Classy and Fabulous: Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014)

The following is an expansion of a Twitter-conversation the three authors–Ryan Holt, Evan Cogswell, and Nathanael Booth–had shortly after seeing Gone Girl. Spoilers should be assumed.


Introduction: Expectations and First Impressions


David Fincher and I have not always gotten along. For me, The Game and The Social Network rank among the best films of their respective decades, but too often I find that Fincher’s misanthropy tumbles into cheap, smug cynicism, and that his severe aesthetic can be so relentless that it can be suffocating. Nevertheless, there’s something about Fincher you just can’t ignore. Beyond being a craftsman of rare precision, he’s very much a filmmaker of his time. He’s made films that are more than films: they’re cultural landmarks (see Fight Club or The Social Network).

My greatest fear with Gone Girl was that, as with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that Fincher would not significantly improve or alter sub-par source material. Fincher has received some criticism for adapting “airport novels” recently, and I don’t mean to echo that complaint. There’s nothing wrong with “airport novels” as a category. Indeed, with their vivid conceits and images, they are often better-suited to cinematic adaptation than so-called “literary” fiction. But they... Read More

Me and You (Bertolucci, 2014 – SLIFF, 2014)

Me and You is a small and quiet return of Bertolucci to the festival circuit. It has been almost a decade since The Dreamers. The film is much less ambitious in scope than most of his prior work. As a result, critics have been very mixed on whether the film eventually works or not. A Guardian reviewer even quipped that the film is ” a good deal less interesting and dramatic than Home Alone.” But this overly harsh description fails... Read More

A Master Builder (Demme, 2014 – SLIFF, 2014)

Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory shared a simple theatrical frame My Dinner With Andre. The film is quintessential art house cinema, inspired internally by a choice quote from Bergman’s Autumn Sonata. Malle’s two-shot framing also presages a lot of the simplicity that would later characterize American indie cinema – convinced that something other than visual flourish could drive compelling cinema.  They appear again together in... Read More

The Theory of Everything (Marsh, 2014)

The Theory of Everything is a film potentially about so much it runs into the problem of deciding what it has to say. The marriage of Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde is well publicized – the subject of two separate and lengthy accounts by Wilde. The first, Music to Move the Stars gave way a few years later to Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. Marsh’s film is based on the latter, which dialed back the candor of the former.... Read More