Big Ben

This week I  put a new spin on reviews of movie reviews by taking a look at those of movies that I have  already seen. I saw the first movie (out of three) last night, outside of Boston:

1. Gone Girl

When in Boston….

Boston Globe

review by Ty Mark Feeney

Gone Girl Ben
Gone Girl Ben

Summary: husband (Ben Affleck) accused of murdering wife (Rosamond Pike) in small town, Missouri.

Skimmable? for the most part. He tries not to spoil it, in fact promises not to, but does hint at a spoiler (spoiler of a spoiler?) that you might catch if you like to read deeply into everything, which is my hobby.

He does, however, give away another movie directed by David Fincher: Zodiac. (I probably wasn’t going to see that movie anyway. It’s too creepy: about the real-life serial killer in 1980’s NY who called himself “Son of Sam.” He lived down the hall from my aunt and uncle in the Bronx.)

Batman Ben
Batman Ben

Bottom Line: 2 out of 5 stars. The script, written by Gillian Flynn, author of the novel (which was all the rage two summers ago, in 2013), made the characters too stilted. Feeney believes Flynn made the dialog too “punchy,” resulting in the characters “sound[ing] like people trying to sound like people in the movies and not quite pulling it off.” (Ya gotta love that description!)

He also says that it’s a “bad sign” when supporting actors are better than the leads (true dat): Tyler Perry as Affleck’s lawyer, Carrie Coon as his twin sister, and Kim Dickens as the police detective on the case.

Funny: He sats that Affleck’s “chiseled” but “distracting” looks serve as a reminder for those-in-the-know that Affleck’s next movie is Batman. I too was distracted by how buff he was, but only because it didn’t seem in sync with the character.

2. The Drop

The Denver Post

review by Lisa Kennedy

tom james
Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini

Summary: As it explains in the beginning of the movie, mobsters designate a bar as their temporary bank at the end of each lucrative night. The bar changes, sometimes circling back. It keeps the police guessing. Tom Hardy plays Bob Saginowki, a bartender for a bar owned by his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini, in his last role). The bar is designated as a bank twice. It’s a thriller with a tiny bit of graphic violence.

Skimmable? YES! More than that, it’s READABLE! Had I not seen the movie, I definitely would have thought that it had too  many spoilers, but I disagree completely with my hypothetical self. What I would have thought were spoilers actually clearly explained the premise of the movie–it would have helped me enjoy the movie even more!

Bottom Line: Great movie with amazing acting.

Barbara’s Take: I couldn’t agree more.

Fun Fact: this is the first film that Dennis Lehane wrote and directed. It is based on his own short story, entitled “Animal Rescue.” Lehane is an author of many crime novels, three of which were made into awesome movies:  Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone, and Mystic River. 

3. The Skeleton Twins

The Toronto Star

review by Peter Howell

Summary: Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play estranged twins, who, after ten years, are suddenly brought together again. Milo is a “failed actor and tragic gay cliché”; Maggie, a “dental hygienist unhappily married to the devoted but dull Lance (Luke Wilson).”

Supporting actor Ty Burrell, Director and Co-writer Craig Johnson, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
Supporting actor Ty Burrell, Director and Co-writer Craig Johnson, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig

Skimmable? No.

The most egregious spoilers concern seminal scenes:

1.  When you see the movie you’ll take in the subtle hints about Milo’s sitch, but until it all comes together in one scene–which Howell describes enough for the audience to understand it from the get-go.

2. Next one: first let me start with a quote from the review: The movie is indeed very funny, especially in the scene destined to become a YouTube staple. It’s the one where…. Howell actually finishes that sentence with a full description of the scene.

Some reviewers need a primer: the beauty of comical moments in a drama is that they are unexpected and give a nice relief in the dramatic tension. So why spoil that? There can be no other answer but to hang your head in shame, Mr. Howell.

Bottom Line: 3 out of 4 stars. He loved it. He says that this movie blurs the line between two genres, drama and comedy, which is an analogy to life itself: Sometimes you have to smile through the tears, and vice-versa.

The characters are so endearing that when the movie “dips into cliche territory, we still love” them.

Interesting: [T]he picture won the U.S. Dramatic Screenwriting Award at Sundance this year, a bit of a misnomer since the prize also extends to comedies.

Coolness: My husband and I saw this movie just after it played at the Sundance Film Festival last spring. It was in Seattle for one night; director and co-writer Craig Johnson was there for a Q and A after the movie. (He is from the area and was visiting friends.)

I asked whether he had originally written the roles for comedic actors. The answer was no. His co-writer and he had originally wrote it with a specific dramatic actor in mind, but when a scheduling conflict came up, Hader and Wiig auditioned….and they were perfect.


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