Cert: 12A Runtime: 116 mins Director: Denis Villeneuve Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma and Forest Whitaker
Why are they here?
Denis Villeneuve is probably one of the best working directors today. He has gone from making rather personal films to the upcoming Blade Runner 2. I am rather concerned he may become another studio stooge rather than the imaginative filmmaker that made Enemy. Arrival is his latest film, probably a great step before Blade Runner. It has received very favourable reviews and potentially one of the better movies of this sluggish year. So what is Arrival about? When twelve spacecraft land at seemingly random locations all over Earth, US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits two experts to handle the ‘first contact’. Military scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is teamed with Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) – a linguist whose mission is to determine the aliens’ intentions. This is an urgent task. Although the craft appear to pose no immediate threat, their arrival sparks widespread public alarm and heightens international tensions between old foes. What Louise doesn’t anticipate is that the work will illuminate a tragedy in her own past.
The dread-laden music, thoughtful cinematography, subtlety and pace imply something deeply intelligent and thoughtful is about to happen. It oozes Villeneuve style and flair. Arrival asks the audience to decipher its own cinematic language, whilst Louise deciphers the aliens language. Will you have the same emotional journey that Louise does? Villeneuve clearly hopes so – but that all depends entirely on how much the film pulls you in emotionally (it didn’t for me I’m afraid). Beyond the emotion it tries to show, its ideas and ponderings don’t have much substance – there’s no real insight, take-home message, honesty about the human condition or anything else to really chew on beyond a few reflective thoughts.
I think the thing that makes it seem more intelligent/emotional than it actually is, is the clever use of flashbacks. It has a powerful effect – juxtaposing some current situation with some whimsical emotional moment. Any great film should have a few interesting answers to that question. With Arrival, I’m struggling to find an honest answer that does justice to the quality of the production. The script really over shines the whole film. Amy Adams does a great job as always, but I do feel like she does carry the whole film. Jeremy Renner was very disposable and could have been played by anyone! Forest Whitaker falls under the same category. The way this review falls out it sounds like I hated it. I didn’t at all, but Arrival left me rather hollow and I had no emotion leaving it. Villeneuve made a solid film no doubt, but when you compare Arrival to his other films it’s not his best. Arrival is worth anyones time though, it truly is a great sci fi.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 99 mins Director: John Dowe Cast: Louis Theroux, Marty Rathbun, Andrew Perez and Conner Stark
I’m past embittered. I don’t care
If you don’t all ready know Louis Theroux is a hero of man. He is one of the all time great documentarians, he has tackled very serious issues but can also show us the weird and wonderful world we live in. For ten plus years Louis has been interested in Scientology and has attempted to make a documentary about them. We have finally arrived at that point and it’s also his first feature length documentary too. So what is it about? With a lifetime of experience dealing with eccentric, unpalatable and unexpected human behaviour, the unassuming Theroux won’t take no for an answer when his request to enter the Church of Scientology headquarters is turned down. Inspired by the Church’s alleged techniques, and aided by former Scientology members-turned-whistleblowers, Theroux uses actors to recreate incidents people claim to have experienced as members in an attempt to better understand the way it operates. However, in a bizarre twist, it becomes clear that Louis is not the only one making a documentary.
Louis Theroux always takes a different perspective on subjects, due to the lack of access to the church Louis re-enacts very disturbing and bizarre situations within the church. For me it wasn’t the documentary I expected it was slightly off par for me. I have investigated Scientology a lot over the last few years and it wasn’t anything new for me. If you are unaware of the church it’s slightly muddled and not that informative. You need a basic understanding of the church before entering My Scientology Movie. Louis seemed to have new ways of talking to people through out the film, a lot of long pauses especially. Marty Rathbun a seasoned ex-Scientologist really does give you more perspective of the darker side of the church which was very interesting. The re-enactments of the Hole were very disturbing and credit has to be given to Andrew Perez playing David Miscavige. He really was Miscavige in carnet, very disturbing. I am only basing his portrayal on what limited video I have seen him in. Very chilling stuff! In time I do hope Louis makes another feature documentary. But for him this was slightly disappointing.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 117 mins Director: Tom Ford Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Jenna Malone, Michael Sheen and Armie Hammer
When you love someone you can’t just throw it away
Tom Ford’s return to film-making is a very much anticipated warm welcome. A Single Man came out seven years ago! It was tragic, beautiful, artistic and it had feeling. The sophomore curse has grabbed many a director maybe this why Tom took so long? Regardless Nocturnal Animals is a book written by Austin Wright under the title Tony & Susan (our two main protagonists). It’s a great book and I would highly recommend anyone reading it, this review will not contain comparisons of the two. This is a stellar cast line-up and probably the best of the year might I add! So the big question what is it all about? LA art gallery owner Susan (Amy Adams) is prosperous and successful but deeply unhappy in her faltering marriage to emotionally distant Walker (Armie Hammer). Out of the blue, she receives the manuscript of a novel by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), who she dumped 19 years earlier. As she starts to read, the story springs to life on screen. It’s a gruesome, symbolism-laden West Texan revenge tale, beginning with a man named Tony (Gyllenhaal), his wife Susan (Isla Fisher) and their daughter being terrorized by a gang of good ol’ boys led by the sinister Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
Nocturnal Animals is a tale of redemption, revenge, love and cruelty. Multi layered stories are very difficult to capture, but Tom Ford makes it look like a walk in the park! The three tales are woven so well you forget sometimes you are in a different story. Obviously all three tales are utterly different. Tom Ford truly has survived the sophomore curse with Nocturnal Animals. In Ford’s stellar and meticulously made film, even side conversations have substance and pictures on walls are connected to the story line. Certain scenes alone make the film worth watching. This is a gorgeous film to look at as well, Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography echoing the story’s bleakness and the brutality of Edward’s supposed veiled threat to Susan. The combination of the visuals with Abel Korzeniowski’s dream-like score heightens the sense of escapism felt by Susan as she reads Edward’s novel.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives a great performance. It’s very seldom seeing him play such a weak character. The fact he plays two different characters shows his gravitas. Tony Hastings is a character I can relate too a lot, probably this is why I connect with this film/book a lot. Amy Adams gives a good performance also, she really doesn’t say much but her terror and fear is shown so well through her body language. Michael Shannon was on point as always never breaks character, he was utterly insane! I would be very intimidated if I was ever questioned by him. Aaron Taylor-Johnson surprised me a lot in Nocturnal Animals. I actually enjoyed his performance, he was so deranged and different for him. I would be more than happy to see more performances like this from him. Nocturnal Animals is a great film that deserves your attention. Let’s hope Tom Ford gets cracking on another film sooner rather than later.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 100 mins Director: Ken Loach Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Brianna Shann and Dylan McKiernan
I am a citizen, no more and no less
Ken Loach is a master British film maker. He has always portrayed the current status of our society for decades. I, Daniel Blake won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. Ever since it has grabbed my attention! Since the film has been released politicians, celebrities and us the people have been talking about the impact of this film in our hundreds. How can a film made by Ken Loach do this? The simple answer is Ken Loach knows his country! So what is I, Daniel Blake about? Daniel (Dave Johns) is a friendly 59-year-old joiner who is unable to work due to bad health. However the Department of Work and Pensions overrides the doctor’s report and refuses to award benefits. Daniel must be seen to look for a job although, on doctor’s orders, he cannot accept any work. It’s an absurd predicament that reaches Kafkaesque proportions as the hero becomes buried in red tape and jobsworth employees. As characters try to help each other despite their own troubles, Loach also offers humor and hope.
I, Daniel Blake is probably the most important film about the British welfare system ever. Before I get all political on you. This is such a simple film with a powerful message. Loach really takes the imagery and smacks you over the head with it. The dialogue is simple but you see the tension and the anxiety in the characters facial expressions. Dave Johns and Hayley Squires chemistry flows through the film. We all need a Daniel Blake in our lives if you ask me. Our society is full of greed and selfishness we forget about people. What this film has taught me is not to be as judgmental and help more. One scene had me in bits, I wept like a child during the food bank scene.I can see why I, Daniel Blake received a 15 minute standing ovation and the Palme d’or. It’s a film for the people! It’s not all doom and gloom, there is a great element of comedy here. Dave Johns delivers great one liners through out. Just making people smile can make their day better. Ken Loach has asked for change in our welfare system and I whole heartedly agree with him. The state are treating people like cattle and only giving them a few moments of their time. The whole points system for disability allowance is a farce and needs improving. The lives of the most vulnerable can be at stake. Truly I, Daniel Blake is a wake up message for our current Torrie government? You may say that I, Daniel Blake is a work of fiction. But this is how life is in Britain currently. Watch this film people!
Cert: 15 Runtime: 122 mins Director: Matt Whitecross Cast: Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs and Peggie Gallagher
I think you’re the same as me, we see things they’ll never see
What can be said about Oasis that hasn’t been said before? Truly the most influential band of their time and inspired a generation. Supersonic is the documentary of the journey that the lads from Manchester took to become the biggest band in the world. Music documentaries are not my favourite, but when it’s about Oasis it has to be watched. So what is it about? From the council estates of Manchester to the biggest venues in the land, the rise of Oasis was nothing short of meteoric. In three short years, these Britpop superstars conquered both the charts and the hearts of millions, becoming the defining band of the nineties. At their heart was the fractious relationship between brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher, which fuelled Oasis’s amazing creativity but also proved to be their undoing.
Supersonic is a great documentary for any Oasis fan, from a novice to a hardcore fan you’ll enjoy it. Probably the funniest documentary you’ll witness ever, Noel & Liam are utterly hilarious. The banter they provide is on point, you forget how funny they are. Under the comedic underbelly you get a wider portrait of their lives prior to the band. Peggie their mother is such a focal part of the documentary, she shows you the softer side of the brother. Such great humility is shown throughout the film. The footage and the narration from various people worked so well. It’s a wave of nostalgia to begin but it falls flat in the middle but it finishes with a bang. The reality of knowing we will never see a band like Oasis again is tragic. But you can re-live these great times in Supersonic. Great documentary and one hell of a ride.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 112 mins Director: Tate Taylor Cast: Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson and Luke Evans
What you can see can hurt you
We all know when you write a summers best seller you are bound to get a movie deal straight after. Most recently Gone Girl (which I loved). The Girl on the Train is a book I avoided but had heard very good things about. The development of the book to a film was fast with the casting of Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux sealed the deal for me. I wasn’t necessarily sold with Tate Taylor directing, The Help is a great film but he didn’t come across a thriller director for me. So what is The Girl on the Train about? Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is a divorcee reeling from the recent split with her husband. Travelling on the train every morning during her commute, she finds herself consumed with a seemingly perfect couple whom she passes on a daily basis. However, when she unwittingly becomes witness to something truly shocking as part of her journey, Rachel is drawn into a mystery that will see her life spiral even further out of control.
First things first this is no Gone Girl! The Girl on the Train was not what I expected it to be. We had so much dialogue and no action or suspense. You basically sit there and watch other people sit for almost two hours. Some scenes I didn’t even look at the screen I just looked at empty seats in the front of the cinema and listened to the dialogue. The actual footage was so unnecessary sometimes you could have had a dark screen and we still would have understood what was going on. The characters came across as flat and two dimensional, you sometimes had a scrap of life from them. Literally I felt they just read the script and didn’t really try to bring the characters to life. Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux were above par, not a season best performance from either. Luke Evans really was a second rate character, unlike him in High-Rise he is forgettable. Haley Bennett gave a good performance, Megan seemed to be the deepest character out of the bunch.
The plot did grab my attention a few times, but Tate Taylor didn’t really continue the momentum of the film. The middle part of the film is particularly slow-paced. In the beginning, it’s still intriguing to see the helpless alcoholic divorcée having a breakdown or the fragile nanny having a meltdown when confronted with her emotions but when these things are happening for the third or fourth time, these scenes lose their initial efficiency.A great mystery thriller usually keeps me pondering, wondering, and enthralled throughout. This ‘Girl on the Train’ however, sucks all your energy out and leaves you feeling empty. I felt exhausted sitting through this film. Apart from a couple of shockingly brutal scenes, there is really nothing in this film that would get your heart pumping. It even only took me 15 minutes to figure out the killer. Opinions on the film are interesting too, it’s a love or hate kind of movie.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 97 mins Director: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know shit
Swiss Army Man aka the fart movie is finally out in the UK. Many booos and walkouts happened during the festival season. But the other half of the cinematic community adore this film. Daniel Radcliffe shrugs away from the Potter vision and attempts another daring role. Directed by two guys called Dan, Swiss Army Man has caught my interest since the beginning of the year. So I guess you wonder what it’s about? We follow the tale of Hank (Paul Dano), who is stranded on a desert island and has given up all hope of ever making it home. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore. The two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams. Bursting with limitless creativity in both form and content, Swiss Army Man creates a world like no other.
Swiss Army Man is probably the most individually unique movies of the year. It’s more than a movie about cheap comedic farts. It’s clearly a metaphor for how we keep our emotions inside and never release our true feelings towards anything. I can relate a lot to the context of Swiss Army Man, when I was younger I really never expressed myself properly. Swiss Army Man really shows that you should dare to dream and go for it. Dano & Radcliffe are remarkable. Their characters share an undeniable chemistry while stumbling through a forest that pushes their boundaries and in turn forces them to survive in the most imaginatively bizarre way possible. Both performances feel grounded with an everlasting, passionate eye for detail. Radcliffe’s character, Manny, though just a dead body, slowly expands into something much more with an exuberant display of emotion. Dano is impressive as the lonely Hank, presenting a calm and feeble side to the character that connects us as an audience to the duo on-screen.
Swiss Army Man is a movie about whatever you want it to be about really. It could be a movie about friendship. It could be a movie about how wonderful and sad life is all at the same time. It could be about creativity and being yourself and original. There are probably loads more but those are for you to find out. I laughed so many times during this movie (yes even at some of the farting parts) and while the movie can briefly become emotional, there is never really time for any sort of bad feelings. The comedic elements combine very well with the sentimental nature of the film, hard to think when you hear that a film about a man contemplating suicide also features a corpse with incessant flatulence and the ability to use an erection as a compass. You either go with it and enjoy the film or find it too obscure and most likely end up hating it. Watch this movie!!!!