Movie Meter: Ben Affleck Gets Weird in Gone Girl, Nicolas Cage Gets Left Behind


Gone Girl: My shaky endorsement for David Fincher’s hotly anticipated new thriller—based on the bestseller by Gillian Flynn—comes with a veritable wheelbarrow full of caveats. As good as Fincher is as a director and stylist—and visually, dude is in pretty rarefied air in my book—he can’t do much with essentially silly material like this. Gone Girl has an odd tonal register. Half the film plays as a twisty thriller and the rest pokes fun at itself, soaking in its plot-induced miasma. Those expecting something as all-out creepy (and enthralling) as Fincher’s The Game are in for more than a little disappointment. The result is functional, but generally pretty idiotic, and Ben Affleck really does seem like a weirdo. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%


Tracks: Mia Wasikowska, the fine young Aussie actress, portrays real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson, who trekked some 1,700 miles across the Australian Outback with only her camels and a trusty Labrador to keep her company. Well, and a photographer from National Geographic, here played by Adam Driver, who pops in on her from time to time. Despite the film’s rough-hewn sensibility and truly stunning cinematography—that desert is bloody startling in places—not a hell of a lot actually happens. There are a few vague pokes at something meditative and philosophical, and you know not all of those poor animals will survive, but the film is so low-key and meandering it doesn’t hold much interest. It’s earnest and well-meaning, but sort of bland. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Take Me To The River: Early reports suggest this doc from Martin Shore, concerning the democratizing power of music in Memphis, is less than entirely coherent. The film brings together a wide range of musical talent from the city and the nearby Mississippi Delta to create a historic album that celebrates the Memphis sound. The talent includes as wide a range of performers—men, women, inter-racial, inter-generational—as possible. Featuring Terrence Howard and performers as diverse as Al Kapone, Edward “Hot” Cleveland, and Mavis Staples, it might still have a lot to offer music aficionados regardless of how well it ultimately hangs together. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%


Annabelle: It’s October, which means studios can yell “Boo!” and release crap horror films. This one comes to us via director John R. Leonetti, spinning the idea off the surprisingly effective James Wan film The Conjouring. As anyone who saw that particular film might recall, the creepy doll crammed in with the other spooky stuff in the paranormal investigators’ haunted museum was begging for her closeup. From the sound of it, this is more lukewarm garbage, tossed in the growing compost pile of half-assed studio horror films. If you like your idiotic satanic dolls with bleeding eyes and totally creepy smiles, you’re in luck. Everyone else, find something better to do. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%

Left Behind: I know it might be hard to believe that Nicolas Cage could appear in a film as reviled by critics as this one, but this Christian-prop film, based on Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ book of the same name, has struck a furious chord with viewers. The story involves a rapture that suddenly takes away millions of Christians, leaving the rest of the world a chaotic hellhole for the survivors. If the clumsy story weren’t bad enough, the production values and screenwriting are even worse, according to those unlucky enough to screen it. I’m just thankful my editor took pity on me with this one. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 5%