From a new film by Tom Ford to a stunning coming-of-age tale, here's what to see this month.

Nocturnal Animals


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This second feature from fashion giant Tom Ford is one of the most electrifying, fascinating, sensational films I've seen this year. Amy Adams plays Susan, a wealthy art dealer, living in a modernistic home overlooking the city, with a prestigious job and a handsome but remote husband (Armie Hammer). But she is deeply unhappy with her life. Then she receives the manuscript by her ex- Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal). The book is dedicated to her, but as she reads the story (which is dramatized for the viewer) it's a terrifying, tense, tale of a man traveling with his wife and daughter who get run off the desert road one night by a frightening thug (excellent Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his scary companions (Karl Glusman & Robert Aramayo). The violence of the tale makes her reflect on how shabbily she treated him. Ford's eye is impeccable- and not just the luxurious trappings of Susan's life, but the nourish nightmare of the book she's reading too. And the juxtaposition ends up with a surprising emotional wallop. The cast is impeccable, with a sweetly offbeat turn by Michael Shannon as a lawman in the manuscript who helps the devastated husband seek justice for what happened to him.


Loving


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Writer/director Jeff Nichols tells this incredible true story of an interracial couple- Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving- who were married in Washington and returned to their Virginia home only to be arrested in the middle of night, thrown in jail, and told they could not return to that state for 25 years. Resettled in Washington at the height of the civil rights marches, Mildred sent a letter to Robert Kennedy which led to a series of trials that went right to the Supreme Court. But this movie is less about history than the couple's love for one another and both Edgerton and Negga are beyond extraordinary. Richard was a brick layer and uncomplicated man but the way Edgerton adjusts his physicality to lumber in a room and look with such quiet intensity is thrilling to watch. Ruth Negga's Mildred matches Edgerton from the first frame to the last showing such strength and love through those beautiful expressive eyes. Michael Shannon has a glorious cameo as a Life photographer. The director has a real feel for the region and there's a wonderful slow burn unraveling to the story, but an underlying tension too.


Elle


Exquisitely perverse tale of rape & revenge, with a towering performance by Isabelle Huppert and a return to top form for director Paul Verhoeven. Huppert plays Michele, an executive at a video game company who harbors a notorious scary past (her backstory is too wild to divulge). But one day a masked man bursts in her home and brutally rapes her. Her subsequent reaction is strange to say the least…she cleans up, goes to work, sees her son (who is dating a crazy pregnant girl), drops by her mother- heavily botoxed and seeing a young boytoy. She has dinner with her ex (Charles Berling) who confides he is dating a new woman. And while she does go to a doctor's office and has the locks changed she remains distant and silent about what happened to her. Only an actress as great as Huppert could make this woman's chilly actions seem remotely palatable and so complex. As the movie goes on, always flirting with thriller aspects, what occurs is often darky amusing but also mysterious and intriguing. With a wickedly witty screenplay, and Verhoeven's masterfully controlled direction, one is constantly kept one off guard at every turn. As for the sublime Isabelle Huppert, who is constantly raising the bar on herself, this is a high water mark indeed.


Gimme Danger


Jim Jarmusch's loving tribute to one of the greatest rock groups- The Stooges. Lead singer Iggy Pop, born James Osterberg, was raised in a trailer park in Michigan, relentlessly practicing drums, and was part of many bands until he met brothers Ron & Scott Asheton and then Dave Alexander to became The Psychedelic Stooges. Signed by Elecktra Records in 1968 their brilliant, electrifying, albums: The Stooges & Fun House were unfortunately not hits and the band hit rock bottom from drugs and alcohol. But they regrouped with a new guitarist (James Williamson) to create one of the greatest rock albums of all time: Raw Power. Jarmusch uses witty clips and animation mixed with startling live footage of Iggy Pop- a true rock and roll animal's acrobatic and crazed gyrations on stage. Seeing the band live was to experience the true aural assault and thrilling danger of the band. The intelligent and frequently hilarious reminisces by Iggy Pop make for a terrific chronicle of this wildly influential band. Don't miss it.


The Edge Of Seventeen

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Every once in a blue moon a movie comes along to illustrate the hell of being a teenager but doing so with an incredibly charismatic lead and also being smart, funny, touching and always surprising. This movie is definitely in that league. Hailee Steinfeld plays the misfit Nadine, still reeling from her father's death but lucky she has one friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) to share everything with. But then the unthinkable happens. Krista begins dating Nadine's handsome, popular, jock brother (Blake Jenner) and Nadine quickly unravels. The script is sardonically hilarious without being self-conscious and affected. Both the screenplay and the sharp direction are by the talented Kelly Fremon Craig, who makes this movie soar. The ensemble is just terrific, with special shout-outs to Woody Harrelson as Nadine's cynical history teacher she feels comfortable melting down in front of. Kyra Sedgwick as the harried but loving mom. And especially the wonderful Hayden Szeto as the spastic and utterly adorable classmate Erwin, who obviously has a mad crush on Nadine.


Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer

A new 4k restoration and re-release in theaters of John McNaughton's deeply disturbing 1986 film starring Michael Rooker as Henry, a psychotic spree killer. Crashing with his friend Otis (Tom Towles) and Otis's sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), Henry murders at random, occasionally video-taping the horrific proceedings. Towers over any other film on this subject because of the way McNaughton visualizes the banality of evil. And Rooker gives an incredible and frightening performance of a conscienceless misfit who calmly uses murders as a way of letting off steam. In this magnificently macabre film, even after all this time since it was made, scene after scene still leave you shaken.

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