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Gone Girl

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gone girl posterDirector: David Fincher

Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Emily Ratajkowski, Neil Patrick Harris

Released: 2nd October 2014 (UK)

Reviewer: Max Lami

David Fincher, with Gone Girl, continues his methodical destruction of the symbols of an ideal America. In this suffocating atmosphere’s thriller, the themes of the couple and the media machine are dismantled and dissected with cynicism. His feature film is also, thanks to  the excellent Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, a new opportunity for the film director to give women power. Just after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the film embarks a “mister nobody” in an enormous vicious spiral after the mysterious disappearance of his wife.

Throughout his filmography, David Fincher was both praised by the public and criticised for the thriller. Like Alfred Hitchcock in his time, Fincher constantly worked on the genre, brining each film its own lot of findings that clearly set him apart from the competition. For his sixth adaptation of a novel on the big screen, his gaze is on the best seller of 2012 Gone Girl written by Gillian Flynn.

If the story, about the disappearance of a woman in a peaceful suburb of Missouri, already provides a good basis for an effective thriller, what can be said about Fincher’s directing? How did this filmmaker make the story his own? Gone Girl fits perfectly into the universe of Fincher and shares many themes and obsessions that are present in his other movies.

Whilst Fincher is true to the original work of the book, the film is notable for its chronology of the events. It opens on the most fundamental moment of the story: the morning of the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike). This then descends into revelations of a disintegrating couple, putting in parallel the beginnings of the investigation with flashbacks in the voice of Amy.

A life that promised to be idyllic, between this young New York princess and a good guy from the countryside of the Middle West, that gradually turns into a nightmare ultimately resulting in the drama of July 5, 2012.

We see the small town of North Carthage wake up. With soecific digital ice photograph, already developed by David FIncher and Jeff Cronenweth in previous movie collaborations,  director and conductor establish a blanket of secrecy for this world.

Because whilst Gone Girl is the story of Amy Dunne’s disappearance, it is specifically the story of suspicion towards Nick (Ben Affleck), her husband, whom many quickly name as responsible.

The rumor and clues accumulating against him, Nick Dunne will have to confront the media, portrayed by David Fincher as a power eager machine desperate for the slightest scoop, regardless of frenzy or human emotion.  If the media are considered (and consider themselves) as the fourth power, its power has increased tenfold as the race for the ratings has become an addiction for all media, turning into a real amnesic machine to crush human beings.

Fincher uses the media as a commentary on the US addiction, like most societies, to instantaneous information, regardless of the original role of journalism, supposedly there to take a step back and give thoughtful and objective advice on the facts. But the great journalists have given way to the newswires, in search of an easy-to-understand story: an innocent victim and a cold-blooded murderer.

The intelligence of Fincher in this, his last feature, is the extension of this reflection outside the frame of the film. In fact the movie’s promotion also played this game of oversimplifying information, feeding us with clues against this clumsy, fugitive, and ultimately bad-tempered figure beautifully embodied by Ben Affleck. This criticism of American society fits well with the rest of Fincher’s filmography, adding Gone Girl to this corpus of another America.

It seems David Fincher has an obsession with a malignant and systematic destruction of the great figures of America, those values on which the United States has long relied on. In 1999, Fight Club tackled front-end consumer capitalist society. In 2010, The Social Network portrayed the society of isolation of elites from the major universities that control the country. And with the series of House of Cards, where the image of Washington politicians is cynically chipped under the guise of Kevin Spacey.

However, David Fincher’s vision has gradually become more mature. While in Fight Club he was proposing to remake the world with the naive ardor of a young alter globalist, Gone Girl focuses on a couple, but possesses as much, if not more, strength in his speech. The staging of the filmmaker reflects this evolution. Fewer effects and more editing seem to be the key to his latest film, playing with overdrive and fades to black.

In this film, Fincher dispensed with long sequence shots, or crane shots, useless to tell his story. The story of a man who is the victim of a media harshness, but especially the story of a carefully prepared revenge, revealed as a surprise to all except those who read the book when Amy Dunne appears alive and healthy in her car after the first hour of the movie. If the presence of women has always been strong in Fincher’s films, it has recently transformed into a seizure of power over men. Nick Dunne finds himself alone, mistreated in a world of women who have power, and all the men he meets will only be able to attest to their inferior position.

Even worse for the poor Nick, while he has to repent in public about his own private behavior, he turns out to be the target of a machination orchestrated by his wife. With his adaptation of the book by Gillian Flynn, David Fincher turns the image of a weak woman, always the victim, to an icy and calculating predator. Ready for the worst sacrifices to achieve her ends.

Ultimately though, Amy Dunne is a woman overwhelmed by a fictional character invented by her parents. This “Amazing Amy” who has succeeded everywhere she has failed. Pushing her to invent her own extraordinary story where Nick Dunne takes the role of the villain. However, the denouement of Gone Girl breaks here another key value of the “Perfect America”, and its American dream. According to Fincher, the figure of the ideal couple seems to exist only in falsehood and unspoken. Once the terrible truth breaks out between the two, only the malaise and sadness persist behind this artificial image of triumphant love.

This is the Machiavellian vision of America woven by the filmmaker during the whole movie. The talent of storyteller is no longer to be demonstrated, and the direction of his casting is quite brilliant. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike literally steal the screen. The same applies for Neil Patrick Harris, whose game is completely purged of the automatic mimics for which he is known. Ben Affleck has finally found the perfect role for his plasticized beauty, curiously neutral. And no one has ever played a “missing” person as present or as memorable as Rosamund Pike, the divine revelation of the film. In this waltz, it is her who sets the place.

Writer from the UK. Passionate about cinema, music, art, politics and french food.

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Features

How Casinos Can Improve a Movie

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When it comes to movie themes, you got them all. From war movies to romance films, there is something for everybody. However, the gamble theme is not often present but some casino scenes really mattered. For example, the roulette ball in Casablanca that landed on 22 two times, all this was possible thanks to the rigged roulette. 

Another example is found in the movie 21. This movie is mainly made after a book called Bringing Down the House and just like the movie, it’s about a group of students “robbing” a casino playing Blackjack. Actually, the robbing process consists in one person taking a seat at a Blackjack table and that person just counts the cards. After a while, their friend joins knowing which cards were already played. As expected, they get caught and the action begins.  

Daniel Craig and Casino Royale 

If it’s not already obvious, these examples cannot go further without mentioning Daniel Craig starring as a MI6 agent in the movie Casino Royale. This movie was not like any other James Bond films. Firstly, the new actor had blond hair and blue eyes. This new look was not welcome at all especially for die hard 007 fans. Daniel Craig had nothing in common with the previous agents such as Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan. Moreover, back in 2005, right before the Casino Royale release, many fans were sure that Daniel will ruin the series. In fact, Casino Royale ended up being one of the best James Bond movies ever.  

After all, some changes were needed so the movie can have a fresh feeling. If we got used to every James Bond movie starting with the same scene, Casino Royale made it different. Until then, every single film started with a gun barrel sequence in which James walks in a white room, he turns, then fires and the blood drips down the screen. In the new 007 film, the movie starts with a black and white scene and at the end of this sequence, when we think that its first victim is dead, Daniel turns around then fires and we have the first gun barrel scene.  

As an illustration on the movie name, there are three poker scenes that make this film better. The first one has a well made old-fashion feel that is mainly made through the dissolve process. This technique was usually seen in the 80s and is a post-process film editing that makes the transition from one image to another.  

The second poker game is when Le Chiffre destroys James. Right after this game, there is a sequence that lets the agent sit alone on the table with nothing left, making the MI6 agent more natural. This is a high contrast with all the old cliché movies where James Bond was invincible. Further, Daniel gets poisoned by Le Chiffre but the secret agent survives by using the defibrillator from his car. Then he comes back and says ”I’m sorry, that last hand, killed me”.   

Like I said, casinos can be a good way to improve a movie. Also, land-based casinos suffered many changes over the years. Like most casinos that are now using online and mobile platforms. For about 400 years, casinos were just ”gamble houses”, but now they adopted new technologies. The most important change was of course, the online platforms which made it possible to enjoy casino games from the comfort of our house.  

For few years know, these virtual gamble houses started to show up everywhere. Moreover, there is a new online British casino called Admiral Casino and has a wide variety of fruit machines. In addition, their app is present on the App Store and you can now play slots like Sizzling Hot and Golden Sevens. Both games have 5 reels and are made by Novomatic. As has been noted, casinos made their contributions in many areas and now, thanks to the mobile technology they can be taken in your pocket. 

 

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Sequels Deliver at the Box Office

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Jurassic World was a gigantic hit in 2015, in fact, at a worldwide gross of $1,671,713,208 it remains the 5th highest grossing film of all time just behind Infinity War and The Force Awakens. That’s impressive for any franchise, let alone one long considered extinct. 

With its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, currently dominating the box office, it is worth looking at just how well sequels tend to do, the mixed fortunes they find themselves in, the biggest success stories and some considerably embarrassing failures. 

Fallen Kingdom hasn’t been a big hit with the critics (51% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 71% for the first film) but this evolution of the series has still resonated with audiences, currently sitting at $932,387,335 and very likely to pass the hallowed billion dollar mark in the next week or so. A billion dollars is nothing to be sniffed at but there is still every chance the studio will consider it something of a failure that it was unable to eclipse its predecessor. 

A few other franchises worth examining; 

Fast and Furious 

A franchise that rose from the ashes of almost going straight to DVD, with the 7th installment staking its claim in the big leagues, ironically 7th highest of all time, but when Fate of the Furious came just two years later, it made close to $300 million less. Is that audiences simply getting sick of cars doing ridiculous things, or something else? Fast 7 was unfortunately bolstered by the death of star Paul Walker, giving it increased media attention. 

Star Wars 

As previously mentioned, The Force Awakens is one of the biggest box office hits of all time, and whether or not it will be unseated in third place by Infinity War is almost too close to call but it will be incredibly close. 

But it terms of diminishing returns, The Last Jedi made over $700 million less than The Force Awakens. Why is that? The answer for this one is pretty simple, The Force Awakens was such a huge, once in a generation event, that it wasn’t going to happen a second time. Not that The Last Jedi’s box office is low, it sits at 11th of all time. 

But Star Wars has a different problem, it is now a series that digresses from the main saga and moved into spin off territory. Rogue One was a big hit, being a member of the billion dollar club, but Solo, a film plagued with production troubles, has really struggled, pulling in a fairly weak $368,879,115. The blame for this lies in the release window, with Infinity War still making good change, and Deadpool the week before, Solo hit in the middle of one of the most crowded summers in recent memory, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom snapping quickly at its heels. 

What is considered a success or a failure in these terms anyway? It’s hard to know for sure. Sony’s second attempt at the Spider-Man franchise (Amazing Spider-Man if you find all these Spider-People confusing) was a decent hit, and the sequel only made $50 million less but was considered such a failure by Sony that they ended up handing the character back to Marvel. Which we can all agree was the right thing to do. But just $50 million was enough to make them wonder, not the other $650 million it made. Sequels are expected to make more money. 

Now, one last point. The highest grossing film of all time?  

Avatar. $2,787,965,087.  

That will probably never be beaten. Avatar 2 has a release date of December 18th 2020. Will it come anywhere close to the first film? This seems unlikely. Or maybe not, James Cameron should never be counted out, he might very well end up with the top 3 highest grossing films of all time. Or will Star Wars Episode 9, which goes into production this week, come back with a bang and topple Cameron’s big blue cat people? 

Only time, and a lot of money, will tell. 

 

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Features

Cinema FOMO

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FOMO; the fear of missing out. Defined in 2015 by the Oxford English Dictionary as, ‘anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’.

It’s true that in our online, digitally driven world, FOMO is thriving on a global scale, however that doesn’t mean it’s a new phenomenon. Throughout cinematic history, audiences have craved a shared experience, using quotes and characters as shorthand in their own conversations. No-one wants to be left out of the discussion.

Even in this technological age, the world’s leading film magazine Empire, remains an important and relevant source in the world of film journalism and with its much-loved features and interviews with Hollywood’s A-List, you can avoid serious FOMO by joining their subscription service today, meaning you’ll never miss a review or important update from the world of film.

When the teaser trailer for Black Panther landed, it was viewed 89 million times in just 24 hours. It was the most tweeted about movie in 2017 (before it was even released) and has gone on to become the most tweeted about film ever made. People wanted to be a part of the #BlackPanther and #Wakanda phenomenon and Twitter gave them the community they desired, adding in Q&A specials and a Black Panther custom emoji.

But what about before the dawn of Twitter? Back in the dark depths of 1999, a little film called The Blair Witch Project dropped. Using the internet, online forums went mad with leaked rumours about a film created from the found footage of three missing filmmakers. The accompanying website presented credible back stories and realistic style news interviews. Missing person leaflets were also distributed to enhance the story. (Spoiler alert; if you don’t already know, it was all entirely fictional). At the time however, this clever and original marketing fed directly in to our FOMO receptors.

But what if we take social media and the internet out of the equation. Do we travel back to a pre FOMO time? The truth? Absolutely not, so you can put the DeLorean away.

Back in 1961, Alfred Hitchcock released Psycho. Whilst his reputation was already established, this was a self financed film, so a lot was riding on its success. He made the decision not to screen for critics first, meaning audiences got to see the film at the same time, with no preconceptions. He refused cast interviews and to pump curiosity, issued an edict that nobody would be allowed in to cinemas after the picture began. Would you want to be the only one not to know what was happening inside the Bates Motel? Absolutely not. People flocked, queues stretching around the block to ensure they experienced this new cinematic milestone. Quite simply, FOMO struck again.

In truth, it’s an innate human desire to want to belong and regardless of marketing, it doesn’t get much better than sharing the joy of a cinematic experience with friends.

 

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