Nocturnal Animals (2016)

nocturnal-animals-2016-movie-poster(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I don’t remember ever going into the cinema as blind as I did last week for Nocturnal Animals. I’d heard a lot of buzz surrounding the name, I’d watched the trailer (once) which didn’t give much away at all, and I knew Jake Gyllenhaal was in it. That was enough for me, and I somehow convinced my husband to come along too. I don’t know how I did it, but I have a feeling it may have been something to do with the ever beautiful Amy Adams.

Before I go into an actual review, I have to share a funny moment with you. Tuesday and Wednesday showings have a silly amount of adverts before the movie, because of the wildly popular ‘Meerkat Movies’ 2-4-1 deal. This poor couple in front of us were already there when we arrived, sat through the whole slog of ads, the 5 trailers (although we were shown the Arrival trailer twice in a row, odd) and when the BBFC rating screen came on with ‘Nocturnal Animals’ emblazoned on the left-hand side, they realised they were in the wrong screen. I hope they didn’t miss too much of Doctor Strange, because that opening scene was awesome.

Anyway! Nocturnal Animals is a dark movie split into two narratives. First, we have Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner living a seemingly-perfect life in her mansion of a house adorned with staff, and a husband who sadly, is hardly ever at home. One morning she receives a parcel from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), a manuscript for a book he’s written that he wants her thoughts on. The book turns out to be dedicated to Susan, but is a dark and twisted story, which haunts her.

Whenever Susan starts reading the book, we get to see it played out, by Jake Gyllenhaal himself and his book-wife (Isla Fisher). Their story isn’t for the faint-hearted, it’s a cruel and violent tale. Some scenes are particularly difficult to watch, and I get the feeling they were deliberately made as long as possible to make the audience uncomfortable. If that is the case, it definitely worked on me. I kept thinking to myself ‘Oh that won’t actually happen though, they wouldn’t show us that’ and then they did! I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it.

nocturnal-animals-jake-gyllenhaal-michael-shannon

So, whilst we see Edward’s story played out in snippets, we also go back to Susan often to learn more about her, and more importantly, what happened all those years ago between her and Edward. There’s a theme of revenge here for sure, and we know that Susan left him, but not why, or under what circumstances. It’s really well edited in these sections, the way something happens in the book that then takes us back to real life, and editing isn’t something that I normally take notice of.

Of course, I won’t give anything away, but I love an ambiguous ending. One that’s satisfying enough when taken at face value, but when you start to analyse every little detail, you begin to come up with different theories about certain elements.

I really loved this movie, but I will NOT forgive that jump scare. You can witness it for yourself, I’m not going to warn you, but it scared the crap out of the entire screen. Then I had to watch the next ten minutes from the corner of my eye in case something else happens. My poor nervous wreck of a husband now labels Nocturnal Animals as ‘that piece of sh*t movie that scared me’. He liked it of course, but he’s a bigger scaredy-cat than me!

So yes, a big seal of approval from me. Just…skip the opening credits if you can…trust me.

Advertisements

Arrival (2016)

(I’m on holiday right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

arrival-2016-movie-review-posterOh boy. I know this year has been a bit of a stinker for blockbusters, but overall I personally think it’s been a fantastic year, and now a new movie has rocked up threatening to become my favourite of the whole year. November, you are awesome. This also means that I’ve been to the cinema for two weeks in a row, which is honestly the first time that’s happened all year. Two Amy Adams movies in a row, too!

Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve, the master behind Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy and Incendies. He’s currently working on Blade Runner 2049. This man is fantastic, I can’t emphasise that enough. I haven’t watched a movie of his yet that hasn’t wowed me, and Arrival is no exception. The UK has been marketing the hell out of this flick, in fact, last time I was at the cinema, during the trailers we were shown 2 different Arrival trailers in a row. It was starting to get on my nerves a tad, but only because I didn’t want to know so much before going in.

First and foremost, this isn’t a Sci-Fi in the typical sense. It’s an alien invasion, for sure, but if you’re expecting Independence Day then this isn’t the movie for you. The world is most definitely at risk here, but there’s no room-shaking action sequences or alien punching of any kind. Our main character is Louise (Amy Adams), an expert linguist recruited to work with scientist Ian (Jeremy Renner) to learn from the aliens what their purpose on Earth is. Twelve pods have descended in seemingly random locations around the world, and they don’t seem intent to blow us into smithereens.

I never excelled in science, and I can’t speak a second language, so I was grateful for the fact that I could easily understand what was happening during the movie, and actually found myself completely in awe of the linguistic work that Louise was doing. It’s fascinating stuff! How she went about teaching the aliens (heptapods, if you’ll excuse my most likely bad spelling) simple vocabulary, to lead up to actually asking a question was something that seemed impossible at first, but when broken down into stages, actually made a lot of sense.

arrival-2016-amy-adams-jeremy-renner

Louise herself is a captivating character. We are drawn to her instantly and warm to her within the first few scenes when we’re shown a tragic moment in her life. She feels so real, and relatable. I’m pretty sure if we were sent up into a pod to talk with an alien we would freak out as much as she did, rather than staying cool and calm, with our hair and make-up perfectly intact. But I’m getting off-topic now.

I’m almost trying not to talk about the movie to be honest because I want to be really careful about what I say. The less you know, the better, because the final 20 minutes of Arrival was one of my favourite movie experiences ever. That feeling in your mind of everything clicking into place is just amazing.

Safe to say, my husband fully forgave me for scaring the crap out of him last week when we saw Nocturnal Animals, and he’s even gone so far as to say this might be his favourite movie of all time! It’s definitely threatening to become my favourite of the year.