Gone Girl [Spoilers!]: on their 5th wedding anniversary an American Sweetheart goes missing, and it doesn’t take the public long to turn on the husband. This is a film of two halves split right down the middle: the first part is a dramatic and gripping missing person case that leads you down one path. The second half is where the film unravels – it would have been better if Amy had just stayed in the wind, followed her plan, or the plot just followed the downward spiral of Nick, but when Amy meets up with the demented ex, it opens up so many ‘that’s silly / the police would totally be all over it’ aspects and undercut the hard work of part I. It’s almost as if the longer the film goes on, the more silly it becomes – to the point of TV/B-movie. As with all Fincher movies it looks fantastic, it’s beautifully shot, well acted, but it’s all rather low-key, with none of the flare you’d expect from a director this good. The Blu Ray sound mix is also pretty shocking; music and soundscapes dominate and dialogue is completely lost in the mix. Had to watch with subtitles on. There’s a good critique of the media and how dangerous their clout is, paired with some minor social commentary – but for the most part it feels bolted on. All in all, an unremarkable David Fincher film is still way above your average movie – and for that reason alone, this is worth checking out – just dont’ watch it if you’re in a new relationship, or about to get married!
Argo: one of the CIA’s clandestine experts creates a ‘real’ fake movie as the perfect cover-up to bring home 6 diplomats stuck behind enemy lines. The most obvious thing about Argo is the phenomenally chosen cast, particularly from the TV sphere; people representing Braking Bad, 24, The Good Wife, etc – everyone is on great form, doing their parts for the movie. Arkin and Goodman in particular get many great lines, which helps maintain the delicate balance between the drama & peril, and a tongue-in-cheek – almost knockabout – look at Hollywood in the early 80s (with a loving streak of appreciation for Sci-Fi B-movies). On that note, the immaculate, uncompromising, period detail adds an unusually thick layer of authenticity to the story. The film’s book-ended by some ridiculously tense, well-directed, moments of a siege and the final throes of an escape. There are a few minor issues; it feels a little longer than it needed to be, some of the drama comes from contrived methods (like the old “run that through the system again” trick); also, although it’s not a ‘political’ film per se – but it reeks of AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!! Bottom line, Argo is a solid, balanced (if somewhat over-dramatised), political/historical thriller, held together by a superb cast. It also looks like Ben Affleck is fast becoming one of the best Actor’s Directors around.
The Town [Blu Ray]: while befriending a ‘kidnapee’ (why not?) from his last heist, a bank robber juggles escaping his lifestyle, one last big job and the FBI chasing his tail. I really wish that people wouldn’t do another Irish-American / Boston film as it’s genuinely the worst possible combo for accent suicide – I swear Affleck settled in Jewsh Grandparent territory. To top off the ear-grinding vocals, the dialogue itself is beyond cornball: the script is laden with cheesy and clichéd lines. Fortunately, the story is very good and the action is executed as any of the Hollywood masters would – intense and impressive – particularly the penultimate heist car chase and final shootout. Cast-wise, Glen Childs (Welliver) and Don Draper (Hamm, who I didn’t rate until this) both turned decent performances. Unfortunately, Ben is terrible, wooden and has clearly written himself in as the super-uber dude who can evade the law, mastermind heists, juggle girls and be as cool as possible – quite the little vanity project, and it ruins the central character for me because you just can’t empathise with such a massive, boring douche. The Blu Ray picture and sound are solid – fantastic sweeping shots of Boston and action that challenges the speakers; don’t be tempted by the extended cut though – it’s beyond overlong and filled with boring/ridiculous back-story (not necessary when characters are all this flat-pack). Despite having a decent cast and all the makings & style of a true heist classic the final product is disappointingly average; and I really wanted to like it more.
Role Models: good old-fashioned comedy about a couple of guys forced to do community service. I call it old-fashioned because it doesn’t rely on gross-outs or shock scenes, instead it just picks things like live action role play, energy drinks & relationships and shows us funny sides of them. The casting’s epically safe but works: Sean William Scott is still playing ‘Stiffler‘, Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd, Mintz-Plasse is a nerdier Version of Fogel and so forth. Jane Lynch’s non-sensical (no B.S.) councilor is fun to watch and no doubt sealed her role in Glee. Not much else to report back on this; it’s good & simple film, well told, with some underpinning messages about fatherhood, decent gags and no fancy trickery. The KISS ending is sweet, and although the final scenes are a bit cheesy, you wouldn’t have it any other way.