Tag Archives: Psycho

Gone Girl, and a blog about spoilers. With no spoilers

13 Oct
Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star in Gone Girl -- which is all I will say

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star in Gone Girl — which is all I will say

I enjoyed Gone Girl enormously, and expect it to be a serious Oscar contender, though it’s mildly annoying a) for being basically a silly idea, brilliantly executed and b) because said silly idea is one I had independently dreamed up and filed in my “movie premises” folder and which now, obviously, I can’t use, grrr (see also Looper).

But I’m not going to review it or tell you about it, because the movie has already been written about too much. And that brings me onto the Extremely Annoying Thing about Gone Girl: that so many newspapers and websites have given the game away.

Movies have long relied on the element of surprise, and critics have a duty to safeguard their readers’ enjoyment. Hitchcock turned the secrecy over Psycho’s twist into a marketing campaign. So, too, did Miramax with The Crying Game: when I attended previews, we critics were handed a document forbidding us to divulge the twist that turned it into an unlikely Stateside hit. I worried about spoilers so much when editing Time Out that I would argue with the Theatre Editor over discussing the ending of Hamlet. It may be four centuries old, but some readers would be seeing it for the first time.

Editors, bloggers and even the odd critic seem to have forsaken this public duty in the race for circulation/clicks. With Gone Girl, even though I deliberately avoided the reviews before seeing it, the style magazine headlines alone were enough to tell me the big reveal.

So a plea, and a promise. Please, editors, don’t reveal too much, or your readers might stop consuming reviews altogether. And readers, you can trust me, in this blog, to be extra-careful about spoilers, as I always have been.

As to how this blog ends… well, I’d better not say.


A Hollywood horror: the video behind America’s latest mass shooting

25 May

America’s latest mass-shooting atrocity has to be the strangest yet, by virtue of the seven-minute video left behind by the killer, Elliot Rodger. In it, he complains of the pain of being 22 and never yet kissed.

“You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you have never been attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy… the supreme gentleman.”

Here’s a clue as to why: this “perfect guy” then went on a shooting spree that left seven dead, including himself. Which might just indicate that these girls have more taste and discernment than he realised.

There are so many strange things about all this, quite apart from the abject horror of his indiscriminate killing.

Foremost is Rodger’s laugh: several times in the clip he laughs in a very deliberate and stylised way, as though playing the part of a villain in a bad Hollywood movie. It is the most contrived and least honest-sounding cri de coeur I have heard. The only hint of real emotion comes at 1.30 mins, “it’s not fair”, though the emotion it conveys is petulance more than pain. [Update: it was announced more recently that he was diagnosed in childhood with Asperger’s, and he was being seen by “multiple professionals”.] His father, incidentally, is the Assistant Director of The Hunger Games, which gives a peculiarly Hollywood twist to the tragedy.

Second, Rodger is rather good-looking; not the usual image of the despised nerd or goth. Which, again, might indicate that the reason he struck out with the girls was less to do with looks than character. To reverse Mrs Merton, “What is it about this woman-hating spree-killing psycho that you find unattractive?”

Third is that he posted on PUAHate.com. This is a website devoted to people who have subscribed fruitlessly to an odious school of thought on how to pick up women using tricks such as “negging”, ie putting them down rather than complimenting them. Presumably Rodger was one its adherents, and we can only hope that this most spectacular and public failure of this peculiarly unpleasant discipline will put off other potential followers.

Other than that… I don’t much want to stray into another country’s politics, but surely, finally, yet again again again, America could listen to the heart-rending plea of Christopher Martinez, father of one of the dead, who in a highly emotional press conference blamed politicians and the NRA for the lack of gun control. “When will this insanity stop?” he raged. “We should say to ourselves, ‘not one more’.”

Footnote: Also on Saturday, it was announced that John Waszynski, from Connecticut, has been charged with murder after living for months with the rotting corpse of his strangled mother. Norman Bates, anyone?