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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The 10 Best Movies of 2016

It’s got to be one of the most fun parts of being a movie blogger, and a huge reason I set up my solo blog just before Christmas. I’m talking about compiling and sharing a Top 10 Movies of the year post. Once January rolls around I scour every blog I follow looking for these lists. comparing them with my own and adding new movies to my watch list. Of course, It’s only the start of 2017, and I haven’t seen nearly all of the 2016 releases yet, so this is more of a Top 10 Best Movies of 2016 ‘so far’ list.

It’s difficult living in the UK sometimes. No I don’t mean the need to constantly apologise (sorry) or being almost solely dependent on tea and biscuits, but we have to wait weeks, sometimes months for movie releases. That’s why you’ll find some huge hits like La La Land (12th Jan ’17 release here) missing from this list, and why you might be confused to see others like Room (15th Jan ’16 release) here.

Before I kick off, I’d like to join in the tradition of noting some honourable mentions, the movies I really enjoyed but weren’t quite good enough for my Top 10. They are: Doctor Strange, Ghostbusters (#hatersgonnahate), Captain American Civil War, Everybody Wants Some, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Midnight Special, Zootopia & Sing Street.

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#10 Nocturnal Animals

It’s been nearly 2 months since I watched Nocturnal Animals, and I still haven’t decided what I think that ending means. It’s the kind of movie I could have easily hated and waved off as being cold and empty, but I found it fascinating. There are a few scenes that are difficult to watch, and an extremely unwanted and unexpected jump scare, but it’s certainly worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

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#9 Room

You know, it makes me sound like a right weirdo, telling you all how much I enjoyed a movie about a mother and son who were kidnapped and help captive in a tiny room for years, but it’s the performances that make Room such a lovable movie. Watch out world, because Jacob Tremblay is going to take the world by storm one day! If you’re planning on watching Room, grab some tissues beforehand, unless you’re a cold-hearted monster.

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#8 Tallulah

Sometimes it’s those quiet, less heard of movies that take you by surprise, and this was the case with Tallulah. A Netflix Original about a good person doing a bad thing, this movie tore my heart out, stomped on it a few times, and then stuck it back in my chest the wrong way. I don’t remember the last time I genuinely tried to reason with a movie character whilst watching a movie.

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#7 Bridget Jones’s Baby

Okay, who thought we’d get the return of Bridget Jones in 2016? Who actually had high hopes for it after the rather dull Edge of Reason, that I spent an hour researching to try to remember whether I’d ever even watched it? Maybe it was the fabulous company I had at the cinema, but I don’t remember the last time I laughed at a movie that it hurt!

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#6 Rogue One

Despite my initial confusion and slight disappointment at the amount of trailer footage that didn’t end up in the final copy, this was the movie that the hard core Star Wars fans deserved. I for one never expected Disney to get so dark. This movie earns it’s spot for ‘that corridor scene’ alone. *heavy breathing* No no, don’t panic, that’s just me, I forgot to breathe during the scene!

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#5 Deadpool

Let’s face it, after such an amazing marketing campaign (which doesn’t seem to ever end) Deadpool could have been a mediocre movie and we’d have been happy enough. After the character was butchered completely in X-Men Origins it could have been terrible, and yet instead we all got the movie we’d been waiting years for. Action packed and full to the brim of jokes you’d never want to explain to your Mum. I just hope the sequel will be just as good!

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#4 The Nice Guys

This time last year when I saw the trailer for The Nice Guys, I knew I would love it, and it didn’t disappoint at all. It’s perhaps the most criminally under-watched movie of 2016! Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe have so much chemistry on screen, it’s worth a watch for them alone, but there’s so much going on I think it’s one of those where every time you rewatch it, you spot something new.

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#3 Spotlight

The biggest ‘I told you so’ moment of my life was during the Academy Awards in 2016. Despite knowing next to nothing about the Oscars and the criteria for nominees and winners, I felt such a strong connection to Spotlight and not only was I rooting for it to win Best Picture, I genuinely thought it stood a good chance, and I was laughed away when I said it was so much better than The Revenant. Despite having the win ruined for me by the radio before I could watch the ceremony, I was still ecstatic!

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#2 Arrival

My top two spots have shifted around so much, if I wrote this post again in an hour it might have changed again! Arrival is such a beautiful movie. The time flew by as I got engrossed in watching Amy Adams’ character learn the language of the aliens who have landed on Earth, but the final twenty minutes when everything clicks into place is absolutely mind blowing, and it’s one of those moments I wish I could experience again for the first time.

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#1 Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Some movies make us laugh. Others make us cry. Some have visuals that leave us in awe. Others make us think about how we view others and the world we live in. Some have characters that we relate to, or aspire to be. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was all of things and more, and it came out of absolutely nowhere for me. I find it impossible to explain to others why I loved it so much, and yet all I want is to sit people down and force them to watch it! If it wasn’t for the blogging community I wouldn’t even know this movie existed, and that’s a scary thought!

In a couple of days I’m planning to post my Worst 10 Movies of 2016, and whilst I’m in a list making mood, I might make a few others too. I hope I have enough coloured pens, and sticky tabs. Who am I kidding, I have enough stationery to supply an entire school! For now though, I’d love to know – what was your favourite movie of 2016?