American Animals (Film/Movie Review) – A Fantastic + Unique Surprise

American Animals is a crime drama written and directed by Bart Layton which stars Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters. The film is based on the true story of a library heist that occurred in Lexington, Kentucky at Transylvania University in 2004.

My Expectation For American Animals

I never knew that this movie even existed until Matt Knost of The Top10 Show raved about it on a recent instalment of that podcast which he co-hosts with John Rocha. I decided to give American Animals a shot based on his adulation for it and I went into this film knowing nothing about it.

I had seen no trailers, knew none of the cast members by name or the true story on which this movie was based on. Sometimes, when this happens, the film in question can be a nice surprise in terms of its quality and I hoped that, as a bare minimum, I would be entertained by American Animals.

My Thoughts On American Animals

American Animals really surprised me with its quality and it is one of the most unique films I have seen in 2018 and possibly ever. I am so glad I went into this movie blind because it was the best possible thing for my experience with it. Indeed, knowing nothing about the real story made the plot of this film so much more interesting and compelling than if I knew specific details about the actual library heist that took place.

Undoubtedly, the thing I loved about American Animals the most was how, in a lot of ways, it was more of a documentary than a film based on a true story. Indeed, the young men who committed the library heist in real-life were interviewed for this movie and this footage was interwoven into the narrative of American Animals. This storytelling device was highly effective on a comedic, dramatic and thematic level.

I could not recollect any movie I had seen before this one that had told a story in this way which made American Animals a really different experience and I hope this storytelling device is used in more movies going forward. The way the narrative in American Animals was told also helped me to connect to the main characters and relate to all of them in a big way despite knowing that what they were doing was wrong. This was particularly the case for Warren (Evan Peters).

My Final Thoughts on American Animals

Ultimately, this all blended together in a hard-hitting way with the film’s sobering, philosophical ending. When American Animals had ended and the credits were rolling, I was struggling to think of any major, glaring flaws with it. If I had to be overly critical, I would say that it is not consistent with its pacing. Some parts of the movie flow better than others but this is a pretty minuscule nit-pick in the grand scheme of things.

It certainly does nothing to majorly detract from the quality of a great film. I hope American Animals is experienced by as large an audience as possible because films this unique in its storytelling as American Animals deserve it.

American Animals Film Movie Review Pin

 

13th (Film Review) – Informative and Powerful

13th is a documentary directed by Ava DuVernay and the primary focus of this documentary is on race in the United States criminal justice system. The title of this documentary comes from the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which outlawed slavery unless as punishment for a crime. DuVernay puts across the argument that slavery still exists in the United States today through mass incarceration.

My Knowledge and Expectation of 13th

Documentaries are a genre of film which I don’t usually have the time to watch. However, when I do watch a documentary, I want it to be informative and I want to learn something that I didn’t know before. This was the minimum expectation I had going into 13th, a documentary which has been heavily praised by people I trust and admire both within the film industry and political punditry/commentary. Additionally, considering what has happened recently in the United States, I thought that it was a very timely piece of film-making to watch.

Prisoners in 13th Netflix Documentary

My Thoughts on 13th

I have to say, 13th had a very profound effect on me. While I have learnt about and have some good knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement, this documentary puts the spotlight on an area I knew nothing about in terms of how the political establishment treated African-Americans after the victories of securing equal rights and the right to vote in the 1960s. 13th was a real eye-opener. I gained so much more insight than I already had about the criminal justice system in the United States and DuVernay brilliantly and carefully handles very important and ongoing issues.

In fact, 13th is such a thought-provoking and timely documentary that I believe it is required viewing for everyone, particularly as it will inspire you to be more educated about social and political issues. A part of that is down to how fantastic the interviewees are in addition to how well presented the argument is in this documentary.

Van Jones in 13th Netflix Documentary

Still, the big reason why it is required viewing is that, at times, it is a very distressing and heart-breaking thing to watch, especially when we see footage of police brutality in the modern age. In this sense, 13th is not something that you will forget quickly. You will gain new perspectives about very important issues and it will provoke you and anger you to such an extent that you will be compelled to take a stand against injustice wherever you see it.

Coincidentally, I fear that with the current political leadership in the United States, injustice, hate and prejudice will be prevalent and we need to be ready to fight them. 13th can be a catalyst for that fight.