AFTER his triumphant Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle can surely do no wrong.
Well, with Trance (Cert 18) he comes perilously close but there are enough good things in the movie to leave his reputation untarnished.
It begins with a brilliantly orchestrated art heist presented through the eyes of fine art auctioneer Simon, played by James McAvoy. A gang burst into the auction house to steal Francisco Goya’s painting, Witches In The Air, and when Simon intervenes he is knocked unconscious by the leader Franck (Vincent Cassel).
It turns out Simon is in on the theft but has double crossed the others by salting away the painting. Unfortunately the blow to the head has left him with severe memory loss so that even under torture he can’t tell the gang where it is.
So Franck sends Simon to a hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to dig out the location of the stolen canvas from his subconcious. But Elizabeth soon twigs there is more to her new patient than his request to find some stolen car keys and eventually learns about the heist and confronts Franck to demand a proper cut on the deal.
It is at this point Trance moves from a heist film into something more psychological as McAvoy starts going into hypnotic states.
We as the audience are never sure what we are watching is reality or dream - a state of entrancement that lasts right to the end.
Boyle and his writers, John Hodge and Joe Ahearne, could be accused of being just a little too clever with the film’s numerous twists that in the end really lead to nowhere, though you stick with it.
McAvoy makes a good panic-stricken anti-hero opposite Cassell’s enigmatic and increasingly likeable bad guy, but gradually Dawson takes over the movie as the smart and sexy femme fatale, bravely submitting to a piece of eye-boggling full-frontal nudity.
The man they called the Belfast Godfather of Punk, Terri Hooley, is the subject of Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn’s musical biopic, Good Vibrations (Cert 15).
At the height of the Troubles in the Seventies he opened a record shop in downtown Belfast in defiance of the political and religious divide all around as a way of creating harmony through music.
He later founded a record label, in the process discovering The Undertones of Teenage Kicks fame, and establishing an underground scene at a much-needed time in Belfast.
Hooley was a charismatic character but the story shows he had a self-destructive streak that was to cost him not only his business but his marriage to Ruth (Jodie Whitaker).
It’s a pretty conventional biopic enhanced by the exceptional performance of Richard Dormer, little known except to viewers to Game of Thrones or anyone who saw the one-man show on Alex Higgins which toured to the Crucible a few years ago. He captures both Hooley’s charm and his less attractive selfish side.
The only surprise about Maniac (Cert 18), showing in the Showroom’s Cult Tuesday slot, is that they still make films of such misogynistic creepiness these days.
It’s a re-make by French filmmaker Khalfoun of a notorious 1980 slasher horror.
Elijah Wood plays Frank, a loner who lives in a mannequin store and goes out after dark to stalk and scalp women on the streets of New York.
We only see him from time to time in reflection as the film is shot entirely through his eyes but the unflinching point-of-view style accompanied by heavy breathing comes over in the end as little more than a gimmick. The film is as tedious as it is nasty for all its evident artistic pretensions.