“The darkest dark is the dark beside the spotlight. You can do anything there and no one seems to notice.”
Ostensibly covering the scandal which engulfed the respected car designer John DeLorean when he tried to establish the DeLorean Motor Company, Driven is oddly written in a way that largely sidelines both the man and his iconic car. Instead, the focus is on the affable FBI informant who was involved in setting him up, a mustachioed Jason Sudeikis seemingly test running the performance that would later become Ted Lasso. This approach provides a light-hearted tone with a character easy to root for, but it robs the film of much of its real-world interest in favour of a by-the-numbers sting. The DeLorean’s futuristic design with its immediately-recognisable gull-wing doors, and the compromises that undermined its launch, are worthy of centre-stage but are relegated almost to a McGuffin. Working with very little, Lee Pace impressively imbues John with determination and a quiet, tragic depth — there are similarities with his role in Halt and Catch Fire, a series which far better captured the entrepreneurial struggle and spirit of the 1980s. The period setting is effective, in the colour grading as much as the wide-collar constuming. Driven is a forgettable joyride, sufficiently enjoyable in the moment but derivative and ill-focused.
“When you get a different vantage point, it changes your perspective.”
First Man should not be mistaken for a film about the Apollo programme; as its name suggests the biopic is focused solely on the contribution of Neil Armstrong, sidelining everyone else. The claustrophobic nature of spaceflight is realistically presented through tight shots that leave us gazing into Ryan Gosling’s eyes with a regularity that eventually becomes tedious (although some viewers may disagree with this assessment). This is combined with an interesting decision to shoot the moon landing with IMAX cameras. If seen in that format the larger screen is entirely unused outside of that 15 minute sequence. Although impressive, IMAX viewing for this alone is far from essential. Gosling’s portrayal is deliberately understated whilst Claire Foy delivers the film’s strongest emotional performance as Armstrong’s wife. The most surprising aspect is an effective exploration of traditional masculinity and the burden placed on men who are left unable to share their emotional pain, with resulting impact on their families. Ultimately First Man is overlong but satisfying.
“The guy who invented the hamburger was smart. But the guy who invented the cheeseburger… genius.”
Matthew McConaughey immerses himself deeply in the character of modern-day gold prospector Kenny Wells. Based on the 1993 Bre-X mining scandal, in which the discovery of a massive Indonesian gold deposit turns out to be a fraud, there are overtones of The Wolf of Wall Street to this fictionalised account, albeit with a protagonist at once less charming but more sympathetic. Gold serves as a film as much about ambition as avarice, as we analyse Kenny’s motivations and trustworthiness.