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 »

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 »

Prisoners

October 4, 2013

Jake Prisoners Loki 1

Much has been made of the death of mid-budget adult dramas and thrillers in the movie marketplace, and not without a great deal of truth.  Box office and, consequently, studio budgets (or is it the other way around?) are sinking more and more money into tentpole affairs looking to do huge dollars, and the modestly sized films that might appeal to an older audience are shut out.  The reasons of this are many and certainly debatable, but either way, it should be quite refreshing for a well reviewed (and festival hit) independent feature to top the box office.  There are few, if any, special effects and so little bombast in Dennis Villenueve’s Prisoners that it’s so-far moderate success (in the admittedly barren September/October period) might seem laudable on its own.  Of course I’m ignoring the success of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but there’s something slightly different about Serious And Significant Films About History/Race that is just plain different from a thriller.  The problem is that Prisoners is, while cinematic in duration and even somewhat in ambition, it isn’t terribly successful. Read the rest of this entry »

Side Effects

June 8, 2013

Warning: This film is very plot and twist-heavy, so SPOILERS are present.

side-effects-rooney-mara-channing-tatum

In his supposedly penultimate film (I take his ‘retirement’ with a grain of salt), Steven Soderbergh once again genre-jumps feet-first into a Hitchockian “Wrong Man” thriller that draws heavily on the tradition of psychiatric suspicion.  Working again with a screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, Soderbergh’s observant, seemingly dispassionate (some say cold) approach is probably not best suited to the genre staples he’s working for, but it does offer a rich critical broadside against corrupted institutions and the people (knowing or unknowingly) complicit in them.   Read the rest of this entry »

This is my little contribution to the Hitchcock Blog-a-Thon in an effort to raise money for the National Film Preservation Foundation’s efforts to score and stream The White Shadow.  Please click the button to donate a few dollars towards a worthy cause.  And of course, please browse the many other entries in this blog-a-thon.  The quality of the contributions is staggering and the real fine minds of film should be appreciated by all.  You can find the other entries here, here, and here.

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Drive

September 23, 2011

Caution:  Spoilers Abound

Reading snippets of interviews and press releases for Drive, I found a number of references by star Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn to John Hughes, specifically Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles.  These were perplexing remarks knowing what little I did about the film, but as I watched the film, I slowly found them quite instructive.  Perhaps not for the reasons they intended, I’ll admit, but instructive all the same.  Trying to analyze the similarities in a straightforward way, I couldn’t find any connection beyond a simple love story and romantic synth-pop heavy soundtrack, but even those elements weren’t terribly Hughes-like in any specific way.  It dawned on me, however, during certain sequences between Ryan Gosling’s Driver (as is so often with characters of this type, he’s never given a name) and Carey Mulligan’s Irene, the next-door neighbour with whom he makes a connection.  It was the feeling of these scenes that reminded me of Hughes.  Not in a direct way, mind, but in the way that I watched Hughes’ movies as an adolescent, all filled with a simplistic, romantic notion that came about through a combination of my total lack of understanding of how real relationships might function and beautiful, heart-on-its-sleeve emotional synthpop.  Therein lays, I think, the key to coming to understanding not only the Driver, but also the larger perspective of the film as a whole.

Read the rest of this entry »

Inception

July 22, 2010

Not since Christopher Nolan’s own Dark Knight have I seen as much internet brew-ha-ha over a film.  It’s enough to make me want to pull what’s left of my hair out.  Ultra-fanboys and reactionary haters have drawn their lines, almost forcing the large quantity of folk in the middle to choose a side based on which one is less annoying.  I have to admit that I have had little time for this kind of debate, and while drinking up the plethora of reviews and post-mortems and meta-discussions, I have now forced myself to ignore comment sections completely.  Those reviews and articles have brought to the surface of a number of questions about fan-based opinion, the credibility of the remaining professional critics, what kind of standards are applied to what type of movie, and of course the degree to which backlash plays a role in influencing opinion.  There’s a lot to unpack, but I think the best way to deal with Inception right now is to attempt to recount my first impressions upon leaving the cinema.  This is, despite a lot of people’s desire to defend it and attack it as such, not an art film.  It is a $200 million summer thriller whose purpose is, first and foremost, to entertain.  As with virtually every other review posted around the web, it should be noted that spoilers will abound, so if you’ve not seen it, do not read on. Read the rest of this entry »