david fincher

Movie Review: Gone Girl

gonegirl_posterMaybe it’s just me, but the institution of marriage is really taking heavy fire from a cinematic standpoint this year. Or Maybe in previous years I just didn’t watch enough movies about marital relationships. I’ve been witness to a marriage plagued by a serial killer (A GOOD MARRIAGE), newlyweds prey to mysterious forces tearing them apart (HONEYMOON) and a dramedy featuring a marriage falling apart from infidelity and a past miscarriage (THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU). Now there’s GONE GIRL, a thriller from David Fincher featuring a marriage of two people so messed up that they are perfect for each other. Fincher’s film is haunting, tense and depressingly brilliant in how it presents, in extremes, what marriage can do to people and the faces we put on for those watching us.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) are a married couple about to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary. When Nick comes home in the middle of the afternoon he finds his living room showing signs of a break in and Amy is missing. Amy as it turns out is the inspiration for her mom’s bestselling book series character Amazing Amy which helps to turn the investigation into an over-the-top media circus. Nick increasingly becomes the target of the investigation and villain in the eyes of the media even as he cooperates unflinchingly with the police. The question still remains though; is Nick the concerned husband he seems to be or is he hiding something that could be the key to finding Amy. (more…)

Advertisements

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

image

David Fincher did wonders turning nothing into something with THE SOCIAL NETWORK. In many ways he accomplishes many of the same things in his adaptation of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO in that the film depicts scenes where people are doing nothing but reading and doing Google searches into something that is oddly compelling. However, as compelling as stuff felt I also couldn’t help but feel somewhat disconnected with the mystery at the heart of the film, but blown away by Rooney Mara’s performance as Lisbeth Salander.

The film is an adaptation of the popular book which is the first of a trilogy and the American remake of the original Swedish film. It stars Daniel Craig as Mikael, a journalist that has been hired to solve a forty year old mystery as to the location of a woman said to have vanished without a trace. Mikael also enlists the skills of a very talented hacker but strange hacker, Lisbeth to help him crack the case.

My first impression of David Fincher’s film is that it’s good looking and interesting but long. Having never read the book I can’t coherently comment on who well it was adapted or if there’s a lot of content that makes the book hard to adapt and that it has to be incredibly long in order to bring the story to life. I will say though that at one point I was getting ready to shut it off because I assumed the credits were about to roll but there ended up being another 20 to 25 minutes left in the movie. I wasn’t necessarily bored during that final 20 minutes but I was indeed ready for the film to end before that point.

Fincher really does have an eye for making extremely boring activities seem exciting on screen. This time around though where I was fully entertained by that fact in THE SOCIAL NETWORK I was a little less impressed during THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO although I still enjoyed watching it. I attribute my slight lack of interest to the fact that for the first half of the movie I just didn’t care about the mystery that Craig’s character is researching and it wasn’t until Lisbeth joined forces with Mikael that it picked up for me. Even with the duo working together I was more connected with their scenes interacting with one another or off doing their own thing than their actual research about the case. When they both finally thought they cracked the case though I finally snapped back in and remembered that there was a reason the two were working together in the first place.

No one really gives a bad performance but Rooney Mara is the only one that really makes a lasting impression. She injects life into each scene she’s in due either to her peculiar personality that comes with the character or her fragile yet aggressive persona. Daniel Craig is decent but he doesn’t quite take his performance to the next level although the character doesn’t really beg him to do so- he does have a few good one liners that gave me a good laugh though.

The score is once again very good by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross although not quite as memorable as their work in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The opening credits are a very nice touch albeit strange transition from the opening scene to the rest of the film, but visually striking and a nice way to get the blood flowing for what’s to come.

As a follow-up to THE SOCIAL NETWORK Fincher continues to put forth great work from challenging material even though I didn’t love THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO quite as much as his tackling of the Facebook saga. Rooney Mara stuns as the peculiar Lisbeth Salander and outshines all of her co-stars- for many scenes I was stuck watching and waiting for her to appear back on screen. My biggest complaint is that I didn’t feel the film did enough to make me care about the mystery the film is built upon and that it eventually stayed passed its welcome. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO however a great looking film that pulls attention in with its strong female lead and the promise of its premise even if it never really lives up to it. It’s a film that could benefit from subsequent viewing where the subtle parts of the mystery a bit easier to spot and connect with when you know what you’re looking for. From the opposite spectrum once you know where it ends some might find revisiting the film a waste of time, but like many films such as SHUTTER ISLAND, once you know how it ends that makes multiple viewing a more fruitful endeavor to pick up intricacies of the plot- not to mention you can appreciate Mara’s performance all over again.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: The Social Network (2010)

We are now in the year 2010 and odds are that nearly everyone you know at least knows what Facebook is or actually has a Facebook page. THE SOCIAL NETWORK chronicles the people that created the website known as Facebook, along with the legal and personal ramifications that followed. The film is directed by David Fincher (FIGHT CLUB) and based off the novel, “The Accidental Billionaires.”

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is an extremely bright fast talking Harvard student always looking for a way to impress his peers. One night he spawns an idea to collect all the pictures of undergrad girls on campus and pit them against each other two at a time in a voting system to pick which one is more attractive. In a matter of hours the site is up designed and functional, and in no times crashes the school’s servers and catching the attention of aspiring olympians, the Winklevoss brothers. They offer Mark the opportunity to code a Harvard specific networking site which he accepts. Mark gets inspired by the idea and begins his own work on a similar website with the help of his best friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield). Eduardo provides Mark with the money he needs for servers and other things he needs to get the site running, but the two have different ideas on how to expand the site once it takes off. From there Mark and Eduardo’s friendship begins a downward spiral with the addition of Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) to the team, and the persistence of the Winklevoss’ anger towards Mark hijacking their idea.

Now that you get the basic premise behind THE SOCIAL NETWORK, let me tell you that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are several deep and complex stories weaved throughout the film, starting with the creation and maintenance of Facebook, the friendship between Mark and Eduardo, the Winklevoss’ dilemma with Mark, the strain of Sean Parker’s involvement with the website and of course the two lawsuits weaved in and out of the course of events. Not to mention the fast and furious dialogue whipping its way out of the characters mouth. With all the stories, fast dialogue, humor and interesting characters the film just flies by.

The film is a perfect opportunity for actors because there is A LOT of talking, therefore giving all the actors plenty of stretch room to show off their chops. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are given the majority of screen time, and both turn in great performances. Eisenberg is a perfect mixture of a decent guy that is also inherently despicable. He plays the type of character that knows how smart he is and would never miss an opportunity to point it out to you. At the same time he often talks without thinking which alienates almost everyone around him as he seems oblivious to the fact that he’s insulting them. Eduardo, played by Andrew Garfield, is easily the most likable character, playing Mark’s smart yet far too trusting best friend. As the film goes on the rift between Mark and Eduardo only gets more strained with Napster mastermind Sean Parker, played by Justin Timberlake. Timberlake also turns in a good performance, but isn’t quite as consistent as the rest of the performances.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK obviously is not an action blockbuster, therefore does not rely on elaborate action set pieces to move from scene to scene. Instead what it relies on is the slick and smart script adapted by Aaron Sorkin. It’s full of some really funny jokes, subtle humor, complicated computer jargon and effective drama. It also weaves aspects early on that are called back later on including a bit that gets referred to often about animal cruelty. The film chronicles the creation of the world’s largest social networking website and also pokes fun at the obsession that people exhibit with the site, such as over reacting to a relationship status, the quickness and frequency at which news and rumors travel and our obsession with checking to see if someone as befriended us after we’ve requested them.

The score, composed by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), also adds a little extra to the film, making scenes instantly more interesting. At times it’s very dark and ominous creating tension even in a scene where all that’s going on is Mark jogging from a bar, through Harvard’s campus and then to his dorm. It also accents the dramatic moments perfectly with subtle beats that keep our eyes and ears glued to what’s happening on screen.

The film is not quite flawless though, I do have to nitpick certain aspects. I did end up enjoying Justin Timberlake’s performance, but there were times when we first meet where his line delivery just feels awkward. There’s also times where it’s hard to buy him as a computer geek and a drug abuser, but oddly enough he does play paranoid pretty well. On another note, I don’t consider myself a computer genius by any means, but within the first 20 minutes or so it throws out lots of computer programming language and math algorithms like they’re common knowledge. While it’s still interesting, I have to admit my eyes nearly crossed; I understand things like web traffic a little bit of html etc., but this was a whole new ballgame.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK takes a story with the potential of being mundane and exponentially boring and tells it with such skill and flare that it feels explosive. It’s anchored by strong performances, engaging drama and sophisticated humor. The film deserves to be called a must see and should be enjoyed by Facebook junkies and anti networking folks alike.