3 new films, Arrival, Nocturnal Animals and a new Storyville.



Arrival divid­ed crit­ics when it reached cin­e­mas this autumn, with some hail­ing it as a strong con­tender for film of the year and oth­ers won­der­ing what all the fuss was about. It’s a sci­fi film from Cana­di­an film­mak­er Denis Vil­leneuve in which Amy Adams is giv­en the task of try­ing to decode the alien lan­guage of the vis­i­tors who arrive here from out­er space.

It is just about worth see­ing, but only because of the sub­tle twist it has in its tail and the less you know about that the more pleas­ant­ly sur­prised you’ll be by it. But it’s a very con­ven­tion­al film. One to put your feet up to with a calm­ing cup of cocoa on a rainy winter’s eve.

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals.

Amy Adams in Noc­tur­nal Ani­mals.

Noc­tur­nal Ani­mals is the sec­ond film from Tom Ford after his impres­sive debut with A Sin­gle Man in 2009. The lat­ter, as well as being as exquis­ite­ly craft­ed as every­one assumed it would be, it being a Tom Ford film, was also a qui­et­ly mov­ing film with sig­nif­i­cant­ly more in the way of emo­tion­al depth than many had expected.

His lat­est offer­ing how­ev­er is exact­ly the sort of vapid exer­cise in sur­face style that every­one had feared would be the result first time around. Amy Adams stars again, this time as a priv­i­leged gallery own­er in LA whom we’re clear­ly meant to sym­pa­thise with. She gets sent a nov­el writ­ten by an ex and the film morphs into a neo noir tale of south­ern revenge.

Colin Firth in A Single Man.

Col­in Firth in A Sin­gle Man.

It all looks impec­ca­ble of course, but all Sea­mus McGar­vey’s sump­tu­ous pho­tog­ra­phy does is to fur­ther empha­sise how lit­tle there is here beneath the sur­face. Whether Noc­tur­nal Ani­mals is an aber­ra­tion, and the real Tom Ford is the man who brought us A Sin­gle Man, or whether in fact that film’s suc­cess had more to do with Col­in Firth and the source mate­r­i­al pro­vid­ed by the Christo­pher Ish­er­wood nov­el, only time will tell.

James Foley.

James Foley.

I promised myself that I would force myself to watch all and any Sto­ryville docs that were screened on BBC4, but I real­ly wasn’t look­ing for­ward to what I pre­sumed would be a dull but wor­thy film on James Foley, the Amer­i­can pho­to-jour­nal­ist exe­cut­ed by Daesh. Once again, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

p01q1kmxJim – The James Foley sto­ry was a riv­et­ing win­dow into what life was like for the nine­teen oth­er jour­nal­ists who were impris­oned with him in Syr­ia, and an incred­i­bly mov­ing cel­e­bra­tion of a life cut short. In a dig­ni­fied and mea­sured way it was absolute­ly devastating.

If you’re not famil­iar with the Sto­ryville strand, I reviewed it and three or four of its remark­able films ear­li­er here. And if you can, watch the James Foley Sto­ry. You can see the trail­er for Arri­val here and the trail­er for Noc­tur­nal Ani­mals here.

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