Movie Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal animals

Plot: A wealthy art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a symbolic revenge tale.

Nocturnal Animals is self-indulgent, narcissistic bullshit. It is also incredibly dull. I’m surprised it got such a good feedback – I watched it specifically because of said good feedback. Instead I watched some weird shit for two hours without a proper ending. For a film written and directed by a fashion designer the main character spent the majority of the film with lipstick that didn’t suit her features. It is a small thing, but it made me hate this film even more.

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The acting is the best part of Nocturnal Animals but it isn’t enough to save the film. Jake Gyllenhaal is persistent in his mission for me to like him, and so far he is winning. I’ve inexplicably never liked him much. Maybe because until recently I only saw him in Donny Darko, which is the strangest film I’ve ever watched and that is saying something. Southpaw impressed me despite such deliberate emotional punches, and I’ve since been getting more exposure to this man. I liked him here too – he had a character that underwent great development and he handled the phasing well.

The story makes a valiant attempt at being mysterious and fails admirably. It tries to be artistic and visually stimulating. Its opening sequence is a desperate visualization of the attempts to make this film more than it is – a self-indulgent expedition of Tom Ford. Ford can be glad his fashion designs aren’t this desperate to be liked or he’d have failed as a designer a long time ago.

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Nocturnal Animals has a litany of celebrities taking part and they have no idea what to do about it. Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have the most screen time, and they do their best to make their characters work. Taylor-Johnson proves that he is more than just a pretty face. He’s a creepy mcCreeps in here, and I was so freaked out by his strange and awful character and felt dirty every time he was on screen. Amy Adams had the hardest work set out for her – to make the selfish Susan worthy of our empathy. It is hard to sympathize with a woman whose unhappiness stems from every decision she ever made. She had a good, kind man who she left because he wasn’t successful. She’s led a life she swore she wouldn’t, choosing a rich man who sleeps around over a poor man who loved her. Her treasonous acts reach unparalleled heights for which we judge her harshly (well, I did anyway), so sympathizing with her was really hard.

Michael Shannon is such a serious looking bloke, and thus all these serious bloke roles suit him well. He’s this strange cop in the story, with his own little built in mission, and I enjoyed him immensely.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I marginally liked the story more when I realized what was going on. I’ll say this – it is stories within a story. The within story was better than the actual story. It was a meaty revenge piece. It disappointed, but it remained better than the obvious story. I’ll stop using the word “story” now, because it is starting to irritate me.

The cast that gets a few seconds on screen – Isla Fisher, Michael Sheen, Pam from True Blood, Jenna Malone – so much to work with and yet so little attention paid to them. I love Michael Sheen now, my Underworld exposure made me team-Sheen, and I was happy to see him only to be disappointed a few scenes later.

Nocturnal Animals is way too long. I just wanted to get to the end, and then the end sucked so much I felt even more aggressive. It’s an open ending, and we all know how I much love that. Sure, I’ll think a bit about what I watched but dammit, give me a proper ending or watch me rage.

I consider this movie a terrible waste of time and am still upset that I will never get these hours back. The only good thing I got from this was writing this review, it was my catharsis to this terrible piece of shit.

Rating: 4.5/10

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Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

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Movies:

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Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

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One Day (2011): HATED IT.

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Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

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Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

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Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

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He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

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Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

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The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

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Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

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Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

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Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

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Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

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The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

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Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

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Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

Nocturnal animals

Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

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Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

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The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

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Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

Movie Review: Anna Karenina (2012)

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Plot: In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky.

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Rating: 5/10

This post today is going to be written in bullet points, because I am simply too disappointed in the film to write out complete sentences.

Things I did not like about this film (and it is a lot):

  • It was a complete and utter waste of my time. Ugh. I will never have the two hours and odd minutes back that I allotted to this.
  • It is confusing, and not in that nice intelligent way where everything makes sense eventually, but in that way where you get to the end of the film and you are still like “what the fuck was that?” and like I said, not in a good type of way.
  • The directing. I get the angle they took here, trying to emultate that the film originates from a theatre production. The only thing they achieved this way was to ensure that the film never gelled.
  • The absolute complete lack of Russian accents. This is a film about Russians, right? Because it was British accents everywhere, and it is not something I usually complain about, but sheesh, the film is about a Russian lovestory.
  • The fact that this is NOT a love story. It is a story about two exceptionally selfish people who did not think for one second the impact their “love” would have on the world. Selfish and petulant, Anna Karenina deserves no sympathy. Although I do take into account how hard it must have been to have married someone proper rather than someone you love, it does not justify cheating on your very sweet husband and ignoring the child you claim to desperately love.
  • Aaron Taylor Johnson’s ridiculous moustache. I mean have you EVER?
  • Keira Knightley. She’s a hit and miss for me if I have to be perfectly honest. The problem is her adeptness to portray extremely unlikable characters, exactly like she did in Anna Karenina. Anyone who does that with such excellence must have some fundamental flaws. I love Knightley in Pride and Prejudice but her role in Never Let Me Go is enough to put you off her for life, let me assure you. Karenina is as well. There is simply no way I can justify her behavior by claiming she loved her lover.

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What I did like:

  • Jude Law’s character and performance. I do not understand why such a handsome man would ugly himself up so deliberately, but I truly found the character and portrayal without fault.
  • Alicia Vikander and Domnhall Gleeson, their love and the work they achieved. These two actors deserve so much praise. I really do like them a lot and find them extremely talented. Their love story in here is certainly better for Gleeson’s character than what happened in Ex Machina (hehehe) and how perfectly they ended up together and suited each other.

The film is a bunch of overdramatic nonsense and main characters that do not deserve any sympathy whatsoever.

Movie Review: Age of Ultron (2015)

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Plot: 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.

Rating: 8/10

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Avengers: Age of Ultron, had the extremely difficult task of living up to its’ predecessor. My love for the first movie is well known, and I’ve reviewed it on my own site as well as on Rob’s for his Genre Grandeur.

I was extremely excited to enter the Marvel universe on Friday night, and I was not disappointed.

Age of Ultron immediately starts the action. The Avengers are united (although they sadly never share HOW the Avengers got back as a team), and they are kicking ass. Invading the Hydra building in Sokovia, they briefly meet the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and it is very clear that they are impressive enemies. Then Tony Stark is Tony Stark and uses fellow genius Bruce Banner, to set loose Ultron, a powerful creature with artificial intelligence whose main goal is human extinction.

Age of Ultron feels like one huge act. The action never stops, and the scenes flow into each other. I really enjoyed that and thought it also worked well with the slightly less over the top fighting scenes. I really enjoyed the character development. My big issue with the first Avengers were that the characters aren’t really developed – some you know because of their stand alone movie but the first Avengers is just packed with vague references and smart mouth comments between the team.

Age of Ultron tries to give you an idea that these are (mostly) people. I found the story line on Hawkeye the most interesting and never thought that would be in the books for him. I also really enjoyed the character development Natasha Romanoff got – she’s the only female Avenger from the first movie and it is clear that she’s had a sad and unsavory past, but no further background was provided. Her story is intense enough to draw outrage and sympathy on her behalf, and also endear her to the female audience.

AOU Team

The humor in AOU is a lot less forced and thus funnier than in the first movie. It is not only Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr.) who crack the jokes, it is everyone, and it makes the movie a lot more humorous. I liked the testosterone fight between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Iron Man. I also really enjoyed that Thor got more lines and that he actually spoke every once in a while, showing he had more potential than looking good – which he does, excellently. One of my favorite scenes is where everyone tries to lift the hammer, and Thor only gets uncomfortable when Captain America (Chris Evans) has the hammer twitching – proving that he is the only worthy Avenger of the hammer except Thor. Captain was also once again the sad guy that kills us with his desolation of having to live without Peggy Carter – just kill me already with that, okay?

Bruce Banner is played by Mark Ruffalo and I think it is one of the best casting choices they made. I work in an academic environment and let me tell you, he does the scatter brained scientist really really well. He is also very heartbreaking when dealing with his anger issues and his heartbreaking lifestyle choices. #lovetheguy

I also really appreciated Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. He has that mouthy and badass vibe of what you would expect of him, but he also has an authentic quest for vengeance and I appreciated that.

AOU Scarlet

THEN: OMFG I LOVE THE SCARLET WITCH. Elizabeth does an absolutely amazing job as the female part of the Maximoff twins. Her attitude is fierce, her quest for vengeance is pure, she looks like such a bad ass and the way her powers are brought to life on screen had me in such a fangirling in the cinema. YAY to Marvel for bringing in such an impressive character in the Avengers franchise (I might add that brings the total females up to three, and the males six thousand).

The romance in Avengers came unexpected but not unwelcome. I don’t really think it was necessary because it is not a rom-com, but it is still welcome and surprisingly sweet. The two characters involved surprised me because I would never have grouped them up, but it worked out really heart twisting in the end.

AOU Ultron

I really liked the villain. Ultron is surprisingly funny and embodies the darker side of Tony Stark’s thought. Ultron is multi-layered, extremely intelligent, not alien (good to Marvel for not going that route again) and he had me worried a lot of the time for the level of destruction he could cause. His cause was initially so noble and good, and enales great discomfort because Ultron really has something right – the human race has no idea how to maintain peace.

I thought AOU did so many things better than the first one did: humor, pacing, character development. I still like the first one more, but can’t really pinpoint why – perhaps it is Loki’s deadly charm that pushes it to the top. Age of Ultron is an excellent job done by Joss Whedon and Marvel, and the characters individually shine and as a team. It is definitely worth paying a ticket for!