Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Seven

7 Jan

On Pointe

Gone Girl


I am a sixth-grade English teacher. When it comes to literature, I tend to spend a lot more time reading dystopian dramas or paranormal romances than legal thrillers or other more “adult” fare. For a long time I couldn’t even remember the last marketed-toward-adults book that I had read. Enter, Gone Girl.

Now it’s true that I had been hearing about Gone Girl for years. Almost immediately after the book, penned by Gillian Flynn, was published in 2012 it became the novel that every book club had to have, and it sold over two million copies in its first year of publication. Nearly every one of my friends read and raved about Gone Girl, but I still was hesitant to read it myself. Murder mysteries weren’t typically my area of interest.

Then, I saw the first trailer for the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. What’s not to like? I thought. Ben Affleck? Good. Rosamund Pike? Good. Neil Patrick Harris? Good. Being a firm believer in book first, movie second, I knew I was finally going to have to cave and give Gone Girl a try. I was not disappointed. It is very rare that a novel lives up to every ounce of hype it is given, but Gone Girl was every bit the deliciously aggravating mind-fuck I was promised.

I loved the book so much, that the second I was finished reading it I was instantly worried about the movie. I had seen far too many of my beloved novels butchered down to scraps for the sake of the silver screen, and I wasn’t sure how exactly they would capture the delicately balanced nuances between the clues and red herrings that made Flynn’s book so captivating.

The answer is a simple one: have Flynn herself write the screenplay.

Gone Girl is without a doubt one of the best film adaptations of a novel, if not THE best, I have ever seen. Every single relevant detail from the book was kept in the movie, which in some cases makes a movie feel inflated, but the fantastic pacing of Flynn’s script keeps the movie from feeling weighed down. Throw in the spot on acting (like I said, what’s not to like?), and you have yourself a bona fide hit.

What’s even better is that Flynn is finally getting some much-deserved recognition. Gone Girl the novel did not rake in many literary accolades for Flynn, but it seems as though the movie industry is willing to welcome Flynn with open arms. She’s already won the Hollywood Film Awards Screenwriter Award, and with a nomination for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nomination in her future as well. Clearly I am not the only one who recognizes that benefits of an adaptation by the person who knows the material best. Let’s hope this is a trend that continues into 2015 and beyond.


Off the Mark

Lena Dunham


I’m sorry readers, but I owe you an apology.

A few years ago, on this very blog, I climbed up on my soap box and touted Lena Dunham as the auteur of our generation.

I believe I even used the word “wunderkind.”


In hindsight I can see now that I loved her largely because I was coached by the media to love her. I immediately embraced Girls as the artful show it aspired to be. She’s brilliant, they said. It’s a fresh take on a played-out storyline, they said. She’s a body positive role model, they said.

I watched Girls because it came from Camp Apatow (and although I hadn’t seen it in 2012 when Girls first premiered, it is now pretty much inconceivable to me that the same person who bestowed Freaks and Geeks upon the world is the same person trying to pander Lena Dunham to the masses as the voice of a generation), and because it was supposedly a more realistic portrayal of life in NYC than another well known HBO show about four girlfriends.

After three seasons and book deal for Dunham, I find it nearly impossible to relate to Hannah and her friends, and Dunham personally, for that matter. My best friend’s gay ex-boyfriend has never tried to have sex with me. I’ve never jammed a Q-tip so hard into my ear that I’ve needed to go to the emergency room. Twice. I never started an illicit affair while I was in rehab for drug abuse with a guy at least twenty years older than me. And I sure as hell never did any weird sexual stuff with my sister (you’re welcome, Katie).

And, believe it or not, I can relate even less to Carrie Bradshaw, but at least she had Manolos on a journalist’s salary and got to eat pretty cupcakes in the middle of the day with her friends.

Hannah Horvath’s NYC is definitely a lot seedier, and less glamourous than Carrie Bradshaw’s, but that in no way makes it more realistic. And being shocking simply for shock’s sake does not brilliant TV make.

Now that the kneejerk acclaim that initially surrounded Girls is starting to fade, I am finally able to see it for what it really is: a night of partying just a little too hard, with a terrible hangover the next day. It seemed like a good idea at the time, even fun. But in the harsh light of day, after a few glasses of water, some Advil, and a dead ebook publisher, you start to think it was all a huge mistake, and pledge to any and all gods who will listen to never, ever do it again.

Can we all just agree that Lena Dunham is the bottle of cheap tequila we all swear we’re never going near again?

Sure, but like the train wreck you stare at even though you don’t want to, I’ll tune in to the fourth season of Girls like the hypocrite that I am.

What? I said I was sorry.



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