Joshua Donen

Joshua Donen

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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

Priest Review


Bad
Bettany reteams with Legion director Stewart for another loud religious-themed action movie. But the po-faced filmmaking and acting only highlights how unoriginal it is, from production design to music to action sequences.

In the distant future, vampires have been vanquished to reservations by fierce warrior priests, whose order was then disbanded. But with rumours of a new attack, one priest (Bettany) returns to action, violating the direct order of his monsignor bosses (Plummer and Dale). Teaming up with a rural sheriff (Gigandet), he heads into the dystopic landscape to rescue his niece (Collins), who was kidnapped by an old colleague (Urban) who's now fanged and evil. As they catch up with him, they're joined by another rogue priestess (Maggie Q).

Continue reading: Priest Review

Drag Me To Hell Review


Excellent
With the Spider-Man films sitting out there like tarted-up, tawdry trophy wives, it's easy to forget how good a filmmaker Sam Raimi really is. If it weren't for the commercial strictures of the comic book movie, mandates which tend to stifle outright creativity, he might still be churning out the quality spine-tinglers. Instead, he's been lost in a sea of sparkle and spectacle, forgetting us fright fans who propped him up and suggested he might sell to a strict Tinseltown demo. Now, he's back crafting the kind of spook shows that made us all fall in love with him in the first place -- and Drag Me to Hell is quite an act of crazed contrition.

Loan Officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) wants the available assistant manager position in her bank. She hopes it will impress the parents of her psychology professor boyfriend Clay Dalton (Justin Long). But when a need for cutthroat tactics causes her to deny a geriatric gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) a third extension on her mortgage, there is literally hell to pay. Seems the old lady places a curse on Christine, guaranteeing that, in three days, a demon will arrive to drag her down to Satan's dominion. Hoping to avoid such a horrible fate, she seeks the aid of psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao). He suggests a medium (Adriana Barraza) who had a run in with the same spirit several years before. Unfortunately, it seems Christine's soul is condemned, and nothing can save her.

Continue reading: Drag Me To Hell Review

The Quick And The Dead Review


Excellent
All right, all right, I'm sorry I haven't been seeing the movies I should. I haven't seen A Simple Plan yet, I admit it. Everyone's been nagging me, bothering me about it, telling me: "James, it's such a great film." But I haven't seen it.

Anyway, that apology aside, I'm very glad I took time to watch Sam Raimi's 1995 film The Quick and the Dead.

Continue reading: The Quick And The Dead Review

The Quick And The Dead Review


Excellent
All right, all right, I'm sorry I haven't been seeing the movies I should. I haven't seen A Simple Plan yet, I admit it. Everyone's been nagging me, bothering me about it, telling me: "James, it's such a great film." But I haven't seen it.

Anyway, that apology aside, I'm very glad I took time to watch Sam Raimi's 1995 film The Quick and the Dead.

Continue reading: The Quick And The Dead Review

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Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

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Joshua Donen Movies

Gone Girl Movie Review

Gone Girl Movie Review

Those who have read the blockbuster novel may be disappointed to know that author Gillian...

Priest Movie Review

Priest Movie Review

Bettany reteams with Legion director Stewart for another loud religious-themed action movie. But the po-faced...

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