Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
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 (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (33)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
By Ali Plumb

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
By Ali Plumb

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 1: 'The Empty Hearse' - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
By Ali Plumb

Empire Visits Fresh Meat Season 2
By Phil de Semlyen

True Blood: Season Four - What A Witch
By Helen O'Hara

My Problems With Sherlock
By Ali Plumb

Supernatural Vs. The Vampire Diaries: Battle of the Buffy Successors
By Helen O'Hara

Why The US Office Is Undeniably Better Than The Original
By Ali Plumb

The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye
By James White

Boardwalk Empire: When alcohol was outlawed, outlaws became kings
By James White


RECENT COMMENTS

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"Terribly self indulgent episode, I fear Sherlock has crawled up his own a*se!"  darthmhall101
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"It was by the far the best episode of series 3, with a good plot, engaging villain and great dialogu"  dunc2001
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"With all this talk of Bond I can't find any mention here of the MOST obvious link. Mycroft at the e"  JediBobster
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"nobody else think magnussen was blind ? I also think the irish bird is either moriarty or his sist"  elsquig
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"Sorry but I was kind of disappointed with 'Series' 3 (series being a loose term for 3 episodes!).<"  MDG_78
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"I enjoyed this episode and thought it was a good finale for season 3. But is it just me or are they "  Pandora
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"So many "M" names - Moriarty, Mary, Magnussen, Mycroft, Molly, Mike Stamford, even Mrs Hud"  craftyexpat
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"Was late to the party with Sherlock, but ive watched them all over the past week. This show is absol"  7eke
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"I can only agree with hogwartswitch (#11) wholeheartedly. I spent the entire episode with a grand st"  RyanShanks
Read comment

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
"So bored that we gave up after 45 minutes. Won't bother with next week's."  DanTDavies
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

What's The Best TV Show Ever?
307 comments

Lost: The End
112 comments

The Show Must Go On
102 comments

Why The US Office Is Undeniably Better Than The Original
57 comments

My Problems With Sherlock
49 comments

Sherlock Holmes And The Curious Case Of The Princess Bride
43 comments

Supernatural Vs. The Vampire Diaries: Battle of the Buffy Successors
35 comments

Can Claudia Winkleman Save Film 2010?
20 comments

Can Torchwood Travel?
16 comments

Sherlock Series 3, Episode 2: ‘The Sign Of Three’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction
15 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (295)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
20 Not-So-Super-Men That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every 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  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)