TIME movies

AMC Theaters Refuses to Show Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Sequel

Crouching Tiger
Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as Yu Shu-Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend Netflix

Regal and Cinemark are also boycotting the movie

AMC Theaters said they will boycott Netflix’s first feature film, a sequel to 2000’s Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which the streaming company plans to release both on its website and in select IMAX theaters, many of which are operated by AMC.

AMC joined two other major theater chains, Regal and Cinemark, that are refusing to show Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, which Netflix produced with Weinstein Co. In the U.S., AMC has 147 IMAX theaters, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Together, the three chains operate 247 of the 400 IMAX theaters in North America.

Netflix announced Monday that the movie was on its way, set for Aug. 28, 2015. Many believe the streamed movie is Netflix’s attempt at disrupting the traditional movie release cycle in which films migrate from big to small screens.

“AMC Theatres and [its parent company] Wanda Cinema are the largest operators of Imax-equipped auditoriums in the world. We license just the technology from IMAX. Only AMC and Wanda decide what programming plays in our respective theaters. No one has approached us to license this made-for-video sequel in the U.S. or China, so one must assume the screens IMAX committed are in science centers and aquariums,” AMC said.

While AMC’s statement brushed off Netflix’s plan, Regal took a more direct approach in voicing its opposition to Netflix’s apparent attempt to subvert the traditional movie viewing experience. A spokesman said in a statement that “at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to [three inches] wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.”

Still, IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond has defended the company’s decision to partner with Netflix on a simultaneous video-on-demand and movie release, saying he believes the IMAX release will still be successful because of audiences in China, where Netflix is banned, and where IMAX theaters are not operated by the American chains AMC, Regal and Cinemark. Gelfond also emphasized that Netflix, with its new movie model, may be on to something.

“Theaters are our partners, and by bringing additional content to the market, I think it helps the market and I think it’s helping them. I understand change isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, it’s easier to stick with the status quo, but on the other hand, if you don’t try to change you get stuck in a certain place,” Gelfond told The Wrap. “We made our reputation by innovating.”

TIME Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan Hits Back at Walmart

Tired Truck Drivers
In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it's side early Saturday morning, June 7, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike. Will Vaultz—AP

"I can't believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused"

Comedian Tracy Morgan fired back at Walmart Tuesday after the retail giant suggested the 30 Rock star was responsible for injuries sustained in a serious accident with one of its trucks, because he hadn’t worn a seatbelt.

“After I heard what Walmart said in court I felt I had to speak out,” Morgan said in a statement Tuesday bthrough his spokesperson Lewis Ka. “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused. My friends and I were doing nothing wrong. I want to thank my fans for sticking with me during this difficult time. I love you all. I’m fighting hard every day to get back.”

In a court filing Monday, Walmart claimed that the injuries sustained by Morgan and other survivors of the wreck were “caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.”

Morgan sued Walmart after a truck driver for the big box retailer struck the back of his limo in June. Morgan was badly injured in the collision, as were three other survivors. Comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed.

TIME movies

Review: Men, Women & Children Shows How Sexting Is Ruining America

Men Women Children
Ansel Elgort plays Tim Mooney and Kaitlyn Dever plays Brandy Beltmeyer in Men, Women & Children Paramount

Adam Sandler watches porn, Jennifer Garner wants to wipe out social media and teens are twisted tweeters in Jason Reitman's jeremiad against the 21st century

Adults may think back on the world a decade ago and sigh in nostalgia at its glorious innocence: no Facebook, no Twitter, no carpal tunnel syndrome from spilling every secret to countless online friends and potential predators. The children of those adults may shrug derisively and ask if their parents also miss the wonderful days before cars, phones and indoor plumbing. The luxuries of one generation are the necessities, the addictions of the next. Progress? An omen of the Apocalypse? You decide.

To judge from his new film Men, Women & Children, Jason Reitman expects the fire this time. And social media, which once meant talking and letter-writing, will provide the fuel for the final conflagration. Based on Chad Kultgen’s rather more explicit novel, this off-kilter ensemble dramedy is a plague movie, like Contagion or World War Z: everyone has the same disease but few realize it’s more than a harmless itch. The dread signs — how e-blather can fester into a metaphorical Ebola — are especially rampant among the students in a Texas high school. Some of their parents are infected, too.

Fifteen-year-old Chris Truby (Travis Tope), a connoisseur of online porn since he was 10, has graduated to images so violent and elaborate that he is incapable of sharing an ordinary sex act with a classmate. Allison Doss (Elena Kampouris), pursuing anorexia almost as a religious vocation, gets sideline cheers — “Pretty bitches never eat” — from other girls online with eating disorders. Tim Mooney (Ansel Elgort) has quit as the star of his school’s football team to spend obsessive hours each day in a Guild Wars gaming site. Hannah Clint (Olivia Crocicchia), aiming to translate her blond allure into stardom on a reality show, has posted naughty photos of herself on a “private” site approved by her mom Joan (Judy Greer). They should know that, in the age of an omniscient NSA and a transparent Cloud, nothing is private. Every intimacy is up for grabs.

In this virtual world, the young are the masters (and slaves); parents must learn from their children, or just log onto their kids’ computers. Chris’s dad Don (a paunchy, subdued Adam Sandler) is less appalled than aroused by what he finds there. He and his wife Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) have fallen out of love and out of sex; they have to schedule it like a rare play date, and when Helen grudgingly notes, “O.K., but it’s gotta be quick,” Don assures her, “It will be.” Restlessness leads him to a call-girl site and her to a dating service. No points for guessing that the married philanderers end up at the same bar.

Another parent, the ramrod Patricia Beltmeyer (Jennifer Garner), has grown suspicious of her daughter Brandy (Kaitlyn Dever) and turned into the hall monitor of the girl’s texts and cell-hone calls. Need we add that Brandy is the movie’s one healthy teen, building a friendship with the disaffected Tim? If Patricia had been the mother of any of the other kids, her snooping might have saved souls. Here, it could end a life.

In his first three features — Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air — Reitman proved himself an ace at serious observational comedy. He was too cool to push viewers toward or away from characters whose internal weirdness he figured would be evident to any attentive mind. Then something snapped. Young Adult went wayward as the sketch of a prom queen 20 years past her prime, and Labor Day illuminated a bondage fantasy with Nativity lighting. Here, Reitman enlisted as co-writer Erin Cressida Wilson, whose previous feature films (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus and Chloe) dealt with sexual kinks, to lend authority to a synoptic take on a society drenched in virtual venery.

Men, Women & Children attempts to achieve the tone of Reitman’s early films, pirouetting between behavioral levity and dark melodrama, yet it often falls flat. The director’s choice of Emma Thompson as the veddy English narrator of a very American story suggests that he sees Kurtgen’s novel as Jane Austen time-warped into the 21st century: a comedy of manners in an age of new norms. By citing and showing the Voyager’s interstellar mission, Thompson puts the compulsions of a few little Texans into macroscopic long shot — from outer space to cyberspace. But the movie proceeds as if the NASA craft had returned to a slightly different Earth, where people who share nothing but a zip code are bent, or crippled, in various ways by the same malady.

The dozen or so main actors do their best to breathe nuance into characters that are standing in for social statements. Sandler and DeWitt make a perfectly mismatched couple on a journey that long ago took a wrong turn. (They remember 9/11/01 fondly, since it was practically the last time they had ecstatic unplanned sex.) Elgort, the hunky cancer-teen from The Fault in Our Stars, and Dever, of Short Term 12, provide the respite of normal adolescence in this lineup of teen clichés. Garner tries heroically to make sense of a modern book-burner — daughter’s text-deleter — by painting her face with a wounded smile to hint at the sad past that may have steered Patricia toward her current malevolence. But actors shouldn’t have to do all the work, or to work against the script, in trying to bring their characters to plausible life.

Reitman’s long view, which he may mean to be the diagnosis of a sympathetic doctor, plays like a radio preacher’s rant against sins of the flesh. And for all the snazzy effects of kids walking through a mall or a school corridor madly texting — their messages clogging the film frame like dialogue balloons in a Mad magazine splash panel — this film is defiantly old-fashioned, possibly Luddite, in condemning the appetites nourished by modern technology.

The way we remember it, kids of an earlier era hid salacious stuff from their folks, if only under the mattress (the first place a parent would look). They tortured themselves with diet regimens and sought pleasure in video games, board games or Strip Hearts. Spouses found ways to stray. The world was awash in sexuality, always has been, yet somehow most of us survived.

Men, Women & Children doesn’t clarify complex issues so much as it simplifies and very nearly sullies them. You can sit through the movie dutifully noting its lessons, but at the end, you might want to clear your history.

TIME Music

Watch Pee-wee Herman and Karen Gillan in TV On the Radio’s New Video

"Happy Idiot" is the first single off the band's forthcoming album Seeds

TV On the Radio have released the video for the single “Happy Idiot” off of their forthcoming Seeds album, and it’s a winner. The clip stars Pee-wee Herman (also known as actor Paul Reubens) as a racecar driver losing his mind in the heat, seeing visions of Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan.

As TV On the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe explained in a statement, “I had this idea for the video that I thought would never happen, of Paul Reubens as a race car driver who slowly loses his mind. I took it to Funny or Die and they said, ‘That’s great, let’s go for that.’”

Luckily, Reubens was a longtime fan of the band and agreed to star in the video. In the clip, directed by Danny Jelinek and written by Jake Fogelnest, Gillan appears as a cheerleader, chef and balloon-carrying vision in black who may or may not be a hallucination. “Karen Gillan was absolutely great,” said Adebimpe. “We were really psyched to work with her, because she’s basically sci-fi royalty, and a great person. Full on geek fest in the desert.”

“It was really fun to do,” Adebimpe said. “I love how it came out. I think our fans will like it. I hope so. The cool ones will anyway. The rest can suck it.”

TV On the Radio’s new album, Seeds, is due out November 18th via Harvest Records. In support of the album, the band is heading out on tour mid-October. Check dates here.

TIME Television

Lea Thompson on “The Power of Love” and Dancing with the Stars

ABC

Thompson recreated her Back to the Future dance on the show last night

There was a Delorean on the set of Dancing with the Stars last night and that could only mean one thing: Lea Thompson was going back in time to go Back to the Future.

Ever since it was announced that Thompson would be joining the cast for season 19 of DWTS, fans had been waiting for a routine set to Huey Lewis and the News’s Back to the Future theme song, “The Power of Love,” and last night, Thompson delivered.

“Lorraine McFly is one of my favorite characters. She’s the best and it was fun to revisit her in a cha-cha skirt,” said Thompson after the routine. It was a thrilling moment for fans, who had been yearning for a throwback moment since Elizabeth Berkley Lauren recreated her Jessie Spano “I’m So Excited” dance on the show.

It’s all part of the fun for Thompson, who is simply enjoying being back on the dance floor after a years-long hiatus. “Being on the show is all about revisiting my first love. I really loved ballet, but I wasn’t good enough to be a ballet dancer, “ said Thompson. “This is about enjoying the joy of the dance and not being so uptight about it. I feel revitalized by this. It’s so much fun.”

Thompson may be having fun, but she’s also doing very well in the competition. She was at the top of the leaderboard last week after her fast-paced jive wowed the judges — so much so that Carrie Ann Inaba fell out of her chair. “We were so surprised. I had no idea that we were the top of the leaderboard,” said Thompson. “It was awesome.” That said, Thompson claims she’s just on the show for the love of the dance. “I don’t care about winning, but I do care about staying on the show, because it’s so much fun!” she said.

She noted that contestant Janel Parrish beat her in one of the show’s so-called “Twitter-offs,” where the contestant who gets the most votes on Twitter earns a valuable repeat performance. “She’s my best girlfriend on the show,” said Thompson, “But she did beat me for the Twitter-off, because she has about a billion more Twitter followers than me!”

“It’s not how much younger they are than me. It’s how many social media followers they have — that’s what’s stacked against me,” said Thompson. “I need more Twitter followers!” (If you want to help swell her numbers from the 78,000 followers she already has, her Twitter handle is @LeaKThompson.)

It’s not just social media that causes Thompson some concern, though. “I worry that people won’t vote for me, because they think I’m safe,” said Thompson. “I’m not safe at all.”

Part of Thompson’s concern stems from the fact that she’s paired with a brand-new pro. While Chigvintsev has earned his stripes and laurels on the UK’s version, Strictly Come Dancing, he’s new to U.S. fans. “We come in with a slight disadvantage, because Artem doesn’t have an American fan base like Val [Chmerkovskiy] or Derek [Hough],” said Thompson. It’s clear that Thompson thinks Chigvintsev deserves his fair share of fans: “Artem is like the perfect guy — funny, smart and caring. And he has abs,” she laughed. “We’re great buds. We’re having a great time working on this.”

While Thompson is proud of her past, she does hope to incorporate something from her present in a future dance — sign language, a skill she earned on the set of her ABC Family drama Switched at Birth. “I am hoping to incorporate sign language into something. It’s just so beautiful,” she said.

Despite the greatness of the Back to the Future dance, fans will still have to wait for the inevitable moment when Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star and current Dancing with the Stars contestant Alfonso Ribeiro pulls out The Carleton.

TIME Music

Billy Idol: Sex, Drugs, ‘Charmed Life,’ and the Crash That Nearly Killed Me

Dancing With Myself
Dancing With Myself Courtesy Simon & Schuster

Billy Idol is a musician and the author of the forthcoming memoir Dancing With Myself.

They say if you hear the bang, you're still alive

By the morning of February 6, 1990, I’d been living on a fine edge for more than a decade, always courting disaster to experience the biggest high. I’d been living the deranged life. I felt so nihilistic, yet why hadn’t I just tuned in and dropped out? Instead, I followed Jim Morrison’s credo, the credo of Coleridge and, at one point, Wordsworth, the credo of self-discovery through self-destruction I so willfully subscribed to until this moment:

Live every day as if it’s your last, and one day you’re sure to be right.

On this fateful morning, I’m standing wide-awake at dawn in the living room of my house in Hollywood Hills, overlooking the Los Angeles basin that falls and stretches away toward the high-rising pillars of downtown. I haven’t slept, still buzzing from the night’s booze and illicit substances lingering in my bloodstream, staring at the view of the city beginning its early morning grumblings. Daylight unfolds and casts shadows within the elevation, as if God is slowly revealing his colors for the day from his paint box, the hues of brown and green of earth and foliage offset by the bleached white of the protruding rocks that hold my home in place on the hillside.

Standing at my window, I hear sirens blaring in the distance. Someone wasn’t so lucky, I think as I tune in to the rumble of cars ferrying tired and impatient commuters on the 101 freeway that winds through the Cahuenga Pass, the sound of a world slowly getting back in motion. The constant moan of the freeway echoes that of my tired and played-out soul.

Just the night before, after almost two years of work, we put the aptly titled album Charmed Life to bed. I’m feeling some pressure, home early from the de rigueur studio party. I say that as if we threw one party to celebrate the completion of the album, but the truth is that the party went on for two years. Two years of never-ending booze, broads, and bikes, plus a steady diet of pot, cocaine, ecstasy, smack, opium, quaaludes, and reds. I passed out in so many clubs and woke up in the hospital so many times; there were incidents of returning to consciousness to find I was lying on my back, looking at some uniformly drab, gray hospital ceiling, cursing myself and thinking that I was next in line to die outside an L.A. nightclub or on some cold stone floor, sur- rounded by strangers and paparazzi.

I’ve been taking GHB, a steroid, to help relieve symptoms of the fatigue that has been plaguing me and preventing me from working out and keeping my body in some semblance of good shape. If you take too much GHB, which I’m prone to do, it’s like putting yourself in a temporary coma for three hours; to observers, it appears as if you are gone from this world.

When we began recording in 1988, we promised each other we’d be cool and focused, and not wholly indulge in drugs and debauchery. But as weeks stretched into months, Fridays often finished early with “drop-time”—the moment we all took ecstasy. And then Friday soon became Thursday and so on, until all rules were taboo. We somehow managed to make music through the constant haze. It seemed like every few days I was recovering from yet another wild binge, and it took three days to feel “normal” again. The album proved to be slow going and the only way to feel any kind of relief from the pressure was to get blotto, avoid all human feelings, and reach back into the darkness once again. Somewhere in that darkness, I told myself, there was a secret of the universe or some hidden creative message to be found.

We’d invite girls to come to the studio to listen to the music. Mixing business with pleasure seemed the best way to see if the new songs worked. We’d be snorting lines of cocaine, and then the girls would start dancing. Before long, they’d end up having sex with one or more of us on the studio floor. Once the party was in full swing, we walked around naked but for our biker boots and scarves. Boots and Scarves became the running theme.

The girls loved it and got in on the act. It helped that we recruited them at the local strip bars; they felt comfortable naked. We had full-on orgies in those studios we inhabited for months. It was like a glorified sex club. We were all about instant gratification, lords of the fix.

Now that it’s all said and done, I feel exhausted and shattered. The keyed-up feeling that prevents me from sleeping is the result of the care and concern I put into making a record that will decide the course of my future. That’s the sort of pressure I put on myself every time. Then there’s the fact that the production costs have been astronomi- cal; the need to keep the bandwagon rolling has drained my spirit and sapped my will.

Months later, Charmed Life will go on to sell more than a million copies. The “Cradle of Love” single and video, directed by David Fincher, will both become massive hits. But I don’t know this when I retreat to my home alone at 2 a.m., intending to get some rest after wrapping recording. The breakup of my relationship with my girlfriend, Perri, the mother of my son, Willem, has left me bereft, but finishing the album has been my only priority. “If the thing is pressed . . . Lee will surrender,” Lincoln telegraphed Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in 1865. And then: “Let the thing be pressed.” That’s a rock ’n’ roll attitude. The difficult has to be faced straight-on and the result forged out of sweat and tears. That’s where I take my inspiration. The wide-screen version of the last few years’ tumultuous events plays in my subconscious and cannot be ignored. What can I do to keep away these blues that rack my thoughts and creep into my bones? It’s a fine day, warming up, the sun burning off the morning smog. Still, I feel uneasy, dissatisfied in the pit of my stomach. With the album now finished, I’ll have to take stock of life and contemplate the emptiness without Perri and Willem.

The bike will blow away these post-album blues, I think. As I open the garage door, the chrome of my 1984 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide gleams with expectation, beckoning me.

The L.A. traffic is thick and the warmth of the sun is fresh on my face, its glow spreading over my bare head. California has yet to pass legislation making the wearing of helmets compulsory, and I’ve always liked the feel of the wind in my hair. My bike clears its throat with a deep, purring growl. The gleaming black tank and chrome fixtures flash in the sharp, sacrosanct daylight. I’ve opted for all denim to match the blue-sky high.

The Harley’s firm hold on the road this morning is comforting, and I begin to relax; its curves perfectly match the contours of the pavement below. I try to outrun the demons. The sweet, jasmine-honeyed air intoxicates my spinning mind. I rev the bike, which reacts easily to my commands as I sail breezily along the winding canyon road toward Sunset Boulevard. The lush greenery and trees lining the road refresh my thoughts, and my concentration wanders. My mind is filled with images of Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia speeding through the English countryside, testing his bike, pushing it to the limit, when—

WHAM!!!

An almighty explosion interrupts my silent reverie. I feel my body violently tumbling through the air, floating into a pure void. I black out before landing.

I sense beings crowding around me. I hear voices, some very close and loud, others softer and farther away. The whirl of movement in this dark vortex tells me that other worlds exist; I can feel their magnetic pull. People have a gravity of presence, and I can feel their move- ment as I slowly regain my senses. I’m not sure if I’m alive or dead.

I’m transported to just above myself. There are no white tunnels or distant lights, rather a red dimension. Walking through the shadow world on the other side, I see the beings who grace the crimson night crowding around to greet me. They pour out their love. The strange dimension sends a beam of thought: You’re all right. We love you. Don’t worry, here is love. They press and push. The circle of people holds my soul in a warm embrace.

Now I slip into a warp of darkness, pulled from this loving dimen- sion. I hang in a slip of time between life and death; I slowly begin to regain consciousness. The screen behind my eyes has yet to come on. It’s as if God has not yet spoken those immortal words “Let there be light.”

**

I heard the crash. Bikers say that if you don’t hear that crash, you’re already dead. I open my eyes. Bright sunlight floods in. I’m staring at the curb, my forehead resting just an inch from the sidewalk’s edge. I’m lying in a bloody heap in the street, my Harley not too far away.

I’m positioned awkwardly on my left side, on top of my left arm. I free my arm, only to see something is very wrong. My wrist is f-cked up, leaving my fingers contorted, clawlike.

I lift up to look at the rest of my body and a terrific pain courses through my nerve endings. Any attempt at movement brings waves of agony that rack me to the core. Looking down, I see that my right boot is without a heel, smashed into the asphalt. I try to move my leg; nothing happens. I see a bloody, mangled stump sticking through my torn jeans. It looks as if my foot and my lower leg are separated from me, the denim lying flat on the pavement beneath my knee, a pool of blood quickly spreading from the soaked cloth. I lie there and wait for help.

The immortal biker slogan “There are those who have been down and there are those who are going down” reverberates through my brain as I watch a man walk across the street. Though he sees my condition, he asks, “Are you all right?” Ignoring the question, I blurt out, “I’ve got Blue Cross Blue Shield—take me to Cedars-Sinai,” before passing out.

I’m zapped back to reality with a sharp jolt as the EMTs move me from the street to the ambulance on a stretcher. They start to cut my clothes off, and I actually think to myself, Just as well I didn’t wear my favorite leather riding jacket.

The herky-jerky movements of the ambulance as it picks its way through traffic—slowing down then speeding up—combined with the blaring siren are strangely comforting. The actions of the two paramedics are cool, calm, and deliberate. I am in good hands. The speed with which they transfer me to the hospital gurney and take me to the emergency operating room reminds me of an experience I had in Thai land the year before, where I was escorted speedily out of the country by a platoon of the Thai Army, tranquilized and lashed to a military stretcher. By the time I reach the emergency room, the pain is so intense my thoughts are stopped cold as my injuries wreak havoc on my nervous system. I am probably screaming, but I am deaf to any sound.

The fact is, I have been deaf to many things. The road I’ve taken may have been the one less traveled, but definitely not in a good way. It was littered with disregarded warning signs. Despite spiritual reassurance by those friendly beings regarding my mortality, back in the real world, it’s payback time. It is not the first time nor the last that William Broad will be held to account and asked to pay a heavy price.

 

From DANCING WITH MYSELF, by Billy Idol. Copyright © 2014 by Billy Idol. Published Touchstone, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Billy Idol is a multi-platinum recording artist and Grammy nominee, and has written songs such as “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell,” and “Cradle of Love.” He lives in Los Angeles.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME movies

Review: Sex and Death, French-style, in The Blue Room

The Blue Room
Alfama Films

A Georges Simenon novel comes to cool, illuminating life in Mathieu Amalric's fine Gallic thriller

Two things that people do all the time: have sex, and worry about it. Or, as Georges Simenon wrote: “Can there be a more intimate communication between two beings than copulation?” Yet American films have largely forgotten the power of sexual drama. Thank heaven for French movies like Mathieu Amalric’s The Blue Room, which compactly addresses the ecstasies and occasionally dangerous consequences of intimate contact.

Simenon had ample opportunity to consider the dramatic possibilities of adulterous liaisons. According to his own testimony, he had sex with more than 10,000 women. As productive as he was profligate, Simenon wrote at least 200 novels, about 80 of them featuring the gruff, wily Inspector Jules Maigret, and a similar number of short stories. His no-nonsense prose and his view of modern life as ugly, brutish and short had a deep influence on the French cinema in its realistic mode. The astringent minimalism of French directors over the past 60 years may have been perfected by Robert Bresson, but it was inspired by the netherworld in which Simenon characters dwell.

The Belgian writer often portrayed men and women drawn into affairs that end in pain or violence. Among his finest essays on the wages of sex is his 1964 novel The Blue Room. As director, co-adaptor and star, Amalric has made the book into a film that is splendidly taut, forcefully understated and, at just 76 minutes, blessedly concise. It earns admiration both for the mood it creates and for the melodramatic excesses it avoids.

Julien Gahyde (Amalric), an apparently content husband and father, has for the past few months indulged in an affair with Esther Despierre (Stéphanie Cléau), the sultry wife of one of Julien’s old classmates. A tigress in bed, the passionate and possessive Esther bites Julien’s mouth, as if signaling to attentive eyes — those of his wife Delphine (Léa Drucker), for example — that he belongs to her. If she were free, Esther asks him, would he leave Delphine? His answer is enigmatic.

Two sudden deaths later, Julien and Esther are arrested, though the prosecuting judge (Laurent Poitrenaux) shines his primary searchlight on the philandering husband. The titular “blue room” refers not only to the site of his illicit assignations but also to the color of the trial chamber at the end of the film. Both are places where sex leads to severe judgment.

Shooting in the old “Academy ratio” (before wide screen) and making exemplary use of composer Grégoire Hetzel’s similarly classic score, Amalric expertly draws the noose of circumstance around Julien. He creates recurring visual motifs, like the housefly that indicates the first sign of trouble; the fly shape also appears as a drop of blood, from Esther’s love bite, on Julien’s white shirt.

Amalric plays an adulterer with the hapless half-grin of someone condemned for the merest infraction; in France, a husband’s sexual transgression is often considered no more serious than a parking ticket. The revelation is Cléau in her first major film role. (She also cowrote the script with Amalric.) Her unconventional beauty can express the allure of a dream lover or the quiet scheming of a demon. In a performance that disdains operatic excess, Cléau never raises her voice. She can seduce or threaten with the merest smile. Like this excellent little film, she achieves maximum impact with minimal means.

TIME movies

Gone Girl Plays a Fatal Game of Love and Marriage

20th Century Fox

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike bring the battling young marrieds of Gillian Flynn's best-selling thriller to creepy screen life

Looking for a review that doesn’t spoil the ending? Or do you want to read every piece of analysis about the unexpected twists of a movie like Gone Girl after you’ve seen it? We’re debuting a new feature on Time.com, developed by TIME’s tech lead Mark Parolisi, that lets you have it both ways. Click here to reveal the full analysis if you’ve already seen the film (the spoilers will be in bold), and click again if you change your mind (the spoilers will appear blurred).

Their courtship was a dream: the meeting of attractive opposites — two journalists for New York magazines — reviving the fond banter of film stars past. On their first date, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a small-town Midwesterner at ease in the big city, took rich, elegant Manhattanite Amy Elliott (Rosamund Pike) on a pre-dawn stroll to a bakery and kissed her, as powdered sugar fluttered around them like the finest snowflakes. Later, at a press party for the Amazing Amy children’s books her parents had written about her, Nick pretended to interview her and, from his notebook, removed an engagement ring.

A man — a woman too, but for now, the man — puts a lot of effort into the courtship role. He plays, he may even briefly be, the charming, considerate fellow, attentive to his woman’s every need or whim, just like the hero of some classic romantic comedy that ends at the altar. But that’s just the Old Hollywood version; in real life, the wedding is the beginning of a different story. And if courtship is a movie, marriage is a job that can become a grinding routine, an Ever After without the Happily. In the morning-after cinders of the honeymoon glow, a man may ignore his bride and find a younger woman with whom he can play another exciting game: adultery.

Did you ever wonder, even for an instant, if you could kill your spouse? Or be killed by the one you wed? And, if not, could others imagine it of you? Those are some of the taunts running through Gone Girl, the Gillian Flynn novel and the taut, faithful movie that she, as screenwriter, and David Fincher have made from it. In a property with all the killer-thriller tricks — sudden disappearance and violent death, dark motives and cunning misdirection — the true creepiness of Gone Girl is in its portrait of a marriage gone sour, curdled from its emotional and erotic liberation of courtship into a life sentence together, till death do they part. In Gone Girl, marriage is a prison, and each spouse is both jailer and inmate — perhaps even executioner, too.

Soon after the wedding, Nick and Amy lost their jobs. When he learned from his twin sister Margo (Carrie Coon) that their mother was dying of cancer, Nick abruptly decided to move back to North Carthage, Mo., and take Amy with him. They sold their brownstone — Amy’s brownstone — at a loss. Nick and Margo bought a bar, with Amy’s money, and he taught a journalism class at the community college. (In the book the course is called “How to Launch a Career in Magazines” — a little joke from Flynn, who became a full-time novelist when she was cashiered after a decade at Entertainment Weekly.) When not tending bar with Margo, Nick has kindled an affair with sexy student Andie (Emily Ratajkowski), which leaves Amy alone at home, with no job, doing… hey, what is this brilliant, industrious woman doing? Nick has no idea.

One thing that consumed her interest was preparing a treasure hunt for their fifth wedding anniversary, as she has done each year before: offering clues in rhyme to the hiding places of various gifts. But around noon on the big day, Nick discovers that Amy is gone from their home. Signs of a struggle, and blood wiped from the kitchen floor, suggest she was abducted, possibly murdered. She and Nick were heard arguing the night before, and when word of his affair gets around, he becomes the prime suspect — if not to Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens), the tough but sympathetic senior detective on the case, then to the neighbors and the avid, rabid media. Amy has left a diary, the record of a devoted wife’s growing suspicions and gnawing fear of her swine of a spouse, as well as the first clue in a brand-new treasure hunt. Nick now must juggle three uncomfortable roles: villain, victim and sleuth.

On the page, Gone Girl was a literary game: a tennis match of alternating chapters from Nick and Amy, with the reader offering to take each character’s side every few pages. Flynn simply — or, rather, complexly — interwove the narratives: Nick’s in the present, revealing more of his sins as he tracks the treasure-hunt clues, and Amy’s in the past, through her diary. He-said–she-said is fine for books, but movies play with the cinematic precept that seeing is believing: we show, you swallow. Given the dueling narratives, of which one, both or neither may be exactly true, it’s pretty impressive that Flynn and Fincher have managed to transfer this bookish jest successfully to the screen. The film amasses evidence against Nick through his own misdeeds, which we see, and through the testimony of Amy’s diary — a silk scarf that may become a noose — which we are shown. Like the novel, the movie detonates its big twist halfway through. So film reviewers must juggle the same ethical dilemma that faced book critics: whether or not to reveal the story’s shocking middle.

So here: Amy, exasperated with her lazy, careless husband and the glum life he had forced her into, faked her own murder and fashioned clues in the diary and the treasure hunt to frame him. She had carefully filched enough cash to live on while she moved in anonymity to the Ozarks. When she was robbed of her money, she contacted Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), with whom she had a teenage affair and who remained desperately smitten, to set her up in his remote lakeside villa. Watching Nick’s declaration of love for her on tabloid TV, Amy decided he might after all be the man for her. Now she just had to figure out a way to explain her disappearance. That meant finding a new male villain.

“You’re not too smart, are you,” says sultry Kathleen Turner to full-of-himself William Hurt in the 1981 Body Heat. “I like that in a man.” In that Lawrence Kasdan thriller, the Turner character — who plays games and goes missing — has a temperature that runs “a couple of degrees high, around a hundred.” Amy is just the opposite: a cucumber-cool conniver, whose treasure hunt is, among other things, a test for Nick, to see if he’s as smart as he thinks he is. If so, he might be a worthy companion after all, suitable for siring a child — another Amazing Amy? Amy’s life was always partly fiction, from the time her parents wrote books about a fantasy image of their daughter: She became an expert at live-action role-playing, as a child, as Desi’s lover, then as Nick’s one-and-only. If she twists her own original plot, and returns to Nick, he’s bound to be as attentive as in their courtship. If not from gratitude, then from fear she can find a way to do him in.

Fincher tried a faithful version of a best-seller last time out, with his Americanization of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. That was a stillborn exercise compared with Gone Girl, which brings Nick and Amy to attractive, plausible life, and surrounds them with exemplary character actors. Kudos to Dickens, to David Clennon and Lisa Banes as Amy’s parents. (Also noteworthy are Scott McNairy and Lola Kirke as friends you might not want to meet on the road. Only Harris disappoints; he lacks the hovering menace and ultimate bafflement of a stalker-lover.)

In Se7en and Fight Club, Fincher proved his suave mastery of film violence; in Zodiac, his way of clarifying the many clues in a murder thriller. As he showed in The Social Network, the director also knows that no wound is more toxic than a friend’s betrayal. There will be blood in Gone Girl, but some of the most startling moments are glancing — Amy’s quick kiss that includes a lip bite — and claustrophobic. What can be more ominous than the proximity of two people who are supposed to be in love but may have murder in mind?

Any readers, as they submerge themselves into a novel, automatically make the movie version in their heads. They cast it, too. For Gone Girl, they imagined Affleck as the only Nick, the way Gone With the Wind’s first readers preemptively saw Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. Good old Ben Affable, with his softness and weaselly charm, not to mention the cleft in his chin, seemed an ideal fit for the likable, not totally trustworthy Nick. The actor has played the bluff, fervent lover before, most notably in a terrific 1997 Kevin Smith rom-com called, yep, Chasing Amy; and in The Company Men he was the smug suburbanite who gets a comeuppance when he loses his job. It’s no surprise that Affleck slips into the role with the nervous aplomb of a man who starts to realize that the stroll he’s taking may lead to his own hanging.

For Amy, many readers envisioned Cate Blanchett or Charlize Theron; each could play a blond vixen capable of seducing and scaring a husband. But instead, the role went to the lesser-known Rosamund Pike. (Among her roles in Hollywood films: Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans and Tom Cruise’s helper in Jack Reacher.) Pike’s relative unfamiliarity to the mass audience allows her to draw Amy in careful cursive on a blank slate. We know of Pike’s Amy only what we see here: She is pretty, poised, always alert, ready to flash the witty remark that illuminates or scolds. She lives inside Amy’s brilliance, suggesting that the sunniest face can harbor the darkest intent.

In a movie of subtle tones and wild swerves, Pike expertly mixes a cocktail of hot and cold blood. She is the Amazing Amy you could fall for, till death do you part.

TIME Music

Watch Pharrell’s New Anime-Inspired ‘It Girl’ Video

The latest G I R L clip is a video game paradise

Between joining the new season of The Voice and promoting his album G I R L, Pharrell Williams is a busy guy — which may be why the ubiquitous producer takes a backseat in the new animated music video for “It Girl,” appearing only as a cartoon. Then again, if you can snag world-famous Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to create a music video for you, you probably don’t want to get in the way of his hyper-colorful tributes to video games and anime. See Pharrell indulge his inner otaku above.

TIME Television

Ben Affleck Cannot Sing ‘Let It Go’ From Frozen

To his son's disappointment

Apparently being Batman isn’t enough to appease Ben Affleck’s son, who would much prefer his dad to perform the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.

Unfortunately, the actor is no Idina Menzel — as he demonstrated when he tried to sing a line from the famous song.

Affleck is soon to be seen in Gone Girl, and will be playing Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set to be released in 2016.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser