War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Based on: Pierre Boulle‘s novel
Sequel to: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Cast: Andy SerkisWoody HarrelsonSteve ZahnKarin KonovalAmiah MillerTerry NotaryTy OlssonMichael AdamthwaiteToby KebbellGabriel ChavarriaJudy Greer
Seen on: 16.8.2017
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Plot:
Caesar (Andy Serkis) just wants to live in peace with his group of apes and his family. But the humans are still hunting them. Especially the army troop led by the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) are not prepared to let any of the apes live, no matter how secluded. After a particularly gruesome attack that strikes at the very heart of Caesar and his apes, Caesar snaps: no longer will he try to resolve things peacefully. Instead he will get his revenge.

War for the Planet of the Apes was okay, despite some serious issues. But it’s nothing that will stay in my mind for very long – or at all.

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The Dark Tower (2017)

The Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Akiva GoldsmanJeff PinknerAnders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Based on: Stephen King’s series of novels
Cast: Idris ElbaMatthew McConaugheyTom TaylorDennis HaysbertJackie Earle HaleyFran KranzAbbey LeeKatheryn Winnick
Seen on: 16.8.2017
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Plot:
Jake (Tom Taylor) has been having visions. Visions of Roland (Idris Elba) who has been on a quest since about forever, trying to keep the Dark Tower that keeps the universe together from falling. But the Tower is under attack from Walter (Matthew McConaughey) and his henchmen. Jake finally connects with Roland for real, realizing that he has a bigger part to play in Roland’s quest than anyone knew.

The Dark Tower is a catastrophe, but as an adaption of the novels (that I haven’t yet all read) and as a film in its own right. Since I heard nothing good about the film beforehand, my expectations were already low, but the film still limbo danced under them with ease.

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Jabberwocky (2012)

Jabberwocky
Director: Ted Eschweiler
Writer: Ted Eschweiler
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s poem
Cast: Todd BruseErin Mae JohnsonDerek Prestly
Seen on: 6.8.2017

Plot:
Alice (Erin Mae Johnson) and the Hatter (Todd Bruse) have nowhere to go, and the Jabberwocky (Derek Prestly) is coming. That means one thing: they have to prepare for an epic fight.

Jabberwocky is a short film that transplants Alice from Wonderland into a post-apocalyptic setting. While I’m not the biggest fan of grimdark interpretations (anymore), it doesn’t overstretch the premise and the poem. And since the poem is made up of many nonsense words, there is enough space there to interpret them differently. In any case, it was well done and looked really good, especially for a small production.

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel ElgortKevin Spacey, Jon BernthalJon HammJamie Foxx, Eiza GonzálezLily JamesCJ JonesSky FerreiraFlea
Seen on: 1.8.2017
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Plot:
Baby (Ansel Elgort) loves music (that drowns out his tinnitus) and driving, at which he’s also very good. A fact that Doc (Kevin Spacey) is using to his own advantage: he coerced Baby to drive during the robberies he meticulously plans. But Baby will soon have worked off his debts with Doc and is looking forward to a free life then, maybe with Debora (Lily James). But Doc isn’t willing to give Baby up all that easily.

Baby Driver wasn’t bad, but I expected it to be more than just nice. It’s well-made but there are quite a few things that didn’t work for me. I can’t help but feeling disappointed about it.

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The Party (2017)

The Party
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Timothy SpallKristin Scott ThomasPatricia ClarksonBruno GanzCherry JonesEmily MortimerCillian Murphy
Seen on: 1.8.2017
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Plot:
Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) was just appointed shadow minister of health, and she wants to celebrate. So she and her supportive husband Bill (Timothy Spall) have invited their closest friends. But despite the joyous occasion, things are tense. It’s not only the bickering of no-nonsense April (Patricia Clarkson) and her spiritual husband Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), or of butch Martha (Cherry Jones) and her pregnant partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer), or the appearance of the slimy and obviously distraught Tom (Cillian Murphy): Bill has been keeping a secret, and he can’t keep it any longer.

The Party is filled with dark and biting humor, delivered by a fantastic cast. It should be great, but somehow it doesn’t quite work out that way.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Based on:  Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières‘s comic Valérian and Laureline
Cast: Dane DeHaanCara DelevingneClive OwenRihannaEthan HawkeHerbie HancockKris WuSam SpruellAlain ChabatRutger HauerPeter HudsonXavier GiannoliLouis LeterrierEric RochantBenoît JacquotOlivier MegatonElizabeth DebickiMathieu KassovitzJohn Goodman
Seen on: 31.7.2017
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Plot:
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Care Delevingne) are operatives, charged with maintaining peace across the universe. A new mission brings them into possession of a converter, the last creature of its kind. But they can’t expect to be the only ones who want that converter. Their mission brings them to Alpha, a city made for all kinds of species that harbors a secret in its heart.

The fact that this film thought that it would be the right move to take the comic Valerian and Laureline and transform it into Valerian alone, is already pretty indicative of the decision making in the entire film: it might look cool at first glance, but it’s short-sighted, stupid and offensive.

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Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn WhiteheadMark RylanceTom HardyKenneth BranaghJames D’ArcyCillian MurphyHarry StylesDamien BonnardAneurin BarnardBarry KeoghanTom Glynn-CarneyJack Lowden
Seen on: 28.7.2017
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Plot:
It’s the middle of World War II and the Allied forces are struggling. But the situation is nowhere as precarious as in Dunkirk where 400.000 soldiers are huddled on a beach, with no way out but the sea – only that they are easy targets there for the German air force. The situation is desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, civilans take their boats and start the journey from Great Britain to France to pick up the soldiers.

To say that I liked or enjoyed Dunkirk would be very much the wrong vocabulary to use. But I did think it’s a good film that is very effectively made, managing to create tension and pressure, especially via the soundtrack, that is hard to stand.

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13th (2016)

13th
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Spencer Averick, Ava DuVernay
Seen on: 25.7.2017
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“Plot”:
Ava DuVernay set out to make a film about the prison-industrial complex. 25% of the world’s prison population is USAmerican, although only 5% of the world’s population is. People of color are disproportionately imprisoned. And prisoners are used for cheap labor for which they barely see any money. But in her research, DuVernay discovered more and more, how tightly the USAmerican prison system is tied to the 13th amendment to the constitution: the amendment that abolished slavery, but left a backdoor open: as a punishment of crime, slavery and involuntary servitude are still permitted.

13th is a fascinating, well-structured and incendiary film. It’s pretty much a perfect documentary: delivering a slew of information in a way that never gets overbearing and connects different islands of knowledge to show the underlying structure of inequality.

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Embrace (2016)

Embrace
Director: Taryn Brumfitt
Writer: Taryn Brumfitt
Seen on: 21.7.2017
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“Plot”:
Taryn Brumfitt struggled with her body and the way it looked. She tried to keep in shape with body building, she considered surgery. But then in 2013, she posted a naked photo of herself online, showing her stretchmarks, her belly, her imperfections. The photo started something: not only were there many women who reacted strongly – and positively – to it, it sent Brumfitt on a journey of self-acceptance and activism that is chronicled in this documentary.

Much of what Embrace talks about is important and touching, but unfortunately it just doesn’t go far enough for me.

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Their Finest (2016)

Their Finest
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: Gaby Chiappe
Based on: Lissa Evans‘ novel Their Finest Hour and a Half
Cast: Gemma ArtertonSam ClaflinBill NighyRichard E. GrantHenry GoodmanRachael StirlingJack HustonAmanda RootEddie MarsanHelen McCroryJeremy Irons
Seen on: 19.7.2017
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Plot:
It’s the middle of World War II, times are tough and Catrin (Gemma Arterton) needs a job as her husband Ellis (Jack Huston), an artist, doesn’t make enough money to keep them afloat. She gets hired as a scriptwriter for propaganda films and quickly gets saddled with the task of writing the supposedly unimportant women’s dialogue. When she hears about a story about two young women who participated in the Dunkirk evacuation, she brings the idea for an entire film – which makes her co-author to Tom (Sam Claflin) and handler to the aging star Ambrose (Bill Nighy).

Their Finest is a beautiful, fantastic film that touches on many things, but most of all it pulls on heartstrings in the perfect way.

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