On DVD & Blu-Ray: August 12, 2014

Much is required not only of Tom Hardy in director Steven Knight's Locke, but from the audience as well in which I mean it isn't for the the likes of everyone. As someone who is deeply entrenched in the world of movies, where they've been, are currently at and where the trends point them towards going it is always nice to see a film take a certain amount of risk and to see it pay off is even more rewarding. I realize that not everyone will see the merit not only in Hardy's highly nuanced performance, but in what it actually takes to maintain interesting, compelling drama for nearly an hour and a half without resorting to anything more than a man in his car and the world he once knew falling down around him, but Locke illustrates brilliantly how it can take very little to create something of significant impact. There is hardly a minute of this film where Hardy is not on screen and when he's not we are only given brief moments to take in the dimly lit highways of England as Hardy's Ivan Locke makes his way towards London. Even Locke himself is barely able to focus on the road and the world around him because his mind only has the bandwidth to deal with a certain amount of things, granted they are highly emotional items. In the case of this particular night where we meet him and stay with him in real time he is performing a balancing act of personal and professional tasks that see both of them going nowhere but a place he least expected to end up. It is a bleak film, with a dim color palette and ambiguous atmosphere where all of the information we are able to gather is from our titular character and those he speaks with on the phone. It is not so much what an accomplishment Locke is in terms of pulling off what it did with its restraints, but more that it was able to do so much with them. Within these confinements Knight and Hardy are able to pull off what doesn't feel like a stunt for the sake of attempting something daring but instead have crafted a film that feels as if it is all the better for using the elements it has to build the suspense and create the right kind of mood for which to most honestly convey this story to the audience. Full review here. A

The Railway Man is a weight of a film. It is heavy with burden, heavy with guilt, heavy in theme and deeply entrenched in a story so stricken with all of these attributes that the resulting cinematic take on it could not help but to swim around in these deep, dark emotions. It is a disturbing tale, but it is one that is more of a straightforward nature than any film I've seen recently that exists outside the big-budget wheelhouse. We typically see these smaller films as opportunities for filmmakers to say something more than what you might find on a classroom poster or more than an excuse to simply make a bunch of noise and draw obvious conclusions from years of archetypes and cliches that still entertain the masses, but are not enough for people as immersed in film as the makers themselves or the strong army of cinephiles that populate the internet. Sometimes though, a story is strong enough on its own bearings that there is no need to come up with a fresh way to convey it or imply larger themes or ideas beyond that of the basic story and Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man is one of those films. Not that the way in which Teplitzky has chosen to tell the story isn't effective in enhancing the already engaging story, but anyone who could provide solid-enough direction while armed with this narrative and these actors could have likely pulled off a win. It only helps that Teplitzky and his screenwriters, Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions) and Andy Paterson who adapted Eric Lomax's autobiography, were able to get out of their own way and let the story speak for itself. I sometimes find it difficult to describe what makes a film of this straightforward yet compelling nature exactly that, but in doing so I've found I try to over-analyze and do the same thing I'm happy the filmmakers didn't do. That being said, The Railway Man is an engaging story featuring world-class actors and a high-brow look that keeps us entranced by its beauty, torn by its brutality and unwavering due to its strong resolution that you can't argue with because it's true, but is still somehow able to cover if not heal the scar tissue left behind by years of hate and a yearning for retribution that is tucked away by the harsh reality of how the world works. Full review here. B-

I enjoyed Jason Segel's re-boot of The Muppets despite the fact I had no sense of nostalgia for them, but was rather upset he wouldn't be returning for a second round. With the success of that re-boot though it was clear Disney was going to make a sequel and so they rounded up the likes of Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and a ton of other celebrities to fill out the cast and string together a narrative that is described as the Muppets finding themselves wrapped up in a European jewel-heist headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike. Director James Bobin did return to both direct and write Muppets Most Wanted which received fine reviews and what I imagine is a passable piece of cinema for a night in with the kiddos, but one I can't imagine left much of an impression. My wife is a bigger Muppets fan than I so I imagine we may get around to it at some point, but I have no driving desire to do so.

I haven't seen the first and have no desire to see this one either.

There seemed a general divide between critics about what this James McAvoy film was trying to be and if it was simply trying too hard. In light of Dom Hemingway and a similar sense of aesthetic with McAvoy in Danny Boyle's Trance last year Filth continues to get lost in the crowd for me. I enjoy McAvoy and I think he has made some interesting choices so I would be inclined to check this out considering he plays a brash, unapologetic and generally psychotic corrupt policeman, but can't help but see me waiting until it shows up on Netflix streaming before I give it a shot. Here's hoping the wait is worth it.

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