War Horse (2011)

War Horse
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis
Based on: Michael Morpurgo‘s novel
Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Kross, Niels Arestrup, Celine Buckens, Toby Kebbell, Eddie Marsan, Liam Cunningham

Plot:
Albert (Jeremy Irvine) has fallen in love with his neighbor’s foal and is out of his mind with joy when his father (Peter Mullan) actually buys the by now grown horse. Unfortunately they can’t actually afford it. But Albert begs until his mother (Emily Watson) allows him to keep Joey and together they find a way. That is, until war breaks out and Joey is bought by Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and shipped off to war. Will Joey and Albert ever find each other again?

This movie was so freaking long, I don’t even have words for it. And my 12 year old me would hate me for saying this but: there was just too much of this damned horse.*

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Hugo (2011)

Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Based on: Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law

Plot:
After the death of his father (Jude Law), Hugo (Asa Butterfield) started to live in Paris’ Central Station, winding the clocks and trying to rebuild an automaton he and his father were working on. When he tries to steal some cogs from Papa George (Ben Kingsley), he gets caught and George takes the notebook in which Hugo’s father detailed the plans for the automaton. So Hugo enlists Papa George’s ward Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) to get it back. But what is George’s connection to the automaton in the first place?

Hugo is a beautiful, engaging and very entertaining. Plus, it’s basically a love letter to George Méliès – and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoyed every minute of it.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Eric Roth
Based on: Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel
Cast: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Zoe Caldwell, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright

Plot:
Oskar’s (Thomas Horn) father (Tom Hanks) recently died in the 9/11 attack. Oskar has a hard time coping with it, when he stumbles upon a mysterious key in an envelope with the name “Black” on it in his father’s closet. Oskar decides that he has to find out more and the only logical way to go about it is to talk to every person called Black in New York. So he takes the phone book and starts to visit all of them.

The film is one of the most emotionally manipulative movies I have ever seen. Ever. And I still would have liked it a whole lot, if I hadn’t read the book. But in comparison, the film just leaves a small taste of disappointment.

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The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black
Director: James Watkins
Writer: Jane Goldman
Based on: Susan Hill‘s novel
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds

Plot:
The young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) gets the job to take care of the estate of a recently deceased woman in a small town. So he leaves his small son (Misha Handley) at home with his nanny (Jessica Raine) to travel to the middle of nowhere. But when he arrives there, things quickly become very weird. And the estate Arthur has to work in seems to be haunted by a less than benevolent spirit.

There are two things that keep The Woman in Black from being a really good movie: 1, Daniel Radcliffe’s inability to act and 2, the ending that had me rolling my eyes so hard. But it’s an otherwise wonderfully moody movie with some good scares.

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Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Max Landis
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw

Plot:
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) comes from a difficult family situation, with an abusive father (Michael Kelly) and a dying mother, and his only real social contact is his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). But other than that, he seems to be a rather normal teenager. That is, until he, Matt and Matt’s friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a mysterious thing in a hole in the ground. Shortly afterwards, they discover that they develop telekinetic powers. And since teenagers are, well, teenagers, things soon get out of hand.

Found footage movies can go so wrong so quickly and I usually don’t like them a whole lot. Fortunately, Chronicle doesn’t fall into that category. Tough the ending gets a little out of hand, it is a really cool film.

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Newcastle and more

My sister is doing a fellowship at the hospital in Newcastle (upon Tyne). Which means I had the best excuse to finally go to the UK again. So I did. ;) Surprisingly, this time I didn’t need any extra bags to bring all my shopping home with me and I didn’t only buy books but even (gasp) clothes.

But since I didn’t only shop but actually saw quite a lot, let me start at the beginning.

[Pic taken from here]

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Le gamin au vélo [The Kid with a Bike] (2011)

Le gamin au vélo
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Writer: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Cast: Thomas Doret, Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier

Plot:
Cyril (Thomas Doret) lives in a foster home and tries desperately to find his dad  (Jérémie Renier) who not only vanished from Cyril’s life but took Cyril’s bike with him. On one of Cyril’s excursions he makes contact with Samantha (Cécile De France). She finds Cyril’s bike and then even agrees to have Cyril visiting her on weekends. But his way is a rocky one.

The film has its weaknesses – mostly a weird ambiguity between naivité and realism – but it also has a very strong cast and captures Cyril and his situation perfectly.

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Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Wesley Stick
Based on: John D. MacDonald‘s novel The Executioners
Remake of: Cape Fear
Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Joe Don Baker

Plot:
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is a successful lawyer with a nice family. But when Max Cady (Robert De Niro) – who Sam defended for raping a young girl, but not very well – is released from prison, Max starts to threaten Sam’s entire life and family. He stalks all of them, but particularly Sam’s daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis), but always just within the law – until he forces Sam to resort to desperate measures.

Since I wasn’t that into the original, I didn’t expect much from this film. But this film has three things the original didn’t have: Scorsese, a modern feel and some idea of feminism. I liked it a lot.

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Two Weeks in Another Town (1962)

Two Weeks in Another Town
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Charles Schnee
Based on: Irwin Shaw‘s novel
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson, George Hamilton, Cyd Charisse, Daliah Lavi, Claire Trevor

Plot:
Jack Andrus (Kirk Douglas) was an actor until he had a nervous breakdown and was admitted into a facility where he was slowly getting better. Then an invitation reaches him from director Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson): he should come to Rome, where Kruger is working on a movie in which Jack could have a small part. Jack can’t resist and so he finds himself in Rome for two weeks. But things there aren’t all fun and games: Kruger and his wife Clara (Claire Trevor) are constantly fighting, the film’s young star Davie (George Hamilton) is erratic, and Jack’s ex Carlotta (Cyd Charisse) is also in town and immediately on Jack’s case. But maybe that’s just what he needs.

I really liked this movie. It’s a tad campy in parts and the ending is overblown, but somehow it all works wonderfully anyway.

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Magritte

Magritte is a current exhibition of René Magritte‘s work in the Albertina, focusing mostly on his early career and lesser known aspects of his work.

I really enjoyed the exhibition. I do like Magritte’s better known things as well, but it was interesting to get a look at what else he did and where he started from. And it was exactly the right length – just when I thought that I would hit brain overload pretty soon, we had reached the last room. Now that’s what I call timing.

Throughout the exhibition we also got quotes from Magritte which gave you ideas of his thought processes.

This is how we see the world. We see it outside ourselves and yet we have an image of it inside ourselves.

Or sometimes just wonderful phrases like “topicality of the present”:

I hate my past and that of others. I had resignation,  professional heroism, and all obligatory suavities. I hate the decorative arts, folklore, and advertising. I hate the odour of naphthalene and the topicality of the present. I like subtle humour, freckles, long hair on women, the laughter of children, a girl running in the street. I wish for myself true love and the impossible. I long for phantasms.

An excellent exhibition.

Find my favorite pieces to get a small walk-through of the exhibition. You can also go see it for another 6 days at the Albertina.

[The Secret Player]

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