Towards Clarity

When someone speaks,

do you ever pause

to consider the sheer number

of possible replies?

It can be paralysing,

crippling,

trying to form the right one.

Hesitant,

like nature’s early risers,

you shape the letters on a dry tongue

but they have already moved on.

Only your petrified eyes

and the furrow of your brow

can describe the ease of which

you were left behind,

always catching up.

 

A newborn in the morning,

a sapling

raising it’s mottled neck

through the forest undergrowth.

There are too many choices to make,

too many ways to lean.

Do all paths lead back to each other

or are there some the sun never touches?

Some the warmth never heals,

some remaining licked by darkness?

And what of the wind?

Where will it come roaring in,

from this direction here

or that one there?

 

Angelic or fierce,

a river cannot decide.

Murmuring or coursing,

simply different states of mind.

Whispering lightly

at the feet of passing mammals

and crashing uninhibited,

washing rocks clean.

And making laughter,

all kinds of fun,

for the rafters.

Beautiful in calm

and arousal,

a river wants to be it all.

 

A fresh gem dug from the earth,

a nice prize

or a dangerous surprise?

Wonder and puzzlement.

Scared and awestruck,

your brain is stuck

with creases,

like in misplaced sheets of paper.

Do you hold on,

move into an exciting future you can’t predict

or tuck it back into the dirt,

stay where it’s safe

and you can’t get hurt?

 

The pain is real.

What you feel

seems enduring,

unbeatable

but I have learned it’s curable.

This does not have to last.

Fear and confusion fade

into the past

once you become familiar with it.

The gem is shiny,

you just have to polish it.

 

Film Review: Nocturnal Animals

A shocking, beautiful, and constantly engaging tale of heartbreak and revenge.

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‘Nocturnal Animals’ is directed by Tom Ford, starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, and Armie Hammer. It’s a film that takes an exquisite look at betrayal, revenge, and the impact of our decisions on others; and our own happiness.

With a narrative style that is decidedly unconventional, the storytelling faced some potential pitfalls but, with just his second film, writer and director Tom Ford has established himself as a master of balance, pacing, and affectation.

The basic plot sees Susan (Amy Adams) running an art gallery and living in an unhappy marriage with Hutton (Armie Hammer). She’s taken aback when her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her a manuscript of a novel he has written and dedicated to her. She begins to read and soon, we see the fictional world and real world start to intertwine.

The first thing to say about ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is how stunning it is to feast your eyes on and meticulously it is designed and shot. It’s no surprise, considering Ford is also a fashion designer who has worked for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, but every shot is perfectly composed and infinitely interesting to look at, just like a good piece of art. No prop, costume, angle, colour, or slice of light is wasted here. This is explicitly established in the opening title sequence, which is perhaps best left undescribed.

A beautiful-looking film only goes so far on aesthetics though. Ultimately it needs to engage the viewer on another level. The narrative was where people might believe Ford would suffer but it seems he’s also an incredible writer. The delicate nature in which he was required to balance this kind of storytelling would have brought many undone, yet he was almost faultless. As stated, the pacing of the film is perfect. Every cut is made precisely when it needs to be, allowing the viewer just enough to digest without having anything shoved down their throat. Understanding the film comes gradually and naturally, and Ford never has to perform an expose for the audience. Rather he uses effective visual cues and the expertise of his actors. It’s the tone of the film that is so surprisingly well done. This is a brutal and intense drama that boils certain characters down to their base emotions, and us with them. However, it’s also a scathingly clever and at times funny movie. Somehow, these two opposing moods don’t block or intrude upon each other; yet another tick for Ford’s ability.

As for the actors, the film is led superbly by Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal with a fantastic turn by Michael Shannon. Amy Adams continues to sign onto great films and give suitably great performances. Her performance is magnificently understated and emotive at the same time. Jake Gyllenhaal is the perennial professional who never puts a foot wrong. Here he’s particularly good for a very important reason I won’t spoil but it’s with him we ride the biggest waves of shock, despair, and pain. Michael Shannon is just badass as a hard-as-nails country detective.

Underpinning, and tying together, all of this is a haunting and mournful score put together by Abel Korzeniowski. Often, you almost don’t notice it because it fits so well with what is happening on screen that it seems an organic piece of the drama.

All in all, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ can only be described as being crafted by someone with immense attention to detail and passion for their work. Tom Ford and co. have delivered one of the year’s best films and I would urgently encourage people to go see it.