Gone Girl

October 3, 2014

I don’t know how to write about this film without extensive spoilers, so watch the film before reading.

 GONE GIRL Movie HD Trailer Captures00004_1_1

Gone Girl runs from relationship autopsy to eerie mystery to chess match thriller to absurdist melodrama, all the while holding up a satirical flare and a cold, wily grin as it straddles it’s many tonal shifts. It’s one of the finest examples of craftsmanship of the year, and it’s also one of the most cynical motion pictures in quite some time. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Locke

May 15, 2014

17-locke

The secret weapon of Steven Knight’s Locke is that the physical journey to London that its protagonist, Ivan Locke, is embarking on is not a metaphor.  It’s easy to imagine a writer gleefully penning an emotional journey that can mirror the literal one, but Knight wisely sidesteps the hacky temptation in favour of something far more interesting: this is a film about dealing with the arrival.  Before the film begins, Locke’s decision has been made, and we avoid a lengthy morality play on “what should be done” in favour of the probably far more interesting “how do we deal with what’s been done” scenario.  Read the rest of this entry »

True Detective and Hannibal

February 17, 2014

This contains SPOILERS for everything up to episode 5 of True Detective.  It is also written from the ignorance of not having seen the final three episodes left.  So hello posterity, I hope you’re having a good and hearty laugh.

True Detective 1.02 (2)

If it’s true that in the new age of “sophisticated” television drama, the best ones teach you how to watch it, then HBO’s True Detective is an absolute befuddling mess.  The first season of a planned anthology show (i.e. each season will be self-contained with different characters/actors/directors) is a gorgeously hypnotic investigation of a genre that’s so peculiar in its mannerisms, intelligence, and plotting that half way through, I quite frankly have no idea where it’s going to go or, more importantly, what it’s trying to do.  This could be seen as a fault, of course, but the HBO brand – not to mention the star power and directorial talent involved – has ensured a degree of kindness when it comes to giving the benefit of the doubt.  It is certainly odd, however, that the show premiered within a year from the debut of another serial killer investigation show, also strangely featuring naked female corpses with antlers.  NBC’s Hannibal is quite easily the best network drama on air, and though that’s a pretty low hurdle to jump, it shouldn’t take away from Bryan Fullers twisted, nightmarish achievement.  Read the rest of this entry »

The-Place-Behind-The-Pines

Derek Cianfrance’s previous film – and the only of his I have seen – was Blue Valentine, a somewhat inelegant but certainly affecting (really trying to avoid “raw” here) two-hander about the blossoming and breakdown of a relationship.  What it lacked in visual interest (grainy, handheld, American Indie by-the-numbers) it made up for with pacing and, of course, performances.  That picture worked through incredible acting, and it had to, as there wasn’t much else to rely on.  It was an exercise in reactions, movement, and glances.  It was a picture of big emotions because of its small proportions.  His follow-up, The Place Beyond the Pines, takes a different tack, although one suspects he was hoping to work within the same emotional model.  It’s a sprawling, 140-minute saga, with a triptych structure that unfortunately makes it feel like it is going on for a lot longer than it’s already lengthy running time.  It’s a shame he couldn’t have learned a lesson from his last film, then, and realized that Big Emotions don’t necessarily need a Big Story.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bunheads

February 26, 2013

Bunheads

At this awkward but significant time in the television calendar, there are any number of reasons why this viewer could be prone to anxiety, consternation, jubilation, or excitement.  The impending return of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, the final season of Breaking Bad, the gaping hole in our collective chest as 30 Rock has come to an end, the decline (something that’s both exaggerated and unmistakable) of the beloved curio Community, or ABC’s seemingly willfull destruction of the fantastic Happy Endings are all likely to weigh on my mind from time to time, but the one that causes me the most grief is, of all damn things, the slim renewal prospects of ABC Family’s Bunheads.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cosmopolis

August 30, 2012

I have never read Dom Delillo’s Cosmopolis (or, indeed, any of his novels), so approaching David Cronenberg’s film version is something of a tricky prospect.  It’s the first screenplay Cronenberg has written himself since eXistenZ, and I imagine an awful lot of it was lifted wholesale from the source.  There’s certainly no attempt to translate what seems to me to be a stilted, idiosyncratic voice into anything approaching naturalistic, and I can’t help but assume that is intentional.  That is not to say it isn’t cinematic, because quite the opposite is true – a lot of work has gone into the crafting, and for a very ‘talky’ film, it never suffers from the visually drab, stagey qualities that similarly wordy (usually play) adaptations so often do.  Still, many have written that this film is dull or asleep or, at the very least, “not for everyone”, and I can see why they came to those conclusions (I even agree with the last of those).  However, the dreamy, talky nature is part of the point, and it’s expression is cinematic despite its heavily reliance on the words. Read the rest of this entry »

Magic Mike

August 3, 2012

Steven Soderbergh’s inherently objective style of filmmaking has served him well in recent years, even as the coldness can occasionally subdue emotional engagement.  He is generally interested with processes, which he can portray in subtle and effective ways without ever crossing into boring, obsessive territory.  When it works, and the human element is palatable, the deepening in understanding can elevate scenes are whole films into something far better than you would imagine by just reading a synopsis.  Magic Mike reads as fairly typical backstage genre fare on the page, and the basic elements of the narrative don’t deviate much from what is to be expected.  It’s in the execution – in the marrying of visuals and editing, in the performances, in the writing, and especially in the approach to the practicalities and the world within which this story is taking place – that Magic Mike is elevated into not only one of the best films of the year so far, but perhaps Soderbergh’s most assured work in a decade.  Read the rest of this entry »