gone girl photo


Every so often I get a comment on a post that is important to re-post on my blog.  Tej Steiner from Ashland, Oregon wrote a very thoughtful and insightful response to my post last month on the movie Gone Girl.  I am including it below and hope you will look him up…he is doing amazing and innovative work called “Heart Circles”.

Hi, Maya,

I felt the same way about Gone Girl as you did. I felt like battery acid had been poured into my veins as I left the theater. The throat cutting scene was particularly grotesque. How do we get that image out of our minds?

As much as I didn’t like the movie, I loved the book. It wasn’t an easy read but still worthwhile and powerful. So what from the book was left out of the movie?

Amy’s monologues for starters. In the book, they were so brilliant. Flynn was able to express the deep rage from being idealized and thus rejected by her parents through their Amazing Amy book series. There were traces of these monologues in the movie but they were footnotes rather than the full-on, in your face, truth-filled rants that Amy spoke in the book: bone-chillingly true as only could be expressed by a woman fully in touch with the collective rage of women for being objectified by men over the ages.

Then there was the author’s biting satire of how media does to our social reality what Amy’s parents did to her. It’s this strange form of idealization in that the media presents the perfect consumable story that will make them the profits they seek from telling the story or news. Amy’s parent’s didn’t see Amy. They saw in whatever Amy did, an opportunity to package THAT into a story that sells. CNN and Fox news don’t see the news, they see the opportunity to sell a news story or a reality series.

And then, saving the best for last, there is Nick. In the movie, the fictional character, Nick, actually plays Ben Affleck! Isn’t that a hoot! Ben is this cardboard kind of actor that gets by on his goods looks and wit rather than his grit and his soul. I don’t know if this is true in Ben’s Affleck’s personal life, but for me, it’s true of him in his films. There’s that dough-boy feel about him.

In the book, Nick starts out as a dough boy but the book, itself, is, in part, the story of how he comes into his strength as a result of having to deal with Amy’s psychopathic threat to his life. He comes through. And he does this by giving her what she had always been asking for: attention and his own solid presence. In the movie, Nick remains Ben Affleck through the ending: still the doughboy and victim to Amy’s manipulation.

And last, last, Gone Girl, to me, is an amazing satiric exploration of modern day marriage that typically begins with an extended honeymoon and ends with the death of both partner’s life force.

In the book, it wasn’t that Nick stays in the marriage because Amy outfoxed him with the pregnancy. He stayed because he realizes that he had never loved Amy for who she actually was. He was seeing and preferring Amazing Amy just as much her parents. Therefore, he had a chance to love her, as she was, even though she had turned into a psychopathic killer. In loving who she was instead of some idealized form of what he thought she should be, he comes into a deeper understanding of who he is as a man and partner. He holds steady no matter what his wife throws at him. He learns what love is. The dough-boy turns into the bread-man.

Flynn was talking about throw-away marriages where partners don’t stay around long enough to find real love. We prefer the honeymoon and its romantic love.

None of this came out in the movie. Hollywood took the REAL book and turned it into a story that they thought would sell. The movie, itself, ends up being what the book is about: exploitation.

The only fly in my tidy little analysis is that Flynn wrote the screenplay. Maybe I idealized the book into what I needed it to be! C’est la vie.

Thanks for your review, Maya, and the opportunity to post my thoughts on it.

Tej Steiner

Founder: Heart Circles

Fury:  The Movie

fury_movie_all_cast photo

Two hundred years ago William Congreve did not know what was going to happen with his off the cuff remark regarding women: “Hell hath no fury than a women scorned”. Everyone knows to this day about this one tiny sentence, which strikes fear in the hearts of men everywhere who have seen Fatal Attraction.

We know what it means which now goes something like this in the 21st century, “Don’t ever fuck with me again”. The word Fury is in fact not used very much. It conjures images of tornadoes and storms capsizing an entire fleet of ships. It conjures Maleficent.

fu·ry  ˈfyo͝orē  noun

1.Wild or violent anger.  “Tears of fury and frustration”

Greek Mythology:  A Spirit of punishment, often represented as one of three goddesses who executed the curses pronounced upon criminals, tortured the guilty with stings of conscience, and inflicted famines and pestilences. The Furies were identified at an early date with the Eumenides.

So, how appropriate for a WWII Tank to be named Fury and the subject of the movie of the year with Brad Pitt. But, don’t let this movie which feels a lot like Saving Private Ryan fool you. It is not all that you think it is. It’s far more.

I sat uncomfortably through flying body parts, blood baths and inhuman behavior that made Hannibal the Cannibal look like a saint, since we chalked his devouring appetite for human flesh up to serious pathology and thought “if only he could get a little Zoloft”. I had my coat over my head twice, had stomach aches from tension, I held my breath through a scene at a German dinner table and knew even in those moments I was watching something that was far greater than one 24 hour battle at the end of WWII. I was watching the secret lives of men who were being shattered into a thousand pieces while skewering 300 soldiers. I became mesmerized by the inner stage this drama was playing on.

Fury is a war movie. It is impeccably written and acted. These five men who were simply a dysfunctional family trapped in a sardine can and deaf from shell shock, reveal throughout the movie the damage to men’s souls.   They are naked against the backdrop of inhumanity and the psychosis that is war.

In the movie these male characters are one dysfunctional family complete with the alcoholic father, the hopeful mother, the children vying for approval and the one new member of the team who is the “innocent”. This young man is the mirror though which each man sees himself, his own loss of innocence, his inability to cope with slaughter, torture and death and his brutalized spirit.

There is a beauty in this movie that if you open to it will change you. It is about men being human and no different from women in their softness, their vulnerability, and their capacity for fear, compassion and powerful emotion. The difference is that these men, as all men really, were required to hide these more human expressions of the soul. It cost them everything.

So, if you can look past the violence and see it for what it is, the metaphor that most closely resembles the state of the masculine today and then allow yourself to revel in the exquisite, yet understated look at what happens to men’s souls under the rule of the patriarchy, then you will be grateful and you just might see the men, the fathers and the lovers in your life with greater understanding.

This movie is just the beginning of a long string of movies that reveal and expose the underbelly of our patriarchal world.     A+

Next, The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Devall.


Gone Girl Poster



GONE GIRL – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife? (c) Fox

Sounds like Fatal Attraction doesn’t it. Or maybe, Basic Instinct? Well it’s not.

Roger Ebert has some wise words about this movie that pretty much everyone has seen or is planning to see. And the statistics on reviews say that it has succeeded at the box office and I for one have not seen “0” negative reviews on many movies.

Positive Reviews out of 49: 39

Mixed Reviews out of 49: 10

Negative Reviews a whopping: 0

“Gone Girl is a parable of gender relations, one that eventually takes an ugly misogynist turn? I’ve heard these charges leveled, and they have merit. You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve seen the movie. At the same time, though, as we evaluate those complaints, we owe it to Flynn, Fincher and everyone involved to take into account what sort of film this is, what mode it’s operating in, and how transparent it is about what it’s doing, how it’s doing it, and why. “Gone Girl” is a nightmare of love gone cold and a relationship-gone south, coupled with an elaborate revenge fantasy that both exploits and reclaims sexist images and assumptions. It’s also a film about a psychopath who turns an ordinary life into chaos. Like a lot of Hitchcock—and like certain domestic nightmares by such filmmakers as Brian De Palma and Luis Bunuel—each scene in the movie refers, however obliquely, to real fears, real emotions and real configurations of love or friendship?” Ebert

So, I cannot help maybe being the only one out there that has a negative review. That truly wished I had not gone to see it. There is nothing bad to say about the directing, the script, and the actors. Pretty much…. flawless. But the part of me that did not like this movie…was my soul.

I boycott Horror Films and cannot be dragged even on Halloween to see Saw I,II III or X. But after seeing Gone Girl I would have preferred to do a movie marathon and seen all the Saws in one sitting. Why? Because Saw, like most Horror Films, is so fictional that your mind can flip that switch that says, “This is not real”. Gone Girl rips open places in the human psyche that will haunt you. Now saying this there is probably a stampede to the movie happening because, somehow we are all voyeurs who cannot help wanting to peer into the dark caverns of the mind and psyche. But, is it good for us? That is an important question.

The darkness of the human spirit and the inhumanness between people who profess love is so disturbing in this movie that for the first time in years I had terrible dreams for days. Gone Girl hits a Freudian nerve. It collapses the spirit as you witness such gruesome emotional and physical violence that you are paralyzed, eyes glued open to the utter unthinkable that emerges out of twisted souls and psychopathology. Are we looking at a woman possessed? Are we watching how people brutally use one another? Are we seeing that humans can do to each other such unthinkable things that our idea of violence is somehow elevated after watching this movie?   Yes to all of the above.

Violence is not a bad thing in of itself in Cinema. The soon to be released “Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie takes us outside the lines of a torture camp for American war captives and into the realm of the unthinkable. But, there is something redeeming about every scene. It is all told as a backdrop to the power and resilience of the human spirit against all odds.

Although Gone Girl is a riveting Thriller, it casts such a shadow of darkness on the soul that I left feeling that there was not one redeeming factor in the movie and walked to my car like a PTSD victim. Psychological stalking and brutal killing are energies that linger. I am not certain the last time I felt that way in a movie that I did not walk out on.

In the end, my question is…why any movie, when once it is clear it was not made for the entertainment factor, is made at all when in the end the negative affects of watching such violence is absorbed into your cells and literally changes you. One more way story is Power.

My last observation to why a movie like this is made and loved: Because we have become utterly desensitized to pain, suffering and violence. That’s my two cents.


love is strange photos

LOVE IS STRANGE John Lithgow and Alfred Molina

My faith in film was restored with this five-course meal of a movie. Love is Strange, a perfect equation between art, music and cinema put Hollywood’s overload of Marvel Comic films in my rearview mirror for the summer. Thank god! Throughout this poignant movie you want to freeze frame a hundred different camera shots and simply savor the beauty and insight that the director has infused into every scene. But sadly, as it seems all too often these days, this gem was made with independent family, friends and grant money, which gave the movie the freedom to be utterly inspired and was yet another reminder that Hollywood traded away movies that open the heart for corporate greed long ago.

“About halfway through Love Is Strange, George (Alfred Molina) is greeted at the door by his husband, Ben (John Lithgow), who softly weeps on his shoulder. No explanation is given for his crying, but the moment is touching because by that point in this “miraculously observant” love story, we understand how well these two know each other — and how just the sight of the other’s face can trigger an emotional wellspring. It’s that secret language that exists between two people who’ve been together longer than they’ve been apart.” And at this point, popcorn or a bathroom break aside, you are transfixed for the duration of this artful movie.

Love Is Strange is the fifth feature by independent filmmaker Ira Sachs (Forty Shades of Blue, Keep the Lights On), who is among the most insightful and innovative of American directors. His beautifully intuitive script (written with Mauricio Zacharias) is a collection of rich and poignant snapshots that will linger well after the movie is over because Sach’s has managed to trigger our most personal memories with every minute of  film.  Like August:  In Osage County, you want to run and hide, but you cannot.  You are compelled with every silent conversation and every lingering shot not to turn away from the truth.

Sach’s elusive title refers to all strained relationships, including the one that the characters have with New York City.  Marisa Tomei smolders with unexpressed feeling and is amazing as always, as is every character in the story, especially the young and vibrant talent of Charlie Tahan who is remarkable. Love is Strange mirrors life’s joys and disappointments as Sachs takes an impeccably balanced approach to the film. “It’s neither an advertisement for same-sex marriage nor a scold against the Catholic Church”.

The story offers the viewer that tantalizing possibility of having ones own imagination, only giving you just enough information and allowing you to exercise your brain and your creativity to fill in the blanks.

“Sachs, Molina, and Lithgow have given adult moviegoers a perfect piece of a warm, humane, resplendent romance to savor.” Entertainment

More than an “A” movie. Food for the soul.


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