MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN Review

by     Posted 6 hours ago

men-women-and-children-review

[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  Men, Women & Children opens today in limited release.]

It’s comforting to view the Internet as a force. Things existed one way, the Internet came along, completely changed everything, and now—for better or worse—those things are barely recognizable. We’re all looking down, clacking into our smart phones, so the Internet must have transformed us, right? It’s just so powerful, and we were caught in its wake. Current communication technology has changed us, but Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children wryly, wisely, and astutely observes our fears and insecurities long preceded our smartphones. The film is a sharp commentary on the decay of intimacy as we, isolated in the cosmos, have now become isolated from each other. Woven together with well-crafted storylines, sharp performances, and convincing drama, Reitman’s latest film mostly avoids being a cautionary tale and instead provides an insightful look on how online communication changes our relationships but doesn’t define our lives.

The Films of David Fincher: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

by     Posted 18 hours ago

the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Up to this point in this series, I’ve mostly sided with Fincher, his decisions, and his thoughts on his movies.  But even by his own metric and intentions, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is almost a complete and utter failure.  I understand why Fincher would feel a kinship with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), but his reasons for making the movie—the prospect of an R-rated franchise and the relationship between Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and Salander—are, respectively, superficial and underdeveloped.  Looking over the making-of documentary and his commentary track, I’m astonished at the gulf between Fincher’s intentions and what the movie presents.

The Films of David Fincher: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

by     Posted 2 days ago

the-social-network-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

If The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a director and a screenwriter working at cross-purposes, then The Social Network are the two sides working in perfect harmony.  Fincher’s cold, austere tone was energized by Aaron Sorkin‘s fast-paced, witty dialogue, and Sorkin’s grandiloquent verbiage was grounded by Fincher’s realism.  In some ways, the movie is highly stylized and yet it’s indisputably honest when it comes to the characters, stakes, environment, and tension of the story.  The facts may be in dispute, but this much is true: The Social Network is one of the defining works of the 21st century.

The Films of David Fincher: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

by     Posted 3 days ago

curious-case-of-benjamin-button-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Across his filmography, David Fincher’s work has been noted as dark, foreboding, chilly, cynical, cutting, and irreverent.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a striking anomaly in his filmography as the allure of the project makes some sense, but the execution is a lush, unabashed romance bubbling with mawkish sentiment.  The movie is graceful, beautiful, poetic, and yet oddly distant.  The whole production feels gilded as Fincher made a deeply moving film out of a fairly terrible script.  The most curious thing about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is how it manages to be a tearjerker despite its craven desire to elicit emotion from a director who rejects sentimentality.

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 3 days ago

goodbye-to-language-slice

I’d like to consider myself someone who’s open to all styles of art, unique forms of expression and storytelling techniques, but perhaps I have to draw the line at Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Goodbye to Language. The thing only clocks in at 70-minutes long, but the screening felt like an eternity and even after it finally ended, I was stuck with the frustration of having wasted a morning and was left with a nasty headache to go along with it.  This movie is playing in some of the most prestigious film festivals around the world yet has claimed a top spot on my worst of the year list and is pretty high up amongst my worst of all time selections as well.

MAPS TO THE STARS Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 4 days ago

maps-to-the-stars-mia-wasikowska-julianne-moore-slice

I don’t like to admit it, but every now and then, I do enjoy picking up a tabloid.  Simply put, it’s fun to read about nonsense like what everyone’s wearing and see that celebrities are really “just like us.”  And the same goes for covering industry news as well.  I truly enjoy finding out what everyone’s up to, whether I’m a fan or not, and that’s a big part of the reason David Cronenberg’s latest works so well.  Maps to the Stars is a Hollywood satire that takes you behind the scenes and dishes out joke after joke at the industry’s expense, but screenwriter Bruce Wagner also slips in an offbeat and riveting mystery that makes the experience more than a fleeting laugh, but rather a dark, absurd and disturbing experience that’ll stick with you well after it ends.

The Films of David Fincher: ZODIAC

by     Posted 4 days ago

zodiac-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Listening to the commentary tracks for Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, and Panic Room, you can hear in Fincher’s voice a slight bit of annoyance and frustration.  It’s not quite bitterness, but there’s an acerbic quality from a man who’s exhausted and can’t help but lay out wry observations.  The Panic Room track in particular conveys the sense that no one should ever make a movie because it’s a hellish experience meant only for masochists.  But his commentaries pick up afterwards, and I believe that’s partly because Fincher found his true love: digital.

Digital completely changed the way Fincher made movies, and it allowed him to provide the precision to performances that he’d applied to all other aspects of his pictures.  From here on, he sounds much happier, and when talking about Zodiac, it’s like a trip down memory lane as he recalls childhood memories of a serial killer who terrorized and tormented a city, and would never be caught.  Zodiac is by no means a happy movie, but it’s one that feels like part of a revitalized director who found a picture that fits perfectly with his admiration for process, attention to detail, and the cynicism of how a search for “truth” can rip lives apart.

The Films of David Fincher: PANIC ROOM

by     Posted 5 days ago

panic-room-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Although my evidence is purely anecdotal, I’ve found Panic Room to be the red-headed stepchild of Fincher’s filmography.  Its biggest sin seems to be its lack of thematic or narrative ambition, which is unfair because A) it’s a faulty appraisal of what the film is trying to achieve; and B) it dismisses the film’s technical mastery, and how the picture overcame a slew of unexpected problems.  If Alien 3 was an onslaught of insurmountable odds caused by studio meddling, Panic Room met unforeseen challenges and rose to the occasion every time to create what was, as intended, “a Friday night date movie.”

MISUNDERSTOOD (INCOMPRESA) Review | NYFF 2014

by     Posted 5 days ago

misunderstood-review-incompresa

[Incompresa has been titled Misunderstood in the U.S.  For the purposes of this review I will be referring to it by its original title.]

In 1993 Hole’s Courtney Love was asked about the differences between their then-impending masterpiece Live Through This and their prior album, the cathartic but formally messy Pretty on the Inside.  She replied, “it’s leaps and bounds different.  It’s so different there should have been an album in between.”  The same sentiment could be used to describe the vast gulf between writer/director Asia Argento’s last feature film, the undeniably visceral The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, and her new work Incompresa, which carries a sustained and palpable ache that could only be achieved by someone working at the top of their craft.  

The Films of David Fincher: FIGHT CLUB

by     Posted 6 days ago

fight-club-brad-pitt-edward-norton-slice

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

The first rule of Fight Club is to talk about Fight Club.  The movie underperformed at the box office, and found life on DVD where it became a cult classic.  Within the context of the film, Tyler Durden’s famous rule is a brilliant and ironic bit of marketing for a group of men trying to reject advertising and find human connection.  “Jack” (for clarity purposes, I’ll use this name to refer to the Narrator) may be our storyteller, but Tyler is our lens, and through that lens, the story of Fight Club has been greatly misinterpreted by any audience member who saw the movie and thought, “I should start a fight club!”  The movie isn’t preaching.  It isn’t an angry screed by David Fincher or worshiping at the Church of Tyler Durden.  It’s not even wholly about male bonding.  Fight Club is a romantic comedy as only David Fincher could tell it.

THE BOXTROLLS Review

by     Posted 6 days ago

the-boxtrolls-review

Animation studio Laika isn’t just on the cutting edge of stop-motion animation.  They’re also the only studio putting out offbeat stories that unabashedly focus and celebrate true outsiders.  They make movies that are cute without being cutesy, strange without being self-conscious, and funny without being pandering.  Their latest film, The Boxtrolls, is by far their best yet as they’ve created a rich, gorgeous world filled with adorable characters, remarkable detail, and a clever comment on propaganda, which is ambitious for a movie that’s ostensibly a family film.  Laika may have made a name for themselves with Coraline and ParaNorman, but The Boxtrolls feels like the first movie that represents the heart and soul of this oddball studio.

THE EQUALIZER Review

by     Posted 6 days ago

the-equalizer-review

Denzel Washington loves doing action movies.  I’m not exactly sure why.  He’s a high-caliber actor capable of a wide-range of diverse characters, but he seems to prefer starring in films like 2 Guns, Safe House, Unstoppable, The Book of Eli, and  The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.  And there’s nothing wrong with his prerogative, although some of these movies have been better than others.  With his latest actioner, The Equalizer, Washington has found his best action vehicle yet as it blends hard-boiled, tense fisticuffs before the climax goes absolutely bonkers in the best way possible.

The Films of David Fincher: THE GAME

by     Posted One week ago

the-game-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Se7en is a dark, brooding film focusing on the nature of sin.  It’s atmospheric, beautifully shot, and thoughtfully constructed.  Unfortunately, The Game was a painfully disappointing follow-up where Fincher’s cynicism provided too much of a gap.  The movie has the veneer of something cathartic and exciting, but whereas the darkness of Se7en had an nasty, beating pulse, The Game was a limp mish-mash of ideas that still managed to culminate into something thoughtful, but the thought was unrewarding when compared to the other movies Fincher would make in most of his other movies.  Se7en was a huge step forward, but The Game was an awkward retreat into the basics of filmmaking rather than a glimpse into the soul of its shallow protagonist.

The Films of David Fincher: SE7EN

by     Posted 8 days ago

se7en-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Where as Alien3 has been forgotten thanks to ignominy, the shadow of the first two Alien movies, and its botched production, Se7en has persevered for almost twenty years if for no other reason than what’s in the fucking box.  Se7en is where David Fincher‘s filmography truly begins, and it’s fitting that a director who self-identifies as cynical should lead with a movie that abhors human nature, massacres the good in more ways than one, and even feels slight reverence towards its heinous killer.  There’s a beauty to the cruelty as the movie presents a stylized realism that taps into a rotting, fetid world but does so without establishing a particular locale, drenching the unnamed city in rain, and sinking the shots into darkness and low angles.

Se7en is where David Fincher finally got to come out and play.  Alien 3 was a trap that became a prison and eventually he just had to flee from the depressing hellhole of that production.  He returned to music videos thinking he would never make another movie again, and when Se7en came along, he went all in on a “meditation on evil and how evil gets on you and you can’t get it off.”   Fincher didn’t return with an open palm.  He came back with a clenched fist.

The Films of David Fincher: ALIEN 3

by     Posted 9 days ago

alien-3-review

[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

“It was a baptism by fire.” David Fincher doesn’t have particularly fond memories of his directorial debut, Alien 3.  It was a troubled production before he even came on board, and despite his wealth of experience having worked on music videos and commercials, he was thrown into a situation that would easily scare away experienced feature film directors.  Call it hubris on Fincher’s part, but the hellish production on Alien 3 was a key part of his development.  And yet despite all of the problems on set, Alien 3 is not without its redeeming aspects.

Click Here