A very eclectic grouping of titles this week for The Shelf, and a thing I never thought I’d see in all of my years of reviewing stuff. Actually, it seemed pretty plausible, I just didn’t think the company in charge of it was going to do it. But they did, and I’m surprised. Anyway, first, a great movie by a really great filmmaker.
By and large, I don’t read the books that get turned into movies before the movie comes out. I’m behind the times like that. The last time I really tried was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and that lasted about a week. All of this is to say that I never have to worry about being disappointed by a movie because the book was better, and I also never get what a story is before I see the movie. I can go in as fresh as fresh can be. All I had to go one for David Fincher’s Gone Girl was the trailer, which is deft at creating a compelling mystery. But the trailer doesn’t accurately depict what the movie is going to be, and that’s a very good thing. I didn’t know what kind of movie I was getting into, but once I got turned on to it, it completely changed my viewing experience. Few films, or stories at all, can do that.
Based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay (changing bits of it, I’m told), Gone Girl is a twisted and twisty mystery that constantly unfolds while the audience’s sympathies shift between the two main characters for most of the running time. And it’s not a small running time, either; just about 2 and a half hours. Lots and lots of things go on, and the movie changes the kind of movie it is several times before the end, becoming tonally different depending on the situation. It’s hard to know what to make of it and even at the end I wasn’t sure.
It’s hard to talk too much about Gone Girl without giving a lot away, but it’s a movie that rewards those willing to go along with its winding road of a storyline. It makes sense that Flynn adapted her own novel because it plays very much like a book you’re watching, with the different chapters truly feeling like a break in the action and a shift to another part of the story. It also has some dialogue that might look good on a page but doesn’t really sound too great, or realistic, spoken aloud. However, I’m not sure anything about this movie is meant to be realistic, despite the at times very grim subject matter.
I have to say I enjoyed Gone Girl, but it definitely wasn’t the movie advertised. I found myself laughing a lot more than I ever expected to and I really enjoyed all of the performances. If you’re expecting another Seven or Zodiac or even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you’re probably going to be left cold, but if you go where the story takes you, and you buy into the world in any fashion, I think you’re going to have a wicked good time.
Gargoyles Season 2 Volume 2
One of my favorite TV shows growing up was Disney’s Gargoyles, which was launched as an answer to Warner Bros. and FOX Network’s Batman: The Animated Series, i.e. a dark action cartoon. Instead of making a typical superhero show, though, Disney offered up a modern fantasy romantic epic with monsters of old facing technology of today. Stone by day and warriors by night, a clan of Gargoyles protected a 10th Century Scottish castle until they were betrayed and all but a small handful remained un-smashed. A vengeful, and then remorseful, magician curses the Gargoyles to remain stone forever, unless the castle is raised high above the clouds. 1,000 years later, a billionaire industrialist named Xanatos pays to have the castle brought to New York City and placed atop his massive skyscraper, high above the clouds. The spell is broken, and they live again, to protect Manhattan from evil both magical and not.
Anyway, that’s the premise of the show. It lasted for a couple of seasons before it was moved to Saturday morning and revamped under the title Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles. But creator Greg Weisman’s two-year arc was really fantastic. The first season was released on DVD in 2004 and the first half of the second season was released a year later. But I guess those didn’t sell too well because Disney abandoned the idea of releasing the rest of the second season. WHAT?! Why would they do that? They eventually made it, a barebones affair, available exclusively to members of their Movie Club for a hefty price, but now, folks, finally us plebs with a ten spot can get the end of the series, a decade after the first half of Season Two came out. Sweet Jesus.
Boardwalk Empire Season 5 – The final 8 episodes in the exploits of Nucky Thompson and his Atlantic City “business” dealings.
The Facts of Life – All 209 episodes of the sitcom in which a group of girls living in a boarding school (and then later working at the most ’80s of ’80s shops) learn to take the good, take the bad, and take them both. For some reason.
A Walk Among the Tombstones – Liam Neeson is Liam Neeson in the Liam Neeson Story.
Two Faces of January – Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac star in this twisty version of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller novel.
Fitzcarraldo – Director Werner Herzog’s most ambitious film, and his best collaboration with his best fiend Klaus Kinski, this 1982 movie depicts the real story of a crazy-loon millionaire in the early-20th Century who attempts to bring opera to the Amazon by trekking a riverboat up and over a mountain. And Herzog really did all that shit.
At the Earth’s Core – A super silly sci-fi adventure starring Peter Cushing and Doug McClure.