Contraband (2012)

Contraband
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Remake of: Reykjavík Rotterdam
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, David O’Hara, Diego Luna, J. K. Simmons

Plot:
Chris (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a smuggler (and a damn good one). But when he got a wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, he quit. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) isn’t as smart or as good a smuggler and so he gets into trouble with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) who hired him to smuggle drugs Andy promptly had to dump. Briggs threatens Chris and his family and pressures him into a job. And so Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) get their old group together to get counterfeit money into the country.

Contraband is so formulaic, it practically becomes its own archetype. Unfortunately that’s the only thing that stands out about the film.

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Gone (2012)

Gone
Director: Heitor Dhalia
Writer: Allison Burnett
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Sebastian Stan, Wes Bentley, Emily Wickersham

Plot:
Jill (Amanda Seyfried) just got back on her feet after being kidnapped, not being believed by the police and having a psychotic break, when her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) disappears from their house. Jill is convinced that her kidnapper is back and that he took Molly, but the police won’t believe her (again). So Jill sets out to find Molly on her own.

I hadn’t really heard good things about this film but I decided to see it anyway. Boy, do I ever regret that now. Rarely have I seen worse acting or a worse script. And they weren’t even funny with their badness.

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all you need is love!

all you need is love! is a musical production with The Beatles Tribute band “Twist & Shout”.

Plot:
A roadie (Frank Kessler) tells us the story of The Beatles’ career from their start in Hamburg with Tony Sheridan (Ian Wood) to their contract with manager Brian Epstein (Ian Wood) and their following success up to their last concert and break-up, all aided by original video footage of The Beatles at the time.

It’s practically impossible to go wrong with a show that just plays the greatest hits of The Beatles and all you need is love! doesn’t: it’s a really entertaining evening.

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London Boulevard (2010)

London Boulevard
Director: William Monahan
Writer: William Monahan
Based on: Ken Bruen‘s novel
Cast: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Graham, Ophelia Lovibond, Jamie Campbell Bower

Plot:
Mitchel (Colin Farrell) was just released from prison (where he spent time for grievous bodily harm) and now tries to leave his old circle. But his friend Billy (Ben Chaplin) who set him up with a place to stay, would rather see him with himself in the money-lending business. But Mitchel declines and finds himself a job as a handyman/bodyguard for the reclusive actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley) and her business manager Jordan (David Thewlis). Unfortunately, Billy’s boss Gant (Ray Winstone) isn’t really willing to let Mitchel go.

London Boulevard should be entertaining. It has an impressive cast and I do enjoy these gangster stories. Unfortunately, the whole thing is much too muddled to really achieve its potential.

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The Kingdom of Gods (N. K. Jemisin)

The Kingdom of Gods is the third book in The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. [Here are my reviews of the other two.]

Plot:
When Sieh, trickster god of childhood, returns to Sky after a long absence, things seem to be the same. But then he runs into Shahar and Dekarta, child heirs of the Arameri who have ruled the world for the past thousands years. Shahar and Dekarta are looking for somebody to play with just as much as Sieh and they become friends. But when they swear an oath on that, things suddenly change and Sieh finds himself mortal, alone and so very lost.

The Kingdom of Gods is nice, but honestly, I could hardly be less passionate about this book. Everything just washed over me and then it was gone without leaving much of a trace behind.

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Grease

Grease is a musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey that is currently on tour in a new German production. I caught it in the Stadthalle in Wien.

Plot:
Danny (Lars Redlich) and Sandy (Joana Fee Würz) met during their summer holidays and fell in love. They didn’t think they would see each other again, but when school starts, Sandy has changed to Danny’s high school. But now their two worlds – Sandy’s very conventional and goody-two-shoes one and Danny’s more rebellious one – collide and makes it hard for them to really enjoy themselves. As if high school wasn’t difficult enough anyway.

I’m a huge fan of the movie but I had never seen the stage version before, so I was really surprised by all the changes the movie made to the original. But honestly, they were good changes and the stage version should have incroporated them as well. But nevertheless, it’s entertaining.

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Chatroom (2010)

Chatroom
Director: Hideo Nakata
Writer: Enda Walsh
Based on: Enda Walsh’s play
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Imogen Poots, Matthew Beard, Hannah Murray, Daniel Kaluuya (and Ophelia Lovibond in a very small role)

Plot:
William (Aaron Johnson), a very troubled teenager, opens up a chatroom he calls Chelsea Teens! and is quickly joined by four other teens: Eva (Imogen Poots), Emily (Hannah Murray), Mo (Daniel Kaluuya) and Jim (Matthew Beard). All of them have their dark secrets and William immediately starts to exploit that fact and them and continuously pushes them towards the edge, just waiting for someone to break.

Chatroom is not a particularly good or well thought out film. The cast is promising but that’s about all – and far from enough to make the movie worth seeing.

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Shame (2011)

Shame
Director: Steve McQueen
Writer: Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie

Plot:
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) has carefully built his life around his sex addiction. Everyhing revolves around sex for him. When he isn’t flirting, he’s watching porn. When he isn’t getting it for free, he pays for it. The only thing that he stays away from as far as he possibly can is intimacy. But that life completely falls apart when his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) suddenly shows up. She takes up residency on his sofa and bit by bit everything goes to hell.

Shame is depressing, calm, intense and beautiful. It’s a movie that hurts – and I loved it.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker
Based on: Deborah Moggach‘s novel These Foolish Things
Cast: Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Tena Desae

Plot:
7 British retirees travel to India where they take up residence in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A hotel they wrongly believe to be freshly restored. Instead they find a crumbling building run by the overwhelmed Sonny (Dev Patel). And generally India brings them nothing they expected. Evelyn (Judi Dench) ends up taking the first job of her life. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is looking for someone from his past. Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) are just looking for a connection. Muriel (Maggie Smith) just wants a new hip, even if she has to take it from a brown doctor. While Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) really just can’t afford anything else. But even though all of them might not get what they deserve, they might just get what they need.*

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is fluff. Fluff with a great cast and a nice atmosphere and a whole lot of cultural stereotypes. But it’s entertaining.

*Apologies, Batman.

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