Posts Tagged ‘rosamund pike’

Movie Review: Hostiles (2017)

Posted: September 16, 2018 in Drama
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In 1892, Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) is ordered by Colonel Abraham Briggs (Stephen Lang) to transport Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) to his native home in Montana.  Yellow Hawk is a member of the Cheyanne tribe, dying of cancer and wants to be buried in his native land.  The directive to transport Yellow Hawk came from President Benjamin Harrison himself, but Blocker initially refuses to obey it because he thinks of Yellow Hawk as a murderer.  Briggs threatens Blocker’s pension, so Blocker reluctantly agrees.  Blocker put together a team and starts toward Montana.  On the way he finds a widow named Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike) whose husband and three children have been killed by Comanche, who burned her house to the ground.  She is traumatized and in a state of shock.  Blocker sympathizes with the widow, helps her bury her children, and takes her along with them. One night, Rosalie and the Native women are kidnapped by fur traders.  Chief Yellow Hawk offers to help Blocker rescue the women.  Does Blocker take him up on his offer?

Hostiles should have been the story of two psychologically traumatized people living in the old West.  The second half of the movie becomes something else entirely, and the movie stops working on any level.  The writers should have left the main characters alone, and the movie would have been much better. There’s already a movie like this, it’s John Ford’s classic The Searchers, John Wayne plays a bigot, who hates Native Americans, but has to go into Indian territory to save a little girl.  The villains in this movie are also Comanche, don’t know what the Comanche ever did to traumatize Hollywood writers, but they’re the heavies again.  The point is, John Wayne’s character never changed in The Searchers and didn’t have to, Hostiles should have followed similar character development. The climax of Hostiles violent and unnecessary, the whole movie is a wasted opportunity.

Christian Bale is one of the best actors in the world, he’s been acting well since he starred in Empire of The Sun as a 13 year old.  In Hostiles, however, Bale underplays the character so much that he’s barely noticeable.   The script doesn’t help him either, he’s asked to play the character one way for the first half of the movie, and another way during the second half of the movie.  Rosamund Pike has the opposite problem, she overplays the traumatized Rosalie to the point of hysteria, she was not good in Gone Girl either.  Wes Studi plays Yellow Hawk as a sympathetic character, but it’s a small role.

This movie was written and directed by Scott Cooper, who directed the awful Black Mass, and the good Out of The Furnace.  I am hesitant to watch movies written and directed by one person,  because the writer thinks his dialogue is great, so he rambles on, and the director thinks the writer is great, so he doesn’t edit any of the scenes to pick up the pacing.

Hostiles:  Christian should have Bale-d out on this movie.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist who’s sick of his day to day life and sick of his overbearing girlfriend Clara. (Rosemund Pike)  Hector feels like he needs a little adventure in his life, so one day with very little notice, he takes  off and goes to China, where he meets a young Chinese student ,Ying Li, (Ming Zhao) who isn’t what she appears to be.  Hector also stays with monks at a Chinese monastery.

Still searching for that elusive happiness, Hector jets off to Africa to help his friend Michael (Barry Atsma) who runs a clinic there.  Hector takes a taxi and is kidnapped by a gang headed by a man named Marcel  (Anthony Oseyemi)  Hector is only saved because he helped a drug dealer named Diego Baresco. (Jean Reno)

Undaunted by the kidnapping attempt Hector goes to California to meet up with an old flame named Agnes. (Toni Collette) Hector is also there to help a professor, Professor Coreman, (Christopher Plummer) with a psychiatric experiment.  Does he finally find happiness in Los Angeles?

I like Simon Pegg, but I did not like this movie.  The scenes in China are contrived, everything is paid for by a rich businessman, and he lives like a king.  He meets a beautiful woman and they sleep together, but the woman turns out to work in Hollywood’s favorite profession and then abruptly the Chinese storyline is dropped with no resolution, the Chinese woman is little more than eye candy The African story is insulting and condescending, passengers on the plane are holding chickens, drug dealers and kidnappers populate this place and the only doctors in sight are Hector and his friend Michael.  The ending is sentimental drivel, and really is out of step with the tone of  rest of the movie. Once in a while, there is supposed to be a life affirming message, like Happiness is being loved for who you are.  That is not life-affirming, that’s something you find in a 5 cent fortune cookie. Pegg  did not write this movie, that much is obvious, it’s too trite for his writing style. The only affecting scene is with Hector on a plane to L.A. with a woman, hardly worth sitting through two hours, but sill well done.

Pegg the actor tries to play a nice white collar type, but it doesn’t work for him, he comes off as the ugly American or the ugly Westerner as the case may be, romping through the Third World, trying to find himself.  He is much more effective playing a blue collar drinking buddy type. Rosamund Pike better stop playing domineering shrews, like she does here and in Gone Girl, she is going to get typecast.  Toni Collette does a pretty convincing American accent for an Australian, and Christopher Plummer does some inconsequential scenes at the end of the movie.

The direction is nothing of note, although this director did Serendipity, one of my favorite romantic comedies.  Watch that, instead of this mid-life crisis of a movie.

Hector and The Search For Happiness.  Hector hectors and gets hectored in this forgettable journey.

gone girl movie

When Nick Dunne (Ben AffflecK) meets Amy Oliver (Rosamund Pike) at a New York City party, the attraction is instantaneous.   She is smart, witty, and beautiful.  Nick is handsome, and funny in his own right.  Amy is the successful writer of the Amazing Amy series of books, and has a trust fund.  Nick writes for a men’s magazine, the future looks golden for both of them.  They get married, it starts out well, but in five years, the magic is gone. Amy is wring quizzes for a women’s magazine Nick is unemployed, the trust fund money is gone, and they have moved from New York City to Missouri to care for Nick’s mom, who later dies of cancer.  Nick opens a bar with his sister Margo  (Carrie Coon) the bar is losing money.  On their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears.  Nick is immediately suspected, but did he actually kill Amy?

I did not like the book, and I do not like the movie Gone Girl. There’s a reveal in both book and movie, and after the reveal both book and movie grind to a slow, agonizing halt.  It’s supposed to be an indictment of the reality show, feeding frenzy court tv mentality every time there is a murder of the century.  But this is more a parody of the American realty tv culture than it is a serious indictment.  There are many clichés in this movie, I won’t bother to name them, but even the characters fall into cliché territory.  The Tanner Bolt character is Johnnie Cochran, the Ellen Abbott character is Nancy Grace.  The tone of the story is inconsistent, is it a suspense movie, or is it a dark comedy?  What I like least about this story is that it savages both lead characters, if neither character is sympathetic, the viewer stops caring about either of them, and that’s exactly what happened here. I will lay all the plot flaws at the feet of author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn, who created a carbon copy of her book with the screenplay. A better, more satirical version of this movie is called To Die For, with Nicole Kidman.  Watch that instead.

The acting is not bad.  I don’t like Ben Affleck, when Tyler Perry, playing his lawyer, gave him a direction not to be so wooden, it is ironically funny.  But Ben uses what I dislike about him most, the glib, smug, pretty boy to good effect here to play a pretty despicable character.  Rosamund Pike is very good at maintaining a cool and calm exterior while constantly thinking to stay one step of the collapsing situation around her. She makes her character almost believable, and that is saying something.  Tyler Perry also does a pretty good job of playing a cartoonish character.  Neil Patrick Harris does not fare as well playing Desi Collings another poorly written character.

Part of the responsibility of the poor quality of the film resides with the director David Fincher.  Fincher has directed some really good films, like the Social Network and the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but this is not an epic story, and does not require a 2 ½ hour running time. Fincher could have easily edited the running time by a half hour or 45 minutes and not lost the essence of the story, but he did not, and so the story drags.

Fincher also gave the film a dark look trying to make it feel more sinister, but maybe because of the gallows humor or because I knew the story from the book, the movie never felt sinister to me.

Gone Girl:  Girl Gone Wild.

Here’s my review of the book: