David Fincher’s last effort, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” felt mostly like the director was running in place – a genre exercise to keep him in shape, and not a whole lot else (Rooney Mara’s scathing performance as Lisbeth Salander was unfortunately balanced out by Daniel Craig sleepwalking his way through the entire film). Gillian Flynn’s thriller “Gone Girl” has a little more going for it, thematically: marital strife in hard economic times, ravenous media, dishonesty. The casting is also intriguing, with Ben Affleck continuing his efforts to reinvent and reinvigorate his place as one of Hollywood’s big-name leading men, and Rosamund Pike finally in a high-profile role worthy of her talent. This trailer is as stylish and intriguing as we’ve come to expect from Fincher projects (remember that phenomenal campaign for “The Social Network?”), but am I the only one getting a little bored of the same old shadowy aesthetic? I want to buy Jeff Cronenweth a nice standing lamp.
A Most Wanted Man
This year’s Sundance festival was generally perceived as a little lackluster (witness, no Sundance selection made it to Cannes’ Un Certain Regard this year, breaking with a sort of unofficial tradition of recent years). But one of the few consensus standouts was Anton Corbijn’s adaptation of John le Carré’s “A Most Wanted Man,” and in particular Philip Seymour Hoffman’s lead performance as weary German intelligence agent Günther Bachmann. It is continually sobering to know this will be one of our last chances to see Hoffman on the big screen, but it’s obvious even from this brief look that he will be as phenomenal as he ever was. He’s a perfect fit for a le Carré lead – dedicated, unglamorous, the definition of a slow burn.
Corbijn also seems a good fit for the material, coming off the heels of “The American,” another contemporary spy thriller that suffered only from a bit of a half-baked narrative. That shouldn’t be a problem here with le Carré at hand, and Corbijn’s controlled, precise style is an appropriate way to visualize a world where one false step has dire consequences. This one’s high on my most anticipated titles of the year.
Maps to the Stars
I just…I’m not even sure…what?
As with the above David Cronenberg nut-fest, Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman” will premiere on the Croisette in May. And I’m not the most objective source here, considering my irrational fondness for all things frontier, but I love everything about this trailer. I love the concept. I love Tommy Lee Jones in this role, and even Hilary Swank, who’s been far too fond of baity prestige pieces of late, seems suited to her part. I love the ensemble, with interesting character actors like Tim Blake Nelson, John Lithgow, David Dencik, Jesse Plemons, and let’s not forget Meryl, filling out the cast. I love “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” I love Kelly Reichardt’s “Meek’s Cutoff,” which has a lot of this particular flavor of homestead isolation. I’m all in.
And of course, the only thing better than an American frontier Western is a post-apocalyptic future Australian Outback Western! I’m not entirely sure what accent Robert Pattinson thinks he’s doing, but Guy Pearce was terrific in “The Proposition” and he seems to be tapping into that same vein of TERRIFYING here. I’ve never seen David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom,” which was a surprise critical hit back in 2010, earning Jacki Weaver her first Oscar nomination and putting Joel Edgerton on the map. It’s certainly on my priority list to catch up with before “The Rover” debuts out of competition at a midnight screening at Cannes next month.