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.

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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.

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Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

spider-man-far-from-home-2019-reviewDirector: Jon Watts

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 129 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Remy Hii, Cobie Smulders

Plot: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker is struggling to come to terms with his new role, and the footprints he is expected to fill. All he wants right now is to enjoy his school trip to Europe and tell MJ how he feels about her. Of course, when elemental monsters show up trying to destroy the world, his plans must be changed.

My Thoughts: After the breathtaking, nailbiting and exhausting for all the right reasons movie that Endgame was, this was definitely the right way to go next. Far from Home brings a much lighter-hearted story, although it does still touch upon the sad events from earlier this year. I don’t know why you would anyway, but don’t go and see this before Endgame, because the first 10 seconds are full of spoilers!

As one of the few who loved Andrew Garfield’s Spidey, I’ve been on the fence about Tom Holland up until recently. Now, I’m 100% sold. He really is perfect for the role, and brings all the boyish innocence that the character should have. Watching his relationship grow with MJ was one of the highlights of the movie for me, I just love how awkward they are together. I’m also so glad that MJ is smart enough to point out how clearly obvious it is that Peter is actually Spider-Man!

It’s also so great that Samuel L. Jackson is having a more prominent role in the Marvel movies recently. I think he was my favourite part of Captain Marvel earlier this year and he brings some laughs in Far from Home, too. That said, there was something stopping me from really loving the movie, and I can’t put my finger on it. It could be down to the fact I was simply exhausted (thanks, teething toddler) but I’m not sure. The mid-credits scene has got me very much looking forward to the next installment, though!

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Best Bit: It’s expected with Marvel movies now I guess, but the visuals as far as Mysterio’s powers are concerned were so, so cool. The bit that I laughed hardest at though was on the coach when Peter almost accidentally blew up himself and all his friends!

Worst Bit: I was so excited for Jake Gyllenhaal to be a part of the MCU, and his character has some really fun moments, but once it’s revealed just how his ‘powers’ work, the whole thing feels a bit anti-climatic. The fight scenes between him and Spider-Man seem to go on forever, too.

Fun Trivia: First MCU movie not to have a cameo by Stan Lee; he died shortly after filming wrapped for this movie, but never made it into this movie (most likely due to his declining health), which means that Avengers: Endgame (2019) was his final on-screen appearance. However, this movie does pay tribute to him and fellow Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 dahlias that you shouldn’t trust with the guy trying to sleep with your Aunt…

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Thursday Movie Picks: Interview

Thursday Movie Picks

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s almost Easter! It’s almost time for it to be acceptable to stuff our faces with chocolate, wayhey! Did I buy my toddler a chocolate egg? Of course I did. Did I pick her the one that just so happened to be my favourite too? You can bet your ass I did. Chocolate is bad for you, kiddo.

Today’s Thursday Movie Picks theme is Interview. Did I ever mention that I work in recruitment? Well, to be honest, I don’t, I’m a Sales & Marketing Administrator, but I work for a recruitment agency – so the theme is quite relevant for me! It’s a shame most real interviews don’t happen the way they do in the movies, but the consultants I work with have more than a few odd stories to share.

So, this week I’ll be sharing my favourite interview scenes from movies!

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Ted (2012)

I don’t think I could even type out what Ted said in his interview for the job at the grocery store it was so obscene, but it’s one of the best bits of the movie! I still can’t believe my brother convinced our mum to watch this movie…

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The Imitation Game (2014)

Based on the true story of Alan Turing, The Imitation Game is far from a comedy, but the scene in which Alan is interviewed for the job of cracking the code is deadpan humour at it’s finest!

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Nightcrawler (2014)

It is so much easier to get a job in movies! All Rick needed was a driving license, a cell phone, knowledge of LA and the freedom to start the job immediately. I had to laugh when he revealed that he worked as a landscaper until he realised he had hay fever.

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Donnie Darko (2001)

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The wonderful blogging duo Drew (Drew’s Movie Reviews) and Kim (Tranquil Dreams) are back again with the next Blogathon in their Ultimate series. They started with the 80s which I *think* I recall taking part in on my previous blog, then moved to the 90s, giving me the chance to talk about Liar, Liar (1997). Last year they went back further to the 70s and now in 2019 they’re giving us the chance to share our favourite movies from the 00s.

The 2000s is such a difficult decade for me to pick my favourite movie from. I’d finally reached an age in the 00s where I was watching movies for myself, and I’ve seen so many! Once I really made myself choose a single movie however the choice was clear, it had to be Donnie Darko (2001).

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If you’ve been living under a rock since then, Donnie Darko is a fantastically weird Thriller/Sci-Fi movie that demands to be watched at least twice. Teenage me had found herself obsessed with Jake Gyllenhaal, and spent hours on eBay tracking down second-hand copies of his movies, a trend that still very much lives on in me but has been made much easier thanks to the likes of platforms like Netflix. I couldn’t have been older than 14 at the time and I was terrified of the movie, but found it fascinating.

Donnie is a troubled teen with a history of violence. He takes medication but has recently stopped of his own accord. One night he sleepwalks and meets Frank, an eery-looking rabbit who warns him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. That same night, a jet engine crashes into the Darko’s house, destroying Donnie’s bedroom. Had he been home in bed, he would be been killed.

Donnie Darko is the movie that sparked my love and curiosity for dark and weird movies with endings that leave you with more questions than you started with. Donnie himself is a role that only Jake Gyllenhaal could pull off, and he does it so well!

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I haven’t seen it for a few years now, but off the top of my head, these are what I remember to be my favourite things about it:

  • “Oh please tell me Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a f**k?!”
  • Those stoners talking about Smurfette. A conversation I didn’t really appreciate until I was a bit older.
  • Time travel!
  • The moral issue of finding a wallet on the ground. You have to take into account the whole spectrum of human emotion!
  • Donnie throwing shade on Jim Cunningham – it was hilarious.
  • “I made a new friend…”
  • Did I also mention Jake Gyllenhaal’s in it?

It wasn’t until reasonably recently that I learned a sequel was made, S. Darko (2009). A quick search of it on IMDB tells me that it’s currently rated #89 on IMDB’s Bottom Rated Movies list. Ouch. If you know me though, you know you can probably expect to see a review of it on my blog fairly soon. I can’t help myself. Any excuse to watch the original again too, I guess!

Mini Reviews: Movies Watched in February

A week or so ago I made a post with some mini-reviews of the movies that I’d watched in January but hadn’t got round to mentioning or reviewing on my blog. You can find that post here. It was mainly because I’ve started putting my reviews into my film diary on Letterboxd and I wanted to have a little something written for everything I’d seen! It was fun to do so I might keep it going.

Anyway, there were four movies I watched in February that I haven’t told you about, two of them being Netflix documentaries that I had no idea how to actually review properly. Here’s what they were…

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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

When I crawled out of the rock I’d been living under and finally heard about Velvet Buzzsaw, I was so hyped. Then I found out it was getting a Netflix release that weekend! I watched it as soon as I could. Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this role, he plays weird so well. He’s one of those actors I would blindly watch anything for. The movie was a lot of fun but it wasn’t that memorable in all honesty. I was expecting more.

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Fyre (2019)

Oh my God. With every new disaster that happened during the planning of Fyre Festival I just wanted a note to come up on the screen to tell me it was all a joke and it didn’t happen. What a bunch of idiots. The fact that some of them haven’t even learned from the mess is baffling! My favourite moment was when they said something about the ridiculous amount of money spent on influencer marketing over social media, and then all it took was a photo of a cheese sandwich to bring it crashing down.

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Wild Rose (2018)

I got to see Wild Rose really early thanks to a secret screening at my local Odeon. It was the first time I didn’t look at any of the clues either so I went in completely blind which was great. It’s the story of a young Mum from Glasgow who dreams of being a Country singer. Thing is, I found the main character to be so damn unlikeable that I really struggled to watch the movie, and it dragged like hell. I think I’m alone in that assessment though, it has really positive reviews overall.

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Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

For a few weeks now I’ve seen people talking about Abducted in Plain Sight on Facebook, so the FOMO was strong and I put it on during dinner one night. Excuse the blasphemy but Christ almighty this documentary made me angry! As a parent myself, I don’t know how that woman’s parents can live with themselves. They were stupid enough in their actions before the first abduction, but to allow it to happen again?! I don’t want to live on this planet anymore…

Review: Life (2017)

life-movie-poster-review-2017You know that saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’? Years I’ve been waiting for a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds together. Years! 2 of my ultimate favourite Hollywood hunks in 1 movie. I guess I imagined it would be some kind of romcom, preferably starring myself caught in a love triangle. Alas, it seems only half of my request was eventually heard, and although I got both stars together, it was for a Sci-Fi/Horror. Really, movie gods?!

What makes things even worse is that on paper, and in the trailer in fact, Life (2017) is nothing more than an Alien ripoff. You’ve got a spaceship, a solid crew, a mission to extract and protect a life form found on Mars. Hey presto, turns out the life form is dangerous and hostile! Now it’s a survival game. I sound bitter I know but here’s the shocker, Life is actually a pretty decent movie!

For a start, the crew are all extremely likeable, and they’re smart! Yes, you’ve got one who won’t stop harping on about protocols and rule-breaking, but when protocols are broken they’re for a logical reason, rather than a dumb reason for a jump scare. For a wuss like me, Life was a fairly scary movie, but that’s because this life-form (AKA Calvin) is so small and stealthy, and unpredictable. I’m glad I waited for a home release because some scenes are tense as hell.

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I’ll admit that at the halfway point my interest started to wane slightly. That might be because (highlight for spoiler) Ryan Reynolds got killed off in the first 30 minutes – perhaps I should have seen it coming, but it does drift into far too familiar territory after a while. Yes, Calvin is on the loose, no, we aren’t sure how the crew are going to survive, if they do at all, so just get on with the story so we can find out how it ends!

Life even had it’s emotional moments, mainly centered around a children’s book you may know quite well, Goodnight Moon. You can forget listening to Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories, try watching Jake Gyllenhaal read Goodnight Moon whilst stuck in the situation he’s in and not get misty eyes!

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Finally, and I’ll have to obscure this paragraph mostly for spoiler reasons, I can’t end this post without mentioning the ending. Should I have seen it coming? Maybe? I don’t know, but it caught me completely off guard! That moment when you realise who (and what) is in that capsule that landed in the sea straight up gave me the chills. I’d rather Life stay as a standalone movie but if it had a sequel, heck I’d probably go and see it.

For being surprisingly good as a totally unoriginal movie, Life gets 3 and a half copies of that darn children’s book I’m now never going to be able to buy for my own kiddo.

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