Movies: Gone Girl

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Gillian Flynn
20th Century Fox, 2014
R; 149 mins
4 stars (out of 5)


Let me start by saying I really hated the novel.

But . . . I really like David Fincher movies.

So I had mixed feelings about going to see Gone Girl. I thought maybe I'd just wait until it was on Netflix or whatever. Except Fincher movies really do deserve to be seen on the big screen.

And I liked the movie for what it was. Well crafted. Beautifully shot.

I didn't like the book because there was no one to like in the book. Neither Nick nor Amy is likable; in fact, they're almost intolerable. Sure, you could argue that Margo is sympathetic, but she's not enough to carry an entire novel about two really terrible people.

Now, it's been more than two years since I read the book. But seeing the movie, I do feel like they tried to make Nick more agreeable, probably out of necessity since every movie needs some kind of hero, someone for the viewer to cheer on. I sort of hate the movie for that, though, which is why I deducted a star. Nick doesn't deserve to be made the victim here; he and Amy are both awful, which is why they deserve each other. Yes, I really do believe that, even though [SPOILERS FOLLOW] she's a psychopathic murderer. To make viewers feel sorry for Nick is sort of cowardly filmmaking in my mind.

But maybe we're not supposed to feel sorry for Nick. Maybe it's the, "He made his bed and now he's lying in it" thing. He's stuck in a town where everyone knows he cheated on his wife (hell, the world knows it), and she comes up looking like a rose. No other woman is going to come near him now. He didn't go to prison, but yeah, he kind of did.

Mostly I feel sorry for any baby they have. And for the cat. I'm really hoping the cat was able to escape that toxic environment.

Anyway, my peculiar and particular beefs aside, it was a good movie. I don't really know if I liked it more than the book; it might be more accurate to say I liked it differently from the book. Fincher was certainly the right choice for capturing the tone, and Pike in particular does a phenomenal job as a calculating psychopath who has most of the world fooled. I do wish they'd cranked up Neil Patrick Harris' character a bit, though. And as I've mentioned, they could (possibly should) have made Nick less compassionate.

In short, a solid film. Those who loved the novel should be satisfied, and those who didn't read it should find the movie entertaining anyway. I fall somewhere in the middle and still found Gone Girl to be worth my while.

Television: Doctor Who, "Flatline"

Or, "When Graffiti Goes Bad."

Taking the whole "bigger on the inside" schtick to an extreme, this episode features a shrinking TARDIS (on the outside) with the Doctor stuck inside. Which leaves Clara to act as the Doctor in the, ahem, larger world.

In search of a why, Clara comes across some community service workers who are painting over graffiti. One of the workers is young Rigsy, a graffiti artist himself. Clara learns that people have been disappearing from locked rooms, and through a drawn-out process she and Rigsy discover that the lost people have actually been . . . flattened.

These 2D aliens basically suck people into walls and floors and leave behind "artwork" that is actually biology, like an extreme close-up of skin cells or the willowy branches of the nervous system. I know they say the human body is beautiful, but really?

The aliens seem to be learning about the 3D world by absorbing people. They begin forming zombie-like 3D versions of themselves, popping up out of the ground and such. Now Clara, Rigsy, and the other community service guys are in danger. Meanwhile, the TARDIS continues to shrink and lose power thanks to whatever the aliens have done to it.

Honestly, at this point I wasn't all that interested. There was a lot of running around in tunnels, and then Clara has Rigsy paint a false door that tricks the aliens and restores power to the TARDIS or something. The Doctor now on the scene, he makes short work of what he names "The Boneless."

Again, really? Because all anyone is going to think when they hear that is, "What, like buffalo wings? Chicken fingers?" It's just dumb.

Unless, you know, they're planning ahead for a restaurant tie-in?

Other key things about the episode:

  1. The opening scene is a classic example of, if the man on the phone would have just spit out the information instead of hemming and hawing, it would have saved everyone a certain amount of trouble.
  2. In this episode the Doctor becomes aware that Clara has lied about Danny being okay with her continuing to travel with him.
  3. The final scene shows Missy watching everything that has happened, and in particular focusing on Clara, who Missy claims to have "chosen."
It was an okay episode. A clever idea, but it got boring there in the middle. It was an interesting choice, however, to have the least likable character survive. A nice change, I think, showing that things don't always turn out "fair." They also continue to beat us over the head with the question of whether the Doctor is "good." I'd say he's sort of chaotic good anyway, meaning he's willing to do bad things—murder, avenge—if he thinks it's for the greater good or upholds his personal belief system. But whatever.