Miss Sloane tells a story that feels like it was ripped right out of yesterday’s headlines, that coupled with Chastain’s magnificence helping make the film a gripping spellbinder worth seeking out.
When it is funny, Office Christmas Party can be a hoot, and it’s always nice to see firebrands like McKinnon getting an opportunity to strut their stuff so magnificently. But Gordon and Speck can’t hold it all together, things spiraling in so many different directions their bits of emotional pabulum that they toss in willy-nilly throughout fall achingly flat.
Gillespie has obviously learned a lot from his time working with Wheatley, but that doesn’t mean he’s able to deliver on his promise this first time out of the gate, the nihilistic lunacy of Tank 432 coupled with its ridiculous implausibility leaving me coldly indifferent to the director’s high-concept debut.
Man Down is seldom boring, and I can say it held my attention start to finish with very little in the way of effort…But it all ends up being for naught, and by the time the film was over I was almost angry I’d given it a look, the way it wastes fine performances from all involved and an intriguing premise ripe with possibility coming perilously close to being unforgivable.
Manchester by the Sea is a stunner, delivering in ways that defy easy description. Lonergan is fearless, going after the human condition in ways that are beyond compare, refusing to soften his points or offer easy outs for any of his characters. This is a movie about life, its ugliness and the destruction a single unintended mistake can exact upon those both guilty and innocent.
Allied looks great, features some wonderful performances by the stars and supporting players and has moments that held me ecstatically spellbound. But the odd, obtuse emptiness of the climax left me cold, and no matter how extraordinary much of this might be that’s one landmine I’m finding it hopeless to get around without my affinity for the film exploding into disappointed nothingness.
Biller’s The Love Witch is a royal, devilishly nasty treat that is as magical as it is potent, the potion the filmmaker has whipped up for all of us to drink going down as smoothly as an expertly mixed cocktail with a tiny pink umbrella as garnish, only here the secret ingredient is cyanide, not grenadine.
Nocturnal Animals doesn’t take prisoners. Its themes are not always obvious, and where Ford is taking things is a constant question he steadfastly refuses to give answer to. But the stories at the heart of the film are primal in their effectiveness, achieving a bristling intimacy I was stunned by.
I have this feeling Rules Don’t Apply is going to grow on me. There’s so much about it that I just plain love, not the least of which is the effortlessness of the relationship that develops between Marla and Frank and the naturalistic way Hughes becomes a part of it. Beatty’s return as actor and director is just plain glorious and, even with its flaws, this rapturously romantic escapade ends up being an insightful lark that has far more on its mind than initially meets the eye.