Nocturnal Animals (2016) Review

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Directed by Tom Ford

Based on Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.

My Opinion:

Well! This movie was certainly… interesting? I love Amy Adams but sci-fi is my type of thing so Arrival is the only one I’d planned on going to see (it’s EXCELLENT, by the way – I’m posting my review tomorrow). Hubby saw Nocturnal Animals then was weirdly insistent on me seeing it too while being cryptic as to if it would actually be worth my time. Now I understand: This is one of those movies you want other people to see so you can talk about it & discuss your theories on the meaning of the symbolism and the different characters’ actions & intentions and, umm……. Okay – This is one of those movies you want other people to see so they can maybe tell you what the f*^k is going on. 😉

Was Nocturnal Animals worth my time? Yes. It’s easily in my top ten 2016 movie releases now & I’d be surprised if it’s not still there by December 31st. But it’s a difficult watch and I can’t exactly say I had a “fun time” watching it. I highly doubt I’ll ever watch it again and, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. It’s intensely disturbing and I was kind of glad when it finished. Am I selling this one to you yet?! Ha! I’m pretty sure I’ll never be asked to contribute a quote for a movie’s poster.

I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from seeing this. In fact, I very highly recommend it. However, I’d only recommend it to a small selection of people who I think would appreciate it, like several of my fellow movie bloggers who may be reading this. You just need to be warned of what you’re getting into if you watch Nocturnal Animals: I guarantee you’ll either love this or you’ll think it’s the most pretentiously boring piece of shit you’ve seen in a long time. There’s my movie poster quote for this!

I always say this but I turn to movies for escapism, which is probably why I go for sci-fi & fantasy and never for gritty realism. I don’t like the ugliness in this world so I don’t enjoy things like true crime dramas, serial killer movies, etc. I say that because this movie is partly “gritty crime drama”. Well, it is yet it isn’t… Just be warned that these parts of the film contain violence more extreme than I’d been expecting (hubby – you could’ve warned me, dude!). The gritty parts are necessary, though, as you start to realize the full meaning behind them so I managed to muddle through despite finding these scenes very uncomfortable.

I’ll try to stay as spoiler-free as possible with this review but I think it’s safe to say that this movie is a story within a story (the book written by the ex-husband of Amy Adams, which she reads throughout the movie). So we go back and forth between Adams & the story in the book which, on the surface, is nothing more than a standard pulpy crime drama. But it IS something much more than that & only Adams and her ex-husband (and hopefully the film’s audience) will be aware of that.

I often don’t go for the “story within a story” thing (er, unless it’s The Princess Bride… Best. Movie. Ever.) but I was completely engrossed every time the movie went back to the book’s crime drama story. Yes, the story feels like formulaic “pulp” (probably why the ex-husband, Jake Gyllenhaal, apparently never made it big as an author) yet it’s so intense & so brilliantly acted that you’re drawn into this story far more than the real-life story of Adams and her superficial art gallery world. But that’s the whole point: Unlike Adams’ real-life extravagant lifestyle, the book’s “fictional” world feels far more real & is full of a raw emotion that I’ve rarely seen captured so well on screen. Honestly, I found these scenes so profoundly & disturbingly moving that credit must be given to everyone involved in their making whether you like the movie or not. Though extremely upsetting, I found this film to be one of the most immersive movie experiences I’ve had since seeing Room, although the emotional effect was the exact opposite (Room filled me with pure joy).

As always, Adams is very good with an understated performance but it’s Gyllenhaal who really shines in what is actually the far more important role. I’ve never been a big fan of his and, though I’ve seen him in plenty of highly regarded roles, I think this is the film that has finally made me appreciate him as an actor. I also loved Michael Shannon in quite a small role as the sheriff in the book’s story. Again, he’s someone highly regarded yet I’ve paid him little attention so, for any of his fans reading this, this movie is worth you checking out just for his role. I can’t guarantee you’ll like the actual movie but he’s fantastic.

I know this is only fashion designer Tom Ford’s second film and I’ve not seen A Single Man but I definitely want to see more from him after this. I think there’s some true brilliance in this film that will unfortunately be too casually regarded as pretentious. I can totally understand why it would be labelled as such, though, as it initially appears that way with beautifully artistic shots & with rich art world snobs moaning about their superficial problems. But the movie itself is the same as book’s story within the film: On the surface it’s superficial & formulaic but deep down it’s an allegorical tale. Wait… The movie is an allegory of itself! No. Um… The book in the movie is an allegory of the real life story in the movie while the movie itself is an allegory of… Something! Maybe. I just like throwing the word “allegory” around. Trust me, there’s some crazy allegorical shit going on here. I’m sure of it!

Is the film itself as deep as its story within a story? I don’t know. My mind is still working on that but I like that I’m still thinking about this movie days after watching it. That’s what I consider true art and only a handful of movies play on my mind for days afterwards. Nocturnal Animals is definitely not for everyone but, if you’re someone who wants something more than just pure entertainment, you may be the type to find this movie an intensely rewarding experience. Or you may just be pretentious. 😉

My Rating: 8/10

**To all the pretentious snobs like me who’ve seen this movie, feel free to discuss it with me in the comments! Full-on spoilers allowed, so avoid reading the comments if you’ve not yet seen this – I think it’s not yet out in America? I want to talk about this one. I want to discuss the parallels in the movie’s story & movie book’s story. The meaning of some of the imagery. The overall meaning of the movie: is it deep like the film’s book or superficial like the film’s real-world. What was with all the naked butts?!? The real life book this is based on (as opposed to the book within the movie) – has anyone read it? Should I dye my hair the same color as Amy Adams in the hope that I’ll look exactly like her? Discuss! 🙂

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

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My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

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So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

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I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

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Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 7/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

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Godzilla (2014) Review

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Godzilla (2014)

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Ken Watanabe
Elizabeth Olsen
Juliette Binoche
Sally Hawkins
David Strathairn
Bryan Cranston

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Big monster destroys shit. Unfortunately, they attempt to write a plot around that.

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My Opinion:

I’ll keep this one short – I’m soooooooooooo far behind on reviews. So here’s the final review of my 4-movies-in-a-day madness from last week. The best by far was Edge Of Tomorrow, then X-Men: Days Of Future Past, then Godzilla, then A Million Ways To Die In The West.

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This was SO much like Pacific Rim: Cool ass action scenes with big monsters destroying shit. It was fun. Both movies were a lot of fun. But it also suffers from the same sort of boring script and uninteresting characters that Pacific Rim had. Everyone has reviewed this by now & everyone knows the main complaints: “Not enough Godzilla & we have to wait for ages until we finally see him.” YEP! Oh yeah – and, “Bryan Cranston screams & pouts a lot”. YEP! Oh, and I’ll add that Ken Watanabe just stands around looking completely gormless all the time. The hubby hasn’t seen this yet & asked if I’d want to go to it again with him. My reply was “can I just join you for the last hour?”. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was okay – I’ve never liked him all that much. But at least he had something to do here, other than his dad (Bryan Cranston) who was just acting all crazy and his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) who really had fuck all to do (other than leave her phone on silent when worrying about her husband & eagerly awaiting a call from him. Good thing there’s voicemail!).

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Wow. That all sounded really bitchy. The script is nothing special & the characters are pretty one-dimensional – So what? We really just want to see Godzilla destroy shit, right? The second half of the movie really picks up and we get lots of action and a Godzilla that looks pretty damn cool (to me, at least). I just wish I’d cared at least a LITTLE more about any of the characters. Oh well. It’s a popcorn movie with a big monster. It was fun. I wish I’d liked it a bit more than Cloverfield but I think I actually preferred that one. It’s worth going to in order to see it on a big screen, though. God what a shitty review. I clearly can’t be arsed with this review. (That’s “can’t be bothered” to you Americans). Here’s my rating!

My Rating: 5.5/10

**I’ve lowered my rating since a bunch of you moaned it was too high based on my bitchy review. Lol! I did have fun with the movie – I think I was just in a bad mood when I wrote this 😉

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FYI: I suggest you all have a look at The IPC HERE to see the shenanigans that have been going on over there this week while The Big Cheese has been away. The Girls have taken over! It’s been a much lovelier (and nicer smelling) place since Eric has been gone. And today you can look at some male strippers! 🙂

Nowhere Boy (2009) Review

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Nowhere Boy (2009)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood (Sam Taylor-Johnson now)

Starring:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Anne-Marie Duff
Kristin Scott Thomas

(How many names do each of these people need??)

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biopic about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his guardian aunt and his mother, the creation of his first band, The Quarrymen, and its evolution into The Beatles. The film is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister Julia Baird.

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My Opinion:

First of all – I love The Beatles. Well, not things like I Want To Hold Your Hand so much – more like Norwegian Wood & Dear Prudence. Actually, I did My Top Five Beatles Songs HERE (think they’ve changed a bit since).

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I like a lot of music but never know that much about the band members. Same goes for actors – I don’t like knowing TOO much of their real lives because I don’t want to have that affect how I may feel about their music or movies. I mean, Tom Cruise movies are ruined for me for life – no matter how serious the role, I just see him jumping around on a couch. Stay slightly mysterious, famous people! Like in the old days before Twitter & stuff – We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of every day. And, FFS, don’t do a reality show!

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Um, where was I? Oh yeah – The Beatles! As much as I know & love their music, I know very little about their personal lives. I couldn’t tell you how accurate Nowhere Boy is but, wow – Lennon apparently had a pretty heartbreaking childhood. I knew none of that. I guess it goes to show that those with difficult lives really are often the most creative people. Why is that? People must have it too easy these days since most music sucks now.

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Maybe I should actually talk about the movie?? First of all, it was a little hard to buy into as Aaron Taylor-Johnson looks nothing whatsoever like John Lennon. His performance was fine but I just never really felt like I was watching a young John Lennon. Even more odd was Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Paul McCartney. Wait. What? That kid from Love Actually & Nanny McPhee?! Yeah, that one. Look at him:

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Huh? You’re Paul McCartney in this?

So it took me a while to get into this film but, maybe halfway through, I decided to just go with it and I ended up thinking it was a very interesting story and not too bad of a movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, although maybe hard to picture as John Lennon, was at least believable as a troubled & lonely boy who’d been abandoned by his irresponsible mother (Anne-Marie Duff) and raised by his stern aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas).

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Both women give very good performances and are what helped to sell the movie to me overall. But they’re also not famous people like Lennon – I suppose it’s very difficult to portray someone so well known to the world so I’ve maybe been a little harsh on Taylor-Johnson (I’m sick of typing Taylor-Johnson! I believe he wasn’t yet married to the director when making this so was just Johnson but he’s more famous now as Kick-Ass Taylor-Johnson so I better use the Taylor too). It’s a good insight into Lennon’s early life & what made him who he was. I don’t know if I’d recommend the film to everyone, though. It doesn’t focus on the music at all since it’s just showing us Lennon’s upbringing so don’t expect some music documentary – It won’t suddenly make you a fan of The Beatles music if you aren’t already. If you like a decent real life drama or are the slightest bit interested in knowing a little about Lennon’s early life, I’d recommend it. If you’re the world’s biggest Beatles expert, I have no idea if you’d love this or hate it because I don’t know how accurate it all is. (Sorry – What a wishy washy review! No one reads these things anyway, right?) 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

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