MOVIE REVIEW: WARM UP & CHILL OUT
Like movies, the weather can be polarizing. Some like it hot, while others prefer a chillier climate. For those of us who like it to be a little more tropical, recent films have taken us to Florida, Texas and California to keep us warm on those cold winter nights. Moonlight has us travel to balmy Miami, where the sweltering heat pushes its main character to the beach to enjoy sunny days playing in the water. If cold temperatures don’t get you down though, films like The Eagle Huntress will transport you all the way to Mongolia to witness the traditional sport of eagle hunting and how one young girl is changing the way it’s played. Films chosen this week for the topic of hot and cold were picked based on their geographical location.
Right now, all films excluding Moonlight can be found at Bellingham’s local theaters, Barkley Regal Cinema, Pickford Film Center and the Limelight. If traveling doesn’t deter you, Moonlight can be found playing down in Seattle, though it will be released on DVD in February.
Moonlight (2016) dir. Barry Jenkins
Nominated for six Golden Globes, this film follows the life of Chiron. A young, black, gay man struggles to accept who he is in the sweltering heat of Miami. The movie is sectioned into three chapters detailing distinct periods of Chiron’s life as we watch him grow into an adult. Naomie Harris (Collateral Beauty, Spectre) plays Chiron’s drug-addicted mother. Earning a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 2017 Golden Globes, Harris does a magnificent job of creating a nuanced character, while reportedly only having been on set for three days, according to the Vulture. The film is based on the play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. It was then adapted and written by director Barry Jenkins, his first movie in eight years. The cinematography will leave you feeling the heat of the Miami sun, while also providing a strong understanding of what it is like to be in someone else’s place.
Nocturnal Animals (2016) dir. Tom Ford
Starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Ford creates a movie that will keep you on edge and wishing you were at home, snuggled up in a blanket. Nocturnal Animals places the audience in multiple timelines, blurring the lines between fiction and fact through subtle directorial techniques like lighting and pacing. Adams plays Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner and curator, who receives a copy of her ex-husband’s (Edward Sheffield) new book from the man himself, played by Gyllenhaal. Getting caught up in the plot of the novel, Morrow soon remembers her relationship with Sheffield, and why they divorced in the first place. Nocturnal Animals is Ford’s second feature length film, adapted by Ford himself from the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The film had its world premiere at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize.
La La Land (2016) dir. Damien Chazelle
With a total of seven nominations for the Golden Globes, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling take Los Angeles by storm in this musical comedy directed by Damien Chazelle. Stone plays an actress, Mia, struggling to find her big break into the industry. She keeps having run-ins with Sebastian, played by the ever brilliant Gosling, a struggling jazz pianist who has just recently lost his job. The film follows them across time and seasons, as the two struggle to find a moment where they are able to be together without complications. Chazelle is known for his music-inspired films, having previously directed Whiplash in 2014. “Now more than ever we need hope and romance on the screen, and I think there’s something about musicals that just get at something that only movies can do,” Chazelle said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. According to Hollywood Deadline, La La Land was heavily inspired by the French New Wave director Jacques Demy, whose Umbrellas of Cherbourg was also a jazz and dance oriented film.
Manchester by the Sea (2016) dir. Kenneth Lonergan
Distributed by the up and coming Amazon Studios, Manchester by the Sea had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a janitor from Massachusetts whose brother has just died from a heart attack. Lee is placed in charge of his brother’s son, Patrick, but struggles to do so without being reminded of painful memories from his past. The movie then follows Lee as he comes to terms with the death of his brother and his new responsibilities as a guardian, particularly when Patrick’s mom, a recovering alcoholic, comes to visit. Movie review website Rotten Tomatoes gives Manchester by the Sea a rating of 97 percent, with critical acclaim for both Kenneth Lonergan’s screenplay and the performances of Affleck and Michelle Williams, who plays Lee’s ex-wife in the film.
The Eagle Huntress (2016) dir. Otto Bell
The Eagle Huntress is a documentary depicting the life of Aisholpan, who is attempting to be the first woman eagle hunter in her native country of Mongolia. The documentary follows the 13-year-old as she wins a competition in which she is the only female, then chronicles her first expedition across the snowy mountains of Mongolia. The movie’s heartwarming tale is only furthered by the feature of Aisholpan’s father, who shares with the audience his encouragement of Aisholpan’s drive to be a part of this typically male-dominated tradition. With narration provided by Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), The Eagle Huntress, while filmed in a cold climate, will leave you feeling inspired by one girl’s courageous task of breaking stereotypes placed on her by the men in her society.
Long Way North (Tout En Haut Du Monde) (2016) dir. Rémi Chayé
Set in Saint Petersburg in the late 19th century, this French animated film follows Sasha, a young girl part of the Russian aristocracy who dreams of exploring the Great North. After learning of her missing grandfather, young Sasha decides she would rather go on an adventure to find him and his unrecovered ship than marry the man her parents have picked out for her. Employing the French idea of auteur, a French term to describe a director who took complete artistic control over the entirety of the project, director Rémi Chayé has left his touch on all aspects of the film. Chayé worked closely with screenwriter Claire Paoletti to create a plot that closely resembles that of explorer Ernest Shackleton, and how his ship became trapped in ice while exploring Antarctica. As with The Eagle Huntress, this film will inspire those who are tired of being told what they can and can’t do.