Hell or High Water Movie Review – Thumbs up! Way up!

Hey guys! Movies movies movies, it’s going to be hard to keep up with this because there are so many movies I want to write about. So many good ones out there! But here is another one I just saw over the weekend. And loved it. It’s called Hell or High Water directed by David Mackenzie, starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. Everyone GO WATCH IT! Worth every minute. Watch the trailer:

~SPOILERS~

This movie is about a divorced father, Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his ex-con older brother, Tanner Howard (Ben Foster), who resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.

First and foremost. The performances of Chris Pine and Ben Foster are so great, it absolutely made the movie. And Jeff Bridges’ performance as the racist Texas Ranger who is near retirement was perfection.

Toby and Tanner turn to bank robbery in order to try and save the family ranch from being repossessed by the Texas Midland Banks after their mother passes away. Tanner, who is an ex-con and recently released from prison, was not knew to the life of crime and took to the robberies like any seasoned criminal would, but Toby was a lot more resistant and uneasy about the process and didn’t want anyone to get hurt during the heists. Regardless of the differences in personality traits of the two, they were loyal and dedicated brothers who would do anything for each other.

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Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are assigned to the case and start to track them. Despite the seemingly amateur nature of the robberies, Tanner and Toby have a very specific strategy. They steal cash only from the cash drawers and in only small bills, no bundles or large bills. They rob 3 banks and then head to a casino and Tanner does some gambling with the cash they stole. When cashing out they get the majority of it put into a check to Texas Midland Bank.

The brothers then go meet with their lawyer who tell them they have to get $40,000 by Thursday to pay off the bank. By Friday, the bank will foreclose on the property. The lawyer agrees with the plan of them robbing Texas Midland branches and paying the bank back with its own money. He says that the bank greedily kept their mother in poverty so it could eventually seize the land for very little. He also recommends that the brothers used Texas Midland to manage the trust. The plan is meant to be fail-proof.

We then learn Toby’s utmost devotion to his two sons who live with his ex wife. He goes to tell his eldest son that he’s putting the ranch in their name and that they found oil on the land so they will be taken care of. But he also tells him, they will be hearing bad things about him and their uncle from people and from the news. And it will all be true. And not to ever be like them. We know that Toby isn’t just some crook, he knows what he’s doing is wrong. But he wanted his boys to have a good life, and get out of poverty.

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In the mean time, Marcus and Alberto are on their trail with a pretty good idea of the brothers’ plan but still not a clue as to their identities. Marcus is soon facing mandatory retirement and this is his one last case before he leaves. Jeff Bridges’ character, you learn early on, is quite racist and makes a lot of insulting comments towards his partner who is part Mexican and part Native American. Alberto never seems to react to Marcus’ negative comments even though some of the insults to get to him and you can see hurt in his eyes. But eventually you do get to see Marcus and Alberto finally start bonding, even among the insults and racism. You really get to see this is near the end of the movie.

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When things take a turn for the worst is when the brothers decide to hit a larger Texas Midland bank. It ends up being a lot busier than they expected with a lot of customers lined up at the tellers. They have to take a more aggressive approach to get people to co-operate and things end in blood shed. They are then chased out of town by locals shooting at them as they go. Toby gets shot. This is where things get difficult. Marcus and Alberto get the news and are now in hot pursuit of the brothers. Tanner makes the ultimate sacrifice and tells Toby to make a run for it while he distracts the cops he knows are coming for them. The next few scenes I can only describe as unnerving and nail biting as you hope for the best in a seemingly dead-end situation.

I don’t want to talk about the ending because words cannot do it justice. You have to watch it for yourself.

Things that stood out for me in this movie were 1. The movie very much portrays the “Justice isn’t a Crime” theory. It sheds light on how some banks tend to take advantage of people and can ultimately cause poverty and suffering with their greed. It shows us some truth to what people have to go through in small towns sometimes just to keep their head above water.

2. That there is always some good in people even when outward appearances seem to show otherwise. Tanner, although a trigger happy “career criminal” with a temper, loves his brother more than anything and puts himself in harms way to help him. You see his loyalty throughout the movie and in one of the many memorable scenes Toby says “You act like we aren’t gonna get away with this.” And Tanner says, “I don’t know anyone who’s gotten away with anything, ever.” Toby says, “then why the hell did you agree to do it?” And Tanner says, “Because you asked little brother.” That one scene in itself, says a lot about Tanner’s true character beneath all the grit.

3. The character depth in this movie is phenomenal. You truly get to know each person and genuinely feel a connection with all of them. I recommend this movie to anyone. It’s funny, it’s heart-wrenching, people can relate to it, it’s dramatic and intense. There is a little bit of everything in one splendid, well written, well acted film.

Props to all the actors, the cinematography, the directing and the beautiful score in the movie as well. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this film and hope you all will too!

All thoughts are welcome!

…Miss Blue…

Nocturnal Animals – My First Movie Review

I finally saw this highly anticipated movie, Nocturnal Animals, that I was so excited to see. I can’t say it met my expectations. Having not read the book, I am going to talk about the movie on its own and my thoughts on it.

~SPOILER ALERT~

This movie is dark and morbid. I would say if you are faint of heart don’t watch it. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Edward Sheffield, an aspiring writer, is portrayed as a very soft, sensitive and emotional man which Amy Adams’ character, Susan Morrow, cannot remain married to because she is convinced she needs someone stronger and more ambitious. She then meets such a man, Walker Morrow (Armie Hammer) and proceeds to start a relationship with him. She leaves Edward to be with Walker and then does something detrimental and unforgivable to Edward that we find out later in the story.

Susan is discovering her marriage to now successful businessman, Walker, is becoming less than ideal. She’s now living in an expensive home and owns an art gallery. But she finds herself lonely and unhappy. Her new husband is always traveling and she suspects he is having an affair (which you find out he is). During this hard time she suddenly receives a manuscript in the mail from her ex husband Edward. It’s his new book, which is dedicated to her, and called Nocturnal Animals. She, of course, is intrigued. The movie then takes us into this story of Edward’s book which is extremely gut wrenching, horrific and morbid.

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The main character is Tony Hastings, which is also played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He is traveling with his wife and teenage daughter. They end up getting driven off the road in the middle of nowhere by a group of rowdy men. They force Tony out of his vehicle and provoke him and his family. Eventually they separate Tony from his wife and daughter, convincing him they’re just going to drive them up to the next town and get everything sorted out. Tony soon realizes he’s being lead to the middle of a desolate dirt road with no sign of his wife and daughter. Things only escalate and get worse from here.

We learn that Tony’s character is meant to portray the way Susan viewed Edward as a man. Weak and soft. Which implies why Tony wasn’t able to keep his wife and daughter safe and protect them the way a “real man” should. Tony gets the help of a small town sheriff, Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) to help him find his wife and daughter. They turn up dead, naked and beaten. The rest of the story is about Tony’s desperate hope to find the killers and have revenge. Bobby is not your average cop, he likes to bend the rules, and really wants Tony to have revenge on his family’s killers. Eventually they track down the potential killers, Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Lou (Karl Glusman) but they need a confession. They take them to where the murder happened and try to make them confess. Ultimately Tony is given a gun to hold to Ray’s head and given the chance to kill him if he wants. But he panics and can’t pull the trigger. Ray and Lou bolt. Bobby takes off after Lou and Tony goes after Ray. When Tony finds Ray, they are at a stand off. Tony has a gun to Ray’s head and finally Ray confesses and gives the gruesome details of the murder all while smiling in complete satisfaction. Tony finally pulls the trigger but Ray gets one final blow in before collapsing by pulling a tire iron from behind his back and clubbing Tony in the head. When Tony comes to his head is bloody and his eye is badly damaged to the point he can hardly see. Ray is dead. Tony gets up and stammers outside only to stumble and accidentally pull the trigger on the gun he is still holding, shooting himself in the process. Tony dies seemingly with a smile on his face. That’s how Edward’s book ends.

Susan’s memories of her break up with Edward return to her while reading, and is haunted by the horrible thing she did to him. We find out the horrible thing she did was she found out she was pregnant with Edward’s child just as she was leaving him to be with Walker. She decided not to tell Edward and go ahead and get an abortion. Right after she finished the procedure Edward spotted her with Walker in the car right outside the abortion clinic. So in that scene alone, we know Edward found out Susan had killed his unborn child without his consent.

After Susan finishes the book. She wants to meet Edward in person to talk about it and catch up. Edward agrees. We see her primping in the mirror before heading out, specifically looking her best for Edward. The movie’s version of Edward’s ultimate jab in the heart to Susan is that he stands her up. She waits for him at the restaurant all night and he doesn’t show. There is this sense of satisfaction we get while watching her wait in anticipation to see the man she once loved again, only to be let down.

MY THOUGHTS

I think this movie and story had great potential. But I don’t think it really hit the spot for me. The entire time I was watching this movie, I was feeling sympathetic for Edward’s character. And then of course Tony’s character in his book. There isn’t any true sense of satisfaction at the end. When we see the torture and pain both Edward AND Tony go through, we want him to have the ultimate revenge on Susan. And for Tony to have the ultimate revenge on the murderers.

I believe Edward’s book is a revenge story. He dedicated this tragic story to Susan because it is exactly what he felt like when she did the unspeakable. Tony’s wife and daughter being brutally murdered portrays Susan’s decision to have an abortion. Therefore murdering Edward’s potential daughter.

Susan’s character bothered me from the beginning. She married Edward knowing he was a good, kind-hearted, sensitive individual. Yet she used that against him in order to eventually escape the marriage. Not only did she break his heart when she left him for another man, she aborted Edward’s child without his consent. She is right when she says it’s unforgivable. I wanted Susan to pay for what she did. Edward’s tragic book being dedicated to Susan is somewhat of a good payback. But the fact that Tony’s character didn’t seem to really overcome his “weakness” was kind of a let down. He remained, more or less, “weak” right up until the end and then ended up dying. I was hoping Tony’s character would have improved throughout the book. Going from a passive, timid man who most might have viewed as a coward, to a straight up untamed animal with only one thing in mind. Kill the man who killed my wife and daughter. The fact he had their killers right in front of him and still choked when he had the chance to do his worst to them…come on.

I did like Michael Shannon’s character. During all the depressing chaos going on in the movie, his random spells of dry humor invited some much needed chuckles. He was a small town cop who was the epitome of seeing justice done. At one point in the movie he finds out he has lung cancer. And that’s when he throws the rule book out the window since he is dying anyway and gives Tony the opportunity to do things his way. Torture and kill the men if he wanted to. Which Tony did not take advantage of properly. It was great to see him finally pull the trigger and kill Ray at the end, but at the cost of his own life too which was disappointing.

I think the point they were trying to make was, at least he died knowing he got justice. And I’m sure some will argue it may have been a suicide at the end instead of accidentally shooting himself. Although the scene made it unclear.

I did like that Edward’s book was getting to Susan. Haunting her if you will. She was even having hallucinations of Ray’s demented and sadistic character during her day to day life. And I liked that Edward stood her up at the end, although something more extreme would have been more satisfying.

There were some really strange scenes that definitely will stay with you after the movie is done. Like that super eerie opening scene at Susan’s gallery with the overweight older women dancing naked in slow motion. The scene lingered for so long that the images are forever burned into my mind. Not pleasant at all.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

I never really got the whole metaphor with the Nocturnal Animals title. All we really know is that Susan seems to have bad insomnia. But it didn’t tie into the rest of the movie like I had hoped. Was there some significance to Edward naming his book Nocturnal Animals? Other than the fact it was because he once called her that?

So I think those are my main thoughts on the movie! I think it was a good story line and plot, I would have liked a different outcome perhaps, and it was a bit slow at times, especially during Susan’s scenes. They made her character very sloth-like. But that was probably to do with the fact she has insomnia and is unhappy. Jake Gyllenhaal was great at both his roles as Edward and Tony. For what the character was meant to be, he pulled it off superbly (like he always does). His very distraught character as Tony after his family was killed was perfect. He looked tired like he hadn’t slept in a decade. He looked thin like he wasn’t eating. And he carried out the emotional turmoil his characters were experiencing excellently. Michael Shannon was perfect for the role of Bobby. And Aaron Taylor Johnson was great as a deranged, young psychopathic rapist and murderer. Amy Adams I wasn’t particularly fond of. She didn’t quite do it for me. I don’t think Susan’s character was supposed to be likeable anyway, but I think there were other actresses who could have pulled off her character better.

That being said, it wasn’t all that I hoped for it to be but I still give it a 3.5 out of 5 star rating! Tom Ford did a great job of making it haunting, eerie and dark and I am definitely interested in reading the book to get more depth into the characters.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this movie! Please comment! I love discussing movies! Let’s do it!

…Miss Blue…

Movie Lovers Unite!!

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Hey guys! Okay so something I haven’t really talked a whole lot about on my blog is my absolute LOVE for movies. So it’s something I really want to start incorporating into my blog. I may start doing movie reviews here and there. Or just talk about random facts, and movies that I love. Including actors/actresses that inspire me. There are a lot of them! So I’d really love to hear from other movie lovers here in the blogging world! Let’s have some open discussions! Let’s talk about our movie obsessions! I’m up for any kind of discussion about any type of movie! I especially love getting suggestions! The type of movies I watch range from each and every genre! But I especially love independent, eerie, thrilling and overall BIZARRE movies. Movies that leave you with questions and confusion, jaw-dropping, ones that leave you in complete awe! I LOVE watching those weird movies that some people just don’t understand or care to understand. The brilliance of the weirdness and abstractness of certain movies are just so intriguing!

All that being said. I am going to start discussing movies A LOT more on my blog. Whether it be old or new. And please please please feel free to comment and open a discussion about whichever movie I talk about! I enjoy talking about them so much!

One movie I really want to talk about…which I haven’t even seen yet because it isn’t in the theaters in my city yet. But as soon as I see it I plan to discuss it on here. I’m so excited about it. Nocturnal Animals. Which is based on the 1993 novel Tony & Susan. I haven’t read the book. But I am usually the type to watch movies first, and then read the book. Because more often than not there is more to the books than the movies. And I also like to separate the two. Judge the movie on its own, and the book on its own. But the whole story and idea behind this movie looks so thrilling and intriguing. I’m so excited to see it. So stay tuned for my future post about this movie and let’s talk about it! Plus we’ve got some fantastic actors in it. Jake Gyllenhaal (one of my favorite actors of all time), Aaron Taylor Johnson, Michael Shannon. Pumped guys, just pumped! Alright I’ll talk to you guys soon, can’t wait to have some serious movie discussions!!

…Miss Blue…