This month offers a flurry of great releases; there’s so much variety, and so many great films (including some Oscar-winners), you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something you like.
The Edge of Seventeen
You may think that once you’ve seen one teen film, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Once in a while, however, one comes along and breathes some new life into the re-trodden subject matter; it takes a different path and explores the trials of adolescent through a clearer lense. Edge of Seventeen is one such film, following Hailee Steinfeld’s Nadine as she loses her best friend when she starts dating Nadine’s brother and hanging out with the popular crowd.
The film is hilariously witty, full of whip-smart dialogue and complex and sharp characters. It also has some really emotional moments. It doesn’t churn them into short-lived melodramas, but treats teenagers as real people, without being condescending. This helps to maintain authenticity that spreads throughout the film – showing teenagers’ language is not quite as clean as a lot of films would lead to you believe.
With a brilliant balance between comedy and drama, fantastic turns from the actors (Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson, as her teacher, are particular standouts), this is a teen film that people can relate to…a funny and touching story that is not set in a magical fairyland.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? This film’s heart is in its characters and dialogue…blu-ray would have little impact here.
Read the full review: ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ Review
The Light Between Oceans
Based on the best-selling novel, this drama about love and family is certainly a weepy, if not entirely a tearjerker of higher caliber. Anchored by their powerfully emotional performances, the film finds Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender as a husband and wife, living on an isolated island, who discover a baby, and her dead father, washed up on their beach. Having suffered several miscarriages previously, the two keep the child and raise her as their own. They live peacefully until they run into the child’s biological mother and are faced with the consequences of their concealment of the child’s true background.
It is a heart-wrenching drama that combines the moral dilemmas of the characters with powerful acting gorgeous cinematography and a moving score, to pack an emotional punch. It doesn’t quite manage to always stay afloat of melodrama, occasionally sinking to less credible levels, and some moments feel rushed, but it still carries an overall impact.
Perhaps not quite as good as it could have been, this is a solid drama that may require you to have some tissues on hand while watching.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? The film’s core is in its emotions, but the beautiful cinematography may warrant high definition for some.
Read the full review: ‘The Light Between Oceans’ Review
The second feature from fashion giant Tom Ford is an incredibly enthralling psychological thriller, where its strong storytelling is matched (if sometimes outdone) by the striking visuals that make up every frame.
Based on the novel Tony and Susan, writer-director Ford essentially tells three tales by interweaving what could be two separate films. The outer layer of the film centres on Amy Adams’ Susan as she reads the manuscript of a novel her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), has written; the inner layer being the tale of the book itself. The film jumps back and forth between these two worlds, as well as flashing back to Susan and Edward’s relationship. This interweaving helps to bring the story together, and tell an overarching emotional narrative playing out in Susan’s mind.
If the strikingly unusual opening makes you question what you are watching, stick with it, and search for its purpose – this is one of Ford’s clever ways of engaging you in the film. It is gripping throughout, building a tension that doesn’t let up until the credits roll, alternating between scenes of high action and drama, and more static moments, where the action is playing out in the characters’ minds. It is complex and arresting in its story, as well as in its visuals, It is one of the most gorgeous films of recent years; combining this with an entrancing score, it builds a strong atmosphere that ensures you stay engrossed. It is exquisite, original, thrilling and emotional: not one to miss.
And if you need another reason to be frustrated that neither Gyllenhaal or Adams have Oscars by now…this is it.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? If I haven’t already emphasised it enough, the visuals of this film are something to marvel at…a Blu-ray certainly wouldn’t be a waste.
Read the full review: ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Review
The second Amy Adams-starrer this month, and hands-down one of the best sci-fis to come out in a long time (well, probably ever), and a much more original one than we are used to. Centering on linguistics professor, Louise (Amy Adams), the film follows her mission to understand and communicate with the aliens that have touched down across the world, whilst simultaneously working her way through a bereavement that we discover through brief cut-aways.
The film takes a more cerebral approach to the science-fiction genre, looking at it from a fresh perspective and crafting a clever and emotional story that will keep you gripped and invested. It is a much more intimate telling of an alien invasion, and isn’t about one man saving the world, but one women trying to uncover a vital tool in order to extend understanding. Every element of filmmaking here comes together to create an astounding result. The cinematography is amazing, the score is utilised masterfully, and the incredible acting combine with an intelligent script and astonishing direction (what else can we expect from Denis Villeneuve at this point) to make this film as naturalistic and powerful as it is. It is unpredictable, fresh and new, and contains one of the most awe-inspiring endings in recent memory – a film for those who love sci-fi, and perhaps those who don’t.
Is it worth a Blur-ray? The gorgeous visuals would certainly make a Blu-ray worth it, although it doesn’t particularly demand it.
Read the full review: ‘Arrival’ Review
Or, if you’ve seen the film and want to read about how it holds up a second time, check out: ‘Arrival’: A Second Viewing
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The first fresh Harry Potter DVD in six years has arrived, for another couple of hours to add to your already-long-enough marathons. Following the adventures of Newt Scamander (a charming Eddie Redmayne) and a new ensemble of characters, Fantastic Beasts allows us a glimpse at another part of the Wizarding World – 1920s New York. This new setting brings with it gorgeous costumes and sets, so if you don’t get anything else out of it, it is at least a feast for the eyes.
As part one of an apparent five, much of the film is based around world-building, setting out what life is like for the witches and wizards outside of Hogwarts and on the other side of the world. Whilst this makes up a lot of the film, the main narrative plot is a fairly simple one; Newt needs to catch his animals that have escaped and are wreaking havoc. However, this being J.K Rowling, there is a mysterious subplot that builds and builds, culminating in the reveal of a character we have heard a lot about throughout Harry Potter, but never actually met.
It is a must for fans, and whilst it almost certainly won’t hold quite the same place in people’s hearts, it is an enjoyable romp that was certainly a success.
Is it worth a Blu-ray? To see this other world in such high definition would certainly bring out the details these films are famous for.
Read the full review: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Review