Movie Reviews 

Nocturnal Animals

by Alan Rapp on December 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Nocturnal Animals
  • IMDb: link

Nocturnal AnimalsFrom the unconventional opening credits to the crushing final scene, Nocturnal Animals is a tour-de-force you won’t be able to take you eyes off of. Using a story within a story to reveal the truth about his characters, writer/director Tom Ford delivers a taut psychological thriller involving art gallery owner Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) whose blasé hoity-toity life is shaken by the arrival of a manuscript by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). Shown in three interlocking tales, we are witness to Susan’s current timeline and marriage to husband number two (Armie Hammer), flashbacks of her marriage to Edward (Gyllenhaal), and the fictional tale which unfolds in brighter tones and more visceral glee than anything in her current life, rocking Susan to her core.

Of the three, it’s Edward’s manuscript which turns out to be the most impressive on film. Also casting Gyllenhaal as a husband and father whose family (Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber) is harassed and attacked late one night on a empty stretch of road in west Texas by a group of hoodlums (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo), we’re given a front-row seat to the tragic consequences of that night.

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Manchester by the Sea

by Alan Rapp on December 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Manchester by the Sea
  • IMDb: link

Manchester by the SeaWritten and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea is a simple story that provides surprising depth. Following the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), the less-reliable Lee (Casey Affleck) is given custody of his Joe’s teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) forcing him to leave his dreary life in Boston and return to the home he abandoned in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts years before.

Affleck and Lonergan thread a difficult needle here as Lee comes off as immediately unlikable, unreliable, and by all accounts the worst choice to be his nephew’s guardian, while still leaving the door open for our opinion to change as we learn more about his troubled past. It’s a good role for Affleck who knows just how to play the moody loneliness of the character while foreshadowing that there’s something far more complex going on with Lee under the surface. A stark contrast to his mopey uncle, Hedges is is a charismatic lightning bolt everyone seems to gravitate to (such as his multiple girlfriends who include Kara Hayward and Anna Baryshnikov). More together than Lee, most of the time it’s a little unclear who is taking care of who following his father’s death.

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The Eyes of My Mother

by Alan Rapp on December 9, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Eyes of My Mother
  • IMDb: link

The Eyes of My MotherMany horror movies attempt to showcase evil, to explain it, rationalize it, or hold it up as something supernatural or inhuman. With The Eyes of My Mother, writer/director Nicolas Pesce has something else in mind. Centering around an odd young girl (Olivia Bond) whose life is changed by the arrival of a stranger which leads her to grow-up into an even stranger, and lonelier, young woman (Kika Magalhaes), The Eyes of My Mother is an undeniably creepy tale presented largely from the point of view of a truly terrifying young woman whose deep loneliness leads down a gruesome road.

Presented in black-and-white with minimal effects and a small cast as if something from the darker limits of The Twilight Zone, the film take places almost entirely at Francisca’s isolated farmhouse, far away from prying eyes. Those who are unlucky enough to step foot on the property will learn their mistake far too late. The story is straightforward in Francisca’s desires, but far from expected as each dark turn will leave you squirming in your seat. Here’s a film that may indeed give you nightmares. Horror fans may be surprised by what they find, but they won’t be disappointed.

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Loving

by Alan Rapp on December 3, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Loving
  • IMDb: link

LovingLove is color blind, except in the state of Virginia. Based on the true story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), Loving follows the events which led to the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia after the Lovings were expelled from the state under threat of prison for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial cohabitation and marriage.

Leaving the legal maneuverings, motions, and trial to occur largely off-screen, instead writer/director Jeff Nichols focuses the film on Richard and Mildred. Despite a world that told them loving each other was wrong, the pair found each other and stood by each other in the years where hatred and bigotry did their best to destroy their love. The film’s title perfectly summarizes the pair’s relationship. Not out to change the world, simply understanding that their love couldn’t be wrong, their struggle is both emotional and inspirational. With so much of the film riding on their shoulders, Negga and Edgerton are terrific on-screen together in low-key but emotion-packed performances. It’s impossible not to root for them and it makes you sad for any world which would try to keep them apart.

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Moonlight

by Alan Rapp on December 2, 2016

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Moonlight
  • IMDb: link

MoonlightMoonlight follows the story of a single character from childhood to adulthood while struggling to find his place in the world. Told in three acts (with a different actor playing the role, and being referred to by a different name) writer/director Barry Jenkins‘ tale follows Little’s (Alex Hibbert) journey from a shy kid, to a teenage Chiron (Ashton Sanders) struggling to deal with his sexuality (and his schoolmates hatred of him), to a hardened drug dealer (Trevante Rhodes) given an unexpected chance to find something he lost years ago.

All three of the leads work well, although the fact that we are getting used to a different actor also responding to a different name does take some getting used to during the movie’s two big time jumps.

And the supporting cast is strengthen by the likes of Naomie Harris as our protagonist’s abusive mother, Mahershala Ali and Janelle Monáe as a couple who step in to try and help the boy, and Jharrel Jerome as the teenager responsible for giving Chrion the best and worst moments of his life.

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