Nocturnal Animals is as close you can get to a modern Shakespearean tragedy. In the second film from director/fashion designer Tom Ford, you notice that this is a man who is multitalented and his movies have an aesthetic that would have been perfect for the golden age of Hollywood. There is something so va va voom about everything he shoots. It helps to work with an outstanding cast of actors including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon, in what I would call one of the most fascinating movies for 2016. Nocturnal Animals is a harsh, dark tale, where there are no such things as a happy ending.
If boxing movies were the art of cinemas drug of choice, by now the medium would have overdosed on the amount of heavy usage this sport has gotten for the big screen. This year already, there was Hands of Stone, which was preceded by last years Southpaw and Creed. The contemporary boxers tale is almost down for the count. Struggling to stand for an eight count is Bleed for This, the inspiring story of Providence, Rhode Island’s Vinnny Pazienza, the middleweight champion, who was involved in a tragic car accident severing part of his spinal cord in his neck, rendering him to a metal halo apparatus, and the inability to fight in the ring. The only person who didn’t count the “Pazmanian Devil” out was the man himself, and surprisingly enough, that’s the attitude director Ben Younger takes on, as he wills Bleed for This to a surprisingly strong result.
If Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was released in 2007, it would be an eye opening message, to those unaware learning about the post-traumatic stress that men & women serving our military experience when they came home from the Iraq War. Fast-forward to its release today, and what you get is a contrived and disappointing film from Oscar winner Ang Lee. This feels slightly current, but late to the party after Donald Trump’s election, with an anti-war message. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walkis an attempt at a different kind of storytelling, but fails on many levels, with a contradictory message behind the surface.
The Handmaiden is everything that movies can and should be. It is an erotic, violent, and shocking piece of cinema that has all kinds of twisted motives, making for one of the most memorable viewing experiences of 2016. In the hands of an artist such as Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Stoker), there’s many aspects of the film worthy of multiple viewings, especially because he is a master of the natural skill of storytelling. Broken into three parts, the narrative structure develops like the touch of a painter, with a mixture of broad and soft strokes along the way. The Handmaiden is a sure handed and magnificent piece of cinema.