Ten months of the year have already flown by and we find ourselves in November with only a few weeks of 2016 left. There’s still plenty of time to get some good films in, as this week demonstrates leading off with Tom Ford’s brilliant return, alongside Ben Affleck heroics, offbeat British comedy-drama and more Danish madness.
Tom Ford is one of those people who are just too irritatingly talented. A celebrated fashion designer and dab business hand, he then ventured into cinema with 2009’s excellent A Single Man. Now he’s back with Nocturnal Animals, a weird and twisting plunge through layers of fiction. At the top we have Amy Adams’ disgruntled conceptual artist who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband. Reading it she falls into a gritty Texan nightmare starring Jake Gyllenhaal and a superb Michael Shannon. It’s impeccably shot, unbearably tense and surprisingly funny. Ford has another winner on his hands.
Now we move to someone with a patchier record. For a while it looked like Ben Affleck’s career had tanked. Then he turned to directing and revived it, only to keep stepping back in front of the camera to needlessly push an action man persona. The Accountant is the latest such attempt as he plays an autistic number cruncher who also happens to be a deadly fighter. Once again pushing the damaging myth that autism is a type of superpower, the film beneath isn’t even very good.
Will Sharpe is on a roll. Creating a well-received TV show (Flowers) clearly isn’t enough for one year. In The Darkest Universe he teams up again with Tom Kingsley to co-direct this off-kilter British comedy/mystery/drama while also co-writing and taking the lead role. He plays Zac, an obsessive young man searching for his missing sister who disappeared along with her boyfriend and an entire narrow boat. It’s bleak at times, sad at others, and continually funny throughout.
We move now to home releases for The Neon Demon, the latest from Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn. Anyone familiar with his previous work (including Drive, Only God Forgives and Bronson) knows he’s carefully controlled, archly stylish and more than a little demented. This tale of discord in the fashion world stars Elle Fanning as a young model struggling to fend off older compatriots who want what she has. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be easy viewing.
On that note we come to the end once again. See you next week for first contact.