Last week I was on holiday with my Dad in New York. We always tend to go on holidays where there’s tons of stuff to do, rather than lounge around in the sunshine, and NY is the perfect city for activity: we went to MOMA; on pilgrimages to Strand Books and Three Lives & Company; to the theatre to see A Walk In The Woods; walked everywhere including Central Park, the West Village, and LES; had the best pizza I’ve eaten in a long time; spent an afternoon on The Circle Line; and a night at The Comedy Cellar.
On the occasions where our feet needed a rest we checked out movies and I went to the cinema more last week than I have done in months. OK, so it was only four times…but still! Below are brief reviews of the movies we saw: one great, two OK, and one that was a waste of time (mine, my father’s, the actors’, etc.).
Gone Girl was the first one that we saw and by far the best. We had both read the book, written by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay; fans of the book will be delighted that the film is probably exactly how they imagined it. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were perfectly cast and Pike in particular gives a standout performance. David Fincher has created a taut thriller, slightly more vividly violent than I had anticipated, but with the book’s very creepy ending.
Next up was The Judge, starring Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Junior as father and son. Duvall plays a small town judge and Downey Junior is a hotheaded yet brilliant big-time lawyer in the middle of a divorce. A family tragedy brings them together and from then on the film fairly hammers home its themes of familial estrangement, duty and morality. The performances from both leads were great as were Vincent D’Onofrio and Vera Farmiga (although it was kind of distracting that Farmiga had dyed her hair blonde for the role and as a result looked like Patricia Arquette’s doppelganger). The actors were let down by a formulaic and obvious script, and the whole thing was easily a half an hour too long. It’s a solid film but nothing extraordinary.
On a quiet Wednesday night we went to see A Walk Amongst The Tombstones. Liam Neeson, continuing his career renaissance as Hollywood’s go-to action actor, plays recovering alcoholic Matthew Scudder, a former cop turned Private Investigator who is contacted by a drug dealer wanting to find out who murdered his wife. Scudder ends up tailing two sadistic serial killers and the violence becomes pretty gruesome. Basically it’s not a warm-the-cockles-of-your-heart, family friendly affair, but despite this I did enjoy it, mostly because of Liam Neeson who always brings his own charisma and watchability to any role he takes on. (But seriously, if Taken 3 happens, I may have to reconsider that opinion.)
And lastly, the film I would warn you against investing any time in (even the trailer is an ask), No Good Deed. A stereotypical home invasion movie with a ‘twist’ at the end that is utterly pointless. The teenager sitting behind us put the audience’s frustration into words perfectly when she roared out, ‘just hit him again!’ See that’s the thing, Taraji P. Henderson’s character had ample opportunities to finish off Idris Elba, but it would have been a very short film. And so it was an hour of her not hitting him enough and the audience slowly losing their reason. Avoid at all costs.