Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Story Within A Story

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Come on and join the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

A new month! And with it, a new theme for Thursday Movie Picks! And this one is quite interesting: A Story Within A Story. I like stories about storytelling, but I feel like they mostly come in novels as opposed to films. Makes sense given their respective mediums, I suppose. Amazingly, only one of my picks this week is based on a novel, and that one (the first) is TERRIBLE.

Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford, 2016) This piece of utter, complete dreck is one of the worst films I've ever seen in a theater. A Los Angeles art gallery owner (Amy Adams) receives an invitation to dinner along with a manuscript from her ex-husband - his about-to-be-published novel, dedicated to her and named "Nocturnal Animals", his pet name for her. The novel (the content of which we see acted out by Adams look-alike Isla Fisher and Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the husband in both versions, among others) is sadistically violent and full of raw emotion. As she reads the book, she reminisces about her relationship with her ex. It sure is pretty, but Ford never gets a good handle on what he wants to say about... well, about anything really: Masculinity, violence, femininity, beauty, art, commerce, love, social mores, America. He puts the audience through the ringer and ends up with a one of those films where the plot makes sense, but nothing that happens actually makes any sense - if you know what I mean.

Definitely, Maybe (Adam Brooks, 2008) AKA How I Met Your Mother, The Movie. Abigail Breslin has been sent home from school after her first sex ed class. Naturally, she asks her father Ryan Reynolds the story of how he and her mom (currently getting divorced) met. He decides to tell her, but he changes the names (and some facts) to make a guessing game out of it: Which of the various women he meets is actually the mother? With Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz, and Isla Fisher as the three options, Definitely, Maybe is one of those silly rom-coms that may not be "good", but that I kinda love anyway. It's sweet, and loves its characters, but doesn't let any of them off the hook for their at times pretty terrible behavior. And yes, Breslin is unbelievably mature for her age, and it's nearly impossible to believe Reynolds at this age as a father. But the endings - both when we find out who the mother is, and when we find out who Daddy was "really" "meant to be with" - play like gangbusters.

The Fall (Tarsem, 2006) It is the 1920s. A depressed, injured stuntman meets a young girl in a hospital. In a ploy to get her to get him more drugs, he tells her a story about five mythical heroes, which we watch come to life through her imagination, which naturally merges the story with reality. A passion project for director Tarsem, the amount of detail, care, and love poured into every single frame is evident - this is one GORGEOUS-looking film. And if the narrative story itself ends up being a bit less than the sum of its parts, then so be it; the visual storytelling is a treat.

12 comments:

  1. We matched on Nocturnal Animals. Definitely, Maybe was cute. Very rom-comy but I enjoyed it enough. I haven't seen your 3rd pick.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've avoided Nocturnal Animals one because of Amy Adams, most definitely not a fan, and the second because of the negative reviews I've heard about it and yours doesn't look like it will change my opinion.

    You used the right word for Definitely, Maybe-sweet. A nice little rom-com with a terrific cast.

    We match!!! The Fall is an interesting beast, quite different in its way.

    The Fall came to me right away but I struggled for my other two, by luck I saw my first about two weeks ago...just in time!

    Hellzapoppin’ (1941)- Projectionist Shemp Howard (ya one of the Three Stooges) is running a filmed dance number that turns into a funhouse ride collapsing into Hell where the dancers are tortured by demons until comics Olsen & Johnson arrive in a taxi and disrupt the scene. They call the scriptwriter in and we discover we’re in Miracle Pictures Studios (their slogan “If it’s a good picture, it’s a Miracle!”) where the boys are attempting to translate their Broadway hit show into a movie. Crazy patchwork quilt of a film throws everything, including a kitchen sink! into the mix and comes up with unrestrained lunacy that might make little linear sense since it bounces back and forth between stories but adds up to a very enjoyable viewing experience. Good cast with a standout Martha Raye. The source play was the longest running musical in history up to that point.

    The Locket (1946) - Because of a false accusation of theft as a young girl a woman (Laraine Day) sets out for revenge on the world becoming a kleptomaniac, chronic liar, and eventually a murderess. The story is told in layered flashbacks (flashbacks within flashbacks) from different points of view. Complex thriller has many noirish touches and a good cast including a young Robert Mitchum.

    The Fall (2006)-In a hospital ward in 20’s Los Angeles a young girl with a broken arm meets a seriously injured stunt man (Lee Pace) who as their friendship grows weaves elaborate stories in extravagant settings of different men who share a mission. As each story ends he asks her to forage in the hospital infirmary for morphine to help him endure his pain. Cryptic and challenging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amy Adams has nothing to do in Nocturnal Animals but look glamorously upset while reading a book. She's good at that, but MAN is it beneath her talents.

      I've never seen Hellzapoppin' in full, although I've seen a lot of the bits from it. I've got to find it so I can watch the whole thing. The Locket sounds good - will have to check it out!

      Delete
  3. Definitely Maybe was sweet, and The Fall really is a gorgeous movie. I love Nocturnal Animals though I understand why it is so divisive!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have not seen Nocturnal Animals and it's funny how some love it and you hate it. When I see it, I will see which side I fall onto. I saw the rom-com...it's ok but nothing earth shattering and at times, irritating. The Fall looks great! I will have to see if I can find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Fall is absolutely stunning to look at, if a bit slow and cryptic.

      Delete
  5. Nocturnal Animals is just awful but Shannon was so wonderful in that film

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's easily the best part of it, although I also enjoyed Aaron Taylor-Johnson's disgusting, venal, mustache-twirling villain.

      Delete
  6. I also picked Nocturnal Animals, I completely forgot about Definitely, Maybe and I haven't seen The Fall. But it was so popular this week I guess I should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't blame you for completely forgetting Definitely, Maybe lol. It's pretty average, but I kinda love it!

      Delete
  7. I love The Fall! It was the movie, that I knew I was forgetting. I love the story as much as the pretty visuals.

    ReplyDelete