Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Fugit’

To the Moon and Back

First Man

Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Ciaran Hinds, Kyle Chandler, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Olivia Hamilton, Pablo Schreiber, Shea Whigham, Lukas Haas, Corey Michael Smith

Thanks to a preview screening organized by United International Pictures at Suncoast Cinecentre, Durban, I was fortunate enough to see director Damien Chazelle’s highly anticipated Neil Armstrong biopic First Man starring an excellent Ryan Gosling and Golden Globe winner Claire Foy as his wife Janet Armstrong.

First Man was based on an intelligently written screenplay by Josh Singer based upon the James R. Hansen book First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong.

In the space race between America and the Soviets in the 1960’s, there was a desperate bid to successfully land a man on the moon, a pledge that iconic President John F. Kennedy made to the American public which in turn put pressure on NASA to not only train astronauts but successfully prepare them physically, psychologically and emotionally for a lunar trip.

What the Oscar winning director of La La Land Damien Chazelle does so beautifully is contrast the massive effort and technical implications of sending men to the moon with a complex family drama about Neil and Janet Armstrong as they desperate recover from the death of their young daughter Karen from a Brain Tumour.

Not only does this tragedy pull on the fabric of their marriage, but its Neil Armstrong’s absolute determination that he is going to be the first man on the moon and be the best astronaut America has ever seen. Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Half Nelson) gives a nuanced performance as Neil Armstrong, a father continually haunted by the death of his young daughter while the moon taunts him every evening, as if to say when are you actually coming to visit me?

Janet Armstrong superbly played by Claire Foy who deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance grows increasingly frantic at the prospect that while she has to be a mother to two young boys, there is a real danger that her husband might not return from a dangerous mission to the moon because of the infinite dangers involved.

In contrast to the familial tension at home, the actual attempts to get to the moon are impressively captured onscreen with mesmerizing sound effects suitably accompanied by an incredible musical score by Oscar winner Justin Hurwitz (La La Land) which truly makes First Man a remarkable and utterly impressionable film – This is truly great cinema held together by cerebral images and perfect on point portrayals of Neil and Janet Armstrong by  Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, who both brilliantly hold the film together emotionally and psychologically.

Audiences should watch out for a superb cameo by Corey Stoll as the outspoken Buzz Aldrin who feels nothing about remarking about an astronaut’s failure at his own funeral or how he was not a good pilot.

First Man is a complex, intelligently directed portrayals of one of the defining moments of the 20th century – Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the Moon and the build up which preceded this significant event.

Highly recommended viewing, First Man receives a film rating of 9.5 out of 10 and is truly a cinematic achievement that will take audiences literally to the moon and back. Utterly superb.

 

 

Amazing Amy…

Gone Girl

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Director: David Fincher

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Lisa Banes, Patrick Fugit, Sela Ward, Lola Kirke

Zodiac, Seven and The Social Network director David Fincher brings to cinematic life the Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl in an intoxicating style with superb performances by Ben Affleck (Argo, Hollywoodland) and Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, Pride and Prejudice) as Nick and Amy Dunne.

The Dunne’s seemingly perfect American suburban marriage is deconstructed under acute media scrutiny when Amy Dunne goes missing from their home in North Carthage, Missouri on their fifth wedding anniversary. Initially a break in is suspected. Then possibly a murder…

As the town of North Carthage gathers around to search for the elusive Amy, Fincher in a series of flashbacks gives a deceptive back story to the Dunne’s marriage, an American relationship come undone by the effects of the 2008 financial recession. As the couple leave their hip lifestyles in New York and move back to the Mid-West, it is revealed that Amy was the source of a series of children’s books Amazing Amy which her parents profited hugely off, making her the enviable product of a million dollar trust fund.

Amy Dunne is beautiful, gorgeous and has a range of creepy admirers. Being an only child, and now a missing woman, Amy is an enigma and her husband Nick Dunne, the suave charming fortyish hunk naturally becomes the main suspect.

Gone Girl in the tradition of The Jagged Edge is a manipulative and expertly directed thriller with Fincher extracting the most he can from his two leading performers, whilst simultaneously commenting on the current invasive trend of intense media scrutiny which defines American culture, made worse by reality TV, the internet and the cult of celebrity.

This form of media scrutiny has permeated all aspects of American culture and indeed influenced the contemporary world. Just analyze the media circus surrounding the current trials of Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani in South Africa as an example.

Gone Girl is as much an indictment of the current state of news media, as a stylish and slightly comical look at a disappearance which begs more questions than answers, a story of a couple whose lives are torn apart by the media due to an event which is as deceptive as it is real.

Fincher assembles an eclectic supporting cast including comedian Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt a notorious defence attorney, Sela Ward as an investigative talk show host Sharon Schieber along with Kim Dickens as a small town detective Rhonda Baney who is trying to make a break in an extremely puzzling case. Then there is also Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings a suitably creepy school friend of Amy’s.

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What makes Gone Girl so utterly superb is the extraordinary talents of Rosamund Pike, who really sinks her teeth into the complex role of Amy Dunne. That’s another of Fincher’s directorial gifts, he always gets the lead actress to deliver exceptional performances like what Rooney Mara did in the Oscar Nominated Swedish thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

This is by far Rosamund Pike’s best screen performance and will certainly elevate her onto the A-List of Hollywood actresses. She sizzles in this role and along with a duplicitous performance by Ben Affleck, who both make Gone Girl a truly superior adult thriller, whose narrative tension and plot twists rests solely on the acting of these two brilliant stars.

Gone Girl is must see viewing, a provocative thriller, a deconstruction of a marriage, an indictment of the ever widening dichotomy between truth and fabrication. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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