All Good Things (9/13/12)

All Good ThingsMovie Two Hundred Ten

All Good Things is the dramatized recount of an actual unsolved murder case.

Based on the real events leading up to the trial of Robert Durst, renamed David Marks (Ryan Gosling) for the film. David Marks is the son of a wealthy real estate mogul, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) who meets and eventually weds a young middle class woman named Katie (Kirsten Dunst). David rejects his father’s business plans and the young couple move from New York to Vermont and start a little shop they name All Good Things. David’s father convinces him to move back to New York and get involved in the family business and David’s demeanor begins to change. Soon, Katie mysteriously disappears and David is suspected of murder.

I had never heard of All Good Things before browsing for Ryan Gosling movies on Netflix (yes, I’ll admit it). What drew me to All Good Things is the true nature of the film, and even though some “based on true event” movies can come off as hokey I thought much of All Good Things worked quite well. I was not familiar with the actual case so the story was all new to me, which I think helped sell some of the ideas that the film interjects supposedly based on new “evidence”. So, while the film is based on reality, it doesn’t hinge its own success on that realism.

As a die-hard Ryan Gosling fan, I was actually very pleased with his performance in All Good Things, which is not very surprising. What is surprising is Kirsten Dunst’s performance didn’t bore me and I would even go as far as saying this is one of her better performances ever. The film builds a great tension that literally starts as a calm love story and escalates to a thrilling climax. David’s progression from mostly normal to his break with reality is also handled well, though explanations for it are glossed over in the last act. Immediately after the film was over, I wanted to know more about the actual case and I consider that a sign of a good movie.

If All Good Things had merely been a fictional thriller, it would have been just OK but considering the story is largely based on truth, I think that adds to the allure of it. The film isn’t perfect and it does drag in spots, but the electrifying performances by Gosling and Dunst really captivated me. I’m not sure if All Good Things is a film I would choose to revisit any time soon, but it’s certainly a film I would recommend for anyone seeking a true crime thriller.

I give it 4 Ryan Gosling makes a surprisingly ugly woman out of 5.

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The Ides of March (5/16/12)

Ides of MarchMovie One Hundred Twenty

The Ides of March is political drama about the both a running candidate for the presidency of the U.S. and his staff as things begin unfolding for the campaign.

Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, a young up-and-comer campaign adviser working alongside Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) for their candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). As the campaign heats up for Morris as he tries to win the democratic nod for presidency, things begin to fall apart for Stephen. The rival campaign manager meets with Stephen and the press finds out, leaving Stephen out of a job. Around the same time, Stephen learns a dark secret of Morris’ and he learns what politics is truly about.

George Clooney co-wrote and directed Ides of March and while the screenplay is smart and the direction is well done, something is missing here. Perhaps it’s the depressing message that politics are absolutely messed up that drives the movie. Evan Rachael Wood plays an intern on the campaign that gets involved with Stephen and I simply cannot stand her. When she is on screen it’s like a talentless black hole sucking all the life out of the picture, even including Gosling’s intense staring fits. I may not be in the majority with that slightly hyperbolic opinion, and it may not affect your viewing experience should you choose to see this film, but it marred Ides of March for me. Oh, and Marissa Tomei has a role as a reporter and they made her look like a crazy cat lady that never bathes, so why cast Marissa Tomei in that role?

The story is something the film does quite well, the characters all have their place and the entire thing is, sadly, believable. While the film focuses on democratic candidates, I didn’t notice any real political potshots taken at either party. If anything, it makes the entire two-party democratic system look bad. By the end of Ides of March I was left wanting a bit more. I enjoyed my time with The Ides of March and could watch Ryan Gosling stare intensely at a wall for 90 minutes. It’s certainly not a film I think everyone would enjoy, judging by some of the Amazon user reviews, lots of people hated it. While I had a positive experience with Ides of March, it seems like it’s the type of movie that needs to be experienced first-hand.

I give it 4 I’d vote for George Clooneys out of 5.

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Drive (2/2/12 and 2/3/12 and 6/18/12 and 10/5/12)

Drive

Movie Nineteen and Twenty One and One Hundred Forty Four and Two Hundred Twenty Three

Drive is my favorite movie of 2011. Drive also has some of the most abhorrent cover art ever, I literally hate to even post it. After the movie’s release it seemed like people either loved it or hated it, and I think I can pinpoint why that is.

First off, the trailer gives the impression of an edge-of-your-seat nonstop car chase. That is not the case, though there are several amazingly tense chase sequences. Second off, there is actually very little dialog in the movie, and the star, Ryan Gosling, has only a few lines. The film is very moody and very powerful if you are willing to pay attention. This also brings me back to the cover because for some reason Sony Pictures decided to make the film look like a straight to DVD horror movie.

Not. Even. Close. There is a fair amount of graphic violence, though.

Drive is a movie that requires multiple viewings, in my opinion. Because there is little dialog there is much open to interpretation and much to be missed. This is partly why I watched Drive two nights in a row, the other reason is because I love Drive.

Despite all my love for the film, I am cautious to wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t think it tries to be. It rewards its viewers with a moody atmosphere, terrific retro soundtrack, great characters, exciting chases, and fantastic performances (Albert Brooks as the villain is perfect casting). If you watch Drive and love it, welcome to the club. If you watch Drive knowing what to expect and still don’t like it, thanks for giving it a shot. If you watch it and don’t like it because of what it doesn’t do, then sorry you watched it.

I give it 5 stolen black Mustangs out of 5.

PS – This is what I wish the cover art had been

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Crazy, Stupid, Love (1/6/12)

Crazy, Stupid, LoveMovie Three

Let me preface by saying I hate romcoms. It’s a miracle if I can make it past the initial 15 minute setup of one. Let me also preface by saying that Ryan Gosling is my man-crush. Turns out, Crazy, Stupid, Love is an enjoyable movie that doesn’t fall into too many romcom traps.

It’s almost unfair to even call Crazy, Stupid, Love a romcom but since the entire movie is about romance and relationships, it’s going to stick. As a complete hit-or-miss fan of Steve Carell’s, I was more worried that things would turn into him yelling nonsense and the plot falling apart. It seems like the editors thought the same thing and just when there seems to be too much Carell they switch to something else to keep things enjoyable.

The story is fairly simple; Couple A (Carell and Moore) has a failing marriage. Carell meets Gosling at a bar and being the super smooth guy he is, Gosling takes Carell under his wing (yes, pun intended). Then Gosling meets Emma Stone and become Couple B who is the first girl to make him doubt his playa ways. The stories of Couples A and B intertwine near the end in a way that is completely unforced and actually surpising. In fact, there weren’t many times were I was rolling my eyes at things and I think that is a testament to the cast.

Crazy, Stupid, Love does many things well. I would definitely recommend it to everyone, but I think it makes a great date ‘movie night’ since the guy will probably actually enjoy the movie as well.

I give this 4 shirtless Ryan Goslings out of 5.

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