Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gone Girl

You know, I've seen a lot of movies in my time and anyone who knows me knows I like the dark ones with the twisted, dark characters.  Now, I always believe in full disclosure which means I have to admit first that I have not read the book.  Since right before the movie came out, everyone was reading it which makes me one of about a dozen people in the world who have not read it.

Okay, back to my love of dark and twisted movies and their characters.  If you enjoy those aspects of movies also, you will also know there have been so many awesomely dark characters in cinema.  For every Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill, there's an Aileen Wournos, Jigsaw, Annie Wilkes, John Doe (Seven), Norman Bates, and Jack Torrance.

Just to let you know right off the bat, I am not going to say who is the twisted one in this intriguingly dark tale of love, marriage, and all the straight jackets in between.  That would make a bad, bad movie critic and I would really need to be slapped hard on the hand.  On the simpler side, Gone Girl  is the tragic story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a bar owner in a small town whose life is suddenly put to a grinding halt when, on his fifth wedding anniversary, his wife Amy goes missing.  Also, again on the simpler side, most of the movie is is trying to decipher, "did Nick Dunne kill his wife?"  The story weaves like an episode of Law and Order but you will figure out there is more to this story of whether simply did Nick Dunne kill his wife or not.

So, that is all I am saying about the plot itself.  This is storytelling at its finest.  At first, the flow is perfect, like floating on a Texas Hill Country river in summer while it is at the perfect level.  Suddenly, it turns into a riptide, pulling you under and trying to rip each limb out of your body.  It is even hard to say too much about the performances, worrying I will divulge too much about this deliciously nasty plot.  Ben Affleck is great, definitely continuing his massive comeback (Matthew McConaughey's is called the McConnaissance but I am trying to figure out what to call Ben's).  Neil Patrick Harris plays a very different type is this movie, definitely putting Barney in the rearview mirror.  It was odd seeing him in this type of role and I need to do some more pondering before I decide if I want to see it again or not.  I think he will put Barney far, far behind him and us.  The standout is Rosamund Pike who portrays the kidnapped Amy Dunne.  All I can say is she better get some major award love next year.

This is one of the best American dramas this year. There are no car chases, big explosions or natural disasters.  It's a deep, dark story, with actors and great writing leading the way.  If you do not experience this film, I am afraid you will be gone too.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Judge

This is one of those movies that will grab you by the collar, push your butt in the seat and scream in your face, "watch me now and be in awe."  Now, that is not because there are big giant Michael Bay-esque explosions dancing across the screen, not that there is anything wrong with that.  Many of you know about this movie already, drooled during the trailer, or have seen it in its entirety and wiped the emotion from your eyes while leaving the theater.

The reason for the drooling (not that I did that at all when watching the trailer) was not only the story but the tour-de-force of talent just littering this picture.  How can anyone not be in total awe of Robert Duvall?   Granted, much of his career is before my time but I am lucky enough to have witnessed the awesomeness of his portrayal of "Boo Radley" in To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Hagen in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, and of course there is one of the most iconic performances of all freaking time, Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove.  Yes, yes I am kind of a fan but I think that means I have impeccable taste.  Also, I am by no means the only one because his career spans 58 years now. 

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Hank Palmer, a powered attorney living in Chicago.  When a death in the family forces him to return to his hometown in Indiana, Hank is forced to face his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall) who he does not have the greatest relationship with.  Right at the moment Hank is about to leave to go back to Chicago, his brother Glen (played surprisingly well by Vincent D'Onofrio) calls to let him know that their father has been arrested for hitting a man with his car.  This causes Hank to be involved in the life, town, and family that he so desperately wants to be apart from.  This is by far one of if not Robert Downey, Jr.'s finest performance.  He is most definitely on a whole other plane in his career.  He and Duvall are so powerful together, they are like a cinematic grenade exploding on the screen.  Robert Duvall  displays a whole new level of artistry as he portrays the tough as nails, small town judge.  Vera Farmiga, who portrays one of the best television characters right now, Norma Bates on Bates Motel, plays Hank's childhood sweetheart Samantha.  Farmiga has always done a very nice job of portraying women who are heavily layered and complicated, but she is definitely versatile enough to play the laid back, girl next door type.  That surprised me because I did not see that side in her at first.  I also liked seeing Billy Bob Thornton back on the silver screen but his performance was pretty usual for him.  What I mean is he plays a certain kind of character extremely well, a prosecuting attorney being one of them, but I do not see him playing a character like Hank Palmer for instance.  However, he could always surprise me one day and I would like to see that.

The Judge is a film that is not going to be for everyone but for the ones who like a good, deeply dark family drama with bits of humor mixed in then this movie is for you.  It does, however, get down and dirty with the family dynamics that many of us face every day and so for a lot of people (including me), this movie is going to hit close to home for you and there are scenes that will be hard to watch which made this story all the more real.  The actors handled the intense scenes beautifully.  It definitely will make you think what is going on with your own family at the moment or something you dealt with in the past.  The Judge is a superb American drama with an equally superb cast and if you do not enjoy this movie, then yes, you will be judged.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.