Gone Girl the movie was a very different experience from Gone Girl the novel

Bhaskar Chanda Gone Girl Movie ReviewGillian Flynn’s novel dives deep down into the fears — both rational and irrational — that come with a significant romantic relationship. The primary fear, in short, is that the person on the other side of the bed could be someone entirely different from who you’ve come to love and know. Or, just as scary, that your significant other could turn into someone entirely different than he or she is today.

It’s a frightening thought, and it’s what drives the novel forward as the we parse character-revealing entries from Amy’s diary and keep tabs on Nick’s investigation. It is only through Flynn’s intricate weaving of the Amy-Nick relationship that we are lulled into a bubble of belief. We come to trust the Nick’s narration and Amy’s diary so much that their big reveals (spoiler: Amy’s faked death and Nick’s affair) are so surprising that they pop our belief bubble suddenly and viciously.

It is this moment of discovery, of figuring out that the narrators are not to be trusted, that makes the novel a complete thrill and makes Gone Girl the movie a letdown by comparison. Sure, the film still delivers most of the plot intact. It even gives us much of the novel’s dialogue quote for quote. But the impact of these quotes is so different because we aren’t given the same backstory that Flynn provides in her novel.

Bhaskar Chanda Gone GirlAmy’s fake diary reveal is a real “wow” moment in the novel but David Fincher’s film treats it instead as one of many pieces of a puzzle that Amy has devised for her grand plan. It still comes off as impressive in the film, but it doesn’t have nearly the same impact. Even Amy’s famous “cool girl” rant has a different, and somewhat less satisfying appeal in the film than in the novel. Whereas the novel offers that speech as an intriguing and impressive critique against unrealistic relationship expectations, the movie delivers it less as a societal critique and more as a feminist rant against “stupid” women.

Yes, Gone Girl the film still gives a fascinating depiction of the engaging Flynn tale. It still builds the fake storyline and gives gives the same (or similar) plot twists. It still makes us ask how much we know about our partners. But it doesn’t feel real and it certainly doesn’t give us the same satisfaction or jaw-dropping delivery that Flynn’s novel does. If you read the novel, you’ll still enjoy the film, but you’ll be left with an empty hole of disappointment that only Flynn’s writing can fill. 3/5 Stars

Matthew McConaughey’s Potential Oscar Performance in Interstellar

Bhaskar Chanda Film ReviewThis last month’s movie roundup has been outstanding, and Interstellar might be the one to top them all. With a star-studded cast behind Christopher Nolan, this movie is nothing short of spectacular. One of the most intellectually stimulating movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The cast is made up of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, and Matt Damon; all who brought their A-game with remarkable acting. Matthew McConaughey is expected to win the Oscar with his performance as Cooper, an x-NASA pilot turned farmer. Cooper is living with his son, daughter, and father-in-law. His daughter thinks that a ghost is trying to communicate with her, and Cooper eventually conducts experiments that figures out that aliens from the future are using a wormhole to communicate with his daughter. This sends Cooper and a team of NASA pilots through an interstellar adventure through a wormhole to find a potentially habitable planet for humanity’s sake.

Christopher Nolan might potentially win an Oscar as well. This movie kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time, which is especially impressive since the movie was almost three hours long. Matthew McConaughey is on a role of recent. He was almost the only actor to have won a “best actor” Oscar (for Dallas Buyers Club) and Emmy (for True Detective). He lost his Emmy to the fantastic Bryan Cranston for his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad, debatably one of the better performances of the decade. Anything with Matthew McConaughey these days is a must see, and Interstellar is no different.

This is just the Sci-Fi/Action Adventure film that you want to see when going to a movie along with an added intellectualism that you don’t see with many movies of the sort. This movie did not only keep me entertained on a basic level, but also kept my mind intellectually stimulated at the same time. 4.8/5 stars.

Nightcrawler is a Must See! Masteful Performance by Jake Gyllenhaal

Bhaskar Chanda Nightcrawler Jake GyllenhaalFilled with suspense and anticipation, Nightcrawler keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the entire movie. A unique plot along with an Oscar warranted performance from Jake Gyllenhaal make this movie a must see in anyone’s book.

Without watching any trailers about the movie, the movie starts off in a relatable fashion with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Louis Bloom, looking for a job. In the first ten minutes, you notice that Louis Bloom is a little socially awkward and his job searching techniques are a little unorthodox. As he is driving home one night, he notices police attempting to rescue a woman from her car, which has caught on fire. Louis Bloom pulls over to the side of the road to watch, and a news van screeches to the scene to film the rescue. This act of freelance recording intrigues, Louis and he decides to jump into the industry. He purchases a video camera, police radar, and GPS. He then sits in his car at night, waits for something newsworthy to come through the police radio, and races to the scene to capture some footage of the situation at hand.

The stars of the movie are Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed in a stellar supporting role. This is a role to remember for both these actors, and one of the best performances I’ve seen from Jake Gyllenhaal. Calling his character anti-social is an understatement. His character has no grasp of social queues or empathy. Every move that he makes is completely logistical according to what he needs to do to make money and grow his business. Riz Ahmed plays a more timid character desperate to impress Louis Bloom in his first “real-job.” These two characters play off of each other spectacularly, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s psychopathic demeanor kept my eyes glues to the movie screen.

With a great plot and extraordinary acting, this movie is a no-brainer. 5/5 Stars

The Drop

Bhaskar Chanda film reviews the dropThe Drop is a crime drama starting Tom Hardy and late James Gandolfini. Tom Hardy plays a lonely barkeeper, Bob Saginowski, that keeps to himself. James Gandolfini plays the bar owner, Marv, who is Bob’s cousin and powerful figure in the neighborhood.

The premise of the movie is based off of old time Brooklyn, where bars would act as holding areas for all the dirty money in the city. These would called “money drops” and the bars were called “drop spots.” Bob and Marv find themselves in the middle of a robbery that gets federal agents involved. One thing leads to another and the federal agents begin to dig deeper into the local underworld of the Brooklyn bar scene.

It is difficult to watch a gangster related film with James Gandolfini without imagining him as Tony Soprano. James Gandolfini is a great actor, and this was unfortunately his last movie. The role that he was put in was almost like a softer version of Tony Soprano, but he still played the part well and brought chills down my spine.

Tom Hardy played a good awkward introvert. He did not say much, and a lot of his lines seems a bit forced and out of the ordinary. Tom Hardy definitely had the leading role. Because of this, the movie followed the pace of his character: slow and awkward. There were too few pivotal moments and the slow buildups did not seem worth the muster.

Overall, I would suggest that people do not go see this movie. The story seemed a little introverted, as it almost acted like a character development film of a mundane protagonist. I will not give away the entire movie, but if you are deciding weather to see this in theaters or wait until a free version comes out online, I would chose the latter. This movie is not worth paying for. 2/5 Stars

Special Edition: TV Show Review of “The League”

Bhaskar Chanda Movie ReviewsThe National Football League has finally made its long awaited return and our Sunday schedules are officially booked up. With the return of the NFL regular season inevitably comes Fantasy Football. It is hard to deny Fantasy Football’s powerful presence in American culture right now. Once you have experienced a Fantasy League with close friends, it is easy to see why its popularity has grown to such heights.

The popular TV show The League just began its sixth season, and has garnered a strong following throughout the country. Why? Creators Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus have tapped into America’s newfound obsession, and turned it into an exaggerated depiction of life hijacked by Fantasy Football. The League explores the lives of a group of friends who obsessively compete over fantasy football, all while mercilessly ridiculing each other.

I was drawn to this show by frequent recommendations and finally decided to give it a chance. Looking for strong plot lines and phenomenal acting performances? The League is probably not for you, and you may want to consider Orange is the New Black. Like many, I assumed prior knowledge of NFL players and fantasy football was a necessity, but the show quickly navigates that expectation by rooting the stories in the daily lives of friends to which anyone can relate. Of course, knowing the game and it’s players, who make frequent cameos, will only heighten your experience.

If you want a show that will make you laugh and remind you it is okay to goof around now and then despite living as a responsible adult, then The League just might be for you. Your expectations may dictate whether you find it enjoyable and funny, or just completely tasteless and stupid. Lacking political correctness nor concern for hurting feelings, The League has one goal – to make you laugh. The League draws you in with its charismatic cast and strong onscreen chemistry. Call it crass, mindless, bro humor, but there is no doubt these characters will make you laugh. It may not be your particular tastes, but something is to be said for a comedy that is in its 6th season. 4/5 Stars

The Grand Budapest Hotel is Another Wes Anderson Success

Bhaskar Chanda The Grand Budapest HotelThe Grand Budapest Hotel is another smash hit from the quirky, peculiar director, Wes Anderson. In typical Wes Anderson fashion, each character has their own unique story that leads them through a series of chaotic adventures. This story takes us back in time, where “the richest man in the world,” Zero Moustafa, tells the story of how he made his fortune to the local hotel concierge.

The story follows an extraordinary concierge, M. Gustave, at one of the most famous European hotels, The Grand Budapest Hotel. M. Gustave is played by Ralph Fiennes. His most trusted ally is the young Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy, played by Tony Revolori. Zero quickly becomes M. Gustave’s assistant, which puts him in the middle of protecting an enormous family fortune when M. Gustave becomes the hair to the most expensive paining in the world. Amidst this time of war and crisis, Zero and M. Gustave are forced to team up and protect what is rightfully theirs from jealous and psychopathic family members.

Throughout the rest of the film, irreverent chase scenes and chaotic calmers of humor fill the time. A more extroverted style taken by Wes Anderson, as while there is still plenty of internal character development, there seems to be a lot more going on outside of each characters little world. There is a broader sense of history and outside forces, while many of his films delve into the interworking’s of a unique character.

Ralph Fiennes plays a spectacular conceded, pompous concierge while Tony Revolori fills the role of the quiet, nervous lobby assistant. Willem Dafoe plays one of the psychopathic relatives to the enormous family fortune. He is great in this role as he does not say much and uses his menacing face to do most of the talking.

Overall, this movie is another must watch, as another one of Wes Anderson’s zany stories is a homerun. 4.5/5 Stars

Nonstop Laughter Throughout 22 Jump Street

Bhaskar Chanda Movie Review22 Jump Street staring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill is an action comedy adventure that keeps the viewer laughing throughout the entire film. The directors of this film are Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. These directors also directed The Lego Movie and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill were the writers of this elaborate story.

The two main characters are Schmidt, played by Jonah Hill, and Jenko, played by Channing Tatum. The two are a tandem on an undercover police force and are set out to uncover a drug scandal on a college campus. Schmidt has his intelligence and Jenko relies on his athleticism, so naturally they make a great team. Ice Cube plays the tandem’s disgruntled boss. He plays an angry boss that yells a lot as hilarity ensues all around him. As Schmidt and Jenko head to college, their personalities take place in different social groups. Schmidt’s estranged personality and sense of humor gear him towards the artistic college kids while Jenko’s athleticism naturally lands him on the football team. They both begin to question their relationship as they are aligned with such different college crowds. Will they be able to put aside their differences, turn into men, and solve the case at hand? Or will their college selves take over as they fall deeper and deeper into the exhilarating abyss that is college? I’m not going to spoil the movie, but I will tell you what I thought about it.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play great off of each other. Channing Tatum plays a slow, dumb jock while Jonah Hill plays a witty, athletic nerd. The two are perfectly juxtaposed for a comedy, and adding Ice Cube into the mix only makes it funnier. Typically sequels are not as good as the original, but I think 22 Jump Street might have topped its predecessor. Not only was the movie funny, but it also had a ton of action that was both suspenseful and hilarious at the same time. With non-stop laughter and some fairly good action scenes, 22 Jump Street is a must see in my eyes. 4.5/5 Stars

Edge Of Tomorrow Review

bhaskar chanda eotEdge Of Tomorrow – High concept thrillers are difficult to pull off. The fresher and more inventive the concept is, the more intelligent the screenwriter and director have to be in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. You can’t have glaring plot holes but you also can’t get caught up in trying to explain them a way when you have a story to tell. Lastly, you need stars who can ground the action with realism, emotional depth, and humor. In Edge Of Tomorrow, an alien race called Mimics have taken over Europe. Lt. Col. Bill Cage, played by Tom Cruise, is reluctantly thrust into combat and is promptly killed, whereupon he finds himself stuck in a never-ending time loop. Cage is forced him to relive this suicide mission again and again until Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) explains to him the mysterious source of this power, and endeavors to train him to use it to mankind’s advantage. Edge Of Tomorrow succeeds because of the intelligence and care of its makers. Like 2012’s Looper, which matches EOT in its tone, and Groundhog Day, which matches the film in its device, Edge Of Tomorrow is a solidly smart, if not brilliant, new take on what a sci-fi action movie can be. Penned by a three-man team of Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game, The Last Legion, Birthday Girl) and Christopher McQuarrie (The Uual Suspects, Valkyrie, The Tourist, Jack Reacher), the script crackles and pops along at a no nonsense pace under Doug Liman’s (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper) capable directing. The performances by Cruise and Blunt are first rate, as are the supporting performances by Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for something a cut above the standard Hollywood fare. 4.5/5 stars.

Godzilla Review

Godzilla (2014)

bhaskar chanda godzillaHaving seen this latest Hollywood blockbuster, I’m having trouble understanding why anyone would be disappointed in this movie. Unfortunately, I’m also having trouble understanding why anyone would find it amazing. And yet, many of the reviews I’ve read are polarized in this way. Me, I enjoyed it well enough–for a doomsday flick, it hits all the right notes plot-wise while delivering some of the best broad scale special effects I’ve ever seen. And yet it sorely lacked a human element that would have taken it beyond the cheap thrills into a place where I really cared about these characters and what was happening to them. Directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards and penned by equally unknown Max Borenstein, Godzilla approaches one of the most iconic movie monsters through the eyes of Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Supporting roles are played by big names, including Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, and David Strathairn, and while the performances are solid, the screenplay never quite lifts any of them above basic Hollywood formula. But you know what you’re getting into at this point with this kind of film, as long as your expectations aren’t too high, you’ll have a fun if forgettable time. 3.5/5 stars.

Transcendence Review

Transcendence (2014)

bhaskar chanda transcendenceI won’t be the first reviewer to express my disappointment in what could have been a glorious film but ended up a clunker. The directorial debut of the cinematographic genius behind Christopher Nolan’s best work, Transcendence combines an intricate and interesting premise with the proven talents of Johnny Depp, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman and still comes up short. While vastly different tonally, Transcendence is destined to be compared to Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her, a critical darling, Oscar-nominee, and similar meditation on AI. But where Her was an exercise in control and elegant storytelling, a small but well-made vehicle navigating gracefully through an ocean of big ideas and age-defining questions, Transcendence is a muddled mess, a Titanic of a movie that gets caught in the ice and drowns in its own ambitions. Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, the world-renowned expert on artificial intelligence who hopes to achieve singularity by creating an all-encompassing intelligence in touch with the broad spectrum of human emotion. When he is attacked by Luddite terrorists, his wife (Hall) and best friend (Bettany) attempt to save him by injecting his consciousness into his own experiment, where he becomes all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. The film is to be commended for attempting to conceive and create a world where these events are possible, but in the end so many opportunities are missed that it’s hard to appreciate the successes achieved. 2.5/5 stars.