Napapiirin sankarit [Lapland Odyssey] (2010)

Napapiirin sankarit
Director: Dome Karukoski
Writer: Pekko Pesonen
Cast: Jussi Vatanen, Jasper Pääkkönen, Timo Lavikainen, Pamela Tola

Plot:
Janne (Jussi Vatanen) is living off wellfare and doing nothing all day, while his girlfriend Inari (Pamela Tola) takes care of pretty much everything. And even when she asks him to buy them a digital receiver before the analogue TV is cancelled that night, he fails to accomplish that task. So Inari tells him: either he gets that receiver that same night, or she’s going to leave him. So Janne sets out on a road trip with his best friends Kapu (Jasper Pääkkönen) und Tapio (Timo Lavikainen).

The film has its moments, but then it also has a lot of issues, mostly misogyny. It is nice but it ends up feeling way too long and extremely predictable with the most interesting character getting the least attention.

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A Dance with Dragons (George R. R. Martin)

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. [Here my reviews of the other books.]

Plot:
A Dance with Dragons starts out parallel with the Feast for Crows timeline, but then continues on longer. It concentrates on the characters in the North and East, telling us what happens further at the Wall and in Meereen, but also with Tyrion, while winter is coming inexorably and threateningly closer.

Oh boy, Martin really is the kind of cliffhangers. I kinda hate him for it and I can kinda understand the Wrath of the Intarwebs when it comes to the seven years that everybody had to wait for this book. I sincerely hope the next one won’t be as far off – because despite a few weaknesses in this one I WANT MORE.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Based on: Stieg Larsson’s novel
Remake of: Män som hatar kvinnor
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist in trouble. Not only has he just been convicted of libel, but the magazine he edits is experiencing financial difficulties because of it. But then he gets an offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), rich retired business man. Vanger wants Mikael to research his great-niece Harriet’s disappearance 36 years ago, in the hope that he can discover something new. At the same time Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), young borderline researcher, gets the job to look into Mikael and his libel case.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in almost all counts the better movie compared with its Swedish predecessor. Too bad they messed up the ending.

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Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon
Remake of: Fright Night
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Sarandon

Plot:
Charley (Anton Yelchin) just went from geek to at least moderately cool, with the help of his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). So when his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) tries to convince him that Charley’s new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is actually a vampire, Charley shugs it off. But then Ed disappears and Charley starts to investigate. Soon he really does discover evidence that Jerry is a vampire. And since that discovery threatens Jerry, suddenly everyone Charley holds dear is in danger.

Even though I didn’t like the original all that much, I thought that I would give this one a shot for its cast and I actually hoped that a modernization might make it more accessible if you don’t have the nostalgia factor. Unfortunately that didn’t work out.

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My Sassy Girl (2008)

My Sassy Girl
Director: Yann Samuell
Writer: Victor Levin
Remake of: Yeopgijeogin geunyeo
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Jesse Bradford, Austin Basis, Chris Sarandon, Jay Patterson, Joanna Gleason

Plot:
Charlie (Jesse Bradford) is a business student and the epitome of a nice guy. One day he meets Jordan (Elisha Cuthbert), pretty and incredibly drunk. He saves her from falling in front of a subway train and then carries her home when she passes out in the station. After that Jordan turns Charlie’s entire life completely upside down with her erratic behavior.

This movie could have been quite nice – if Jordan hadn’t been the most grievous instance of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that I have encountered in my life. That immediately reduces the film to mediocre, max.

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Bad Teacher (2011)

Bad Teacher
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Gene Stupnitsky, Lee Eisenberg
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel

Plot:
Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) dreams only of one thing: marrying rich and never having to work as a teacher again. She seems to have achieved her goal, but then her fiancé dumps her. So Elizabeth takes up teaching again and sets her mind on a new pair of boobs – that is sure to bring her the success she seeks. And when she meets Scott (Justin Timberlake), heir and new teacher at her school, she seems to have found her next target. But that puts her directly in competition with Amy (Lucy Punch), who is basically the exact opposite of Elizabeth.

I didn’t expect much of this film and therefore wasn’t really disappointed. It’s okay, it even made me really laugh a couple of times, but other than that it was pretty meh.

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This Must Be the Place (2011)

This Must Be the Place
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer:  Umberto Contarello, Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton, David Byrne, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a rock star in retirement living in Ireland who divides his time between  his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) and his fan Mary (Eve Hewson). But when he hears that his father is about to die, Cheyenne makes his way to the US – only to find out that he is too late. But he finds out that his father has been hunting a Nazi who has been tormenting him during WWII. And suddenly Cheyenne finds himself on the same hunt.

The movie is much like its protagonist: charming, funny and peculiar. But the whole Nazi-hunting story feels tacked on and runs too long. Still, it’s all worth it for Sean Penn in that role.

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Poulet aux prunes [Chicken with Plums] (2011)

Poulet aux prunes
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Based on: Marjane Satrapi‘s graphic novel
Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Eric Caravaca, Chiara Mastroianni, Isabella Rossellini

Plot:
Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric) is a violinist who recently lost his violin. Unfortunately he can’t manage to find a new one that satisfies him and so he descends into a deep depression and decides to die by refusing to eat. While he wastes away, he  revisits important episodes in his life and imagines his kids’ futures. But maybe his depression has less to do with his violin and more with the woman he met on the street and  who didn’t recognize him?

Poulet aux prunes is a visually stunning film – especially every time they mix it up with animated sequences – and has a nice sense of humor. But Nasser-Ali is such an asshole that I couldn’t really enjoy the film.

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Cairo Time (2009)

Cairo Time
Director: Ruba Nadda
Writer: Ruba Nadda
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Anaya, Amina Annabi

Plot:
Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) comes to Cairo to visit her husband who is working there for the UN. But when she lands, instead of her husband, it’s Tareq (Alexander Siddig) who picks her up. Tareq used to work with her husband, who is caught up in Gaza. As Juliette waits for her husband to return, she starts to spend more time with Tareq and their sympathies for each other deepen.

Cairo Time was a beautiful, well-written and perfectly acted film that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would.

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Home from the Hill (1960)

Home from the Hill
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Harriet Frank Jr., Irving Ravetch
Based on: William Humphrey‘s novel
Cast: Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard, George Hamilton, Luana Patten

Plot:
Wade Hunnicutt (Robert Mitchum) dominates not only his entire family but basically his entire town, where he has slept with almost the entire female population. His wife Hannah (Eleanor Parker) tolerates it and compensates by doting on their son Theron (George Hamilton). But when Theron tries to get out from under his mother’s wing, he turns to his father and his father’s loyal employee Rafe (George Peppard) and gets his first hunting lessons.

I went into the film not knowing much about it [I had totally forgotten why I wanted to see it and therefore reserved a ticket – I didn’t even know the general plot anymore], so I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect. That means that for the first bit of the film I was a bit unsure because nothing much happened. But once I realized that this was just a family story and stopped waiting for the big events, I absolutely fell in love with the film.

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