26 May 2013

Movie Review: The Hangover Part III

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B

The Hangover Part III
2013, 100mins, 15
Director: Todd Phillips 
Writer (s): Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin
Cast includes: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Heather Graham, John Goodman, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha 
UK Release Date: 23rd May 2013

It all ends. So reads the tagline for “The Hangover Part III”, the finale to a trilogy that started only 4-years ago, but has since morphed into one of the biggest comedic franchises of all time. In 2009 “The Hangover” arrived with minimal expectation but became a word of mouth sensation, raking in gargantuan amounts of cash and more shockingly legitimate critical recognition. It made superstars of leads Bradley Cooper (now Oscar nominated), Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, and of course, led to an inevitable sequel. The second feature arrived in summer 2011 craftily entitled “The Hangover Part II”, and whilst the box-office still burped out vast quantities of dollar, the reaction was much more diverse. The picture rekindled the original cast’s affability and offered a handful of rich belly-laughs, but too often wandered into the shadow of its ingenious older sibling, repeating plot beats and character arcs shamelessly. It wasn’t a foul creation, but it was certainly disappointing. The same criticism can’t be made of “The Hangover Part III”. Writers Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin substitute bleary-eyed revelations and horrific surprises with a chase narrative of sorts, throwing the three leading characters across the USA in search of wanted felon Leslie Chow. It’s an imperfect feature and takes a considerable chunk of time to find anything approaching a solid rhythm, but when the adventure gears up “The Hangover Part III” actually makes for a satisfying finish.

With his father dead and his behaviour spiralling out of control, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is in need of a life reassessment. Encouraged by buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to seek medical attention, Alan reluctantly agrees, but en route to treatment the group hit a severe snag. They are cornered by Marshall (John Goodman) and a band of heavies, their captor instructing the boys to help him locate criminal Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), the irresponsible gangster having pocketed some $21 million in stolen gold from the angered goon. Marshall takes Doug as insurance, and sends the other three out to uncover Chow’s whereabouts; reluctantly forcing them to operate as The Wolf-Pack one last time.

Todd Phillips has always been a very polished purveyor of comedy, favouring pronounced visual flair and picturesque cinematography of which the genre is usually starved. He maintains this standard here, but also indicates a clear growth in other departments, managing to mount certain sequences at a perplexingly artistic pitch. He shoots Las Vegas and Tijuana with the same sort of grungy atmosphere that defined the locales of previous entries, but “The Hangover Part III” has a much more flashy action itch to scratch, forcing the characters to strategise break-ins, scale structures and indulge in various bouts of vehicular carnage. All of this is conducted in fluent cinematic terms, Phillips maintaining his technical skillset whilst exhibiting an advanced editorial technique. There are moments here packed with legitimate style and energy. The best example begins in a strobe lit hotel room, before exploding onto the streets of Vegas, as a car stalks an airborne target. Not only does the material sit comfortably and provide entertainment; it looks lavish and upmarket to boot. Even in the realm of high-end contemporary Hollywood, that’s a genre rarity.

The cast retain a vibrant chemistry; it is obvious these fellows adore working together. Galifianakis has struggled with the same shtick since the denouement of the first movie, but even he manages weird moments of inspiration and surprising vulnerability. Cooper and Helms are the standouts (they’ve subtly stolen the franchise away from their bearded chum), reacting to the ridiculous events around them with aplomb and succinct comic timing. Ken Jeong barrels into an even larger role this time around, but is less annoying than in the previous flick, chiefly because the script actually channels his over-caffeinated (still kind of racist) routine into workable material. The efforts of the central protagonists are unquestionable, which makes unmemorable newcomers like Goodman’s godfather and Melissa McCarthy’s bitchy pawnbroker less of a problem.

“The Hangover Part III” aims less for the bawdy raunchy belly-laughs and more for some good ol’ fashioned road trippin’, stitching the antics together using Phillip’s newfound fascination with physical bombast. The screenplay takes at least a quarter of an hour to find some footing, spouting out some dire material along the way (the much advertised giraffe gag is awful), but when the pack are reteamed, the amusing banter and occasional moments of lurid awesomeness keep the giggles coming. It’s true that “The Hangover Part III” is less interested in straightforward comedy than the previous films, but it still feels like an appropriate addition to the franchise. The formula has just been shaken up and the film-maker fuelled with a refreshing new perspective, ensuring the picture circumvents the stale repetition of “Part II”.


Mike Epps and Heather Graham lovingly reprise roles and it’s nice to note things are a little less overtly mean-spirited this time around. “The Hangover Part III” works hard to try and lather some pathos into its crazed goodbye, it doesn’t always work, but the attempt is appreciated and there are times when the brotherly love between the heroes is almost affecting. Almost. Fans and frat boys should respond favourably, and whilst other demographics might shudder, I personally found “The Hangover Part III” a mirthful way to bring this charade to a halt. Oh, and stay during the credits. You’ll be rewarded with an absolute doozy of a farewell. 

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2013

24 May 2013

Top 3 Casino Moments in Movies

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When writing movie scripts, casinos make excellent settings. We can probably all recall a scene with nail biting suspense courtesy of an intense casino game. It is these movie scenes that have provided us with memorable casino scenes.

One casino movie that provides a top casino scene is the movie, “Hard Eight”. In this movie, an experience gambler takes a young new player and shows him the in and outs of playing craps at the casino. In this film, there are interesting scenes in which the veteran provides tips on the game to help his eager protégé.

Another film in which a memorable scene includes some mentoring is “Ocean’s Eleven”. In this scene it is Brad Pitt who is teaching a group of former teen idols how to play poker. The joke is kind of on them as Pitt’s fellow crook, played by George Clooney, is taking them for a ride as the young players learn.

“Casablanca” is definitely a classic movie for many reasons. This film does include a top casino scene where an impoverished Bulgarian refugee is trying to win it big on a biased roulette wheel. A sort of mentoring also occurs in this top casino scene as the club’s owner, played by Humphrey Bogart, helps this man to win so he can realize his dreams.

The games found in these movies can also be played at online casino sites like Luckynuggetcasino.com online casino. One of the easiest to play is craps. This casino table game uses two dice and different forms of betting which occur before the die is rolled. If the die ends up being a count of 7 or an 11, everyone wins even money. However, if a 2, 3, or 12 are rolled, then all bets are lost. If the roll is any other number, the die continues to be rolled. Rolling stops when the same number is rolled or a 7 is rolled. If a 7 is rolled then everyone loses.

Sponsored Post, 2013

17 May 2013

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

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A-

The Great Gatsby
2013, 143mins, 12
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer (s): F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel), Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke
UK Release Date: 16th May 2013


Published the guts of a century ago in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” has in the decades since been upheld as the very pinnacle of modern American literature. Operating as a roaring piece of escapism, an involving drama and pointed critique on the dangers of hedonism, “The Great Gatsby” is a marvellous work of fiction, thoroughly deserving of its high standing in the 20th century cultural pantheon. Several filmed adaptations have been attempted since the 1920s (most notably the sedate 1974 version penned by Francis Ford Coppola), but none have managed to fully compress all of Fitzgerald’s motifs and delicate stylistic touches into a unified cinematic product. Enter Baz Luhrmann. The flamboyant Australian may have initially seemed like an odd fit for Fitzgerald’s prose, but the film-maker uses his lust for excess to tremendous effect in “The Great Gatsby”. A sumptuous banquet of audio and visual treats, the adaptation delivers an incredibly immersive experience, thanks in no small part to strong casting and an intelligent preservation of the text’s key motifs.

New York 1922. With Wall Street booming the City has been enveloped by a mist of decadence and vulgar greed; loose morals, overflowing cocktail glasses and raucous parties all major societal cruxes. Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is an aspiring writer and Bond salesman, renting a small house in the village of West Egg to pursue his modest career ambitions. Across the bay in the more illustrious East Egg lives Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her arrogant spouse Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), a wealthy pair ill at ease due to Tom’s unfaithful behaviour with working class mistress Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher). Nick finds their way of life curious, but is even more intrigued by his mysterious neighbour Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), an elusive bachelor famed for the enormous parties he throws on a weekly basis. When an invite arrives for one of Gatsby’s bashes, Nick finds himself befriending the charming businessman, discovering a well-mannered and warm individual. However Gatsby has an ulterior motive; Nick offering him access to a beloved figure from his past, the much coveted and now unhappily married Daisy.

 
It is hard to imagine a director more tonally suited to Fitzgerald’s text than Luhrmann. Thanks to pictures like “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!” Luhrmann has deservedly cultivated a reputation for extraordinarily lavish bouts of cinematic abundance, something he more than upholds with “The Great Gatsby”. The director is never more at home than when visualizing Gatsby’s parties in all their pomp and splendour, envisaging a glittery hell, overrun by garish dancers, cheap liquor and contemporary pop music melted organically into the fabric of 1920s America. Aesthetically the picture is an utter joy, a unique gem that combines the detailed lyricism of author with the high energy of an auteur in creative paradise. Every location clicks, whether it be Myrtle and Tom’s seedy apartment hideaway or the vacuous, clinical beauty of the Buchanan residence, Luhrmann nails it with gusto and appropriate atmospheric verve. It helps that the cinematography is phenomenally polished and picturesque, helping to contrast the differences between wealth and poverty (“The Valley of Ashes” is hauntingly realized here) and pinpoint the fascinations with hollow depravity which marred the period.


The cast are all comfortable in their parts. Maguire is more humane than usual, providing emotive narration and a turn that encapsulates Nick’s fall from naivety. Mulligan is delicate and visually well suited to the role of Daisy, communicating the character’s fragile and flighty grasp of the world with saddening sympathy, floating around the picture like a lost soul desperately seeking fulfilment. Those worried that Mulligan may be too strong a presence to effectively essay the airy and enfeebled worldview of Daisy needn’t have shown such concern, the actress reeks of innocence, ill-conviction and ravishing discontent. Edgerton and Fisher are left to chew the scenery with their respective contributions, but it’s not much of a hindrance, both performers adding a little added vampy pizzazz to Luhrmann’s already bubbling broth.  


Then there’s DiCaprio as Gatsby, and what a terrific turn it is. The actor will no doubt continue his long history of Academy snubs with his sterling work here, but that’s no matter, he’s the heart and soul of this thriving adaptation. The film lights up when he finally arrives, the actor using his effortless charisma to seduce viewers before plastering on the anxieties and character nuances with skilful and refined aplomb. Luhrmann and DiCaprio combine to peel back Gatsby’s layers with intimacy and care, crafting a figure of extreme interest. His interactions with Nick and Daisy are handled with affecting emotional grace, and his nervous, even at times infuriated confrontations with Tom hit an electrifying tempo. DiCaprio’s performance is extraordinary; capable and mature, with an unhesitant comprehension of the source.



The themes and imagery of Fitzgerald’s writing are carefully mimicked and worked into the narrative smoothly; I can’t imagine purists will find much to complain about within the central plotting. Gatsby’s conflicts are dealt with in a way that would likely leave Fitzgerald tickled, Luhrmann’s fizzy touch only highlighting the fruitless futility of Gatsby’s quest for shallow perfection. The way that the film-makers have chosen to bookend the piece is worrisome, electing for a tired and clichéd voiceover that stems from an elongated therapy session. It’s a misstep for sure, and suggests that even Luhrmann’s imagination has boundaries, but he deals with the meat of the story so triumphantly I’m willing to overlook this laughable miscalculation.

The screenplay soars and the characters engage just as I’d hoped, connecting fully for the lengthy 143 minute runtime. It’s a scintillating barrage of blockbusting luxury, honouring the source with reverence, aesthetic authenticity and pulsing humanity, delivering both a drama and commentary of some considerable worth. I acknowledge it’s not for everyone, but in my eyes this Gatsby is truly great.

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2013

14 May 2013

This Week in Capsule Reviews - 14/05/13

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Pitch Perfect (2012) – D+

Overlong and clichéd underdog musical comedy has a few bright spots, generally thanks to infectious A Capella, but stumbles on the back of an unfocused script and too many clunky jokes. Director Jason Moore at times threatens to imbue the picture with some self-aware intelligence, but ultimately gets lost in a mire of fat, barf and PG-sex gags. The dramatic angles don't really work that well either, the relationship between Anna Kendrick and the world's best Dane Cook impressionist failing to ignite many sparks or even marginal interest. Also, if this is the film that turns Rebel Wilson into a comedy superstar, I officially declare now that I don't get it.

Sightseers (2012) – C

Professionally put together on a threadbare budget, "Sightseers" stumbles due to a lack of over-arching purpose. It's entertaining on the back of intelligent dialogue and catchy musical touches, but the picture runs out of steam before the halfway point, never really moving beyond the "Badlands" in Yorkshire joke that dominated its pre-release identity. Even at a modest 90 minutes it feels too long, although the performances help by plastering the picture with a believably human touch. As my first exposure to the much heralded British talent Ben Wheatley, I must confess "Sightseers"' lack of depth and thematic ugliness left me deflated.

Martin (1978) – A-

Incredibly astute twist on the vampire myth, ditching most of the frilly, campy stuff in favour of a more honest and focused approach. It follows a vampire trapped in a teenager's body, as he combats the superstitions of his uncle and comes to terms with his blood-lust and socially alienating condition. It's very stylish and benefits from a wealth of genre call-backs, with a thematic intelligence that parallels adolescence and infertility (among other things) against the vampire condition. Eerie and very involving, a few performances are left a little wanting, but other than that this is sterling genre film-making.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) – C+

Zippy documentary is fun to watch and starts strongly, but a lack of focus in the latter half robs it of true insight. Spurlock is a great host, but maybe somebody with a more probing mind and tighter attention span should direct, limiting him to using his admitted charisma for on-camera shtick. Affable and digestible, but there's a more cutting work to be made on the topic of product placement than this smiley yet superficial piece.

Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – A
Absurd and lovable in equal measure, this quirky rom-com has feeling and heart to spare, with a pair of adorable performances courtesy of Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. Being a Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Punch-Drunk Love" has a very unique aesthetic, hypnotic visuals and a gorgeous soundtrack adding value to this already fantastic tribute to love's enduring power. Sandler in particular has rarely been better.

Capsule Reviews by Daniel Kelly, 2013

10 May 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

2 comments
C

Star Trek: Into Darkness
2013, 132mins, 12
Director: J.J Abrams
Writer (s):  Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Cast includes: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Alice Eve, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg
UK Release Date: 9th May 2013


It could be argued that in 2009 J.J Abrams achieved the impossible; he made “Star Trek” cool. His reboot of the popular sci-fi franchise was everything punters hoped for, a slick, emotive and incredibly accessible blockbuster, laced with just the right amounts of heart, bombast and wit. As a result its sequel was always going to much anticipated, and after four years of waiting it arrives in the form of “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. “Into Darkness” reunites Abrams with his previously stunning cast, but something is missing here, that crucial sense of zippy fun that underlined the initial foray as such a delightful summertime confection. Instead “Into Darkness” becomes bogged down in repetitive (albeit lavish) set-pieces, underwritten characters and a need to make the whole enterprise feel darker. The latter complaint isn’t necessarily a new problem with sophomore franchise flicks, but it’s an adjustment Kirk and company simply didn’t need to endure. It’s wholly polished, but “Into Darkness” is a broody, charmless heartbreaker.

After a standard recognisance mission spirals out of control, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, much less dashing than he was in 2009) and First-Mate Spock (Zachary Quinto) are stripped of the Enterprise, demoted and shamed by the authorities of Starfleet. However when mysterious criminal John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) begins an assault on the academy, leaving Kirk’s mentor Pike (Bruce Greenwood) dead, he reclaims his position as Captain and vows vengeance. With the unexpected support of Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), Kirk and his crew plan to capture Harrison and bring him to justice, travelling to the fugitive’s hideaway in Klingon territory. Upon arrival they locate their man, but it transpires his identity and Starfleet’s motives for dispatching of him are hazier than first anticipated.

“Star Trek” was a blockbuster packed to the rafters with attitude, explosive action and a tremendous ensemble performance. In contrast “Into Darkness” merely feels perfunctory, a rudimentary spinning of the sequel-wheel which depressingly dictates nearly everything Hollywood attempts. The screenplay is a watery and unfocused piece of work, attempting to stuff new characters and ideas into the mix without fleshing out a single one satisfactorily. It’s legitimately difficult to begin dissecting the movie’s fumbled character dynamics. The film wants to essay the burgeoning bond between Kirk and Spock but devotes little energy into formulating the relationship, relying on surface level tiffs and a treacly ending to communicate their affection. Similarly Spock and Uhura (a steely but criminally underused Zoe Saldana) find the former’s lack of obvious emotion a romantic roadblock. This promising notion is settled over one shallow, spiky exchange, before Abrams loses interest and moves onto the next round of pyrotechnics. Adding to the unappetizing taste is a pointless new female character with daddy issues (Alice Eve, existing only to look good in underwear) and Harrison himself. British thespian Benedict Cumberbatch nails a sense of pervading menace and classes up every scene within which he features, but ultimately he’s left grappling with a rote and at times illogical role. His actions are lacking in consistency, and whilst his performance grips, Cumberbatch adds to the icky dourness that dominates this entry.

Michael Giacchino’s music is still an utter joy (please let him have a pop at the “Star Wars” theme) infusing the soundscape with a dependable urgency and sense of adventure, but the action rarely matches up, at least in terms of imagination. Abrams envisions stunning worlds with ace special effects, but the larger scale set-pieces underwhelm, chiefly because they’re often reduced to CGI spaceships firing lasers at each other. It’s not suspenseful or engaging, and by the time “Into Darkness” offers something with a little edge (the hand to hand combat moments have genuine oomph) it is unlikely audiences will particularly care. Spectacle is one thing, but infusing it with tension, excitement and audacity is quite another. Abrams achieved that quite flawlessly in 2009, but can’t even approach such blockbusting standards with “Into Darkness”.

T
he picture pirouettes between action regularly, but fails to establish a cracking pace, the final act particularly punishing and overstretched. The outcome feels inevitable from the get-go, and by too regularly placing an abundance of characters in peril, finds itself bleeding potential momentum and excitement. Abrams places the entirety of the movie’s main cast in danger without focusing potential suspense on the fate of individuals, a silly manoeuvre which should bother anybody with a functional history of film-going. I mean it’s possible to believe one key character might bite the dust, but an entire handful of franchise stalwarts? Give me a break.


“Into Darkness” doesn’t have much of an identity, it looks great, but ultimately it’s a hollow, surface level beauty that fails to penetrate the clunky, humourless script. After Abrams’ recent work I had every faith that this picture would amount to one of the season’s strongest offerings, but alas it actually jumps at the opportunity to be summer 2013’s first major disappointment. It’s a puddle of mega-budgeted mediocrity that even purists and uber-nerds will struggle to fully embrace.  
 
A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2013

9 May 2013

Summer 2013 at the Movies. Smells of....Cheap Cleaning Product and Melted Cheese...

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Going to the cinema is a pivotal part of the summertime experience. Blockbusters come rolling out on a weekly basis, box-office registers go kaboom and Kevin James surfaces at least once too many. Summer 2013 is shaping up to be an intriguing season of filmic goodness, and to help get you in the mood, here are a few predictions and suggestions concerning the months ahead.

 
#1 – Attend at least one film you normally wouldn’t. Last year mine was “Rock of Ages”. So yeah. fuck this idea and let’s start from scratch below.

#2 – “Pacific Rim” and “The Lone Ranger” will probably flop. They’re both massively budgeted, and while I have faith each will be fun, a surprisingly small number of people seem to care either way. Should “Lone Ranger” fumble it’ll mark a dark day for Johnny Depp after last year’s financially underwhelming “Dark Shadows”.

#3 – Go to a blockbuster with an elderly person. Because nothing makes you feel more intellectually superior than reciting the specifics of a fantasy flick’s convoluted plot to responses of “wha?” and “that’s not very likely”.

#4 – Attend an outdoor screening if possible, cause it’s summer. I mean movies are great and all, but you should at least attempt to get some sun you big nerd.

#5 – Nothing will trump “Iron Man 3” at the box-office. Not even Superman or Paul Walker.

#6 – If you encounter a group of well-behaved youths, sit behind them, shouting, making crass jokes and lobbing popcorn. It’s ironic you see.

#7 – Try and sneak your cat into a theatre. Bonus points if you get away with it having a tinkle whilst there.

#8- Roll up the cinema one afternoon, and just go see the next movie that happens to be showing. Unless it’s “Grown Ups 2”.

#9 - Monster’s University will continue the trend of diminishing returns for Pixar movies. It’ll probably be okay – but the glory days are liable to start feeling even more distant

#10 – “The Conjuring” and “This is the End” will be the dark horses this year, both critically and in terms of monetary success

#11 – If you’ve never mixed sweet and salted popcorn together, rectify your oversight. It’s amazing.

#12 – Do Crystal Meth in the bathroom, have sex in the lobby or pay to see something Michael Bay’s involved with. Whichever you choose, it’s self-destructive and debasing behaviour.
 
 
 
An article by Daniel Kelly, 2013

3 May 2013

Movie Review: What Richard Did

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A

What Richard Did 
2012, 88mins, 15
Director: Lenny Abrahamson 
Writer: Malcolm Campbell 
Cast includes: Jack Reynor, Roisin Murphy, Sam Keeley, Lars Mikkelsen, Gavin Drea
UK Release Date: 11th January 2013

“What Richard Did” is a chilling and powerful hunk of cinema, a film that deals in no uncertain terms with some huge themes, detailing them in ways that far transcend the grasp of cliché or melodrama. The picture grips like a vice for the entirety of its brief 88 minute runtime, setting its title character up with balance and poise, before putting him through the wringer for the duration of acts two and three. “What Richard Did” features no gore, impalements or murders, but with its deeply human core and devastatingly tragic observations it is very possibly the scariest film of 2013 so far.

Richard (newcomer Jack Reynor) is a popular teen, a handsome athlete with a bevy of friends, loving family and a positive outlook on life. He generally conducts himself in a compassionate fashion; his present nearly as bright as the sporting future he has mapped out. During the summer between the end of school and start of university, Richard falls for Lara (Roisin Murphy), the two connecting with effortless grace on both an emotional and physical level. However Lara has her fair share of admirers, including heartbroken Conor (Sam Keeley), who incidentally plays on the same Rugby team as Richard. After a house-party goes sour, Richard and Lara endure a lover’s tiff, only for Conor to spring into defensive action on the lady’s part. What happens next changes the course of all their lives forever.

“What Richard Did” debuted at festivals in 2012 and received a theatrical release earlier this year. In the interim period since then its young lead has been snapped up by Michael Bay to replace Shia LaBeouf in the “Transformers” franchise. This leap from small Irish drama to Hollywood blockbuster should strongly indicate how impressive Jack Reynor’s performance is here, a measured and balanced piece of acting that flits naturally between unassuming contentment and utter torment. “What Richard Did” is the story of a boy, once thought to be pure and upstanding, who finds out what he’s truly made off when the chips are down and things spiral horribly out of control. Reynor’s work not only communicates the complexities of his moral dilemma with a very humane touch, but also successfully allows the audience to access his guilt, to ask themselves “what would I do?” It’s an outstanding and phenomenally mature characterisation, and one that suggests Reynor is a thespian of remarkable potential. Is Michael Bay the auteur to tap into such a reservoir of raw talent? Errr… well that remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure; talent Reynor most certainly possesses.

The feature is directed by Lenny Abrahamson, a Dublin born film-maker with whose sparse work I am unfamiliar. On the basis of “What Richard Did” Abrahamson is one to keep an eye on, both his direction and Michael Campbell’s screenplay boasting an authenticity which defines the picture and its fascinating conundrum. Visually the movie is restrained and features the hallmarks of a tight budget, but its thrifty appearance doesn’t translate into the drama or indeed Abrahamson’s technique, both of which highlight an intelligence and depth one can’t help but appreciate. Abrahamson values the craft of acting and the importance of nuanced character, nearly everybody in the film bestowed with a vital pulse and unique perspective on Richard. It’s an engaging plot because the feature adheres so devotedly to reality, depicting people we recognise and conjuring emotions we legitimately fear. There’s no flash or bang required here, with a steady eye and unflinching attention to mental strain Abrahamson provides more tension and thought than any summer blockbuster in recent memory.

“What Richard Did” isn't an easy watch and it commands respect and patience, the picture only really getting underway after the 30 minute mark. However for those who prefer their art organic and emotionally sincere, this slow-burning start is a gift, allowing the film-maker to find a rhythm and purpose within his leading character, to quietly explore his world and the dynamics which populate it. Of course when things take a turn for the worse the feature gets pretty upsetting, but there’s a horrible beauty to be found within its agile musings on guilt and grief, an honesty that simply blew me away. This is an explosive work, and I suspect not the last time you’ll see the names Jack Reynor and Lenny Abrahamson attached to ecstatic prose. 

A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2013