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!
The Artist: follows a silent film star struggling to cope with the advent – and subsequent dominance – of sound in Hollywoodland after 1927. It’s black and white, there’s almost no digetic sound, the picture is box ratio… yet it’s in crystal clear HD! Definitely missed a trick with ‘worn footage’ or ’genuine reel’ look, feel and sound that would have polished off the aesthetics perfectly. Despite this, the film looks sublime, is beautifully shot and full of bold, striking, iconography and period detail – all packed in to the stunning mise en scéne. The charisma of both leads leaps off the screen – genuine eye candy – particularly Dujardin who without saying a word effortlessly entertains for the duration, while guiding you through his highs and lows better than most ‘talkie’ actors can. The story is simple, and drawn out in parts, most noticeable in the mid-section (Valentin’s struggle), giving the film quite a large, over-emphasised, centre-sag. The original score feels authentic, old-timey, and carries the movie during the slower parts. Above all else, The Artist is an adorable love-letter to ‘classic’ cinema in both its style and content; the opening theatre-in-theatre is silver-screen gold. However, because of this – and in the same vein as films like Cinema Paradiso – it feels like most critics, reviewers and cinema enthusiasts have been hypnotized by the cinematic history/nostalgia (combined with the non-standard formatting) and are clambering over each other to gush the highest praise imaginable. It’s a cute period piece, no doubt, but ‘Film of the Year’ is a big stretch for me. Equally good and novel (if you never watch B/W/Silent films), The Artist is enjoyable, entertaining and undeniably unique sitting in modern cinema listings; but the more steps back you take towards objectivity, the lighter, fluffier and style-dependent it begins to look.