Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Tim’s Vermeer
The subject of Tim’s Vermeer is fascinating, as Tim Jenison, a digital effects guru and pioneer of video techonologies, decides that he wants to attempt to recreate Vermeer’s style of painting with no background in the medium and using only period-accurate optics. Will Tim be able to unravel the secrets of Vermeer’s amazing technique? The answer is yes, sort of. Tim figures out a really interesting way that Vermeer could have painted his works, and manages to create a very convincing Vermeer facsimile, but beyond that I found this documentary to be severely lacking in a few areas. For one thing, there are very few interviews with actual Vermeer experts, and the few that are featured say little more than “Yes, it’s plausible that this is how he did it.” We are shown far more interviews with people who are not even close to being experts – in particular Penn Jillette an Martin Mull – who all praise Tim and show a lot of confirmation bias, saying “Yes, there is no doubt in my mind, this is how Vermeer worked.” Tim is a very interesting subject, and he works as the core of the documentary. His painting set up and execution is also really interesting. But don’t expect this painting to blow the lid off of any great mystery. Without a whole lot of expert testimony involved, Tim’s Vermeer is little more than 80 minutes of people saying “Maybe this is how he did it!”
3 out of 5

Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut Nightcrawler is a chilling portrait of a sociopath and a condemnation of modern news media, but told in a sort of inverted way. Lou Bloom is a creepy dude who is down on his luck and decides to try his hand at selling footage of accidents and crimes to news stations to make a quick buck. He excels at the job and works his way up from being one lowly freelancer to being the best at what he does, stepping over many bodies along the way. The best thing about Nightcrawler is how it subverts the cliched film formula of the inspirational story. Usually a movie about someone who is down on their luck climbing their way to the top is portrayed in such a way that we want to root for the protagonist, but in Nightcrawler the viewer will find themselves disturbed by Lou Bloom’s every move. Jake Gyllenhaal puts in a terrific performance in the lead role, transforming himself into this gaunt jackal-like character. Nightcrawler is compelling, interesting and, at times, daring cinema, and undoubtedly one of the best movies of 2014.
4 out of 5

Gone Girl
If you can manage it, as I did, go into Gone Girl knowing as little as possible. I didn’t know anything about the book or the movie before I watched David Fincher’s film – I hadn’t even seen a trailer – and I was completely blown away. Gone Girl is a master class in mystery storytelling, flipping the narrative back and forth between its two main characters so that the audience never knows who is telling the truth or where the plot will go next. Ben Affleck gives what I consider to be the best performance of his career in on of the lead roles, and Rosamund Pike, and actor whom I’ll admit I undervalued before this, plays off him perfectly. The two share a kind of weirdly volatile chemistry, and I loved every minute of it. Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry both give shockingly good performances in dramatic secondary roles, very different than their usual fare, and the movie is practically worth watching just to see that Tyler Perry can act really well if given a chance. All in all, I think Gone Girl is one of Fincher’s best movies in a long while, and I can’t wait to watch it again, because this film will absolutely benefit from multiple viewings.
4.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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