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Gone Girl Review


Extraordinary

Those who have read the blockbuster novel may be disappointed to know that author Gillian Flynn hasn't changed anything in adapting it to the big screen, so there aren't any surprises along the way. But they'll be glad to see the story so faithfully and skilfully adapted, with snaky direction from David Fincher and actors who add layers of new meaning to the characters. And non-readers are in for a thrillingly twisty experience as a mysterious conundrum shifts into a full-on thriller and then something much more intensely personal.

When Nick (Ben Affleck) discovers that his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) is missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, he has no idea what has happened. As recounted in Amy's journal, their marriage has been a whirlwind of sexy highs and dark lows, as both writers lost their jobs in New York and moved to rural Missouri to take care of Nick's terminally ill mother. As a result, their marriage ran aground, and Nick increasingly turned to his twin sister Margot (Carrie Coon) for support. As two police officers (Kim Dickens and Patrick Fugit) investigate Amy's disappearance, the media circus begins to paint Nick as a villain, led by rabid tabloid-TV host Ellen Abbott (Missi Pyle). So while he suspects Amy's stalker-like ex (Neil Patrick Harris), Nick has little choice but hire a high-powered lawyer (Tyler Perry) to defend himself.

Even at nearly two and a half hours, this film races along breathlessly as events and revelations continually shift the perspective. It's clear from the start that neither Nick nor Amy (in diary-entry flashbacks) are particularly reliable narrators. Both are a bundle of secrets, although Nick remains far more sympathetic. Affleck gives one of his most textured performances in years as a nice guy who struggles to look "nice" for the cameras. His isolation and confusion are hugely involving, which contrasts strongly to Amy's far too confident point of view. Pike manages to bring out the peeling onion of Amy's personality beautifully, offering telling glimpses of the real woman beneath the characters she seems to always be playing. And the supporting cast add details that twist their roles as well. Dickens and Fugit are a terrific double act, while Coon and Harris constantly offer surprising hints about their characters beneath the bravado and concern.

Continue reading: Gone Girl Review

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Review


Excellent
Fincher brings a sleek, achingly cool vibe to this remake of the first novel in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. Although he doesn't find any more subtext in the intriguing characters and rather straightforward mystery, the film holds us completely in its grip.

Disgraced journalist Mikael (Craig) takes a job on an isolated island looking into the 40-years-earlier disappearance of the teenage niece of millionaire industrialist Vanger (Plummer). But the deeper Mikael digs, the messier things get. He discovers all kinds of nastiness in Henrik's dysfunctional family. Then he teams up with gifted hacker Lisbeth (Mara) to unravel the knots in the story. But as a ward of the state, Lisbeth is also dealing with her own rather intense situation.

Continue reading: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Review

The Social Network Review


Excellent
The story of Facebook is given a dramatic twist by the combination of Sorkin's brainy script and Fincher's brawny direction. What emerges is the tale of a computer nerd who only understands relationships if they're online.

While at Harvard in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and his best pal Eduardo Saverin (Garfield) came up with the concept of linking the students in a virtual network that honed the concept of MySpace into something more personal.

The problem is that it springs from a project Mark is working on for beefy twin rowers (Pence and Hammer) and their techie pal (Minghella), who immediately launch a legal battle against Facebook. Later, Mark links up with slick Napster founder Sean Parker (Timberlake) to push the site further, but he loses Eduardo in the process.

Continue reading: The Social Network Review

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review


Essential
Every great filmmaker is allowed one bad film. For David Fincher, his first was his worst.

An intelligent director, Fincher cut his teeth on television commercials and music videos before making his feature debut in 1992 with a forgettable and regrettable installment in the Alien franchise. It was all uphill from there. Fincher's next five films arguably are modern classics, each impressively different from its immediate predecessor. Gen X fanboys idolize him for the basement-dwelling aggressions of Fight Club. The director brought flash -- and a needed backbone -- to pulp thrillers like The Game and Panic Room. And cineastes found plenty to appreciate in the meticulous musings of Fincher's cold-case police procedural, Zodiac.

Continue reading: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Review

Picture - Cean Chaffin Los Angeles, California, Monday 8th December 2008

Cean Chaffin Monday 8th December 2008 The Los Angeles premiere of 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' held at the Mann's Village Theatre - Arrivals Los Angeles, California

Zodiac Review


Essential
Talk about a tough sell. David Fincher's most accomplished film to date is a true-crime masterpiece about the Zodiac, an enigmatic serial killer whose random approach to murder terrified Northern California throughout the late '60s and early '70s. Methodical and mesmerizing, the picture flirts with a three-hour run-time, features realistic depictions of senseless slaughter, and builds to an incomplete conclusion that is only satisfying when taken in context (for those unaware, the infamous cold case remains unsolved to this day).

It's also brilliant, the first great film of the year which constructs with painstaking detail a fruitless investigation that grew into an obsession for certain members of San Francisco's media and police forces.

Continue reading: Zodiac Review

Panic Room Review


Excellent
It's Home Alone for grown-ups. And just like kids ate up Macaulay Culkin and his homebound adventure, Panic Room is a real (yet creepy) crowd-pleaser for adults.

David Fincher directs this long-awaited follow-up to his groundbreaking Fight Club, with Jodie Foster in her first lead role since 1999's Anna and the King. The story is deceptively simple: Imminent divorcee Meg (Foster) is gaining a boatload of a settlement and, with her bratty, diabetic daughter Sarah (newcomer Kristen Stewart), decides to buy a cavernous, four-story brownstone in Manhattan's upper west side. The night they move in, three burglars pay a visit, searching for an alleged $3 million hidden somewhere in the house. Meg and Sarah hightail it to the secret "panic room," an impenetrable safe room off the master bedroom - only to learn that the money is secreted inside the panic room as well. A game of cat and mouse ensues - only the mice are definitively trapped in one tiny room.

Continue reading: Panic Room Review

Fight Club Review


Excellent
The first rule of Fight Club is "Do not talk about Fight Club."

So I'm breaking the rule. I figured you'd want to hear about it.

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The Game Review


Excellent
Any more of that brooding atmosphere and I might have to strangle myself. I don't know how Michael Douglas does it, much less manage to keep himself alive and kicking through two hours of torment, all of which may or may not be a fantasy "game" his brother (Sean Penn) has enrolled him in. Douglas plays an uber-rich tycoon who has everything he could want and is bored to tears with all of it. When kid brother promises the game will fill in what's lacking in his life, Mikie finds himself drawn to it, and a labyrinthine all-too-realistic game of murder, deceit, and betrayal begins. Set in my newly adopted home of San Francisco, I find this city full enough of intrigue even without machine gun-toting assassins and attack dogs chasing me around back alleys. And I can't imagine what I'd do if a cabbie drove us into San Francisco Bay... but I suppose that's why you have to watch the movie.

Continue reading: The Game Review

Panic Room Review


Excellent
It's Home Alone for grown-ups. And just like kids ate up Macaulay Culkin and his homebound adventure, Panic Room is a real (yet creepy) crowd-pleaser for adults.

David Fincher directs this long-awaited follow-up to his groundbreaking Fight Club, with Jodie Foster in her first lead role since 1999's Anna and the King. The story is deceptively simple: Imminent divorcee Meg (Foster) is gaining a boatload of a settlement and, with her bratty, diabetic daughter Sarah (newcomer Kristen Stewart), decides to buy a cavernous, four-story brownstone in Manhattan's upper west side. The night they move in, three burglars pay a visit, searching for an alleged $3 million hidden somewhere in the house. Meg and Sarah hightail it to the secret "panic room," an impenetrable safe room off the master bedroom - only to learn that the money is secreted inside the panic room as well. A game of cat and mouse ensues - only the mice are definitively trapped in one tiny room.

Continue reading: Panic Room Review

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