Cosmopolis (2012)

Cosmopolis
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Based on: Don DeLillo‘s novel
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, K’Naan, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Philip Nozuka

Plot:
Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is young and rich and drives through New York in his limousine trying to get a haircut. But since the president is visiting the city, traffic is pretty clogged up and this takes a lot longer than anticipated. Eric starts taking several meetings in his car but bit by bit his life is crumbling apart, as Eric purposefully loses money and sabotages himself.

Holy fucking shit, this movie is extremely bad. I thought that Cronenberg would outweigh Pattinson’s total lack of charisma, but unfortunately the script is a single excercise in what-the-fuckery that depends on said non-existant charisma and so the entire film is set up to fail.

Continue reading

John Carter (2012)

John Carter
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
Based on: Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s novel A Princess of Mars
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church

Plot:
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) calls his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) to come to him, just before he dies. When Edgar arrives – just a bit too late – he gets John’s diary and starts to read about how John traveled to Mars many years ago with the help of a mysterious amulet. On Mars, he found himself captured by an alien tribe and then caught in a war that threatens the entire planet.

John Carter delivers exactly what you expect it to: brainless but extremely entertaining action with campy performances. Is it great film-making? No. But it’s great entertainment.

Continue reading

Emma (1996)

[Since I finished reading the novel, I figured that I’d watch the adaptations, too and I decided to start with the films I hadn’t yet seen. So, this is the first one, but there will be more.]

Emma is Diarmuid Lawrence‘ adaptation of Jane Austen‘s novel, starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, Dominic Rowan, Samantha Bond, Olivia Williams and Bernard Hepton.

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Samantha Bond) and Mr Weston (James Hazeldine) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Mark Strong), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Dominic Rowan). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Raymond Coulthard) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

This movie has it hard. It came out in the same year as the more famous Gwyneth Paltrow version and so really doesn’t escape comparison. And mostly, it loses. But only mostly, not entirely.

Continue reading

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche, New York is Charlie Kaufmann‘s directorial debut (he wrote it, too, of course), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Emily Watson and Dianne Wiest.

Plot:
Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theatre director. He’s married to Adele (Catherine Keener), an artist who paints miniature pictures (and when I say miniature, I mean that you need magnifying glasses to see them). They have a daughter together and even though Caden is constantly worrying about his health, things seem to be going good. Until Adele leaves for Germany to do an art show there and takes her best friend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and their daughter with her. Then Caden’s life kind of falls apart until he receives a grant that let’s him realise a rather ambitious theatre project: He wants to show life as it is – so he starts rebuilding Synecdoche, a part of New York inside a warehouse.

Well, this is not only a Charlie Kaufmann movie, this is Charlie Kaufmann squared. The outcome is even more surreal than anything else he’s ever done. I can’t say that I know what’s going on in this movie, but I know that I don’t care: I liked it anyway.

Continue reading

The Messenger (2009)

The Messenger is the first movie Oren Moverman directed and it stars Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and in a small role Steve Buscemi.

Plot:
Will (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq after he was shot. Since he’s not fit for going into war anymore, he gets assigned to Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson), who is responsible for personally notifying the next of kin of fallen soldiers when those soldiers fall. During this job, Will meets the freshly widowed Olivia (Samantha Morton) and falls in love with her.

The Messenger is not a movie that speaks for or against the war. Instead it looks at the personal tragedies that arise from it. It does so with a lot of sensitivity and compassion. And it’s wonderfully acted (remind me again, why isn’t Ben Foster world famous yet?). If that wasn’t enough reason to watch it, it’s also funny.

Continue reading

Triple Feature

Yesterday was very intense. I left work early (I started early as well) to be able to go to a triple movie feature. I finally saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. [You may call me crazy for doing that.]

Elizabeth: The Golden Age was amazing. I actually like it better than the first part (which was excellent as well and it had Vincent Cassel in drag).
Shekhar Kapur has a perfect feeling for the use of light and the effect of light and light in general. He could have made a little less “shots through ornaments” (he likes them, see also Elizabeth) but that’s ok.
The acting was a-fucking-mazing. I knew Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush do act really good. I also knew Clive Owen could but rarely would (this time he did). Surprises were: Rhys Ifans (I like him and I know he can act but I didn’t know he was in this movie) and Jordi Mollà (who I didn’t know before but who had the incredible ability to scream “I’m a totally fucked-up maniac and nothing can stop me” without uttering a single word). With that cast, I also have to give out a honorary mention of Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton who were noticed :).
The dialogues were wonderful. Watching the movie I felt like I needed to take a pen out and write along. Or probably learn the screenplay (by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst) by heart.
Of course, the movie had some weak spots. I already mentioned the ornament shots. Then there was Archduke Charles, an Austrian who comes so the queen may see if he’s fit to marry. Anyway, Christian Brassington obviously doesn’t speak a word German (although he has a good German accent in English) but has to say a couple of sentences. I actually needed the subtitles to understand him because his accent was so bad. [Cate Blanchett had a better pronunciation.] That’s just embarassing.
And from the characterisation: Sir Walter Raleigh must have been one hell of a guy. First, he’s the perfect gentleman, funny, intelligent, knows how to tell a story, knows what he wants and has amazing green eyes (ok, those belong to Clive Owen). Then you might say he trips a little by sleeping with the queen’s chambermaid (or whatever you call the girls) [but I think that was only rational, not necessarily wise but rational - he knew nothing could happen with the queen]. Anyway, he gets Bess (the chambermaid) pregnant and instantly marries her and is happy with that. And after that he goes out and singlehandedly defeats the Spanish Armada.  That might be a little too much (but feeds my hope that somewhere out there might be a man who is a little bit like that).
Summarising: A wonderful film with wonderful actors and a wonderful script which has some minor faults. Plus: Clive Owen’s hotter than Joseph Fiennes.

On to There Will Be Blood:
I was actually very disappointed by this film. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as usual, as is Paul Dano who does a very good job not disappearing beside DD-L. But the film concentrates so much on DD-L that everything else is lost.
The “deathmatch” between him and the church is actually no match at all, there never is a single shred of doubt about the outcome and I felt like laughing all the time about the “exorcisms”.
Relationships live and die with Plainview’s feelings, the other person he has the relationship with has no say in it. (And no matter how dominant one person may be, relationships don’t work that way.)
And the music was horrible. It was intrusive and didn’t fit. The beginning of the credits deserves an award for Worst Chosen Music In A Film.
I guess, if I ever had the chance to make a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d try to get him into it as much as possible. So I understand why Paul Thomas Anderson did it the way he did. But he should have cut about half an hour of the film and could have tried to incorporate some other actors in this film as well.
Without DD-L there wouldn’t have been a movie. With him, there’s great acting but not much of a film.

So we come to Sweeney Todd.
In a nutshell: Another masterpiece by Tim Burton. I loved it. I loved the story, the music, the costumes (K. [German] wrote about Johnny Depp‘s trousers, I have to point out his leather jacket) and the acting.
Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way: The opening credits. The blood was poorly animated, it looked much too sticky and he could have done better.
That’s it.
Of course, Tim Burton has this very distinct style and some people may call it repetitive but who cares? I love the way he uses colours, and the lack of them. As well as the way he uses the same actors to portray the same roles, gives it all a continuity. (Though I guess, Christina Ricci wasn’t available.)

jayne-wisener.jpg sleepyhollow.jpg
spot the five differences… I know, it’s hard…

The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler were just wonderful.

And in the darkness
When I’m blind
With what I can’t forget
It’s always morning in my mind

And there’s another quote (this time from the script by John Logan) I loved, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter) says: “There could be an us, you know. It may not be what I dreamed of and it may not be what you remember, but it could be an us.”
I may be overinterpreting here, but I also liked the reference to Edward Scissorhands: Mr. Todd holds up the razor and says: “Finally, my arm is complete again.”
I laughed my ass off during the dream sequence. The striped bathing suits flat did it for me ((c) Anita Blake).
I don’t know what to think of Jamie Campbell Bower yet. He knows how to sing, that’s for sure, but I don’t think him that good an actor. And he looks weird.

jamie-campbell-bower.jpg

Alan Rickman, of course, was great. And Sacha Baron Cohen as “Call me Davey” Pirelli had me almost falling off my chair. And Timothy Spall was the perfect cast for Beadle. (When I saw him, my first thought was “Mr. Croup!” but I mistook him for Hywel Bennett. Only my second thought was “Peter Pettigrew!“)
And Giles Anthony Stewart Head was there, if only for five seconds.

There are about a thousand more things I could write about this film, but I’ll leave it at that. I guess you know already what I’m feeling about it.