Left Wanting More: Nocturnal Animals Review

 

I’d say my expectations for Nocturnal Animals were pretty high. I remember it getting a decent amount of hype when it came out and receiving some awards attention too (between Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and SAG). I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy it, but I felt a bit.. dissatisfied at the end. It left me wanting more.

 

The Good

So many elements of Nocturnal Animals were working in its favour. The cast was spectacular. Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams (especially), Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Isla Fisher (for what little screen time she had). All the characters were compelling and engaging. There was never a dull moment. The visuals and overall tone of the movie were excellent. My heart was racing, particularly during the initial highway encounter and abduction scene. The opening scene is quite unique and a little shocking, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know why, and I found myself theorizing almost immediately about the rest of the movie; wondering what the significance was and what implications that scene could have for what was to follow. The bulk of the movie was very thrilling and enjoyable to watch.

The Bad

When a movie makes you theorize and gets your heart racing, it needs to deliver a satisfying resolution or gasp-worthy twists before heading into a big reveal. You could argue that Nocturnal Animals is more of a thinker, less about the shock value and more about the big picture parallels, but for me, I needed something more. Especially when the movie is carrying three narratives (which I liked and thought was done well), I was expecting a bigger “a-ha!” moment to pop up eventually.

The Ugly Bottom Line

Nocturnal Animals had a lot going for it but fell somewhat short. I appreciated the intellectual journey but hoped for a more exciting experience at the end of it all.


If you’ve seen Nocturnal Animals, let me know what you thought! You can leave a comment, or

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5 Reasons Why Baby Driver Is The Must-See Movie Of The Year (So Far)

I mentioned on Twitter┬áthat waiting to see Baby Driver was the most excited I had been about a non-superhero movie in a long time. I finally saw it this week (I even convinced my almost-60 year old mother to come along – she loved it, btw) and it didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. Coming out of the theatre, I was reeling; my mind was going a mile a minute. The way Baby Driver made me feel is the reason why I love going to the movies. I can’t promise this won’t have spoilers in it (please just stop what you’re doing and go see it, okay?) but I came up with 5 reasons why I think Baby Driver is the must-see movie of the year so far..

A True Standalone

When you hear the word “standalone”, your mind probably still jumps into superhero or monster mode – thinking about a movie where the characters and plot stand alone but are really part of a greater whole. If we look hard enough we can find amazing and original films and television shows that are brand spanking new, but so much of it isn’t. Reboot, remake, recycle. I love a cinematic universe as much as the next person, but Baby Driver was a breath of fresh and exciting air. Outside of trailers, you don’t know who Baby is before seeing this movie. There’s no homework or prerequisites or required reading before seeing Baby Driver and I think that worked in its favour. Of course there’s already buzz about a possible sequel, which would probably be great. There’s no doubt I could have spent a few more hours in the Baby Driver world, but I’m also completely fine with how it ended. It’s always a fine line between wanting more of a movie and risking being let down by a sequel. (Let the record state that if Edgar Wright is on board for number 2, then so am I).

Engaging Characters

I loved every character in this movie – even the ones you aren’t supposed to like at all. The top of the list for me, besides Baby, was Joseph, Baby’s deaf foster father who he cares for. I was very moved by their relationship and pleasantly surprised to see that storyline in the movie since it was not in the trailers. Baby himself was so compelling and a joy to watch throughout the entire movie. The chemistry between all the characters was strong and really translated into all the humour and tension you feel in the movie. I love the complexity of a well written and well performed bad guy. The kind you find yourself enjoying and kind of rooting for until they really get going on their own villainous journeys. Buddy, Jon Hamm’s character, is a great example. He’s funny, kind of charming and sticks up for Baby in the beginning. He kinda won me over. Of course when he decides that it’s Baby’s fault when everything goes wrong, then you remember that, yeah, he’s evil and crazy.

The Cast

One of the big reasons why Baby Driver was so good is the cast. With so many heavy hitters, there was never a dull moment in any scene. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonz├ílez all killed it; they were funny, crazy, scary and all manner of intense. Jon Bernthal, Flea and Lanny Joon were on par with the A-team, I just wish they had as much screen time. I really loved Lily James and Ansel Elgort as Baby and Deborah. Even though the love story was a bit unrealistic, it didn’t feel out of place with the tone of the film and Lily and Ansel’s combined performances made it work really well. I wasn’t too familiar with Ansel Elgort before, and I had heard some people say they didn’t care for him, but I think he was great as Baby and he probably gained a few new fans through this role.

Pseudo-Musical

Maybe the number one takeaway from Baby Driver is the soundtrack and how music is weaved into the movie. No one breaks into song, not really, anyways, so it’s hard to classify Baby Driver as a musical in my opinion, but I’ve rarely seen a movie use music like this. I read that Edgar Wright describes it as “soundtracking” your own life, which I found totally relatable. A really great song practically forces you to imagine a visual narrative that goes along with it. Surely I’m not the only one who directs music videos in my head? But honestly, the soundtrack is insane. I don’t remember the last movie I saw that ended up having a 30-track soundtrack. I’m dying to get my hands on a physical copy of it just so I can listen to it in my car. Then there’s the songs themselves, which were so expertly chosen and matched with characters and plot points. Let’s Go Away For A While. Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms). Nowhere To Run. Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up. BABY DRIVER. Okay, that last one was a no brainer, but still. I was also completely fine with the action being in sync with the music. A few people said it was a bit kitschy, and I wasn’t really sure how much Mickey Mousing I should expect going into the movie, but it wasn’t blatant or obnoxious to me.

Just Plain Fun

Like I said, the way I felt leaving the theatre after seeing Baby Driver is the reason why I love movies. Everything I’ve talked about so far combined so perfectly to make the movie just plain FUN. I was smiling, I felt energized, all I wanted to do was turn the radio up on the drive home. It made me want to buy a Subaru and learn stick shift. It made me want to put my headphones on and sing and dance down the street. I often gauge my movie ratings by whether or not I would rewatch something, and in this case, I would 100% rewatch Baby Driver. Go see it.


What did you think of Baby Driver?

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6 Movies That Scared The Shit Out of Me When I Was a Kid

A lot of movies are scary for kids whether they’re supposed to be or not. Some are understandable – when I saw Gremlins for the first time, it was terrifying (I love it now, though) and when I caught a glimpse of the room 237 bathroom scene in The Shining, I was way too young and that was… not ideal. Here’s a few other movies that scared the crap out of me as a kid.

101 Dalmatians

Not even the live-action one! The 1961 animated 101 Dalmatians scared me because of one specific scene – when the puppies are born and Cruella de Vil arrives. I remember being worried when you could hear her car coming. She’s not necessarily that frightening, even though she is evil – but she kills puppies! Doesn’t even try to pretend she doesn’t kill puppies! Just shows up and offers to buy them like it’s no big deal. No thank you.

Signs

I know Signs is a somewhat scary movie regardless, but I was only maybe 12 or 13 when I saw it (without parental guidance, probably). I love it now, but I’ll never look at corn fields the same again. I was particularly afraid when you could see/hear the aliens walking by the boarded up windows and again when you could hear them in the attic. I was equal parts afraid of and obsessed with this movie – the way everything ends up being connected. My cousins and I would pause and replay certain scenes so many times. When the hand grabs Morgan we would try and pause to see the hand before it moved. Basically any movie where a dog dies was a hard no for me (basically still is).

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

This is probably somewhat common, and like Gremlins, I love it now. I’ve seen so many Buzzfeed lists about how traumatizing the movie is. E.T. being sick and dying? Yeah, traumatizing. I was more afraid at the beginning, though, before you even see E.T. Even though throwing the baseball back to Elliott is pretty innocent and cute, the idea of not knowing what was in the shed had me on edge. I remember one time sleeping in my sister’s room for some reason, and the lights were off but my door was open and the light was on in the hallway, and I was SURE that E.T. was walking down the hallway towards my room.

Pete’s Dragon

I can’t really explain this one. I remember almost nothing about the actual movie. I couldn’t tell you what the plot is. Young orphan boy who is friends with a pink-haired sometimes-invisible dragon named Elliott? Sure, great, wonderful. The thing that scared me about this is that everything was live action with real people but the dragon was a cartoon. I am well aware that this doesn’t make any sense, but my young mind was wary and did not care for it.

The Witches

This one I know is common – again, thank you Buzzfeed. I don’t even remember how old I was when I first saw this. I never read the book as a kid, and the movie came out a year before I was even born. This movie is downright terrifying. I mainly remember the moment the Grand High Witch takes off her face at the meeting. This moment alone is PLENTY, but after doing a little googling I realized there’s so much of this movie that I forgot about (probably on purpose). The kids turning into mice. The Grand High Witch turning into that terrifying gross mouse. The baby carriage being pushed down a hill. This is for kids?? Rated PG?? No amount of parental guidance could have saved my young mind from this nightmare.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest

Hexxus. The evil pollution monster who wants to kill all the fairies and destroy the forest? Enough said.


 

What movies scared you when you were a kid? Let me know in the comments!

The Fundamentals of Caring

 

I had been scrolling by this title on Netflix for a while.. it had been on my list but for any number of silly reasons I wasn’t ready to make the plunge. When I finally did, I wished that I hadn’t waited so long to watch it. I’m usually quite impressed by Netflix originals, and The Fundamentals of Caring was no exception.The Fundamentals

Paul Rudd plays Ben, a former writer who takes a caregiving course and is applying for his first job – caring for 18 year old Trevor, played by Craig Roberts. Trevor has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a strict daily routine. Trevor is cynical and anxious and fascinated by odd roadside attractions he sees on the news. Ben convinces Trevor and his mother, Elsa (Jennifer Ehle), to let him take Trevor on a road trip to see some of these attractions in person. Along the way, they meet Dot, played by Selena Gomez, who is hitchhiking her way to Denver but agrees to tag along with Ben and Trevor to see the world’s biggest pit – their main destination. The group also meets Peaches (Megan Ferguson), a pregnant woman going to live with her mother while her husband is on his second tour with the military. Road trip shenanigans ensue – by the end of the movie I was not only satisfied and emotional but mentally planning 100 road trips I wanted to take immediately.

The Caring

I really, really, REALLY liked this movie. Paul Rudd is just wonderful at all times and I would probably watch anything if he were in it. Craig Roberts was also amazing, and the chemistry that he and Paul Rudd had together as Ben and Trevor was fantastic. Selena Gomez impressed me as well. Oddly enough, the only other movie with Craig Roberts in it that I’ve seen is Neighbors, and the only movie I’ve seen Selena Gomez in is Neighbors 2… but don’t worry, The Fundamentals of Caring is light years ahead of those. I didn’t want to give too much of the plot away, but obviously each character has their own personal issues that they’re dealing with and that they’re sort of forced to face head on while on the road trip. This trope is in no way new. There are tons of “finding myself on a road trip” movies, but somehow this one felt different and it never lost me along the way. I found it refreshing to watch a movie where two male characters bond but that wasn’t a raunchy bromance-comedy (not that there’s anything wrong with those). It was also nice that each character got their own journey. Nothing about the movie felt unnecessary or extra. I could definitely rewatch this, probably a few times, and I’ve already been recommending it to people.


If you’ve seen this movie, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!