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.

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.

Crystal Fairy (2013)

crystal-fairy-indie-movie-650x350Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Jamie (Michael Cera) and three Chilean brothers plan a road trip in search of rare hallucinogenic drug San Pedro. Before their big trip (PUN) Jamie drunkenly invites mysterious hippie Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffmann). Soon enough both Jamie and Crystal Fairy clash in personality.

Stoner film of the year, Crystal Fairy brings the stoner stereotypes to life with refreshing realism and raw charm. You get a sense that this is going to be more than your typical stoner comedy as Jamie offers to cook for drag queens he just met from the street. Jamie savors the drugs he takes, he doesn’t indulge in them with excess while Crystal Fairy likes to experience the drug from the mind to the soul.

Going into the film I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it was a low budget indie and I knew it was going to be a comedy. After seeing the film it really was a lot more than that. Doing some research I found out that this was a film that Cera and director Sebastian Silva had not originally planned to do. Waiting for finance for their second film Magic Magic they decided to shoot Crystal Fairy. Despite a thin script, Silva’s clear direction and personal experience make the film a heartwarming piece of Chilean gold. The film is truly down to earth and incredibly raw as we tag along on this road trip. From the tonal changes to the backpackers antics. This is as real as we’re going to get to a road trip film.

Although this film doesn’t concentrate on the road trip but more about the characters on it. When we’re first introduced to Jamie he seems like a chilled out guy. He offers to cook for strangers and even invites a new friend on a planned trip. but once off drugs he is self indulgent and more interested in his own agenda as he reluctantly allows Crystal Fairy to accept his offer. Crystal Fairy is truly a free spirit as she spews idealist views about how the world should be and what is causing its demise. Her contribution to preventing it involves drifting from one place to another and refusing to shave. They may be on a road trip, but the film explores their own journey within themselves.

They are both conflicted with life and don’t really know what they are doing as we see Crystal Fairy take a gulp of Cola after giving a speech about how destructive sugar can be. She lives in her own world putting on this fake exterior. While Jamie fails to accept Crystal Fairy on the trip, he refuses to connect and in the end we see him get isolated from the group. What I liked about the film is that the characters are authentic and their problems are honest. Ultimately the film explores their inner growth, from selfishness to compassion and from a reinvention of themselves to their true self.

Crystal Fairy offers some committed performances from its cast. Michael Cera has played offbeat characters before but nothing as organic as this. I’m not familiar with Gaby Hoffmann but her eccentric and out there performance makes this one of the bravest performances of the year. As for the Chilean actors they did an awesome job largely dependent on improvisation. Juan Andres Silva has a certain look that suits the big screen; hope to see him take on other projects.

I’ve not watched many indies but this makes me want to watch a heap of them. Crystal Fairy may not be packed with jokes and road trip horse play, but it is rich in character development, mesmerizing cinematography and drug play.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

936full-safety-not-guaranteed-screenshotRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Safety Not Guaranteed follows two interns and their superior on a work related journey to the seaside to investigate a newspaper add which states that a man is looking for a partner to travel back in time with. At first the three Seattle magazine employees are apprehensive about the man and expect the reality to match their cynical views, but as they get deeper into the man’s life they find themselves second guessing themselves.

This film is truly something special and out of all the films that I’ve seen this year, Safety Not Guaranteed is definitely the most genuine and real. There’s been quite a few films that share a similar tone as this but doesn’t quite make the mark and that’s purely because they lack heart. This film explores the strength of belief, youth and how your past can haunt you. There are numerous scenes which exude these themes simply from an awesome soundtrack and down to earth movie clips. Without the playlist the whole tone and indie feel of the film would be lost, and it’s honestly one of the best playlist I’ve ever heard for a film, it’s just perfect. It’s weird how much music can bring out emotion from a film scene, but it totally works.

The cast is awesome, it’s nice to see comedy series stars on the big screen. Mark Duplass and Jake M. Johnson completely surprised me with their performances, cementing their places as big time film stars. There’s also a pleasant quirky performance from Aubrey Plaza which will just make you smile uncontrollably. Definitely looking forward to any of their future films.

It’s definitely a feel good film, and it really tells you to cherish your youth and to cherish anything because one day they may disappear for no reason at all. I particularly liked the scene where Jeff tells Arnau to man up, get off his ass and start living because your only 21 once, it’s so true and the scenes that follow will just make you smile like you just discovered your first boner (if your a guy), Inspired film with genuine intentions and good laughs, perfect if your feeling down and need a pick me up.