Friday, January 15, 2016

colossal viewpoints

"Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one rascal less in the world."
  >>  Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881), Scottish satirical writer, essayist, and historian


With Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl,

if you want to choose between

Read the Book


Watch the Movie,

Read the Book.

If you want to do both, I think maybe Book-First, because then when you see the film, it will make more sense, because you'll have backstory in your head that the film doesn't contain....


In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman wrote --

[quote] "Gone Girl" seemed like one of those experiences to which the "cultural uncertainty principle" applies:  you can read the book or you can see the movie, but you can't fully embrace both versions, because they'll occupy the same brain-space, obscuring one another. Basically, you have to choose an experience.   [end quote])


Christopher Orr wrote in The Atlantic,

[Gone Girl director David] Fincher has upped the darkness of the story at a cost to its wit.

But Fincher is as Fincher does.  And what Fincher does better than almost anyone is create moody, meticulously crafted thrillers that straddle the divide between genre and art.  Quibbles aside, that's exactly what he's done again with Gone Girl.  [end quote]


-- Megan Garber, in The Atlantic called the film "profoundly creepy" and said --

[quote] Nick and Amy Dunne, both New York-based writers before they were laid off in the recession of 2009, are extremely aware of themselves as makers of -- and participants in -- a culture dominated by image and expectation.

"Don't land me in one of those relationships," Amy says in Gillian Flynn's book, "where we're always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and 'playfully' scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. ..."


In The New Yorker

Anthony Lane said, "According to your point of view (and the film is all about viewpoints, and the urge to shuffle them around) Amy is one or more of the following:  the inspiration for the 'Amazing Amy' series of children's books, written by her parents;

a flat-out dazzler, too cool for the neighborhood; a rich kid, spawned by a snotty family; the original desperate housewife, becalmed and unadored; or a heap of trouble -- the Clytemnestra of the Midwest.  Oh, and another thing.  She may be dead."

Gone Girl is meant to inspire debates about whether Amy is victimized or vengeful, and whether Nick deserves everything he gets, but, really, who cares?  All I could think of was the verdict of Samuel Butler on Thomas Carlyle:  'It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle

marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four.'  Or, in the words of Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), Nick's unflappable attorney:  'You two are the most fucked-up people I have ever met, and I specialize in fucked-up people.'"


Variety chief film critic Justin Chang:

"As it reaches a denouement that stays completely faithful to the novel's wrap-up... we're left to entertain the notion that we may never know the whole truth about the person to whom we've said 'I do' -- and indeed, we're probably better off not knowing."


--------------------- [excerpt, Gone Girl, the novel] -------------- Eleven-oh-eight P.M., Rand was waiting for us just inside the automatic sliding doors to the hotel, his face squinting into the dark to make us out.  The Hillsams were driving their pick-up; Stucks and I both rode in the bed. 

Rand came trotting up to us in khaki golf shorts and a crisp Middlebury T-shirt.  He hopped in the back, planted himself on the wheel cover with surprising ease, and handled the introductions like he was the host of his own mobile talk show.

"I'm really sorry about Amy, Rand," Stucks said loudly, as we hurtled out of the parking lot with unnecessary speed and hit the highway.  "She's such a sweet person.  One time she saw me out painting a house, sweating my ba-- my butt off, and she drove on to 7-Eleven, got me a giant pop, and brought it back to me, right up on the ladder."

This was a lie.  Amy cared so little for Stucks or his refreshment that she wouldn't have bothered to....

"That sounds like her," Rand said, and I was flush with unwelcome, ungentlemanly annoyance.  Maybe it was the journalist in me, but facts were facts, and people didn't get to turn Amy into everyone's beloved best friend just because it was emotionally expedient.

"Middlebury, huh?" Stucks continued, pointing at Rand's T-shirt.  "Got a hell of a rugby team."

"That's right we do," Rand said, the big smile again, and he and Stucks began an improbable discussion of liberal-arts rugby over the noise of the car, the air, the night, all the way to the mall. 

Joe Hillsam parked his truck outside the giant cornerstone Mervyns.  We all hopped out, stretched our legs, shook ourselves awake.  The night was muggy and moon-slivered.  I noticed Stucks was wearing -- maybe ironically, possibly not -- a T-shirt that read....[we don't have to specify about the T-shirt's message on this blog...]

"So, this place, what we're doing, it's freakin' dangerous, I don't want to lie," Mikey Hillsam began.  He had beefed up over the years, as had his brother; they weren't just barrel-chested but barrel-everythinged.  Standing side by side, they were about five hundred pounds of dude.

"We came here once, me and Mikey, just for -- I don't know, to see it, I guess, see what it had become, and we almost got our asses handed to us," said Joe.  "So tonight we take no chances."  He reached into the cab for a long canvas bag and unzipped it to reveal half a dozen baseball bats.  He began handing them out solemnly.  When he got to Rand, he hesitated.  "Uh, you want one?"

"Hell yes, I do," Rand said, and they all nodded and smiled approval, the energy in the circle a friendly backslap, a good for you, old man.

"Come on," Mikey said, and led us along the exterior.  "There's a door with a lock smashed off down here near the Spencer's."

Just then we passed the dark windows of Shoe-be-Doo-be, where my mom had worked for more than half my life.  I still remember the thrill of her going to apply for a job at that most wondrous of places -- the mall! -- leaving one Saturday morning for the job fair in her bright peach pantsuit....

I peered into the gloomy window.  The place was entirely vacant except for a shoe sizer lined pointlessly against the wall. ...

"Dunne, come on!"  Stucks was leaning against the open door ahead; the others had gone inside.

I'd expected the mall smell as we entered:  that temperature-controlled hollowness.  Instead, I smelled old grass and dirt, the scent of the outdoors inside, where it had no place being.  The building was heavy-hot, almost fuzzy, like the inside of a mattress. 

Three of us had giant camping flashlights, the glow illuminating jarring images:  It was suburbia, post-comet, post-zombie, post-humanity.  A set of muddy shopping-cart tracks looped crazily along the white flooring.  A raccoon chewed on a dog treat in the entry to a women's bathroom, his eyes flashing like dimes.

The whole mall was quiet; Mikey's voice echoed, our footsteps echoed, Stucks's drunken giggle echoed.  We would not be a surprise attack, if attack was what we had in mind. ---------------------------------- [end excerpt]


{book excerpt from Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  2012, Random House LLC}


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