In Cinemas: 'The Drop' (2014) + 'Nightcrawler' (2014)
Another Dennis Lehane story makes the transition from page to screen with Brooklyn-based crime drama, with 'The Drop' (★★★½) perhaps most notable for being James Gandolfini's final feature film appearance. Gandolfini plays Marv, the manager of an outwardly respectable "drop" bar, used to launder money. He is aided by bartender Bob (Tom Hardy) who finds himself caught between a desire to stay on the straight and narrow and the fallout of a robbery gone awry.
Gandolfini brings his usual verve to the genre (most notably from 'The Sopranos') but it is the tense interactions between Hardy and the threatening Matthias Schoenarts that are particularly arresting. Noomi Rapace is perhaps a tad wasted in a fairly standard love interest role but more importantly, there is a starring role for an incredibly cute puppy. 'Bullhead' director Michael R Roskam crafts this taut yet surprisingly amusing piece, penned by Lehane, although ultimately undercut by its level of understatement.
Jake Gyllenhaal offers a career-best performance in 'Nightcrawler' (★★★½), a disturbing character study centred around the drive of an ambitious freelance journalist (of sorts). After seeing a film crew capturing the immediate aftermath of a car crash, Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) graduates from thief to cameraman - shooting the most visceral footage of accidents and crime scenes he can find, gaining a steadily increasing strangehold on the market matched by his growing obsession with his new career.
Gyllenhaal's unnerving demeanour is accentuated by his seemingly bulging eyeballs and his gaunt appearance, contrasting the relatively glamorous nature of his TV station contact, played by Rene Russo. Indeed, the actor is arguably at his most unsettling in his scenes with Russo, a perversely symbiotic relationship. Writer-director Dan Gilroy paints Bloom as something of an anti-hero and yet the depravity reaches ever-increasing levels of horror as the film progresses - which actually becomes somewhat tiresome. Nonetheless, it's a captivating effort, with nods to the likes of Nicholas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, with a central performance from Gyllenhaal that is utterly inescapable.
At Home: 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' (2014) + 'Begin Again' (2013) + 'Doctor Who' Series Eight
Bryan Singer returned to the 'X-Men' series, with screenwriter Simon Kinberg tweaking the popular 'Days Of Future Past' comic storyline for the big screen. 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' (out on DVD/Blu-ray this week) brings together cast members from the original iteration as well as the 'First Class' reboot - with strong new additions in the form of Blink and Quicksilver. Indeed, it's worth watching the film for the incredible slo-mo Quicksilver set-piece alone.
Also out on DVD this week is 'Begin Again', a feel-good relationship drama with music at its core, starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. Alexia FG suggested that while the film wasn't burdened by complexity, it would likely leave a viewer with a sense of renewed hope. Read her full spoiler-free review here.
On the small screen, we saw the conclusion of the latest series of 'Doctor Who' - and Peter Capaldi's first in the iconic role. As someone who had a great deal of trepidation about Capaldi taking on the role, I have to say that he did a sterling job. Admittedly, this series focussed more on Jenna Coleman's Clara - a move that worked for the most part, although took quite an abrupt turn toward the latter half of the series. The emergence of Missy (the ever-engaging Michelle Gomez) was a highlight, but by the series end, her appearances felt all too fleeting.
TV & Movie News
In splendid news, 'Dapper Laughs: On The Pull' was pulled from ITV broadcast following severe criticism of the degrading brand of "humour" that so-called comedian Daniel O'Reilly was adopting. Although as this Radio Times correspondent points out in his take on the affair, ITV should still be held somewhat accountable.
The CIA are not only on Twitter but they recently took the time to go through something of a fact-checking exercise with 2013's 'Argo', the Oscar-winning film based on the story of a CIA rescue in Iran. Check out the tweets here.
Benedict Cumberbatch's latest film 'The Imitation Game' is out in UK cinemas today, and you can watch him above imitating a series of celebrities including John Malkovich and Taylor Swift. It is quite amusing, we promise.
A new trailer for 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' has appeared, ahead of its release next summer. Watch it on YouTube.
Read previous On Camera columns here. Drop us a line at film(at)fadedglamour.co.uk if you have something you think might be worth featuring in a future column.