Gone Girl – Go, Girl (or Boy)

Gone Girl is currently in theaters

Gone Girl

 

Gone GirlĀ (2014) – Rated R

With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.”

Casting. That is what I want to talk about here. The single greatest strength of Gone Girl, beyond the story, is the casting. In particular, the casting of Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck is a very likable actor with just a hint of insincerity and smugness. This fits his role in Gone Girl to a T. This was absolutely perfect casting.

I don’t mean to say that Affleck doesn’t give a good performance here because he absolutely does. Its just that this role seems tailor-made for him in much the same was as Schwarzenegger was a perfect Conan and Terminator and Keanu Reeves nailing it as Neo. Rosamund Pike is wonderful as the titular Gone Girl.

The supporting cast is great too. I have never seen the Madea films but Tyler Perry is quite good as celebrity lawyer Tanner Bolt. Kim Dickens impresses as the detective investigating the case. Neil Patrick Harris proves he can handle drama as well as comedy.

Gillian Flynn adapts her own bestseller here. I have not read the book but I would assume since she adapted it, that there are few differences. A lot of the diary sequences are quite thought-provoking and seem a fairly honest and unflattering look at marriage.

David Fincher’s direction is smart, dark, and slick. I find him to be very hit-or-not quite hit. Benjamin Button, Panic Room and The Game were mildly amusing. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was good but so was the original adaptation and Fincher’s did not particularly improve upon that. Alien 3 was an intriguing misfire, the more so if you watch the extended version. On the other hand Fight Club, Seven, and Zodiac were all excellent with Fight Club moving into brilliant territory. I suppose if you have dark material to adapt to the screen, Fincher is an excellent choice to handle it.

Obviously I don’t want to talk too much about Gone Girl because I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the myriad surprises involved. The only negative thing I have to say is that the movie had nearly a perfect ending…and then went on for ten more minutes, actually undercutting the ‘proper’ ending.

Go see Gone Girl. I would not be surprised to see it nominated come awards season.

Watch the Bard Week – Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love is currently available on instant Netflix

One-Line Review: Overrated by the Academy, Shakespeare in Love is still quite good.

Shakespeare in LoveShakespeare in Love (1998) – Rated R

Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy. This bittersweet romance won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress.”

While Shakespeare in Love may not have deserved all of the accolades it received, it is undeniably good. Shakespeare in Love won seven Oscars and was nominated for six others. Gwyneth Paltrow took home the gold as the romantic lead as did Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth. Geoffrey Rush was delightful as Philip Henslowe and received a nomination but had to content himself with his statue for Shine.

Joseph Fiennes (Ralph’s brother) is the titular Shakespeare. Future Oscar Winner Colin Firth plays Lord Wessex. Ben Affleck plays Ned Alleyn. An uncredited Rupert Everett is Christopher Marlowe.

The greatest feat Shakespeare in Love pulls off is how neatly everything fits together and most of the credit must go to the writers. The movie was written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. They won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Stoppard had previously dabbled in Shakespeare when he wrote Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.

While Shakespeare in Love is a lot of fun, I thought that year’s Elizabeth and Saving Private Ryan were much more serious and, more importantly, better films but second-guessing the Oscars is a national pastime.

People Watch: Once again look for a younger Jim Carter (Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson), this time as Ralph Bashford.

An Evening with Kevin Smith – Chasing Amy Edition

Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy is currently available on instant Netflix.

One-Line Review: A good honest look at a romantic relationship and the insecurities involved slightly marred by the premise.

Chasing Amy (1997) – Rated R

“After comic book artist Holden (Ben Affleck) falls in love with the perfect woman, Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), he discovers she is a lesbian in this comedy from writer-director Kevin Smith. With no help from his friend, Banky (Jason Lee), Holden tries to make a relationship with Alyssa work. Although Holden knows Alyssa cares deeply about him, her homosexual past may conspire to come between them and ruin everything.”

“I don’t know. I love Chow Yun Fat. I just don’t see him playing Batman. “

Kevin Smith followed up the success of his debut Clerks with the sophomoric effort Mallrats. Mallrats had some funny bits but bombed at the box office, pulling in only half of its six million dollar budget.

Kevin Smith went back to the drawing board and reduced his budget to $250,000 for Chasing Amy. He sure got a lot of bang for his buck. He got a pre-fame Ben Affleck as well as his brother Casey and friend Matt Damon. Also starring are a pre-My Name is Earl Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams.

Joey Lauren Adams is absolutely adorable as the somewhat gay Alyssa. I won’t get into the thinking behind the heterosexual male fantasy of being able to ‘cure’ a lesbian but I will say that for the premise, it is handled much better than could be expected. Joey Lauren Adams shows a lot of real raw emotion when she is not busy being cute and, in spite of the other members of the cast, she is the best actor in the film.

Ben Affleck is charming as Holden and thankfully doesn’t try to mug his way through the film as he has occasionally done. Jason Lee is very funny as the crass Banky and is matched well by Dwight Ewell as an aggressively black gay man. Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) put in their requisite appearance but thankfully don’t overstay their welcome.

Kevin Smith does especially well when he sticks to an oeuvre he knows. Here he tackles a slightly unusual romance set in the world of comics. Kevin Smith is a huge comic geek. After achieving fame as a filmmaker both DC (Batman, Green Arrow) and Marvel (Daredevil) have had him write stories and he owns his own comic shop. Interestingly enough Ben Affleck who stars here would later go on to star as Daredevil.

With most of his films, all of the success or failure can be attributed to Smith as he writes, directs, edits, and guest stars in his films and Chasing Amy is not an exception. In fact the movie he didn’t write, Cop Out, is actually his worst.

Performances are quite good as is the writing. The best scene is a wonderfully uncomfortable confrontational scene juxtaposed with a hockey game. Chasing Amy’s Jaws riff is better than the one in Clerks but the Star Wars one isn’t as funny. Smith also throws in a number of references to Clerks to let you know that this is part of a series.

People Watch: Comics VIPs Mike Allred and Joe Quesada play themselves and Illeana Douglas plays Alyssa’s roommate. Also look for Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) appearing briefly as an executive.