The DCH Blog
Locke - a pre-screening review - Monday 15th September 2014
A man in a car drives, while talking on the phone, about concrete. It’s hard to imagine that could hold your attention for five minutes, let alone the duration of a film. Yet in the hands of Steven Knight, directing his own script, and acted by an atypically understated Tom Hardy, it is utterly gripping from the outset.
The story is unremarkable, even mundane, but purposely so. Locke is everyman, fallen from grace and trying to make the best of it. Caught between duty to his wife, his job, and his lover, obsessed by memories of his slacker father, he drives and drives, with nothing but relentless phone calls to keep him company. For all its minimalistic credentials, Locke is a proper film. The emotional heft of the narrative is moved along by Dickon Hinchliffe’s haunting score, while Haris Zambarloukos’s camerawork makes the M1 look like a bejewelled thing of wonder. And Knight was smart enough to give Hardy a strong, albeit unseen, supporting cast. Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson lend authority and weight to the frantic voices at the other end of the line.
It all combines to make Locke’s world a rounded, complex and believable thing. This is an innovative and immersive film populated by real people doing real things. It is a brilliant, nigh on faultless, example of dramatic economy, with an ending that packs an emotional wallop.
By David Vass
Calvary - a pre-screening review - Sunday 7th September 2014
John Michael McDonagh has done something truly radical with this cracking little film, given the current climate. He has written and directed a film about an honest and honourable Roman Catholic priest that is poignant, thought provoking and oddly uplifting.
We need not look further that the title of Calvary, to be forewarned where all of this is going, but this exploration of petty rivalries and small town attitudes is frequently funny and full of quirky inventiveness and originality. The ensemble cast has great fun, without lapsing into caricature, and while this was always going to be Gleeson’s film, there is fine support from Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran, Pat Shortt and Aidan Gillen. For all the gloom and menace – much of the film plays out like Father Ted directed by David Lynch – this strange “who is about to do it” mystery is compelling throughout.
Reworking many of the themes and cast of his first feature, The Guard, McDonagh has gone on record as saying this is the second part of his glorified suicide trilogy. Calvary is such a promising step up, one can only guess, and eagerly await, what he has in store for us next.
By David Vass
Medea - NT Live - a review - Friday 5th September 2014
The latest Screen Arts broadcast at the Corn Hall was the final performance of Medea, live from the National theatre. Of all the nightmarish creatures that reach out at us from antiquity, Medea is surely the most terrifying. Not only because she murders her own children, but also because Euripides manages to make us sympathise, even empathise, with her.
Director Carrie Cracknell’s production is, for the most part, a remarkably straight version of the play. Although she wisely dispenses with any attempt at period, this is recognisably Greek Tragedy designed for the amphitheatre. Ben Power's translation strikes the right balance between heightened drama and recognisable human emotion, while stunning stage design gives a sense of both scale and intimacy. Helen McCrory is brilliant as Medea, allowing her to unravel in a way that feels not only believable – but inevitable. Her snarling, brooding presence is dangerous, seductive and curiously sympathetic. Danny Sapani’s performance is equally accomplished. As the self-serving Jason, he spouts empty headed sophistry and is maddeningly self-regarding.
Medea has blood on her hands, but so does her husband; both of them have to live with the consequences of their actions. It’s significant that Power’s only significant deviation from the original text is the bathos of the plays conclusion – swapping body bags for golden chariots was as startling as it was uncompromising.
By David Vass