Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out aka Safe Neighborhood
Director: Chris Peckover
Writer: Chris Peckover, Zack Kahn
Cast: Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton, Dacre Montgomery
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Christmas special
Seen on: 15.12.2016

Plot:
Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) has been Luke’s (Levi Miller) babysitter for a while, and she knows that the two of the m usually have a good time. She doesn’t really realize that Luke has fallen in love with her, but he wants to do something about that – and he’s worked out a plan with his best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). But all plans cease when the house comes under attack and Ashley has to fight off home invaders. Except there is something about the invaders that is a little weird.

Better Watch Out (I still saw it as Safe Neighborhood) is an entertaining and very well-made film that I really enjoyed a lot. I didn’t have many expectations, having heard practically nothing about the film beforehand, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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Marie Curie [Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge] (2016)

Marie Curie
Director: Marie Noelle
Writer: Marie Noelle, Andrea Stoll
Cast: Karolina Gruszka, Arieh Worthalter, Charles Berling, Izabela Kuna, Malik Zidi, André Wilms, Daniel Olbrychski, Marie Denarnaud, Samuel Finzi, Piotr Glowacki, Jan Frycz, Sabin Tambrea
Seen on: 14.12.2016

Plot:
Marie Curie (Karolina Gruszka) is a researcher who is working on isolating radium together with her husband Pierre (Charles Berling). Things are going pretty well until Pierre dies in an accident. Suddenly Marie – who keeps working despite her grief – has to defend herself and her capability to do the job, with people around her doubting that she would be able to do anything without Pierre. With researcher Paul Langevin (Arieh Worthalter) at her side, she persists regardless. Even when their very relationship becomes cause to doubt Curie’s morality.

Marie Curie is an interesting take on an interesting woman. It does have a couple of lengths and I would have appreciated it if it hadn’t focused almost entirely on her relationships with men, but I definitely enjoyed it.

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Liebe möglicherweise [Love Maybe] (2016)

Liebe möglicherweise
Director: Michael Kreihsl
Writer: Michael Kreihsl
Cast: Devid Striesow, Silke Bodenbender, Edita Malovcic, Hary Prinz, Gerti Drassl, Eva Sakálová, Christine Ostermayer, Astrit Alihajdaraj, Otto Schenk, Francis Okpata, Jana McKinnon, Norman Hacker
Seen on: 12.12.2016

Plot:
After Michael (Devid Striesow) loses his job, he is reeling and his attentions focus on actress Leila (Edita Malovcic) who happens to be his friend’s Roland (Norman Hacker) girlfriend. Meanwhile Michael’s wife Monika (Silke Bodenbender) feels that Michael is keeping his distance and looks for intimacy with Roland. And Michael and Monika’s daughter Viktoria (Jana McKinnon) doesn’t exactly have an easy time navigating puberty.

Liebe möglicherweise tries very hard to be poignant, but it doesn’t even manage to be memorable. I had practically forgotten it the moment I left the cinema.

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Re-Watch: Coraline (2009)

Coraline
Director: Henry Selick
Writer: Henry Selick
Based on: Neil Gaiman’s book
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn FrenchKeith David, Robert Bailey Jr.
Seen on: 8.12.2016
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) moves with her parents (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) to a new house. Her parents are always busy so Coraline is left to explore things alone. One day she discovers a hidden door in her house and when she goes through, she meets her Other Mother, who is everything a child could hope for and more. But her Other Mother has buttons for her eyes. She wants Coraline to stay, but for that, Coraline will need to give up her eyes as well…

Coraline is a sweet and very beautiful film, although not unproblematic in some things. I liked it, but with a little more reservation than the first time round.

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Remainder (2015)

Remainder
Director: Omer Fast
Writer: Omer Fast
Based on: Tom McCarthy‘s novel
Cast: Tom SturridgeCush JumboEd SpeleersArsher AliShaun PrendergastLaurence Spellman
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 8.12.2016

Plot:
Tom (Tom Sturridge) loses his memory after an accident. He is plagued by vague flashes of things half-remembered. Desperately trying to piece everything together, he starts to use the recompensation he got for the accident, he hires Naz (Arsher Ali) to help him build the pieces of his memory up again – literally.

Remainder works off an interesting idea, but the idea is not enough to carry the film – and it needed carrying. Despite a couple of good things, I ultimately didn’t care for it.

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Hommage à Bournonville (Peter Høeg)

Hommage à Bournonville collects two short stories by Peter Høeg that were originally published in the collection Fortællinger om natten. Those stories are Traveling into a Dark Heart [my translation of the German title] and the titular Hommage à Bournonville. I read the translation from Danish into German by Monika Wesemann.
Finished on: 5.12.2016

Both stories take place on the same night – March 19, 1929 – but in very different circumstances and places. Both were written beautifully, but I had my problems with both, especially Hommage that I pretty much hated.

After the jump, I’ll talk about both stories individually.

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Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Florence Foster Jenkins
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Nicholas Martin
Cast: Meryl StreepHugh GrantSimon HelbergRebecca FergusonNina AriandaStanley TownsendAllan CordunerChristian McKayDavid HaigJohn Sessions
Seen on: 30.11.2016

Plot:
Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) loves singing opera and dreams of performing for a big crowd. And since she’s rich, she has the means to make her dreams come true, despite the fact that she can’t actually sing. Her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) is devoted to her and wants to make sure that she’ll be able to perform without being ridiculed. He hires pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg) to practice with her and together the two men form an alliance to get Florence on the stage.

Florence Foster Jenkins didn’t blow me away, but it was a sweet and entertaining film that I enjoyed.

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Re-Watch: Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Cillian MurphyMichelle YeohTroy GarityRose ByrneHiroyuki SanadaBenedict WongChris EvansCliff CurtisMark Strong
Seen on: 27.11.2016

Plot:
2057. The sun is dying and the only solution humanity has found is to send a team of astronauts there to reignite it with a fission bomb or else find all of life on earth doomed. The first mission, Icarus-I, to do just that has already failed, now a new team, Icarus-II, is on its way. When they pick up the distress signal of the Icarus-I, they decide to pick up the bomb that the ship has aboard, as a failsafe for their own mission. But that bomb may come at a higher price than they expected.

When I watched Sunshine for the first time, I remember not being particularly taken with it. But it was one of those films where I started getting doubts about my own judgement and that made me curious to check it out again almost 10 years later. And in this case, it definitely paid off, although I still didn’t fall head over heels for it, I did appreciate it much more than the last time.

[SPOILERS]

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Prequel to: Harry Potter
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan FoglerAlison Sudol, Colin FarrellSamantha Morton, Ezra MillerFaith Wood-BlagroveJenn MurrayCarmen EjogoJon Voight, Ron PerlmanZoë KravitzJohnny Depp 
Seen on: 26.11.2016

Plot:
Newt (Eddie Redmayne) studies and keeps magical creatures. But the political situation in the UK is becoming more and more difficult for them, so he makes his way to the USA where he hopes to find them a new life, even if it means hiding the creatures from immigration in a magic suitcase. But magical creatures aren’t the only one affected by politics – in fact, there’s only a very tentative peace between the non-magical and the magical world. Everything could be going easily, but Newt takes the wrong suitcase and it’s baker – and decidedly non-magical human – Jacob (Dan Fogler) who walks off with the creatures, while Newt gets arrested by the recently demoted auror Tina (Katherine Waterston). Chaos ensues – chaos that is more closely connected to the political uproar than it first appears.

I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan myself (read all the books and saw all the films though), so the news of Fantastic Beasts didn’t leave me very excited – and neither did the film itself. It’s sweet and I was entertained, but if it wasn’t connected to the Harry Potter phenomenon, I doubt that it would be a film that stays with people.

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