There will be an interesting book about the inter-workings of …
Neil Patrick Harris
With just two weeks left in the season, American Horror Story: Freak Show appears to be covering for weak development of its primary characters by introducing new figures and shedding light on previously ignored ones. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris (here, as in Gone Girl, playing a character who’s more Artie Ziff than Barney Stinson), the attempt to develop the milquetoast war veteran Chester in this week’s “Magical Thinking” is no more successful than the depictions of Imma Wiggles or Pepper in the preceding episodes.
It is a crime against the film world to label David Fincher’s newest, ‘Gone Girl,’ with only one word or phrase. There are elements of “thriller” here, an essence of “police procedural.” There’s a teaspoon of “black comedy”, a dash of “recession-related social relevance” and a heaping helping of “media satire”
Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, Gone Girl’s literal translation and loyal adaptation acts as the film’s best friend and worst enemy. Some of the best parts of the novel work great on screen, while others are hard to portray. Since the majority of the audience is fully aware of what’s going on, widespread alterations are inevitably taken with caution, no matter how big or small. If too much of the storyline is given away too hastily, the appeal is lost before its midpoint. Unfortunately for director David Fincher, what’s left is a campy shell of a plot extracted from any remnants of wit and mystery.
Fincher is an expert chemist when it comes to concocting the nastiest tales of cynicism and darkness. Gone Girl may not be the culmination of his efforts to date, but it’s undoubtedly a sinister piece of work. There’s an oppressive air within the film, from its meticulously created soundscape and score (from Fincher alums Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) to its plasticized aesthetic. The cynical attitude is evident from the first frame, as the camera looks at the top of Amy’s (Rosamund Pike) head and Nick (Ben Affleck) says he’d like to “crack [his] wife’s head” to reveal the secrets lying in her labyrinthine brain. From that kickoff, we understand this is not a happy marriage. Maybe Fincher feels no marriages are happy.
Seth MacFarlane has a dirty mind. He tells dirty jokes in occasionally clever, often crude ways, and without remorse. With Family Guy, he exhibits the full extent of his talents in thirty-minute stints to great effect. On the big screen, however, he may need someone to wrangle him in. While Ted (2012) was incredibly entertaining, it occasionally found itself slowing to a crawl. MacFarlane’s latest, A Million Ways to Die in the West, finds itself suffering a similar fate. Though highly entertaining, the film runs too long, leaves many of its characters in the lurch, and doesn’t give nearly enough screen time to its talented roster of actors.