Happy holidays on the Hush-Hush
L.A. Confidential (1997): As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justic.
Happy holidays everyone! I'm back with my own special brand of celebrating the season-taking a look at a film that is only covertly about Christmas. This year, I'm taking a look at L.A. Confidential ,which is a pillar of the film noir genre. And for good reason! This film is an obvious classic-from the fantastic noir sets and lighting to wonderful acting from a strong cast, L.A. Confidential keeps viewers on their toes from start with the famous "Bloody Christmas" to its equally bloody finish. I will never forget watching this film for the first time and being caught completely off guard by the main twist. The big twist here is a major boost to the longevity of the film, as it makes you want to immediately rewatch it and watch the film with your friends and family. While there are a lot of great moments in this film, this moment is definitely stands above and beyond as one of the great moments of American cinema.
I could go on and on with a glowing review of arguably the last great noir film, but it's late and I'm ready for bed becasue I'm an old person. However, I will hit the one problem I have with this film. I have a major issue with the fate of Russell Crowe's character. If you haven't seen this film I won't go any further into it so as to not spoil, but his fate was definitely the biggest misstep here and goes against the overall vibe of the film to that point. But beyond that, you'll be on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I would even recommend this as a great starter film for those looking to get into the noir genre. It would definitely be easier to start with something like this versus something like The Third Man. Ok that's all I have for my quick review. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season everyone! I'll be back very soon with more reviews!
Oh, and, this film is WAY better than Titanic. Just saying.
The Critique: L.A. Confidential is a pillar of American cinema with brillaint execution all around.
The Recommendation: A must-see.
The Verdict: 9/10 Awesome.
The Movie 2016 Needed
La La Land (2016): A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
Wow. Well done, Damien Chazelle. If you follow my blog (thank you, by the way) you'll know that I called his debut film, Whiplash, the best film I've ever reviewed since I started Enter the Movies back in September, 2013. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to his follow up ever since it was announced. And somehow.....Damien Chazelle has done it. He has avoided the sophomore slump and delivered a film that is not only as good as Whiplash, but is better. That's right. In my opinion La La Land snatches the title for best film I have ever reviewed, and I can now say with 100% certainty that Damien Chazelle is the next great revolutionary filmmaker in Hollywood. I have already seen this film twice in its opening week, and have every intention of making time to see it again while it's still in theaters. And dear GOD see this film in the theater! Watching this film in theaters in a packed room is why I love movies. So, what makes this the best film of the year?
Well, that's kind of a big question. Where to even begin with this film? Let's start with the acting. This film is the Emma Stone show. While there are still several big time acting films I haven't seen, (most notably Jackie) I can say to this point Emma Stone's performance in La La Land is the best performance I've seen all year. The performance of her career, Stone is asked portray an actress trying to make it in Hollywood, and steals the show thanks to several emotional audition sequences, the final of which is easily comparable to Anne Hathaway's iconic "I Dreamed a Dream" scene from 2012's Les Miserables. Stone's counterpart, Ryan Gosling, also puts in the performance of his career. Thanks to being in previous films together like 2013's Gangster Squad, the two have wonderful chemistry, which is crucial since this is basically their film. I must also give heavy praise to the story. Usually in a big musical like this you're asked to make leaps of faith from time to time. Like Maria and Tony falling in love from across a gym in West Side Story! I mean, c'mon, right? But that doesn't happen here. The relationship between Stone and Gosling is easily earned, and the events that follow take you through every single emotion imaginable. Be prepared to rock the ugly cry, guys. Even on the second viewing, when I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was still in tears. It is a beautifully told story and shows Chazelle is just as good a writer as he is a director.
But it's far more than just the writing and acting that make this the best movie I've ever reviewed. It's the costumes. The makeup. The set design. The choreography. The editing. The cinematography. It's the care that goes into the making of this film that is simply spectacular. I must especially praise the costumes. There's a few sequences early on in particular that feature some absolutely gorgeous costumes. And theeeeen there's the opening sequence. The first song, "Another Day of Sun," is actually going to overtake the ending of Rogue One as my favorite movie moment of the year. Believe me when I say a few weeks ago I did not think that would be possible, but OH MY goodness is this opening sequence utterly exhilarating. And did I mention it's shot in a single take? This opening sequence is a marvelous and iconic moment in filmmaking, and will certainly inspire a new generation of filmmakers for years to come. And if it doesn't, then the final 15 minutes of the film certainly will, which are just as exhilarating as the first 15 minutes.
You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned one....kind of major thing from this musical: the music. That's because it is the best part of Chazelle's masterpiece. I'm not sure if it will be elgible for an Academy Award because it's not comprised entirely of original music, but Justin Hurwitz has established himself just as much as Chazelle has. He has only composed three films, which happen to be the same three films Chazelle has directed, but each of these films feature wonderful renditions of classic tunes as well as some great new music too. The truth is I have not been able to stop listening to the score of La La Land over the past week, and I found myself humming along an awful lot on the second viewing. There's no doubt that the most important part of a musical is the music, and Justin Hurwitz hits it out of the park in this department.
If you should interpret anything from this review, it's that La La Land is a cinematic triumph, like Whiplash before it. Chazelle has done what I thought was impossible, and he does it so well that I almost feel foolish for thinking that he could not top Whiplash. This film is a masterpiece, and firmly sets Chazelle right alongside the legendary Martin Scorsese for the "coveted" title of my favorite director in Hollywood right now. Every facet of filmmaking is meticulously cared for, and a film like this is a wonderful reminder to me of why I am hopelessly in love with cinema. Forget Rogue One. If there's only one film you see this holiday season, see La La Land. Well done, Damien Chazelle.
The Critique: The best film of the year, La La Land is a cinematic triumph in every sense of the phrase.
The Recommendation: An absolute must-see. Do yourself a favor and see this in the theater. You'll thank me later.
Rewatchability: I will rehash what I said about Whiplash here, because it's just as true. Infinite (I've already seen this movie twice at the time of this writing, and I watched it for the first time less than a week ago)
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect.
Oscar Talk: I would be SHOCKED if this film is not your Best Picture winner for 2016. It's the film 2016 needs, and it also is right in the wheelhouse for films that the Academy loves to give Best Picture to. (Just ask Birdman) I also expect wins for Best Director and Costumes, as well as Music if it's elgible. I think this also wins Best Original Song regardless of whether they put Another Day of Sun or City of Stars or the Audition (The Fools Who Dream) up for the award. Heck this film might have multiple entries competing against each other for Best Original Song. Also I expect Emma Stone to make a strong case for Best Actress and at least be nominated for the award.
Seriously, though. Go see this film.
What Happened Here?
Assassin's Creed (2016): When Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.
Ahhhhhhhhhh video game movies. They’ll never change, even though they continue to be absolute dumpster fires. Most are directed and written by people who aren’t super familiar with the source material, or worse people who think simply playing one of the games in the series for a few hours is enough to give them an understanding of what’s going on. It also doesn’t help that the publishers don’t care enough about these franchises beyond the big paycheck to have any creative influence on the story. And, unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed is no different. This movie could have been good. I know I wanted it to be. But it, like many of the games, suffers from the classic Assassin’s Creed problem: it spends way too much time wasting away in an entirely uninteresting present-day storyline.
Look. I get that they had to create a storyline in the present. I’m not faulting it for that. But easily the biggest problem with this film is that it spends too much time in the present with uninteresting characters. Michael Fassbender plays the movie’s equivalent of the early game's Desmond-he’s abducted by the Templars and taken to Abstergo to unlock the memories of his ancestors in the Animus to help the Templars find the Apple of Eden-but pretty much everything surrounding Fassbender is….boring. Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons as well as Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael Kenneth Williams, all hugely talented actors and actresses, are in it for the paycheck as they play poorly written and forced characters. Like….why is Charlotte Rampling even in this? She has a long and distinguished resume dating back to 1964 and she has basically 3 speaking lines. She probably received a fat paycheck for her 3 lines, all of which could’ve easily been delivered by Jeremy Irons, so why did they spend money getting Charlotte Rampling instead of doing something worthwhile like improving the script? Or the action sequences? Don’t even get me started on those.
Oh you got me started on the action sequences. These sequences are so polarizing. On the one hand, there are some gorgeous sequences that made the Assassin’s Creed fan in me jump for joy. Some of the sequences are well choreographed and executed, all while using weapons Creed fans will know and love. But others? Others are impossible to see. There is this weird and totally unnecessary haze that settles over about half the movie for some reason, and this haze makes things really difficult to see. Not to mention some poorly shot sequences. The cinematography here? Not great. I must also pick on some of the deceptive advertising that takes place in this movie. In basically every trailer, we see shots of this epic battle sequence during the Spanish Inquisition. It made me think oh man! The Assassins are going to have to eliminate a general or something in the middle of a giant battle or something! But nope! Instead, we are given a tease of the giant battle sequence in the form of the quick flyover we saw in all the trailers and then we are whisked away to a totally different part of the city that’s quiet and peaceful. Because clearly the money in this film went to bringing in famous actors for 3 lines versus actually paying for action sequences. Oh, you know where else the money could’ve gone? The 3D conversion. Holy CRAP was the 3D bad. I wasn’t given a choice in what format to see so I went to see it in 3D, but man do I wish I had seen it in 2D. It was clearly post-production fake 3D and my Lord was it bad. Sorry, but whoever did the conversion needs to be fired. Some points, especially early on, were just flat-out unwatchable. TERRIBLE. If you do go see this film, do yourself a huge favor and see it in 2D.
I haven’t spent much time talking about the good parts of this film, but there are a few. The Spanish Inquisition storyline is kind of interesting, and the crew did a good job of giving us just enough to know what was going on with the Assassins to care and then showing the action sequences you’d want to see in an Assassin’s Creed movie. Additionally, once we get to the conclusion of, well, Desmond’s storyline it’s kind of interesting. Only problem is it takes way too long to get to that conclusion and we spend way too much of the buildup time in the modern storyline instead of the Spanish Inquisition storyline. At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say this film will just be thrown into the pile that is video game movies. And while there’s probably enough here to keep diehard Assassin’s Creed fans entertained, there’s definitely not enough to keep anyone else’s attention. If you aren’t a diehard fan, avoid like the plague.
The Critique: Yet another lackluster video game film, Assassin’s Creed falls flat on its face thanks to some poorly shot action sequences, poorly written characters, and an uninteresting present day storyline. It basically falls flat on its face because of everything, to be honest.
The Recommendation: Only diehard Assassin’s Creed fans will find enough to like here to justify the cost of a movie ticket, but to everyone else…..AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage
Falls short of greatness
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016): The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
These are always my toughest reviews. It is so hard for me, a die hard Star Wars fan, to separate fan from "critic." My Episode VII review was a good example of this. I did my best to separate the two, but at the end of the day I was still a bit more excited for the film than I probably should've been. That same mistake won't happen here. Here's the bottom line: I had an immensely good time watching Rogue One. There's some great fan service throughout the movie that we'll all love. It adds more weight to Episode IV, and features some breathtaking cinematography, action sequences, and acting from the entire cast. Buuuuut, there are a few things holding it back. Things that many may not realize right now, but will 6 months from now. These problems lie in the characters. But more on that later let's talk about the good stuff first.
Positives are always fun, right? Well, let's first talk about the lead character in this story, Jyn Erso. Jyn is the heroine we need. Wonderfully played by the woefully underrated (though probably not anymore) Felicity Jones, (Jones did receive my "Actress to Watch" award for 2016) Jyn has a marvelous character arc as she goes from rebellious young woman not willing to follow anyone to the selfless and devoted leader of Rogue One. Felicity's long resume was helpful, as she plays this character with the poise and restraint it needed. Other notable performances include Ben Mendelsohn, who was chilling and cold as Director Krennic, and Donnie Yen/Wen Jiang, though we'll get to their characters later. There's also a lot of fan service in this movie. Most of it I enjoyed, but some of it was forced. However, the best moment in this film came towards the very end in the form of fan service. This scene, which I obviously won't spoil but if you've seen the film you already know what I'm talking about, turned into EASILY the best moment of the film, and will likely be at the top of my favorite movie moments of 2016. SO GOOD. I also must comment on the cinematography. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, Zero Dark Thirty) did a great job going all across the board and shooting this film exactly how it needed to be shot. I particularly enjoyed the entire sequence at Jeddah City, which featured great wide shots of a Star Destroyer as well as great gravitas as that sequence concluded.
That said......it has its fair share of problems, and they deal squarely with the supporting cast and their character arcs. As in they don't have any. Do me a favor and try and think of how Bodhi, Baze, Saw, Chirrut, and K-2SO (though I can't deny K-2SO does have some funny lines) developed as characters. Can you think of anything? I can't. How about how they came together, a group of misfit toys, to take on the Empire? I can't. This was a complete failure on director Gareth Edwards and writers Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, and Gary Whitta. There was a great opportunity in the second act of this film to slow things down and bring this cast together to put them squarely behind Jyn Erso, and it didn't happen. Instead we are left with a drawn out sequence at a rainy Imperial Outpost then a TERRIBLY missed opportunity on Yavin 4 where we find ourselves wasting away in the Alliance's version of senate hearings instead of having some intimate conversations with the characters. Forest Whitaker's character, Saw, is also a major missed opportunity. The film even hypes him up calling him too extreme for the Rebel Alliance. But do we see this? Do we see what makes him extreme? Other than pulling off the Frank Booth with a breathing mask (Which, to be fair, why was that even a thing? Was it meant to be an ode to Blue Velvet? It didn't seem to benefit Saw in any way) he didn't seem too extreme to me. All we needed to fix that was one scene of him doing something crazy. A flashback, perhaps. But what we ended up with was a very limp and uninterestingcharacter. That's the overarching theme here within the story: a missed opportunity. It would not have taken much to make us feel for the supporting cast, and they are all beautifully portrayed, but instead the film chose to waste its time elsewhere doing things that, honestly, did not impact the story that much.
There is one other negative I have to bring up, and that's the score. What happened here? The score, the first in the franchise not done by John Williams, is nothing more than filler music with the occasional Star Wars theme thrown in. The quality of this score is on the same level as pretty much any film in the Marvel franchise, and that's not good. At the time I thought the Episode VII score was a little weak, (though it has grown on me a tad) but there's no doubt this is easily the weakest score in the franchise to date. C'mon guys! Where's a theme like Duel of Fates or Battle of the Heroes?
Do know, I say these criticisms because I love this franchise. There's no doubt that this is a good film and I can't wait to watch it again. It achieves exactly what it sets out to do (add weight to Episode IV) and features some of the most exhilarating action sequences in the franchise in the third act. It's exactly what you want from this film, I just wish they had spent more time on character development and not trying to force Alliance politics into it. That's my two cents feel free to disagree and talk about how wrong I am!
The Critique: Despite some exhilarating action sequences, Rogue One falls short of greatness because of a lack of character development within the supporting cast.
The Recommendation: Everyone and their mother's are gonna go see this so who cares, right?
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average.
What happened here?
Morgan (2016): A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
Ok. So. I went into this movie with some expectations. I (thought) I had heard good things about this movie, but if I did......man were they WRONG. This movie is TERRIBLE. Like, Transendence levels of terrible. Actually, I think Transcendence is better than this. Either way, that's not a movie that you want to compare yourself to. Yet here we are. So.....what went wrong with Morgan? I think it starts with the writing. The writing is hilariously terrible. I'm sorry, Seth Owen, but you should've have thrown out the dialogue in this movie and started anew. But he didn't, and director Luke Scott didn't stop him, so here we are.
You know, I'm kind of surprised. You have basically a novice of a director and a writer, but they managed to line up some pretty big names to star in this. Kate Mara leads a cast that includes Rose Leslie, (Ygritte) Toby Jones, (from the Marvel Cinematic Universe) Vinette Robinson, (Sherlock) Chinese superstar Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, (seriously....you followed your Oscar nominating performance and your award from ME, since that's important, where I called you the comeback actress of 2015 with this piece of garbage????) and PAUL FREAKING GIAMATTI, who is in this movie for like 3 scenes that the marketed the crap out of. Oh! And did I mention that Anya Taylor-Joy is Morgan? You might not know of her, but she was the lead in an OUTSTANDING film called The Witch, which you will be hearing about in a few months when I do my year in review. She was easily the best part of that film and easily the worst part of this film. Morgan.....just wasn't interesting. I can't fault Anya Taylor-Joy too much. She's young, and she was certainly not given much to work with from a writing and directing perspective. But, after seeing what she could do in The Witch, I expected so much more from her! Kate Mara is basically playing Zoe Barnes but as a secret agent, so I guess that was ok. But now I feel like really going to town on this film.
Maybe I hated this film as much as I did because of how good Ex Machina is. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe a film like Morgan allows me to appreciate Ex Machina more than I already did. Either way, Ex Machina succeeds at telling a realistic and believeable story about the evolution of an AI at almost every level, whereas Morgan does the exact opposite. I thought that maybe there were going to be tales of Morgan manipulating the scientists that created her. Maybe there would be an investigation into how Morgan's mind works. But no! One second she's basically fine, then, after the world's worst psych evaluation, she's killing LITERALLY everyone. Like, seriously. The people that she called her parent 5 minutes before are now being killed by her. For......reasons. Oh! Also the motivations of the scientists make ZERO sense. Particularly with Toby Jones's character. Seriously. How any character like that would make it past a psych exam is beyond me, and when his fate is shown towards the end I couldn't help but laugh out loud. It's not great. Finally, the final big action set piece (because obviously every movie about AI has to have a car chase and a fist fight with the AI because that's a good idea) was hilariously terrible. If you couldn't tell already. Do you want me to spoil it? Fine. I'll spoil it. This movie isn't going to do anythign but make my worst movies of 2016, so you shouldn't watch it. SO! Kate Mara and Morgan are duking it out, and it looks like Morgan got the upper hand and killed Mara. So Morgan goes back to the lake she was at previous the fight, just to have Mara come out of nowhere and pistol whip her. But then! And wait....you're gonna love this part! Then, after Mara pistol whips Morgan into the lake, rather than taking a few shots at her with the gun that's, you know, in her hand; she jumps into the lake and drowns her! Like......are you serious, movie? And then she shoots the poor scientist watching this whole thing in terror so it isn't like she didn't have any bullets in the freaking gun. No! She just felt like getting up close and personal with Morgan. Brilliant.
I am struggling to find anything good to talk about with this movie. Oh! I know. Even though Giamatti was only in this film for like 10 minutes, he was the best thing about it. His script was terrible-he was the psychologist responsible for the worst psych eval in the history of man-but man was Giamatti clearly having a blast with his limited role. And, obviously, the distribution studio behind this hunk of trash realized that he was the best part of the movie because he was in nearly every trailer. Oh well. Time to forget about this film until I write my worst movies of 2016 list.
The Critique: A total disaster, Morgan is one of the worst films of 2016. 'Nuff said.
The Recommendation: You know it's coming......AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
Rewatchability: Ya. I think I'm gonna rewatch this. Said no one ever.
The Verdict: 2/10 Garbage
Phew! Well there you have it. Took me 30 minutes EXACTLY to write this. Now let's move on.
The Marion Cotillard Show
Allied (2016): In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.
Allied is solidly mixed bag. Two tales thrown into one, director Robert Zemeckis continues his quest to find his touch again, this time with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. One of them shows up and does everything they can to help Zemeckis out, and the other does not. These polarizing performances, combined with a very rushed second half, leads to a mixed bag. This despite a strong first half. So let's jump in, shall we?
So, let's talk about the acting. As I said, we have an extremely polarizing performance from our two leads. I bet you can guess which one was great, right? For as terrible as Brad Pitt was, Marion Cotillard proved yet again why she is one of the most underrated actresses (and we'll include her male counterparts, for that matter) in the business. She props this film up with her performance and does everything she can despite getting ABSOLUTELY nothing from her counterpart, Brad Pitt. For as mysterious, intriguing, and emotional as she is, Brad Pitt is pretty much the exact opposite. He is dull, boring, and lazily going through the motions. It was actually quite frustrating if I'm being honest. On the one had Cotillard was clearly doing everything she could to drag Pitt along, but Pitt just wasn't having it. He didn't even try to have a British accent. Or anything other than an LA accent. I wasn't 100% sure where his character was from, but it certainly wasn't LA.
Equally as polarizing are the two halves of this film. The first half was massively gripping, as we watch these two characters meet for the first time and have to immediately convince a group of Germans that they're husband and wife, but I think this half was as gripping as it was thanks to Cotillard. She is given a lot to do and explains a lot of her motivations and reasoning in this half that I was, like Pitt, captivated by. But then the second half rolls around and the story shifts over to Pitt, and it became a lot less interesting. Additionally, I have to harp on the effects and cinematography. Zemeckis stayed mostly invisible throughout the film, but the few times he did let his style come out it was not welcome. The effects, particularly as the Germans bombed Britain in the second half, were anything but great, and when Zemeckis decided to bring out some crazy 360 degree pans it really took me out of the moment. The most egregious was shortly after Pitt and Cotillard got married. There was some confetti during a 360 degree pan that just looked hilariously fake while we spun around with Pitt and Cotillard. Like that was an effect straight out of Polar Express and Beowulf.
I'm being so hard on this film because, unlike a lot of disappointing films out there, I really wanted this one to be good. And I did see some great sequences during this film. There's no doubt this film is better than Zemeckis's last venture, The Walk, but I do also think Zemeckis is still struggling to find the success he had in something like Forrest Gump, Cast Away, or Back to the Future. But there's a groundwork laid here that sets the stage (potentially) for finding it again in his next film. Hopefully then he won't have Brad Pitt around to ruin everything.
The Verdict: Despite a memorable performance from Marion Cotillard, Allied struggles to find the magic director Robert Zemickis had in his previous films.
The Recommendation: I think there's something to like here if you're into WWII flicks, or if you're a Marion Cotillard fan, but otherwise.....there are definitely better things out there right now.
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
Sexy but disappointing
Nocturnal Animals (2016): An art gallery owner is haunted by her ex-husband's novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.
Oh Tom Ford....how do you follow up A Single Man with this? Maybe I'm just not.....cultured enough to understand it. There's a lot going on here, that's for sure, but at the end of the day for as meticulous and immaculate as the set design is, the movie is.....sloppy. There is so much going on in front of the viewer spread out between three different storylines, but we spend so little time in two of them that the only one I cared about was the storyline of the book Amy Adams was reading. But, of course, even that storyline had a lot of problems. And when you're main storyline has issues.....you're in for a bad time.
That said, there's a lot of things this movie should be praised for, specifically costumes, makeup, and set design. All three of these aspects of the film are spectacular, and make it look absolutely gorgeous. Heck, the film was so messy story-wise as it went on I just basically turned off my brain and looked at it. I was perfectly content with this too! Though it's hardly surprisng: for those who don't know, Tom Ford is one of Hollywood's top fashion designers. He is most notably the creative director of Gucci and is responsible for turning it into..... whatever it is today, Ford has a long list of influential friends in the fashion/movie business. So you would kind of expect a film he directs to be jammed with stars and looking absolutely gorgeous. From both of these standpoints, the film delivers. Apart from Amy Adams, who's absolutely gorgeous here, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who looks pretty good himself, this film has a trove of well-known actors in the supporting cast. Michael Shannon is wonderful as ever, Aaron Taylor-Johnson puts in the performance of his career, (though that's not saying much) and Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer are pretty good too. And you know you have an influential director when you can bring in Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, and Jena Malone for about two speaking lines each.
Where it doesn't deliver, however, is the story. The story is a mess, and unfortunately it brings the entire film down with it. My biggest problem with this story is that there doesn't really seem to be an overarching theme here. What is this movie about, exactly? Is it a story about revenge? Is it a story about remorse? A story about what happens to your mind when you suffer from extreme insomnia? A statement about our overbearing materrialistic culture? I DON'T KNOW. Maybe some people enjoy stories that are all of those things at once, but I don't. I want a direction. I want plot points. Intrigue. A cohesive beginning, middle, and end. There are certainly films that entice me that don't do that (see: Cloud Atlas) but it takes something truly daring like that to draw me in. Sadly, this film is not as daring as Cloud Atlas. I tried sticking with it for so long, but it's just too scatterbrained to keep me drawn in. So I gave up! And looked at it because it is pretty. I'm sure there will be others who say this film is brilliant, but I'm not one of them. If you wanna see it, in my opinion you're seeing it because it is sexy to look at, and that's it. (I mean....look at that picture I used for the review. Is that not gorgeous?) You have been warned.
The Critique: Despite gorgeous set design, costumes, and makeup, Nocturnal Animals is brought down by a messy and scatterbrained plot.
The Recommendation: Unless you're really into set design, there are vastly better movies out there right now elsewhere.
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average
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