Locke

A film about a man driving to London at night while discussing concrete shouldn’t be this good.

But when that man is Tom Hardy, there is nothing to worry about.

You should really go into this film knowing as little as possible, and so I will give away as little as possible. But I would comment thus – don’t be fooled by the use of the word thriller to describe the story, as even the trailer below seems to mislead in this respect. After watching it, I was kind of expecting something like the claustrophobia of Phone Booth, but that’s completely the wrong idea.

Tom Hardy, Eddie Stobart through the windscreen, and motorway lights are the only visuals, and the whole story is driven (sorry!) by the conversations Hardy has with family and work colleagues via the hands-free phone. As his life unravels in front of him, Ivan Locke is still defined by the roles of husband, father, foreman, and each of these need him to respond to the person on the other end of the phone in a different way. We all have sides of ourselves which only appear at work, or with friends, and we see a whole range of them in one car journey with this man.

Perhaps the metaphor of life being a journey is a little over-played, but I can easily forgive that, as I was captivated by the complexities of concrete for 90 minutes, and that is all down to Tom Hardy and some excellent film making.

Transcendence

Hugely anticipated by me (and many others, I imagine) due not only to the subject matter, but also the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, longtime collaborator on the films of Christopher Nolan.

The premise upon which the film is based certainly has a lot of potential. Technology and the internet  play such an important role in our lives, and guessing how that may play out in a not too distant future is only natural (think of the recent Her, for example). How close are we to creating an independent artificial intelligence?  And how would it behave once it existed?

The film, sad to say, is a real disappointment.  The ending is presented at the very beginning, so that what little suspense there is dissipates as you remember how it all finishes. The artificial intelligence (a bloatedly boring Johnny Depp) obviously views itself as an omnipotent deity, actually curing the sick in the desert – the lame walk and the blind see – and eventually, it has to be stopped.  So do you condemn it to death, or do you allow it to sacrifice itself for the good of the rest of the world … ?  I know it was being shown over Easter weekend, but really …

So while this should have had something to say about how we manage whether we are in charge of the internet or if it is the boss of us, it just became a cliché-ridden, poorly drawn analogy, with some weakly sketched characters, and Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman.

Biggest disappointment of the year so far.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I guess I have to start by admitting that Spidey is not my favourite of the superheroes. But I do like Andrew Garfield. And he is fine in this – in fact I’d go so far as to state that he and Emma Stone hold this film together.

Which is to say that, outside of their relationship, I was a bit bored to be honest. The giant light-bulb man and the evil kid on the skateboard just didn’t interest me, despite the best efforts of Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx.

Anyway, at least Gwen has some fabulous coats.

Calvary

Brendan Gleeson is always worth watching. And in this film, especially so.

A great set up in the opening scene leads  to a kind of  ‘who’s going to do it’ scenario, with Gleeson at the centre as the man who is trying to do right while surrounded by a collection of deeply troubled people.

It’s a really thought-provoking look at the Ireland of the 21st century, as it struggles to come to terms with the issues which have besmirched its reputation of late.

 

The Double

An interesting, at times befuddling and ultimately not quite successful second film from director Richard Ayoade.

This reminded me of bits of so many other films set in some kind of dystopia that it seems to lack originality. The irony of a film called The Double being derivative of so many others isn’t lost on me, and yet I don’t think this was deliberate on the part of the filmmaker.

I wish it had more to offer, but it left me feeling rather empty, to be honest.

Noah

The most oft-used word I’d heard or seen about this film was ‘bonkers’ – and this is the main reason I went to see it.

Perhaps I haven’t seen enough Aronofsky films to understand where he’s coming from, but his last film, Black Swan, made my bottom 5 of 2011 and had me laughing out loud. Apparently it’s not a comedy, and Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her performance.

Anyway, I went to see for myself just how ‘bonkers’ Noah is, and had quite an enjoyable time actually.

It’s too long, obviously, and the rock monsters were a bit peculiar, but I liked what the film was saying about man’s exploitation of Earth’s resources, and also the complexities of Noah himself – is he a fundamentalist? zealot? psychotic? just a bit troubled?

I’m not always appreciative of Russell Crowe’s work, but he was a good pick for this role. Less sure about Ray Winstone for once, but it’s clear that Russell will grow up to be Ray one day, so we will never be without a more mature, rough around the edges actor in possession of a range of dodgy accents.