Tag Archives: Gone Girl

The Gould Standard’s Frivolous Five – My Favorite Films of 2014

Simply put, these are my favorite films of the year.

Not the “best” by traditional standards, not the most powerful, but my biased, unashamed personal picks for 2014 (and in no particular order).

Disagree? What were your favorites of the year? Comment, fools!

The Lego Movie

Nostalgia overload. I can’t tell you how many dreary rainy afternoons I spent building spaceships and command stations and battle tanks and castles. So when Charlie Day’s character bounces off the wall yelling “spaceship spaceship spaceship!” it too me back to those days in the playroom, shoveling through giant plastic tombs of miscellaneous Lego pieces, searching for that one piece that would give my ship the perfect design.

Beyond the nostalgia, the voice acting was impeccable (especially Will Arnett), visually beautiful (the ocean waves of physical Lego pieces especially), and the humor was very Muppet-like, with some lower-level stuff for the kiddos, but how many are going to understand Green Lantern’s attempts to suck up to Superman?

Everything is Awesome!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Yup, two Chris Pratt vehicles on the same list. There are so many things to love about this film. The cast (I mean, who would’ve thought Dave Bautista would be THAT good?), the soundtrack, the set pieces (Prison, Knowhere, The Collector’s musuem), the humor (Kevin Bacon), the amazing costume designs, and the visual effects that made us care for a foul-mouthed raccoon and flash a stupid grin when Baby Groot started to dance.

My only beef? Ronan was a little underdeveloped. But that’s it.

Birdman

Wow. Such a surreal, absurdist experience. Iñárritu’s use of long shots is breathtaking, as scenes transition from one to the other while barely taking a breath. Conversations between characters that would normally break 5,6,7 times are done in contiguous, rotating shots that creates an authenticity that is rarely seen in film these days.

Oh, and Michael Keaton is a badass. Every scene he’s in has a deeper emotional weight than what’s on the surface.

The funniest moment is when Edward Norton, in his underwear, is wrestling with Keaton. It’s Batman vs. The Hulk.

 

Snowpiercer 

I’ve sang the praises of this masterpiece for about 6 months now, and it’s available on Netflix, so you should know by now exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s a powerful film about class warfare, brutality, indoctrination, isolation, false idols, and how the upper classes manipulate the system to make the lower classes dependant on them. Sounds like the cry of the 99% rally? Well, when viewed through this lens, it becomes shockingly relevant.

As for awards, I hope this gets nominated for Cinematography and I hope Tilda Swinton gets a best supporting actress nomination. Her character uniquely offers a surprisingly deep metaphor about how the ruling class communicates.

 

Gone Girl

I honestly cannot remember the last time I walked out of a movie dumbfounded, frustrated, and just in a state of “wait, what the fuck just happened?”

Ben Affleck’s performance as a smarmy, middle-class white guy whose social skills aren’t perfect is amazing. He disappears into the character so fluidly, it’s scary to think his next big role is Batman.

Rosamund Pike plays the “victim” flawlessly. And Fincher makes us sympathize with her, then hate her in the span of about 15 minutes.

I really wish Tyler Perry would do more roles like Tanner Bolt. Just as a bit player, he was phenomenal.

And finally, I was introduced to Carrie Coon  with “The Leftovers” and absolutely adored her as Affleck’s sister. I hope there are much bigger things in her future.

Just missed the cut:

Edge of Tomorrow
Captain America
X-Men
Interstellar
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Films that I haven’t seen yet but could break into my top 5:

Boyhood
John Wick
Into the Woods
The Interview

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October 2014 movie guide – what to see, what to avoid, and what the eff?

October is an interesting time of year in the film industry. The summer blockbuster hangover is over, but Oscar season isn’t quite ready to bombard us with biopics, period pieces, or Benedict Cumberbatch.

October is where studios release movies they think might have a chance to do well, but will fade into obscurity if they don’t. And horror movies. Because, you know, Halloween.

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at what came out nationwide in October 2013:

Films that were questionable on release and did really well:

Gravity
Captain Phillips
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Yeah, I liked it. Doing the Jackass-style pranks/dares in the guise of an actual movie was a solidly done permanent)

Films that were questionable that flopped:

Runner Runner (If they’d made this in 2006 when online poker was still a big thing, it would not have failed so miserably)
The Fifth Estate (Remember this? Cumberbatch as Julian Assange? Yeah, I didn’t either)
The Counselor (Such a great cast. Too bad it didn’t come together)

Generic Horror:

Carrie (It apparently was a slow year for Halloween-related horror)


So as you can see, October is a mixed bag of mostly dramas that you’ve got a 50% chance of being good – for nationwide releases.

Are you wondering what you should see in theaters this October?

I’ve got thoughts on 6 films releasing in October. Two I’ll definitely be seeing, two I won’t be seeing, and two that I’m not sold on yet.

Two to view:

Gone Girl

Ben Affleck. David Fincher (the director of Se7en, The Social Network, House of Cards, etc.).Neil Patrick Harris in a serious role. The vastly underrated Rosamund Pike. Tyler Perry not playing an overweight, sassy woman. This film is loaded with exceptional talent. It touches on subjects that are all-too-real in 2014 America. The monotony of suburban life. The media frenzy when a white woman disappears. Then secrets unravel for a husband and wife who’ve drifted apart. All under the guise of a “whodunneit” (Affleck and Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne. It’s a pun).

Prediction: I think this will be much like 2013’s “Prisoners.” It will be regarded as a very well-done, provoking film, but ultimately forgotten when it comes to Oscars (Prisoners was only nominated for a single Oscar). But that doesn’t diminish what the final product will be. I’m going to see it mostly for NPH and to see Affleck as a smarmy husband whose guilt is in question the entire film.

Birdman

I’m still not sure what the hell this movie is about. All I know is the trailer ends with Michael Keaton wrestling Edward Norton – who is wearing some kind of fancy male underwear.

Ok, so I know a little bit. It’s a dark comedy from the director of “Babel” and “21 grams” with Keaton playing a washed-up former action movie star (Birdman was his character) who’s coming to terms with the end of his career. And appears to hallucinate. Or at the very least, daydream (there’s lots of weird images in the trailer)

Prediction: “Birdman” will end up being described as “The Wrestler” meets “Black Swan” crossed with a black comedy. There’s too much talent here (Keaton, Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone) to think this will flop. The Oscars usually shy away from comedies – even dark comedies – but I could see a nomination or two coming from Birdman

Two films I won’t even

(that’s right, I went white-girl “can’t even” on you)

Fury

I’m sorry, but I can’t take a serious approach to a hardened WWII movie that is A) completely fictional, and B) has Shia Lebouf in it. That’s right – this is a 100% fictional story set during World War II. Which means you’ll see “a rag tag group of scrappy newcomers under the leadership of the grizzled veteran take on the Nazis behind enemy lines against impossible odds.”

Sounds ridiculous and formulaic, right?

“Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany”

That’s from Sony’s synopsis.

Ugh.

Left Behind

Nicholas Cage in a re-make of a Kirk Cameron  Rapture propaganda film.

Here’s the trailer:

Yup, I called it propaganda. This, and other films like it (The Identical, Heaven is for Real) aren’t made for the masses to enjoy. They have a target audience and a religious message to get across. These kinds of films offer very little philosophical or cultural influence on the Zeitgeist. They’re just different movies with the same message every time, “Only with God is anything possible.”

People go to films to be entertained. To see stories that pull you on an emotional arc. To offer a harsh truth about humanity.

Left Behind is a 2 hour sermon. If that’s what you want from your films, then go for it. These films aren’t made for the average movie-going fan, and that’s why they fail at the box office.

If you want to see some serious thought-provoking shit about a rapture-like event? Check out HBO’s “The Leftovers”

Bonus “won’t even”

Annabelle

This is the creepy doll from my grandmother’s house. I assume many harvested souls are stored within its 1950’s plastic body. My brother and I would take this doll, throw it in the closet, stack about a dozen heavy coats on top of it, and lock it away for the duration of our visits.

Creepy doll from my grandmother's house.

Creepy doll from my grandmother’s house.

This is the creepy doll from “Annabelle.”

annabelle

No fucking way man, no fucking way.

 

Two films I’m still not sure about

 John Wick

Keanu Reeves as a former hit-man who comes out of retirement because the Russian mob killed his beagle puppy?

When did studios start reading my fan fiction?

First-time director and long-time Hollywood stuntman Chad Stahelski brings us a re-stylized version of the “hit-man/mafia” genre, with what looks to be some dark comedy aspects, as well as possibly poking fun at the genre itself.  It looks decent enough, but also looks trite and full of cliches. Which is great if it’s meta. But we won’t know that until reviews come in.

Here’s the trailer:

 

Nightcrawler

No, Kurt Wagner is not getting an X-Men Spin-off. This looks to be a rather twisted venture into the world of “as it happens” journalism – starring Jake Gyllenhall. The trailer doesn’t offer much in terms of deep plot details, but it will be interesting to see which route they take – does Gyllenhall’s character get caught up in some kind of bigger crime ring? Or does he start committing/instigating crimes so he can report on them?

At the very least, it looks like an interesting character study set against the background of cutthroat, gotta-have-it-first journalism.

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