FURY

fury posterSome may think Brad Pitt playing a sergeant during World War II sounds familiar. Like Inglourious Basterds familiar. But be assured, there is nothing in common other than the war in which that movie and FURY are set. Pitt continues to show tremendous facility playing the hero and bending his persona to fit a role. I think they call that acting. FURY is the story of one tank during the final days of WWII. Pitt is the tank commander, supervising a crew of five. They include his bible quoting gunner Shia LeBeouf; his foulmouthed bayou mechanic Jon Bernthal; his take no shit driver Michael Pena and the new guy, assistant driver Logan Lerman. FURY pulls no punches when it comes to brutality. Heads explode, limbs are severed, bodies are squished by tanks. It’s vividly unsettling. But this is not just about brutality. It’s about survival. Surviving the next battle, surviving the war and surviving yourself. These five men band together to become a single unit, an efficient killing machine. It’s an impressive thing to witness. FURY is not without its tender moments. A very long act played out in an apartment with Pitt, Lerman and two German women. Initially the frauleins are afraid, but they recognize the soldiers’ sensitivity and humanity. But all that is blown to shit when the rest of the tank crew arrives in their own brutal fashion. Even that moment of calm is eventually destroyed by an artillery shell. That’s when the petrified Lerman realizes what war is about and what he is capable of. This is not a perfect movie. Some scenes drag a bit and there is one brutal jump edit in the apartment scene. Those faults are minor. During the penultimate scene, the crew exchange the opinion that this is “the best job I ever had.” It’s hard to argue that or find fault with their heroism, especially during the climatic battle. FURY plays off war movie cliches, but in the best way possible. This is a movie not to be missed. — Alan Yudman

 

OUIJA

ouija posterNothing unexpected, nothing frightening, nothing that deviates from the formula. A 90-minute time-waster from the many-entried horror sub-category of sequentially-dying teens, this one is quite literally “product” since its very reason for existing is a product — Hasbro’s venerable Ouija board, patented in 1891 and still sold today. The set-up has the movie’s one good shocker, involving a string of Christmas-y lights. After that, the four unimpressive leads attempt to plumb a troubling suicide with further fatal results. By the time Lin Shaye (where would these movies be without her?) shows up you may laugh, because you’ll have just seen her in the trailer for INSIDIOUS 3. (The Friday my friend Anthony and I saw it, there was also a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET marathon up the street — with still moreLin Shaye!) Like the FINAL DESTINATION series, you judge a movie like this on how creatively the kids die, and here the snuffings do not impress. One is sort of vaporized and another kind of turns to stone, two “special effects” that probably didn’t excess the craft services budget. Overall, I wasn’t OUIJA-bored, but I’ve already forgotten about it. — Jeff Schultz

 

 

GONE GIRL

Gone-Girl-poster-3A commentary on the modern marriage? A murder mystery? A twisty thriller? Gone Girl is all of the above. The movie succeeds on many levels, and still manages to not only entertain but to keep the audience guessing as well. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike shine and director David Fincher does a great job at building suspense and when necessary, shocking the audience as well. The less known about this girl, the better. It was refreshing to see a grown up movie about grown up people dealing with grown up problems in a grown up world. This one kept my attention all the way to the end, which by the way is a whole other conversation! – Stormy Curry

 

 

 

 

 

 

GONE GIRL

Gone-Girl-poster-3Oh, it’s long, girl. And this movie takes a hard right turn about halfway through that will test your tolerance for tonal shift. And then it does it once again. And then again. What begins as a straightforward, engrossing (murder?) mystery is replaced by the complete absence of mystery and ends up in Fatal Attraction territory without that satisfying bullet between Glenn Close’s eyes. David Fincher brings his usual cool authority with a major exception: the shrill, cartoonish portrayal of the media clashes with the realistic, restrained performances by… well, everybody. The casting is exceptional, never more so than the attention paid to the smaller roles. Tyler Perry may be the worst (if richest) director in America, but he nails his part as a high-powered defense lawyer. Even better is Patrick Fugit as the junior detective. This clever actor gets nowhere near the parts he deserves, and think how long it’s been since ALMOST FAMOUS. Also worth a nod: Kim Dickens as the lead detective, wry and blunt, reminds me a little of Kate Mara, direct and tough. (After a big rift between her and Ben Affleck, they get back on track. Ben says to her, “So we’re pals again?”, and she answers, “Yeah, now that I know you didn’t murder your wife.” You have to see and hear it, but the line reading is spot on.) The movie’s leisurely pace works fine as long as we’re kept in the dark and as the clues slowly pile up. But after that jolt mentioned at the top, it’s like, ok, let’s pick up the pace. At 2 hours and 25 minutes, I was gone, girl, before the credits finished rolling. — Jeff Schultz

 

ANNABELLE

annabell posterThe best thing about this movie is the actual doll, who doesn’t get near enough screen time. It reminds me of Bette Davis as Baby Jane, a slattern in too much makeup with crazy eyes. But unlike her male counterpart, Chucky, Annabelle doesn’t talk. The possessed doll instead exerts its evil influence as a conduit for the Devil’s henchpersons. This is accompanied by the usual array of horror cliches, including creaking doors (seriously), household objects that move or operate on their own, apparitions gliding by in the background unbeknownst to the heroine, the failed intercession of a cleric, and of course, the epilogue that let’s us know that despite one resolution the evil will return. (When the screen went black just prior to this epilogue, I said out loud “Six Months Later”… right before the words appeared on the screen.) Matters are not aided by the bland, uninvolving leads — younger, duller versions of Naomi Watts and, maybe, Ben Affleck. There are moments when you think it might get better, but overall, this is just an October place-filler. — Jeff Schultz