By conventional standards new years eve was a bit of a fizzer for me. I was invited to 2 parties. One was in the ‘burbs and with no money and a car that isn’t going that wasn’t a realistic option. The other was to a party in the city, which I had resigned myself to attending without too much excitement. Then yesterday afternoon that party was mysteriously cancelled, leaving me at a loose end. I could have tagged along to another party, except I don’t tag along too well, so in the end I fired up the barbie, cooked up a hearty feast, and settled in for the night.
I can’t say I was too disappointed. I love an excuse for a good party, and enjoy socialising, it’s just that I’ve got to the stage of my life where much of NYE festivities seemed forced and formulaic. I’m happy to attend a novel or interesting event, otherwise it’s just a bit ho-hum.
I had a great night home anyway, and Rigby was glad of it.
I watched a bit of the BBL which was predictably spectacular. It’s a great product fantastically well done, even if much of it is forgettable. We saw a great test match conclusion the other day (yes, against the odds, Oz won), and in terms of substance a good test match is a full 3 course meal complete with wine. You get up from the table very well sated. Twenty20 cricket is the 2am kebab on the way home from a big night out. I love a good kebab though.
After that I settled down to watch I’d been looking forward to. Funny, I left it to the last night of 2016 to see the best movie I watched all year.
Nocturnal Animals is very intelligent and sophisticated thriller. I watched it thrilled by every aspect, and thinking this is a story I could have written. I don’t think that often, and I’m probably incapable of it anyway, but it’s the sort of story that appeals to the writer in me – it’s the sort of thing I would like to write.
So the writing is brilliant, acting great, direction just spot on, and even the music was just perfect. Tom Ford directed this. His previous movie was A Single Man, another fantastic film (and probably my favourite from that year). He has a distinct style if these movies are any guide. There’s an elegiac quality to his film-making. Different stories, but with a similar timeless feel to them.
Initially as I watched last night I was reminded of the noir-ish films from back in the fifties, but with a high gloss. As the story unfolded I thought it’s the sort of film Hitchcock might have delighted in – a sort of Vertigo-ish intrigue and layer of uncertainty. What’s really happening here? More than you figure.
Music plays a part in that. Often I find music intrusive to the action. It should supplement, not lead; it should evoke a mood, not explain it. Getting music right is a tough gig – there’s a lot of older movies these days that jar because the music has dated. What fit then doesn’t now. It should be timeless.
In both movies A Single Man, and Nocturnal Animals, the music has been notable, often lush, like in some of the great movies of the forties and fifties by composers like Dimitri Tiomkin, Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrman. Ford seems to see music as an important aspect of building mood and tension really effectively.
Most of all I can’t get over how smart a movie it is. It may not appeal to everyone because it has subtleties you have to be awake to to appreciate. It has a psychological complexity and a deep insight into human nature that draws you towards understanding. You begin to see where the dominos lead, and why, and the long-term but substantial consequences of our actions. It’s one of those movies I could write a thesis on.