Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Movie Show: Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year, and The Gambler

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Entertainment Editor Aoife Kelly and Irish Independent film guru Paul Whitington discuss this week's three new releases - Alex Garland's Ex Machina, JC Chandor's A Most Violent Year, and Mark Wahlberg's latest offering, The Gambler.

Domhnall Gleeson seems to be everywhere right now with Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, Alex Garland's Ex Machina, and a stint in The Walworth Farce at The Olympia, but we still can't get enough of him.

He's fantastic in Ex Machina as tech nerd Caleb who works for a search engine company and wins a competition to spend a week with the company's reclusive founder in his isolated, rural home.

Worse prize ever, suggests Paul, although Caleb is happy enough, particularly when he's introduced to Ava, his boss's AI project, and tasked with figuring out whether or not she has consciousness and the ability to feel emotion.

However, Ava soon warns Caleb that all is not well.  Ex Machina is a very clever film boasting three superb performances from Gleeson, Oscar Isaac as the eccentric billionaire, and Alicia Vikander as Ava.

WATCH: WATCH: Domnhall Gleeson talks to Independent.ie about Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and working with the family

Isaac also stars in A Most Violent Year.  He has drawn comparisons with Al Pacino as Corleone but Paul points out this is the anti-mob film as Isaac's immigrant character attempts to build up his fuel company in the New York of 1981 without being drawn into corruption, which proves a pretty tough endeavour.

Jessica Chastain has been nominated for countless awards as his brash, mob-connected wife, but Paul wonders why the film has been overlooked by the Academy for the Oscars.

The title might suggest it's crammed with action and violence, which it is not.  It's a slow-burn, intense film with more excellent performances across the board.  Highly recommended.

Perhaps not so highly recommended is The Gambler, which stars Mark Wahlberg as the son of very wealthy parents who is a university professor by day (the addition of specs don't make Wahlberg any more convincing here) and a compulsive gambler by night.

He's a bland, emotionless, smart-ass character who's impossible to relate to on any level.  The only salvation is John Goodman in a small role, and an excellent soundtrack.  Wahlberg fans may be able to overlook the script which thinks it's smarter than it is, but neither of today's reviewers could.

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