Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl, 2014, USA
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike & Neil Patrick Harris


"What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?"

'Gone Girl' does for marriage, what 'Jaws' did for sharks.

I couldn't fully comprehend David Fincher's latest film after a single viewing so it was necessary to return for another visit to Fincher's savagely funny, beautifully trashy and endlessly haunting masterclass.

'Gone Girl' is the definition of a "a multi layered film", and i'm not just referring to its multi dimensional story elements but rather the ways in which it works. The film is first and foremost a mystery film and intensely compelling one at that, the tale of a missing woman and her possibly guilty husband, its an age old formula but Fincher manages to make it seem fresh. Beyond that though, 'Gone Girl' is also a riveting social commentary on the media and the vicious cycle it gives birth to.  Also, to go even further than that, this film can also be interpreted as a tale of the modern trepidations between men and women. And finally, 'Gone Girl' also works as a tale of domestic unrest and the secrets that lie beneath the seemingly perfect marriage. It seems like a tall task for any filmmaker to orchestrate all these elements into a perfect blend but Fincher is no ordinary filmmaker and 'Gone Girl' is no ordinary film.

As a Mystery, the film flows with a haunting, brooding quality that threatens to come unhinged at any moment. Fincher is no stranger to the Mystery genre, having crafted some of the finest in recent memory, here he takes Gillian Flynn's already excellent Screenplay (that's based on her own novel) and brings the absolute best out of it. Crafting a film that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat at every twist and turn.

The Social commentary aspect is also wonderfully handled, it almost reminds me of a modern day version of Billy Wilder's 1951 classic 'Ace in the Hole' in the way in which it depicts a vicious media circus. Fincher also touches on how audiences can love or hate someone simply based on the words of a television host, and the constant flip flopping of allegiances which the media manages to stir.

The modern trepidations between men and women is a theme that struck on me on this viewing more so than on my initial one. The obvious example of this is the relationship between Nick and Amy, but it also seems to run deeper throughout the film, as there is a clear disconnect between Nick (sans his twin sister, Margo) and all the women in the film. Another thing I noticed about this film is that opinions on it kind of seemed to be divided by sexes. For example, I first saw this film with my female friend and when discussing the film afterwards, we both had completely opposite views on how we wanted things to work out for the characters.

The theme of domestic unrest and secrets that lie beneath the perfect marriage is probably the clearest and most obvious theme in 'Gone Girl'. It poses the question of how well do you really know your significant other.

By all the technical elements, 'Gone Girl' is superb. Fincher brings his trademark grungy (and greenish) style to the film, which only adds to  the haunting uncertainty of the film. Also, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross return for their third collaboration with Fincher, after providing excellent musical scores for 'The Social Network' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', their score for 'Gone Girl' is another rousing success, in my opinion. It's brilliant, Erie and really drives the film.

On paper, the cast for this film looks bizarre. We have "The Bomb in 'Phantoms' (yo!)", Doogie Howser, Madea, the kid from 'Almost Famous' and Harrison Ford's murdered wife from 'The Fugitive' to name a few, it's a strange cast but as per usual, Fincher manages to get excellent performances out of everyone. I have always regarded Ben Affleck as an awesome actor and it's times like this that make me glad I stuck to my guns even when hating on Affleck was the cool thing to do. He gives what is arguably his finest performance as Nick Dunne, a really wonderful showing by him that, like the film itself, is multi-dimensional. Rosamund Pike's performance as "Amazing" Amy Dunne is absolutely outstanding. It's hard to go into depth about her performance without resorting to spoiling plot details, but I will just say that she is an enigmatic force that will surely be acknowledged by the Academy next year. I didn't think I would praise Tyler Perry for giving a good performance in a film but i'll be damned, the dude does a pretty damn good job in this film, playing the charismatic defence lawyer Tanner Bolt, and getting in plenty of good lines. Carrie Coon is excellent as a Nick's twin sister, Margo. She is the real heart and soul of the film and does a really good job. When I first saw the film, I thought Neil Patrick Harris was sorta miscast, he's usually wonderful but I just wasn't that big a fan of his performance in the film, but on a rewatch I lightened up on his performance and thought he was quite good, he has the Norman Bates-esque mannerisms down pat.

Like with every Fincher film, I went into 'Gone Girl' with huge expectations and like with every Fincher film, it lived up to them. 'Gone Girl' is a haunting, hilarious and visceral portrait of the cracks that lie beneath the seemingly perfect marriage.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Tusk (2014)

Tusk, 2014, USA
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Michael Parks, Justin Long & "Guy Lapointe

''Are you really mourning your humanity? I don't understand, who in the hell would want to be human?''

Tonight I got the chance to see a pre-screening of 'Tusk' (It opens October 9th in Australia) with a live Skype Q&A with the one and only Kevin Smith. I have been a huge fan for many years so It was a surreal experience to (virtually) be in the same room as him, or I should say, to be in a room that he was addressing. He spoke of various things, such as the brilliance of Michael Parks, the casting of Johnn...uh, I mean Guy Lapointe, but most importantly he talked about what 'Tusk' meant to him. He noted how his run as mainstream filmmaker had not worked out, and he also spoke of his inspiration for this film being similar to his inspiration for 'Clerks' in 1994, where he thought " Why won't somebody make a movie with characters like my friends, talking about Star Wars and shit?" with 'Tusk' it was ''Why won't somebody make this f*cking Walrus movie" The answer to both questions was Smith himself.

'Tusk' is the clearly the work of a filmmaker who (and as Mr. Guy Lapointe says "pardon the French") no longer gives a f*ck. This man has given up on the his haters who are just going to hate whatever he does regardless, as well as the critics who will probably do the same, in doing so he has become completely liberated of the flaws that hindered his works like 'Cop Out' and 'Jersey Girl'. 'Tusk' is a film that is choked full of things a conservative filmmaker would dare think of, I mean it is about a guy turning another guy into a Walrus!

'Tusk' is not as much as a horror film as I was expecting. Sure the actual premise itself is absolutely horrifying, but Smith is being more satirical and comedic than I assumed he was going to be, which seems strange to say about Smith. The film retains it's comedic edge throughout most of the duration, even during the most horrific moments. That's not to take anything from the horror aspect to 'Tusk', there is plenty to be horrified about and I would imagine most audience members will be squirming in their seat during the last half of the film. The Walrus effects are pretty incredible, and a big kudos to Justin Long for getting in that thing, he's a brave man.

Writing dialogue has always been Smith's strong suit, and 'Tusk' proves that it is still indeed his strong suit. There are several excellent monologues throughout the film, that vary from very funny to very sad to very creepy. Michael Parks obviously elevates every piece of dialogue he delivers, but I was surprised by how good the scene where Genesis Rodriguez gives that really emotional speech came off, both acting and writing wise.

During the Q&A, Smith mentioned that, in his opinion, the real magic of the movies comes from simply putting the camera on an actor and seeing them deliver lines like they like they are naturally coming to the characters, it's evident in 'Tusk' that this is what Smith loves and he really lets the actors flourish. Everyone who has seen the man act knows this but I feel the need to say it again, Michael Parks is an acting god! ''The acting Yoda'' as Smith refers to him, gives another tremendous performance that is equal parts horrifying and hilarious, and compelling in every way. A performance that will chill you to the bone, even if you don't like the film, you have to admire Parks. Justin Long is an actor I have never really been a big fan of, but I may have to change my opinion after seeing him in this film. What an incredibly brave and ballsy performance this is, not only does Long get in the Walrus suit, but he really makes you feel sadness for the character when it happens, awesome stuff from him! As I alluded to before, Genesis Rodriguez is very impressive, especially her emotional monologue. Haley Joel Osment is fine but doesn't have a lot to do. Guy Lapointe is wonderfully, I can't believe I haven't seen him in a movie before. He does look familiar though, wait was that Robert De Niro?

'Tusk' is a divisive film if there ever was one, it is a film about a man who abducts and turns another man into a WALRUS after all, is obviously not going to appeal to most, but honestly I really dug it. 'Tusk' is funny, different, shocking and surreal, and I enjoyed every second of it. Walrus Yes, indeed!