Rosamund Pike

February 21, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Oscar Prediction Podcast (Ep. 40) 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Hooray for Hollywood? Naw, it’s time to skewer Hollywood and rip them and new one, of course while picking the winner’s of this year’s Academy Awards.

The boys go over all the essential categories from Best Score all the way to the grand-daddy of them all; “the award where they could have had 10 nominations, but they decided to go with eight.”

Will “Boyhood” be this year’s big winner? Will “Birdman” fly above the competition? Why was “Gone Girl” only nominated for one award? Why is the Academy in love with films that feature people with disabling diseases?  Is it a fetish that they secretly have that we don’t know about?

All this and much more as the Simplistic Reviews Crew gives Hollywood the old “what-for.”


Show Notes:
Hugh Jackman Hopping At Tony Awards


Music Notes: 

If you’re not interested in our ramblings, just check out our picks below:

Best Animated Feature*
Matt
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: Big Hero 6
DJ
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Justin
Should Win: The Boxtrolls / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
*Matt and DJ know that “The Lego Movie” isn’t nominated, and it’s a crime that it isn’t.
Best Musical Score
Matt:
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
DJ:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
Justin:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: Interstellar
Best Adapted Screenplay/Best Original Screenplay
Matt:
Should Win: Inherent Vice & Birdman / Will Win: American Sniper & Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Whiplash & Birdman / Will Win: Whiplash & Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: The Theory of Everything & The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Sniper & Birdman
Best Cinematography
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Birdman
Best Director
Matt:
Should Win: Boyhood / Will Win: Boyhood
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Best Supporting Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
DJ:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
Justin:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor
Matt
Should Win: Edward Norton / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
DJ:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Justin:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Best Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
DJ:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Justin:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Best Actor*
Matt:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
DJ:
Should Win: Jake Gyllenhaal / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
Justin:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Bradley Cooper
*DJ understands Jake isn’t nominated for “Nightcrawler” but he should have been.
Best Picture
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood

October 4, 2014

Gone Girl (Slight Spoilers)

PIKE

Let’s get something straight before you guys tear my head off, okay?  I love David Fincher.  He is one of the five best directors working today.  There is maybe…maybe…one or two other directors alive that possess the same skill, vision, patience, and attention to detail he does.  His scenes are practically Kubrickian.  No shot in a Fincher film is pointless or a happy accident.  His films seem to always have the texture and feel of a well crafted graphic novel.  That being said…Gone Girl isn’t really about him.  In fact, Gone Girl isn’t exactly an amazing masterpiece.  Hell, it might be my least favorite of his films.  Gone Girl is, at best, a solid mystery turned thriller that doesn’t quite stick the landing.  Now, that is not because of Fincher in my opinion.  Yes, he is still at his directorial best here.  The detail, the delivery, the decision making, all still there and all still top notch.  As I watched the film, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Gone Girl’s story was just a bit beneath him.  It’s a story that we have seen done a thousand times before, either on Lifetime, NBC, or over ten years ago in theaters with actress Ashley Judd.  The film even takes the time to make a Law & Order joke to point out how familiar of a story it is.  It’s a story that Fincher could direct in his sleep.  Short of an amazingly shot sequence involving a sex scene gone wrong, Fincher doesn’t really get to flex his directing muscles as much as they have been in any of his other films.  No, if you really want a reason to see Gone Girl…if you really want to know what the brightest light shining from this film is, I’ll tell you.  It’s the Gone Girl herself, Rosamund PIKE.

Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne.  A seemingly happy couple suddenly torn apart by the disappearance and possible murder of Amy Dunne.  To be fair, I am coming to you as someone who has not read the novel by Gillian Flynn.  So, whatever liberties Fincher has taken with the material, I am not aware of.  I wanted to just watch this film in a vacuum and glean what I could from the overall message.  A message, which might be either the biggest “F%#k You!” to marriage I’ve seen in a film since The War Of The Roses, a commentary that the secrets we keep from those we love will inevitable imprison or kill us, or a warning to be careful of those you love because they could actually be capable of unspeakable things.  In any case, these are not new topics or even a different way to look at these topics.  What stands out to me is the way this story is delivered to us by its stars.

Ben Affleck is solid as the almost too perfect husband with a secret, but admittedly, he plays the part almost the same as the one he had in American remake of State Of Play a few years back.  The exchanges between Affleck’s character Nick and his sister Margo, played exceptionally well by actress Carrie Coon, are the only times where Ben seems to show us something new.  Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens are a little bit on the nose with their showings, but are still entertaining.  Tyler Perry’s role as the Johnny Cochrane-esque defense attorney Tanner Bolt was even well done and fitting. (Perry actually has my favorite line of the film.)  But at the end of the day, the reason anyone will remember Gone Girl is Rosamund PIKE’s performance.

Happy Wife, Happy Life Indeed

It is not just the fact that she out acts each person she’s in a scene with, which she does.  It’s the manner in how PIKE does it.  It is never over the top or cliche.  It’s acting without “acting”.  It’s the wheels turning behind her eyes, the growing coldness and subtle craftiness in her narration, the calm command in which she confronts her marriage and the direction her life takes.  The way she emotes her anguish, fear, and anger through a glance or a smile or a gesture.  Rosamund Pike delivers something here that truly should be seen and hopefully will be honored.  Much like Affleck’s character, I didn’t see it coming.

I am going to keep this review short to avoid spoiling Gone Girl any more than I already have.  The one thing that I hope I get across is that it is not a bad film, but not a groundbreaking masterpiece as some might lead you to believe.  The situation that happens near the end of the film is the most interesting direction the story takes in my opinion, but we only get about 10 minutes of it.  I have no doubt that once you see Gone Girl, the brilliance of Rosamund PIKE’s performance will be the main thing that will stick with you.  Fincher’s always terrific, yet, somewhat untested direction in it will be second.  The story itself will be a distant third.  Wipe that sugar off your lip…don’t leave your Mountain Dew unattended…know your spouse’s bloodtype….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

December 28, 2012

Happy Holidays: Jack Reacher

GRITTY

All my cards on the table.  Christopher McQuarrie is my favorite writer in the business.  He is responsible for creating Keyser Soze and all the other Usual Suspects.  He is responsible for writing and directing my favorite film of all time, The Way Of The Gun.  He is responsible for uncredited rewrites of films that range from the first two X-Men films to The Aviator.  He wrote the new Wolverine film for James Mangold and Hugh Jackman, assisted on Jack The Giant Killer for Bryan Singer, probably gonna do Mission: Impossible 5 for Tom Cruise, and all of this for good reason.  McQuarrie’s dialogue, his storytelling technique, his characters all just sing to me.  He makes modern atypical stories feel GRITTY, pulpy and classic.  So, I was very excited when I heard he was adapting Lee Childs’s best selling novel One Shot.  A story about an Ex Military Investigator trying to solve a brutal mass murder.  After watching, I felt completely satisfied.  However, my biases are clearly noted and I knew what I was getting into.  I can see where someone not on the McQuarrie bandwagon and unaware of the actual plot of the film going in could complain.  However, love or hate Jack Reacher, its GRITTINESS is without question.

Advertising can make or break a film.  Done right and you can break opening day records with a film that has Sam Jackson yelling at snakes while on a commercial flight.  Done wrong and you can alienate and mislead your audience with unfulfilled expectations of what they think your film will be.  I personally think the advertising for this film was done wrong.  Watching the trailer for Jack Reacher  makes you think that it is a balls to the wall action film.  It isn’t.  Jack Reacher is a mystery thriller with some very GRITTY action scenes seasoned in.  A crappier version of this concept was attempted a few months back with the abismal Alex Cross.  A who-done-it missing the who part and boring us with the done it.  The slightly false advertising is a tough thing to criticize because how do you exactly promote subtlety?  How do you draw in audiences with the promise of fleshed out characters and a gripping story as opposed to fantastic visuals and explosions?  It is kind of the conundrum of the film industry in how to properly bring attention to films like Drive or The American or Jack Reacher.   Needless to say, Jack Reacher has a pretty tight mystery, a believably creepy adversary, a quick pace, and an awesome hero.

The character of Jack Reacher is built up in such a way throughout this film, he begins to supersede even the story itself.  You just want to see what he’ll do next.  He’s clever, he’s uncompromising, he’s cold.  He is a ‘shortest distance between two points’ type of guy like Bourne but comfortable in his own skin like Bond.  The purists of the books point to the casting of Tom Cruise as a huge problem they have with the film before even seeing it.  In the novels, Reacher is supposed to be this hulkingly huge, intimidating guy.  In other words, the opposite physical build of a Tom Cruise.  As a guy who witnessed Michael Bay torch my nostalgic preconceptions in Transformers, I understand a One Shot fan’s hesitance at Cruise.  However, if you’re worried if Cruise delivers the intimidation, rest easy.  Cruise can play a scary badass.  Or have you not seen Collateral?  His performance is solid and his intensity makes up for any height inadequacies he may have.  Sure the casting of a Thomas Jane or a Jeffrey Dean Morgan might have been better visually for the character.  However, the film would probably not have been made with them attached.  I’m just grateful Tom Cruise is still interested in getting films like these made and still giving it his all in these roles.  Along with Cruise, there are some polished performances from Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, and Richard Jenkins.  Werner Herzog, for his tiny amount of screen time, will make your skin crawl.

The action that is in Jack Reacher, is painful to watch.  Not because it is bad, but because McQuarrie makes you feel every punch, kick, crash, and bullet.  McQuarrie has ties to the Navy Seals and has shot probably the most realistic gun fight in cinema history already.  So, he knows his way around an action scene.  The great thing about his action scenes, however, is that there seems to always be a story in them.  It isn’t just mindless violence.  Each blow or shot has a reason behind it and an arc to get there.  And in light of recent events in Connecticut, the opening scene provides perhaps the most gasp worthy suspenseful moment in the film.

Jack Reacher will probably get lost in the holiday shuffle with Hobbits and Djangos roaming about.  However, if you want some suspense and GRIT to top off your egg nog…hop on a bus…pack light…real light…Get Jack Reacher…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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