It’s the end of the year! Which means good news for movie lovers. The superhero franchises and blockbusters are mostly on hold until next spring and summer, and the studios are now trotting out their “serious” fare for award consideration. Don’t get me wrong I love a great actioneer but lately, well … I’ll save those thoughts for another time. I want to talk about two movies that will harsh the holiday high right out of you. And I mean this in the best possible way.
Manchester by the Sea
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the story is about painful, harrowing loss. Casey Affleck brilliantly plays a Boston janitor who must return to his hometown because of a death in the family. This movie is a slow burn as it builds on the backstory and journey of Affleck’s character. There’s not a false note in this movie as it offers a slice-of-life of experience that combines pathos and levity and makes us reflect on what we hold dear in own lives.
Written and directed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals takes on more complex storytelling than his debut film A Single Man. But like the latter and lucky for us, his fastidious attention detail continues to reign supreme. Starring Amy Adams as a depressed art dealer named Susan, she reads her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, which then enfolds as a story-within-a story, and haunts her throughout the movie. While Susan’s storyline is a campy, grotesque send-up of the art world, shades of Pedro’s Almodovar’s sensibility, and a meditation on life choices, the depiction of the novel is a suspenseful, disturbing thriller fraught with pain. Yes, more pain! I know, not exactly a sunny rec, but this is a challenging film that delves into the dark parts of the soul. Which in my opinion, is always worth exploring.
If you’re up for countering some of the holiday cheer, these are the movies for you.