Happy holidays to everyone! It's been a while since I last posted but before the summer season kicks in here are a few joys to sink one's teeth into... Following this there will be reviews on the final Miyazaki 'The Wind Rises' as well as a few interesting looking blockbusters in May. Those won't include 'The Amazing Spiderman 2' because the best Spiderman sequel was made 10 years ago and these reboots are seriously yawnsome...
Tom Hardy, who already feels like a veteran to these eyes, is an actor's actor so to speak. His voice carries a chivalrous gravitas that has lead itself to roles as sinister and volatile as Charles Bronson and Bane (Hollwood loves it's British villains). But what does that mean for Hardy? Betwixt Nolan' vehicles and the odd misjudged rom-com (THIS MEANS WAR, THIS MEANS WAR, this means snooze...) when was the last time Hardy was asked to restrain his over/underact? That's not to say this is an inbuilt flaw of the actor's but for me it's easy to ask 'why so typecast'?
Which brings us neatly to Locke.
The title here is a signifier for what is to come, the aforementioned star the all-compassing presence in a briskly paced thriller/character drama of sorts. This is the 'Tom Hardy in a car for xx minutes' that some of you may have heard but of course only superficially. Without giving too much away, phone calls drift in and out (before stacking upon one another) building to a climax which is both tense and paradoxically lilting.
Needless to say my opening gambit acts as a non-sequitur in this case. Hardy is stunning in a performance full of restraint and poise. The journey is broken up with clever switch ups that while creating a diversion from the unfolding narrative. This is experimental cinema of a high order and not to be missed.
Rating: 8.5/10 (B+/A-)
Brendan Gleeson epitomizes the very nature of the underrated actor. His work since his true breakthrough role in 'In Bruges' has always been at the very least dependable and at his best darkly comic and grounded in a of-this-world sensibility. This is Gleeson's second feature with director John Michael McDonagh, following on from 2011's 'The Guard'.
At the time of it's release, 'The Guard' felt like a relatively influential moment in recent Irish cinema, however in hindsight it's a fun film filled with memorable moments but not a particularly cohesive cinematic statement. It remains a solid enough watch but not enough to sate the palate.
An Irish priest is met in discretion by a young male looking to repent his sins. The man vows to kill the priest as killing a good priest will make people notice (I won't give away why he wants to kill priest however...). What follows here is a beautifully shot picture that allows scenes to breathe in a way that 'The Guard' was not interested in (the framing of each shot is a far more mature approach to direction from McDonagh).
The bleakness of what is on show will certainly put of 90% of viewers and there isn't some moment of catharsis here to apease all that comes before it (although such ideas are subjective). Gleeson has spoken recently of how he has struggled to come to terms with the exhaustive nature of the after effects from this performance and his nuanced soul-dripped turn is the anchor to a vessel that has no right to glide as smoothly and artfully as this one does.
This is the return of Irish cinema as a force to be reckoned with in 2014 and with a few dominoes collapsing onto one another this could brew an awards storm for Gleeson come the turn of the year but for now i'm just glad it exists because in its bleakness is an honesty and forthright 'je ne regrette rien' attitude that is both bold and brave.
Rating: 9/10 (A-/A)