Gone Girl Review

Gone Girl (2014) written by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher. This is based on the novel of the same name also by Flynn.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens.

Synopsis: After the mysterious disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) in the small town of North Carthage, Missouri, her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) and the police try and piece together what happened. As the story progresses, we discover the couple had an unhappy marriage which leads us to question Nick’s innocence in all of this. Did he murder his wife and make it look like she was kidnapped? Did one of her previous boyfriends have something to do with this? As Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and her partner Officer Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) dig deeper, they begin to realise that nothing is as it seems.

Having just attended an advanced screening of this movie, my initial reaction is very favourable. This is a great film, and one of the best I have seen this year. Having heard the hype surrounding the book, I was expecting good things and I was not disappointed.

Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel into the screenplay for this movie, and this was a wise choice. Time and again I have heard the phrase “the movie wasn’t as good as the book,” therefore, it is refreshing to see the original writer adapt her own work. This allowed Flynn to be as faithful as she wanted to her original source material as well as adapt this for a cinematic audience which really paid off.

This is by no means a short movie, and its running time is roughly 2 hours 30 minutes. This allows for the mystery to slowly unravel at a nice pace. Flynn paints her characters as flawed which I admire due to this being true to life. Nick Dunne is not perfect and neither is his wife Amy as we are fed flashbacks told from Amy’s narrative perspective. The characterisation is great, and the important reveals effectively manipulate the viewer’s perception of the main characters numerous times. As a result, we are unsure what is true which makes the story more interesting.

I have been a fan of David Fincher for a while, and he stays true to his directorial style in his latest work. Apart from the Oscar nominated director working on a couple of House of Cards (2013) episodes, this is his first movie since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and an impressive one at that. This has the feel of a Fincher movie, and carries with it the “nothing is as it seems” characteristics of previous works.

What sets great movies out from average ones is their ramping up of events and deviating from formula. The first hour of this movie plays out like a typical missing person movie. The person goes missing, the police get involved, and the whole whodunit genre characteristics take over. However, this story evolves into so much more than the typical whodunit and provokes the viewer with a lot of questions.

Thematically, fame is at the heart of this story. Nick becomes demonised by the media after his wife’s disappearance whereas Amy is canonised. It also provokes us to question what really goes on behind closed doors. Are the seemingly happy people we see in the media really like this? Would you stay in an unhappy marriage to keep the peace?

The acting in this movie is impressive, and Rosamund Pike steals the show in her portrayal of Amy. Ben Affleck also does not disappoint as her co-star. The other supporting cast such as Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie Coon complement the story well.

To conclude, this is a very good movie and I highly advise paying the money to see this in the cinema. It is long, but this is needed to do the story the justice it deserves.

By Robert Spence

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Fargo – Season 1 Episode 6 – Buridan’s Ass – Review

This episode was directed by Colin Bucksey.

Synopsis: The episode begins with members of Fargo’s Crime Syndicate having dinner. They mention the murder of Sam Hess, and reiterate that Mr Numbers and Mr Wrench are dealing with finding the killer. The leader states that he does not just want the culprit apprehended but dead.

With the continuation of the Milos blackmail still underway, Malvo gets Chumph (Glenn Howerton) to read a note over the phone to Milos. He gives Milos instructions on where to meet up with the money. After this happens, Malvo knocks Chumph out and ties him up. He also tapes an unloaded shotgun to his hands.

As Molly drives, the radio predicts stormy conditions are upon the town. She continues to work with Gus in order to get to the bottom of what happened the night Lester’s wife was killed. Gus tells her that his neighbour saw Malvo in his street, and has a plate number for the car he was driving.

Lester is still in hospital, and is recovering from his hand injury. However, there is a police officer waiting outside for him. As a result, he makes a daring escape plan involving another patient.

My initial thoughts of this episode are that this has some nice twists and turns. Malvo’s blackmail plan is in full swing but is not without complications. I also noticed some parallels with the original Fargo movie. For instance the Milos blackmail plotline in general.

Some characters meet a bitter end this episode, and in quite a gruesome way. Therefore, be prepared for some blood and plenty of gun firing.

By Robert Spence

Hannibal – Season 2 Episode 11 – Ko No Mono – Review

This episode was directed by David Slade.

Synopsis: This episode begins with Hannibal and Will dining together. Will discusses his euphoria at killing Freddie Lounds, and that the way his mind works is changing.

A charred corpse is found which matches the dental records of Freddie. As Will among others look at the corpse, he states that fire fuels, and is mythical. He states that fire destroys and creates.

Dr. Alana Bloom’s concern about Will’s frame of mind has reached new heights as she thinks he may have killed journalist Freddie. She is also having concerns about if she really knows Hannibal at all.

We also find out that Margo is pregnant with Will’s child as her main goal is to create an heir to her family fortune. However, her brother Mason has other plans in mind when he finds out her motives.

There are some allusions to the source material Hannibal was taken from here. For instance, the scene where Freddie Lounds is set alight and put in a wheelchair echoes a similar scene in Red Dragon (2002). In this movie, Lounds was portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman who suffered the same fate.

We are also shown more of an insight into Mason Verger, and see just how disturbed he is. He has some sessions with Hannibal this episode which shows his true nature.

There is also some surprises in this episode which paves way nicely for the next episode.

By Robert Spence

Fargo – Season 1 Episode 4 – Eating the Blame – Review

This episode was directed by Randall Einhorn.

Synopsis: This episode begins as a flashback to Minnesota in 1987 where a young Stavros Milos (Carlos Diaz) is driving with his family. It is quickly established that they have no money, and suddenly their car stops due to them running out of gas. Out in the snow Milos prays to God for help when he sees something hidden in the snow. Upon inspection he finds a briefcase filled with money. We then fast forward to the present day where we see Oliver Platt playing the modern day Milos.

En route to an incident, Gus spots Malvo and seizes his chance. As he let Malvo away in a previous episode, he arrests him and takes him to the station. However, Malvo has something up his sleeve which complicates things for Gus.

Meanwhile, Lester’s hand is giving him further pain. He is then kidnapped by Mr Numbers and Mr Wrench as they have some special plans for him.

Overall, I enjoyed the latest instalment of the show. This episode seems to pay homage to some of the elements that were in the Fargo movie. Firstly, the briefcase of money Milos finds appears to be the same money Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) hid previously. This wraps up this urban myth about the money nicely, and explains how Milos began to build his wealth.

I also see similarities with Mr Numbers, Mr Wrench, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsud (played by Peter Stormare in the movie). They seem much of the same characters with some differences. There is also a scene where they try and murder someone after making a hole in the ice, which draws parallels with the original movie.

However, original movie aside, this episode continues the story nicely. We see the relationship progression of Molly and Gus, as well as Malvo going a step further to avoid being caught.

By Robert Spence

Fargo – Season 1 Episode 3 – A Muddy Road – Review

This episode was directed by Randall Einhorn.

Episode Synopsis: The episode begins with Lorne Malvo entering an office and dragging an accountant into the parking lot. He puts him into the trunk half naked. We quickly establish that this is the man that escaped in episode 1. We identify that after he eludes Malvo, he freezes to death. This quickly gets the attention of Molly who has been investigating this. As a result. She sees camera footage of Malvo’s face.

Malvo locates the blackmailer from last episode and identifies him as the fitness instructor. In order to further provoke Stavros, Malvo says he is taking over the blackmail.

Gus confesses that he let Malvo away. As a result, he informs Molly in person and has dinner with her and his daughter Greta. It also surfaces that it was Lester’s car Malvo took, but strangely had not reported it.

Lester returns to work, and is told to visit Gina Hess in order to arrange the insurance payment. This results in some interesting circumstances. Donna also visits Lester at work and purposely drops the picture of Malvo to see what his reaction will be. Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench also make an appearance.

This episode further displays Malvo’s continuing influence on the events occurring, and displays how dangerous he can be. With Donna now having a picture of his face, however, it should only be a matter of time before he is in her grips.

In this episode, the viewer is allowed more of an insight into Donna. I really warmed to her this week in a way I had not with previous episodes. I liked her interaction with Gus, and I am curious as to how this will pan out.

The show is now beginning to gain some momentum as a result of Donna getting closer to finding out what really happened.

By Robert Spence

Fargo – Season 1 Episode 2 – The Rooster Prince – Review

This episode is directed by Adam Bernstein and written by Noah Hawley.

Episode Synopsis: After the murder of some of the town’s residents, suspicion is mounting against Lester from police officer Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman). She is determined to find the truth and thinks Lester knows more than he is letting on. However, new police chief Bill Olson (Bob Odenkirk) has a difference of opinion.

Due to the murder of Hess, members of the Fargo Crime Syndicate, Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) and Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) arrive looking for his killer.

We also gain insight into police officer Gus Grimly’s (Colin Hanks) life. Gus let Malvo away last episode despite knowing there was something not right about him.

In this episode, Malvo is hired to find out who is blackmailing Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), the “Supermarket King” of Minnesota.

This episode seems to focus less on Lester, and more on other characters within the town. Within this one episode, there is a lot going on, and an array of characters introduced – some never seen before. Despite the fact this is the case, it never does seem rushed and is very much a slow burner.

The strain of suspicion is beginning to affect Lester, and I am very intrigued to see how this season will pan out for him. There are some nervy scenes where Molly is asking Lester questions about what happened, and the tension can really be felt.

The introduction of Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench introduces some more dark humour to the show, and they do not seem like they are going anywhere fast.

I am a fan of Adam Goldberg and Bob Odenkirk, and they seem like they are in everything these days. This is obviously a testament to the acting talent they display.

Fargo has been quite impressive so far, and I recommend watching this.

By Robert Spence

Hannibal – Season 2 Episode 9 Shiizakana – Review

This episode was directed by Michael Rymer.

Episode Synopsis: After the savage murder of a truck driver, Will Graham investigates what happened as he continues his therapy with Hannibal. The episode begins with Will having a dream about killing Hannibal. We are then introduced to Jack Crawford and Hannibal having dinner. Hannibal tells Crawford that he can no longer discuss details of Will and his therapy sessions.

Due to the animalistic nature of the truck driver murder, the team think that this could be someone using an animal to kill the victims, and the team begin to look at this further.

As the episode progresses, Will is approached by Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle), one of Hannibal’s other patients. She asks him about his therapy, as Hannibal has provided her with some controversial advice regarding killing. We also find out that the murderer this episode has some unique history with Hannibal.

This is the best episode I have seen this season, and I was entertained all the way through. Will and Hannibal’s complex relationship continues, and the conclusion of this season is in sight. Randal Tier (Mark O’Brien) is impressive as the main serial killer Will is hunting this episode, and Mads Mikkelsen/Hugh Dancy are also impressive as always.

One criticism I do have, however, is the use of Will’s unique gift to solve murders. There are times where I find this a little frustrating, as this could seem as a cop out. For instance, when Will views a murder scene, and as a result can tell exactly what happened. In this episode, Tier is using a type of suit to kill his victims in this animalistic nature. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this at the crime scene other than Will having a feeling. I felt this was a bit of a cop out.

However, having said this, the show is consistently good and I highly recommend this episode.

By Robert Spence