Monday, February 22, 2016

Gone Girl

Year 8, Day 53 - 2/22/16 - Movie #2,254

BEFORE: Ben Affleck carries over from "Bounce" and perhaps this selection is going to shock some people.  How can I include this film in a romance chain?  IMDB lists it under "Drama, Crime, Mystery" and isn't it about a guy suspected of killing his wife?  Ah, but it qualifies under "relationship drama", even if it's about a relationship that's gone south.  OK, so maybe I really just need to link back to "Pride and Prejudice", and this film allows me to do that - but I've had questionable material under previous romance chains before, right?  Like, um, "My Own Private Idaho", "Young Adult" or "Blue Valentine"?

Here's the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" line-up for tomorrow, February 23:

Max Baer carries over from "The Prizefighter and the Lady" to:
"The Navy Comes Through" with George Murphy carrying over to:
"Tom, Dick and Harry" with Burgess Meredith carrying over to:
"That Uncertain Feeling" with Eve Arden carrying over to:

"Comrade X" with Oscar Homolka carrying over to:
"I Remember Mama" with Rudy Vallee carrying over to:
"The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" with Don Beddoe carrying over to:
"Cyrano de Bergerac" with Jose Ferrer carrying over to:
"The Caine Mutiny" with Jerry Paris carrying over to:
"Marty" with Betsy Blair carrying over to:
"Kind Lady" with Doris Lloyd carrying over to:
"The Constant Nymph" with Brenda Marshall carrying over to:
"The Sea Hawk"with Claude Rains carrying over to:
"Mr. Skeffington"        

I'm hitting with another 4 today, since I watched "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" in the Cary Grant chain last year, and I saw "The Sea Hawk" 3 or 4 years ago.  "Marty" and "The Caine Mutiny" are two classics that I saw before starting the project, so check those out if you haven't seen them before.  I'm up to 82 films seen, 182 unseen, with 6 on the list.

THE PLOT:  With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.

AFTER: This is one of those cases where a film has a plot twist, as much as I tried to avoid knowing what that was before seeing the film, I was unsuccessful.  The trouble with plot twists is that people talk about them and journalists write about them, and sometimes just even knowing that there is a twist coming is knowing too much.  This one was part of a quiz in some magazine where you had to match each film, like "The Sixth Sense" or "Fight Club" to its twist, and I'd seen 9 out of the 10 films.  Damn, that meant by the process of elimination, I was left with this film and its twist.  Thanks.

Plus, I put the film on DVD and during the process of checking to see if the dub was successful, sometimes I see something that I'm not supposed to see yet, and that's another way that a plot twist can be ruined for me.  But since this is based on a very popular novel, and a lot of people have seen this film already, I could be in the clear.  Still, I'm going to choose my words very carefully.  Just reading the plotline and knowing that a twist is coming is possibly giving away too much already.

It's like someone who's never seen the "Star Wars" films, but who might be familiar with the facts surrounding Luke Skywalker's parentage, and if they asked me to confirm that, as easy as it might be to talk about the basic facts, that's still a major plot twist from Episode 5.  But besides that, in order to fully understand it, you have to get into why Obi-Wan lied to Luke, what midichlorians are, how much influence Senator Palpatine had in the Imperial Senate, and jeez, did you even READ my thesis paper about how Jar-Jar Binks is single-handedly responsible for the downfall of the Old Republic?  That's kind of like "Gone Girl", as it turns out that knowing the twist (or knowing ABOUT the twist) is just the tip of the iceberg.  

This film jumps very liberally around within the timeline, and on an ordinary day, that would drive me absolutely bonkers.  But this serves a purpose here, so that the audience doesn't learn anything before they're supposed to.  I'm not sure if the book does this or not, but at least it's a valid storytelling technique here - yet also a form of manipulation, because juxtaposing various scenes of the husband dealing with his wife's disappearance with scenes of his wife writing very specific entries in her diary is clearly meant to lead me to make certain assumptions, and if I don't make those assumptions, then they can't be confirmed or denied later on.  But at least they always put "Day One" or "Day Five" in the bottom corner of the screen so we'd all know the timeline wasn't linear.

There's a lot of good stuff here about marriage, about how two people can be right for each other, and then very wrong, and what happens over time when people want different things, and then self-doubt starts to creep in.  Negative thoughts have a way of building up if they're not dealt with, and then sometimes unless those people get the proper counseling, they can be a danger to themselves or others.  People lose their jobs, couples argue over money, they have different opinions about whether to have children, people have affairs, and before long, maybe they don't even recognize themselves or their spouse or even understand how they got to where they are.  

Plus there's a condemnation of the 24-hour news cycle and the position that gossip shows and rumor-mongering magazines have with regards to our legal process.  Spot on, if you ask me, since everyone seems to be tried in the court of public opinion these days before they even go to trial.  If "All Good Things" was a fictionalized version of Robert Durst's marriage, this one seems to borrow heavily from the Scott Peterson story.  But then obviously there's a diversion into fiction at some point.   The way that the media jumps all over a high-profile murder case tends to do more harm than good, just ask the guy who was falsely accused of setting that bomb at the Olympics in Atlanta, or check to see if they ever solved the JonBenet Ramsey case.  By reporting everything they learn, with no filter, in a few weeks nobody knows which end is up any more.  

There's a quote I saw the other day, which gets attributed to Dr. Seuss, and it says, "We are all a little weird, and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."  That's true for any relationship story, and it's what ultimately allows me to include "Gone Girl" in the middle of a bunch of romance films.  You'll never really 100% know what's going on inside your spouse's head, and that not knowing can potentially drive you crazy until you finally ask, and even then, you may be sorry that you asked.  

After a week of silly 80's romantic dramas like "About Last Night" and "St. Elmo's Fire", then some more complicated modern films like "Secretary" and "Trainwreck", and some stuffy period pieces like "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility", it turns out that maybe "Gone Girl" was just what I needed to watch.  Maybe you're burned out on romantic comedy too and you need to check this one out (go ahead, I'll wait right here...) Like "Interstellar", which has a similarly long running time, I was invested in the whole thing, I stayed awake for the whole thing, and I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.  And isn't that high praise, in the end?

I'm withholding all NITPICK POINTS tonight because, let's face it, it would be impossible for me to make references to certain things without including spoilers.  Not gonna do it - but I do have them.  Is this film plot possible?  I suppose so.  Is it probable?  Hell, no.  But a point is made when a film goes to the extreme, and rides right up to the point of being unbelievable.  You might see the twist coming, but not the ending, which to me seemed brilliant.  As always, your mileage may vary. 

Also starring Rosamund Pike (last seen in "The Big Year"), Neil Patrick Harris (last seen in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), Tyler Perry (last seen in "Alex Cross"), Kim Dickens (last seen in "Mercury Rising"), Patrick Fugit (last seen in "We Bought a Zoo"), Carrie Coon, David Clennon (last seen in "The Thing"), Lisa Banes (last seen in "Dragonfly"), Missi Pyle (last seen in "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"), Casey Wilson (last seen in "The Guilt Trip") , Emily Ratajkowski, Scoot McNairy (last seen in "12 Years a Slave"), Sela Ward (last seen in "Hello Again"), Lola Kirke, Boyd Holbrook (last seen in "The Skeleton Twins").

RATING: 7 out of 10 board games

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