Closed Circuit: when the barrister of a high-profile terrorism case dies in an accident, his replacement feels like he’s being forced into a predetermined outcome. Sure it’s all a bit ‘Bourney‘ what with the sweeping conspiracies that twist, turn, and unfold for the duration (some revelations more original than others) – but it’s all done satisfactorily. Shunning the prospect of any sensationalism, it’s got a rather realistic and bureaucratic-based plot, outlook, and no frills directorial style, which lends the movie authenticity: good for believability, but makes it all a wee bit grim, as it is about domestic terrorism, street bombings, and a massively incompetent governmental agency. Eric Bana is on good form, and sounding convincingly London! Rebecca Hall also puts in a good shift, albeit in a rather limited role. Closed Circuit is a competent, but unremarkable big-brother / conspiracy thriller that’s proficient, but doesn’t bring a whole lot of new stuff to the party.
Nightcrawler: when he spots an opportunity to sell footage of crimes to news channels Lou Bloom goes from petty thief to media entrepreneur – and nothing’s getting in the way of his thorough business plan. First off, this is an absolutely stunning portrayal of a sociopath; somewhere between Patrick Bateman and Anton Chigurh (No Country). Gyllenhaal does intensity like few other actors, with a role that covers everything from genuinely motivational speeches to disturbingly perceptive and socially inappropriate awkward-fests. Like all of the best on-screen psychos there’s an unsettling charisma around the character that draws you in; allowing them to supply moments of admiration, and not just shocks. Los Angeles feels equally divided between the soft ethereal skies and harsh emergency & neon lights – providing the perfect setting for this equally bipolar character. More generally, the film’s beautifully shot and put together – with several very intense, heart-racing moments of genuine tension. It also serves up a thick layer of social commentary and (bleak black comedy) leaving you to judge who’s the worst – the guy filming it, the news broadcasting it, the people watching it… or you for enjoying this? Despite being overlooked at awards season I couldn’t recommend this enough; great performances, well-crafted, entertaining, shocking and thought-provoking – Nightcrawler has it all.
PFR is marking the 500th post by putting up a bunch of DVD extras this week. This review is from Susannah at Not Really Working, a site that discusses everything from The Apprentice and Twitter to books and the Premiership!
Trishna: If the idea of Michael Winterbottom directing another Thomas Hardy adaptation fills you with fear and loathing, you should probably give Trishna a wide berth. This loose update of Hardy’s Tess of d’Urbervilles, transplants the action to modern-day India, and stars Freida Pinto as a beautiful young woman with lousy taste in men. When hotelier’s son Jay (Riz Ahmed) offers Trishna a job, a rosy future beckons, with financial security for her impoverished family. But the reality turns out to be utterly bleak and – at times – hard to watch. The first half of the film is light on action but filled with stunning photography, as Marcel Zyskind captures the glories of India‘s architecture and landscape as well as the teeming streets of Mumbai. When things go sour between Trishna and the bastard Jay, you’re reminded of other abusive relationships so graphically depicted in Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me. I’m not convinced that Pinto has the acting skills to match her spectacular looks, so I became frustrated both by Trishna’s passivity and the deterministic nature of Hardy’s doom-laden story. For a good time, I’d suggest booking a holiday in India, avoiding this film and not packing a copy of Jude the Obscure in your luggage.
Score: 4/10 (2 stars)