Nightmare Alley

An ambitious carnival man with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. #Man or beast.


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at 22:38 pm

Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper); is a man trying to get by in late 1930s America in the new film "Nightmare Alley". Our first introduction to Stanton is less than flattering and he soon finds himself employed at a Carnival after coming upon it by chance. The eager Stanton is given advice and tools of the trade by his boss Clem (Willem Dafoe) as well as the mystic Zeena (Toni Collette) and Stanton eagerly wants to get ahead. While striking a friendship with fellow employee Molly (Rooney Mara); Stanton learns that Zeena's older and alcoholic husband has a skill from a former act where he learns to read people and use verbal cues to appear to have the power of clairvoyance. Eventually, Stanton seeks bigger opportunities and leaves with Molly for the city where they in time develop a successful act that offers them two shows a night at a fancy hotel and some of the finer things in life. Unwilling to be content with what he has; Stanton becomes involved with a Psychologist named Lilith (Cate Blanchett) and uses her knowledge to set up higher-profile marks who will pay well for his supposed abilities and in doing so; sets a dangerous chain of events into motion. The film is based on the 1946 book of the same name and an earlier 1947 film, and while it does an amazing job with the visuals and moody atmosphere of the era; it is a very long and slowly-paced film. The movie is over 2.5 hours long and comes across as overly long and self-indulgent as Director Guillermo del Toro could easily have shaved 30-45 minutes from the film and told the story without losing much. The cast and performances are very good but a slow-paced and dour film is not an ideal way to spend 2.5 hours at the movies no matter how much it has going for it. The movie does have some good points but I think it will do much better on streaming and home video where audiences can pause and take a break. If you are a fan of the Noir style of old; then this may be just what you are looking for, but I think it should have been so much more. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Chris Sawin

at 04:11 am

The duration of _Nightmare Alley_ may seem like a slog even as you’re watching it. On one hand, your mindset is essentially, “How many times do I have to watch Bradley Cooper read a book and point at his temple over and over for two and a half hours?” But _Nightmare Alley_ is expertly crafted in a way that every sequence feels relevant later on and it leaves you with a lot to ponder after it ends. It’s a beautiful film with an incredible cast full of strong performances from del Toro regulars. It may feel like an extreme case of a slow burn, but it’s also a rare instance where it’s worth your valuable time and the investment. The audience being in on the con from the start makes you feel like part of the carny family. At this point in his illustriously hellish career, _Nightmare Alley_ is arguably Guillermo del Toro’s best written film. **Full review:** https://boundingintocomics.com/2021/12/13/nightmare-alley-review-a-murky-noir-that-tinkers-with-greatness/


at 08:43 am

This is great! I loved it!'Nightmare Alley' is a superb watch! I particularly enjoyed the beginning and end, which are truly excellent; the middle part isn't as strong, but is still top notch in its own right. I love the dark atmosphere it sets from the get-go, the sound design is outstanding - some bits are so striking and I love it! It has a quality, engrossing story to boot. Bradley Cooper leads the cast with quality, though he isn't even the sole standout of the film. He is joined by a whole host of terrific performers: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, David Strathairn ... I could go on, simply phenomenal casting! I wanted more of them all, and yet felt I got the perfect amount too. The 150 minute run time went by incredibly quickly for me; if I hadn't known it was on for that long, I would never have guessed its length to be anywhere near that. It's a slow burn, but a slow burn done tremendously. Guillermo del Toro - this is the first film of his I've seen - & Co. did a super job, I have no complaints at all. I was toying for ages between a 9 or a 10 rating, it just about creeps its way into the latter. Just brilliant. Go watch!