Wind River (Film Review) – A Superb Thriller

Wind River is a neo-western thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan and stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner. The story of the film focuses on Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker who has to work with Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), an FBI agent. We follow these two characters in their attempt to solve a murder that occurred on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Wind River

My expectation for this film was very high and the sole reason why this was the case was because of Taylor Sheridan. This is the man who was the screenwriter behind films such as Hell or High Water and Sicario. Hell or High Water is a very good film but Sicario, for me, is an amazing film and is probably the best film I saw in 2015. What struck me in both films was how brilliant the story and the dialogue was. To see Taylor Sheridan return with Wind River both as a writer and a director really interested me.

Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

I also had some concerns though and that was mainly down to Jeremy Renner. Now, I like Jeremy Renner but I was not confident in his ability to succeed as the lead in this film. He has not blown me away as an actor. Still, my overall feeling going into Wind River was one of hope rather than trepidation. I was confident that Wind River was going to be, at the very least, a good film.

My Thoughts on Wind River

Wind River is, by a mile, the best film I have seen this year. In terms of the films written by Taylor Sheridan, I would rank it well above Hell or High Water. Sicario is a bit better but for Wind River to get close to the quality of Sicario is an immense achievement. Undoubtedly, Jeremy Renner gives the best performance of his career in this film. Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, who was also brilliant, carry Wind River with terrific lead performances that have a lot of depth.

Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

Indeed, the whole film is rich with story. On a surface level, the murder mystery is very interesting and Wind River does a great job at building suspense and tension to get to the revelations we crave. Still, what really intrigued me was how interconnected the stories in this film were. The murder mystery hits very close to home for Renner’s character who has gone through an extremely similar experience. He has a brilliant scene with Elizabeth Olsen where we see the pain within him.

Engaging Throughout

I never got bored during Wind River as I was always eager to learn more about the characters and their lives. Taylor Sheridan does a brilliant job in telling his story and I found both the pacing and length of Wind River to be perfect. It never drags but it never rushes either. Moreover, the superb cinematography in this film will always keep you engaged from a visual perspective. The score also impressed me and to have human dialogue interwoven into the music was a very subtle, nice addition.

Scenery including Sheep and Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River

To be honest, I cannot find anything wrong with Wind River. I was engaged from beginning to end and it just proves how talented Taylor Sheridan is from a writing and now a directorial standpoint. Jeremy Renner has also gone up in my estimations as an actor and he proved to me that he can be successful in leading roles. If you can find some spare time, then Wind River should absolutely be a film that you see. For me, it is the best film I have seen in 2017 so far.

Get Out (Film Review) – A Solid Directorial Debut

Get Out is a horror film written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele and stars Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Catherine Keener, Lil Rel Howery and Daniel Kaluuya. Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut with this film and the story focuses on Chris (Kaluuya) and Rose (Williams), an interracial couple who visit the secluded estate of Rose’s parents. Chris soon finds out that things are not as they seem and the weekend takes a very dark turn.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Get Out

I am usually very open-minded about my genres of film but if there is one genre that I am not a massive fan of, it is horror. Horror is a genre of film that I have not delved deep in to, simply because I do not like scary films as they stress me out to a point that is not at all enjoyable.

LaKeith Stanfield in Get Out

There are exceptions to this rule as I like horror films such as Alien but generally, I avoid horror. Despite this, Get Out intrigued due to the critical acclaim it has received and I was curious to see what Jordan Peele, famous for the sketch series Key and Peele, could do on his directorial debut.

My Thoughts on Get Out

My overall experience with Get Out was pretty good. I found the film to be less of a traditional horror film and more of a thriller with comedic elements. Certainly, suspense is a key tool used by Peele to tell his story and it makes the film engaging without relying too heavily on horror clichés. While there are jump scares, they did not worsen my experience.

The star of Get Out is undoubtedly Jordan Peele. I was really impressed by how much of an accomplished job he did for his directorial debut. In addition to his ability to use suspense very well, I also liked how he shot the film and how he addresses issues such as the various levels of racism prevalent in society today in a very satirical manner. Indeed, there are a lot of amusing moments in the film, most of them coming from Rod (Howery) who was my favourite character in Get Out.

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out

These comedic moments were needed in a film which is quite tense throughout and also slowly paced. Because of the slow pacing of Get Out, it is not something that I will be eager to revisit. Still, I would definitely recommend that you watch it as it will evoke some sort of reaction out of you and I feel as though your experience of watching Get Out will stay with you for a while.

Arrival (Film Review) – A Slow But Engaging Film With A Clever Twist

Arrival is a science fiction thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. The film is based on Story of Your Life which is a short story written by Ted Chiang and Arrival tells the story of twelve mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft landing across various locations on Earth and how humanity responds to this event.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Arrival

This has been a film which I have been looking forward to seeing for a while. The calibre of the cast was partly responsible for this, especially after I saw Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals which I recently reviewed. Nevertheless, it was the fact that Arrival was being directed by Denis Villeneuve which really made me excited.

Denis Villeneuve and Amy Adams on the set of Arrival

He is one of the best director’s working at the moment and he has made some really great films such as Prisoners and Sicario with the latter itself being one of my favourite films to come out last year. Additionally, Arrival had been getting great reviews and critics I highly admire really liked it so my expectations were quite high going into this film.

My Thoughts on Arrival

I was not disappointed. Arrival is a very good film which is visually impressive. Moreover, it challenges the audience and it features great performances from its cast with Amy Adams being the standout in the lead role. You should not expect this to be an alien invasion film full of action. Instead, you should expect to watch a film which is slow but engaging, deep and full of important themes such as communication, co-operation, rashness and irrational fear.

Villeneuve structures Arrival in such a way that suspense and sound are critical tools to tell a story which is quite unique and, as I said before, challenging for the audience. Certainly, Arrival will make you think deeply about what choices you would make in the situations the film presents to the audience, especially in the latter stages of the film which delivers a very clever twist that changes your whole perception of the film. For some, the twist won’t deliver but, for me personally, it worked very well.

It Left Me Feeling Sad

As you can see, I think that Arrival is a very good film but the overall feeling I had at the end of the film was one of sadness. The reason why I felt this way was down to the fact that one of the strongest themes throughout the film was the eventual need for humanity to communicate, to work together and to overcome fear and prejudice.

Poster showing an Alien Ship in Arrival

The incident in the film which allowed this to happen was, quite frankly, a miracle and it just shows how flawed we our as a species that it takes extraordinary events to make us come together and work for the greater good. It made me realise that this is not likely to happen in the near future, especially after a certain election caused a bigoted, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic “man” to become President of the most powerful country in the world.

Overall, Arrival is a film which has great performances and has a unique story which challenges its audience and can cause a variety of emotional responses. For some, this film will be a nice tonic at a time of fear, prejudice and hate. For others such as myself, it will make us sad and reaffirm the harsh reality that times of widespread co-operation, love and understanding amongst humanity is a rare thing. It will be even rarer with the way the world is going at the moment.

Nocturnal Animals (Film Review) – Disturbing, Unsettling, Brilliant

Nocturnal Animals is a psychological thriller written, co-produced, and directed by Tom Ford and stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher and Michael Shannon. This is Tom Ford’s second directorial effort and it tells the story of an art gallery owner, played by Amy Adams, whose actions in the past are now at the forefront of her mind due to reading a novel which was written by her ex-husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Nocturnal Animals

I knew little about this film when sitting down to watch it at my local cinema. Quite honestly, it was the strength of the cast which made me really interested to see Nocturnal Animals in the first place. Additionally, I knew little about Tom Ford whose only previous directorial effort was 2009’s A Single Man which is a film I have not seen yet. As a result, I went into the film not really knowing what to expect.

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals

My Thoughts on Nocturnal Animals

I have to say, I am so glad about this because Nocturnal Animals floored me. Any expectations I had about how good this film would be were exceeded to a very large degree. Firstly, the performances in this film are incredible. Amy Adams is great and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is unrecognisable in this film by giving a chilling, dark performance. This was a stark contrast to his previous work in films such as Kick-Ass and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the character of Quicksilver.

Yet, the standouts are Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. They give performances which rank amongst the very best they have given in their careers so far. Gyllenhaal plays two characters in Nocturnal Animals and he shines in his raw, powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of Tony Hastings. He gives his absolute all in this film and Shannon gives an equally great performance which I hope will be recognised.

The Stories

In this film, three stories are happening at the same time and it can be a struggle for a film to tell these stories with equal importance. Nocturnal Animals finds the right balance and the stories are seamlessly interwoven which makes the more emotional moments hit that much harder. While there are small moments of humour which relieve the tension, this film is emotional and harrowing and I struggle to think of another film released this year which has impacted me in the same way.

Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals

Truthfully, you will not forget Nocturnal Animals. You will think it about for a while after you’ve seen it and I am still trying to figure out the overall meaning of the film due to the various themes in this film such as cynicism, revenge, regret, proving yourself, shallowness and the barbaric nature of humanity.

Overall, Nocturnal Animals ranks amongst the very best films I have seen this year. While I may struggle to watch it again due to the harrowing elements within the film, it will stay with me for a long time due to the fantastic performances by the cast, its themes and the impact each story had on me.

Because of this, I definitely feel that Nocturnal Animals will be recognised once awards season starts and it deserves to be recognised as the film is a wonderful achievement. Tom Ford deserves a lot of credit for making this film and I look forward to seeing what he does in the future.