Sicario (2015)

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan
Seen on: 6.10.2015

After an assignment that ends pretty badly, FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) is recruited by CIA operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) for a joined task force as Kate’s operation brought her in contact with a Mexican drug cartell that Graver has been investigating for years. Together with informant/operative Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), they enter Mexico to hunt down the cartell’s head. But it seems that there is more to the story and Kate finds herself increasingly puzzled.

Sicario seems to be on a mission: to find out how boring you can make a movie about murder, human trafficking and shady governments. They went far in their quest and I can now tell you: it can be very boring indeed.

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Everest (2015)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Jason Clarke, John HawkesJosh Brolin, Naoko Mori, Michael KellyMartin Henderson, Jake GyllenhaalAng Phula Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki, Robin WrightVanessa Kirby, Clive Standen, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson
Seen on: 5.10.2015

Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) thought he found his niche when he established guided tours up Mount Everest for more or less amateur climbers, but since he started, many others have followed his lead and now base camp is full with groups – one of them led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). Rob, too, brings yet another group to climb the top, among them journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), postman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), enthusiastic climber Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) and Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) who wants to complete her collection of over 8000m peaks she’s climbed. But the group encounters more than one problem.

I’m not a mountain person. I don’t even understand skiing as a pastime, something people do voluntarily (and I’m fucking Austrian). So the concept of climbing Mount Everest is utterly alien to me. I understand it even less after having seen this film.

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A Royal Night Out (2015)

A Royal Night Out
Director: Julian Jarrold
Writer: Kevin Hood, Trevor De Silva
Cast: Sarah Gadon, Bel PowleyJack Reynor, Emily Watson, Rupert Everett, Jack Laskey, Jack Gordon
Seen on: 4.10.2015

World War II is finally over and all of London is preparing for a huge party. Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Princess Margaret (Bel Powley) would like to join into the festivities, incognito. The King (Rupert Everett) and Queen (Emily Watson) are not really convinced that it’s a good idea, but then give in anyway. Chaperoned by Lieutenatns Pryce (Jack Laskey) and Burridge (Jack Gordon) they make their way into the city. Soon enough though, they not only escape their chaperones but also lose each other. Elizabeth recruits soldier Jack (Jack Reynor) to help her get Margaret home in one piece and before their curfew.

A Royal Night Out was a sweet, fun film that takes absolutely no (narrative) risks whatsoever, transforming the royal family almost ino superhumans in their attempt to be pleasing.

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Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out
Director: Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen
Writer: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley
Cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlanFrank Oz, Flea, Rashida Jones
Seen on: 4.10.2015

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) and her parents (Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan) have to move to San Francisco. Being uprooted that way causes quite some chaos inside Riley, where Joy (Amy Poehler) desperately tries to keep Riley happy. But Sadness (Phyllis Smith) keeps messing things up and who needs sadness anyway? In her attempt to make things right, Joy and Sadness find themselves a long way from the command center, where Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) are left to try to keep things together, to keep Riley together. But that’s not so easily done.

Inside Out took its time to make its way to Austria – but it was worth every minute of the wait. It was cute and hilarious and very, very touching.

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Lava (2014)

Director: James Ford Murphy
Cast: Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Makua
Seen on: 4.10.2015

Uku (Kuana Torres Kahele) the volcano is lonely – all around him he sees nothing but couples, but there is nobody there for him. As he sings his sadness into the world, Lele (Napua Makua) hears him deep down in the ocean. But will they ever find together?

Lava was an extremely cute short film that lives through the wonderful song (by Kuana Torres Kahele) and that I’ve since heard approximately a billion times. It’s a sweet, albeit not particularly new story that makes you smile. And it looks great.


Eleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell)

Eleanor & Park is the second novel by Rainbow Rowell.
Finished on: 3.10.2015

[ETA much later: Unfortunately, I, as a white person, missed some seriously racist and problematic stuff in the portrayal of Park, so please take this review with a grain of salt. Or a bag full of salt. Here’s more info on the racism issue.]

Eleanor is a big girl with flaming red hair – people notice her, especially on her first day in a new school. As she gets on the school bus, people stare and refuse to let her sit somewhere. All but Park who is usually busy with trying not to stick out, skirting along the edges of the popular crowd. He lets Eleanor sit, but otherwise ignores her, as much as she can be ignored. It’s only when he realizes that she is reading along with his comic books on the bus that they slowly, carefully start to interact.

I hardly have words for how much I loved Eleanor & Park. It made me laugh and cry and fall in love with reading all over again (which in turn made me spend an unwise amount of money at the bookstore). What more could you possibly ask for in a book?

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The Salvation Hunters (1925) + Brad Mehldau & Friends

The Salvation Hunters
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Writer: Josef von Sternberg
Cast: George K. Arthur, Georgia Hale, Bruce Guerin, Otto Matieson, Nellie Bly Baker, Olaf Hytten, Stuart Holmes
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Brad Mehldau, played by Brad Mehldau, Joris Roelofs and Michael Williams
Seen on: 2.10.2015

In the mud and grime of the docks, the boy (George K. Arthur), the girl (Georgia Hale) and the child (Bruce Guerin) find each other. Fueled by the hope for a better life they decide to move to the big city to make their luck there. The boy may dream big, but reality isn’t quite so accomodating. Will they be able to find their luck?

The Salvation Hunters is an interesting film that works in some parts, but not in others. Mehldau’s accompanying music was nice, but for me it didn’t always fit the film. Altogether though, it was a very nice evening.


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Des Teufels Maskerade [The Devil’s Masquerade] (Victoria Schlederer)

Des Teufels Maskerade is a novel by Victoria Schlederer [German].
Finished on: 2.10.2015

Prague in the beginning of the 20th century. Dejan Sirco works as a private investigator for occult affairs together with his apprentice Mirko, his friend Lysander Sutcliffe, whose spirit happens to reside in the body of an otter and has done so for quite a while, and often with the help of sex worker Esther. Dejan’s old friend Felix Trubic comes back into his life and with a case no less: there’s a curse on his family and if Dejan can’t solve it, Felix will be dead soon. But there is more to this curse than just a family affair – from vampires to political upheaval.

There are a lot of things to like about this book – not the least of which is that it was written by an Austrian and that it’s setting is rather unusual for a fantasy novel, but altogether it felt more meh than anything else.

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Chucks (2015)

Director: Gerhard Ertl, Sabine Hiebler
Writer: Gerhard Ertl, Sabine Hiebler
Based on: Cornelia Travnicek’s novel
Cast: Anna Posch, Markus Subramaniam, Thomas Schubert, Steffi Reinsperger, Susi Stach, Lola Khittl
Seen on: 30.9.2015

Punk Mae (Anna Posch) has spent a lot of time on the streets with her friends, because she definitely didn’t want to spend time with her mother (Susi Stach). Or school. Not after her brother’s death. That’s also the reason that she moved into an abandoned house with her friends. Mae has to do community service hours in the HIV/Aids center in Vienna. There she meets Paul (Markus Subramaniam) who is a patient there and irresistible. Without much ado, Mae packs her bags and moves in with him.

Chucks was a nice film that deviates quite a bit from the novel its based on – and usual to its own and Mae’s detriment. While the film was enjoyable, it never quite reaches the book’s level.

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The Conversation (1974)

The Conversation
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Teri Garr, Harrison Ford
Seen on: 29.9.2015

Harry (Gene Hackman) is a specialist for surveillance, for eavesdropping, for spying. He can record anything and takes great pride in his technical aptness to do his job, and at the same time he has become quite paranoid. When he is tasked to listen to the conversation of a young couple, Harry realizes that the information he is collecting might cause them to be in mortal danger.

The Conversation, unfortunately, was completely boring. I can imagine that it gets quite hypnotic if you can fall into it, but I was much too bored to even get close to it.

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