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Gone Girl Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film Gone Girl

I haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl (too many books, too little time, etc.) but I have seen David Fincher’s other movies (most recently The Social Network). That alone was enough to make me choose it over the creepy doll movie (news flash: china dolls don’t need any help looking creepy). The story for Gone Girl seemed pretty well worn.


A husband falls under public and police suspicion when his wife goes missing on their fifth anniversary.

I mean, The Fugitive, Prisoners, The Captive… same thing, right? NO. Gone Girl is all kinds of f***ed up. I’m really glad I didn’t read the book first and ruin it on myself. I will now attempt to describe the experience of watching the movie without revealing any spoilers.

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The November Man Review

poster from the Relativity Media film November Man

Nothing really struck my fancy this week, even though I had three weeks of new releases to pick from. I guess the summer season is over. The trailer for November Man wasn’t inspiring – sort of a Spy Game redo with Pierce Brosnan as the trainer and some new guy as the trainee. Don’t fall in love, etc. etc. But I picked that one anyway and it turned out the trailer didn’t do it justice.

A retired CIA agent is pitted against his former student as he tries to find a missing woman before the CIA can use her to control the next Russian president.

Action-thrillers like Taken that pretend to be smart and complicated but are actually just about throat chopping are all the rage these days. What I like about The November Man is that you get the visceral throat-chopping satisfaction but with actual intelligence, complex characters, and plot twists.

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Lucy Review

poster from the Universal Pictures Film Lucy

My theater got zero movies that I wanted to see this week. I contemplated staying home and reviewing a much more promising looking DVD, but my friends were in town. So I let them pick the movie (well, to be fair, the decision was made on the basis of start time rather than content). Anyway, they picked Lucy, the movie I thrashed in my trailer reviews.


A coerced drug mule goes after the Triad who kidnapped her when a drug bag leaks and gives her superpowers.

Sometimes there’s a small possibility that I might like a movie I didn’t like as a trailer. This is usually because the trailer failed to get at the essence of the story. But with Lucy this was not possible. With Lucy, the premise is the problem. It’s just another revenge movie, but based on the fallacy that we only use 10% of our brains.

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Trailers for July 25, 2014

HERCULES



It’s interesting to see Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane playing wisecraking sidekicks rather than villains, especially considering that this is exactly the type of big budget hollywood meatheadstravaganza that is most likely to typecast actors (such as slapping a loincloth on a wrestler). Can’t say the Ancient Greek action appeals to me, though. I only watched the Perseus movies because Sam Worthington was in them.

LUCY



I can’t even begin to list the things that piss me off about this movie. Kidnapping people to use as drug mules when there are plenty around who would do it for money. Using a mule to transport supersoldier drugs. Supersoldier drugs. Supersoldier drugs that make the main character into an instant remorseless assassin savant with telekenetic powers. The fact that the filmmakers are probably patting themselves on the back for creating such a ‘strong female character.’ A science fiction movie that doesn’t bother to read up on science (the 10% of your brain thing is Hollywood science, not fact). I could go on, but I think you get the point.

AND SO IT GOES



A little insensitive? A little rude? Let’s call it like it is, okay? Dude’s an a**hole. No one in their right mind would ask him to look after a child. Also, the last movie I liked that involved reforming a total jerk was Cars. And Cars had a talking helicopter.

A MOST WANTED MAN



Oh no, not John Le Carre! I know he’s hailed for his realism but in my experience, realism in a spy movie means boring and confusing. I guess that explains why the trailer gave me almost no sense of what the f*** was going on.

THE BIRDER



Park? I thought they were at a university. Other than that it looks pretty funny. I just hope that the slightly lackadaisical tone in the trailer doesn’t mean the movie is slow and/or boring.

LAND HO!



This looks like a fun trip to BE on, but not a fun trip to watch these two old dudes go on. It was only two minutes long and I was bored.

I ORIGINS



Oh no, the director of Another Earth. That movie was a really cool idea that was unfortunately too metaphorical and boring in execution. I’m not sure about the idea part of this one – I’m kind of confused about what her eyes are supposed to be telling them – but I get the sense it is also too metaphorical and slow-moving for me.

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DVDs for June 24, 2014

winters tale

Winter’s Tale

I’d have waited until February to release this. Nobody wants to be reminded of winter in the summer, plus it’s the kind of epic love story that people always buy for each other for Valentine’s Day. Oh well. The movie itself is soppy but watchable. It’s part historical fiction set in early 1900s New York and part angels vs demons magical fairy tale/love story. Colin Farrell plays a thief with a magical horse who falls in love with a dying woman then wakes up in the present day to help some little girl with cancer. Read my review for more.

Buy Winter’s Tale on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

300 2

300: Rise of an Empire

If you thought a movie where everybody dies couldn’t possibly have a sequel, you haven’t seen Hamlet 2… or tried to get between a studio and a giant pile of money. Rise of an Empire is basically the same as 300, in that bare chests and slow motion droplets are the stars of the movie and the story consists of some Greeks planting themselves between an army of insane monsters and their homeland. If you like action, this is the movie for you. If you like character, content, or story, pick something else. Literally anything else.

Buy 300: Rise of an Empire on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

enemy

Enemy

In this drama/thiller, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a boring college professor who goes to a show and meets an actor who’s basically a more exciting version of himself (existentially and literally) and ends up stalking the guy/going crazy (as you do). Actors love to stretch their wings by playing two roles in the same movie, but if you want to watch a movie like that, pick Moon instead of this one. It’s less boring (read: not boring), stars Sam Rockwell, and it has an actual story, whereas this one is more of a metaphor.

Buy Enemy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

blood ties

Blood Ties

At this point, they could release a movie about two brothers/friends on opposite sides of the law and have it be the greatest movie in the history of movies and I would still refuse to see it because these ‘oh noes, do we choose principle or family?’ stories are a dime a dozen. This one stars Clive Owen as the criminal brother and Billy Crudup as the cop brother and it’s the 70s. That’s the only thing that sets it apart from We Own the Night, Mission Park, Line of Duty, Ganga and Yamuna, etc. etc. etc. Randomly select one from the list, or just skip them all and watch something more upbeat.

Buy Blood Ties on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for June 20, 2014

JERSEY BOYS



I feel like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe where bad is good. I cannot fathom how anyone could possibly think that Frankie’s whiny, nasal, helium-fueled voice sounds good. And yet… here this movie is. And here are a lot of people who want to see it. As you probably guessed, I am not one of them. Just watching this trailer made me feel like someone was trying to puncture my eardrums with a Q-tip.

I’LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN



Somehow the tone of this movie doesn’t quite jive with the perky Gin Blossoms lyrics that pop into my head when I read the title. I seriously doubt it will be in many theaters, given that the only official version of the trailer on YouTube is almost impossible to find and has no audio (hence the 3rd party one). It’s pretty cliched but it looks like it could be okay as long as they don’t muck up their time travel rules in favor of relationship drama.

THE ROVER



My thought progression while watching this trailer:
Ooh, Australian
So… like Mad Max?
But sloooooooow
WTF is going on?
Uh oh, the director of Animal Kingdom?
Never mind, then.

THINK LIKE A MAN TOO



Hi Dorian! Sorry your show got canceled 🙁 (the “you’re rollin’ with the pros” guy is Michael Ealy from Almost Human for those of you who aren’t nerds) I don’t really understand why their bachelor party is a contest, or who’s getting married, or why any of them would listen to Kevin Hart’s character when he’s so obviously the ‘clueless and annoying one’ (like Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, only squeakier), but naming your blow-up sex doll after Idris Elba is pretty funny.

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DVDs for June 17, 2014

grand budapest hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Tragically, we did not get this in theaters. It’s a Wes Anderson movie (for a lot of people, that’s all I’ll need to say) about a hotel concierge and his buddy the lobby boy who are dealing with the craziness of the hotel’s patrons (art theft, family infighting, the general weirdness of the period between the world wars). For those who know Wes Anderson’s work, it’s more like The Life Aquatic than Darjeeling Limited. For those who don’t, the best way to describe it is ‘quirky.’ Rent or do not rent accordingly.

Buy The Grand Budapest Hotel on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

no clue

No Clue

This is a Canadian noir comedy written by and starring Brent Butt, so if you like his standup (or the TV show Corner Gas, you’ll probably like it). Butt plays a salesman who is mistakenly hired to find a woman’s missing brother and ends up stumbling his way through the usual noir movie cliches. Butt and the other actors play it like it’s a serious noir film that a bumbling coward somehow got caught up in, so if you like fish-out-of-water characters and parodies, you might want to give No Clue a shot.

Buy No Clue on DVD.

joe

Joe

In this deadly serious drama, Nicholas Cage plays an ex-con/labor crew leader who gets involved in the life one of his teenaged employees. Said teen has a typical ‘serious drama’ family (useless mother, traumatized sibling, abusive father) and Nicholas Cage’s character faces a typical ‘serious drama’ choice (act in my own best interests or someone else’s). Whether or not you’ll like it depends on how depressed you want to be afterward and whether you like Nicholas Cage (it’s ‘not’ and ‘no’ for me).

Buy Joe on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

authors anonymous

Authors Anonymous

In this almost-straight-to-DVD comedy, the members of a writing group deal with feelings of jealousy and rejection after one of their number becomes an overnight success. The cast is made up of current and former television actors (including Kaley Cuoco, Chris Klein, Terri Polo, Tricia Helfer, and Dylan Walsh) most of whom play the same type of roles you remember them for. This is the kind of movie written by writers for other writers, but if you’ve got a writer in your life, watching this movie might help understand them better.

Buy Authors Anonymous on DVD.

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DVDs for June 10, 2014

jack ryan

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

This is the first Jack Ryan movie not based on any of Tom Clancey’s novels, and it shows. It’s a lot less politically sophisticated than the previous Jack Ryan films and a lot more confused in terms of who the Jack Ryan character is and what he can do. Though the filmmakers have tried to update the series by bringing it into the present day, it still feels like a Cold War movie, mostly because the Russians are the bad guys and digital data is treated like hard copy. Rent it if you’re looking for a generic action movie or check out my full review.

Buy Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nonstop

Non-Stop

Speaking of generic movies, Non-Stop, a generic thriller about a sky marshall trapped on a plane with a terrorist, also releases this week. It’s a good premise for a contained space thriller, but they ruined it by spending most of the movie texting and by having everyone think that the hero was the villain, which made the plot seem convoluted. If you’re looking at Liam Neeson’s picture on the box and thinking it will be like Taken, think again. There’s only one good fist fight in the whole movie. Read my review for more.

Buy Non-Stop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

cosmos

Cosmos

Judging from the amount of pseudoscientific bullsh** and outright lies being shared by people on my Facebook news feed, a lot more people need to watch this documentary series. It does for physics, astronomy, and ecology what BBC’s Planet Earth did for geography and biology – it makes you want to hear about science. Whether you failed every science class in school or you’re a Popular Science subscriber, TV presenter/real actual scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has something new to say to you. And it looks pretty. Check it out.

Buy Cosmos on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

devils knot

Devil’s Knot

And now for a non-generic thriller: Devil’s Knot is based on the true story of a trio of teens accused of murdering three little boys as part of a satanic ritual. The film delves into the horror of the murders as well as the controversial aspects of the case, raising the question of whether the teens really killed anyone or if the town is just out to get them for being weird. If you’ve seen the documentaries the film probably won’t offer anything new, but if you’re coming to it fresh you’ll find it really interesting. Check it out.

Buy Devil’s Knot on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for June 3, 2014

lone-survivor dvd

Lone Survivor

Based on the autobiography of a Navy SEAL who was lost and wounded during a disastrous operation in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor isn’t so much Marcus Luttrell’s survival story as it is a memorial to his fallen brothers. It’s like Saving Private Ryan, only more heartwrenching because it’s true. This makes it a hard movie to watch, but if you can handle it, I think you should do it. You may feel a bit like you’re intruding on the grief of others, but they made the movie because want us to see it.

Buy Lone Survivor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

robocop dvd

Robocop

This movie is a remake of the classic 1987 film. A critically injured police officer in a city plagued by crime is brought back to the force as a heavily armored robot to do the police department’s bidding, but there’s more of the officer left than they bargained for, and he has an agenda of his own. Debate rages as to whether the original was better, but if you like action movies, cool special effects, and exploring the scientific aspects of your sci-fi (like in Almost Human), you’ll probably like the new Robocop.

Buy Robocop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

son-of-god dvd

Son of God

If you’re strongly religious and of the Christian persuasion, you MIGHT enjoy this movie. It’s a biopic of Jesus edited down from a miniseries that interprets the bible literally. This movie does not have its tongue in its cheek (like Life of Brian), has no grit (like Passion of the Christ), and takes no chances (like Color of the Cross). However, even if you’re really religious, you still may not like the movie because Jesus is cast as a smirking, laid-back surfer type whose smarmy face begs to be slapped.

Buy Son of God on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

goodbye-world dvd

Goodbye World

Have you been wondering what the guy from Entourage and Ryan from The O.C. have been up to lately? Well the answer is: starring in a movie about what happens after a computer virus destroys civilization. Its an ensemble drama rather than horror or action. Almost the entire plot is devoted to their interpersonal problems (marriage falling apart, friends arguing, neighbors who are suspicious of outsiders). This, for me, is the least interesting thing that could happen in a post-apocalyptic world. But if you like people arguing (so… The Walking Dead?) you might like it.

Buy Goodbye World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for May 27, 2014

endless love

Endless Love

More like creepy, obsessive love. Gabriella Wilde plays a sheltered rich girl who falls in love with a teenage boy who’s ‘below her station,’ played by Alex Pettyfer (yes, the one from the man-stripper movie). Her parents try to keep them apart, so he goes psycho and burns her house down. At least, he does in the book. In the original film and in this remake, it’s a soppy ‘we were meant for each other, they just don’t understand’ teen love story. Like Twilight. So if you like that, you’ll like this.

Buy Endless Love on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

supercollider

Supercollider

This B-level disaster movie is based on the fear that a really really powerful supercollider could tear apart spacetime. A cliched dad-who-is-not-there-for-his-kids working at an Epcot-looking supercollider begins to suspect that the slew of disasters plaguing the world are the result of the collider accidentally shoving time onto a different track, but of course everyone thinks he’s crazy so he’s the only one that can save them. Good idea, bad execution. Read Jack McDevitt’s book Odyssey instead.

Buy Supercollider on DVD.

gambit

Gambit

Sadly, this movie has nothing to do with my favorite character from X-Men. I guess we’ll have to rely on Channing Tatum (I know. What??) to give us that movie in a few years. This one was written (but not directed) by the Cohen brothers and features a Devil Wears Prada-esque abused employee trying to con his boss into buying a fake painting. Colin Firth loses his pants. Alan Rickman is naked, and Cameron Diaz has a ridiculous accent. If you want to see famous people hamming it up and having fun, check it out.

Buy Gambit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

birders guide

A Birder’s Guide to Everything

In this coming-of-age dramedy, a group of teens lead by Kodi Smit-McPhee trek into the wilderness to earn a place in the bird watching record books by confirming their sighting of an extinct duck. Sort of like Stand By Me, but with a duck instead of a body. And no danger. And one of them is a girl. And the bad teens are replaced by adult birders trying to steal their thunder. The pace is laconic and the kids’ acting is awkward, but some people find that charming/authentic. If you’re one of them (I’m not), check it out.

Buy A Birder’s Guide to Everything on DVD.

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