Chappie (2015)

Chappie
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yo-Landi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Brandon Auret
Seen on: 13.3.2015

Plot:
The robot police force has been rather well established in South Africa and the company producing and maintaining them, headed by Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver), is extremely successful. But not all engineers are quite satisfied yet. Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) dreams of building an AI and trying it on one of the robots, while Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) is convinced that his robots – that are more like war machines – are the future. Then Deon gets his hands on a discarded robot and installs his AI, creating Chappie (Sharlto Copley). But Chappie gets promptly stolen by Ninja (Ninja), Yolandi (Yo-Landi Visser) and Yankie (Jose Pablo Cantillo) who bring him up as a gangster like themselves.

Good grief, Chappie was bad. I barely have the words to express just how bad. [And I just realized that I’ve written almost the same thing about Elysium already.] I have yet to see a Blomkamp film that works for me, but Chappie is certainly the worst of the bunch.

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Focus (2015)

Focus
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro, BD Wong
Seen on: 13.3.2015

Plot:
Nicky (Will Smith) is a con man in the second generation and in the game for a while, when he meets Jess (Margot Robbie). Jess is young, aspiring to be a con artist herself and trying to rip off Nicky. Nicky plays along for a while, but ultimately reveals himself. Jess asks for a lesson, they hit it off and team up, only for Nicky leaving Jess behind after their job is done. Years later they run into each other again – on opposite ends of another con job.

Focus was not a great film, but it was a thoroughly entertainign one. I like con/heist stories, even if the cons here weren’t awesome, and it was nice to have it paired up with a RomCom.

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Still Alice (2014)

Still Alice
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Based on: Lisa Genova‘s novel
Cast: Julianne MooreAlec BaldwinKristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae, Hunter Parrish, Seth Gilliam
Seen on: 13.3.2015

Plot:
Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a very successful professor for linguistics. She’s happily married to John (Alec Baldwin) and has three children (Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parish, Kristen Stewart) with whom she gets mostly along. But Alice has noticed that she keeps losing words and has trouble remembering things. Shortly thereafter she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and has to face the fact that she will not only lose her memories, but also herself and her entire life in a very short while.

Still Alice was a touching and smart film with really wonderful performances. I cried a lot which is probably what the film is made for.

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Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer. James Lapine
Based on: James Lapine‘s (book) and Stephen Sondheim‘s (music and lyrics) musical, which is in turn based on a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Lilla CrawfordChris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Mauzy, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Meryl Streep, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, Frances de la Tour
Seen on: 11.3.2015

Plot:
The baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) dream of having a child, but due to a curse by the evil witch (Meryl Streep), they can’t conceive. But the witch offers to reverse the curse – if they bring her certain items: a cow as white as milk, hair the color of corn, a golden slipper and a red cape. They set off into the woods where they hope to find all of those items. As luck will have it, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) runs away from her prince (Chris Pine) in golden slippers, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) tries to sell his white cow, Litte Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is visiting her gran in her red cape and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and her blonde hair meet her prince (Billy Magnussen) – all in those same woods. But things don’t go quite as planned.

The first half of Into the Woods is extremely enjoyable. In the second half, the plot completely unravels, but at least cast and production design are still awesome.

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[SPOILERS]

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Seventh Son (2014)

Seventh Son
Director: Sergey Bodrov
Writer: Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight
Based on: Joseph Delaney‘s novel The Spook’s Apprentice
Cast: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Antje Traue, Olivia Williams, John DeSantis, Kit Harington, Djimon Hounsou, Kandyse McClure, Luc Roderique, Zahf Paroo
Seen on: 10.03.2015

Plot:
Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a spook, a warrior and warden against the supernatural. But he’s the last of his kind, especially since his latest apprentice (Kit Harington) just met his unfortunate demise at the hands of the evil witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Malkin had been imprisoned for a very long while, but she managed to free herself and plans on taking revenge and get her power back. So Gregory hires himself a new apprentice, Tom (Ben Barnes), and together they will do anything in their power to stop Malkin.

Seventh Son was okay. Not quite as craptastic as I expected, but not good either. It was entertaining enough, but I kept wishing that I was in the film that Julianne Moore was obviously in, but the rest of the cast not so much.

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Brick (2005)

Brick
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, Noah Fleiss, Matt O’Leary, Emilie de Ravin, Noah Segan, Richard Roundtree, Meagan Good
Seen on 08.03.2015

Plot:
A couple of days ago, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) received a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), now he only finds her dead body. He decides to dive into the underbelly of his high school and figure out what happened to Emily. But as he starts his investigation, with the help of his class mate Brain (Matt O’Leary), Brendan quickly realizes that Emily was deeply involved with the high school drug trade, especially The Pin (Lukas Haas). And then things start to get dangerous for Brendan.

Brick is a classic noir detective story transplanted to a high school. It’s a concept that has a lot going for it and that shows a very nice, dry sense of humor. But it couldn’t quite get past my lack of love for that genre.

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The Secret Service (Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons)

The Secret Service is a comic, written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
Finished on 07.03.2015.

Plot:
Jack London works for the MI6, a very special division. They have recently started to investigate the kidnapping of several celebreties, but their last rescue mission (of Mark Hamill) was a catastrophic failure. And then Jack gets a call from his sister-in-law: her son Gary was arrested and could Jack please help. Jack agrees reluctantly and actually finds that Gary has potential – so he starts to train him for entering the Secret Service, all the while trying to figure out the plans of cellphone tycoon James Arnold.

I’m not much into spy stories, so I’m afraid that I am not much the target audience of The Secret Service – which is a love letter to the genre. But it was rather enjoyable nonetheless, even if it didn’t blow me away.

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The Bang Bang Club (2010)

The Bang Bang Club
Director: Steven Silver
Writer: Steven Silver
Based on: Greg Marinovich‘s and João Silva‘s autobiographical book The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Taylor Kitsch, Malin Akerman, Neels Van Jaarsveld, Frank Rautenbach
Seen on 06.03.2015

Plot:
The Bang-Bang Club was a group of photographers in South Africa who chronicled the rebellion against apartheid in the townships. Most notably among them were Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach), and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld). When Greg takes up the job as photographer, he is quickly noticed by the more established photographers, especially Kevin, because of his willingness to take risks, a quality all four of them share and that makes their work extraordinary. As they throw themselves into the documentation of the fights and the violence, they are not entirely unaffected by it though. And the question remains whether documentation alone is enough or whether more action isn’t needed after all.

The Bang Bang Club was okay, but in the end it doesn’t move past its being a movie about a few rather unlikeable white guys being reckless and inconsiderate. And there are too many of those already to be interesting anymore.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Finished on 06.03.2015.

Plot:
Shortly after WW2. Juliet Ashton is a successful columnist who recently published a book with collected essays and is now struggling to find a topic for a new book. That’s when she receives a letter from Guernsey from Dawsey Adams. Dawsey has bought a book with essays by Charles Lamb that used to belong to Juliet (and has her address in the front) and is now looking for more information about him. Juliet becomes interested in the history of Guernsey during the war, and in particular the history of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Dawsey writes about, and decides that she wants to go there to find the stuff for her new book.

I really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s funny, smart and light-hearted, despite giving a very real impression of what life after the war was like.

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Love’s Labour’s Won

Love’s Labour’s Won aka Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Writer: William Shakespeare
“Sequel” to: Love’s Labour’s Lost
Cast: Edward Bennett, Michelle Terry, Sam Alexander, William Belchambers, Tunji Kasim, Leah Whitaker, Frances McNamee, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, John Hodgkinson, Peter McGovern, Nick Haverson, Emma Manton, Chris McCalphy, David Horovitch, Jamie Newall, Thomas Wheatley, Roderick Smith
Seen on: 04.03.2015

Plot:
Benedick (Edward Bennett) and Claudio (Tunji Kasim) with their superior Don Pedro (John Hodgkinson) just returned from the war. They come to Leonato’s (David Horowitch) where they wish to stay for a while. Claudio immediately falls in love again with Leonato’s daughter Hero (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) while Benedick and Leonato’s niece Beatrice (Michelle Terry) fight as much as they’re able to. Pedro wants to see everybody end up together, while Pedro’s half-brother John (Sam Alexander) does his best to sabotage everything.

I really enjoyed Love’s Labour’s Won. Luscombe proved once again his sense for the comedic, the cast is great and everything fits perfectly together.

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