Friday, 22 August 2014
Directed by Steven Knight
We first see Ivan Locke leaving work for the night. A construction worker, we see him take off his heavy boots, get in the car, and drive away. He arrives at a traffic light and turns his blinker on to go left. Eyes closed, mind whirling, the light turns green and he hesitates. Left brings him home to his family, but he doesn't move. The truck behind him honks a few times over before Ivan flips his blinker to the other direction and makes a right turn. He's made his choice, and now he must pay for it. Ivan has a long night ahead of him. He's driving away and is making various phone calls in the car. He's calling work to make arrangements because he won't be there for a big cement pour in the morning and he's calling his family and trying to tell them why he can't come home tonight and will miss the big football game. And from here, I can't say much else without giving away the film. But the film asks the questions about choices. Left or right? Are the choices we make the right ones? And if so, are we ready to deal with the consequences?
Locke gives us an extremely intimate view into the life of Ivan Locke. From what we get from the 85 minutes is that he's a fantastic man. He's high up at his construction company and is in charge of this cement pour for a 55-storey building. He's well loved by his co-workers and his extremely efficient. He's also well-loved by his family. He's been married for 15 years and has two sons whom, you can tell, mutually love each other very much. But where we come in on Ivan's story is where he's faced with a choice. To go home to his family, or take the unknown road. Each path lies with life changing answers. And a choice, he does make.
The film is more or less in real time and features Ivan Locke actor Tom Hardy as the sole physical actor, and has him behind the wheel of the car for the full 85 minutes. Tom Hardy, who has been a rising actor for some time now, does a complete 180 from the film he did directly before this, The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy plays Ivan with such grace and poise. His Welsh accent is charming and his words always seem well-thought out (but never overly scripted). Hardy really digs into the crisis that Ivan is going through and we see so much going through Hardy that he completely captures all the little things. Tom Hardy is definitely a talented actor, and this film, as the sole actor for 85 minutes, is a complete showcase of his talent. Hardy is able to balance the nuances, of which the film is full of. It's completely about nuance and Hardy gets it all. It's a subtle performance, but it's definitely powerful one. It was never forceful or over-dramatic but shows a man going through a crisis, occasionally breaking down, but trying to stay strong and assure himself he's making the right decision.
This is definitely not a movie for everyone. By a lot of people's definition, "nothing happens". There's no bad guys, there's no car chases (despite being a film that Ivan spends driving the whole time). It's Ivan facing up to the choices he made in the past and the choice he must make now. I admit, it was not what I was expecting. The intense cover and the brief and vague summary made me wonder if I was getting into something like speed. I was hooked right from the beginning, trying to figure out what Ivan was doing, where he was going and why. The story, especially when revealed what's going on, will not appeal to everyone. It's a character study above all, and Steven Knight has both written and directed it with excellence. Ivan Locke is a character you come to feel for. Whether you sympathize with him or not, you really dive into his life and get to know him so intimately. With the film set in real time, we only get an hour and a half slice into one person's life, but it's a crucial, make-or-break moment, and Steven Knight (as well as Tom Hardy) allow us to be extremely involved. Steven Knight's script is absolutely perfect. It never sounded overly scripted but it was so well thought out. So many offhand comments reflect so well to the situation at hand. Again, it's the small things that make it so great. With the film being almost completely made up of Ivan taking phone calls, you'd think this would get tiring or repetitive, but Knight manages to keep interest and even tension there. The calls Ivan takes are all meaningful, and all play a bigger part. Some short, some longer, but all have a purpose, and all have emotion and power.
This was a film I enjoyed very, very much. I'm finding, more and more, that I love small character studies. It's interesting to see in contrast to a film like Boyhood. While this is a very different film, in many ways, it's another character study that's interesting to watch in contrast. Boyhood spanned 12 years over one person's life, and Locke was 85 minutes of one man. The problems are incredibly different but still life-changing for both people. While it probably isn't the most accurate contrast, it was interesting watching them so close together.
Locke is a film that a lot of people haven't seen, or have even heard of. It probably won't win many awards and it definitely didn't make a lot of money. However, it's definitely a powerful film about the choices we make and how to deal with them. You may not agree whether Ivan made the right choice or not, but the journey we went with him on is an intense and beautiful and sad one.
So now that I'm done doing my official project, I've been having some fun doing a couple blogathons. And this one seemed particularly fun. It's about guilty pleasure movies. And as someone who had a sort of odd taste in films, I do have a few fun ones I'd love to share. Here are the rules that had been outlined by Flicks Chicks
1 - You can choose and discuss as many or as few movies as you like. We both did a Top 10, but you can just choose 1 movie if you like. Just tell us a bit about the movie and why you like it so much.
2 - Please create a new post for our Blogathon, rather than linking an old post you may have already done.
3 - Please include our Blogathon Banner anywhere in your post
4 - The deadline for entries is Sunday, 31st August, so there's plenty of time!
Honestly, there's not a ton of movies that I "guiltily" love. Most of the films I do enjoy are generally well-liked by critics. Because as much as I absolutely love Silver Linings Playbook, there's not much to feel "guilty" about. However, I'm going to do a mix of films I just love that I find most other people haven't paid much attention to, or do actually have not fantastic reviews. So here it goes!
Heather's Absolute Favourite Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Films
1. The Proposal
Starting off with a film that does actually have generally "bad" reviews, I really love this movie. If you haven't seen it (and you should) it starts off with Margaret, a book editor who is incredibly harsh, strict and often mean. But when told she's about to be deported (she's a Canadian), she's so desperate to keep her job that she declares she's actually engaged to her male assistant, Andrew. They go visit his family in Alaska before their Immigration interview (the INS agent is very skeptical of their relationship being valid). Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds were actually so great in their roles. They both really nailed, I thought. And I think the movies works because of the typical role-reversal. It's not a male boss forcing his female assistant to marry him (eek, that sounds not good). But the movie is genuinely funny, and it goes does a slightly different path than normal romcoms (until the end, of course). The premise is funny, Betty White is the hilarious grandmother and both Sandra and Ryan nail it.
2. Dan In Real Life
Dan is a widower with 3 children. He hasn't been able to start dating again, and his daughters occasionally drive him crazy. Every year there's an annual weekend spent at the family cottage with all his extended family. While there, he meets a woman in a small bookstore and they spend the morning talking and connecting over breakfast. Dan is ecstatic as this is the first woman he connects with. But it turns out the woman, Marie, is Dan's brothers new girlfriend, who is joining them at the cottage. I love Steve Carell, but his movie career hasn't been fantastic. And while this film isn't stellar, it is one I really do enjoy. The film is sweet and Steve Carell plays loving father to 3 girls well. The film is warm and funny, but in a comfortable, rainy day way. It's a movie I always love to cozy up to. It's cliche, sure and it doesn't really do anything new. But Dan is always someone you're rooting for, even if he does bring so much of the various messes on himself.
3. Step Up 2: The Streets
This is truly a guilty pleasure. As much as I enjoy the first film, this one is my favourite. Basically it's about Andy, a girl who's constantly getting into trouble, running around with her dance crew. She has no parents and is living with her mother's best friend, but she's being threatened to be sent to Texas to live with her aunt if she can't behave. Neighbourhood friend Tyler (Channing Tatum's character from movie 1) convinces her to audition for Maryland School of the Arts, where Tyler turned around his life. She agrees, and gets in. But she's extremely behind. Just a street dancer, she has none of the classical training of her peers. She also gets kicked out of her crew. So cute popular boy (who also loves hip-hop dancing and is brother of the dean) and quirky friend convince her to start her own crew and beat her old one at the street dancing competition, The Streets. I don't know why, but I do love this movie. The dancing is fantastic and that's probably why I like it. The first I found didn't have enough dance and was "too much" story. And all the ones after Step Up 2 have dance overshadow story, but I find this one balances well. You have a definite story, with a range of cool, quirky characters and some fantastic dance scenes. Plus, how can you not love the backyard party scene? I just really enjoy it!
4. The Princess Diaries
The Princess Diaries is a movie I always, always, always enjoy. Always have and probably always will. If you don't know already, it's about Mia Thermopolis. She's awkward, weird and has terrible hair. But when her grandmother from Genovia rolls into town, her mother insists she has tea with her. Grudgingly she agrees and gets the bomb dropped that she's actually a princess, and her grandmother the Queen of Genovia, and that she is the heir to the throne. Now she must decide whether she wants to be princess or not and attends Princess lessons until a ball a few months down the road when she'll decide whether she'll take the throne or not. This movie is just a ton of fun. It was definitely a staple (and it's sequel) at sleepovers when I was growing up. It came out in theatres when I was a little below the target audience (I was 9) but it quickly became a classic in my family and with my friends. The story is what kept me hooked. I love her having to decide who she is, I love her crazy initially non-supportive best friend Lily, the love story, and the makeover! It's such a girly movie, and I still think it holds up so well even now when I'm 22 years old (the sequel, not so much)
5. The Parent Trap
Now THIS is a movie I watched growing up. I saw it first at school, on a day that was so snowy, the school was closed and we were waiting for parents to pick us up. I only saw the first half, but made my parents go out and rent it so we could watch the rest (they rented the original, which I told them was NOT the right one). But it's about 2 girls, Hallie and Annie, who meet at summer camp, discover they are twins that were separated from each other when their parents got divorced and switch places when they go home, so they can meet their other parent. They're also on a mission to get them back together. I actually really love this movie, still to this day. The story is interesting, and I always love it. Lindsay Lohan is at her best, and I was shocked when I discover she isn't actually a twin. I think this movie is incredibly cute. Dennis Quaid is always so well-suited for the loving father character and he does it well here.
So there you go! My top 5 guilty pleasure films. While some are definitely more guilty than others, it was still fun to reflect on my go-to movies that have a bit of "guilt" with them. Regardless, I do love all these movies, no matter whether people love them or hate them.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Directed by Richard Linklater
"You don't want bumpers. Life doesn't give you bumpers"
Mason is a young, curious and an inquisitive young boy. He's observant of the world around him, does his homework (but doesn't hand it in because no one asked), and gets into lots of fights with his older sister, Samantha. Samantha is only a little older than Mason, but is starkly different. She's loud and and a troublemaker. Their mother is tired of the life they're living, Single and renting a small house with a job that can barely support the three of them, they move to Houston, so she can go to school and get a better job. And that's when their dad seems to come back into their life. A man without much of a plan (or a career besides aspiring musician), Mason and Samantha find themselves connecting with their father again, much to the chagrin of their mother.
But this is just the beginning of their story. We follow Mason (and his family) for the next 12 years. Flitting into various moments in his life. The movie meanders along, with not much of a story to tell besides the story of a young boy growing up. It's poignant and insightful and always feels incredibly authentic and organic. The film was filmed over a period of 12 years and the same 4 main actors were used for it's entirety, which gives us an amazing progression with the characters, and amazing consistency. Richard Linklater seems to let anything go. We see characters have fluctuations in weight, we see them get braces, their zits aren't covered up and flies aren't swatted away while filming. Everything is embraced about life and how we grow up and it never comes across as forced.
The quote given at the beginning seems to sum up so much of the movie. Life is hard, and nothing comes easy. Mason learns a lot of things the hard way, as does his father, sister and mother. Mason goes through so many progressions and deals with the results of his own mistakes and others. While I couldn't personally relate to a lot of them, I know how true so many of them are. Parents getting remarried, abusive parents, alcoholism, moving to a new city, bad haircuts, peer pressure and teenage breakups. Life is just simply not interesting if it's perfect. What's the point in celebrating a strike if the ball bounced off the bumpers first? Mason is never given a safety net to fall in, and neither are the people around him. Mason handled things in a variety of ways, but was always soaking it in and observing, always taking something away from the incident. Mason sees how imperfect his life is, and we see him wonder about how he'll ever get it all together. And by the end of the movie, we realize nobody really has it altogether. But would life be more exciting or interesting if it had bumpers?
Boyhood is a film that has understated power. At first glance, it's simply a movie about a particular boy's life, and only seems to tell us the semi-interesting stuff. We see him camping with his father, or pillowing fighting with his sister, or going out for Mexican food at 2am with his girlfriend. But what Richard Linklater did was so much more than that. Boyhood is a story about everyone. We all have something we can relate to, and something we can sympathize with. It's a movie that ultimately gets you to reflect on your own "boyhood" (and "girlhood"). I found myself looking back over my own life, or reminded of something that happened to me when I was younger. It's a movie, that while we are looking into the life of someone else, we are unconsciously being asked to tap into our own lives.
Overall, Boyhood was a film I didn't want to leave. I love the mundane, the normal and just life. Peering into someone else's life is just so interesting to me, and this film felt like exactly that. Everyone was so believable in their roles, and nothing felt overly cliche or forced about the story and where the film went. While I don't know if this film will win Best Picture, it's by far deserving of a nomination, and same goes for Richard Linklater for Director and Patricia Arquette for Supporting Actress. The film was just so consistent in quality and the stories, while "mundane" are so interesting and are just part of life. It's a movie I loved floating in and I know I was sad when it ended (but was glad with where they chose to end it).