Scene Sound Off: Gone Girl

*photos and scene may be NSFW*

The Desi murder scene in Gone Girl is not only one of the most exciting and terrifying parts of the film, but also a great example of a film elevating a scene from the book. I remember reading this part in the book, but it didn’t nearly chill me as much as seeing it on screen helmed by the great David Fincher. There were loud and audible gasps in the theater when this happened, even from me, who already knew it was coming. Watching Desi die was far more frightening than reading it.

The scene opens with Desi arriving at his house. Amy hears Desi coming, and perfectly perches herself on the couch for his arrival. On a side note, I absolutely love Rosamund Pike’s husky and alluring voice as Amy. This scene has already begun shrouded in a sense of mystery.  One shot shows Desi and Amy completely in shadow, as the background is illuminated.

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Amy takes off her clothes, dressed in white lingerie. Of course, she is anything but pure. She has been painting herself as an innocent and abused victim for Desi the entire time.  Also, the white will make for an amazing contrast to dark red and black of Desi’s blood pouring on her.

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Amy opens her legs, she almost looks like a preying mantis about to consume her prey. The shots of the backs of Amy and Desi make for nice parallels and composition.

What really makes the scene amazing  is Trent Reznor’s score. As does the entire film. The pulsating heart-beat like music paired with the screen fading in and out makes the scene even more terrifying than it already is. In those brief all-in-black pauses, we fear for what we will see next. Our heart beats in rhythm to the score.

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Amy kills Desi at the height of his climax, when the blood is most flowing. When Amy slashes The camera is looking up at Desi, which makes it seem like the blood is going to fall on us. We see the initial slash and aftermath completely from Amy’s point of view. Instead of observing this murder we are right inside and a part of it. The cut makes for an overwhelming and horrifying shower of blood, and Amy freely moves about, rolling around in it. She is still having sex with him right after she first slits his throat.

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This scene is the farthest we’ve seen Amy go. Up until now all the havoc she’s wreaked has been on herself. We’ve seen the insane lengths she’s gone to create her murder scene, then the scenario of her being tourtured/raped by Desi. We’ve seen Amy spill her own blood, but this is the first we’ve seen her commit actual murder. The audience now sees that there are no lengths to which Amazing Amy will not go. Our eyes are opened to the true sociopath she really is.

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That final shot of Amy covered in blood, white lingerie now completely black, flipping her hair is perfect and the personification of Amy’s entire character. Even when you’re spilling buckets of blood from someone, you still have to have every blonde hair in place. Watch the scene below!

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2015 Golden Globes: Predictions

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Best Motion Picture – Drama

Will Win: Boyhood 

Should Win: Boyhood

I’ve debated a lot about this, because I very much enjoyed The Imitation Game. I thought it had a rousing and enthralling story, led brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch. But it is a typical Hollywood triumph story (albeit a well-done one) that we have seen many times before. Boyhood is a filmmaking marvel, on the technical side. It is quite a simple story, the moving moments are a lot smaller. They may not hit you as hard as The Imitation Game, but I think we have to honor that. Selma is another strong front-runner, but it is pretty safe to say Boyhood has a lock.

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Best Actor – Drama

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game

Eddie Redmayne’s complete physical transformation as Stephen Hawking is stellar. He is able to convey so much through his eyes and facial expressions when words eventually fail him. While I do think that he deserves it and should win, but I also loved Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game. He was perfectly suited for the dishelved and socially awkward Alan Turing. He completely lived his character. But there is also no denying the physical feats that Redmayne went through to accurately portray Stephen Hawking.

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Best Actress – Drama

Will Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Should Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

I have not seen all of Still Alice yet, but from what I have seen Julianne Moore yet again brings her immense talent in this heartbreaking story of a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. This is another tight category, for we also have Rosamund Pike who brilliantly brought to life Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, a complex role that is no easy feat to tackle. There is also Reese Witherspoon in Wild, giving her best performance to date as Cheryl Strayed. However, Julianne Moore deserves this one.

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Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Will Win: Birdman

Should Win: Birdman

There is no contest in this category. One of the most wholly original films of the year, Birdman is a trippy and intimate journey into the artists’ mind, one that pokes fun at Hollywood and the image of celebrity. Birdman has astounding direction, cinematography, rousing jazz drums score, and outstanding meta-performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, who’s roles poke fun at their own images. I actually didn’t LOVE it at first, there’s so much that you’re hit with. It definitely requires a re-watch, it hits you hard with a lot and there’s so much more to be absorbed from it than on a first watch.

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Best Actor – Musical or Comedy 

Will Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Should Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Again, there is no contest for this category. Michael Keaton is outstanding and fearless in Birdman. The film s the perfect showcase for his talents, he is able to deftly craft this absurd satirical comedy.

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Best Actress – Musical or Comedy

Will Win: Amy Adams for Big Eyes

Should Win: Amy Adams for Big Eyes

Although this is under comedy, Amy Adams’ performance as Margaret Keane was more dramatic. She plays a quiet woman allows herself to be steamrolled and manipulated by her husband. It’s hard to make someone so passable likable and empathetic. While Emily Blunt is talented in Into the Woods, overall the whole film and performance feels very tepid.

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Best Supporting Actor 

Will Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Should Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

J.K. Simmons is bone-chilling as this vindictive teacher in Whiplash. There are other strong performances in this category, specifically Edward Norton as the pompous method actor and Ethan Hawke as the absent dad in Boyhood. But J.K. Simmons gives a powerhouse performance that deserves to be recognized.

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Best Supporting Actress 

Will Win: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood 

Should Win: Emma Stone for Birdman 

I have not seen A Most Violent Year yet, for which Jessica Chastain is nominated, so unfortunately I cannot consider that in my choices. Meryl Streep is her usual great self in Into the Woods, particularly during “Stay With Me.” But the rest of the role doesn’t leave much of an impression or reach great heights. Patricia Arquette as the mother in Boyhood is wonderful (especially in the scene where her boy goes off to college) It is no easy feat navigating and maintaing a character for twelve years, especially when you do not know their arc. (Boyhood was written as the years went along, not before shooting) I do feel that she should win the prize, but I also cannot ignore Emma Stone in Birdman. Her temper tantrum monologue in the film is her best work, showing a great range that goes beyond her penchant for sarcasm.

Boyhood-BikeBest Director 

Will Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman 

This is a tough category, for Richard Linklater definitely deserves to be recognized for helming this ambitious project could have easily failed, and it succeeds in tenfold. Boyhood is an impressive work that manages to redefine cinema. But there is also no denying the other talents in this category, specifically Alejandro González Iñárritu for his utterly inventive direction of Birdman and David Fincher for perfectly bringing to life the dark thriller of Gone Girl.

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Best Screenplay 

Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman

Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman

Gillian Flynn does a great adaptation of her novel, but again there is no denying the sheer originality of Birdman‘s creative story.

Top 10: 2014 Movies

These are my personal choices for the best movies of 2014. It’s been a wonderful year for film!

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1. Interstellar

Interstellar was my absolute favorite of the year. While I was a bit disappointed with parts of the ending and some lack of character development, that does not overshadow my love for this film. It’s an incredible balance of thrills, visual spectacle, top-notch acting, and thought-provoking ideas. The visuals are a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen, especially one depicting space. Matthew McConaughey is nothing short of outstanding, especially his scene where he watches the videos of his child growing up before his eyes. It shoots through the heart and will leave you aching. As will many other moving moments. The scientific and time-travel elements will blow your mind. (Even if you don’t fully understand them) I consider it to be, and I believe it should be held up as a modern classic. See more of my review here.

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2. Whiplash

 Whiplash is majorly intense, thanks to the squaring off of Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons as clashing jazz music teacher and student. The film explores how far you are willing to go for your talent, how far you’re willing to go for your art. The drumming in this is insanely amazing, (and looks very painful…) and apparently Miles Teller actually did it. You cannot look away, it is be brutal and horrific yet compelling. J.K. Simmons, who is known as Juno’s loving dad or J. Jonah Jameson from Spider-Man, is chilling and terrifying. It never fails to shock the lengths that student Andrew will go to vie for a starring spot in his teacher’s eye. The finale packs a powerful punch and will leave you on the edge of your seat.

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3. Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler really makes an impression, and that’s all due to Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance. His Lou Bloom echoes Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. Lou is success-hungry and sociopathic, he will stop at nothing do advance further in his career. He is completely committed to achieving success as a news cameraman, who films crashes, accidents that take place at night. Lou has no qualms about crossing moral lines. Although it is not just Lou who lacks morality, for Nightcrawler also gives a scathing look at the news and modern media. The newscasters who work in tandem with Lou will also stop at nothing to get that perfect shot and story, so who cares about the people it happened to? The more tragic the event, the better the news. Nightcrawler is an incredible thriller that really leaves a stamp in your mind thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal’s star performance.

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4. Gone Girl

Based on the bestselling book, Gone Girl was a highly-anticipated adaptation. Helmed by the brilliant David Fincher and a screenplay penned by the illustrious author herself, Gillian Flynn. Together, they create a fantastic adaptation that lives up to the book’s twisted tale. Gone Girl will go down in history as one of the smarter thrillers that depict a heated battle of the sexes.(i.e. the 90s hits Basic Instinct, Body Heat) With sleek visuals and a chilling performance by Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl is an intelligent and engrossing thriller that will be talked about for a very long time. To see my full review, go here.

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5. The Immigrant

The Immigrant is an elegant and haunting gem, telling the story of early 1920s America. The visuals are outstanding, shot with a gorgeous sepia tone or muted colors that perfectly capture the period. Marion Cotillard shines, as she so often does, as the Polish immigrant. Her performance is powerful, quietly yet deftly capturing Eva’s emotional turmoil. Joaquin Phoenix is on equal footing as the flawed hustler. Together, they craft engrossing characters that are intertwined for better or worse. The Immigrant is a somber piece but exiusite film. Marion Cotillard enraptures the audience, making you completely engrossed in Ewa’s long and hard journey. I wrote more about The Immigrant here.

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6. Boyhood

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood obviously achieves a technological feat with it’s innovative use of telling a story over 12 years, you watch the cast grow up before your very eyes. And it is a marvel. But what could have been a gimmick ends up being a resounding realistic portrait of life. What’s so beautiful about Boyhood is it’s simplicity. It’s not just a story that hits all the typical beats of adolescence, like “here’s the PROM scene” or “here’s the FIRST KISS scene.” Instead it is compromised of the little things. How life’s little moments, heartbreaking and joyful, can so quickly accumulate, and before we know it it’s years later. Boyhood comes as close to life as a documentary, it is an experimental film that more than paid off, one that redefined cinema.

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7. The Babadook

The Babadook is a game-changing horror film that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, twisting familiar horror film elements to create something completely original. The Babadook is filled with artful visuals, long shadows and an elegant grayscale wash. It makes the house they live in look exactly like the charcoal Babadook book. There’s strange camera angles and an astounding and eerie silent film montage. The relationship and story of mother and son is genuinely moving, and Essie Davis gives a phenomenal performance. You never know quite where the story is going. Is it another story of a possessed mother? Is it truly a monster? Or is it just psychological, all in their heads? The Babadook is a blur between reality and metaphor, one that never quite gives you all the answers but takes you on a heart-wrenching and terrifying ride.

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8. Wild

Reese Witherspoon gives the best performance of her career in Wild. She is a flawed and complicated heroine, one who must go on a 1,000 mile walk to cleanse her soul from demons past. Several powerfully moving scenes have been stuck in my head long after seeing it. Director Jean-Marc Vallée, who previously helmed Dallas Buyers Club, does stunning work here. The flashbacks brilliantly intertwine with her present-day scenes. Wild is both painful and uplifting. It enraptures the audience in the complicated her conquest every step of the way.

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9. The Skeleton Twins

The Skeleton Twins is a rare family drama that deftly navigates both the highest of highs and lowest of lows. It’s a rare film that can effectively mine both laughter and tears. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are the perfect pair, demonstrating their well-known comedic chops but also bringing fantastic dramatic performances as well. The Skeleton Twins is an emotionally engaging dramedy. It also gives us a hilarious “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” lip-synching scene.

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10. Pride

Pride is pure uplifting fun. Set in the 1980s England coal miner’s strike and the LGBT community that helps support them. It’s an earnest story of overcoming prejudice without being too schmaltzy. The combination of being emotionally resonant while remaining fairly light-hearted keeps it from being preachy. Pride is a joyous and heartfelt crow-pleaser with a great 80s soundtrack. Also, the ending scene (pictured above) has some really beautiful London visuals, with a great score too!

Top 10: Opening Credits

An opening credits sequence sets the tone and overall theme of the film, and sometimes a film can start off with a bang. An opening sequence that is captivating, making the film a gripping watch from the very start. Combined with the right choice of music, that right song can hit that sweet spot to completely personify the film you’re about to watch. Here are some of the great ones.

1. Skyfall (And James Bond series) 

The James Bond series prides itself on the opening titles, they are one of the most memorable parts of film history. The recent James Bond film is no different, with a trippy underwater sequence with both bright colors and play on shadows. Adele’s Oscar-winning song is the sultry soundtrack to the opening.It ends with the camera diving into Daniel Craig’s piercing blue eyes. The entire James Bond canon, especially the classics, (Goldfinger especially) is at the top of this list. The sequences are well-crafted, and the latest James Bond‘s is no different.

2. Watchmen

Zack Snyder smartly manages to hold our attention with this slow-motion and gorgeously shot montage. He miraculously concentrates a wealth of Alan Moore’s dense backstory into this compressed period. The use of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A’Changin'” is brilliant, as we follow the heroes through notable periods of history, such as The Comedian being behind JFK’s Assassination. I had not read one bit of Watchmen, and this title sequence helped me understand the backstory without the use of one word of dialogue. The opening actually ends up being the best part of the film.

3. Do the Right Thing

Rosie Perez dances to Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’ under hot-red lights and it’s great. It’s a heated and powerful opening, with a song that is very important throughout the film. Do the Right Thing is a film with a lot of messages about our society, and this is a simple but great opening statement.

4. Grease

The title-based song is sung by Frankie Valli, a perfect choice for a film honoring the 50s. The animations are tongue in cheek satires of 1950s pop nostalgia. The cartoon likenesses of the actors are adorable. This is a fun and bubbly opening sequence that is just as infectious and the film it’s preceding.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

Fincher has a knack for starting his films off with great opening titles. There’s another on this list, and it’s worth noting Fight Club and Panic Room as well. Trent Reznor does it again with his cover of ‘The Immigrant Song.’ You don’t know quite what you’re looking at in the design, but it is captivating. Paired with the frenetic song, the titles are strange, gritty, edgy, but also very provocative. Which is, essentially, the entire feel of the Lisbeth Salander stories.

6. The Graduate

Perhaps one of the most well-known opening titles of all time, often homaged in many other films (including Tarantino’s Jackie Brown). Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence is Benjamin’s swan song, it encapsulates the apathy he is feeling and appears again and again throughout the film/. The sounds of the airport announcer droning mixes with the song. Benjamin rides a moving sidewalk, deep in thought and disillusioned with the world around him. This is a memorable opening that sets the stage for Benjamin’s plight which we follow throughout The Graduate.

7. Seven

Fincher does it again with Seven‘s opening. Gritty and just downright dirty, the opening gives us fun little clues and peeks into the killer that will be revealed later. One being the razor to the fingers. It’s uncomfortable, grimy, and completely and utterly creepy, as is the entire film.

8. Lilo and Stich

Lilo and Stitch‘s opening starts off with beautiful animation of the Hawaiian sea. It always makes me want to go swimming, you can feel the rays of sunshine and cool water. The Hawaiian song ‘He Mele No Lilo’ is lovely, and of course fits perfectly with the setting. Lilo and Stitch is a unique Disney film, as is their choice to set it in Hawaii. The sequence also serves as a great introductory not only for the setting, but also for our lead character. We see exactly who Lilo is, a curious and fun little girl.

8. Catch Me if You Can

This fun and jazzy animation paired with the score fits the time period to a tee, as well as the buoyant cat and mouse feel of the film. The cute animations highlight the different identities and other lives that Frank Abagnale will don throughout the film.

10. Adventures in Babysitting

This opening just perfectly encapsulates the joy of youth and what it is to be a teenager. The song begins before the first shot is even on screen. Elisabeth Shue lip-syncs and dances to ”Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals, a classic 1960s bubblegum pop staple. There’s something sweetly nostalgic about a teenager of the 80s singing this 60s song. It’s something we wouldn’t really see in a modern film. It’s a fun and memorable way to open a comedy for young kids. She has carefree fun before her hopes are dashed by some jerk with a license plate that says “SO COOL”