Monday, October 20, 2014

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Greg Nicotero (Part 1)

Andrew: Hello dear readers! As we mentioned in our Introduction post, Sarah and I attended the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con here in downtown Atlanta this past Saturday. If you were unable to read our intro or just opted to skip it, Walker Stalker Con is a horror/sci-fi convention particularly focused on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. We were only able to attend the main day on Saturday, and of the number of panels that were held, we were able to catch three of them, including the first one of the day - legendary makeup and special effects artist Greg Nicotero! 

Along with being in charge of all the fantastic zombie makeup and special effects on the show, Nicotero doubles as an executive producer and even triples as an occasional director. In fact, Nicotero had the honor of directing the outstanding Season 5 premiere that aired just last week.

Of the three panels we sat in on, Nicotero's was the least attended, which was a shame because his ended up being the most informative of the day. In fact, it was SO informative that we needed to split up his panel into two separate posts to cut down on reader fatigue 

We took the effort (oh who are we kidding, it was a downright pleasure) of jotting down Nicotero's talking points and taking some photos of the proceedings. Below here you'll find what we believe to be a fine summary of Nicotero's panel. Enjoy!


GREG NICOTERO'S WALKER STALKER CON PANEL, Part 1

- Nicotero walked on stage through a nice mock-up of the "A" train car from the Season 4 finale/Season 5 premiere the show's protagonists were locked up in a Terminus, greeting the 50 or so attendees with a jovial, "You're all the people who don't want Andy or Norman's autograph!"



The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero walks onstage through a mockup of the Terminus "A" train from the Season 4 finale/Season 5 premiere.
Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...


- Nicotero, who directed the season premiere, is asked about the train car set. He explains how they modified the car a bit from an actual train car by building the wooden frames that allowed Andrew Lincoln's Rick to saw a shiv off of it. More of note, Nicotero points out that Rick is using Hershel's watch chain to saw off the wood, which I didn't notice while watching the show, and how Hershel's watch read 5:01 - as in Season 5, Episode 1. Apparently every clock or watch in a respective episode reads whatever episode number of the show it's in. Little details like that are pretty neat.

- At this point the floor was opened to convention guests to ask questions at microphones placed throughout the aisles. The first question pertained to Zombie Pete, the member of Caesar's group whom took leadership of the group after The Governor killed Caesar, and was then himself killed by The Governor and unceremoniously dropped in a lake with cement shoes.

Nicotero explains that they shot Zombie Pete's scenes in a pool in Senoia, Georgia, about an hour south of Atlanta. Senoia is the town that stands in as Woodbury and apparently is also a home base of sorts for the show. Nicotero humorously explained that since they were shooting in water, Enver Gjokaj (the actor who played Pete), wasn't able to wear the usual contact lenses that zombie actors wear, saying "If he had worn the contacts they would've floated away in the water!" Instead they had digital effects artists draw in Zombie Pete's eyes.

- Nicotero is asked about the explosion of the propane tank in the season premiere. He mentions that the Terminus set is located at Conyer's Metals just 15 minutes outside of Atlanta, which Sarah and I found to be neat. More of note, Nicotero said they had six different cameras filming the explosion since they could only do it once, and in his original cut of the episode he used five of those angles to make the explosion look bigger. However, Walking Dead executive producer Scott M. Gimple saw the cut and pointed out how the scene is really from Carol's perspective and asked to see it from only her angles, a switch Nicotero made and everyone agreed worked better for the story.

- A fan asked Nicotero about the now famous flaming zombie from the season premiere and the pathetic Terminus guy who tries to crawl away but gets his face eaten instead. When the fan mentions that the Terminus guy didn't seem to be acting particularly well, Nicotero points out that it was in fact a stunt man, saying "If there's any stunt guys here, I'm sorry, you can't act!"

Nicotero then explained that to create the flaming zombie and yet not burn off the stunt guy's face, they employed a silicone face mask that Nicotero had originally created for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds for the intense bar scene. The face mask was created to protect the bartender's face from the exploding squibs coming off the wooden bar. Also of note, when the flaming zombie is biting the Terminus guy's face off, that's actually a puppet, which wasn't originally in the script. When the cut was sent to Gimple, the exec producer simply replied, "Holy sh*t."

- A fan asked Nicotero if he feels like saving his best zombie effects for the episodes he directs. "Nooo…" he responds while vigorously nodding his head. Many laughs from the crowd.

- A fan and aspiring makeup effects artist asked for any tips for going into the profession. "Take pictures of everything you do," Nicotero responded, telling of how early in his career he didn't take pictures of his works and therefore didn't have a portfolio early on. "Even if you don't love (your work), it'll show the progression of how you've improved."

- A pair of children asked Nicotero how many CGI shots were used in the premiere. When Nicotero asks the kids their ages, he's amused to hear they're 8 and 10 years old. "I'm corrupting the youth," he jokes. Then he goes in-depth on his true answer, repeating some info he originally shared on AMC's post-Walking Dead discussion show, Talking Dead, about how they filmed the visceral throat-cutting/trough scene without any prosthetics:

"We put tubes around the actors' necks that would spurt out the blood, but we didn't want to put prosthetics around the tubes. We didn't want to have to deal with that. So we shot the whole scene with the tubes and then had the digital effects artists erase it!"


For the graphic "trough scene" from the Season 5 premiere, Nicotero and his crew had tubes spurting fake blood around the actors' necks, which were later digitally erased, as you no longer see them in the final shot.

Nicotero also pointed out how they used a rubber bat, a rubber knife, but "real" fake blood for the scene; and lots of it, saying "We maybe went a little too far here," while filming. He even mentioned how Standards & Practices saw his first cuts and would say the first blood spurts were fine but the second spurts needed to be cut, much to Nicotero's delight. "They said, 'The first spurt is okay, but the second spurt needs to be cut.' And I went, 'Great!'"

- Nicotero starts talking about the Terminus goon who was using the baseball bat and practicing his swing. First he spilled a spoiler from the comic book regarding the fate of a particular character who dies at the hands of a baseball bat (which I won't spoil here) and how having the Terminus guy use a baseball bat was Nicotero's homage to the comics. Then he repeated another bit from Talking Dead joking about how the seemingly mundane aspects of the Terminus guys going about killing their victims was "Our version of The Office. Dwight and Jim but with machetes."

- A fan asked Nicotero about the rumor that for scenes with walkers biting human flesh they use raw chicken. Nicotero corrects the woman by saying it's not raw chicken but raw steak that they use. He specifically talks about the famous scene in the season 4 finale of Rick ripping out the throat of Joe, the leader of The Claimers. "We soaked it in blood, stuck it in the prosthetic for maximum effect, and Andy (Lincoln) kept saying to put more in there. I think he was hoping for a three-course meal out of the thing!" He also notes the obvious that using raw chicken would be bad because you could get ill, whereas people eat raw steak all the time.


CLICK HERE TO READ THE SECOND PART OF OUR GREG NICOTERO PANEL COVERAGE FROM THE 2014 ATLANTA WALKER STALKER CON!

Two Tickets For... Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Greg Nicotero (Part 2)

Andrew: Hello dear readers! This past Saturday, Sarah and I were able to attend the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con, a horror/sci-fi convention focused primarily on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. This post is the second half of our coverage of The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero's panel. If you missed the first half, you can read it HERE


GREG NICOTERO'S WALKER STALKER PANEL, Part 2

- A fan asked about Nicotero's preparation when he directs an episode and about AMC's notoriously stingy budgetary concerns. He explains that for season premieres, mid-season finales, mid-season premieres and season finales directors are given nine days to shoot. Nicotero says he traditionally gets his copy of the script, will jot down his own notes, and then storyboards how he wants to shoot scenes. Nicotero claims episode 9 of this season, which he directed, is one of the best they've ever done, that he can't wait until the audience can see it in February, and that some scenes ended up exactly as he had storyboarded it earlier that week.

Nicotero followed this up by telling an anecdote of one particular episode he directed where he neglected to make his shot list upon originally receiving the script like normal, and how he waited until the morning of shooting to hastily make his "sh*tty shot list" and how Andrew Lincoln came up to him as he was doing so and gave him crap for doing it right before shooting that day's footage.

- A fan asked Nicotero if he has nightmares, and if so, what are they about? Nicotero answers that he does have nightmares, and when he does they're about his kids, because they're back in Los Angeles while he's in Atlanta and he worries about them. He said he'll wake up from a nightmare and call his wife to make sure they're okay, to which his wife will confirm they're just fine and then chastises him for waking her up at 5:00am her time.

Nicotero continued talking about his kids, explaining that they were 5 years old when the show started, and that they've played with tons of creepy things their father has made for the show, such as the zombie heads in The Governor's apartment. He also joked that when his son goes off to college "He'll be like, 'My dad worked on The Walking Dead. I know Norman Reedus.' He's gonna get LAID!" This obviously got tons of laughter from the crowd.


The Walking Dead executive producer/director/special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero explains to his panel's crowd how he and the show-runners look at the show and feel a responsibility to the audience to do fresh things.
Photo by Sarah Keck/Two Tickets For...

- A fan asked if the rate at which the zombies decay on the show will eventually hit the point where they're all completely decayed, unmovable and non-threats to the characters. "They'll never fall apart," Nicotero said. "I just want to give you guys something cool to look at."

Nicotero followed up on this by discussing how he and the show-runners look at the show, telling a story of exec producer Scott Gimple saying to Nicotero recently, "You told me 2 or 3 years ago that we have a responsibility to continue to up our game on the show. And you were absolutely right."

Nicotero said, "We don't want to repeat gags, we don't want to repeat character beats…we have a responsibility to you to keep it fresh." When he mentions that the season 5 premiere had 22 million viewers when you include DVR watchers, he said of the pressure, "It's hard! (But) we do it cuz it's what the show deserves."

- I missed what prompted this part of the discussion, but Nicotero brought up a moment in the season premiere that he was warned was almost too much - and that was the scene where the Terminus guy wearing a Detroit Tigers hat had his hands around Baby Judith's neck.

Nicotero said he was a little concerned about the scene, including the logistics of it, but once they put the baby who played Judith in that scene in the cooler she immediately started crying because she hated it so much. "She started crying and I was like, 'Let's start rolling!!!'" But because the actual hands in the shot are those of the infant's father, the baby started to calm down at the touch of her father, so they were only able to get their shot in one take. Nicotero says the baby started looking around all chill, and when he saw her looking around he told the actor to hold up the fake knife he was holding into the camera frame, and when he did the baby immediately looked right at it, and Nicotero got an improvised shot that made it into the episode.

- A fan asked how many gallons of fake blood they used in the premiere. While Nicotero didn't specifically answer how many was used in the premiere, he did say, "We use a lot. We did an episode were we used about 150 gallons, but on average we use 20 gallons an episode."

- A fan and aspiring screenwriter asked for any advice coming from a director, to which Nicotero suggested the young man check out a website called Drew's Script-o-rama, where there are tons of actual film scripts you can view. He suggested the fan check out those scripts and see how they're different than writing a short story or prose. We checked out the website and it's pretty neat. TONS of scripts. Definitely worth checking out.

- A fan asked Nicotero about his relationship with fellow Hollywood makeup/special effects legend Rob Bottin (who did the makeup/special effects on one of my all-time favorite horror films, John Carpenter's The Thing). Nicotero mentioned that he had dinner with Bottin about 3 years ago and gushed that, "He's such an amazing, ingenious guy." 

Nicotero told a story of that dinner where Bottin explained a technique he had used to film a werewolf transformation that he described as "an intermediate process." Bottin had a particularly rigged lamp for the shot that gave off certain light, and he would move the lamp away and then back in the shot, and while doing so he would take the actors out of the frame and add more makeup. Doing this technique he was able to make his transformation all in one shot.

Nicotero said that with computers and digital technology it's easier to make things like that, but "If you watch The Thing or Aliens, those are real things, miniatures or guys in suits." He says while they use digital effects for some things now, he misses the days "When you agonized over 'How are we going to do this?!'"

This zombie from the show's pilot, whom Nicotero has dubbed "Bicycle Girl," is his all-time favorite of series so far. To achieve the missing legs, they had the actress wear blue stockings that were digitally erased.

- What has been Nicotero's favorite zombie they've created on the show? The female half-zombie Rick comes across in a park in the show's pilot, whom he refers to as "Bicycle Girl." "That was our first zombie out of the gates, we had to capture AMC's imagination," he said. Nicotero went on to explain that they originally were going to dig a hole in the park's ground and bury her legs, but they weren't allowed to do so. Instead they put blue stockings on her legs and digitally erased them.

- A 7-year-old girl named Brooke asked Nicotero where they get the fake arms and other body parts they use on the show. He explained to her that he has a crew back in Los Angeles that make the parts out of rubber and ship them to the set in Georgia. After finishing his answer, Nicotero asked the girl if she watches the show. She does. Then he asks her if the show scares her, to which she truthfully answered, "Not really." This response garners laughs from the whole crowd and prompts Nicotero to cry, "Then I've failed you! My sole goal now is to scare the heck out of you."

A: Overall, I'd say that the Nicotero panel was my favorite of the day simply because of all the detail he went into. It doesn't hurt that I've been a fan of his work in film since I was a child, so to listen to him talk about his craft in person was a real treat.

Sarah: It was a great panel, and a funny one, too! We'll share more about Greg Nicotero and our experience with him in another post later this week, so keep an eye out for that one! Tomorrow we'll be posting our coverage of what was definitely the most anticipated panel of the day, the "Bromance" panel with Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus!

A: So come on back tomorrow to check that one out! And if you missed the first part of our Nicotero coverage or our Introduction to the Walker Stalker Con, just click on the links below! And as always, thanks for reading!

More Coverage from Two Tickets For…'s Trip to Walker Stalker Con:
Monday: 
 - Walker Stalker Con Introduction
 - Greg Nicotero Panel, Part 1



Photo Courtesy: AMC

Two Tickets For… Visits the 2014 Atlanta Walker Stalker Con: Introduction

Andrew: Hello dear readers! So we've been positively awful about posting our most recently recorded review, the Robert Downey, Jr. drama The Judge. While we promise we'll be posting that sometime soon, we are VERY excited for the next few posts we'll be posting here on Two Tickets For!  

This past Saturday we hit up the 2014 Walker Stalker Con here in Atlanta. It was a personal first for us here at Two Tickets For as Sarah and I had never been to a convention before, so when we heard a radio promo for this The Walking Dead-centric horror/sci-fi convention, we jumped on the chance to attend.

I could spend some time trying to come up with the best, succinct way to explain this convention, but I'll just let the "About Us" page from walkerstalkercon.com do the talking:


"Walker Stalker Con is the fruit of The Walker Stalkers Podcast with James & Eric. The podcast began with an amazing trip to Senoia, GA where James & Eric were able to view the set of The Walking Dead and meet the incredible actors from the show. As a result of this experience, a podcast began and then the idea of a convention focused around recreating that same experience with the cast and crew of the show, along with talented actors and artists from other zombie shows, movies and art.
Walker Stalker Con is not just a convention. It is a fan meet-up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and became part of a greater community of zombie lovers! Walker Stalker Con is three days of events, panels, and experiences that zombie fans won’t find anywhere else!"



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#WalkerStalkerCon in #atl! Gunna go hunt down some zombies!


Guests that were present at the 3-day weekend included most of the cast of The Walking Dead, past and present, headlined by Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. Other notable guests from the hit AMC show included Steven Yeun (Glen), Lauren Cohen (Maggie), Melissa McBride (Carol), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Laurie Holden (Andrea) and Michael Rooker (Merle, also hot off of this summer's hit Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy); plus The Vampire Diaries stars Ian Somerholder and Paul Wesley, and Game of Thrones star and future big-screen Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Notable guests who were previously scheduled but had to drop out included Danai Guriri (Michonne), Jon Bernthal (Shane), and David Morrissey (The Governor).

We could only attend the Saturday session, which happened to be the biggest day of the event. We were able to hit three of the five Walking Dead panels - executive producer/lead makeup and special effects artist/occasional director Greg Nicotero; "Abraham's Army": Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Josh McDermitt (Eugene) and Christian Serratos (Rosita); and the highly-anticipated "Bromance" panel of Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Norman Reedus (Daryl). Because of the tightly-packed schedule we were unable to attend Riggs' panel (he originally was scheduled to be with Guriri, but she had to bail) and regrettably we couldn't attend the "The Grove" panel that consisted of McBride, Chad Coleman (Tyreese) and Brighton Sharbino (Lizzie). We also weren't able to catch Momoa's solo panel, as it was on the secondary stage right before the Lincoln/Reedus panel, so we were already in line for that one. 

Starting today and over the next few days, we'll post an entry a day about one of the panels and we'll finish with a fun little post about meeting a pair of our favorite contestants from SyFy's hit movie makeup competition show, Face Off, and some sweet swag we picked up. These posts will primarily just be highlights of the cast's panels along with photos Sarah was able to take. We hope you enjoy these posts for what they are - your way to vicariously attend the Walker Stalker Con through us!

We'll kick things off tonight with what was maybe the least attended and yet most informative panel - Greg Nicotero! His panel was so informative, in fact, that we had to split up his talking points into two separate posts just to avoid reader (and editor) fatigue. So expect those to hit our blog tonight! Sorry for the delay!


Photo Courtesy: Walker Stalker Con

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two Tickets For... Ranks David Fincher's Films!

Andrew: Hello dear readers! Earlier this week Sarah and I posted our review of David Fincher's latest directorial effort, Gone Girl, and because his new film also happens to be his tenth feature film we decided it was the perfect number to do a rankings post! As we mentioned in our review, we both love Fincher's stuff. In fact, we own all of his movies except for Gone Girl, but when it does come out on home video you can bet we'll own it. And owning a film is the highest compliment we can pay one.

Sarah: Instead of each posting our own rankings like we do for our Marvel Cinematic Universe rankings, we decided to do this one similar to how we ranked our Most Anticipated Films of 2014. We each sat down and ranked Fincher's films, wrote up what we thought of them and why we ranked them where we did, and then we combined those to come up with this compilation!

A: And we just know that you're going to find some of our ranks kind of interesting. This is probably one of the best examples of how sometimes we think alike, and sometimes we think differently about films. So without further ado, listed below are the official Two Tickets For... rankings of David Fincher's Films!

TWO TICKETS FOR...'S RANKINGS OF DAVID FINCHER'S FILMS

10.) Alien 3 (1992)
Individual Rankings - Sarah: 7th  Andrew: 10th 

A: In all fairness to Fincher, his first feature-film directorial effort was a studio-interfered CF of the highest order. He was brought on late, had to start shooting with an unfinished Frankenstein-esque script, was overruled on many things by the studio that he eventually walked away before editing the film. So even the finished edit isn't Fincher's. And I can’t blame him. While there are flashes of the kind of director he would become in this film, it’s best to just say it’s not even really a Fincher film.


S: I love the Alien franchise. Aliens is my favorite of the bunch, so naturally I take issue with the third installment. They completely negate my favorite of the films in such a violent and unnecessary way. Killing off all of Newt and Hicks at the start of the movie was poor decision-making. But that's not where the bad decisions end. There are scenes where we have the great man-in-a-costume/puppetry xenomorph and then there are the moments where it's terrible CGI. At times it's so bad that the alien is actually green. It's. Just. The worst. The only compliment I have is that I liked the cast. But that doesn't matter and you can't get attached because of course they're all gonna die! Fincher can't be blamed for it all, though. With multiple writers and no say in the editing, it was bound to be a tough freshman film.



9.) The Game (1997)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 10th  Andrew: 6th 

A: While most people think of The Game as one of Fincher’s worst, I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. It’s very underrated. It is a very well-made movie that’s anchored by a very strong starring turn from Michael Douglas. It is probably the first film that really looks like a Fincher film, with the help of the great, late cinematographer Harris Savides, whom Fincher would team up with again for Zodiac.  The biggest knock on it is that this was Fincher’s follow-up to his immediate classic, Se7en, and that if you think about the plot too much there are some logic holes. But I have fun whenever I watch this movie.


S: I hated this movie. It freaked me out in the worst way imaginable, and then to find out that the whole thing was like a big joke on the main character?! I mean, how awful is that?! I was so mad at this movie at the end! Maybe that’s what Fincher was going for, but it just really wasn’t my cup of tea.



8.) Panic Room (2002)
Individual Rankings - Sarah: 8th  Andrew: 7th

S: This is the last of Fincher's films that I'm not so keen on. This one was, once again, technically executed to perfection but I just really did not like the cast. I can only handle Jodie Foster in one movie, and that’s Silence of the Lambs. I feel like one can only handle that voice for so long before it just becomes grating on the nerves. And then there’s K-Stew. It’s good to know that she didn’t just start off in the Twilight  films as an angsty pain in the ass, that she’s always been that way. I just felt like this movie was lacking for me in the thriller vein. I know I will probably be very argued against on this point but it just fell flat for me.


A: Yeah, I know you hated this film, Sarah, but I really enjoy. Part of it is sentimental value, as this was the first Fincher film I saw in theatres, when I was 14. And now that I think of it, it was probably the first Fincher film I ever saw, period. And it floored me with how slick it was. The great camera movements through the house, the look and feel of the film, the tension between Jodie Foster and the three burglars (including two future Oscar winners in Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto)…I loved it. It’s probably the most short-and-sweet film Fincher has done, except it’s not truly sweet. I remember being bummed as a teenager that it took five years before Fincher would release another movie after this one came out.


7.) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 5th  Andrew: 9th

S: When I first saw this movie I had no idea it was a Fincher film. It’s an interesting character study with a little bit of fantasy thrown in. Once again we have another phenomenal cast that just knocks it out of the park. It’s technically well done, and while the story drags at times, I think that the technicality shines through as a strong point. It’s not one of those movies I’m going to stop on every time I see it on television, but it’s beautifully done.




A: This isn’t my favorite David Fincher movie, and it’s by far his most “Oscar bait” kind of movie, but I think the CGI is phenomenal and the cast is pretty great. It runs a little long for my tastes, to the point where I’m actually okay not watching it again in one sitting, but it looks great, it sounds great, and it’s a very touching movie, which helps it stand out from the rest of Fincher’s filmography.


6.) Zodiac (2007)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 9th  Andrew: 4th 

A: I struggled with my ranking of Zodiac if only because whenever I watch it I feel a little incomplete. And when I thought about it, that’s exactly how I should feel, because the investigation into the Zodiac killer was never resolved. One of Fincher’s hallmarks is obsession, and no other movie of his tackles it as strongly as this one. Another great cast (taking chances on Jake Gyllenhaal to shoulder the film and on a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. panned out in spades), it’s another fantastic looking film, and I remember being scared of this film in the final act with the basement scene the first time I saw it. While I have it ranked fourth, I can understand why some people might list this as his best film.


S: I’ve actually never been able to finish this movie. By about halfway through I was bored and confused. It’s not one that I have been wanting to get back to, either. I’ve really had no desire to pick it back up. I hear that it ends well; I guess I’ll have to take people’s word on it.



5.) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 2nd  Andrew: 8th 

S: This movie bothered me. And it should have. The book was disturbing and haunting. This came through perfectly on the big screen. Once again we had the addition of the music to really bring things to life. It created a tense feeling throughout the entire film that made you squirm in your seat. The cast was inventive and housed a lot of familiar faces, which really paid off for the viewers and the filmmaker.


A: The only reason I have The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is ranked as low as I do is because I think all of the others have higher rewatchability. That’s not a slight to Dragon Tattoo, it’s just that it can be a difficult movie to watch because of the source material. The cast is great (Rooney Mara’s transformation into Lisbeth Salander obviously standing out), it looks amazing (I always feel cold watching this movie), and the score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross is sublime. I understand the criticisms people have about it being too faithful to the book, and the fact that it came so soon after the Swedish versions starring Noomi Rapace, but I think those are nitpicks. You can say Fincher sold out with this film, but it’s still a trademark Fincher film nonetheless (maybe save for the lack of underlying humor).


4.) Gone Girl (2014)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 3rd  Andrew: 5th

S: We just posted our review of Gone Girl so I don’t really need to say too much about it here. It was another Fincher film cocktail that hit all the right notes. He really has his formula down.





A: Fincher’s latest lands a solid spot in my personal rankings, right smack dab in the middle. And really it’s only that low because the other four I have ranked ahead of it are SO strong. As we mentioned in our review, Fincher cast the HELL out of this movie and he directed the hell out of it, too. This film stuck with me for days after we saw it and I can’t wait to see it again. It also makes me very excited to see what Fincher does next.



3.) Se7en (1995)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 6th  Andrew: 1st 

S: This movie. Woof, it was a doozy. It really took the basic human fears and just amplified them. You would never guess that Brad Pitt could take such a silly line and really put in an amazing amount of fear and panic. That’s what this movie does. It is quite twisted at times and that really bothered me. While it’s a great thriller and horror movie, there’s an amazing twist at the end that you never see coming. It’s a little jarring, which is the point, and it is so well-executed.


A: I have personally have Se7en ranked as my number one Fincher film, and it was a tough call between this one and the two films we have ranked ahead of it in our combined rankings. The fact that it was only Fincher’s second film helps its cause because it shows just how a good a director he was at a young age. Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey are all terrific in this film. It was never scary to me, but I can see how others are scared of it. The level of detail involved with the film is mind-blowing, too. All those notebooks that John Doe had in his apartment? All meticulously filled with random ramblings, even though you only ever see just a few of them open. And maybe the best thing going for Se7en is that it has one of the most famous scenes in movie history and people still claim they saw Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box, even though you never do. That’s powerful filmmaking.


2.) Fight Club (1999)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 4th  Andrew: 2nd 

A: I mean, duh. Of course Fight Club is this high. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton knock it out of the park, it’s a scathing satire of masculinity and consumerism, it’s imminently quotable, and it has one of the best twists in movie history. That twist carries more weight than others because Fincher throws in hints to the true nature of the film the entire time. It’s funny, it’s smart, and it’s great that the exact same studio that interfered with Fincher so much on Alien 3 is the same one that let him make this gonzo film.


S: I don’t care what anyone says, this movie is a classic. It’s one of those that you will always remember the first time you watched it. It always sticks with you. It’s also one of those movies that you are always learning something new from. Every time you watch it, something new pops out at you. How many movies can you say that about?! It’s crazy cool.



1.) The Social Network (2010)

Individual Rankings - Sarah: 1st  Andrew: 3rd

S: I love this movie. Everything from the cast to the music in this movie is just perfection. It was one of the first times that I watched a Fincher film and went, “Oh yeah…I get it now.” It wasn’t the first Fincher film I saw but sometimes it can take me a bit to truly appreciate a true artist in the film world. I really, REALLY love the cast in this movie. Jesse Eisenberg was a revelation as Mark Zuckerberg and it really brought him to the forefront of Hollywood. That, and you throw in an unknown like Andrew Garfield and give pop music star Justin Timberlake an incredibly important role into the mix? It was genius, and really told us a story that we thought we knew and put it on its head.




A: Plain and simple, I thought back then and I still think now that The Social Network should have won Best Picture over The King’s Speech. Whoever would have thought that the story of Facebook would be so riveting? Obviously the fantastic screenplay by Aaron Sorkin gets this one of to a strong start, but again with the casting, the mind-blowing special effect of turning Armie Hammer into both of the Winklevoss twins, again with the look, the well-deserving Oscar-winning score by Reznor and Ross…I could go on. Maybe more than any of his films, this one will stand the test of time because it’s such a phenomenal look into the beginning of the social media boom and Silicon Valley in the mid-aughts. 

S: Okay readers, so that's our combined rankings of David Fincher's films! We're sure you might have some agreements and disagreements, so let us know in the comments what you think!



Photo Courtesies: impawards.com, 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema, Columbia Pictures, PolyGram Film Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, MGM

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

David Fincher Returns With Another Modern Masterpiece: Our Review of "Gone Girl" (2014)

Directed By: David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens

Rating: R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexuality/nudity, and language

Run Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes

Synopsis: After discovering his wife Amy (Pike) missing on the morning of their 5th anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the police, media and the public. As Nick stumbles around trying to clear his name, it becomes clear that neither Nick nor Amy was being 100% truthful with each other, with devastating results.

REVIEW

Andrew: Hello dear readers! While Sarah and I were back in Michigan this past weekend for a wedding between two dear friends of ours, we were able to sneak in a visit to a local movie theatre with another dear friend of ours to catch David Fincher's latest film, Gone Girl. Now, this is a film that I personally had been anxiously waiting for as I'm a huge Fincher fan (even took a Fincher film class in college), and while we're a few days late with this review we think it'll be worth it because we've had many thoughts about this film percolating in our brains. So without further ado, let's get to it Sarah. 

Gone Girl is based on the hit 2012 novel of the same name written by Gillian Flynn, who also had the pleasure of adapting her own work for the film's screenplay. It stars Ben Affleck (Argo) as Nick Dunne and Rosamund Pike (The World's End) as his wife Amy, both of whom were once-successful writers in New York City that lost their jobs after the recession and moved to Missouri when Nick's mother was dying of cancer. On their fifth anniversary, Nick comes home to his McMansion to discover a scene of struggle in the living room and Amy missing. What follows is an investigation into Amy's disappearance that takes many twists and turns, with a looming question over whether Nick killed his wife, and whether this married couple really knew each other at all.

Sarah: Right now is a good time to warn our readers that since it's been a number of days since the film came out and a couple of years since the book came out, we're going to discuss non-spoiler aspects of the film first and then touch on some spoiler territory at the end of the review. Don't worry, we'll give fair warning when that section is coming up.

A: Indeed we will. So Sarah, while we hadn't read the book prior to seeing the film, as I mentioned earlier this was one I was very much looking forward to and I know you were as well. Now that we've seen Gone Girl, what are your initial thoughts on it?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Is a Waste of a Great Cast and Our Money: Our Review of "This Is Where I Leave You" (2014)

Directed By: Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver

Rating: R for language, sexual content and some drug use

Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Synopsis: Already dealing with the discovery that his wife is cheating on him with his boss, Judd Altman (Bateman) returns home for his father's funeral and to sit shiva with his famous author mother (Fonda) and his squabbling siblings (Fey, Stoll, Driver) per his father's last request. Traditional Hollywood family drama ensues.

REVIEW

Andrew: Hello dear readers! We were a little quiet the last week or so because my mother visited us last weekend and we were unable to catch any new releases, but we're back this week after having seen This Is Where I Leave You this past Friday night.

This Is Where I Leave You is a film we've been waiting to see for a while now because of the star-studded cast full of actors and actresses we very much enjoy. The film stars Jason Bateman (Bad Words) as Judd Altman, a radio producer who gets hit with the double-whammy of discovering his wife had been cheating on him with his boss, followed by the death of his father. His father's passing brings the whole Altman clan together, where we meet Judd's sister Wendy, played by Tina Fey (NBC's 30 Rock); his younger brother Philip, played by Adam Driver (HBO's Girls); his older brother Paul, played by Corey Stoll (Netflix's House of Cards); and his mother Hillary, played by Jane Fonda (HBO's The Newsroom), who's famous for writing a parenting book that explicitly detailed her children's lives.

And that's just the immediate family. Philip's older girlfriend is played by the great Connie Britton (ABC's Nashville); Paul's wife, Annie, is played by the hilarious Cathryn Hahn (Bad Words); and a neighbor/former flame of Wendy's that she still holds a torch for is played by Timothy Olyphant (FX's Justified). So this is a pretty great cast on paper.

Sarah, now that we've actually seen This Is Where I Leave You, do you think the movie lived up to the promise the cast gave? Or were these actors wasted?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tom Hardy's Quiet Cool Shines in This New Crime Drama: Our Review of "The Drop" (2014)

Directed By:Michaël R. Roskam 

Starring: Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace


Rating: R for some strong violence and pervasive language


Run Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes


Synopsis: Bob (Hardy) and his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) run a bar for some Chechen mobsters that is occasionally used as a "drop bar" for the mob's money. After the bar is robbed one night, Bob's seemingly quiet life is turned anything but thanks to a decade-long investigation into a missing persons case related to his bar, needing to placate his employers and cousin, plus raising a puppy he finds in the trash one night that may somehow be involved in the investigation.


REVIEW


Andrew: Hello dear readers! We profusely apologize for our lack of activity on the blog. Over the past month we were on the road quite a bit taking some much needed vacation time, plus if we're being honest, there just weren't a lot of movies that we thought were worth our time and/or money.


Sarah: Let's put it this way: we've seen Guardians of the Galaxy three times instead of seeing anything else over the past month. So yeah...not many attractive movies.


A: Very good point. But September is here now, which generally means the end of Hollywood's second dumping season (January/February being the first), as well as the approach of Oscar season. Now that some movies we're actually interested in seeing are coming out again, we're back with a new review!


This past weekend we decided to catch the new crime drama The Drop, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and the late James Gandolfini in what is his last film role. Interesting of note to me, The Drop was written by noted crime novelist Dennis Lehane (author of "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone") and is based on his own short story. So even though this is director Michaël R. Roskam's first English-language film, the pedigree was big enough for me to be very interested in this film.


S: Hardy plays a quiet bartender named Bob, who works at his cousin Marv's place, with Gandolfini playing Marv. Marv is a bit bitter in life because he sold his bar to the Chechen mob years ago, and they now use his bar as a front and as a "drop bar" where their money is occasionally dropped off, hence the name of the movie!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Two Tickets For... Ranks All Ten of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Films!

Andrew: Hello dear readers! Last fall Sarah and I posted our personal rankings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that had been released up to that point, save for The Avengers, because we knew it would top the rankings. Since that post, Marvel Studios has released three films - Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and last week's Guardians of the Galaxy - bringing the grant total of MCU films to a nice, round ten films.

With that in mind, we decided it was perfect time to revisit those rankings to include the three aforementioned films, plus we're including The Avengers this time. As a reminder, when we say the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" we're talking about the films that Marvel Studios themselves, the ones they actually have the rights to make films of; so no Spider-Man films (Sony), no X-Men or Fantastic Four films (20th Century Fox), etc.

Check out our lists below, starting with Sarah's personal rankings!

SARAH’S RANKINGS

10.) The Incredible Hulk 
I’m not going to lie, I actually thought that this movie wasn’t even connected to the rest of the Marvel movies. That’s how much this movie is forgettable. It’s sad really, because the only thing that connects this movie to any of the others in the Tony Stark cameo during the credits. And since they’ve replaced Ed Norton with Mark Ruffalo it’s even more of a throw away film.

9.) Iron Man 2 
The more I look back on this movie the more I realize that it just wasn’t as good as it should have been. This movie was just lacking in pretty much everything from good action to a strong bad guy. I recently caught part of the beginning of this movie again and the comedy was so cheesy that it fell flat. Such a shame.

8. Iron Man 3 
I’m going to defer to my original thoughts of this movie: I still don't quite understand why I didn't like this one. Until we watch it again, I'm going to stick with I think I was just in Iron Man overload and was little tired of the kitsch.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marvel's Gamble is Their Funniest, Most Enjoyable Film Since The Avengers: Our Review of "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)

Directed By: James Gunn (Slither

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language

Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

Synopsis: A treasure hunter (Pratt), an assassin (Saldana), a muscle-headed alien with a quick temper (Bautista), a walking/talking raccoon (Cooper) and his living tree sidekick (Diesel) band together first to escape prison to sell a priceless and dangerous artifact, then to ultimately save their galaxy from a crazed zealot named Ronan the Accuser (Pace).

REVIEW

Sarah: Hello readers! We have been a little quiet lately but we are back with one of our most anticipated reviews of the year, Marvel's Guardiansof the Galaxy! We were SO excited for this movie. There's nothing like a Marvel movie to round out the summer and this one did not disappoint. If you have no idea what this movie is about, we'll try to set it up as best we can. 

It stars Chris Pratt (Moneyball) as Peter Quill, an Earthling who was abducted as a child and has grown up with intergalactic thieves. After searching for an orb-like object for a buyer, he's hunted down by a pair of bounty hunters - an anthropomorphic raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a living tree-like alien named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) - as well as an alien assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana). 

Andrew: Gamora is the adoptive daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin), the big purple bad guy we saw at the end of The Avengers, and she's helping retrieve the orb for a baddie called Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), who said he'll obtain the orb for Thanos in return for his help in destroying the planet Xander.

S: When Quill, Rocket, Groot and Gamora are all arrested and detained at the same prison, they join together - along with another alien named Drax the Destroyer (WWE's Dave Bautista) who wants to come along so he can kill Ronan as revenge for killing his wife and daughter - to escape. Adventure ensues and produces one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time!