Review: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

“Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?”
– Susan Morrow

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

Ah, Nocturnal Animals. Where do I even begin? I had forgotten about this completely, except Natasha wanted to check it out, and so we did. Goddammit, so we did. Two hours folks. Two. Nocturnal Animals is a pretentious pile of garbage that actually has some semblance of potential which is unceremoniously pissed away. The opening alone was just grotesque and came across as pretentious, right out of the gate. To shock, to inspire, to make you think that the movie has more depth than what appears on the surface? Screw that. It did not. Revenge tale, and that is that. Not even a good one, while we are at it, despite what it would have you think.

This also seemed like something I would like – dark and a thriller, plus Gyllenhaal? Ticked all the boxes. In fact, I liked the cast for the most part. The film is divided into three segments: the past, the present, the story in a novel. Three. Of these three, the novel coming to life is a fantastic revenge tale, a mysterious story that gets you worried and draws you in, and you feel for the main character of it, and are intrigued by his plight and the relationship he forms with the detective investigating the crime which the main character is a victim of. Awesome. But then there are the other two parts of the movie – the past and the present, and they are both boring and bland and just annoyed me.

My reception of the movie was not helped along by Amy Adams, whom I cannot stand. Her character was such a waste of space. Armie Hammer, too, felt like he was useless here – the script was so skinny. He was pretty much there for some aloof eye candy, and that is that. Gyllenhaal and Shannon are the stars of this, without a doubt. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, too, shone here. Every moment they were on screen, you were engaged. They were so good. A whole movie just about them and their segment would have been fantastic. Instead I had to sit through all that drivel and possibly one of the worst endings I have seen in my life.

I see this movie being lauded as dark, thought-provoking, deep. Pretentious, I will say it again. The movie is not as deep as it wishes to be, and because of that comes across as desperate. While we are at it, it is generic and brings nothing new to the table. I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone, though I am aware my opinion is in the minority.

Review: Zodiac (2007)

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“I… I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him.”
– Robert Graysmith

SYNOPSIS: A serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970’s case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book, the movie’s focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people. – via IMDB

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GRADE 10This movie is absolutely brilliant. I loved it when it came out, I loved it in subsequent rewatches, and I still love it. Why? Because it is put together extremely well, the cast carrying this show is fantastic, and it looks amazing. There is really just too much to love about this and not anything to seriously complain about.

Jake Gyllenhaal never disappoints (seriously bestie, you must watch more of his work) and his Robert Graysmith is really interesting to watch, like a dog with a bone. Robert Downey Jr. is excellent as prick crime reporter Paul Avery, and showcases how he really has more talent than just Tony Stark/Iron Man. I really miss when he used to take real other roles. The final big player here is Mark Ruffalo, and I always enjoy watching the man in anything. His detective character David Toschi is also a big draw, and I really like how these three characters each had their own obsession, they all danced around one another, were all similar but completely different. I think the movie really runs home the point of obsession, and how it interacts with everyday life, which is very interesting. Not only that, the movie is obviously shot phenomenally because, well, David Fincher.

The script it also tight, laying out all the pieces of evidence you need in the case of the terrifying Zodiac killer, who freaked people out beyond anything, even though he was never caught. I think that Robert Graysmith did a great job of investigating and seriously has the strongest case stacked against Arthur Leigh Allen. Zodiac is engrossing and mesmerising and demands your attention throughout, and barrels along at such a pace that you are not left behind, but are gripped, and does not allow your attention to wander for even a moment.

You cannot miss that immense amounts of work, interest and passions that went into the film, everything from costume design to the sets that were done, and reading up on the trivia for it, all this is confirmed. I have not read Graysmith’s book, but I will most certainly be looking into it as soon as possible. If you have not seen Zodiac, it is high time you rectify that.

June Blind Spot Review: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

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“I wish I knew how to quit you!”
– Jack Twist

SYNOPSIS: A raw, powerful story of two young men, a Wyoming ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy, who meet in the summer of 1963 sheepherding in the harsh, high grasslands of contemporary Wyoming and form an unorthodox yet life-long bond – by turns ecstatic, bitter and conflicted. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5I have never, ever gotten around to seeing this movie, and I have no idea why not. It isn’t even because the subject matter makes me uncomfortable, it doesn’t faze me. I am always shocked to know that there are still so many people out there that get offended about people choosing who they wish to love and spend time with. It is an immensely private thing and has nothing to do with anybody, but that is just my opinion. Anyway, I know that this movie sparked controversy when it was released, and there is still a little taboo around the whole subject and jokes to boot. I just want to state that it is testament to the acting chops of both Ledger and Gyllenhaal that the roles that they took did not cripple their careers. Moving on to the movie itself, I thought it was shot really well and it was engaging and it was sad. Like “oh my gosh, that’s horrendous”. And not because the movie is so much pushing for and demanding you be sad, because let’s face it, Ennis Del Mar could be a real dweeb and you could not quite agree with what he was doing to his wife, no matter what the times, and I felt sorry for Alma Del Mar for knowing that he husband was not straight, but pretending anyway, but sad because it just gets under your skin, it has such a subtlety about it at the best of times. Damn, the era was different, but not so much so that we don’t still hear about stuff like that nowadays. Sexuality is still something that people hide and guard because of society’s views, and this movie shows the effect that being incapable of being yourself has on one, as well as the inability to accept who and what you are because of the standards set by society. Gyllenhaal and Ledger both delivered top notch performances, and got into their roles and made them convincing, not some roles that some popular Hollywood actors had taken on for money or controversy. They really embodied their characters, and Ledger excelled at being the angry, confused, silent one, whereas Gyllenhaal truly perfected Jack Twist, the dreamer, the chance taker. It was a bittersweet thing to watch Ledger in something again, what a loss 😦 This really was an absolutely amazing performance from him. Brokeback Mountain was shot well, had a score to match the setting (though totally not my kind of thing) and riddled with solid performances all round, from the wives to the extended families, it all comes together well. However, the driving force behind the movie will still remain the relationship between Jack and Ennis and the performances that Ledger and Gyllenhaal gave us to realise these men. Brokeback Mountain is a dramatic romance, and it is a beautiful flick all round. I think this was a great Blind Spot and I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, not just for the romance involved, but because it is a solid movie in quite a few ways.

Rapid Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

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“What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them?”
– Lou Bloom

SYNOPSIS: NIGHTCRAWLER is a thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling – where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. – via IMDB

nightcrawler chasing the movie

GRADE 8I was so stoked about finally getting to see this. I have been itching for it and reading spans of rave reviews, and I think Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome and can certainly carry a film, so Nightcrawler was totally bound to be my scene. I thought it was a really good character study. Lou Bloom was one seriously reprehensible toolbag, and had absolutely no endearing qualities to him. The story progresses slowly, but knows exactly where it is going, so every scene has a part to play in what is to happen, as well as his character development. Gyllenhaal’s performance was absolutely amazing, and he (scarily) made Lou Bloom his own. The rest of the supporting cast was great, they all brought their parts to the table and drew you in. As I said, this is a slow burn that catches, though you sort of still expect some more action and what not to come up later on. The camera work was really good, and the pacing was decent, too. Nightcrawler looked lovely, and kept you wondering all the way through. It is like you know what he is bound to start doing, because morals don’t mean much to him, yet it is still a thrill to see how Lou starts changing the game. I liked Rick’s character, and while I wish he got more screen time, I knew that this movie was Gyllenhaal’s show. He plays an awful character and carries the movie, and you listen to him, though you don’t necessarily side with him or agree with him – his portrayal rivets you and disgusts you. Listening to his frame of mind, either with his insane discussions with himself or his creepy discussions with those around him give you a look into a real polluted and different mind – a mind with no qualms. Nightcrawler certainly has a lot going for it, and it is an interesting movie to check out, no doubt.

Review: Enemy (2013)

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Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) paints a depressing picture: he is a history teacher who spends his time at college, goes home, grades papers, has sex with his girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent), repeat. Nothing changes, there is nothing exciting. A colleague of his at work asks if he watches any movies, and as stunted as his social skills may be, Adam realises he is trying to make conversation. He rents the movie that his colleague recommends, and is shocked to see a man in there that looks just like him. Adam is interested, and does some more research on the actor he saw online, seeing that the man is not an overly successful actor, but an actor nonetheless. He rents more movies featuring Daniel St. Claire (also Jake Gyllenhaal). Adam’s relationship with Mary is suffering due to his obsession.

enemy adam school

Tracking down the agency that Daniel St. Claire works with, Adam stops by there, where he gets some mail from the desk clerk. Through the mail, Adam learns that Daniel St. Claire’s real name is Anthony Claire. He successfully manages to stalk Anthony, ultimately phoning his wife, Helen (Sarah Gadon), who thinks that Anthony is playing a terrible joke on her. Through persistence, Adam manages to talk to Anthony, whom he attempts to convince to meet with him. Anthony vehemently refuses, though later decides that they should meet. Helen is doing some investigating of her own, and meets with Adam, who is unwittingly aware that Helen is Anthony’s pregnant wife.

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The two men finally meet up together at a hotel, where things just go crazy. The two men are perfect and identical copies of one another, which in turn robs both of them of their identities, spinning both their lives completely out of control. Who is Adam? Who is Anthony? Why are they identical? Will Adam be able to continue with his bland and boring life after he has had a glimpse of Anthony’s? Who are they if they are so identical that even their lovers cannot tell them apart? What is going on?

enemy meeting

GRADE 8I know this is a little bit of a ridiculously short review, but I cannot say too much and I really, really don’t want to spoil it if you have yet to see it. This was something that Joseph and Mark rather enjoyed, that Eric enjoyed but was not completely certain how much, and that Rob absolutely hated. I was very interested to see what would come of this seeing as I was a huge fan of Villeneuve’s Prisoners, and I enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal (even though Natasha can see no merits in the man). Now, I was not really sure what would come of this. I roughly knew what it was about, but this was still a journey unto itself. It is phenomenally shot though extremely depressing, everything is washed out and oppressive and dark and dreary, which totally worked for the story that it was trying to convey. Then there was the soundtrack, that just had your teeth on edge for the entire duration of the film and aims to freak you out to your very core, and mostly succeeds with this. Then there are these creepy spider shots that come up from time to time, and leave you feeling just a little chilled. Gyllenhaal gave another solid performance, and successfully managed to embody the essence of two different men. You could clearly see which one he was due to the totally difference characteristics and actions the men had, as well as the way they presented themselves and held themselves. The plot is confusing and constantly twisting, and you need to keep your wits about you, but I must say that I enjoyed it. The cinematography was absolutely stunning. Adam’s obsession with Anthony is a little extreme, though if you think about it you could understand how it could get there. I love how the doppelgängers lived completely different lives and had virtually nothing in common. However, this movie really screwed with my head, and I can see how the conclusion will split people into groups of loving it, hating it, or just not giving a damn and feeling like their time may have been wasted. Either way, this is a movie I would recommend so that you can sit around and scratch your head when all is said and done, theorizing on your own about the multitude of probabilities the film presents.

Review: Prisoners (2013)

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“Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
– Keller Dover

SYNOPSIS: When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? – via IMDB

This was a particularly solid drama thriller and I really liked it. It was definitely not the easiest film to watch (you hear too many things about what happens to kids that go missing, so my brain was permanently running away with horrendous ideas as to what could be happening). Hugh Jackman was phenomenal as the father who is desperate to locate his missing daughter and willing to go to any lengths to make that a reality. I enjoyed Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki, I think he was very well cast, and again pleasant to watch. I think he is a good actor. I felt so sorry for the families, and fluctuated between pitying Alex and then not so much, seeing how he flicked between being the silly boy he was to saying some things that he was inexorably linked to the abducted girls. The acting was great, the score solid, the way the story was set forth was good, too. The way everything looked was spectacular too, and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. There wasn’t really anything that weighed this film down, and I loved the way the film progressed – solidly. It was a compelling watch, didn’t lull anywhere and I enjoyed it. It is a strong film, and it is well worth looking into if you haven’t done so already!