Daily Archives: June 12, 2021

Cinema Saturday, 6/12/21

Small Town Crime

Year: 2017
Runtime: R
Rated: 1h 31m

Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

Writers: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

Stars: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer

Initial: Generally a fan of John Hawkes. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a few more movies. Also I’m delving into a bit of neo-noir.

Production Notes: Eshom and Ian Nelms also wrote and directed the Mel Gibson Santa Claus film, Fatman.

What Did I Think:
First off, this movie isn’t as funny as the trailer wants to make you think it is. It’s not grim-dark—there are moments of levity—but it’s not hilarious either. That’s a nit-pick with the trailer which I didn’t bother watching until I started writing this post.

In general, this film is fine. Mike, Hawke’s alcoholic former cop, is a flawed character and prone to doing short-sighted and ill-advised things. The plot unspools in a logical manner. Filmed in Utah, the movie has the feel of “small town” being one of the rural-ish areas of California, rather than, say, Small Town, Iowa. Indeed the Nelms brothers were inspired by Central Valley, California. The characters really are the highlight of film. The cast and writing give the characters a little something that is more memorable than the rest of the movie.


Nocturnal Animals

Year: 2016
Runtime: 1h 56m
Rated: R

Director: Tom Ford

Writers: Tom Ford, Austin Wright

Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

Initial: A much-lauded neo-noir film that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while.

Production Notes: Being face-blind means not realizing that Amy Adams and Isla Fisher are different people…

What Did I Think:
I wanted to like this movie. It has things that I like: Jake Gyllenhaal, a writer character being meta, a West Texas setting (at least partially). But there’s something about Nocturnal Animals that leaves me a little cold. Maybe it was the obese naked cheerleaders at the beginning… Okay, I get that choice, sort of. It’s meant to present Adam’s character of Susan Marrow as that sort of upper class elite museum person that will present distasteful art in the name of being “challenging.” Unfortunately, it presents Tom Ford and this movie in that way too.

Nocturnal Animals is a revenge movie. Susan’s ex-husband, Edward (Gyllenhaal), sends her his manuscript—a novel about a man whose wife and daughter are raped and killed after a car-jacking. The character in the novel (also Gyllenhaal), feeling helpless and weak, is bullied onto a revenge path by a dying investigator. In the “real world” portion of the movie, Susan reads the novel and we are shown in flashbacks how she had wronged Edward during their marriage. Susan feels that perhaps she can restart her relationship with Edward, fleeing her unhappy life, but Edward has his revenge too. It’s a mostly people being awful to each other. No wonder I didn’t care for it.