Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Videophiled: ‘Locke’ – The measure of a man

LockeLocke (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD), on its surface, sounds like one of the those high-concept / stunt thrillers and horror films that sprouted up like weeds a few years ago: one actor in a car, driving alone in a stretch of freeway at night, talking to the people in his life through phone calls (hands free, of course; the man is nothing if not responsible).

Except that Locke is not a crime drama or a horror film; there are no villains on his trail or masterminds toying with him by phone. Locke is about a man who, in the space of a 90-minute night drive from a construction site in Birmingham to a London hospital, makes a decision that defines his character and changes the course of his life forever. There’s no twist to the narrative, no shocking revelation, but the meaning of his journey is best discovered along the way as Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy)—husband, father, construction manager—explains it to his family and colleagues.

Tom Hardy is in the driver’s seat, literally and figuratively, for the entirety of the film, and there’s nothing showy in his measured, introspective journey. While those on the end of his phone calls–a wife on the verge of hysteria, nervous sons aware that something is wrong, a construction foreman suddenly promoted to take charge of the biggest concrete pour ever attempted in the UK—unravel at the news, Locke remains calming and deliberate while in conversation and struggles to hold himself together in between calls as he confronts the consequences of his decision.

British filmmaker Steven Knight wrote the tough, lean, uncompromising scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Locke is just as uncompromising, but what’s at stake here is the measure of a man faced with a difficult decision. Knight finds ways to keep the journey from getting dull or claustrophobic with the camera finding new set-ups within the confined space of the car, watching Locke in reflection or lit up by passing cars and overhead lights; imagery that reminds us of the transience of his situation, a man alone in a river of anonymous travelers. But it’s the personal journey that makes Locke, a terribly human story about one man who refuses to shirk his responsibility no matter what it costs to his career, such and emotionally powerful drama.

Blu-ray and DVD with commentary by director / writer Steven Knight and the featurette “Ordinary Unraveling: Making Locke.” Also on Cable VOD.

More new releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and VOD at Cinephiled

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

Charlotte Le Bon and Helen Mirren

If you were working from a menu of “crowd-pleasing movie conventions,” you could do worse than to mark these boxes: the South of France, food, Indian culture, Helen Mirren. Mix with a generous amount of sugar and a brief nod to social concern, and you’ll have a surefire profit machine that goes by the title The Hundred-Foot Journey.

To be sure, this film doesn’t stumble into its formula by mere calculation. There’s a great deal of expertise involved: Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, etc.) knows how to keep things tidy, and screenwriter Steven Knight has the fine Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things to his credit.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Locke’

Tom Hardy in ‘Locke’

In Locke, a man drives a car for the 85-minute duration of the film. He is not being chased, nor is there a ticking bomb in the back seat. He isn’t headed for an international border with a suitcase packed with gold, or dying of radiation poisoning and trying to reach the antidote. He drives the car. He talks on the telephone. That’s it.

Why did I find this movie compelling? For one thing, I have a fondness for films in close quarters, like Rear Window. For another, the actor who occupies the driver’s seat is Tom Hardy.

We hear other peoples’ voices, but Hardy—as a building contractor named Ivan Locke—is the only person on screen. Having gotten a reputation for sculpting his physique for movies such as Inception, Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy uses his body here almost not at all.

Continue reading at The Herald

Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘Closed Circuit’: Rebecca Hall Deserves Better

Rebecca Hall is bound for better pictures than this

Woefully ill-equipped to compete with breaking news about Edward Snowden and Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning, Closed Circuit seems especially tired right now. Even if it functions for a while as a serviceable paranoid thriller, its premise is far too generic to compare with current headlines. Even the title’s misleading: This isn’t so much about the surveillance state as about government overreach for the sake of old-fashioned backside-covering.

The legalistic scenario rarely rises above the level of a British TV movie. We’re in the aftermath of a terrorist bombing in London, for which a single alleged Islamic radical is held for trial.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly