This isn’t my usual two film blog post where I watched these two movies back to back as a double feature, but All Good Things and Safety Not Guaranteed are two of the most recent films I have watched and I noticed an interesting connection between the two. These are films with weird (and arguably highly mentally ill) male lead characters who some how gets the girl. Bizarre? Yes. Great to watch. Sometimes.
Do See: All Good Things (starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst) - One day I had a problem. I really wanted to watch a movie but I didn’t know what to watch from all the movies I had on my DVR (a problem I’m remedying soon; stay tuned). I decided that when in doubt, Ryan Gosling is always a safe bet so I watched this little recent indie that I always had tucked away for a rainy day. I’m usually attracted to movies that are based on true stories, and this one was a solid one. Based on the real like of Robert Durst, the movie follows decades in like life of David Marks (Gosling), a wealthy real estate heir and an accused murder whose wife Katherine (Dunst) mysteriously disappeared and has never been found. Marks is known to be strange and presumably slightly schizophrenic, possibly stemming from him witnessing the suicide of this mother. That does not stop him for getting the girl though; she falls for his charms and quickly marries him. The film checks in with Marks in three distinct points in his life - the approximate decade of his courtship with his wife and his happy-turned-tumultuous marriage, years following her disappearance, and decades later when the case is reopened and he stands trial for murder. Gosling brings the same nervous intensity we have seen from him before but with a scary self-destructing quality that makes this role standout. When Marks goes into hiding as a mute woman (I told you this was an interesting story), we believe and don’t laugh at his delusional acts. In other movies I have questioned Dunst’s acting depth, but she’s great here paired with Gosling as both a romantic counterpart and a woman simultaneously in love with and scared of her husband. These things create a great story within a story. What didn’t work for me was the flanking narrative of the murder trial that seemed uneven and unpolished. Other than that, All Good Things has some great moments to watch.
Don’t See: Safety Not Guaranteed (starring Mark Duplass, Audrey Plaza, Mark Jake Johnson) - I remember seeing this film in the Sundance 2012 film guide and kinda passing on it. Then came all the talk about from the festival and my hesitation turned around alittle. After all, Jake Mark Johnson (New Girl) and Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister) star, and both are finding a warm place in my heart with their current work. It can’t be that bad, right? Uhh, maybe it can. The premise is an interesting one. The movie is based around the real-life classified ad (see above) placed in Backwoods Home Magazine that eventually went viral. In the film, Jeff, a douchey Seattle magazine writer (Johnson) and his two interns Darius and Amau (Plaza and Soni) track down the man who posted it (Duplass) in order to write a tell-all story. Along the way, Jeff gets his heartbroken, Amau loses his virginity, and Darius falls from the weird guy who coaxs her to break into government labs and thinks he can time travel. The film delves into the idea of going beyond your comfort zone to potentially find something amazing. Valiant effort but for me, it was never quite… anything. The movie was not quite funny enough to be a great comedy. Johnson is never believable as an asshole at any point to fulfill his duties to the film (I still love him though). The chemistry between the leads is all surface and never quite comes together for me. And the plot is all over the place as a takes a really odd turn halfway through in an attempt to be romantic. At one point in the movie Jeff is asked what the story they are writing is about. He answers, “I don’t know anymore”; that is exactly how I began to feel. One thing is for sure, the real star of this movie is comedian/actress Audrey Plaza, who has the awesome ability to look down at someone while looking up with them while giving wonderfully deadpan lines (if you see her in action, you’ll know what I mean). Did I really like this movie? Can’t say that I did. It has its moments like the brilliant scene between Plaza and Duplass in the grocery store. Unfortunately, these were few and far between.