Tag Archives: Elizabeth Banks

Every Secret Thing (2014)

every_secret_thing_xlg

Hey, at least they got a child actress who looks a little like a young Dakota Fanning. That’s something, I guess. :/

Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) and Alice Manning (Danielle MacDonald) are out of juvie, incarcerated for an unthinkable crime they committed as little girls (where they are played by Eva Grace Kellner and Brynne Norquist.) It is a truth universally acknowledged that baby-killers never catch a break (poor homicidal dears,) so when another child goes missing, Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) is on the case, sorting the ugly lies from the even uglier truth.

Despite a decent cast, ‘Every Secret Thing’ falls a bit flat. It rings even more false when compared to “Boy A,” a British drama film with a slightly similar premise. While “Boy A” had strong characters and outstanding acting jobs from the entire cast, “Every Secret Thing” feels, at best, like an extended cop-show episode. That is not to say, however, that “Every Secret Thing” does not have its charms.

There is some enjoyment to be had in seeing the mystery unfold, and the acting is decent, if not exactly award-worthy. Figuring out what really happened is based mostly upon sorting out the unreliable testimonies from the two girls. Alice, a outwardly sweet, obese teen, seems like the most vulnerable, but a second glance alerts you to the fact that she’s a bit of a manipulative twat. Her ditzy mother (Diane Lane) is not cooperating with the police force, but does that make Alice the main instigator?

Ronnie, on the other hand, a blunt Goth girl, seemed to have been the main offender in the murder of the infant seven years ago. It is fun to try to figure out the truth behind all the bullshit, or maybe the girls are equally guilty, each a malevolent little psychopath who found her own perfect match in the other. The presentation of this mystery, though, is pretty standard. A lot of investigating by a tough yet vulnerable lady detective, talk talk talk, followed by a big confession accompanied by some incrementing cop-show-esque flashbacks.

“Fargo” this is not. It’s a perfectly efficiently acted and directed motion picture. But it’s also painfully paint-by-numbers, a decently designed thriller without a new idea in it’s head. Not to mention the outright implausibility of some of the scenarios. They’re horrifying, yes, but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly believable.

Danielle MacDonald is cute and looks kind of like a chubby Shailene Woodley, but Woodley she is not. Although she does okay in most of her scenes, watching her screw her face up and try to cry at the end, only to eventually give up and settle on an irate scowl, is just plain awkward. She’s not bad at all, more like a little underwhelming, but can she or Fanning compare to Andrew Garfield in “Boy A?” Not by a long shot.

On the up side, a person close to me has convinced me to read the book adaptation of “Every Secret Thing” by Laura Lippman saying it is ‘much better’ and ‘more complex.’ than the movie. “Every Secret Thing” is not unwatchable, but it is unlikely to stick in my head in the long run.

every-secret-thing-556x314

Movie 43 (2013)

Though hardly a consistently funny film, “Movie 43” is, astonishingly, not a complete and utter miss. It is a hit-and-miss spectacle around the lines of 2013’s “The ABCs of Death,” with a comedy rather than horror theme. At it’s worst, it’s still a lot better than the worst “ABCs of Death” had to offer.

The plot is loosely and crudely constructed, with an emphasis on ‘crude.’ The jokes consistently base themselves on shock value and poor taste, with sometimes funny results. This is an anthology film, and the segments all base themselves around this premise- wimpy schmuck Griffin (Greg Kinnear) listens as obsessed screenwriter Charlie (Dennis Quaid) pitches a script to him- a tasteless opus that Griffin quickly dismisses. Undeterred, Charlie holds Griffin at gunpoint and tries to force him to sell the script. The following shenanigans are the contents of this screenplay.

The first segment, “The Catch,” is actually pretty funny as Kate Winslet tries to figure out why no one seems to notice the giant ballsack hanging from her date Hugh Jackman’s neck. Don’t judge me, I laughed. The second one was pretty funny in an ‘ashamed of yourself but laughing’ way, it actually plays on the stereotypes about homeschoolers, as a homeschooled young person I appreciated that.

The only other really funny short in this collection is the grossly inappropriate iBabe. The others range from pretty mediocre to pretty bad. The one with Chloe Grace Moretz, a talented young actress, is just embarrassing and awkward as a teenage girl is humiliated by her inopportunely timed first period and the incompetence of her male audience. The one with Anna Faris was gross and pointless, and is only funny if you like poop jokes and third rate sitcom humor.

Some of the shorts were mesmerizing in their strange tastelessness, “Beezel,” with it’s homosexual cat jacking off to pictures of his owner in swimtrunks, is a startling example. I didn’t find the short about the black basketball players particularly racist, but I didn’t find it funny either.

“Movie 43” doesn’t really utilize it’s all-star cast, but you could do worse for a late-rainy-day distraction. If you get to watch it free, and want to laugh a few times and think ‘hmm, that’s strange,’ then go for it. It’s not the abomination people have made it out to be, but it’s no classic comedy. Just remember to think for yourself!