Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan

Plot:
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.

Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.

Lincoln

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Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster Squad
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Will Beall
Based on: Paul Lieberman’s book Tales from the Gangster Squad
Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Nick Nolte

Plot:
1949 in Los Angeles: former boxer Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is taking over the city with his criminal empire. The police is mostly bought by him and those who aren’t are too few to do anything about it. That is when Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) asks Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to form an unofficial squad of police men to destroy Cohen’s operation – with any means necessary. So O’Mara gathers some men around him and gets to work.

Gangster Squad is astonishingly bad. You’ve got this excellent cast and a potentially stylish setting, and it’s all ruined by a script that is so stupid it’s practically negligent and a particularly inept direction.

Gangster-Squad

[SPOILERS]

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Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: John August
Based on: the short film Frankenweenie (which you can watch here and which stars the kid from The Neverending Story)
Cast: Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder

Plot:
Victor (Charlie Tahan) loves science, making movies and his dog Sparky, but he isn’t really popular. He doesn’t care that much about that, though. His world is shattered when Sparky gets hit by a car. Inspired by his new science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Victor tries to bring Sparky back to life – with science – and actually succeeds. But that is actually only the start of a whole new set of problems.

Frankenweenie really does have its moments, but I also have a couple of issues with it. On the whole, it doesn’t rise much above meh.

Frankenweenie

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De rouille et d’os [Rust and Bone] (2012)

De rouille et d’os
Director: Jacques Audiard
Writer: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
Based on: Craig Davidson‘s story
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Vedure, Céline Sallette, Bouli Lanners

Plot:
Ali (Matthais Schoenaerts) was just recently put in charge of his son Sam (Armand Vedure). Completely overwhelmed by the situation and having no money at all, he leaves his home and moves in with his sister Anna (Corinne Masiero). There he finds a new job as a bouncer, through which he meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) who declines his advances. While Ali moves from job to job, the only constant in his life his passion for boxing, Stéphanie’s life is shattered when she has an accident at the aqua park and loses both her legs. In her desperation, she calls Ali again and the two of them become friends.

Rust and Bone is a beautiful film, both to look at and to experience. It hits all the right notes, and both Ali and Stéphanie are extraordinary, intriguing characters, played to perfection by Schoenaerts and Cotillard.

derouilleetdos

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The Sessions (2012)

The Sessions
Director: Ben Lewin
Writer: Ben Lewin
Based on: Mark O’Brien‘s life
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin

Plot:
Mark (John Hawkes) got polio when he was a child and has been paralyzed ever since. Now he’s in his thirties and spends most of his time in an iron lung and helped by personal assistants. Recently a wish has been  growing in Mark: he wants to lose his virginity. After talking it over with his priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy), Mark enlists the help of a sex surrogate, a kind of sex therapist – Cheryl (Helen Hunt).

The Sessions is a sweet and fun film with a really good cast. The story is interesting and gives you a glimpse at an extraordinary life. It’s really touching.

the-sessions

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Bachelorette (2012)

Bachelorette
Director: Leslye Headland
Writer: Leslye Headland
Based on: Leslye Headland’s play
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, James Marsden, Hayes MacArthur, Kyle Bornheimer

Plot:
Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gina (Lizzy Caplan), Katie (Isla Fisher) and Becky (Rebel Wilson) have been friends since high school, though only Becky and Regan see each other regularly. Now Becky is about to get married to Dale (Hayes MacArthur), so she asks the three other women to be her bridesmaids. Regan organizes everything, even though she is more jealous of than happy for Becky. Gina and Katie, too, look more forward to seeing each other and Regan than to see Becky married. The night before the wedding, things come to a head.

I was unsure whether I would like Bachelorette. I was afraid that it would be like Bridesmaids which wasn’t my cup of tea. To my surprise, I pretty much ended up loving Bachelorette.

bachelorette

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Chill mal, Frau Freitag [Chill out, Mrs Friday] (Frau Freitag)

Chill mal, Frau Freitag is a book with collected blog entries by Frau Freitag [both links in German], a pseudonym for a teacher from Berlin who writes about her experiences in a high school in a rather difficult area in Berlin.

Chill mal, Frau Freitag is a quick and entertaining read, though I’d say the whole thing is not without its issues. In any case it is a fascinating look into the daily life of a teacher and the problems they face with their students, particularly if said students don’t come form a particularly well-educated background and face discrimination because of their family background all the time.

chillmalfraufreitag

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Jack Reacher (2012)

Jack Reacher
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Based on: Lee Child‘s novel One Shot
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David OyelowoJai Courtney, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall

Plot:
After a sniper shoots 5 people, the police quickly identify and arrest a possible suspect: ex-soldier Barr (Joseph Sikora). Barr doesn’t say a word, but to request Jack Reacher, a former military investigator who disappeared a while back. The police and the DA Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike) are stunned by that request, and even more suprised when Reacher (Tom Cruise) turns up himself. He saw a news report on Barr and having investigated him before, he wanted to make sure that he is put behind bars this time. But Barr’s request makes him doubt his guilt, so Reacher starts to dig deep.

Jack Reacher really moves through all shades of horribleness. There is “just horrible”, there is “so horrible, it’s hilarious” and then there’s “so horrible I just wanna cry.” Unfortunately, it spends the least time in the second category.

Jack_Reacher

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End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, America Ferrara, Cody Horn

Plot:
Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Peña) are LA cops and have been partners and best friends for quite a while. Brian started to take a film class for which he films his daily routine. It consists mostly of gang shootings and drugs. But when they stumble upon a case of human trafficking, they really start to get in the way of the wrong people, namely the Mexican cartel. When Brian and Mike won’t back down, instead keep on making names for themselves, things get even hotter for the two of them.

I really thought that End of Watch would be better than it was. But the plot is all over the place, the format is an ill fit and I just was bored most of the time.

end_of_watch

[SPOILERS]

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Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Plot:
The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have spent a lot of time on earth, doing their respective duties and have got pretty comfortable here. So when the news reaches them that the Antichrist is about to be born and the apocalypse is drawing closer, they are not really happy about it. But Crowley sets things in motion, as they are supposed to be set in motion, though coincidence seems to have a hand in it as well. But it has all been predicted by Agnes Nutter, a witch who died a while back, but still has an heir in Anathema Device who keeps up the family tradition. While the Horsemen of the Apocalypse start to gather, it turns out that the boy everybody thought was the Antichrist was actually switched at birth and nobody really knows where the Antichrist really is.

Good Omens is exactly what you imagine a book written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman to be like. That is well-written, clever and a whole lot of fun.

good-omens

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