paced, intriguing, thriller with echoes of the Scott Peterson case, the movie "Body Heat,"  and some Hitchcock thrown in for good measure that explores the dark places in a marriage.  I figured out the first twist early on, and despite the fact that the movie is engrossing and I liked it, I found it too long and the ending unsatisfying.  I actually came up with a better ending which I wish I could share, but then that would spoil the film.
"Gone Girl" also presents a rather jaundiced view of marriage, seeming to say we act one way to attract a mate, but over time as the trials of marriage occur, we cannot keep up the pretense. We learn early on that Amy believes marriage is hard work, and then we learn that she will do anything to make it work - her way. Amy's and Nick's relationship started with sophisticated, snappy patter, lots of sex and deteriorated into...well, you will have to see the film.
I have been a big fan of Ben Affleck ever since his speech to Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" where he tells Matt he is too smart to stay in their town, working menial jobs.  I think he stole the show there.  Here he is also good, turning on the charm when needed and sweating profusely when needed. I think Ben is one of our most underrated actors, along with Leonardo Dicaprio.  Also after seeing Ben step out of the shower in the buff, I like him even better!
But this is British actress Rosamund Pike's film. She runs the gamut of emotion and character and takes us on a roller coaster ride.  Tyler Perry shines as Nick's lawyer, Tanner Bolt (it's refreshing to see Perry in a suit instead of women's clothing) and Kim Dickens as Det. Rhonda Boney is also outstanding.
As the media frenzy builds surrounding Amy's disappearance, there are some very funny digs at the media, Nancy Grace especially (I'm surprised she didn't mention her  twins), which I enjoyed very much, because I hate Nancy Grace.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a must see suspenseful Hitchcockian thriller, but be prepared for two and a half hours and a strange ending. 

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
Third Person (2013)
Three different love stories play out simultaneously in Rome, Paris and New York.
Liam Neeson plays a Pulitzer Prize winning writer in Paris struggling with writer's block and also with a nutty estranged wife (not a stretch for Kim Basinger) and a young girlfriend (Olivia Wilde).  In Rome, Adrien Brody gets mixed up with a mysterious homeless woman who may or may not be scamming him and, in New York, Mila Kunis is a mess but trying to get custody of her son from Mr. Meany, James Franco.  How these stories connect will be your mission for over two hours, if you care to stick around that long. 
Director/writer Paul Haggis won an Academy Award for "Crash" in 2005, and this is more of the same formula: seemingly disparate stories that will come together somehow in the end. Haggis likes this formula and to drop a bomb at the end, which he does, but he defeats himself because that bomb kind of ruins the whole 135 minutes you just spent watching this film.  It's one of those films that makes you go "Huh?"
Haggis has said in press releases that the title is symbolic of the "third person" that exists in every relationship.  I am not sure this is borne out in the film, but it definitely relates to the twist, which as the film progresses you might be able to figure out, though Haggis does not provide any clues.  He just drops the bomb.
A big stellar cast, glamorous locations, and lots of money thrown at this film, and Haggis is a serious filmmaker, but ultimately it doesn't add up to much.  I love Neesom and the other actors are fine, but they don't have much to work with.  The characters are shallow and detached, much as the title implies
Rosy the Reviewer says...I liked "Crash," but I didn't need to see it again in a lesser version.

Breathe In (2013)

This is what happens when you invite a pretty exchange student from the UK into your home. 
Guy Pierce plays, Keith, a music teacher who really wants to play his cello with the New York Symphony.  He and his wife have been married for over 20 years, but are clearly not on the same page.  He tries to share some music with her.  She puts on the headphones and her first comment is that it's too loud.  She calls his being a sub at the symphony a hobby; he corrects her - it's a part-time job.  She collects cookie jars.
Enter Sophie (Felicity Jones) as a sensitive exchange student who plays divine piano and you have a recipe for disaster.
This is not the edgy Guy Pierce in "Memento."  This is the gaunt, sweaty, pervy Guy Pierce.  Amy Ryan plays his thin-lipped wife, Megan, and she is smarmy and cold. Mackenzie Davis is their daughter, Lauren, who shares her room with their exchange student and comes to wish she hadn't. 
As Keith becomes more and more interested in Sophie and she him, you begin thinking about calling Child Protective Services.  Jones looks so young compared to Pierce, it's an uncomfortable romance.
This is a portrait of a family where everyone "breathes in," as in holding it in and no one "breathes out," shares what they really feel or tells the truth, which could have been an interesting story to tell but in the end, there is no substance here.
There is an almost improvisational quality to the interactions, especially early in the film when the three family members are interacting which adds to the realism, but it's not enough to save a story that really doesn't have much going for it.  And it's just too excruciatingly pervy.
Rosy the Reviewer Felicity Jones, love Guy Pierce, hated this movie.

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project"


310 Movies to go! 

Laurel and Hardy want to attend their Sons of the Desert convention but their wives say no.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were a comedy duo, Laurel a thin, English child-like character and Oliver, a pompous heavy-set American and together they were a popular team from the 1920's through the 1940's. 

In this film, their fourth full-length feature, Laurel and Hardy want to attend the Sons of the Desert convention in Hawaii.  The Sons of the Desert is a fraternal organization they belong to.  Their wives say no so we spend the next 60+ minutes watching them try to foil their wives.  They think they have a plan, but in slapstick comedy, you know how that turns out.

It's all very politically incorrect stuff by today's standards.  Lots of domestic violence (the women abusing the men), nagging and domineering wives and the men scared of their wives so they have to sneak around so their wives won't find out what they are up to.  When the wives do find out, it's hell to pay.

Today a wife hitting her husband over the head with a vase is not considered funny, nor, in my view is eating waxed fruit or sneaking a drink or cigarette behind the wife's back. This sort of comedy wasn't my cup of tea 60 years ago, and it's not my cup of tea today, but if you are a student of film, you at least need to know what these two were all about.  Their comedy influences can be seen in later TV classics such as "I Love Lucy" and "The Jackie Gleason Show."

Rosy the Reviewer says...before you die, you need to know who Laurel and Hardy were and this was considered their best feature film.
Thirty-two brilliant little vignettes illustrate the life of this eccentric concert pianist.
Glenn Gould was a Canadian concert pianist best known for his interpretations of Bach.  He quit performing at the age of 32 and became a recluse but still made some acclaimed recordings, hosted experimental radio programs, made a fortune in the commodities market and indulged in bizarre late-night phone calls until his death at age 50.  Gould was so renowned that his recording of a Bach prelude was included in the Voyager spacecraft.
This is a documentary that effectively, and sometimes humorously, uses dramatized scenes (Colm Feore plays Gould), animation and Gould's gorgeous music to tell his story.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you love classical piano and innovative film-making, you will love this film.  This is definitely a must before you die.


***Book of the Week***

Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett (Publication date: October 28, 2014)
TV talk show host Cavett reminiscences about funny and poignant moments from his life and career as a talk show host.
In the late 60's to mid-70's "The Dick Cavett Show" was a late night TV destination, and Cavett has been a presence on television ever since.  He was known as the smart, in-depth interviewer who enjoyed a pun or two.  He could be pompous and he didn't take any guff from his guests either.  There is a famous story about a show in 1971 with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal.  Mailer and Vidal were not fans of each other.  Mailer was drunk, belligerent and trading insults with Vidal when Vidal finally said to Cavett,"Why don't you look at your question sheet and ask your question?" to which Cavett responded "Why don't you fold it 5 ways and put it where the moon don't shine?"
He shares anecdotes about Arthur Godfrey and Art Linkletter, TV personalities mostly forgotten today, as well as more well-known people such as Groucho Marx, John Lennon, Jerry Lewis, Muhammad Ali and others, stories many of which are taken from his opinion column that he writes for The New York Times.
Verdict: If you like Dick Cavett's kind of wit and you are old enough to remember some of the people he talks about, you will enjoy this.

***My A-HA! Moment of the Week***

I have just discovered "The Wendy Williams Show."  Who Knew?
The show is basically Wendy talking about TV reality shows, celebrity gossip, Lifetime Movies and what's happening in pop culture, and you know me, I'm in heaven.  And Wendy is a hoot.  She calls it as she sees it.  Just like me!

Thanks for Reading!



See you Tuesday


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1 comment :

  1. Watching Gone Girl was like watching paint dry. Should have stayed in the lobby.