Locke (2014)

locke-ivan-locke-tom-hardy-desktop-wallpaper-1080p (1)Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Tom Hardy stars in this claustrophobic drama, taking place solely in the confines of his BMW. Using only his acting chops and a bluetooth connected phone as a prop, this becomes more than a casual drive down the M6. We are first introduced to Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) clearly at a crossroads, deciding to run away from his problems or tackling them head on. The film consists of the unraveling of his life during one drive to London as he attempts to patch it together with only his mobile device as his tool. It’s a film we can all relate to, as we all know too well that mistakes have consequences.

This film instantly reminded me of Buried (Ryan Reynolds) and Grand Piano (Elijah Wood), as both films take place in one location and are more or less shot in real time. The problem with these films is trying to keep the audience engrossed despite it being shot in one boring location. Buried for me is a perfect example of a film that succeeds in being just as thrilling as any blockbuster I’ve ever seen, and that took place in a wooden box. Locke does it’s best to keep the interiors of Tom Hardy’s BMW interesting and engaging, using the reflections of street lights and passing cars to create a frame worth looking at. What really overpowers the screen though is Tom Hardy’s unworldly ability to project his emotions onto the audience. You can sense his frustration, sadness and determination to make what would seem like an impossible feat repairable. It takes some kind of actor with the ability to be on screen alone for the entirety of the film and make it as entertaining and suspenseful as this.

The script is what makes the film so riveting, and with award winning screenwriter Steven Knight in the driving seat making his vision come to life, there was no way his story was going to fall flat. Especially after coming off Hummingbird, his directorial debut which didn’t go down as well as he would have hoped. Locke not only showcases his brilliant talent for screenwriting once again but redeems his ability as a director. I have to admit that there could have been more room for creativity as some of the shots started to feel repetitive, but thankfully Tom Hardy’s dynamic performance prevents the film from becoming tiresome aesthetically.

The story is incredibly relatable which is ultimately why it’s so compelling. Ivan Locke is clearly not a guy to say sorry, which becomes clear as the film progresses. He instead is a man who steps up and fixes his problems with actions instead of meaningless words. He’s always looking for “the next step” towards repairing said problems, choosing practicality over emotions. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his moments of cathartic swearing, we all need to do that every now and again. But we soon find out that his determination to do the right thing and put 100% into each problem stems from a deeper childhood trauma, which he clearly carries around with him.  We realize that one moment of wrong choices can unravel a persons life and the others around them but it doesn’t mean it’s all over.

Locke may not be every ones cup of tea as it lacks physical thrills but for anyone looking for emotional thrills, Locke will be right up your ally. Tom Hardy’s performance alone should be enough of an incentive to see this film, if not then at least check it out for the love of nice looking beards.

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The Interview (2014)

the-interview-2014.31431Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

After weeks of controversy and leaks at Sony Pictures, we are finally able to feast our eyes on a film pertaining what can only be described as “the weirdest moment in Hollywood history”. Struggling with their Spider-Man franchise, receiving threats from North Korea and having their personal emails leak on the internet, it isn’t hard to assume that this hasn’t been a golden year for Sony. It has been said that this could just be a huge marketing stunt to bring in the big bucks, but I doubt screening the film in limited release is anywhere near ideal for Sony’s bank account. That being said it could still make a massive killing on VOD, already topping the charts on Google Play and Youtube Movies as people use the film as a way of celebrating Hollywood’s victory against censorship. Nevertheless it feels almost unreal that a Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg film could even be considered a credible attack on a country despite their past projects. A comment I saw online described the situation as “like a South Park episode”, which perfectly sums up the whole debacle. Now that we can all watch it, we can get past the controversy and enjoy the film for what it is, a gross out comedy starring our favorite Hollywood Bromance brought to us by our favorite comedy screenwriting duo.

The film is ultimately about David Skylark (James Franco) and his show producer Aaron Rapoport and their desire to report on real news. Being a big fan of Skylark’s show, Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of DPR Korea accepts an interview to be taken place in his country. Of course in his own terms. The CIA soon see this as an opportunity to finally take Kim Jong Un out.

The brilliance of Seth Rogan and James Franco is that their chemistry alone can carry a film, and it’s pretty apparent here. The Interview, despite it’s unique blend of real life and preposterous fiction, never really sucks you into the story. I was happy whenever the two leads were together in frame, but the moments which would veer off into the political/spy stuff was harder to care about. Even if the criticisms of North Korea are pretty much on point, I think finding that balance of seriousness and comedy needed more revision from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Effectively making their points about North Korea hard to take seriously. At times it felt like there were opportunities to be compelling but it never really amounts to anything more than a few lines of dialogue. This was more apparent during the third act of the film where it started to feel a bit preachy. With such a wacky character in James Franco and a crazy plot, it would have paid off more to have kept in that vein until the very end and attempted to be more satirical. Luckily only a small part of the film is burdened with this problem, and for most of it I was laughing my ass off.

Most of the jokes stem from the actors personalities and their style of comedy. The first act alone is brimming with James Franco wackiness and Seth Rogen mannerisms, which is what makes the film so enjoyable. Despite it being entertaining and the reason I love these guys, there are moments in this film which are far from original. How many times have we seen a guy conceal an object in their butts by pure necessity, I’ll always find it amusing because that’s the kind of person I am, but there’s no denying it’s overdone in comedy films. Nevertheless a lot of the jokes work, as we would expect from the Rogen-Goldberg combination.

Without the controversy, I’m sure this film wouldn’t have attracted as much buzz as This Is The End or Neighbors. Which is why it will be interesting to see how much it makes on VOD. The Interview is ultimately what we expected from the start. It has a lot of laughs, a lot of bromance and surprisingly a lot of slapstick violence. It’s not as memorable as some of the other comedies we’ve had this year, but it’s definitely not a “mundane” Adam Sandler film as Sony would put it.

The Guest (2014)

The-Guest-11

Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Still mourning the loss of their son, the Peterson’s get an unexpected visit from recently discharged David Collins (Dan Stevens). Having told the family that he was a close friend of their son, they offer him a room to stay in until he finds his feet. Determined to keep his promise to their son, he takes it upon himself to make sure everyone in the family is living a happy life. Despite his good manners and charm, something doesn’t seem to add up.

The Guest is a characterization of everything I want in a film. It may not offer anything groundbreaking or deep in its storytelling, but what it does offer is an incredibly fun ride. It’s neither just a thriller, horror or comedy, but a combination of all these genres. Taking familiar tropes and mashing them up to make a film that keeps you guessing. At times it’s campy and in others purely badass, but never over the top. It finds the perfect balance between a comical and ominous tone, which keeps it fun but suspenseful at the same time. Dan Stevens known for his role on Downton Abbey, totally gets his character. He doesn’t just play him as a soft spoken badass, but gives the character a comic element. There’s something about him throughout the film that makes you smile even when he’s threatening another character. For a period where blockbuster films are starting to blend into each other and originality is becoming scarce, it’s nice to veer into the indie side and actually be surprised by a film.

Every element of The Guest blends together perfectly to succeed in its vision thanks to director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett who have brought us numerous films in the past. Most notably Your Next, which has become a cult classic of sorts. It’s shot and edited stylishly keeping the action exciting and tense, even getting a sneaky spaghetti western sudden zoom shot in there during a bar fight. A lot of the scenes feel like homages to old school films, just from the electro-pop music alone. It’s easy to tell that inspiration has come from Wingard’s and Barrett’s personal 80’s favorites.

The soundtrack may be one of the best of this year. It’s not only infectious but aids each scene immensely, setting the tone and atmosphere of each moment. When David Collins gets out of the shower and Anna Peterson (Maika Monroe) is standing there totally swooned, you can almost feel her start to sweat. There’s something about the music that feels unconventional in such a barren environment, but it works so well.

The Guest is fully engrossing from start to finish, blending genres and gore to give a film that’s heaps of fun. It’s self aware and by no means takes itself seriously, with a protagonist that would give Ryan Gosling’s Driver a run for their money.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-7Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

April O’Neil is investigating the rise of the Foot Clan who have been causing trouble in the city of New York. She hopes to find out who is behind the clan so that she can leave her currently uninspired news reporting at Channel 6, which sees her doing elaborate bird themed work outs in front of the camera. Her intuition soon brings her to the Foot Clan suspiciously unloading cargo from the docks. As she videos the crime taking place, she witnesses unidentifiable vigilantes stopping the Foot Clan in their tracks. This won’t be the last time she sees them.

Michael Bay brings another childhood staple to the big screen but this time from the producers chair. Although he may as well have directed the TMNT reboot as Jonathan Liebesman clearly takes notes from the Transformers director. Everything from the glossy CGI to the Bayhem that ensues, it would be hard not to draw similarities. At least this time Megan Fox isn’t just there for her looks, although it’s hard not to notice her in that bright yellow jacket.

Despite having watched the cartoons at a very young age, I wasn’t very enthused about the release of this film. Maybe because I’d forgotten a lot about the franchise or after watching Transformers: Age of Extinction a month prior, I just couldn’t stomach another Michael Bay film. That said, I decided to pass on the ticket price and waited for it to come out on video. Although I’m glad I didn’t pay the $10 to watch this film in the cinema, I can’t say that I would have been disappointed if I had. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the outset is clearly a child friendly film. Once I got in that mindset, it was easier to just sit back and enjoy it. It was nice falling in love with these characters again and remembering the old days coming back from school and watching these cartoons. For hard out fans it may not be the same pleasant case of nostalgia as I’m aware they’ve completely butchered the character of shredder, literally and figuratively. He looked like a walking Swiss army knife. The turtles and Splinter aren’t too pretty either, unluckily for splinter he doesn’t have a mask to hide it. That being said I don’t think this is a completely bad film. It’s a decent origin story and first installment in the franchise, and for me personally has aroused enough interest for me to be more enthusiastic about the sequel which is already planned for 2016.

TMNT doesn’t have much going for it in terms of story. It’s incredibly generic and worn out. Bad guy wants to release a biological weapon on the city, corrupt business man makes tonnes of money from curing everyone. Being child friendly isn’t a good enough excuse for a lack of originality. Although The Lego Movie pretty much had that same plot, except it had a nice underlying message behind it. TMNT is quite simply shallow mindless fun which is forgivable if it succeeds in being fun. In my opinion it succeeds thanks to the facetious nature of the turtles and the cartoony action. Although it is let down by a script caked in exposition. There’s a huge portion in the middle of the film which consists of flashbacks and explanations, which ultimately ruins the whole flow of the film.

I welcomed the prospect of seeing a Megan Fox led film, partly because she’s gorgeous but also because I think she has more to give. After seeing her in This is 40, it’s clear that she is funny and has a sense of comedic timing which makes a film like TMNT a place she can thrive. I was disappointed not to see a lot of comedic moments where she could showcase that, and when she did have that opportunity, she was let down by the script. That being said I didn’t connect with her character as much as the turtles. Overall there weren’t any standout performances from the cast; solid but comfortable.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may not be the best film but thanks to some charismatic turtles and a few exciting action sequences, it prevents itself from being a bad one. It’s a film that kids are sure to enjoy but the script is neither exciting or funny enough for the whole family to enjoy together. For me personally, I’m glad that a sequel is being made so that it has another shot at success.

What If (2014)

what-if-daniel-radcliffe

Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

After getting his heart broken, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) takes a long break from the dating world, and is adamant about his cynical standpoint about love. This soon changes when he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a love interest at first glance only to learn the gutting news that she has a boyfriend of several years. A coincidental run in later they make truths to become friends, not letting their feelings get in the way of their friendship. As we all know, that never works.

‘What If’ sounds like your conventional Rom-Com on paper and it pretty much is. It tries its best to stray away from overdone plot points that we have seen in the past. Which makes for a less deja vu induced viewing but ultimately it isn’t anything original. What I’ve learnt from these traditional Rom-Com’s is that the story only plays a small part towards its success. We wouldn’t be watching these films if we weren’t hopeless romantics or participating in weekend date nights with our significant other. What makes these films enjoyable are the characters and the chemistry they have within their intertwined relationships. Without chemistry, especially from the leads, there would be no romance or any reason to feel a connection to the film. ‘What If’ benefits from two talented leads who ooze chemistry. You don’t always get to see chemistry between characters as natural and grounded as this in the Rom-Com genre.

This film also benefits from a down to earth script which is genuinely funny and is for the most part successful. I like how the story is clearly used and done before but the actions and rationale of the characters are grounded and realistic. It is an awkward situation, to like someone who is in a relationship. There will be hesitation and internal debate whether to pursue that person or not. Motivating that thought, “what if?”. I found the exploration of that quite interesting and relatable. Nothing too extravagant or unrealistic happens throughout this film, I found that to be a pleasant departure from those Rom-Coms which are overly dramatic or glamorized. It’s simply about a guy who realizes it’s a lot easier to be cynical about love than to go out and find it. It’s idealistic but an interesting theme of the film. As for the comedy, the cast are to praise. There are some great nuanced moments which are both cute and funny thanks to the performances. This again, relating to how well the cast seems to gel in those crucial one on one scenes. A moment I particularly found funny is when Chantry’s sister explains her experience with Wallace from the night before, it’s quite apparent that there’s no intention to cause drama but to voice her embarrassment. She then proceeds to make her belly look pregnant, I found that a lot funnier than I should have, but I guess I was more surprised that I’m not the only one who partakes in such quirk.

I haven’t seen Daniel Radcliffe since the Harry Potter films, and I regret not following his career since then as he plays the endearing Englishman unlucky in love perfectly. His decisions have been both interesting and diverse swaying away from high budget blockbusters, and I’m genuinely looking forward to his next projects. Adam Driver on the other hand is a revelation, having starred in films such as Inside Llewyn Davis, This is Where I Leave You and many more, playing both comedic and dramatic roles which I am looking forward to catching up on. As for his Star Wars gig, it will be interesting seeing how he comes off in a massive blockbuster film.

What If may not offer anything new in the Rom-Com genre but it does offer a beautifully shot ninety minutes of endearing characters and infectious on screen chemistry with a pretty banging soundtrack.