As I sit down to write out why Nocturnal Animals is my pick of this week, I realize I know next to nothing about the film. I know it stars Amy Adams and that it's gotten some critical buzz. I also really like its title. But other than that - nothing. Yet here I am ready to make it my pick. It's not like one of those weeks where there is nothing else coming out either. There’s a Doctor Who Christmas special, an Oscar-nominated Mel Gibson flick, and a couple of wonderful Criterion releases. Yet here I am, picking something I know nothing about. It is a really cool title though.
A little research later, I find that Nocturnal Animals was directed by Tom Ford whose only other directorial credit is A Single Man, which I have not seen. It stars Amy Adams plus Isla Fisher, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney, and Armie Hammer - that’s a good cast. It's about an art-gallery owner who is haunted by her ex-husband’s novel, a violent thriller that might just be a personal threat - that’s a pretty ho-hum plot ,which has been done before but in the right hands could be a lot of fun. It's got a 73 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 67 on Metacritic - that’s not great, but well within my margins of keeping me interested.
So, yeah, I can stand by my initial desire to make this my pick of the week. I like the actors (this is the second week in a row that Amy Adams has starred in my pick) and the plot could go either way but the critical assessment is pretty good. I still dig that title, too.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Mildred Pierce (Criterion Collection): Joan Crawford stars in this Michael Curtiz adaptation of the excellent James M. Cain novel about a successful restaurateur and her conniving daughter. It's an excellent melodrama with noir undertones. It won Crawford an Oscar and solidified her comeback.
Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson’s big comeback stars Andrew Garfield as an Army medic who served during the Battle of Okinawa and became the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Bad Santa 2: In 2003’s Bad Santa Billy Bob Thornton starred as a wise-cracking, heavily drinking, womanizing thief who dressed up as Santa every year so he could rob shopping malls. It was a sleeper hit and a lot of fun. The sequel was a dud with both critics and audiences.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio: The most recent Christmas special gets a release. It was a really fun episode, but I think I’ll wait until they box it up with one of the seasons.
Psychomania (Arrow Video): The leader of a motorbike gang believes that the secret to immortality is that you have to commit suicide while firmly believing you will come back. Vintage '70s biker flick gets a high grade upgrade courtesy of Arrow.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: The film that put Pedro Almodóvar on the international movie map. It's about a women who attempts to kill herself with a batch of sleeping pills but is interrupted by a series of madcap events. I’ve not seen it in a very long time, but my memories are very fond and I’m looking forward to the revisit.