Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Plot: In the midst of her marital crisis, a wealthy art gallery owner (Adams) receives a draft of her ex-husband’s (Gyllenhaal) new novel (IMDB.com).

Rating: 5/10

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!***

Overall: First, the opening scene was cringe-worthy (in my opinion) because it opens with an older, fat, naked, dancing woman (or a couple of them? can’t really tell). I actually ended up fast-forwarding through that. It was just a very strange, uncomfortable 10 minutes of film. This film is very vague and it jumps between the present, flashbacks and the novel Susan (Adams) is reading.

The novel that she is reading is very strange. It entails the storyline of a man (Gyllenhaal) and his wife (Fisher) and daughter (Bamber) embarking on a road trip for a family vacation. Along the way, they are taunted by three mischievous rednecks, which ends up with the man rear-ending the rednecks’ car. They all pull over and it turns into a brawl leaving the man with one of the rednecks, while the other two rednecks drive off with the wife and daughter. Essentially, the wife and daughter aren’t found until later for which they are found raped and murdered. The man teams up with the Sheriff (Shannon) who is later revealed to be dying and decides not to play things by the book. The two seek out the perpetrators in the man’s wife and daughter’s murders.

After reading the script, Susan sends Edward (Gyllenhaal), her ex-husband and writer of the novel she was reading, an email asking to meet, for which he responds asking when and where. The film ends with her sitting at a restaurant waiting for him.

Now, I feel like the script was supposed to be symbolic of Adams and Gyllenhaal’s relationship throughout their marriage. For example, the wife and daughter in the script were taken away by other men for which could be symbolic of the loss of both his marriage to Adams and the fact that they had a child together which was also “taken away” when she left him for someone else (Hammer). There’s a part in the script where Gyllenhaal’s character screams and cries, “I should’ve fought! I should’ve fought harder for them!” to which he is referring to his wife and daughter. I feel this is symbolic to Adams character in real life leaving Gyllenhaal for Hammer. I thought it was interesting how her life seemingly turned out exactly the way she said she didn’t want it to. During one of the flashbacks, she’s fighting with Gyllenhaal (and at this point, you [the viewer] is left with the assumption that she’s cheating and ready to run off with the man with whom she’s cheating with) and she says things like, “You’re so soft and gentle and romantic,” and that she’s “not creative [like Gyllenhaal]” and doesn’t want to be with another artist because he seemingly sacrificed his education and their future (financially, I’m assuming) together. I interpreted this to come full circle when Gyllenhaal’s character in the script screams and cried “I should’ve fought! I should’ve fought harder for them!” I think the wife and daughter dying in the script was symbolic of the part in real life where you assume that Adam’s character aborts a pregnancy and brings Hammer’s character along to comfort her, for which Gyllenhaal’s character shows up and is devastated — the film doesn’t go into much detail as to what happened after that.  Also, at the end of the script, it fades out to Gyllenhaal badly beaten and laying in the desert sand (for which you’re left to assume that he either died or was never found). I thought that might’ve been symbolic of either him dying of an illness or potentially dying by suicide. Especially when he seemingly doesn’t show up to meet Susan (Adams) at dinner after she read the script.

It’s difficult for me to actually formulate an opinion when I’m left with so many questions. I think from a figurative standpoint and being a writer myself, I definitely believe the script Gyllenhaal’s character wrote was symbolic of the turmoil between him and Adams’ character. Adams’ character is shown having a daughter in real life for whom she calls after reading a portion of the script that brings her to tears.  It’s also assumed that Hammer’s character is cheating on Adams’ character because he’s traveling a lot instead of wanting to spend time with her and when Adams calls him, he’s in an elevator with a young brunette and when Adams hears the elevator valet ask something to the woman, there’s tension between Hammer and Adams. It was just a really bizarre film and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I’ve been sitting on this review for a day now and I’m not even sure how to interpret it. I gave it five out of ten stars simply for the supposed symbolism of it. But overall, I don’t think it was very cohesive and it was way too subjective to interpret to actually enjoy.

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Blade Runner 2049 (2017)


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright
Plot: A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years (IMDB.com).

Rating: 6/10

Overall: I have not seen the previous films of the Blade Runner franchise, but since I saw this one was getting high praise, it shouldn’t matter. Long story short, it does matter – for a couple of reasons. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel like i needed more of a back story despite the long paragraph intro (which I might add that I hate – either add a narrator or SHOW it). My other complaint is that I felt like the movie dragged for an eternity trying to get to the main point of the film and then backtracked just to set it up for a sequel, which makes me angry as a viewer because I feel as if I just wasted three hours of my life watching a film that took 2 hours just to make a point, just to have 10 minutes of maybe 30-second fight sequences, just to leave us with an open ending and a bajillion questions. I can’t say I will see whatever is to come next in this franchise, and I honestly can’t say that I will even go back and watch the others. My other problem was that it was hard for me to really grasp the whole concept of the “divide” between the replicants, the older robot things (I forgot what they’re called – or are the older ones called replicants? I don’t even care at this point…) and the humans. I feel like it had a Terminator meets iRobot meets Chappie vibe to it. It’s an overrated plot, and while the concept has potential to be interesting, I feel it took the overrated, “Hollywood” path.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)


Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holcroft

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy (IMDB.com).

Rating: 9/10

Overall: Still has the great humor and action sequences as the first film, though I don’t think it was as good. It was interesting how the writers found a way to bring back Harry (Firth), so it was cool to have him come back. I think the only complaints I have are the CGI stuff for the action sequences – it’s almost overdone. I also think there were some very weak points in the plot. As always I feel like writers these days don’t really question their plots or look for loopholes/loose ends.

On a side note, it was a fun date night film to see, especially when the first one was also your first movie date with your significant other 🙂

mother! (2017)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris

Plot: A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence (IMDB.com).

Rating: 0/10

Overall: I can’t even begin to describe this film. It’s misleading, disturbing (not in a good way), and blatantly false. It is one of THE worst films I’ve ever seen. I had watched a couple of interviews of Darren Aronofsky and Jennifer Lawrence talking about what the film represents from an extreme metaphorical stance, but after watching it and reading the interpretations of what certain people and things were supposed to represent, it’s disturbing in the way that Aronofsky interprets religious, political and societal issues — some of which are the foundations to many Christian religions. One could argue that it’s a literal interpretation of those issues, but I think it tanked. I gave it zero stars because honestly, I didn’t even want to see it. I only went because someone else paid for my ticket and I was able to spend time with family and friends. For those of you thinking it’s a thriller/mystery — it’s not. It’s a giant metaphor that quite literally depicts certain aspects of Mother Nature/earth, communion/Catholicism and gender roles. Also don’t recommend for those who are rooted strongly in their religion or extreme feminists.

On a side note, this might sound harsh, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Aronofsky single-handedly ruins Jennifer Lawrence’s career in film.

IT (2017)

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Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skargard, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot: Based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel, the story follows the disappearance of children  who discover a supernatural experience revolving around a clown named Pennywise, who forces them to face their personal phobias in the process.

Rating: 8/10

Overall: So…I’ve never seen the original and I haven’t read the book. With that being said, I heard from multiple sources that the original film wasn’t scary, and being someone who doesn’t scare too easily, I went in with that expectation: that it won’t be too scary. However, with a phobia of clowns but a love for being scared — this film does a great job of catapulting you into the mother of all nightmares. I never understood why there was fear of sewer drains and red balloons, and now it all makes sense. I thought the film was great (at least for the parts I kept my eyes open for HAHA!). My biggest issue with the film is essentially the ending and the actual concept of “IT”. I think in a sense its ingenious. But at the same time, I find it has a lot of downfalls and is rather a letdown. So from a writing standpoint, I think it’s a failure. From a film, emotional and overall entertainment perspective, I think it’s brilliant (and traumatizing). In fact, I didn’t even want to write this review purely for the fear of what sorts of movie posters will pop up in the Google search.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

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Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Penelope Cruz, Elodie Yung, Gary Oldman

Plot: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time (IMDB.com).

Rating: 8/10

Overall: I definitely think this movie was a bit over-hyped than it should’ve been. However, with that being said, I still found it to be satisfyingly hilarious and action-packed. I think the greatest downfall of this movie (like most action-comedies) is the corny underlying love storyline. It takes away from the action and comedy of the film. The only other complaint I have is the very anti-climatic plot the entire film is based around. I feel like I’m nitpicking this film, but for something that had so much hype, I think it could’ve been executed a little better than it was. Overall, I’d recommend it — I suppose my expectations were a little higher than I expected.

Baby Driver (2017)

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Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Lily James
Plot: After working to pay back a debt to a crime boss, Baby, a talented young escape driver is coerced to partake in one last heist that places his newfound love for a diner waitress, Debora, on the line. He risks everything to salvage a normal life with her.
Rating: 7/10
Overall: I wanted more. That sounds greedy, but as someone who, as a viewer, wants to be entertained, and as a writer, wants well developed characters and plots – I wanted more. The action was great and to some extent, this film bears some similarities to the 2011 film, “Drive” (featuring Ryan Gosling). I think from a simplistic standpoint, I’d say that this film was satisfactory. I wanted to know more about Baby. I wanted to know more about Debora. I wanted to know more about Doc. I think for the time devoted to developing the characters, they do an OK job, but as always, I want to know more. I think the most irritating question I had was, “Where the heck did Baby learn to drive like that?” It’s a question that lingers all throughout the film and leaves you dissatisfied at the end. Also, I wanted to know more about Joseph – Baby’s “foster parent” who is deaf (which seems sort of symbolic in some way that I can’t quite figure out because Baby has a problem with his ear post-accident). There are just so many lingering questions and I think that was the biggest pitfall of this film. Great performances by the cast and lots of action sequences. But it was hard to truly root for people when you can never truly grasp the full potential the character has to offer. I liked the dynamic of Buddy and Darling duo – I wanted to know more about them (aside from the assumptions Bats lays out at the diner). We don’t learn much about Debora, except her love for music, which is what sparks the interest of Baby to begin with. I thought it was a cute and refreshing take on it – sort of 80s-esque. Not disappointing, but not satisfying. I’m a huge fan of the cast – so ultimately, yes, if you don’t care about character development and an overrated/predictable plot (AKA you just want the action and humor), I’d definitely recommend this film.