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 Guest (2014)

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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.

What If (2014)

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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.

Emma Stone: Top 5 Films

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Emma Stone has quickly grown to be one the best female actors today with her recent triumphs in Easy A, The Help, Crazy Stupid Love, The Amazing Spider-Man and Gangster Squad. Of course she has some big films coming out soon, one being a Woody Allen project and of course a Spider-Man sequel. Before she starts getting involved in some serious blockbuster films I thought I’d recap on her best 5 out of 15 films in my opinion, since I’ve basically seen them all. There are a couple of films that I had to leave out despite enjoying them thoroughly, the films being The Rocker, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad. Even though I enjoyed them a lot, they didn’t quite match up with the following five films which prove to be pretty awesome.

5) The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Emma Stone takes on the role of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest, and totally triumphs making Bryce Dallas Howard’s interpretation of the character insignificant. To be fair Spider-Man 3 didn’t do too much justice to any of the characters and the trilogy itself, so I will take that comment back. From Spider-Man history in terms of the comics and films, we usually see the girl becoming a damsel in distress and the hero has to rise above everything to save them. Which is why Emma Stone’s take on the character was a lot more unique and memorable. Instead of being eye candy, she actually had the brains and the courage to take on the villain as opposed to standing in the most vulnerable positions with no defense plan. Ultimately it was a great performance exuding genuine on screen chemistry with the lead (Andrew Garfield), making the Spider-Man reboot a successful comic book film.

4) The Help (2011)

This film challenged Emma Stone’s ability to take on a drama, after thoroughly proving her capabilities of starring in comedy flicks. The Help exposes 1960s America focusing on its Civil Rights dilemma’s. Emma Stone is of course the hero of the film playing an aspiring author, Skeeter Phelan, coming out of university with a genuine motivation of succeeding in her field of work. After experiencing her friends discriminating attitudes towards their maids, she decides to interview two maids about their experiences with their employers and taking care of white children. This soon prompts maids from all around the village to contribute to the book idea hoping to expose the realities of racism in America. It was interesting to see Stone involved in a film with such a dark subject. At first you’re kinda expecting her to break out a silly face or a weird noise, but she balances the seriousness of the character perfectly; making her passionate and witty, illustrating her intelligence as well as humor. She joined the ranks as one of the best female actors after this film, and being cast with a group of talented women would have helped her immensely.

3) Easy A (2010)

Easy A definitely has Emma Stone written all over it. You can tell she had a lot of fun filming this movie since the character pretty much mirrors her personality. The film take’s on school culture with a unique angle integrating The Scarlet Letter as a way of boosting ones popularity. Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) originally a nobody, has had enough of being invisible and attempts to climb up the social ladder by perceiving herself as the school bike. Eventually the lies get too much for Olive and the reality of having such a reputation means a lack of respect from her peers. As said before it shouts out Emma Stone with scenes of her being wacky and going all out weird, but that’s the charm of her character and ultimately leads to quite a fun and enjoyable film. 

2) Zombieland (2009)

This is one of Emma Stones most inventive and stylish films, mixing zombies with comedy. It focuses on a group of survivors within “Zombieland”, which is a post apocalyptic world infested with zombies, trying to find their next “home”. For some, home is a twinky and for others it is a theme park across the country, but despite their difference in ambition they all have one goal, which is to survive. Emma Stone takes on a pro con artist called Witchita, using her skills along with her little sister to con their way to a theme park so that they can both finally liberate in some fun. Stone rarely portrays characters which exude sex, but this is by far her sexiest role, I mean what’s sexier than a girl who can take on zombies like a boss while looking as hawt as she does. There’s a reason she’s been linked with a future zombie film, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, it’s because she completely smashed this one.

1) Superbad (2007)

There’s no doubting the hilariousness of Superbad which is why this makes it one of my favourite comedies of all time. It has some of the most memorable characters and jokes you will see in a comedy film. It has a pretty simple plot, but what makes it so good is that it’s scarily relatable. We have all been in at least one of many situations Superbad explores, from indulging in messed up porn sites to going through literally anything to pursue a chance to bone. What also makes this film epic, is that it helped propel Emma Stone’s career from being unknown to being one of the most liked actors today, and for that we thank you Superbad. Despite the lack of Emma stone, it still ranks as her best film for me, and what a great film to debut in.

What are your Emma Stone favorites? and which upcoming Stone films are you looking forward to the most?