Gone Girl: Garbage people doing garbage things

SPOILERS

gone-girl-posterI didn’t really like Gone Girl as a book. I thought the premise was interesting, and I appreciated the antagonistic ending, but I found the alternating narrators to be a gimmick, and I got bored—I skipped over a hundred pages in the middle of the book and never missed a beat—and I didn’t understand why author Gillian Flynn devoted so much ink to Nick Dunne when his deranged, vindictive wife Amy was so much more interesting. It’s not that I think that Flynn is a bad writer—she’s not—or that I was offended somehow by the ending (which I gather many people were), I just thought Gone Girl was a helluva story bogged down by its own gimmicky conceit. Not coincidentally, this is also exactly how I feel about David Fincher’s film adaptation. Continue reading “Gone Girl: Garbage people doing garbage things”

Horns: Putting the “fractured” in fractured fairytale

Horns-Movie-PosterI wanted to like Horns so much. I’ve enjoyed writer/director Alexandre Aja’s pulpy genre output since 2003’s French horror flick High Tension, and enjoyed the hell out of the campy, gore-laden Piranha 3D. Horns looked more ambitious than those films, though, still working the genre tropes that Aja uses so well but expanding into a broader, more fantastical realm, adapted from Joe Hill’s novel. The trailers looked great, I loved the cast (starring Daniel Radcliffe and featuring Max Minghella, Juno Temple, and Joe Anderson), and with a premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, it seemed like Horns might be something a little bit special. Continue reading “Horns: Putting the “fractured” in fractured fairytale”

Calvary: Degrees of forgiveness and evil

calvary_posterJohn Michael McDonagh’s Calvary, the follow up to his stellar directorial debut The Guard, is not as funny as that buddy-cop parody, and is a hell of a lot more dark. Which is kind of saying something, because The Guard is already pretty dark. But where The Guard skates along the edge of the darkness and gallows humor that defines law enforcement officers the world over, Calvary lives in the darkness of the human soul, weighing the various kinds of crimes that can slowly rot someone from the inside out. It’s a deep film—sometimes a depressing one, sometimes a moving one—but overall Calvary is a methodical examination of 21st century spirituality and what it means to be evil or to forgive. Continue reading “Calvary: Degrees of forgiveness and evil”

The Trip to Italy: A comedy sequel that actually improves on the first

trip_to_italy_posterIn 2011 I loved The Trip, the largely improvisational road trip comedy starring Steve Coogan (Philomena) and Rob Brydon (a bunch of British TV stuff). So I was primed to love the sequel, The Trip to Italy, now in limited release and available on demand. But even with a positive bias, here’s how much I like Italy: Even though Comcast was being a total cunt that was determined to ruin my viewing experience with constant outages, I STILL enjoyed my viewing experience. It’s funny, light but thoughtful, and—surprisingly, for a sequel—fresh. Continue reading “The Trip to Italy: A comedy sequel that actually improves on the first”

So I didn’t like Boyhood

Boyhood_posterAnd I know I am in a vastly overwhelmed minority on this one. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the best-reviewed films of the year, a likely shoo-in for serious awards contention, and represents the kind of ambitious filmmaking American cinema needs more of. And yet, I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it, but I did not enjoy this movie on any level other than the conceptual, and I’m actually really bummed out about it because I wanted to like it, so much. But I found it boring and unengaging, just a collection of “hey remember when” moments as opposed to actual introspection and exploration of what it means to grow up. Continue reading “So I didn’t like Boyhood”

Guardians of the Galaxy: Friendship is Magic

GotG_posterOnce upon a time, Guardians of the Galaxy was a big risk, a comic book property completely unheard of by general audiences—even more obscure than Iron Man was back in 2008—featuring a talking raccoon and a space ent as two of its main characters. However, director James Gunn (Super, Slither), who co-wrote the script along with Nicole Perlman, the first woman credited with writing a Marvel screenplay, proved the right kind of weird to ground the project. Guardians of the Galaxy is a splendid film—wonderful to look at, exciting to watch, in turns deeply funny and emotional. By some metrics, it’s the best Marvel movie yet; certainly it is the funniest and best-looking. Continue reading “Guardians of the Galaxy: Friendship is Magic”