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Praise Jesus? That’s fucking pushing it! This shit’s about as far from God as shit can get! Either of you ever seen anything like that? You even heard of anything like that? Huh? Me neither… and I watch Animal Planet all the fucking time!

Jenna Fischer as the receptionist for the police station in Slither, © 2006 Gold Circle Films

Jenna Fischer as the receptionist for the police station in Slither, © 2006 Gold Circle Films

Bah, this movie stunk. I love Nathan Fillion and really like Elizabeth Banks, but even their charms could not wipe the slime off this. James Gunn wrote and directed this gross alien invasion of small town flic and it is very far from the quality he achieved in Guardians of the Galaxy. I can see hints, here and there, like the aww-shucks charm of Fillion’s sheriff, but what a boring movie. The only thing exceptional was how disgusting everything looked. That truly is an achievement, even if it probably detracted from my enjoyment of the movie. Full disclosure, I am not a horror movie fan, so maybe this would resonate for horror fans more than it did for me. As this was a horror comedy, and as I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, I thought this might work for me. I guess James Gunn is no Edgar Wright, but maybe no-one else is. Still my one word review of this movie—Yuck.


Gone Girl



And if that girl only hope is you, well, I pray for her, because she’s gone, girl. Gone.

Affleck in the front at a press conference for his mising wife, © 2014 Gone Girl, New Regency.

Affleck in the front at a press conference for his mising wife, © 2014 Gone Girl, New Regency.

I wanted to start my review by setting it to the tune of “My Favorite Things”, but after “Fincher and Affleck” I felt like every combination I made up did not really work. So, you’re welcome for me not putting you through that. The appeal of using a ditty like that comes from a desire to condense my review into bite-sized morsels. “Reznor’s tense music” seems a lot easier than discussing how the minimalist score made this low on action film seem extremely tense. It was a psychological thriller with the power of Zodiac without a face of evil. I chose that comparison because Zodiac is my favorite David Fincher film and *FAKE SPOILER ALERT* the Zodiac killer never gets caught. In fact, Fincher cast multiple actors to embody the killer to throw us off the scent and to demonstrate that while he might personally believe that so-and-so was the Zodiac Killer, he was not the only potential suspect.

Herein Fincher calls upon his main two actors, Ben Affleck—Argo—and Rosamund Pike—Jack Reacher—as Nick and Amy Dunne, to play multiple versions of themselves. I find that reversal fascinating. On one level, it is the most obvious thing for an actor, one who pretends to be someone whom he or she is not, to show different versions of themselves, but that does not mean that it is easy to pull off. That neither Nick nor Amy were particularly likable fits into Fincher’s wheelhouse. Did you like Mikael Blomkvist or Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Did you like either of the co-creators of The Social Network? I know that I hated Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker. Did you like even one character in Fight Club? The only truly likable character in Se7en winds up with her head in a box. Yes, that’s “what’s in the boxxxxxx!”

Kim Dickens portrays Detective Boney, one of the officials investigating Amy Dunne’s disappearance – and possible murder. Gone Girl.

Kim Dickens portrays Detective Boney, one of the officials investigating Amy Dunne’s disappearance – and possible murder. Gone Girl.

The likable characters, in this film, come in the background. Nick’s sister, Margo, played by Carrie Coon, is a single woman in her late thirties who looks and acts like a single woman, not some sort of sitcom version of what that is. She is supportive, but not a sap. Her life is not perfect, but she is not a sad sack. Tyler Perry hits a triple as Tanner Bolt, Esq., defense attorney to the CNN famous clients of this world. He is excellent as an actor in a way that eclipses his skills as a director. Kim Dickens steals the show as Detective Rhonda Boney. I could not recognize her without a ridiculous hat on her head, as she always was in “Deadwood”. Her performance was a dramatic version of Frances MacDormand’s in Fargo. Her slightly less competent partner, played by Patrick Fugit, kind of annoyed me, but he may have been necessary to appreciate Boney. Neil Patrick Harris was slightly miscast as Amy’s high school boyfriend, because when he first appears in the film and Nick sees him, I assumed that Nick recognized him, so someone less visually flamboyant may have been better. Harris’ performance was excellently creepy, though. Missi Pyle—a parent from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—killed it as fake Nancy Grace. I like Missi Pyle, and would have punched her in the face. So the background characters were hateable too!

Affleck and Pike both took excellently written characters and brought them to life in extremely human ways. Sure, those characters were jerks, but hopefully they get the recognition they deserve for such performances. I have been recommending this film right and left to people that I know. More than any conscious analysis that shows me just how much I enjoyed this film. I cannot wait for the sequel, Gone Girl 2: Goner Girl. But who will play the girl and will she truly be a goner? I have no idea since I just made that up. On some level that seems oddly appropriate.

2014 Fall TV Preview: Thursday

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How to Get Away With Murder (ABC) — I would rather sit through an actual lecture on criminal law than watch this. Much of the main cast portrays law students? Punch me in the stomach, that sounds just awful. If they get it right, that sucks. If they get it wrong, that sucks in a different way. The main character gets to start the first episode by saying, at arraignment, “How are we to know if the confession was coerced or not, your honor?” to which the judge makes bail $1,000,000. That is stupid because if the confession was coerced, she should say so. If it was not coerced, then why imply that it was? The show is supposed to get a little raunchy for primetime ABC, but…it is helmed by Shonda Rhimes. She is the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy”—trashy, briefly interesting medical soap opera—and “Scandal”—classy madness in a series of unethical decisions made by bad people soap opera. No thank you!
Verdict: With a name this bad, I would say canceled quickly, but with Rhimes and Viola Davis this probably makes it two years, maybe three.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) — It’s still on the air.
Verdict: Seriously, this is like the Law & Order of medical programs. Unless that was ER, in which case this is the Law & Order: SVU, soap opera style, of medical programs. Another five years on the air.

Gracepoint (Fox) — I never watched “Broadchurch” (BBC), but I do like David Tennant so I plan to give this American remake a shot. I did the exact same thing for the underrated—and now canceled—”Low Winter Sun” starring Mark Strong. But that was on AMC, which has a better record with dramas than Fox.
Verdict: I plan to actually watch this show, and thus it will most likely be canceled half-way through this first season.


Kate Walsh, on NBC's Bad Judge.

Kate Walsh, on NBC’s Bad Judge.

Bad Judge (NBC) — Where to begin? With the open robe? With the purple top? How it is unbuttoned half way? Or with the black miniskirt? Let’s begin nowhere: the title sucks, Kate Walsh has only successfully done medical soaps, and the promiscuous judge whom I am going to assume is magically brilliant at her job will be an annoying premise.
Verdict: Canceled after one season.

A to Z (NBC) — I was going to say, yay for Parvesh Cheena getting a paycheck, since I have not seen him since “Outsourced,” but Cheena works. A lot. It took like five swipes to get to 2010 on his IMDb page. Oh and each episode is theme around a different letter. If that is what NBC wanted, why did it cancel “Community”??
Verdict: Quickly canceled. Not a judgment on its quality, just its chances for success.

The McCarthys (CBS) — This comedy targets CBS’s main demographic—old white people who love procedurals and Jay Leno humor—with a period piece about Joe McCarthy and how his poor family dealt with the crazy senator as a husband and father in Milwaukee, WI! If only that were true. Instead Laurie Metcalf–”Roseanne”–plays a “passive-aggressive matriarch of a New England clan learning to navigate life with their newly out gay son.” Here’s to waiting for some bland attempts make politically correct gay jokes. Cheers.
Verdict: Renewed late, but then canceled mid-season 2.