All Good Things
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120 of 128 people found the following review helpful
If you're old enough to remember the TV landscape from about a dozen years ago, you'll remember that the airwaves were littered every week with crime stories "inspired by" or "based on" true events. This entertaining, yet exploitative, sub-genre straddling the line between thriller and docu-drama has since been shifted to cable TV for the most part and, generally, the quality of this type of film has been marred by an unnecessary camp factor. I mention this in preface to talking about the fascinating feature "All Good Things," a film by award winning documentarian Andrew Jarecki, not as a negative association--but as an incredibly positive note. "All Good Things" employs everything that has been overdone about this genre, and despite the familiarity in story telling, stands as a richly intriguing and superbly acted drama. In truth, I loved "All Good Things!"

Based on a real New York missing person's case involving a wealthy and powerful real estate family, "All Good Things" introduces us to the Marks clan. Ryan Gosling plays David Marks who has little interest or patience with the family business. Meeting a young woman, Kirsten Dunst, completely removed from the society set he's been raised in--he sees her as a possible escape. But happiness is fleeting for the couple as Gosling is eventually brought back to deal with the seedier elements in his father's empire. The couple's relationship becomes increasingly strained until Dunst disappears. Investigated, yet unsolved, what happens remains a mystery until an ambitious District Attorney 18 years later decides to pursue matters further. That's when things start to get really strange!

Of course, when you've got master actors at the top of their game--that certainly brings a welcome gravitas to the proceedings. I have, for many years, declared Ryan Gosling perhaps the best actor of his generation. Ever since he burst onto the film scene in the controversial "The Believer," Gosling has eschewed being a mainstream "star." Heck, after "The Notebook," another actor might have taken a very different career path. But Gosling, despite a couple of disappointing forays into big budget Hollywood, has remained true to his indie roots. In "All Good Things," Gosling is riveting--a socially awkward powder keg, he is strangely likable AND dangerously unhinged. It's a great, fully rounded performance. Kirsten Dunst, as his wife, hasn't been this good in years. An intriguing blend of strength and vulnerability, she becomes the heart and soul of "All Good Things." And the terrific Frank Langella is mesmerizing, and filled with oily menace, as Gosling's father.

The film is also great-looking, with its use of shadow and darkness. The score is fantastic as well--so haunting. The first two-thirds of "All Good Things" are absolutely flawless. The pairing of Dunst and Gosling and their story together is as polished and entertaining as anything you're likely to see this year. However, when the film fast forward--it does suffer by comparison. This is where the story becomes utterly bizarre. I still loved it and it is undeniably fascinating, but it lacks the dramatic tension that had so distinguished the earlier sections. All in all, though, this is sophisticated adult entertainment and highly recommended. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 11/10.
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 2, 2011
This pains me, since there is something within this film that is so amazing I feel it needs to be regarded as such, but three stars, while not awful, is certainly telling to the quality of this film as a whole.

Does that make sense?

First, the movie. The film follows the true story (as much can be true in a film `inspired' by real events) of David Marks, a troubled young man looking for ways to rebel against a family that controls his every move (subconsciously, which is the best way). When David meets and falls for Katie, it seems as though his life may start to iron out. He walks away from his father `real estate' clutches and ventures off into a life all his own with Katie, but darkness erodes all happiness when David allows his father's manipulations to reel him back to New York, back into life in the Marks' family. All tumbles downhill, rather rapidly, when familial tendencies begin to separate David and Katie until, one day, Katie disappears.

For me, it is this point of the film where things start to just derail. I understand the whole `inspired by real events' angle, and so I encourage even the bizarre, but the `made for TV' way in which the films later scenes are shot take away from the terror one should feel and actually gives this film a `Lifetime' movie feeling.

The film does a 180, from decently engrossing thriller to complete disaster.

So, this leaves one thing to be discussed...the very reason for which the films first half is so stellar; Kirsten Dunst. I recently wrote an entry for my blog about the amazingness that was Kirsten Dunst in this film, and so I'm just going to quote that here (slightly doctored to reflect this review and not the article I initially wrote).

"Then we have Kirsten Dunst, who just marvels with all sorts of layered emotional relevance in `All Good Things'. Talk about a brilliant performance in a really bad film. Kirsten plays Katie Marks, a real person (come on Oscar, why aren't you biting) who disappeared, `allegedly' at the hands of her deranged husband. The one thing that Dunst's character, and performance, has (in spades) is serious emotional collapse. One blogger mentioned that you could see Kirsten visibly age as she uncovers the truth about her husband. I totally concur with this explanation of her devastatingly real performance. As she slowly uncovers realities surrounding the family she's married into, you can see a hollowness erode her beautiful features. She remains human despite the dramatic overtones (she never resorts to Hollywood's overtly obvious understanding of melodramatic `emoting') and delivers a quietly natural performance. When she does unleash her suffering, it is with haunting desperation. She completely collapses within her character's knowledge. It's just a shame the film collapses the moment she leaves it."

Yeah, that pretty much sums it all up. She acts circles around the rest of the cast, including Ryan Gosling, who suffers from poor character development (the script seems to skeletal when all is said and done) and really bad makeup. I wish I could say skip the film, but you need to at least watch the films first half. The moment Dunst leaves the scene though, you can take your exit as well. The film just can't recover from such a tragic loss.
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46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
ALL THINGS GOOD is a polished little film based on a true story that while it may not have the visual gruesome detail of the usual thriller tropes of films, it is terrifying in its presentation of personality variations that produce a shuddering reaction on a purely intellectual level for the audience. It is both a love story and a missing persons/murder mystery based on a still unsolved case that continues to haunt New York investigators and reporters and detectives. What writers Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling have created from known and newly discovered facts, speculation and court records results in a psychological examination of a powerful New York family, obsession, love and loss. The film relates incidents that began in 1972 and end in 2003 and at this time the truth is still unknown. Director Andrew Jarecki uses a superb cast and a fine sense of voice-over narration to interweave the puzzling history with the gradual dissolution of each of the characters involved.

Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) is one of the wealthiest owners of Manhattan real estate, the current head of a family that has long dominated the New York scene with its power and money. Marks is aging and is relying on his son David (Ryan Gosling) to take over the family business: he sends David out to the brothels, and filthy hotels and porn houses to collect rent. David is reticent to be a part of his father's business: he is a deeply disturbed young man, having witnessed his mother's suicide leap as a child. David meets a tenant in one of the properties - Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst) who longs to go to medical school but at present has no income to support that dream. The chemistry between the two is magnetic and despite David's father's objection that Katie is not of 'their kind of people', David decides to marry Katie and move to Vermont to open a Health Foods store - a move that makes the couple ectsatic, but is financed by Sanford Marks who eventually convinces David to sell his haven and move to New York to stay with the family business.

In their Manhattan home (and in their country lake front home!) the couple flourishes until Katie mentions she'd like to have children - a force that drives David back into violent behavior resulting form his witnessing his mother's suicide: David can't understand why Katie would want anything but the obvious life of wealth they enjoy. The shell is cracked and the subsequent events include Katie becoming pregnant only to be forced by David to terminate the pregnancy, Katie's disappearance after uncovering the facts about the sources of wealth of the family, David's descent into drugs and irresponsible behavior, and ultimately his leaving New York for Galveston, Texas where he lives a life disguised as a woman, his only friend being another old runaway Melvin Bump (Philip Baker Hall) who David engages to do away with a 'problem confidant' (Lilly Rabe), after which Bump is killed and dissected and tossed into the river. The murders are never solved nor is the mystery of Katie' disappearance. A trial (the source of the voice-over throughout the film has been the lawyer's interrogation of David in the year 2003) fails to resolve anything and the film ends with the message that David Marks is at present a real estate broker in Florida.

Frank Langella is superb as the heartless father who drives his family like cattle in the quest of power and wealth. Ryan Gosling offer a multifaceted performance of the deeply disturbed David and is match by Kirsten Dunst's bravura performance as Katie, the simple bright girl whose life is quashed by a powerful family's sickness. The brilliant cast, including the performances by Philip Baker Hall and Lilly Rabe - daughter of the deceased Jill Clayburgh), has excellent cameo roles by Diane Venora, Trini Alvarado, David Margulies, Nick Offerman and many more. This is a tough film to watch because at the bottom of it all is that it is true and the cases are unsolved. It makes us cringe but it is a very fine film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
When the disappearance of Robert Durst's wife was taken out of cold storage and put on the front burner in the 90s, I was working as a transcriber. The company I worked for had TV networks as clients and I transcribed many of the tapes that were to be used in the crime story weekly magazine shows. From Tape 1 I was hooked! Have since bought every book on Susan Sherman (I have all her books now), Robert Durst et al. I was apprehensive about seeing the film because I know how many interesting stories have been butchered by Hollywood. Not this one! Wow!

The cast is sublime. You know how the story ends (at least I did) but it is told in a new, fresh and plausible way. As good as the film is, the add-ons where the writers, producers, directors, and actors have their say, is just as interesting to watch. Meticulously investigated.

I first saw Ryan Gosling in Sir Anthony Hopkins' film Fracture. He really impressed. If you haven't seen it, please do so. It was written in the local NYC papers that Robert Durst actually saw the film and liked it. Although he added, 'I didn't do it.' Meaning kill his wife who has never been found in 30 years of searching.

The movie begins with the dumping of Durst's neighbor's body in Texas and hop-scotches back and forth from the day Durst and his wife first met to their marriage to the unraveling of 'David', her disappearance, and the friendship and murder of his best friend Susan Berman. Frank Langella is so icy cold that you need to put on a sweater to watch his scenes.

This film has a wonderful cast. The photography is beautiful to watch. The script extremely well written. The actors are perfect. Are we ever going to learn what happened to Robert Durst's wife? I sincerely hope so. There are numerous theories floating around but none have been proven to be true. The film is thought provoking. Thought Durst killed Susan Berman? Think again. You will have to see the film to find out what the writers think happened. That portion of the film was a surprise.

Ryan Gosling shines. He is in almost every scene. A masterful job. A very entertaining film. I highly recommend it to people who enjoy true crime stories.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2011
Kathy McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst) was a free-spirited girl from Long Island nursing the pain of her father's recent death. David Marks(Ryan Gosling) was an emotionally scarred son of a Manhattan real estate tycoon (Frank Langella). The realtionship between the two from Jump Street portends doom. Kathy didn't stand a chance in this family and her disappearance in 1982 should come as no surprise. Based on a real life mystery director Andrew Jarecki maintains an element of creepiness and suspense that will keep you riveted. The obvious finger could be pointed at David but Jarecki throws a few red herrings and other ulterior motives that those assumptions are stood on their head. Credit also a bravura turn by Gosling as the violent and unstable David. In lesser hands this could be a heavy-handed performance but Gosling engenders sympathy for the unsavory David. Dunst, who was in the public eye as a child actress, gives a career defining turn as the doomed Kathy. She may have unjustifiably attracted the ire of David and his kin but she's no victim. She's a strong woman who's made a terrible choice. 2010 was a terrific year for film and "All Good Things" stands high among that year's crowning achievements.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2011
David (Ryan Gosling), is one very ill and disturbed man. After being left alone by his father, Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) as a seven-year-old child, he witnessed his mother's violent suicide. This had furthered his life forever to become off track from what is expected of him. He must possess a hardened strength of character always demanded from his overly controlling father. All of his life, things are forced on David without exception. He is the eldest and will be required to carry on the family's crooked and high-grossing real estate business from a certain point onward. He is being groomed surrounding the business from the outset. David does not argue with his father as concerning him there is no gantlet to throw down while he follows orders in an almost robotic fashion. He is always mercilessly being put down as a weakling, a completely shameful person in front of others or set up to ridicule around his father and company.

Director, Andrew Jarecki introduces us to David Marks. He is on the way to a high society, black-tie company function. He is all decked out in a tuxedo for the party, after returning from a call for his father. He must go to fix a leak in an apartment their family business owns because his father is just cruel enough to have David do it in lieu of a contractor. This is when he is much younger, quite a lot younger and rebelling just a bit although David cannot totally. He walks into the apartment of his future bride Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Sanford does not approve of the relationship or subsequent marriage as she is not, "One of their people". She dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. Also wishes to have children with David after they are married and open a health food store in Vermont. Of which they do and are blissfully happy then without the pressure of David's father. He soon shatters their happiness and coerces them to move into a big-money apartment that they really do not want. It does not fit in their 'simple life' plans.

They are still in the first stages of their love when Katie announces that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, they did not discuss this issue before marriage. Katie is shocked when David finally tells her he neither wanted nor wants to have children in the future to Katie's complete devastation. A full reason for this rationale is never offered. The disjointed way of thinking that David suffers from really starts to become more realistic here. Consequently, Katie must handle the pregnancy issue herself and she is never the same after this traumatic, plus having to handle it alone. In fact, nothing is ever the same and the plot of the movie begins to get sketchy for the viewer.

I don't want to add in any spoilers to the movie so I'll try to end this part rather vaguely. It is at this point where Katie disappears. David apparently suffers some type of mental breakdown or calculated state of rage that throws his life out of control. The writers make both seem plausible through the narration that continues throughout the movie from the outset. David is talking while on the stand during his trial in 2003 from the beginning of the film through to its ending also. After the aforementioned happenings occur, the second part of the movie plays out like the bizarre second half of a two-part stage play. This is a completely engrossing movie, extremely psychological and well acted. When the film ended I felt like I was sort of in shock for what had happened here with Katie. Also for the anguish of this terribly damaged man suffering because of his father's cruelty marking his entire life, however, how do you justify what may have happened to his wife, Katie? A sure quandary. If you enjoy frightening and surreal crime dramas, this movie may appeal to you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2011
"All Good Things" was directed by Andrew Jarecki and stars Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst as the couple, David (Ryan Gosling) and Katie Marks (Kirsten Dunst). Inspired by the life of Robert Durst, this story tells the tale of a real estate heir whose wife disappears. This film is based on a real unsolved mystery and provides speculation of what may have occurred based on tons of research, interviews, and a lengthy courtroom transcript.

David and Katie begin in love as opposites attract, him being from a rich family and she being a working class student. They move away from the city and try to open a health food store but are lured back by David's father (played by Frank Langella) to join the family business. David talks to himself often and witnessed his mother's death at a young age. He views Katie as the perfect woman because he could do anything and she loved him. Their differences come between them about whether to have children and Katie's desire to go to med school and two months away from graduation when she contemplates divorcing him, she disappears.

Ryan Gosling was an excellent casting choice for the role of David because he can show some charm and justification for why a girl might fall for him (as in "Blue Valentine") and then flip it on its head and explore all these behaviors of the character as he gets progressively more disturbing. Kirsten Dunst as Katie is a charismatic beautiful young woman who can instantly put people at ease and transitions into a lethargic emotional mess over time. They have good chemistry together and sell that the couple was in love initially before things got complicated. What is most intriguing about the film is David's behavior AFTER Katie's disappearance when he goes into hiding dressing in disguise.

This film was pushed back several times after being filmed in 2008 and slated for a release in 2009 and finally ended up in limited released in December 2010 and is now coming out on Blu-ray and DVD. It is strange that this story about a relationship that doesn't quite work anymore didn't catch any attention around the same time that "Blue Valentine" was released which got lots of attention for Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

Bonus Features:

All Good Things - Truth in Fiction is a half hour feature that reveals how much of the story came out of courtroom documents from Bob Durst's testimony. They gathered together several sources and interviews to try and piece together a 360 degree view of what may have happened in speculation. Some of the dialogue in the film is directly from these interviews. They researched for two and a half years before starting filming. Kirsten Dunst met with the Durst family and learned a great deal about her character. There is twenty minute feature called "Back in Time: Researching the Original Story" that shows clips of several of the interviews done to research the film of actual people who knew Robert and Kathie Durst.

There's an interview with director Andrew Jarecki where he talks about the interviews they did in researching the story and how they put them together in documentary form to show people as they created the movie and to remind themselves during the writing process. It's a VERY thorough interview where he talks about everything with the movie and goes on for an hour! There is also a sped up video of the process of aging Ryan Gosling to play David Marks in his later years. There are only a few deleted scenes, one washing dishes in the kitchen getting to know Katie's mother, another showing Katie training in the medical field, Katie confronting David about Polaroids she found, and David trying to get food stamps in a tuxedo which is very weird.

There is full-length commentary with director Andrew Jarecki and writers Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling. There is also commentary with the director and Robert Durst whom the story is based on so of course after hearing all the background on this story and the interviews, I couldn't resist hearing what the actual guy says about this movie based on him. He verifies that Frank Langella's portrayal of his father is spot on and expresses regrets about how he treated Kathy's family and how rude he was. Every comment is prompted by the director who is interviewing Robert as the film progresses. Each scene that plays out, Andrew asks Robert if it was like that and Robert usually confirms it (or it sounds even worse than the movie plays it to be). He indicated that they were both unfaithful to each other late in the relationship (not covered in the film). It's fascinating to hear his side or defense.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I was first introduced to the Robert Durst mystery on an episode of TV's AMERICAN JUSTICE and was both fascinated and disgusted with this miscarriage of justice. But power, politics and money can certainly overcome the truth.
ALL GOOD THINGS changes the names but retains the bizarre facts or probabilities of this still unsolved mystery. What happened to David Marks (Durst's) lovely young bride? Who killed his longtime author friend? Was the death of his new buddy really in self defense? After new evidence surfaced in the late 2000's, the writers of ALL GOOD THINGS offers some truly evocative--and credible--solutions.
I was truly impressed with this movie. Its use of voice-over narrative is tastefully used and moves the plot along. While the main thrust of the film focuses on David and Kathy's stormy marriage, the script accommodates the related crimes quite efficiently.
And what a cast! Ryan Gosling is marvelous as the multi-layered David--charming, volatile, manipulative, haunted and ultimately dangerous. Kirsten Dunst's Oscar-worthy performance as Kathy is devastating. In her best performance to date, she inhabits the role with overwhelming depth. Her tragic descent is captured in every facial expression and her desperate pleadings. She's every bit as good as Rachel Portman's award-winning BLACK SWAN.
Add Frank Langella's self-serving father, Lily Rabe's authot and Philip Baker Hall as Marks' doomed roomie and you have a brilliant cast.
Roger Ebert called ALL GOOD THINGS one of 2010's best films and I concur.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
Seriously, after all those "coincidences" he couldn't be convicted? People get convicted for less than that everyday! Oh, how the super wealthy can always find ways to get away with something (even murder). I'm sure his family and friends knew he was mentally ill, but that's how those family handle these things...they don't say anything, keep it a "family secret" and clean up the messes. It's very destructive. With him being able to get and do what he wanted as he grew up, Marks had no sensitivity to anyone or anything but himself. That's not only narcissistic, but borderline psychopathic (which I think he was). Funny thing is crazy people are always crazy when they do something bad, but he's not crazy enough to confess and go to jail is he? ha!

Anyway, I don't see why all the evidence couldn't convict him? was it all charged separately? because linked together this is circumstantial evidence, isn't it? wouldn't that be enough to convict? hello, the Peterson case?! And in what world is chopping up a body self defense? If he really did that, is not that a BIG CLUE? Sure, he can say it's self defense, but isn't there something about how self-defense gone too far is considered manslaughter? No one who isn't an actual killer is able to see a bloody body nor actually cut one up. If he can do that b/c of "self defense" he's sick.

last, Ryan did a GREAT job... I wonder if this messed with his head... I'm not a dunst fan. She was ok.

Conclusion: great mystery, suspense and thriller. The director (or writer) definitely has a bias.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
As this was a major motion picture release, with considerable star power, I'm surprised there are so few reviews written here. Be that as it may this is a good show. It's an interesting story, based on an unsolved case, and the film makers are pointing fingers.

Here's the scoop. Ryan Gosling plays the stoner son of a prominent New York family who owns a lot of sleazy property in mid-town Manhattan. He meets a girl (Dunst) who is "not one of them" and they marry. He's not into the family business but is drawn back in and does low level collecting of money from their various nefarious property owners. She wants a kid. He doesn't. He's unbalanced due to witnessing the suicide of his mom as a child. Next thing you know, Dunst is Missing (dead) and he does his best to disappear.

This is a good movie. Not great. But it has so much going for it it reads well. First off are the performances. With Gosling, Dunst and Langella as the main three characters, the acting is great. Kristen Wiig is good but her role is very small. Phillip Baker Hall does his usual great character part. All the secondary characters hold their own as well. As the movie spans the years from 1971 to (I believe) 2008, great attention is payed to sets, wardrobe, hair styles, music, etc. It's a very interesting story as the producers/writer/director are saying how things went down even though the case has never formally been solved.

Gosling's character is not right in the head. You get hints of this throughout the movie, but in one scene, where he goes over the edge is truly unnerving. Dunst plays a Vermont girl who likes her new life but realizes things are going south. Seeing her as an innocent who takes up smoking and cocaine is interesting. Langella plays the blue-blood snob to the hilt.

As I mentioned, This has a lot going for it. It might not be the best movie in circulation, but it's well worth the time I spent on it.
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