A notable month not just for the films I have seen that we will be hearing more about in awards season, but for the fact that I saw my hundredth film of the year.
Nocturnal Animals: Fashion designer Tom Ford decided to make a movie, A Single Man; it was amazingly brilliant if a little depressing. Colin Firth was better than in The King’s Speech where he won an Oscar. Seven years passed, Ford’s involvement in the film industry didn’t seem to go beyond dressing James Bond so it appeared he had scratched the directing itch and walked away, far from it. His first film was good, Nocturnal Animals is outstanding. The story within a story narrative is brilliantly handled but he brilliance lies not in this subtext, but the overriding subtext. As you would expect Amy Adams is the standout, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson all provide great support.
Arrival: Denis Villeneuve enters the world of Sci-Fi, but there is so much more going on than a simple alien first contact movie. Amy Adams second Oscar worthy film of the month. The cinematography is stunning without being showy with resorting to pretty pictures. It is impossible to say any more without giving away key plot points.
The Light Between Oceans: A childless couple find an seemingly orphaned baby, everything is great, until it gets complicated. A beautifully shot film with amazing performances from Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz fails to reach the heights it could have because of an overly contrived story and an overwrought score.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years: Brilliant documentary, I don’t need to give a synopsis as the somewhat awkward title says it all. A mix of archive footage and talking heads that is both fun and informative.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Cards on the table I am not a big Harry Potter fan, I have seen the films and enjoyed them but was never a massive fan. The Art Deco New York setting looks great but the direction lacks any flair or originality. The best characters and performances all come from the supporting players: Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler and Samantha Morton.
A United Kingdom: If like me, your only knowledge of director Amma Asante was from her part in Grange Hill in the 1980’s then Belle (2013) would have come a little out the blue. But if like me you had seen Belle, you would have been eagerly anticipating her next firm. A United Kingdom does not disappoint. Set in the 1940’s, the true story of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (modern-day Botswana) and his marriage to Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) a white Englishwoman. At a time when many British people are developing a rose tinted picture of what the British Empire was, this film comes as a timely reminder of how poorly we behaved as a nation in the past. The story of tolerance and understanding is very timely.
Paterson: Nothing much happens in this movie, but it all happens in a beautiful and poetic way as you would expect from director Jim Jarmusch. This is somewhat appropriate as the film centres around an armature poet. There isn’t enough going on for many viewers, but I loved it. Adam Driver is always interesting and watchable, here he is also really good.
Allied: Given the setting of the first half of the film, comparisons with Casablanca are understandable, the film actually has more in common with The English Patient. It doesn’t live up to either of these two but is better than many critics will have you believe. Brad Pitt is good, Marion Cotillard is sensational.