Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: Get 6 Issues For £15
Get Empire magazine today and save money!
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 (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (35)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Not For The Faintheart(ed)
By Damon Wise

The Transsiberian Connection
By Damon Wise

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
By Damon Wise

When Damo Met Shane Meadows
By Damon Wise

It's That Guy From That Thing
By Damon Wise

It's Not All Work Work Work
By Damon Wise

The Dopeness Of The Wackness
By Damon Wise

Busy, busy, busy...
By Damon Wise

Poncey Drinks, Torture Porn And Fairy Cakes
By Damon Wise

In Pictures: Keira And Sienna At The Festival
By Amar Vijay


RECENT COMMENTS

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
"When do we get it though? Having seen the trailer so many months ago I'm desperate to see it.  r1x
Read comment

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
"Apparently Tarsem told the little girl in the Fall that Lee Pace really was paralysed which made her"  spyro
Read comment

The Transsiberian Connection
"Session 9 is a great film! If it wasn't the the silly ending, it would be a modern Horror classic"  Cethan
Read comment

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
"Completely agree on The Fall. Almost certainly my favorite film so far this year."  Will Goss
Read comment

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
"Nice write-up on The Fall. I decided many months ago that I was looking forward to this, despite the"  Acho
Read comment

When Damo Met Shane Meadows
"Meadows is a bit of a legend alright. Dead Man's Shoes is being shown in Dublin this weekend, as par"  Acho
Read comment

It's That Guy From That Thing
"I feel like I've been hearing about the visitor for months. Damn festival circuit, getting to see th"  Acho
Read comment

An Australian In Edinburgh
"I didn't know you're Australian Sam. No reason why I should've, I guess. Any chan"  Acho
Read comment

Just Listen To That Serenity...
"Hiam Abbass was at the showing at the weekend? GUTTED. Saw it earlier this week and I've been dying "  Daniel!
Read comment

It's That Guy From That Thing
"The Visitor was a good film, very good at points, but it did threaten in its first act to become a m"  Daniel!
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Ride The Wave And Take The Fall
4 comments

Busy, busy, busy...
3 comments

Poncey Drinks, Torture Porn And Fairy Cakes
2 comments

It's That Guy From That Thing
2 comments

When Damo Met Shane Meadows
2 comments

The Dopeness Of The Wackness
1 comments

The Transsiberian Connection
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (297)
Helen O'Hara (167)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
Ian Nathan (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
David Parkinson (1)

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

The Future Of Film: Your Favourite Movie WIll Be Crowdfunded
Click here to donate

The Empire Podcast #128: Interviews With Sir Roger Moore And George MacKay
Plus we say goodbye to Richard Kiel and the British Expendables are assembled...

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Paul Newman
A cat so cool he makes Steve McQueen look geeky.

The Boxtrolls Interviews: The Cast And Crew On Laika's Latest
Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning and more talk stop-motion

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

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 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! 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)