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Ahh David Fincher. Another one of the few directors with little to no stinkers in his filmography. Everything from "Fight Club" to "Se7en" or even the straight-thriller "Panic Room", Fincher has proven to be an incredibly meticulous director. But let me be honest for a second: I am not a big fan of his work. Now, before you grab your pitchforks and torches, let me explain. His narratives for his films have always been solid, but his movies just simply did not stand out amongst the many other films during the 90's. It's only until Fincher delivered, "The Social Network" that I became deeply interested. Alas, Fincher now delivers "Gone Girl", arguably his best film to date.
If you've been keeping up with my personal reviews, It's a no-brainer that I'm not a fan of Affleck's many performances from the past. He has proven that he simply does not have the capacity to act. But couple that actor with Rosamund Pike? The girl from "Die Another Day", the worst movie from the Bond series of all time? That no-named detective that no one cared about in "Jack Reacher"??? Hell, why not throw in Tyler Perry? OMG, they did. And you know what? They were perfectly casted. Let me say that again: They. Were. Perfectly. Casted. I'm not gonna go to full lengths and say that they are commendable actors now, but I will say they were phenomenal in their roles here. "Wait, if they were phenomenal, why aren't they now considered triple A actors then?" Because their personalities as actors fit their characters like an old glove. Perhaps if they were casted as different characters, they wouldn't be as effective. Don't be surprised when Oscar season hits and Pike gets a nomination. She was that commanding.
But surprisingly, the real star of the show is not the actors or the original writer from the book. The real star is Fincher himself. Fincher proved in "The Social Network" that he was able to portray a narrative effectively but at the same time, inject emotions at any given moment. Here, Fincher is masterful. First of all, the film has Fincher's signature dark tones and colors, but man, the cinematography was beautiful. But perhaps the best quality that Fincher crafted was how the movie weaves in and out emotions like butter. At one moment, the director injects a genuine moment of curiosity and the next, he's able to make audience's skin curl with real disgust, but then throws in a curve ball by taking audience's breaths away with palpable tension. It's almost like Fincher is holding a belt of emotions and places it in wherever he wants, whenever he pleases. Fincher wields these emotions and plays it like a true puppeteer all the while having symbolism and a narrative that is so engrossing that the 2 hour and 30 minute run-time zipped by like lightning. He will get the nomination for best director once Oscar season hits. If not, it's without a doubt, a snub.
This is quite possibly the best film to have come out so far in 2014. It's absolutely arresting. One minute, you'll love characters, the next you'll hate them and vice versa. Emotions hit monumental levels and fluctuate all over the place as the impeccably told narrative treads along. With all these powerhouse performances and flawless direction by the likes of David Fincher, "Gone Girl" is elevated high up as the director's best film to date.
I have a confession: I was a Nolan head but am no longer. His earlier films like "Insomnia", "Memento", and "The Prestige", were crafted in Nolan's own distinctive style. But since he dabbled into Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking, he has compromised his fresh vision for an old and redone one. Yes, I admit it: I did not like "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises". Out comes another highly ambitious film -- "Interstellar". Much like many of Nolan's films, "Interstellar"'s plot was shrouded in mystery, so I cautiously bought my movie ticket to see if Nolan took some notes. I can say that the 9-time-movie director has crafted possibly his most mature and emotionally arresting movie to date.
Right off the bat, the visuals are extremely reminiscent to the likes of "2001: A Space Odyssey". Drawing inspiration from one of the most beautifully shot films of all time is not a bad thing whatsoever. The sweeping visuals are jaw droppingly gorgeous and what is even more amazing is that most of these sequences are shot primarily with practical effects.
Yes, at heart, "Interstellar" still remains a blockbuster, and hey, I don't have anything against blockbusters, but if a commendable director begins making blockbusters, he or she's gotta stick to their skills and craft it their own way, not Hollywood's way. I believe Nolan has done that with his latest two movies prior to "Interstellar". But surprisingly, Nolan crafts this film to be a slow burn. Gone are the flurry of quick cuts between Alfred opening an elevator and Gordon stopping a mayor and a judge getting blown and Harvey Dent getting rejected. It worked for "The Dark Knight" as it seemingly meshed well with the theme of "chaos", but it absolutely did not work in "The Dark Knight Rises". Here, "Interstellar" starts from beginning to end in chronological order, giving the film a very natural organic, and mature tone.
But by far the biggest achievement that this film succeeds on are not the outer space, mind blowing shots that twirl around with finesse -- it's the emotional tug with the characters. Nolan has never done character development well for any of his films. I repeat -- never. Just take a look back; "Inception" had a puzzling story that dug into multilayered portions of the narrative that made it fascinating, but the entire core of the film that was about Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mal's relationship had absolutely no weight. Even "Memento", undoubtedly my favorite Christopher Nolan film, had an interesting concept of memory but yet the main character was a character that audiences had no attachment with. Here, Nolan drives the characters home and tugs at the heartstrings so powerfully that I almost choked up. The anchor that hinges this powerful emotional core is Matthew McConaughey's visceral performance. His presence coupled with the superb direction and Hans Zimmers score (quite possibly his best score he's ever made) makes the close-to-3-hour-film zip by super fast.
It's where the 3rd act begins is where many people have issues with "Interstellar". Now as of today, I have rated close to 600 films via Flixster and quite possibly on every single one of my reviews have I never actually talked about the details of the film itself nor have I criticized certain plot turns that films take (other than "The Game" by David Fincher). The plot can take a turn this way or that way but that is not what dictates a good or bad movie. So the common misconception many have is that people are having issues of where the actual narrative takes them. I am here to say regardless of what specifically happened in the 3rd act, it is a design choice. I still believe that the WAY it was told was still excellently crafted. It all comes down to the audience's suspension of disbelief. Yet, I'll have to admit -- "Interstellar"'s 3rd act could've ended 10 minutes shorter. There is a certain part of the movie where if "Interstellar" ran the credits, the movie would be stellar (no pun intended). But because Nolan ties up any kind of loose ends, the ending feels too much like a neatly wrapped present.
Hope has risen once again. After being disappointed by recent Nolan films, I was pleasantly surprised by "Interstellar". It kept me gripped to my seat waiting to see what would happen next. Nolan has proven that he does not need to solely rely on an extremely witty premise for his narrative; he's proven here that he is equipped with the ability to concoct deeply interesting characters in a marvelously mysterious and deeply imaginative universe.
The critically-acclaimed and wildly popular foreign film, "The Raid" was a massive success -- critically acclaimed and wildly popular amongst many moviegoers both American or non-American. So why not make a sequel? Who didn't see this coming? You know, I'm surprised to say it myself, but I was not a fan of the first iteration; for a film that was almost 90% action, the fight choreography was not inventive and extremely repetitive. Well, with a sequel now out receiving huge rave once again, I had to give this soon-to-be trilogy a second chance.
Now one would immediately think that before seeing "The Raid 2", they'd have to watch its predecessor. You're absolutely wrong. The only snippet of story the first iteration has is the beginning 10 minutes of the film. The rest is a knuckle-bashing frenzy. So for a film that is positively reviewed despite being a senseless action flick, one would probably think the sequel wouldn't take any risks and emulate the same formula. What ain't broke, don't fix, am I right? But I'm proud to say that "The Raid 2" not only takes a huge gamble to attempt to portray a compelling crime drama coupled with mixed martial arts action, but it succeeds in doing so.
"The Raid 2" is almost a completely different film to its earlier iteration and it's all for the better. For instance, the cinematography -- its gorgeous, done with purpose, and expertly shot. In times of silence and even in times of lightning fast flurries of kicks, elbows, and punches, the film is stunning to look at. Perhaps the greatest change though is how the entire film caters to its core story of deception and violence. Before? Pff, I wouldn't even be able to tell you the story of the first cause there was hardly ever one. Here, the story works which then is followed up with what everyone's looking forward to -- the martial arts action. It truly delivers especially because the story's tension elevates it to such greater heights than its predecessor ever did. Is there as much action as the first? No, but quality is better than quantity, and boy it's like eating a filet mignon here instead of a cheap steak from Denny's. The fighting choreography still remains somewhat the same from the first but because of the narrative and the camerawork, it carries much more weight and better pacing.
"The Raid 2" was world's better than the first. From the arresting story, to the beautiful camerawork, to the action, I thoroughly enjoyed my time. No longer will this soon-to-be trilogy continue on to be a mindless action franchise. It's won me over.