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Film Review: Gone Girl


18 (149 min)
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
American | 2014

Gone Girl is David Fincher’s latest piece, adapted for screen by Gillian Flynn from her book of the same name. When a much loved local woman Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, suspicions of murder arise and all eyes turn to her husband Nick (Ben Affleck).

Gone Girl is by no means a flawless movie. Having not read the book, I cannot judge on how true it stayed to the source material. But at nearly two and a half hours, I’m guessing it didn’t leave much out. Similarly, smashing Hollywood barriers by showing a woman receiving oral sex and having Affleck’s best-friend character being his sister, Margo (Carrie Coon) leads me to believe that the film didn’t conform to studio norms. If it did, it would have probably been a two parter because, as I said before, this film is really long.

Of course, it’s not as long as epics such as The Wolf of Wall Street or The Deer Hunter, but it does feel longer. This is largely due to the twist being revealed half way through the film, changing the dynamic of it completely, and rendering it almost impossible to talk about without spoiling…

Despite the films length, each scene was an integral cog in the overall machine and, although it churned slowly along, each piece was as every bit important to the end product as the last. Gone Girl injects enough suspense in the first half that it stays coursing through your veins for the remainder; the set up is enough to retain your interest and keep you absorbed in the film’s twisted world

The way Fincher picks up the intricacies of the actors and the environments is something to be celebrated. We as the audience pick up on things in the film that may or may not be important to working out ‘whodunnit’, like picking your favourite sweet out of a Haribo mix. We are blinkered, looking beyond the environment around them, but without them being shoved in our face with glaring signs and bells attached. However, it doesn’t mean we don’t see everything else. We can simultaneously take in the pale beauty of Gone Girl, while inspecting it through a magnifying glass.

The film’s editor, Kirk Baxter (Benjamin Button, The Social Network) should also be commended. Flashbacks mingle with the present day, weaving in-and-out of one-another at different rates throughout the film, becoming a ‘clue’ within themselves.

I cannot talk about the actors performances without giving too much away, but both provide a startling realism in their depictions of two very flawed individuals. Initially I thought the opposite, but as the film progressed… Well, that would be surely saying too much now, wouldn’t it?

The film is multilayered within its narrative and what it feeds the audience, slowly building upon itself. The tone of the film reminded me of Fargo; it’s balance between humour and thrills provided by Detective Boney (Kim Dickens), the sure-handed direction, even the colour palette. Although Gone Girl doesn’t quite hold up to the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, it’s an enjoyable, savagely well made film that deserves a watch.


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Film Review: Le Jour se léve (Daybreak)

jour-de-F
PG (92 min)
Director: Marcel Carné
Cast: Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty
French | 1939 | Subtitles

If Michael Bay films are 90 minutes of action sequences strung together by dialogue spewed out of a random word generator, then Marcel Carné’s Le Jour Se Léve (Daybreak) is the antithesis of these movies.

Le Jour Se Léve is a painting, its brush strokes: the words of writer Prevert. His mastery of the written medium creates a tapestry, woven in the poetic discourse between lovers and rivals.

The subject matter is held in great stead by the talented hand of Carné, and it is easy to see why Le Jour Se Léve is considered by some to be his masterpiece. Although the film is a work of realism, the direction preempts the form of the American noir that would boom in the following decade. Staple tropes of noir filmmaking come into play to create some beautiful uses of light – back when films treated shadow with as much respect as they did its counterpart – as well as bringing an air of suspense and sexuality to the piece.

The film is about a man, Francois (Jean Gabin), who has recently committed a murder and is looking back on the events that lead to him to taking such actions. To say the film is about a murder (as I was told before watching it) is like being told Pulp Fiction is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase. It is about two guys sent to collect a briefcase, but that synopsis hardly does justice to the content of the film.

Jules Berry plays the murdered Mr Valentin, and does a fantastic job in creating a reprehensible villain in a film full of grounded, realistic characters. An almost Jack Nicholson level of manic creepyness helps bring to life this original role.

The main issue I have with Le Jour Se Léve however, is that I’m not sure what it wants me to feel. Do I feel sympathy for Francois as he sits on his bed, alone and confined, surrounded by bullet holes? Francois, the jealous, womanizing thug? The murderer? Do I feel for the women he has hurt along the way but who are ultimately the catalysts for his actions? Do I feel sorry for the murdered Valentin who beats and mistreats animals for a living?

Throughout it’s 93 minute run time, as strong as the dialogue is, it’s power starts to wain when you realize it’s the only thing holding the film together. The intimacy between characters is captured with a genius subtlety, and techniques such as long establishing shots and extended flashbacks shown via dissolve transitions show a maturity beyond the films years. But when there is little else waiting for you at the end of your journey than the murder scene from the beginning? Well, ones attention can’t help but wonder…

Ultimately, Le Jour Se Léve will probably be a love/hate film for many people. If you aren’t invested in the characters, you’ll be bored to death by it. But if you’re a sucker for meticulous camera movement, gorgeous dialogue, fantastic acting and exposed nipples (approximately two whole seconds to be precise), then this film is most certainly for you.


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Cannon Hill Collective ’14/15 Week Two Blog

In a slightly perplexing order of events, following on from out first Collective first session in which we garbled on about ourselves while a room full of (what was at the time) strangers psycho-analysed our body language and deepest passions, we decided to spend week two getting to know each other a bit better.

This love-in took the form of individual presentations about ourselves. Presentations being an incredibly loose term for the genius that unfolded when you give a room full of artists free rein to talk about themselves for five uninterrupted minutes.

I’ll start with myself because history is written by the victors and I am the one with the proverbial pen in my hand.

Omar’s presentation

First of all, call me Murdock.

I’ve never been a fan of talking about myself when there are so many other interesting things in this universe. Why are we here? What is the secret ingredient in the Colonel’s chicken? And so fourth. So I decided instead to represent some of my passions and inspirations physically, using my own personal artefacts. Among them included my limited edition Pokémon GameBoy Colour, a Johnny Cash biographic graphic novel, an original Polaroid camera, a clapper board, a pen, and other objects of intrigue. I shall spare you the details behind each one and what they represent, and move on to the second part of my presentation.

I then got each person to pose with an item of their choice and snapped them. Below you will see the final outcome as I delve further into the evening…


Mercy’s presentation
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Mercy being a woman of the world decided to treat us to a montage of her childhood across (off the top of my head) Yemen, America, Ireland and the UK. We were treated to photos of an intercontinental smile and were warmed by images of happy families, striking on-stage performances and huddles of friends in a presentation that simultaneously held our hand through a persons life, and drummed up 1001 questions about it all in one go.

Jess’s presentation
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Compared to Jess’s presentation, mine can only be described as vacuous and insipid. Jess very movingly spoke to us about her time at university studying fine art, her championing of anxieties and losing someone close to her, and how it all reflected in her own work, which was stunning. Her confidence in herself and her work was inspiring to see.

James’s presentation
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Well. Where do I begin?

Very rarely do you get the chance to see a performer so totally and utterly in their element. I can only compare having the privilege of watching James speak to the time I watched Slash tear apart his guitar at Download ’12. James talked us through his life, what choices he made and why in an engaging and inspiring way using props, stories and humour. A phenomenal public speaker and a motivational person to be around.

Callum’s presentation
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Callum treated us to a video of his peers describing him in one word. Callum then took these words and elaborated on them, giving us an insight into his core beliefs and principles.

Catrin’s presentation
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Catrin’s presentation was an emotional roller coaster, consisting of peaks of awe as we marvelled at her handmade puppets, troughs of agony as we learned many of them were damaged and broke in the post, and corkscrews of relief as we learnt the puppets were indeed salvageable. Telling us how and why she got into puppetry, Catrin showed us videos of her work with near-life size puppets, cutouts the size of a fingernail and shadows to remind us how magical the rarely-used medium can be, combining art, engineering and performance into one beautiful piece.

Sarah F’s presentation
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Sharing her passion with us, Sarah decided to imbue us all with a new skill: Finger knitting. The principle is (relatively) simple, one replaces the needles involved with knitting with your fingers and weave two strands of wool together, creating beautiful pieces such as the rugs brought in by Sarah. At least, that was the idea. In reality, I just trapped myself in a Chinese finger trap of wool and reminded myself how terrible my hand-eye coordination is. But it further developed my appreciation for the skills people like Sarah have that I can only dream of.

Heidi’s presentation
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Heidi is a woman after my own heart. Not a fan of talking about herself, instead she wears her inspirations and passions on her sleeves, creating a quiz about them for us to decipher. Among the things we learnt in this entertaining and engaging quiz are: What happens at King’s Cross Station stays at King’s Cross Station, Heidi’s favourite album; London Calling was released in 1980 in America.

Sarah H’s presentation
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Another born performer, talk to Sarah for five minutes and her passion for drama dazzles you. Her presentation consisted of ‘an audience with‘ style montage reserved for the likes of washed-up celebrities going though expensive divorces, but Sarah’s five minutes were filled with humour, detail and a maturity well beyond the young woman’s years. I found myself hanging on her every word, encouraging her to continue with my attention, lost in a world she created for me with her words and her performance.

There’s still more to follow as unfortunately we couldn’t squeeze all the genius into the two hour slot we had to work with, but one thing is for sure, this second session got me incredibly excited the prospect of collaborating with such a varied and talented pool of artists.