Re-Watch: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writer: William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Based on: Cressida Cowell‘s books
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
[Here's my first review.]

Plot:
A Viking village. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the son of the Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) and dreams about slaying dragons like all the rest. Unfortunately for all the rest, Hiccup has a knack for building machinery and is incredibly clumsy. One day, Hiccup manages to actually down a dragon – and one of the infamous Night Furies. But nobody believes him, so he sets out to find and kill it. But when he does find it, he is not able to hurt the creature. Instead the two of them slowly strike up a friendship.

I knew that I liked How to Train Your Dragon when I first saw it but I had forgotten how positively wonderful it was. Even on second watch, it made me cry. And laugh, of course. And seriously crave a Toothless of my own.

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Flowers in the Attic (2014)

Flowers in the Attic
Director: Deborah Chow
Writer: Kayla Alpert
Based on: V.C. Andrewsnovel (the first in the Dollanganger Series)
Cast: Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye

Plot:
Cathy (Kiernan Shipka) leads a happy, sheltered life with her parents and siblings. But when her father suddenly dies, her mother Corrine (Heather Graham) doesn’t know what else to do – so she returns to her parents, despite the falling out she had with them. But once they’re there, it becomes clear that Cathy’s grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) doesn’t want the children there. Instead of a warm welcome and a safe haven, Cathy, her older brother Christopher (Mason Dye) and their two younger, still incomprehending siblings get locked into the attic for an indeterminate amount of time, with only occasional visits by their cruel, religious grandmother and their flighty mother.

I am not entirely sure why I started watching this film or why I finished it. The entire set-up is so convoluted, the acting is so very mediocre (apart from Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham) and then the incest… but it does go by rather quickly and I watched it with a kind of horrified fascination.

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[SPOILERS]

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Reaching First (Mindy Klasky)

Reaching First is the third novel in the Diamond Brides series by Mindy Klasky. [I won this book in a Librarything Early Reviewer giveaway.]

Plot:
On the surface, Tyler Brock has pretty much everything: a successful career as a baseball player, money, good looks. But he is hiding something from the world: the fact that he can’t read. But since he knows his surroundings, that is not that much of an issue. But then he gets transferred to a new team in Raleigh. And just before he leaves, he gets into a bar fight and now has to serve a hundred hours community service. Which he is supposed to fulfill at Emily Holt’s project of building a support center for veterans and their families. Tyler and Emily are immediately drawn to each other. But when Emily starts asking Tyler for work that requires him to read, they start clashing. And things aren’t made easier by the fact that Emily isn’t entirely upfront about everything, either.

Reaching First was a quick, entertaining read that is pretty much a standard romance. Nothing much will surprise you, but it mostly achieves what it sets out to do. The ending is a little quick and a little too sweet, but other than that it was enjoyable, if not very memorable.

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Ödipussi (1988)

Ödipussi
Director: Vicco von Bülow aka Loriot
Writer: Vicco von Bülow
Cast: Vicco von Bülow, Katharina Brauren, Evelyn Hamann

Plot:
Paul (Vicco von Bülow) is rather middle-aged but still spends most of his time when he isn’t working as a furniture salesman with his mother (Evelyn Hamann) who cooks for him, does his laundry and expects him to play scrabble with her and her friends. But when Paul, affectionately called Pussi, meets psychologist Margarete (Katharina Brauren) he starts to show an actual interest in a woman who isn’t his mother.

Ödipussi – a pun, as you probably gathered, on the Oedipus complex – is a classic of German comedy (contrary to Austrian popular belief, Germans do have a sense of humor) and it’s wonderfully absurd. It does end weirdly but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

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The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge: Anarchy
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Sequel to: The Purge
Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, Justina Machado, Michael K. Williams, Edwin Hodge, John Beasley

Plot:
It’s Purge Night: For one night every year, all crime is legal. In the poorest parts of Los Angeles this means that all hell breaks loose as the rich descend on the poor to prey on them. One man (Frank Grillo) wants to use the Purge Night for revenge, while others just get caught in the middle – like Cali (Zoë Soul) and Eva (Carmen Ejogo) who are attacked in their own home and have to flee or Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) whose car breaks down. By chance, the five of them find each other and try to survive the night together.

The Purge: Anarchy is a lot better than the first Purge film, but since that was abysmal that isn’t saying much. While at least we get to see a bit more of the interesting stuff in this film, it still suffers from a big lack of coherence.

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Re-Watch: The Purge (2013)

The Purge
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane,
Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller
[Here'y my first review.]

Plot:
It’s 2022 and the USA is doing great. They attribute this to the Purge: one night every year where crimes are legal. The Sandins are supporters of the Purge, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) makes his money (and a lot of it) by selling security systems and together with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) he pretty much has the perfect suburban family. But this Purge Night things start to go very wrong and the Sandins find themselves besieged in their own house.

I didn’t like the Purge the first time I saw it and probably wouldn’t even have watched it a second time if it hadn’t been for the double feature at my local cinema (review of the second one follows) and the company of some of my /slash colleagues. In any case it is safe to say that the film does not improve on re-watching. At all.

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The Strain (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Strain is the first novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Plot:
A plane lands in New York City and goes dark immediately. When it’s finally opened up, it becomes clear that everybody on board is dead. The CDC in the form of Ephraim Goodweather and his colleagues is called in to find out what could kill an entire plane full of people. But what Eph slowly finds out is that this is no normal infectious disease but something rather more sinister – and whatever it is, is spreading fast and quickly threatens the entire city.

While The Strain isn’t the greatest book ever written, there is much to love about it. From the concept of hard sci-fi vampires, to their take on vampirism in general and its compelling readability.

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Und in der Mitte, da sind wir [And There We Are, In The Middle] (2014)

Und in der Mitte, da sind wir
Director: Sebastian Brameshuber
Writer: Sebastian Brameshuber

“Plot”:
In 2009 in the village of Ebensee (Austria), teenagers interrupted a WW2 memorial service at a former concentration camp by shooting people with air guns while shouting Nazi slogans. Und in der Mitte, da sind wir is a documentary about the lives of three teenagers living in Ebensee right now and about the entire community’s way of dealing with what happend in 2009 and in World War 2.

As somebody from Austria and rather aware of the Nazi remainders in our culture, Und in der Mitte, da sind wir didn’t provide a whole lot of new insight. But Brameshuber has a good eye for scenes and events that should be featured in his documentary. And for people not as familiar with the problems in Austria, it should certainly be a good primer.

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The Grand Seduction (2013)

The Grand Seduction
Director: Don McKellar
Writer: Michael Dowse, Ken Scott
Remake of: La grande séduction
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson, Liane Balaban, Gordon Pinsent

Plot:
Tickle Head is a small village in Newfoundland, in desperate need of jobs and money. They are promised a new factory – but it’s only possible if they have a resident doctor in the village. As fate would have it, there’s Dr. Lewis (Taylor Kitsch) who gets blackmailed into doing a month of work in Tickle Head. That is one month Murray (Brendan Gleeson) and with him the entire village plan on using to make Lewis fall in love with their village – and if that means that everybody learns how to play cricket, everybody learns how to play cricket.

The Grand Seduction was a charming little film that was utterly predictable and brought nothing really new to the table, but executed tried and tested tropes flawlessly. That makes it basically the perfect rainy Sunday afternoon movie.

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Monty Python Live (mostly)

Monty Python Live was a special reunion show from the comedy group Monty Python, consisting of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman (who died a while back and therefore was only there in spirit) and Eric Idle, plus for a lot of sketches Carol Cleveland. They performed it a few times, one of which was streamed to a cinema in Vienna, which made me very happy.

The show basically was a Best of – of The Flying Circus and of their films. There were sketches and songs and general hilarity, mostly performed live, but some things also on video. It was a great evening full of nostalgia and fun.

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