Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Empire Blogs
Words From The Wise

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Venice 2013: Parkland, The Sacrament, The Zero Theorem and Locke

Posted on Monday September 2, 2013, 19:50 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Venice 2013: Parkland, The Sacrament, The Zero Theorem and Locke

Venice has a bit of a thing for Kennedy dramas, having played host in 2006 to Bobby, an ensemble piece set at the hotel where JFK’s brother was assassinated. This year saw Peter Landesman’s Parkland make the trip, an equally star-studded historical piece that begins in, but is not confined to, the hospital of the same name, where JFK himself was taken after being shot in the head on a visit to Texas in 1963. Unlike Bobby, this is a quite a nuts and bolts affair, a mosaic of lesser-known details that seeks to tell a forensic story of the day rather than the subsequent conspiracy-theory industry that has since sprung up around it.

 
The result is not so much the anti-JFK as the un-JFK, ignoring Stone’s film completely and painting instead a portrait of a city plunged into a panic, a microcosm of the wider world. Some players are better than others, and the famous faces are a little more distracting than they were in Bobby, since this is a constantly evolving fly-on-the-wall story. Nevertheless, it’s a decent snapshot of a long-gone time, a welcome reminder, almost 50 years to the day, of how people took the news back then, in a less cynical era, unspoiled by social media.
 
The Sacrament is the latest from Ti West, whose House Of The Devil I rather liked, as much for its flaws as its strengths. The new film shares some of that film’s concerns, notably an interest in the past (HOTD had a great 80s vibe), this time looking to the 70s in an otherwise contemporary story. A faux intro from the Vice magazine channel (I think) sets an awkward tone, posing as a real travel piece shot by two journalists who accompany a photographer to visit his estranged sister Caroline (Upstream Colour’s Amy Seimertz), a reformed alcoholic. After a journey by helicopter to an undisclosed location, they find Caroline in an armed compound called Eden Parish, a religious commune overseen by the sinister Father, and what at first seems like a happy, altruistic hideaway begins to reveal itself as something much more sinister.
 
Like HOTD it takes an age to get going, which in itself is no bad thing. But Father is such a neat ringer for the late Jim Jones, the crazed pastor who persuaded his flock to sell up and move with him to Guyana in the 70s, that when the story starts to kick in, it all feels rather familiar. If you don’t know the story, or if you haven’t seen Kevin Smith’s thematically similar Red State, see the movie cold and it just might work. But truth is stranger than fiction, and aficionados of crackpot American behaviour will be better served by the superb 2006 doc Jonestown, a much more chilling depiction of psychopathy in action.
 
Going in to Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem, I have to say I was very afraid. I’m not a great fan of the director at his most, ahem, zany, and I feared the worst from this dystopian fantasy. As it was, I merely thought it was OK but severely underwhelming, a return to Brazil’s Fellini-esque grotesquery albeit leavened with a good-humoured, melancholy tone that encroaches gingerly on Beckett’s territory, if not that of a stoned Kafka.
 
The Brazil comparisons are inevitable but fair, since the whole movie could be a subplot from the director’s 1985 opus. Christoph Waltz stars a Qohen Leth, a wizard “entity cruncher” who holds down a high-stress job solving problems with the aid of a Tetris-like computer interface. Qohen dreams of working from home, partly because he is a hypochondriac but mostly because he is convinced that an important telephone call is coming, one that will change his depressed existence forever.

As a starting point, it’s quite interesting, but unfortunately this is almost the entire movie. Nothing really seems to happen, and the film unfolds as a series of offbeat vignettes, many of them revolving around Qohen’s boss (David Thewlis) and his boss’s boss (Matt Damon). The appearance of a strange woman named Bainsley (Melanie Thierry) brings a sexual frisson into his life, but for veteran Gilliam watchers it’s a little too close to Kim Greist’s fantasy woman for comfort. Gilliam thankfully stops short of self-parody, but self-homage is a tricky feat to pull off, and I’m not sure The Zero Theorem does it.
 
Finally, one of the revelations of the festival was Locke, the new film by Steven Knight, writer of Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Knight’s track record – he also helmed the Jason Statham movie Hummingbird – might suggest a genre piece, especially since the story takes place entirely in a car, with no cutaways or flashbacks. Instead, Locke takes the single-location movie genre in a wholly unexpected direction, using dialogue to enrich character rather than add layers of plot twists and exposition.
 
Key to the film’s success is Tom Hardy’s magnificent performance as Ivan Locke, a gentle, bearded Welshman who gets into his car after a hard day’s work in the construction business and embarks on a 90-minute road trip that will change his life forever. Using only phone calls to and from Ivan’s friends and family, Knight fashions a compelling human-interest story from the most simple elements. It would be churlish to say more, except that Knight manages to hold our attention throughout without the usual elements of drama; there is nothing extraordinary in these conversations – many of which involve lots and lots of concrete – but Locke keeps its momentum going right to the very end. It’s a modest film for sure, but it’s effective, ingenious and very, very memorable.
 

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Comic-Con Videblogisode 4
By Amar Vijay

Comic-Con Videblogisode 3
By Amar Vijay

Comic-Con Schwag Spotlight
By Amar Vijay

Panel Report: Captain America, Thor and The Avengers
By James Dyer

Panel Report: Cowboys & Aliens
By James White

Panel Report: Paul
By James White

Panel Report: Priest
By James White

Panel Report: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
By James White

Comic-Con Videblogisode 1
By James Dyer

Panel Report: The Other Guys
By James Dyer


RECENT COMMENTS

Comic-Con Schwag Spotlight
"Why would a WW2-era Wolverine have adamantium on his claws?"  spacemonkey187
Read comment

Panel Report: Priest
"welcome __ __ ( b2cshop. us )Love shopping friend`Please copy-pasting   trdtrfcvgyh
Read comment

Comic-Con Videblogisode 2
"So, I know... what I'll do is, 1) queue up from 5am in the morning to get a good seat in"  Thumbsucker
Read comment

Comic-Con Videblogisode 4
"C'mon, you swines, spill - how the HELL did you get rooms in the M******t? I'm guessing the greasing"  Thumbsucker
Read comment

Panel Report: Captain America, Thor and The Avengers
"Thank you Gooner, seriously, because up until reading this thread i thought my opinions were the mos"  Bizz90
Read comment

Comic-Con Videblogisode 4
"Thank you, TimEdwards!!!"  willkillyoulast
Read comment

Comic-Con Videblogisode 3
"Whose arm was that punching Chris? That was a niiiice arm. :D"  ChocolateDoughnut
Read comment

Comic-Con Videblogisode 4
"i have to go to this thing before i die! thank you for sharing, you guys are awesome :D<"  snikendeullteppe
Read comment

Panel Report: Megamind
"I really enjoyed Date Night. Obviously not up to 30 Rock standards but a good mainstream comedy; alt"  Medion
Read comment

Panel Report: Green Lantern, Harry Potter and Sucker Punch
"did u just write the spoiler ronicolxuo? I don't know if you're sicker for doing that or sadder for "  gazpop
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Panel Report: Captain America, Thor and The Avengers
42 comments

Comic-Con Videblogisode 4
23 comments

Comic-Con Videblogisode 3
10 comments

Comic-Con Videblogisode 1
8 comments

Comic-Con Schwag Spotlight
6 comments

Panel Report: The Other Guys
2 comments

Panel Report: Megamind
2 comments

Panel Report: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
1 comments

Panel Report: Priest
1 comments

Panel Report: Salt
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The biggest, best, brightest and sometimes weirdest films of the coming year

Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)