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Shame List #21: Annie Hall (1977)

Shame List Introduction

Annie Hall is one of 31 films on my Shame List, a list composed of multiple classics and “must-see”- considered films for anyone who likes to consider him/herself a film buff. I created this list with only twenty films, and have added eleven films since by recommendations from friends and fellow movie fans. I’m always looking for recommendations, and my Shame List is my accountability to the movie blogging community that I have – and will – start watching these movies to earn my film buff status. A copy of the list can be found at my post here, and I’m updating per your recommendations, so please keep them coming!


Here’s my review of the second film I can cross off my Shame List:

Annie Hall . . . for me, the movie immediately makes me think of Woody Allen. It is a staple in his filmography, one of the “greats” of his time, a film in which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Of course, I am more familiar with his more recent films, so Annie Hall has been one of those movies of his that I wanted to see so I could understand all the fuss made about the film.

I want to start off this review by saying that Annie Hall was not one of my favorite films. After watching it, I didn’t feel blown away or moved or quite how I expected to feel after viewing it. As a film with a 98% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I expected to be wowed. However, I just lacked the connection to the film that made me want to revisit it any time in the near future.

Regardless of my personal feelings on the film, I do want to point out that I can understand some of the reasons it is considered a classic. There are certain scenes that come to the forefront of my mind, playing over and over again. Perhaps my favorite scene in the entire film is when Alvy (Woody Allen) and Annie (Diane Keaton) are in line to see a movie. There’s a guy standing in line behind them, who we later find out is a professor. He’s going on and on about his opinion on a certain filmmaker. This upsets Alvy because he believes the professor has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s about to have his own personal fit when he confronts the professor about his lack of knowledge. To further prove the professor clueless, and that he, Alvy, knows exactly what he’s talking about, Alvy reaches behind a machine and pulls out the man who was the subject of the professor’s conversation, breaks the fourth wall, and the filmmaker agrees that Alvy is correct and the professor has no idea what he’s talking about.

If only those moments could happen in real life.

Well, at least that’s how Alvy and the rest of us feel when someone who’s ignorant on a subject can’t stop blabbing about it.

Aside from that quintessential scene, the strength of Annie Hall lies in its characters. They’re real, genuine people dealing with the ins and outs of a relationship. Diane Keaton is particularly strong as the title’s character, Annie, who knows how to pull the right strings to crack up an audience, or when to pull back and reel viewers in again. I couldn’t help but appreciate the simplicity and light humor of the scene in which she convinces Alvy to ride home with her and come up to her apartment for a drink. Moments like those remind you of a character’s vulnerability in asking another person out, even if she had to coyly make up reasons to convince him to join her without coming across too strong.

While it may come across as pretentious or predictable to some viewers, I couldn’t help but appreciate that Alvy used actual dialogue, almost word for word, that he shared with Annie in California, as a major scene in his play. In a movie, sometimes the guy can travel 2,000 miles to win back the girl, and she won’t come with; she won’t be won over; the couple will not be reunited. But then again, that makes for some great writing: real life inspiring art, and art inspiring our lives. It is an endless cycle, isn’t it?

Moreover, Annie Hall is filled with many moments that as a film fan, I could appreciate and enjoy. It’s certainly not a bad film, but just one I lacked a connection with. The film is often described as “a writer who meets a quirky singer.” I saw it more as a movie where a very quirky, opinionated, conspiracy theorist meets another girl who eventually can’t keep putting up with him. That may sound harsh, but I found Alvy to be irritating at times, not only with his conspiracies, but also for his lack of understanding with other characters. He has enough awareness to realize that his first two marriages ended because of him. What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that another woman isn’t going to change things because she’s different from the previous two women. Alvy has to be the one to recognize that he needs to change in order for life to be different. It is his character’s inability to recognize this that made me feel like he was arrogant and frustrating while I watching the film.

My other major quip with the film is that I felt like even though it mirrored real life in moments, even striking a chord with me in how it was able to move on despite times feeling incomplete, is that I lost the whole point of the film. Does Annie Hall truly change Alvy Singer? Does Alvy Singer truly change Annie Hall? Is the movie designed to be open-ended for these very questions? Is it a bad thing that I’m asking them?

The honest answer is that I don’t know. But I got lost along the way while viewing, and not in the best possible way this time. However, because of the strong performances and interesting scenes throughout, I’d like to give Annie Hall 

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ON SCREEN.

 

It’s your turn now. What do you think of Annie Hall? Is it Woody Allen’s best film? What is your favorite Woody Allen film?

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All Eyes On the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Ep. 1

With all the hype leading into The Walking Dead‘s season five premiere, I along with millions of other fans was anticipating this premiere, and for me, probably more than previous seasons. Having just come off a solid fourth series, The Walking Dead seems to be moving only up, having already been renewed for a sixth season before season five even opened.

To amp up the excitement more than where it already was, AMC decided to release the first four minutes of the first episode online the day of the release. If you haven’t already seen it but are interested, check it out below:


Plot Breakdown

As the first four minute preview, along with the next several minutes following proved, the premiere fulfilled its promise to be bloody and gruesome, providing the most horrific footage the show has ever released. Terminus, only a sanctuary in name, a place that offered the promise of relief and help, attracted most of the groups separated from the battle at the prison with the Governor (David Morrissey).

The end of season four left us with Rick’s group, which now included Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Daryl (Norman Reedus), arriving last. Their lack of trust in others was only confirmed when the folks at Terminus turned on them, forcing them into a train cart, where they were reunited with Glenn, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the rest of their new group.

We’re left on a very intense cliffhanger at the end of season four. We’re brought back into the train car as season five opens, but instead, it’s different characters talking, with the caption “THEN.” Gareth (Andrew J. West), recognizable as one of the Terminus prison guards, is in the car, terrified. The episode shifts to the present, and the train’s current occupants are Rick and the gang, gearing up with pieces of wood, belt buckles, anything that can aid their situation to fight back and regain their freedom.

Terminus’s guards decide to gas their victims in order to tie and gag them, leading them into a human butcher shop. It’s exactly what you’d imagine in a haunted house, except they’re butchering humans instead of animals, smashing their heads with baseball bats, slitting their throats with machetes, hanging body parts and limbs from the ceiling, and operating on bodies with chainsaws. There’s no other way to describe the scene other than inhumane. Gruesome. Bloody terrifying.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) are in line to have their heads smashed in, when all of a sudden a bomb goes off. Who better to save the day than Carol (Melissa McBride), who earlier was banished from the group for killing humans at the prison who caught the flu and were spreading it to the others. The episode’s name is “No Sanctuary,” but it could be renamed “Carol Saves the Day,” because the show would not have gone on without her.

After the group successfully kills off most of Terminus, it experiences yet another reunion when Carol leads them to the hut with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Judith, where we see happy tears on the show for possibly the first time ever.


Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episode 501

  • The Walking Dead has been revisiting characters that have died or disappeared since the beginning of its run. In season one, Merle (Michael Rooker) was left for dead, handcuffed on the roof of a building, yet he made it back into the show in season three as one of the Governor’s cronies. Even after Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died at the beginning of season three, she still returned in future episodes as a ghost haunting Rick. When the Governor kills Hershel (Scott Wilson) in season four, Hershel shows up later in the season’s finale in flashbacks. Death or disappearance on The Walking Dead doesn’t mean we’re saying goodbye for the last time to a major character. At the very end of this episode, we get an unexpected return when we see Morgan (Lennie James) from both seasons one and three, following Rick. Check it out:
  • Rick is ready to kill after a season of wanting only to plow and garden. He’s recovered (mostly) from his wife’s death, and he’s taking action. But when he and the rest of the victims have fled Terminus and made it to safety, he wants to take anyone else at Terminus out. This leads to arguments between the survivors, but my thought is, isn’t he just trying to cover all the bases? Last time he killed a dude and then ran away, the guy returned with his friends to get his revenge. Is Rick going crazy again, or is he just playing it safe?
  • Where is Beth? We know she’s alive. The season five trailer told us that, but even if it hadn’t, we haven’t seen her death on screen, so we’re expecting her to be alive. Also, if I’m being analytical, Emily Kinney’s name finally made it onto the opening titles alongside Chad Coleman’s. So she’s alive, but the real questions is, where did she go?
  • The people at Terminus were (/are still?) out for blood. But why were they BUTCHERING humans? My personal guess? Cannibalism. Did anyone else wonder what “food” Mary (Denise Crosby) was offering the visitors to Terminus? I’m banking on some kind of human organ or body part. Like both mother and son quoted in the premiere, “You’re either the butcher or the cattle.” Kind of makes you think of this season’s tagline, “Hunt or be hunted.” Is that the new theme of the season? It sparks moral questions the characters have been openly discussing and dealing with last season, especially Carol and Tyreese. It seems that while the disease was the primary “villain” of the show in the beginning, the characters are starting to learn that it’s bad people might be more dangerous than walkers.

  • Are they going to find the cure? We just got introduced to new characters at the end of season four, and it looks like they’re here to stay for now. Eugene (Josh McDermitt), the genius who holds the classified secrets that could supposedly cure the illness, has no fighting skills or ability to defend himself. His bodyguard, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), protects him at all costs in hopes of leading him to Washington so he can help with the cure. But after the deceit and destruction of both Woodbury and Terminus, how can the characters really rely on the possibility that Washington hasn’t already been corrupted by villainous leaders?

 Favorite Moments from the Episode

  • Every scene Carol was in, especially when she goes all ninja on Mary and takes her out.
  • The reunion of Daryl and Carol. *cue the tears*
  • The reunion of Rick, Carl, and Judith. *cue some more tears*
  • The Morgan reveal at the end of the episode.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of The Walking Dead season 5 premiere? Where do you think Beth is? What do you think Mary was trying to feed the Terminus visitors? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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Blogathon: “Recommended By” + Introducing All Eyes On the SMALL Screen to AEOS

In continuing with his “Recommended by” blogathon, Tyson over at Head in a Vice has graciously included me in the fun by posting my review of Richard Linklater’s first of three films in his “Before” series, Before Sunrise (1995), a modern classic starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Of course, I wouldn’t have watched Before Sunrise (yet?) if it weren’t for Caz’s recommendation at Let’s Go to the Movies. As mentioned in a previous post, Tyson created the blogathon to get back into the groove of blogging and reconnect with fellow film bloggers after his hiatus. He opened it up to anyone who read a review by a fellow film blogger, watched the film that was recommended in the post, and then wrote a review on that film to later be published on his site for the blogathon. I’m not going to review Before Sunrise on AEOS since Tyson has already posted my review on his site, but please do check out my post here if you are interested in my thoughts on the film.

I enjoyed Before Sunrise so much, I decided to watch both Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013). Out of the three films, I enjoyed the middle offering, Before Sunset, the most (it has a great scene that showcases Julie Delpy’s beautiful singing voice), although I have good things to say about all three movies.

The “Before” series is a trilogy (to become a quartet?) that I’d gladly recommend to anyone, whether you’re a fan of romantic films or not. It’s certainly more than a romantic comedy, stretching itself into both the drama and indie film genres. The trilogy introduces us to interesting, well-thought out characters that begin to challenge each other as well as viewers in testing the dynamics of relationships and how people interact with one another. The series certainly builds, but there’s truly no climax, at least not yet. While the situation these two people find themselves in Before Sunrise seems like one-in-a-million, it’s truly the rich conversation shared between Delpy’s and Hawke’s characters that provides enough sense and realism that by Before Midnight, you imagine it might be your own family members (or yourself) struggling with some of the same issues Jesse and Celine are facing.

So my question to all of you is, if Linklater pens another “Before” movie in the next five or six years, what should he name it? Before Dawn? Before Noon? Before the Solar Eclipse? OK, just kidding on that last one . . . 


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I’m thrilled to announce the newest series coming to AEOS will be featuring TV episodes of the current season of The Walking Dead (2010-). While All Eyes On Screen has acted solely as movie site, I have been fiddling around with the idea of including occasional television episodes here and there. AEOS will continue to be a site primarily dedicated to movie critique and discussion, but I did want to venture into the small screen realm.

I chose The Walking Dead since it’s a show I’m watching live (or possibly the next day since this blogger doesn’t have cable). If it proves to be a successful choice to feature TV episode reviews for the site, I hope to extend All Eyes On the SMALL Screen with reviews and critiques on more TV shows. But I want to start out small, and I still want to keep the focus of the site on movies.

What are your thoughts on this new series? Are there other shows you’d like to see featured? If you have any suggestions or tips, please share them below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

The Skeleton Twins

AEOS Review: The Skeleton Twins (2014)

The Skeleton Twins (2014) is a movie that originally I wasn’t anticipating. I saw the trailer in a long list of previews before seeing a film, and it didn’t strike me as a movie with a chance of moving me or appealing to me. After Tom over at Digital Shortbread wrote a very nice review on the film, he convinced me otherwise that I needed to give this movie a try. So I did.

Because it didn’t stay in theaters long, and I’ve seen few reviews on the film, here’s a short summary of the film for those of you unfamiliar with the story:

Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are estranged twins, each who happen to attempt suicide on the same day. Before Maggie can go through with it, she receives a phone call notifying her that Milo is in the hospital, healing after a suicide attempt. In light of this news, Maggie welcomes Milo back into her life, inviting him to stay with her and her husband, Lance (Luke Wilson) in their New York home. As Maggie and Milo start to reconnect, catching up over the past decade and reminiscing over their passed father, high school, and growing up years, each have secrets come to the surface that maybe they weren’t planning to spill.

There were moments when I connected with this story, and other times I felt like I was sitting on the outside looking in. What I wasn’t expecting to see was Bill Hader portraying a hardened, flamboyant, complicated character who could make you laugh in one scene, and be emotionally moved the next. Hader lost himself in Milo, and while it was obvious that his Saturday Night Live run influenced certain scenes, it also aided his chemistry with his co-lead, Kristen Wiig, who turned in one of her best film performances to date.

These two comedians successfully depict an estranged set of twins who honestly tell each other how it is while still connecting in a way neither know how to connect with anyone else. They play siblings convincingly enough that no one would question otherwise.

But even after witnessing this turn in two well-known comedians, The Skeleton Twins seems to shock again with unexpectedly good performances from the resurrected Luke Wilson and Modern Family‘s lovably clueless father, Ty Burell. Wilson might play a familiar and simple character, but he has the tricky job of playing a likable yet naive husband devoid of passion. It is his lack of passion, thereof, that probably helps sets off another major plot point (which I will not spoil for those of you who plan to watch this).

Burell also displays his more dramatic acting chops as Milo’s previous English teacher who was inappropriately involved in his teacher-student relationship with his former student. Milo is still processing, reacting, and trying to figure out himself, even years after the discretion.

Like most movies, things start out bad. Things may get worse, but eventually a light is shining at the end of the tunnel and the film has resolved, be it positive or negative. With The Skeleton Twins, there’s really no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a story of two adults who have muddled through life over the past decade, from one failure to the next, each turning to suicide as an escape from the difficulties life has thrown them. While one might expect this movie to be cheery, it really isn’t, even amidst the occasional laughs. What The Skeleton Twins does successfully present viewers with are great, emotionally complex characters who feel lost and are searching for something, even if they’re not sure what. It’s what made me both like and dislike the movie’s ending.

Early October is an odd time for a character-driven drama to be released, and with it not turning a major profit, it’s no surprise that it’s exiting theaters and entering your nearest Redbox machine in the next few weeks. But that isn’t a reason to not see this movie. I have personal quibbles with some of the writing, but I have great respect for writer-director Craig Johnson, who was able to churn out such moving performances from a set of actors no one was expecting them to offer.

I give The Skeleton Twins 

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ON SCREEN.

 

It’s your turn now. Have you seen The Skeleton Twins? If so, what did you think of it? If not, are you planning to see it? Please share your thoughts below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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Ten Critically-Acclaimed Films I Just Don’t Like

It might sound like a bad thing, but truly, you just can’t like every movie, regardless of its popularity with critics, film buffs, or even your casual viewers. While there are positive things I could say about each of these movies (and I will!), I just didn’t care for them, and I don’t imagine I’ll revisit any of them in the future. I got this idea after reading Abbi’s post about Ten Movies People Seem to Love That [She] Just Didn’t Get, over at her site Where the Wild Things Are. She got the idea from Film Nerd Blog. I thought it was a great idea, and just turned it into a list of films most critics (and many viewers) loved (that I didn’t dig).

Here are ten critically-acclaimed films I just don’t like:

Almost Made the List . . .

The Town (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metascore: 74/100

The Town nearly misses the list, even considering it’s the only movie in the list I turned off in the middle of viewing. I loved the cast, excluding Blake Lively. I think Ben Affleck has established himself as a director not to be toyed with. My issue with the film was the overabundant drug use and language. It’s not that I’m not interested in seeing a town, a group of people, realistically displayed. It just took over the film for me, overshadowing the story.


 10) Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Rotten Tomatoes: 87% RT
Metascore: 76/100

The fashion is stunning. It’s Audrey Hepburn, how could it not be stunning? I know I just reviewed Roman Holiday (1953) and loved it! There’s no doubt there are some great elements in this film that make it the memorable movie it is today. For me, however, I just didn’t feel like there was a great story there, and I couldn’t get into it. Sorry, Holly Golighty.

9) The Graduate (1967)

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Metascore: 77/100

The Graduate - another classic I just didn’t care for. It’s one of the first coming-of-age stories that explores a territory not yet tackled in film. Dustin Hoffman gets famous off of The Graduate. The music is great, and the end scene is emotional. But for me, watching it decades later, I just didn’t connect with the film at all.

8) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Metascore: 86/100

Considered a must-see by anyone who considers him/herself a film buff, I know some heads are shaking as they see this one on my list. It’s a highly influential science fiction film crafted by Stanley Kubrick. I should like this. I should want to watch this, include it on my top ten lists, boast of its greatness. But I missed it . . . even knowing that this film is a work of art, I don’t care for it.

7) The Exorcist (1973)

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Metascore: 82/100

Now we enter the horror genre. A movie that I watched in high school, The Exorcist scared the crap out of me. It’s a mark on the horror film genre, and I can understand why. But I don’t feel apologetic for disliking this movie. It’s not that I think it’s bad; I just don’t like movies that deal with devil/demon possession. It’s not a fun movie for this film fan.

6) Pulp Fiction (1994)

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metascore: 94/100

Perhaps one of the most controversial films on my list, Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction wasn’t a fun ride for me. I won’t say there weren’t moments when I laughed, or thought I had witnessed something very cool in the film. It’s certainly a well-made piece of cinema; I, however, struggled to enjoy it amidst the overt sexual scenes and language, even knowing it was a Tarantino film.

5) Lost in Translation (2003)

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Metascore: 89/100

Yet another one of the more controversial films on this list, Lost in Translation is a deep film that does succeed to tell its story. I’m not arguing that. It’s just one of those movies I watched and was done with. It includes one of Scarlet Johansson’s best performances, and the movie shows how you can strike up a friendship with the unlikeliest of people. But this movie depressed me to the degree that I have no need to see it again.

4) Avatar (2009)

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metascore: 83/100

James Cameron brought us Titanic (1997), and of course, he had to bring another enormous budget, technologically ground-breaking film called Avatar. It’s not that I don’t respect the art, the technology, the scope of the film. It’s a feat in movie history. But for all of the special effects and millions of dollars poured into the project, I felt like maybe they could have had a shake down in the writers room and come up with a more original, engaging story. According to my Intro to Film teacher, Avatar was just a rip-off of Dances with Wolves (1990). I haven’t seen it, so I couldn’t tell you. But the movie never stayed with me, no matter how many sequels Cameron’s team has promised.

3) The Tree of Life (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Metascore: 85/100

Jessica Chastain was in four movies in 2011, and this was the only one I really didn’t like. It wasn’t that the cinematography wasn’t gorgeous, because it was. I can’t think of a movie in this decade that is more beautiful to watch unfold on screen. But the idea of being metaphorical doesn’t hold up for me in this movie. I know The Tree of Life aimed to be deep, but Terrance Malick’s film didn’t win me over. To this day, I still don’t understand the appeal. Perhaps I just wasn’t meant to understand.

2) Melancholia (2011)

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Metascore: 80/100

Perhaps the must unmemorable movie on this list for me, Melancholia bored me to no end. I distinctly remember forcing myself to sit through this film just so I could watch all of the Oscar-nominated films that year. Like The Tree of Life, it offers some of the most beautiful scenes to watch. But I missed out on watching an actual story. I just remember Kirsten Dunst getting angry, and Kiefer Sutherland popping up in a movie after his 24 (2001-2010) run.

1) Prisoners (2013)

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Metascore: 74/100

It’s difficult for me to find words for how much I disliked Prisoners, especially considering how big a fan I was of the cast. Jake Gyllenhaal, Wolverine, and Viola Davis – it’s got to be good, right? The plot is interesting: someone’s kidnapped children. But it was painful for me to watch Hugh Jackman torture Paul Dano. From start to finish, it was disturbing for me to watch, and I have no desire to revisit it ever again, regardless of its critical success.

It’s your turn now. What critically-acclaimed movies do you not dig? Which ones on my list do you think I need to watch again to consider otherwise? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

Gone Girl

From Page to Screen: Gone Girl (2014)

Because of how closely tied both the book and movie are, and because I just found it easier to combine my reviews of both formats, I decided to make this From Page to Screen post different from previous ones by having only two sections: a single review, and then a comparison/contrast section.

One thing I want to note: there will be SPOILERS throughout for both the book and film. You have been warned! :)


From Page to Screen Header

Book/Movie Reviews

You lose some of the suspense, however well created or intentioned to be, when you know the ending of a story.

I went into Gone Girl (2014) having already read the book, yet still highly anticipating watching what I had read unravel on screen. I held onto the promise that director David Fincher, actor Ben Affleck, and book author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn lead us all to believe: the movie’s ending would be different than the book’s.

And here’s the biggest spoiler I can write in this post: the difference was so little, the plot still kept all the same major points, that the simple “adjustments” made to the film were overshadowed by the blatant reminder that readers of Flynn’s thriller were watching exactly what we were suspecting to not witness: the same horrible ending that, while it works as a surprise factor, did not benefit the film, or work as well as Fincher or Flynn probably intended.

For those still interested in why I think this, let me break it down for you:

Those who didn’t read the book are going to be asking varying renditions of this question after they watch the ending: Why would Nick stay with this crazy psychopath even if she’s pregnant? 

That question leads to more questions: How do we know she isn’t just making up her pregnancy? Why does Nick not try harder with Boney to prove Amy’s guilt?

No, Nick pastes on his fakest smile, nods, and later proclaims to his twin that he’s going along with it to save the child from his horrible mother. Honorable? Yes. Enough reason to not fight it, research it, try desperately to get out of it, yet somehow help the child in the process? No, and not even close.

This is where the book and movie separates, and while we realize that we aren’t interested in seeing a replica of the book on screen (This is a movie, after all; Entertain us, Mr. Fincher!), that if they’re going to keep a strikingly similar ending to a book, then they needed solid material throughout the film to support that ending, even if they wanted to change parts or leave out characters here and there.

Here are the two major reasons that the ending works well in the book, but not in the film:

  1. The book presents a detailed enough background on Nick, his past home life, and his drunk, cheating father who is known to regularly debase women (especially Nick’s mom) that Nick is faced with an enigma as he grows up: he doesn’t want to become his father, even though he occasionally recognizes little parts of his father in himself. This is critical to the plot because Nick doesn’t want to be his father; he wants to be a good husband (well, so we think?), but even more importantly, he wants to be a good father who wouldn’t abandon his child. This reason significantly alters Nick’s reasoning for staying with a psychopath: his fear of becoming his father outweighs his fear of his murderous, psychotic wife carrying his child.
  2. While it is complicated and somewhat understandably left out of the movie version, the second reason has more to do with why Nick didn’t question the pregnancy. Fincher dropped only one hint in the entire 2 1/2 hour film’s runtime as to why Nick didn’t question Amy when she presented him with the positive pregnancy test. It happened in the middle of the film when Nick and Margo were fighting, and out of the blue, Nick declares that he was the one who wanted children, and that he wanted them so much, he even went to a fertility clinic. What Fincher and Flynn leave out in the film version is that Amy was so meticulous in her scheming, that she stopped by the clinic, picked up Nick’s sperm, and kept it frozen in case she ever needed it to blackmail him. Of course, she does blackmail him at the end of both the book and film to stay with her because she is pregnant – and the child is most definitely his - and he’s fully aware that she had taken his frozen sperm and impregnated herself. But leaving this vital detail out of the film, yet expecting viewers not to wonder why Nick hasn’t questioned Amy more than “there needs to be a paternity test!” is just odd.

Alas, I’ll end my rant with this: I consider this is a major boo-boo in the film, despite how much I enjoyed it and thought it honored the source material while still making it it’s own. But let me get on with what I did enjoy now.

The casting, from what I’ve mentioned in multiple lead-up posts, was not only a sure thing to attract fans of the book, but also a more wide stream audience. After Affleck’s multiple successful directing credits, especially the most recent Academy Award winning-film Argo (2012), Gone Girl was certainly expecting to attract an audience. Attach the incredibly talented directing name “David Fincher” to most of the ads, and you have a double whammy for getting butts into theater seats. What paid off, however, was not just attracting theater goers, but stellar casting that fit the material as well as anyone could have hoped for.

Neil Patrick Harris, however, felt underused. Despite his creepy, extreme nature that made him a convincing Desi, he just didn’t have enough scenes (which just happens when you’re adapting a book to film) to make us wonder why Amy brutally killed him the way she did. Maybe Amy is just an insane murderer? Perhaps, and no one would be crazy for thinking that. The book, however, gives us more understanding as to why she lashed out: she was feeling trapped and controlled and unable to make decisions for herself, so she took matters into her own hands.

Tyler Perry acted as the comic relief of the film, with some one-liners that were only too true that you knew you were laughing at his sheer honesty instead of a silly joke. The stand-out performance for me came from actress Carrie Coon, who played Nick’s twin sister, Margo. She looked enough like Affleck that someone would have believed they were twins. Her chemistry with Affleck felt genuine, and she felt like one of the few characters you wanted to root for. She acted as Nick’s conscious, yet she stayed completely dedicated to her brother, even as his hidden sins came to light.

Critic Michael Phillips for The Chicago Tribune mentions that Fincher uses a lot of mustard lighting throughout the film, creating a pallet that he didn’t care for. I thought the lighting worked well and aided the suspense of the film. My biggest complaint deals with the raved-about score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. While my seating location in the theater might have had something to do with this, during the opening scene, I was fighting to hear any dialogue over the overpowering and sometimes nonessential score. There were moments when it created or built the suspense, supported the scenes, and gave us a theme when certain characters were on screen. But sometimes it felt completely excessive, taking away from a scene rather than subtly reinforcing it. I was much more impressed with their score for The Social Network (2010).

Overall, I was a big fan of both the book and the movie. Gillian Flynn was successful as both the author and screenwriter for the two formats, bringing her book to life on film in an eerily similar way. Neither are for the faint of heart, both packed with pulpy fiction, dramatic dialogue, and (just in the movie) a murder scene most would die . . . to not see ever again.

I give the book Gone Girl 

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ON PAGE
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And I give the movie Gone Girl 

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and 1/2 ON SCREEN.


Compare/Contrast Gone Girl‘s Book and Film

Which did you hear of first, the book or the film? I heard about the movie first (when do I not?). I read the book right after I saw the trailer, and that prompted my excitement to see it on screen.

What was your favorite and least favorite parts of the book?

  • Favorite – My favorite part of the book was how Flynn put it together. I loved that one chapter was from Nick’s perspective, and the next was a diary entry from Amy. Getting multiple perspective made it more interesting and suspenseful. The pace was fast, but not rushed.
  • Least favorite – I just didn’t care for the ending, even given it’s surprising nature and “what the heck?” reaction. I’m a bigger fan of books where there’s justice, with evil losing and good winning. And while I appreciate flawed characters in a book, I felt like the two main characters fell short of being even a little redeemable. At times the language was over-the-top and unnecessary.

Do you think it was inspired by any other books? According to an interview Flynn had with The Guardian, she claimed the novel Mystic River to have inspired her to include a mystery in her book.

What was your favorite and least favorite parts of the movie?

  • Favorite – I couldn’t have imagined a different casting holding down this movie. Ben Affleck knows exactly how to play both the guilty and innocent sides of Nick Dunne, and you both abhor and like him. It’s a great film to showcase actors.
  • Least favorite – Without repeating myself too much, I’ll just say the score and the poor choice (in my opinion) of how they wrote the ending.

Do you think the movie was inspired by any other movies? I imagine any mysteries, especially murder mysteries, inspired the plot. David Fincher continues to grow as a director with his unique style of shooting scenes and guiding actors. I could see his latest movies such as The Social Network and his remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) inspiring his work.

Will the book, movie, or both forms, stand the test of time? That’s a tricky question, because both have their setbacks. Ultimately, I think the book will just because (of course) it came first. The film is memorable, yes, particularly due to stellar performances, but I think the book has a slight edge over the film.


It’s your turn now. Have you seen Gone Girl? If not, do you plan to see it? What do you think of the film compared to the book? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

Shame List Banner

Shame List #8: Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday is one of 31 films on my Shame List, a list composed of multiple classics and “must-see”- considered films for anyone who likes to consider him/herself a film buff. I created this list with only twenty films, and have added eleven films since by recommendations from friends and fellow movie fans. I’m always looking for recommendations, and my Shame List is my accountability to the moving blogging community that I have – and will – start watching these movies to earn my film buff status. A copy of the list can be found at my post here, and I’m updating per your recommendations, so please keep them coming!


Onto my review of the first film I can cross of my Shame List is Roman Holiday (1953):

When I was watching Roman Holiday, I couldn’t help but enjoy each scene, taking in everything I could. No doubt, it’s a movie I’ll revisit again and again, which confirms my purchase of a DVD copy before I had even seen it.

Growing up, I fondly remember watching Audrey Hepburn play the infamous role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1964), and the image of a dirty, cockney woman turned into a stately, prim and proper socialite was burned into my memory. Years later, following my college years, I decided to give Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) a try given its reputation. I got to see another well-known side of Hepburn, although I couldn’t help but wonder what the “wow” factor was of the film. But that’s a whole other post altogether.

My only knowledge of Roman Holiday before viewing it is that it starred Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck as the leads, and that they fell in love but never got together. I was excited to see this movie for that little insight alone, yet I was shocked when the movie opened and Hepburn was playing a princess and Peck was working for the press.

The opening scene, as no doubt many have recalled and talked about, is famous for its simplicity: Princess Ann is on the last leg of her European tour. She’s exhausted, yet she knows how to paste on her happy face and polite voice because she’s so accustomed to doing so. She’s just arrived in Rome, about to sit down when a huge line of Roman higher ups and citizens await to greet this famous princess who’s just arrived in town. She’s plays it calm, only occasionally lifting her right foot out of her shoe to ease the strain of standing and walking in heels, when she accidentally nicks her shoe, unable to retrieve it without drawing attention. One by one, her assistants emote looks of panic as they realize the gravity of the situation: with all eyes on the princess, no one can subtly collect her shoe.

And that is just the first of many memorable scenes that make Roman Holiday so sweet, enjoyable, and of course a staple in classic film history and a model for so many romantic comedies. Multiple modern romantic comedies came to mind as I watched Roman Holiday, explaining the inspiration directors and actors have aspired to imitating in the last few decades.

When reviewing Roman Holiday, as well as others on my Shame List, I know I’ll run into a problem Dan realized when he recently reviewed Fight Club (1999) at his blog: it’s hard not to reiterate in a review what everyone else has already said about a critically-revered film that’s already had everything discussed and dissected in it. Roman Holiday is a beloved film, and I’m so happy to experience why everyone else who has seen it appreciates it for its beauty, simplicity, and mark on film history.

Of course, Gregory Peck stands out in this film, not only for his acting skills and his tall, dark handsomeness, but also because he stands head and shoulders above all the other guys. This is especially noticeable in the end scene when he’s standing in the middle of the front line of press writers and photographers. I imagine William Wyler purposefully set the scene so that Peck stood out in the group. That scene also captured how well both lead performers were able to express their characters with just their eyes, and it made me wonder when the last time I was so moved by a scene that said so much without many words.

When Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) leaves the royal hall, the scene shows one man taking his time as he strides down the beautiful, rich walls that make up just the hall of where royalty presides. After this end scene, I think of the contrast of the earlier scene with Princess Ann entering Bradley’s room for the first time, and even under the influence of a heavy drug that’s taken its toll, she still inquires if his room is the elevator.

Both leads know how to employ physical comedy, and I can imagine Eddie Albert received his share of scrapes and bruises from constantly getting knocked down or pushed over. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Hepburn impaling a guitar by smashing it over the head over a Secret Service agent while fleeing a dance party.

Despite their best efforts and logical influences, Joe and Ann fall in love in front of us, even if it’s just for a few hours. True love isn’t on display until Bradley pretends he never got the story, because he cherishes his time with Ann more than winning a bet and making some much-needed extra cash. Extending the photos as “scenic photos from Rome” as a gift to Ann reveals Irving’s (Eddie Albert) sincerity as well.

I also really enjoyed all of the fashion, especially on Hepburn (no wonder she’s considered a fashion icon). The dress she wears in the final scene is a great example of how beautiful an outfit can be in black and white. Even with her sporting long and short hair styles throughout the film, her face shines without a single imperfection to be spotted, and it’s assuring that’s her fashionable status is well-earned if she just cracks a smile. I doubt her barber (Claudio Ermelli) really acted too much when melting over the gorgeous actress, like most men did in the film.

Roman Holiday is my favorite Audrey Hepburn film I’ve viewed thus far, and it makes me want to see more of her films. I don’t need any more encouragement to view more Gregory Peck films, although Roman Holiday only confirms my need to see him in more.

All images found via Google Images.

I give Roman Holiday 

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ON SCREEN, crossing my first film off my Shame List.

It’s your turn now. What did you think of Roman Holiday? Would you consider it a classic or a must-see film? Or does it make it on your Shame List? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts!

Recastathon Banner

Recast-athon: Up in the Air, Black Swan, and Silver Linings Playbook

While I enjoy the occasional Recast Edition post here at AEOS, I was super excited when I noticed that Ruth over at Flixchatter took part in this new blogathon that she found from Andrew, who started/is hosting it over at his blog, A Fistful of Films.

Picture Film StripHere are the rules:

1)  Pick an OSCAR NOMINATED performance given by a white actress that didn’t require a white actress (no biopics here, even though Todd Haynes taught us that you don’t need to be the same race or gender to play a real life person). This performance can come from ANY film year.

2)  Pick an actress of color who could have been a great fit for the role instead of the one cast.  Keep in mind the time of release and chose actresses who were working at that time. So, in other words, don’t select the role of Calla Mackie in 1968’s Rachel, Rachel (played by Estelle Parsons) and suggest it be a great fit for Naomie Harris, because, well, she wasn’t born for another eight years.

3)  Explain WHY that actress would have made a great fit. Plead her case. Let’s tell those Hollywood casting directors what they’re missing.

Here are my picks:

Tao Okamoto or Jamie Chung as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air (2009)

I’m unknown, but I look important here.

I know most people would probably find Tao Okamoto to be an odd choice, considering how unknown she is. The only major acting credit she has was as Mariko, Wolverine’s love interest in last year’s The Wolverine. Okamoto is slender, and she seems like she could pull off an awkward and shy role such as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air. She’s also the same age as Anna Kendrick, and she shares similar physical features. Kendrick was relatively unknown until she portrayed Keener in the Oscar-nominated film, so I imagined the role would be one to jumpstart an unknown actress’s film career.

I can play tough AND vulnerable.

Jamie Chung has yet to reach a higher level of fame in Hollywood as well since most of her acting credits include guest and background roles, lower budget films, TV movies, and video game voicework. Her recurring role as Mulan on the show Once Upon a Time (2011-) proves that she can hold her own, putting her dramatic and action chops on display. Only two years older than Kendrick, she’s right around the same age, and she has a likable quality and youthful appearance that makes her seem approachable, a characteristic she’d need to pull off the role.

Saldana participated in a photoshoot inspired by the styles of Black Swan in InStyle.

Zoe Saldana as Nina Sayers in Black Swan (2010)

While Natalie Portman is very beautiful, and certainly convincing enough as Nina Sayers in Black Swan, I never thought the role needed to be filled by a white actress. The first actress who came to my mind was Zoe Saldana. She’s certainly more established than the other actresses I’ve listed, appearing in a variety of films that include physical action, dramatic acting, and suspenseful situations, all qualities needed to play the role of Sayers. Not only does Saldana has a svelte figure that would help her portray a ballerina, but she also is an accomplished dancer who cites ballet as one of her first passions. While she’s three years older than Portman, she’s still right within that age bracket that would work for the role.

Zoe Kravitz as Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

“Don’t make me throw this knife at you!”

I imagine this recast could be considered a stretch when you compare Jennifer Lawrence’s filmography and experience to Zoe Kravitz’s. When one hears the name “Kravitz,” they think of Lenny, not Zoe. But from the few films the younger Kravitz has taken part in, I think she’s been waiting for her big break. Silver Linings Playbook is a character-driven film, and I could easily see Zoe Kravitz filling the role of Tiffany Maxwell. She’s able to say a lot with just her facial expressions, and no doubt she could use that skill to play Tiffany. Since she’s a couple years older than Lawrence, in some ways, I think her age would make her more appropriate for the role than Lawrence was, despite how much I loved her in it.

It’s your turn now. What do you think of my choices? Who would you recast in this roles? Head over to Andrew’s page, Fistful of Films, to read about why he chose to start this recast-athon, and feel free to join in and write your own post if you’d like!

Month in Review Banner

Month in Review: September 2014

September was not the biggest month at the movies for me, considering I made it to the theater only twice! (Yeah, that little.) However, I have had a lot of fun on All Eyes On Screen, so here’s the breakdown for the month:

Guest Posts

Trailer Breaks

  • Two Trailer Breaks made it into the month of September, one for upcoming movie You’re Not You (2014).
  • And the other break for the next Hunger Games installment, Mockingjay Part I (2014).

Blogathons

  • Possibly one of my favorite types of posts to participate in, I got to take part in a few blogathons this past month. I got to talk about some of my favorite guilty pleasure films in a blogathon hosted by Jenna and Allie over at their site Chick Flicks.
  • I also made my own version of a summer movie lessons that I file under blogathons, inspired by Ryan at The Matinee.
  • My most recent post, “You Call Yourself a Film Buff? Movies I Still Haven’t Seen I consider a blogathon since I was inspired by Mettel Ray’s version of the post, which you can find here. I’ve been offered several recommendations to add to the list, including Apocalypse Now (1979), The Red Shoes (1948), Solaris (1972), The 400 Blows (1959), Gone with the Wind (1939), 12 Angry Men (1957), and Amadeus (1984).

Reviews

  • I finally got around to reviewing What If (2014), a movie I caught the previous month at the theaters. I’d highly recommend it as it’s a great post-Harry Potter film for star Daniel Radcliffe, and I’d consider it the When Harry Met Sally (1989) for today’s generation.
  • This Is Where I Leave You (2014) was one of only two movies I caught at the theater in September, leaving a rather mediocre taste in my mouth despite some of the nice performances.
  • The latest From Page to Screen post also happened to be a guest post AND a review, this time on the YA adaptation The Maze Runner (2014), which while I found a little disappointing, still was fun enough I’d consider it a success.

Best Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

The Maze Runner

It’s funny how it’s difficult to decide between only two movies I saw at the theater this month, primarily since they were both so mediocre, in my opinion. If I had to choose one, I’d go with The Maze Runner, even though I considered it only a hair better than This Is Where I Leave You.

Worst Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

This Is Where I Leave You

Of course, This Is Where I Leave You isn’t a bad movie. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a pretty good movie with some nice moments. I’d definitely re-watch it if there was enough time between then and my latest viewing of it.

Looking Forward to October

I have to say, I’m far more excited for October movies than I was for September, since we’re starting to enter the next big movie push throughout the year. More Oscar-worthy films will probably be showing up closer to November, but it’s never to early to start with a few in October. Here’s what I’m hoping to catch in theaters, or plan to see when released on DVD, next month:

Left Behind (10/3)

I can’t help but be curious about this remake, since Tim LaHaye, author of the book series Left Behind, sued Cloud Ten Pictures since he felt like the Kirk Cameron version didn’t do his series justice. I’m just waiting for Cage to announce that he’s stealing the Declaration of Independence while Jordin Sparks breaks out into a gospel song. I’d love to take this movie seriously since I actually read and enjoyed the book, as well as the first film version, but this just looks sad to me.

The Judge (10/10)

Yes, the trailer looks convincingly good. And so does Robert Downy Jr. Can the man give a great performance outside of his Iron Man suit? I’m sure he can.

One Chance (10/10)

I noticed this movie in the winter of 2013, and I believe it got released in the UK, but I could be wrong. Anyways, this film got put on the back burner, and only until recently did I notice it’s getting a wide US release date. James Corden was in this year’s lovely Begin Again, which was also about music. I’m not sure if it’s the next Billy Elliot (2000), but I’m curious enough to go to the theater and find out.

Men, Women & Children (10/17)

I caught wind of this movie when I found out it was showing at TCFF, athough I unfortunately will not be attending this year. However, the cast looks very interesting, including both Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler. I like the idea behind this movie, and I think it could be very good.

Laggies (10/24)

I saw a preview of Laggies before I saw Begin Again, another movie that stars Kiera Knightly. Chloe Grace Moretz also stars in this, another film after If I Stay. Both ladies seem to be making a scene in this year’s offerings, and I’m looking forward to seeing both on screen together.

Horns (10/31)

Daniel Radcliffe is 95% of the appeal of this movie. I loved him in Harry Potter and his post-HP films thus far. He was charming in What If, and I imagine he might not be quite so sweet in Horns. The movie appears to be a darker, similar film to Hellboy (2004), but I could be totally off. It’s fitting that it’s getting a Halloween release date.

Most Anticipated Film of October

I couldn’t close out this section by leaving out the movie I anticipate most not only for the month, but it also makes my top list of anticipated films for the year 2014!

Gone Girl (10/3)

Will David Fincher’s latest film live up to Gillian Flynn’s bestseller? I hope so. Ben Affleck is back on screen again, and after reading the book, I’m convinced he’s Nick Dunne in the flesh. I’ve already purchased my tickets for this coming Saturday, and I’m already prepping my next From Page to Screen review. I think Gone Girl is likely to create some Oscar buzz after this weekend.

It’s your turn now. What were the best movies you saw this month? What movies are you anticipating most next month? Please join the conversation below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

The Godfather

“You Call Yourself a Film Buff?” Movies I Still Haven’t Seen [Updated 10/3]

I confess: there are many classic, must-see (but I haven’t yet) films I have never seen, and yet I call myself a “film buff.” Call me hypocritical, but at least I’m willing to publicize this shortcoming. I decided that this post will act as my accountability to fellow movie bloggers, readers, and friends out there, to encourage me to dust off movie by movie until I’ve seen each of these.

I got the idea to make this list from Mettel Ray, who was inspired by Film Flare to make a “Shame List” (or list of movies she hasn’t seen but wants to) of her own. I have decided to narrow my list down to twenty movies, to make it more or less achievable for myself. After I watch one of these movies and cross it off the list, I’ll review it on AEOS, titling the review with a title that has “Shame List” and its number on the list. [Recent update: I made to this post includes recommended films friends have offered in the comment section that I included on the list with their names!] In order from earliest to latest, here is my “shame list” of movies I’ve never seen, but plan to watch over the next several months:

  1. Frankenstein (1931)
  2. Gone with the Wind (1939) – recommended by Mark B.
  3. His Girl Friday (1940)
  4. Citizen Kane (1941)
  5. Casablanca (1942)
  6. The Red Shoes (1948) – recommended by Matt R.
  7. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  8. Roman Holiday (1953) Review here.
  9. 12 Angry Men (1957) – recommended by Mark B.
  10. North by Northwest (1959)
  11. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  12. The 400 Blows (1959) – recommended by Matt R.
  13. The Apartment (1960) – recommended by Jaina M.
  14. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  15. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  16. The French Connection (1971) – recommended by Jaina M.
  17. Solaris (1972) – recommended by Matt R.
  18. The Godfather (1972)
  19. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  20. The Conversation (1974) – recommended by Jaina M.
  21. Annie Hall (1977) Review here.
  22. Manhattan (1979)
  23. Apocalypse Now (1979) – recommended by Matt R.
  24. The Warriors (1979) – recommended by Jaina M.
  25. The Shining (1980)
  26. Blade Runner (1982)
  27. Amadeus (1984) – recommended by Jenn G.
  28. Schindler’s List (1993)
  29. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  30. American Beauty (1999)
  31. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

I added several of Stanley Kubrick’s films, because unfortunately, I haven’t seen many of his. I know Christopher Nolan was highly influenced by Kubrick’s work, and being a big fan of Nolan’s films, I can’t help but want to see what inspired Nolan’s filmmaking style. Most of the list’s additions are considered classics, and that’s always a genre that I’ve strayed from due to lack of opportunity, time, or interest. I know there are a great many classics out there, and with streaming services like Netflix at my disposal, the only thing truly holding me back has been time.

Image found via Google Images.

I normally turn the end of a post over to everyone else, asking a question or two. I’m hoping to gain more feedback than normal, just because I’m really wanting to know . . .

For those of you who have seen any of these movies, would you recommend it as a must-see film? What classics or must-seen movies would you recommend I view (if they don’t make it on the list)? Which movie(s) would be on your “shame list”? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.