Tuesday, 28 October 2014

One Page on Comedy

I'm pissed.

I just came out of the cinema after watching "The Inbetweeners 2". Two weeks ago, I watched "Think like a man too". Both of these movies claim to be comedies. They do have all the stuff that makes a comedy too, I suppose. The Inbetweeners features four pathetic losers looking for sex. Sounds a bit harsh, but I can't put it any other way. It's American Pie with Brits in Australia. It's also complete and utter shit. "Think like a man too" is somehow even worse, a Vegas comedy that features Kevin Hart, a token white couple and no jokes.

Comedy these days has become the laziest genre in Hollywood. Even worse than Horror, which is already terrible. These days, filming a comedy means either having someone like Kevin Hart do a stand-up routine in front of a rolling camera or lightly editing a bunch of people improvising. There is actually going to be a rerelease for "Anchorman 2", same movie, completely different jokes.

That doesn't necessaryly have to be bad. "Anchorman" has a cast full of funny people, there is no denying that. If it works, it works. But sadly, most of the time it doesn't, and even then, it's still lazy. Yes, Kevin Hart may be a funny guy, but seeing him in a movie reminds me of Chris Rock. He's rather funny in the movies he's in, but in the end, it's just an extrapolation of his on-stage persona, which is a million times funnier. To make a really funny movie, you need more than a funny actor.

You need a funny director, a funny screenwriter, a funny soundguy, a funny props department. In every other genre it seems to be understood that a movie is more than just the person on-screen. Most comedies these days forget that.

Now I don't expect every director to be Edgar Wright, who is the best comedy director these days, by far. But you don't need to be an expert in framing, the use of music or witty match-cuts. Just show a little bit more creativity.

There are still some people out there that make good comedies, and luckily they have great success doing it, so I'm not giving up on the genre. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the Coen brothers, recently Martin Scorsese and arguably Quentin Tarantino all know how to amuse an audience with more than just a string of bad jokes.

At this point I could list some of those ways, but someone else, who knows much more about movies than I do, has already done it better, so here's a link: Every Frame A Painting

Remember when we had movies like "Airplane!", "The Naked Gun" or "Top Secret!"? You might think these movies are pretty funny, but dated and kind of stupid... I know I used to do that. But then again, have you seen Scary Movie? You could go for the movies that actually tries to be inventive,
Compare this to this and tell me which is funnier.

So yeah, I'm done with boring comedies. The whole idea of the genre is to entertain, and if your movie can't manage that, then you should consider a different line of work Tim Story. And I know that tastes are different, but quality stays the same.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Gone Girl

"It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting." This is the kind of story we are dealing with here, neatly summed up in one quote from the book. Unreliable narration indeed.

"Gone Girl" is David Finchers new thriller, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. It follows Nick Dunne, who comes home on his fifth wedding anniversary to find his wife Amy missing and his living-room showing signs of struggle. And from that we find ourselves right in the middle of a mistery. We get to know more about their past from Amys diary and that's about all one can safely say. Anything else goes into spoiler-territory, and we haven't left the first twenty minutes of the movie yet.

Being unable to talk about the plot can prove to be difficult for a review, but this being a David Fincher movie, there is a lot else to talk about.

For one thing, the casting is perfect. Ben Affleck channels all the media backlash he has faced over the years, especially after his casting as Batman in the upcoming "Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice", into his portrayal of Nick, who becomes the focus of a nation-wide media event, debating whether he is responsible for his wifes disappearence or not. He once again shows that he is one of the most talented people working in Hollywood these days. But among all the twists and turns this movie has to offer, Rosamund Pike is probably the greatest surprise. Her performance is completely captivating and already generated some Oscar buzz, so we might see a nod for best actress there.

The support cast is just as strong, from the surprisingly captivating turn by newcomer Carrie Coon as Nicks sister, to Neil Patrick Harris playing against his usual type as an ex-lover of Amy. A special mention has to be given to Tyler Perry, who plays Nicks lawyer and manages to inject some really funny scenes into the movie.

This movie is constructed meticulously, as can be expected from Fincher, who is one of the greatest directors working in Hollywood these days. The first act introduces all of the different elements of this story, the Dunnes, Nicks relationship with his sister, the actual disappearance, the media, the whodunnit aspect, and a few more. One after another, the movie takes its time, so we are familiar with everything when it starts to pull the rug out from under us in the second act.

Fincher is famous for his use of the camera as an omniscient observer to the story, instead of a person in the room. He knows how to use camerawork to show relationships and illustrate more than just the action on-screen. In this case, observe how the camera never takes the perspective of the media. We never see a newscast or an interview fill the screen. Clearly, Fincher doesn't think the media has the same omniscience that his camera possesses. It is this kind of depth that makes Fincher so good at his job.

Add to that Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross once again on soundtrack duties, giving every scene exactly the kind of surreal edge it needs. And even in a movie that is basically very grounded, Fincher and his longtime cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth find amazing visuals.

It should be noted that the tone of this movie is different from what you see in a lot of other movies. The movie does not come with a big climax, it actually slows down towards the end. That has been put against it by a lot of critics, and I can't really disagree with it. The end of this story just isn't very cinematic. At the same time, I can't really see another way this could go. Furthermore, the characters have some cartoonish strokes to them, which takes some getting used to. But once again, this is used to make them more applicable to some of the themes this movie explores, which I would love to go into in detail but can't without giving away anything.

Overall, this movie is so many things, it's hard to summarize. It is a dark comedy, social commentary, a snapshot of life after the death of the American Dream, but most of all, it is an amazing movie. It might be the best thriller we get all year, so go watch it while it's still in theaters.