Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone. Second viewing (I like my first write-up). One thing I hate in this movie is how a disfigured villain character distances us. Seems like kind of a weasel move. You see similar in True Detective, which also really bothered me. So much of the series lingers in mundane evil and violence, and then… the final villains are freakshows. Lame. I suppose it’s a bit different here with the denouement, but the earlier raid still gets under my skin.

The Town

The Town. This movie is so great. (Previously.) Follows that wonderful formula that Heat, uses: criminals + leader + wildcard teammate + romantic complication + the pressure to do just one more job = everything falling apart. Hall and Hamm’s characters seemed stronger on second viewing. Renner’s character? I can’t enough.

Doug MacRay: You can’t be up there killing people.

James Coughlin: Hey, you brought me.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl. I loved this one. Pike and Affleck work as both archetypes and just really odd layered characters. Highly disturbing, and like Zodiac, has this seductive quality where you don’t care how long it takes to unfold. I saw it when I was ~80-85% finished with the book – I didn’t want to wait another day. There’s a good chance I’ll catch it in the theaters again. The soundtrack is great, too. As for updated David Fincher rankings… I’ll use recency bias as a tiebreaker, and let this edge in to the second slot:

  1. Zodiac
  2. Gone Girl
  3. The Social Network
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  5. Seven
  6. Fight Club


Armageddon. Ebert summarized it correctly (“Here it is at last, the first 150-minute trailer.”), but I enjoyed it more than he did. Some terrible writing and comedy hasn’t aged well, but the melodrama and spectacle holds up. I’d totally forgotten about the hyper-idealized middle-America nostalgia in there.

To the Wonder

To the Wonder. This is probably a Malick-fans-only affair, given that he’s brought all his Malickisms to expected highs/belabored lows. So I liked it, naturally. It’s very chopped and fragmented, both within scenes and through time, but there is a clear arc here. Yet maybe it’s understated enough that you get as much drama out of it as you put in. The thing starts with Kurylenko’s narration, her camera, her self-documentation, so there’s an interpretation that most of it is her record. Regardless, just that little bit of self-shot camerawork helps to set up the interiority of the rest.

Affleck is given almost nothing to say, and he’s muted repeatedly even when it looks like he’s saying something. And the voices we can hear from other characters, it’s often just barely. The dance analogy I’ve heard fits well. Where words are absent, gesture and music have to carry it. It’s also like, y’know… silent film. Great score, though you too may chuckle if you’re familiar with some of the music selected (e.g. Górecki, Rachmaninov, Wagner).

Ridiculous desktop wallpaper camera porn abounds. Malick needs to sell his b-roll for the TVs in waiting rooms and airports. I love the transition from the water shot of coastal France to the tall grass in the States. And another transition from the sunlit exteriors of the U.S. to the damp claustrophobic fluorescence of Paris at night. And that final shot. Man. That made it all worth it for me.

Themes. Taking it back to the early sequence at Mont Saint-Michel shows the two becoming one, a little island drawing off from the rest. And the first early versions of how the camera is drawn, again and again, to light, tracking toward windows and doors, trying to get up and out. So that’s love as a combinatory force, bringing two into one, making the inside the outside, drawing you out of yourself (note the barely furnished home). So there’s love as awesome, and there’s love as absent. Bardem carries this part. Note how he’s sequestered himself inside too much. By the end, maybe he’s trying a little harder. Or praying at least, girding himself to get out there again, narrating a common excerpt from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I liked Pico Iyer’s review. Ebert’s take will continue to be good for extra-filmic reasons. And the Terrence Malick community blog has a nice blow-by-blow.

My Terrence Malick rankings and reviews:

  1. Days of Heaven
  2. The New World
  3. Badlands
  4. To the Wonder
  5. The Tree of Life
  6. The Thin Red Line


Argo. I liked this one. The tension isn’t the violent suspense of The Town or the queasy terror of Gone Baby Gone. It’s just a precarious scheme, one chance, and there’s no shooting their way out. Very polished. And Ben Affleck has the best poker face in the game right now.

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone. I kinda wish the movie had stopped after the second voiceover. It would have been amazing (if maybe predictable in an ambiguous, artsy way). But it’s a genre film, so it kept going, and while the second, twisty act was a little mystery-novel page-turner-y, Ben Affleck does a great job with it. I assume he was being more or less faithful to the source. Great, great cast. The end offers an interesting tension between Monaghan’s ethic-of-care/consequentialist perspective and Casey Affleck’s ethic-of-justice/deontological take. I also like the sound in this one, working with the full range. I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse than The Town, which I mean as a compliment to both.

Other great movies that are heavy on the Boston:

The Town

The Town. I would have preferred less gunfire and more of everything else, but geez. Affleck. Dude can direct! I’m excited to see what else he comes up with. Gotta check out Gone Baby Gone and Argo soon. Also, I love Renner in this. What a nut.