10 Reasons why the critics have got it so wrong about Gone Girl

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Last night, to dust off the writing cobwebs formed after a long summer of football, festivals, house moves and holidays, the Framerates team went to the cinema to see the highly-anticipated, critically-acclaimed, David Fincher directed, adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl. With the screenplay also by Flynn, and a top cast that included Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, our hopes were high. Could Fincher channel his immense talent to create a chilling, intelligent thriller that echoed the intensity of Se7en and Zodiac?

In a word: no.

To our surprise, though, Gone Girl is seemingly a hit with many critics. Here are ten reasons why we feel that this critical reception is a case of mass “drinking the Fincher Kool Aid”.

This article contains spoilers.

1) A faithful, unfaithful adaptation

Despite a screenplay from Flynn herself, the tense, psychological, emotionally engaging tone that is captured in the book fails to fully translate onto the screen. Flynn has faithfully stuck to the narrative laid out in the novel however without the continuous stream of thought from the characters the movie feels shallow and the characters motivations and emotional arcs unclear. This is no more apparent than in the final act of the movie where we see Amy heartlessly slaughter Desi Collings. This played on screen like the calculated acts of a horror movie psychopath whereas in the novel, despite Amy’s deplorable moral compass, the reader understands that she is left with little choice.

2) Tone issues

Perhaps Fincher added flecks of humour throughout Gone Girl to provide comic relief, and to heighten the darkest moments of the movie. However, when characters are making the stupidest decisions left, right and centre, unfortunately, the humour intended as light relief was actually just a series of snorts at the movie’s ridiculousness. An absurd movie this was; “an absurdist thriller” this was not.

3) Pacing. Pacing. Pacing.

I felt I was watching three episodes of a TV programme that were cut together by an amateur YouTube editor. I do believe that the movie got caught somewhere between police procedural and Stepford Wives thriller, and there was such a blatant division between the three acts of the film, which resulted in an extremely jarring watch.

4) Direction

Was Fincher deliberately telling his cast to act on the same level throughout the film? Everything was so flat, it felt like the director was intentionally channeling Frank Underwood and the entire feel of House of Cards, but with a mixture of Prisoners thrown in for good measure. It was very disappointing that this didn’t feel like a Fincher movie, but maybe that will act in his favour when people finally remove their tongues from his arsehole.

5) Acting

A flat tone, jarring pacing and seemingly misguided direction in Gone Girl all results in some rather underwhelming performances from the leads. Pike as Amy does a good job as coming across as cold, sharp and intelligent but fails to fully round Amy as a character- arguably this is in large part down to the lack of distinction between the opposing Amy’s (see point 7 for more). Affleck has always been a firm favourite over here at Framerates.net as an actor, as well as a director, however the stoic nature of the character of Nick required a nuanced performance that depicted an internal dialogue, instead Affleck at times felt vacant and the emotional weight was lacking.

6) Team Amy vs Team Nick

Fincher himself has said that people will leave in either a “Team Amy” or “Team Nick” camp. If the director has acknowledged that fact, there are clearly flaws in the way his characters are represented. One can claim “misogyny” towards Amy, or “men’s rights” at Nick, until they’re blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that all of the above factors have contributed to a film that leads us beautifully into Point 7.

7) Failing to define the character roles.

The single most important element of the movie to get right was the clear and apparent differences between the two Amys. ‘Cool girl’ Amy, the Amy created for Nick, and the real Amy. Fincher makes no distinction between the two opposing personalities. Without this we don’t understand Nick for falling in love with Amy and equally we don’t empathise with Amy and the façade she is forced to display. Instead of creating a compelling insight into two flawed characters, who we both empathise with and despise, or making a coherent point about gender roles and feminism, the movie leaves us with two people who we neither understand very much and who represent very little.

8) It looks beautiful, but what is below the surface?

When you look at a movie like Zodiac, you can literally peel back the nuanced layers within the frame, the acting, the cinematography and plot. In Gone Girl, because the characters were so unrelatable, it was hard to get fully immersed into the world that Fincher is normally so great at building. Gone Girl left me with a similar feeling as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is a movie referenced in another 10 things post from last year.

9) No one shags in a library after 3 years of a relationship

After 1095 days together, you’re lucky if you get your genitals get but a fleeting glance when you’re out with your other half, let alone being balls deep in a dark corner of a public library. I will suspend my disbelief for many things, but this is not one of them.

10) It’s just really not as good as people are claiming

All-in-all, the film was over two and a half hours long and after half an hour I was feeling frustrated and bored. The word flat has been used many times in this article to describe elements of this film and that’s exactly what the overall experience left me feeling. There was no excitement, intrigue or desire for any of the characters to succeed in anyway. Unlike Se7en, Zodiac or Fight Club, which are intense, thrilling and heaped with personality, Gone Girl is as grey as the colour palette it displays.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

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In a strange mixture of zero planning and coincidence, I found myself at Vue Angel Islington this weekend watching Michael Bay’s latest Transformers film, and this is what I thought.

When a philanthropic businessman (Stanley Tucci) unlocks the Transformers’ genome, a program that is supposed to save humankind from extinction threatens to spiral out of control. Can Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a Texan inventor and doting father, use his tech savvy in a mission that looks like it will involve the certain death of him, his beautiful daughter and her loving boyfriend?

Bay is not renowned for his use of subtext. I have not been his biggest fan in the past, I must admit, which is why I was so shocked while watching Transformers: Age of Extinction; Michael Bay has matured. Gone are the days of vacuous action and insulting representations of minorities. Woven into the texture of this movie was a thick, culturally-relevant allegory about acceptance, tolerance and liberalism, all while delivering a series of expertly shot action set pieces and rich, multi dimensional characters…

…is something I would say if I was twated on bath salts.

I will start with the good. Michael Bay can shoot sweeping vistas very well. He has the ability to point his camera at a vast expanse, which then makes for a sequence of compelling frames that I can look at for an extended period. This talent must be because he has eyes. Also, Stanley Tucci is actually very good in this film. I made a noise with my face about twice when he said some of the script.

In all fairness, that’s where I have to stop with the good.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (or How I Learned to Hate Optimus Exposition and his merry band of AutoBlands) rehashes the same old formula from the previous three movies but cranks everything by the Nth Degree. Not only are the characters so superficial they make Mickey Mouse look like he was written by Harold Pinter, but once again we get overloaded with style yet are forced to accept a critical lack of substance.

Wahlberg is at his The Happening best here as Yeager. The “All-American” hero Bay paints Wahlberg as – somehow he is a whizz with a sheepskin and can fix a Sony Walkman – is flag-waving patriotism at it’s most insulting; I think the stars and stripes flag is actually one of the supporting cast. Bar Tucci, the rest of the characters are just awful; Yeager’s daughter (the beautifully-dull Nicola Peltz) is one grimace away from inverting her face and don’t get me started on the “comedy sidekick”. And it wouldn’t be a Bay movie if we didn’t get a horrifyingly stereotypical portrayal of an African American woman, complete with “aaah, heeeeeeeeewll naaaaaaaaw”. Yes, it really is that bad.

Superficial characters who make incomprehensible decisions aside, this film makes very little sense from a narrative or world-building perspective;

  • Throughout the film we see Optimus Prime travelling everywhere by road, yet after the final battle sequence versus Lockdown, and after putting Yeager, his daughter and THE WORLD in danger, Prime just flies off with some rockets anyway, and I am like “why didn’t you fly back at the beginning of the movie, dude?”
  • One of the Autobots smokes a cigar, and they all cough when injured; do they have robotic lungs?
  • Yeager calls himself an old man, yet his daughter is 17 and he had her the day of his prom, which would make him 32-35. Is that old?
  • Breaking into a high security complex? Better pull up in a pimped out muscle car
  • Statutory rape is apparently funny
  • If all of the Transformers are made of transformium (which is a programmable alien metal), why don’t they all fly around as supersonic fighter jets?

This could be seen as clutching at straws to find something to hate because it’s Bay, but when you are sitting down for 161 minutes, don’t do something at the beginning of the film that contradicts what you are preaching at the end.

It’s also edited weirdly, with conversations paced and toned like Bay has never interacted with another human being in his life, and throughout we have to tolerate the director’s music choices; almost every scene is punctuated by either a heavy metal guitar or a song that would fit perfectly over the nauseating codswallop at the end of Armageddon.

I think what summed up how terrible this experience was occurred 90 minutes in, just over halfway through the film. By this point, Optimus Prime was out and proud, looking for his Autobot friends; for a number of scenes we see a the character traversing the sweeping vistas of the rocky American deserts, and it hit me – I had paid £15.60 to watch a heavy goods vehicle drive around…in 3D. That moment of self-awareness made me laugh out loud, much to the confusion of the 25 or so people in my screening.

There really isn’t much to sum up anymore with regard to Transformers: Age of Extinction, or even with Michael Bay. There is absolutely zero soul in these films. It’s just mindless, insulting dialogue, awful characters, boring, boring action, and I am really upset with myself because that £15.60 will go towards making this the UK Box Office number 1, and the cycle of shit will continue. Oh, and if you’re expecting the Dinobots, I wouldn’t even bother, they are only in it for about 15 minutes.

All Is Lost

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PSA: At Frame Rates, we don’t like to reveal spoilers in our reviews. However, in the case of All Is Lost, it is impossible to discuss the movie without giving away the premise. Therefore, the following review will talk about the premise in detail, which in itself is a spoiler, but will not give away the finer plot points of the film.

After his boat collides with a stricken freight container, a seasoned sailor must not only battle the elements, but also fight the acceptance of mortality, in body and mind.

After 480 minutes of burning mind calories at work, one of the last things I want to do on a Monday evening is spend time questioning my own existence and attitude to mortality. Thankfully, rarely does a movie with such a delicate approach to storytelling deliver such a powerful message as the one I drew from All Is Lost.

The main thing to point out about All Is Lost, aside from a monologue at the beginning, is the complete lack of dialogue throughout. It is a bold move from writer/director, J.C. Chandor, and while his direction is precise, and his writing is compelling, it is because of Robert Redford’s on-screen gravitas that the silence works; he is called ‘Our Man’ in the screenplay, and his isolation begins to provide a insight into his nature. He is able to convey the smallest nuances of emotion by just literally existing in front of us; when his boat starts flooding, he goes about fixing it, and this happens throughout the film. By revealing nothing of his character, he actually reveals so much because we are made to think; about his past, why he is out on his own in the sea, and so on.

Some have commented on the movie’s lack of sailing realism, or complained about the seafaring techniques of the film’s protagonist. Only the most cynical of movie viewers would not accept the finer, more subtextual, aspects of the movie, and I feel these commenters have completely missed the point of this film. It’s not a film about sailing, but a story of survival and mortality that actually discusses its themes more successfully than Gravity; despite being absolutely gripping, the story and screenplay was the weakest aspect of Cuaron’s latest release. All Is Lost manages to say so much more about human perseverance, and the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit, without actually saying a thing.

One of the greatest achievements of All Is Lost is the fact it played entirely with my expectation of action/disaster movies. I was constantly second-guessing the story, thinking that we’d have a twist or that there would be a Hollywoodised moment of peril, but the realism on screen was refreshing. Every movement, every action taken by Our Man was logical. As we got further into acts two and three, I began to understand the character’s intelligence as he found ways to keep afloat; it was like watching a machine work.

The technical aspects of the film were fantastic, and definitely complimented the clever, mature storytelling. As there is no dialogue, the camerawork, cinematography and post-production (editing and CGI) have to be compelling; All Is Lost had some excellent uses of first-person perspective to convey distance, underwater shots, and some majestic long shots of schools of fishes dancing below Our Man’s boat. The sound design was also absolutely superb; I felt genuinely cold during the storms, and appreciated the moments of silent tension being cut through by the delicate sounds of water colliding and lapping against the innards of the stricken boat.

The Oscars have been and gone, but it surprises me that this movie was overlooked in more categories (it did receive a nomination for Best Achievement in Sound Editing). At 77, Redford should have been nominated for Actor in a Leading Role, if not solely for putting his body through the runners in this film. I do think this is not your average action movie, and is more art house in style and tone, but I do recommend it regardless, as it reached into the deepest corners of my own fear of dying, and made me consider the lengths to which I would go to stay alive.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. (Source: IMDb)

Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, has certainly caused a stir among the critical masses. On one hand, this tale of excess – both mental and physical – has been lauded in certain circles; it has earned a Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for DiCaprio and Hill respectively, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Oscars 2014. And then on the other hand, a number of dissenters have pilloried the movie for being misogynistic, vulgar, navel-gazing and ‘boring’ (last one being Mark Kermode, 2014).

I am not sure if this says something about my personality, but I found The Wolf of Wall Street and, more significantly, Jordan Belfort, immensely compelling. Even when he is acting his most debauched, there was a part of me that felt a modicum of fist-pumping machismo for the character. Perhaps it is my fondness of DiCaprio that I only strayed from the side of the protagonist once – during a scene with his daughter – yet that is not to take anything away from a performance that would in any other year be a dead-cert for Best Actor; unfortunately for Leo he is up against Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. The energy DiCaprio brings to the movie is nothing short of incredible. In the past, he always embodied his characters, but there was the ‘he was Jack in Titanic‘ aspect to his on-screen presence. It’s thanks to his talent and Scorsese’s direction in The Wolf of Wall Street, that I feel this Leo’s coming of age role, and now he can be considered as one of the modern greats. Turns from Jonah Hill, Naomi Lapaglia (in her first role), as well as Rob Reiner and Jon Favreau were all brilliant, and there was even a fantastic cameo from a certain favourite around here, Matthew McConaughey, as Belfort’s career role model, Mark Hanna.

At three hours long, one could expect oneself to go on a mental stroll, however the pace, biopic-nature and playful yet dark tone of the movie is very reminiscent of Goodfellas, a comparison which has undoubtedly been drawn, but is relevant nonetheless. There are scenes of cringeworthy humour, shocking drug misuse and abuse, and a lens that falls often on bare naked ladies (no, not the 1990s pop band). However, I don’t for one second feel that Scorsese’s camera is any way misogynistic; the excess of Belfort’s life is a literal orgy of naked flesh, drugs, and money, with one capitalist fist-pumping scene after another. Yet, even though there are some women in this movie that are tools for Belfort’s pleasure, I feel the leering ends up being at Belfort while he is of his face on drug cocktails (and more drastic these scenes become), and not at the breasts on screen; they are very matter of fact breasts, if you will.

The Wolf of Wall Street was a fantastically fun movie to watch. It ticked all my taboo boxes, one of which I didn’t even know I had, and albeit for one scene of genuine darkness and abyss-staring, it was a romp and a half. It won’t win any of the Oscars for which it is nominated, but in an ideal world, 12 Years would have been released this later this year and Leo would get the recognition he truly deserves.

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You’re Next

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When a family reunite for their parent’s 35th wedding anniversary, they find themselves at the end of a, seemingly random, murderous rampage. As things progress they realise that the perpetrators are willing to stop at nothing.

Bloody glorious. There’s my hand.

Right from the outset of You’re Next, we are treated to an orgy of dark humour, intelligent camerawork, gore (and shit loads of it), a score that goes from bouncy Americana to Lynchian industrial drones, and characters that do smart and dumb things, the latter enough for you to get behind their…demise.

Director, Adam Wingard, has constructed a movie that feels “refreshing”; in an age where a creative team can lose their project to the economics of moviemaking, You’re Next doesn’t bear the hallmarks of something into which a studio has sunk their agenda. This is a movie made by a director that reveres the horror genre and hasn’t had to temper his reverence for anyone.

Wingard and his cinematographer, Andrew Droz, use lenses exquisitely throughout this film. The dynamics between the siblings are developed with a shallow depth of field, and we always seems to be very tight into the frame, with not a lot of breathing room for our eyes. This enhances pace, especially with the handheld camera, which creates a rolling stone of high tension. When the movie slows down and we are treated to the occasional jump scare, they never feel cheap, and are usually prologued or epilogued by a moment of dark humour; it’s a horror movie at heart, but there are some truly hilarious lines of dialogue and darkly comic kills towards the end. This seems to be Wingard’s specialty.

The kills in this movie are some of the most inventive in recent memory. I cannot go into specifics but there is one that will literally blow your mind it is that good. Much like this review, plot becomes secondary towards the end, and when incentives are revealed I didn’t care anymore. I was just grinning from ear to ear!

Before the proverbial hits the fan, there is a cameo from another ‘It Director’ from the horror genre, which, in my screening of horror nerds, went down extremely well, and we all loved his demise. ‘Strangers in the cinema’ barriers were broken at that very moment, and we all got behind the movie together, which hardly ever happens in a multiplex theatre.

You’re Next is not without its cliches, although I do think Wingard uses them knowingly to create moments of humour and to be ‘that meta guy’, but I have to say it’s the most fun I have had watching a new horror movie in a very, very long time. If someone asked me to watch it again at the weekend, I’d happily say ‘you pick the seats and I’ll book the tickets’.

I wonder if/when Wingard is going to try his hand at a straight up comedy?

The Purge

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The Purge has an interesting, if a bit really ridiculous, premise. Set in 2022, on one night a year, America’s New Founding Fathers have granted its citizens 12 hours to ‘purge their sins’. They can enact their most depraved and twisted desires, such as murder (politicians and certain weapons are out of bounds), without feeling the weight of the law on their shoulders; it’s good for the national psyche don’t you know? Police, ambulance and fire services lock their doors, as do the residents of the upper echelons of the American elite; they shut out the horrific events occurring outside, yet watch with glee from their 50″ TVs. The poor become the most vulnerable, as gangs of affluent ‘hunters’ grab their semi-automatics and wage bloody carnage on the most defenceless members of society. It’s 12 hours of dystopia I tell you!

As good as this all sounds for the expectant horror fans among us, The Purge absolutely fails to deliver any tension, resolution or continuity within the story, or a set of sympathetic, intelligent characters. Ethan Hawke, his wife, their slutty daughter and geeky son live in an intentional parody of Middle Class America; their house might as well be on the set of Desperate Housewives or Cougar Town. And in spite of some really great character development at the beginning, when the alarm sounds for Purge hour, this film loses all hope and actually lost the entire audience in my screening.

The Purge has an allegory that suggests the 1% mentality, the closed-gate, rich communities and the gulf between the have-all and the have-none are inexplicably linked with America’s violent future, while mirroring the present. Nevertheless, this is completely rammed in your face, replete with overt, problematic race and class politics (why does the one homeless guy have to be black?) and any allegory eventually becomes secondary to the unadventurous gore and mindless acts of brutality. There is one stand-out scene which was grimace-inducing, but that was the only time the movie garnered any reaction from anyone in my screening.

Movies like The Strangers, Straw Dogs and Funny Games, although they all have their problems, at least make you feel violated as their plots get more intense and depraved, even if the endings are…abrupt. The Purge gets scared of its own premise and becomes an average action film and loses its way; I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the weak horror elements or thrilled by the action. There are huge inconsistencies in plot, character motivations (can everyone just stick together please?) and the direction and message just became a sloppy mess. When the ‘crazy’ group of 1% youth turn up at the family’s house – “We don’t want to hurt our own” they proclaim – they clearly aren’t normal human beings; the main guy, Rhys Wakefield, is a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Frankie Howard. It’s a terrible, clichéd characterisation and one that doesn’t make sense with the entire premise of the movie; the idea is that on one night of the year, the normal citizens of the States can go on killing sprees. It would have been way more effective if these normal people didn’t then turn into faux-possessed weirdos that looked straight out of The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

As the film hits fifth gear, it becomes even more frustrating. There are two half-arsed twists that are painfully obvious and the ending is just non-existent. Maybe the movie falls victim to its premise, because, in the direction it went, it became impossible to have a decent resolution to the plot, however that is not an excuse. It says a lot about a movie when cinema-goers all huff, puff and tell your movie to fuck off as they leave. I didn’t hear a good word about it from anyone and the screening was packed.

I revel in a decent exploitation action flick – Law Abiding Citizen. And I find a horror movie that delivers twisted, brutal imagery that makes you feel violated quite exhilarating – Martyrs. What I don’t love is a smorgasbord of plot holes; confused, boring second acts; stupid, unsympathetic characters; predictable linearity; and films that don’t have an ending – The Purge.

American Mary

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I gave it a really big chance.

American Mary is not terrible. The production values are definitely adequate, and the beginning of the movie had a decent tone, with a mixture of cartoony humour and gross cinematography. The plot is original and interesting as well; Mary, a medical student, excels at her studies but is constantly in debt. After a horrific incident, she becomes disillusioned with her profession and hones her skills in the underground body modification scene. As she gets deeper into her role as a body mod surgeon, she begins to fall deeper into the darkness of her psyche. Catherine Isabelle as Mary is a phenomenon on screen among a sea of mediocrity. There is a fantastic character who has moulded herself to appear like Betty Boop, who does bring some sick surreality to a number of scenes, which was really great. And regardless of some other decent, horrific imagery – some scary plastic surgery is on show – there are some aspects that I cannot forgive.

I honestly don’t think I have the vocabulary to properly describe how utterly terrible the script is in American Mary. The dialogue was the worst aspect of this movie; it felt like this was the first or second draft and not good enough for a final draft. The first rule of scriptwriting is to establish the genre and tone of your movie and to place your protagonist within this setting.  American Mary could be two different films by the end. Almost all the men in this movie are one dimensional, sex-mad misogynists, and there is no satisfying character arc on view here. Mary goes from a light-hearted, funny student to the opposite without any progression, and it’s a huge jump to make, regardless of what happens to her.

A few other nitpicks would be the first scene where she is suturing a turkey is incorrect; a pig cadaver would have skin more like a human’s. Also, if I have to sit through a film with the iPhone marimba ring tone going off every 5 minutes, I will punch someone. The ending of American Mary is hugely unsatisfying and doesn’t resolve any of the (terrible) character development, and confuses the plot a bit more. Finally, directors, if you can’t act, don’t felate yourself with a role, let alone a speaking role, in your movies. It was extremely hard to watch.

American Mary, while having positives – one of them being it’s not a generic slasher movie – has a few negatives that were unforgivable. If you are a horror fan definitely check it out because it’s an original plot, but don’t blame me if you cringe for 90 minutes at the dog shit dialogue.

IH

Man On Fire

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I lost my DVD of Man On Fire, well the disc anyway. I still had the box, and every time I thought about watching it, I opened the case hoping St Christopher had returned it without me knowing. This never happened. So, fast-forward 6 years après DVD loss to Friday night; I saw the movie listed on iTunes when browsing movies and bought it without hesitation. Is this Tony Scott’s most accomplished work? I’m going on record to say it is.

Man On Fire encapsulates everything you’d expect from a Tony Scott movie; eye-busting action, vicious pacing, rich, saturated colours and, more recently, a penchant for showing us the most advanced telecommunication devices on the market (or not, as in the case of Deja Vu). Scott constructs a beautifully-rich visual tapestry that is tied together with some audacious camerawork and phenomenal acting from the two leads, Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning.

Washington plays Creasy, a broken, alcoholic, ex-assassin who takes a job protecting Pita (Fanning), the daughter of a rich, Mexico City family. Initially, after his employment, Creasy considers Pita just a ‘job’; he’s cold, stern and gives nothing away to her constant interrogations. However, the more time he spends with her, the more she begins to heal his heart and turn his life around. After a shocking turn of events, Creasy calls upon his past and embarks on a journey of vengeance.

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First of all, Dakota Fanning was a revelation in this movie. There are numerous occasions during which she leads the scene, and for an 11 year old to achieve this is nothing short of phenomenal. Her precocious talent is matched only by Scott’s talents as a director. The bond Scott managed to develop between Fanning and Washington becomes the backbone of this movie, and regardless of some great performances from Christopher Walken and the lesser cast members, Creasy and Pita’s relationships steals the show; there are tonal elements from buddy cop movies during the first act which I thought really established the foundations of their character interactions. Washington has a vulnerability to his character, which enables us to feel compassion even when he undertakes his ‘revenge is best served cold’ mission. Also, I have to mention his character arc, which is a perfect example to aspiring screenwriters of how to write a convincing and engaging protagonist.

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The stylistic elements of this movie complement how brilliant the acting is. Tracking shots, dolly shots during conversations and daring crane shots give the film a pace that is unrelenting and nail-biting until the end. The opulence of the family is shown through jet black cars, saturated gold furniture and the colour palette becomes a sickly reminder of the contemporary subject matter in the film. It’s cut together with glitchy match cuts, flash to whites and a manipulation of exposure that is almost seizure inducing, working in synergy with the pace of the camera. Scott has even played with the style of the Spanish language subtitles; rather than being static, they scale in and out over different parts of the screen, which enhances the pace and confusion of some of the scenes. As a post-production geek, I love how they have done more with less here; it’s all colour correction techniques and camera movement, and everything seems in front of the camera rather than composited in afterwards, which I admire greatly.

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If I was going to nitpick at this movie, I would say the payoff at the end might not be satisfying and may put off some people, but it is brave and I personally don’t have a problem with it. While still being a balls-out action movie at its heart, we need more stories like Man on Fire to counter the unbridled amount of conservative shit Hollywood produces on a yearly basis. /rant.

The end of Tony Scott’s career may not being as glittering as the early days; Top Gun and True Romance have gone down in history as successes, while Domino and Unstoppable not so much. However, it is Man of Fire, a movie nestled almost in the middle of his directorial filmography, that gets all the plaudits, and rightly so. It’s a perfect mix of action, character, vision, visuals and heart; many movies could learn a thing or two from Man on Fire.

Primer

“I haven’t eaten since this afternoon.”

To make a movie that wins Sundance Festival’s prestigious “Grand Jury Prize” award is one thing, but to do it with a debut film that cost $7000 is, frankly, ridiculous. The mathematician (yes, not filmmaker) behind this feat was Shane Carruth and the movie was Primer (2004).

Primer deals with sci-fi’s most dangerous subject; time travel. When done poorly, time travel movies alienate their audiences and cause them to question the logic and science of the plot, which, as a filmmaker, is the opposite of what you want of your audience. A great time travel movie is one that moves at a satisfying pace, passes over you like a warm breeze and delivers enough twists and turns to keep you occupied and without questioning too much logic. Primer does all of this, yet at the same time is full of mathematical jargon that only the physicists among us will understand, and is still a success.

The greatest thing I can say about this movie is that it was raw. It was a pleasure to watch because you can tell the cast and crew were having an absolutely incredible time just making a movie. There were scenes in which they didn’t have a focus puller, so the blocking made members of cast appear out of focus. In a Hollywood production this would be unacceptable, but in Primer it added to the heady, sci-fi feel of the movie. The camerawork was fantastic, and the cinematographer did a great job with the colour tones and overall look and feel of each shot; everything was adventurous and exciting, even shots of computer chips, solder and numbers on computer monitors!

The innocent pursuit of knowledge is a large theme of the movie. The protagonists stumble across one of the biggest breakthroughs in human history, and while the science is exciting the scientists as well as the audience, there is an undercurrent of tension and unease. Much like the sci-fi movies of the 30s and 60s, the scientific progress is seen as an unknown, possibly dangerous pursuit for the human race. This tone left me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know how the plot was going to unfold, but it was never boring or unenjoyable. It also ventures into Memento/The Presitge territory, which are firm favourites of mine, and the ending is as enigmatic as you’d expect. Everything that stitched the movie together was execptional, and despite some of the acting being a little bit suspect at times, Primer was one of those movies that I will definitely be watching again.

If you are a sci-fi fan, a lover of independent movies, or want to watch a movie during which your brain needs to be 100% engaged, Primer is the perfect choice.

Disaster Movie

disaster
‘What did I just watch?’

You only have to look at IMDB’s ‘People who like this movie also liked’ list to find the cinematic calibre of Disaster Movie. It shares the same shelf as Fat Slags ‘filthy toilet humour but we love it’ (not my quote), Superbabies 2: Baby Geniuses, Going Overboard (Sandler) and Pledge This (Paris Hilton). I know we are doing a section in which we watch the Bottom 100 on IMDB, but I honestly didn’t think a film that was made in 2009, a fairly innocuous-looking parody of disaster movies, could be so amazingly terrible.

I honestly won’t be able to do the film justice with a review. It really is something you have to see to believe, so I will just list some of the notes I made whilst staring agape at my TV.

  • Shame on you Apple for product placement
  • Would downing a bottle of tequila make you burp for a minute? ‘joke’ too long and disgusting
  • Why would there be a massive Ambien bottle with no medical instructions and just ‘AMBIEN’ written in big letters?
  • And then boobs
  • WHAT?! That midget had to be under the duvet for the whole scene?
  • Terrible pop references – shitty reality shows Sweet 16
  • I only laugh when I realise how stony-faced I am while watching a comedy
  • Molestation on the “lesbian” – she doesn’t like dick so let’s molest her!
  • What…the…country for old men
  • Kim Kardashian and Carmen Electra are just awful
  • It really has no soul – it’s so half-arsed the sound effects aren’t even in synced with visuals
  • It’s like watching a shitty meme video on YouTube but feature length
  • Why is a 40 year old playing the Juno character?
  • There must only be about 20 extras because a woman in a purple shirt is just running across the same road over and over again during the meteor shower
  • Humour comes in threes, when the humour is funny… Three unfunny things in one joke is 3 times as unfunny
  • He punched the baby!
  • Oh but OK, the baby got its own back by coming out of mother’s vagina and kicking him in the face
  • Set piece after set piece all filmed in tableau vivant – the only time I stand in a line all facing forward while talking is when I’m pissing in a urinal
  • WHY IS HE WIPING SHIT ALL OVER HIS FACE?!
  • So he called a black guy a ‘dark peasant’. This film is racist.
  • Why is Michael Jackson in the boot?
  • Stop hitting women and children
  • Where is the cut on her shoulder?
  • Fuck this movie.

Disaster Movie is insane. It offends black people, gay people, women, children, Batman, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the art of filmmaking. It is a white male, conservative comedy, which is the worst kind of comedy. It makes Judd Apatow look like Spike Lee. But I recommend watching it because 1.9/10 on IMBD – the lowest rated film on the website – means something, eh?