Life Guidance (2017)

Life Guidance
Writer: Ruth Mader
Director: Martin Leidenfrost, Ruth Mader
Cast: Fritz Karl, Katharina Lorenz, Florian Teichtmeister, Nicolas Jarosch, Petra Morzé, Udo Samel, Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, Johann Adam Oest
Seen on: 22.1.2018
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Plot:
Alexander (Fritz Karl) is married to Anna (Katharina Lorenz). They have a son (Nicolas Jarosch) and by the looks of it, their life is pretty much perfect. But then Alexander says something that worries Life Guidance, the organisation in charge of helping people living the best life they can possibly live. They send in their agent, Gregor (Florian Teichtmeister), to make sure that Alexander stays on track.

I wanted to like Life Guidance – being an Austrian Science Fiction film made by a woman – much more than I actually did. While it has strong parts, it just doesn’t come together as it should.

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The Ugly Truth (2009)

The Ugly Truth
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah, Kirsten Smith
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Bree Turner, Eric Winter, Nick Searcy, Jesse D. Goins, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins, Yvette Nicole Brown
Seen on: 21.1.2018
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Plot:
Abby (Katherine Heigl) is a producer of a morning show. Due to faltering ratings of said show, her boss hires Mike (Gerard Butler), whose claim to fame is hosting The Ugly Truth, a show that tackles matters of relationships in a very male, if not misogynistic way. Abby is outraged at this choice of host. But since she herself doesn’t do very well in matters of relationships either, pining after her neighbor Colin (Eric Winter) who she thinks of as the perfect man, she strikes a deal with Mike at his suggestion: he will help her reel in Colin, and she will work with him.

The Ugly Truth is absolutely horrible. It bowled me over with its hatred masquerading as some good old fun. It’s sexist and misogynistic. It’s so bad, it even makes a case that misandry does, in fact, exist. I hated it.

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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Director: Donald Petrie
Writer: Kristen Buckley, Brian Regan, Burr Steers
Based on: Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long’s comic
Cast: Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Parisse, Adam Goldberg, Thomas Lennon, Michael Michele, Shalom Harlow, Robert Klein
Seen on: 21.1.2018
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Plot:
Andie (Kate Hudson) writes a How to-column for a magazine and she’s in need of a new idea, especially since she wants to write something of more substance. She may get the chance to do so if she writes a column on how to lose a guy in 10 days. Meanwhile ad executive Ben (Matthew McConaughey) has to prove that he knows what women want. He proposes a bet, promising to make any woman fall in love with him. His colleagues accept – and point to Andie as the object of his plot. As they both work towards opposite goals, their dates are quite tumultuous.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was suprisingly charming and didn’t veer into the condescending romantic direction that movies about covert bets usually do. It’s not a revolutionary film, but I enjoyed it.

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Re-Watch: Miss Congeniality (2000)

Miss Congeniality
Director: Donald Petrie
Writer: Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford, Caryn Lucas
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, John DiResta, Steve Monroe, Heather Burns, Melissa De Sousa
Seen on: 19.1.2018
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Plot:
Gracie (Sandra Bullock) has always be a tomboy and feels more than comfortable in the guys’ club that is the FBI. But when there’s a threat that somebody wants to bomb the Miss USA pageant, her partner Eric (Benjamin Bratt) finds that Gracie really is the only FBI agent who could pull off going undercover as a contestant. She just needs a bit of refinement which shall be provided by old Miss USA coach Victor (Michael Caine). Gracie is not happy about it at all, but she’ll go through with it, causing a lot of confusion in the pageant with every step she takes.

When I saw the film the last time, probably around 10-15 years ago, I was still able to laugh about Miss Congeniality. But the film, unfortunately, didn’t age well.

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Re-Watch: Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing
Director: Emile Ardolino
Writer: Eleanor Bergstein
Cast: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes, Jack Weston, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop, Lonny Price, Max Cantor
Seen on: 19.1.2018
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Plot:
Baby (Jennifer Grey) is going to a holiday resort with her family for the summer. Big things are expected of her: her adoring father Jake (Jerry Orbach) sees her rescuing the world pretty soon, a fact that her sister Lisa (Jane Brucker) who is more interested in boys than politics, sees with jealousy. Baby stumbles into the lives of the resort’s dance instructors during her stay. Trying to help with their problems, it puts her in the path of Johnny (Patrick Swayze). They fall in love, but things are not easy.

I have watched Dirty Dancing approximately a million times, but I think when I saw it this time, it was the first time that I didn’t see it in the German dub, but in the English original. That, combined with the fact that I’m a little older now, gave me an entirely new appreciation for the film: it’s not only a perfectly wonderful romance, it’s a huge political and feminist statement as well.

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Nachtstück [Nocturne] (2017)

Nachtstück
Director: Anne Breymann
Writer: Anne Breymann
Seen on: 19.1.2018

Plot:
In the forest at night, a few creatures gather. They are ready to play – but the stakes are high in their gamble

Nachtstück is a fantastic short film. It’s atmospheric, has beautiful animation and the creature design is just wonderful – creepy and creative and effective. I wouldn’t have minded watching much more than just the five minutes the film is long.

Loving Vincent (2017)

Loving Vincent
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Douglas Booth, Josh Burdett, Holly Earl, Robin Hodges, Chris O’Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Seen on: 18.1.2018
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Plot:
Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) has attempted several times to deliver the last letter of Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk). By now, the intended recipient – Vincent’s brother – has passed away as well. Hoping that Vincent’s close friend, Dr Gachet (Jerome Flynn), is the right person to receive it under the circumstances, Roulin sends his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to Gachet’s village with the letter. Armand is not happy about the task, but once he learns more about Vincent, he becomes intrigued and starts to investigate his death.

Loving Vincent is visually astounding, taking van Gogh’s paintings and bringing them to life. Unfortunately the story doesn’t do the visuals justice, so the film only half works.

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The Leisure Seeker (2017)

The Leisure Seeker
Director: Paolo Virzì
Writer: Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Virzì
Cast: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Christian McKay, Janel Moloney, Dana Ivey, Dick Gregory
Seen on: 10.1.2018
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Plot:
Ella (Helen Mirren) and John (Donald Sutherland) have been married for fifty years. But their health is failing both of them and their children Will (Christian McKay) and Jane (Janel Moloney) are watching them with hawk eyes as a result. Ella and John decide to go for one last adventure together in their RV, The Leisure Seeker, escaping their children’s overprotective custody and off they go.

The Leisure Seeker is a tear-jerker and a very well done one at that. Emotional story and great performances are sure to leave no eye dry. Mine were definitely wet a couple of times.

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The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman
Director: Michael Gracey
Writer: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely, Keala Settle, Sam Humphrey, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eric Anderson
Seen on: 9.1.2018
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Plot:
P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) is driven and has big dreams. But he’s also poor. His wife Charity (Michelle Williams) is fully supportive. When Barnum loses his job, he finds a way to get a loan and invests in a museum of oddities. But he soon graduates from showing way figures to building a show with extraordinary people.

I was fully prepared for The Greatest Showman to be awful, but I really didn’t expect the level of terrible the film achieves. It’s a catastrophe wrapped in a candy look.

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Pitch Perfect 3 (2017)

Pitch Perfect 3
Director: Trish Sie
Writer: Kay Cannon, Mike White
Sequel to: Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2
Cast: Anna KendrickHailee SteinfeldBrittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Ester Dean, Hana Mae LeeChrissie Fit, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Lithgow, DJ Khaled, Ruby Rose
Seen on: 8.1.2018
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Plot:
The Bellas have graduated and have to face the real world – a world that doesn’t give much about acapella groups. But when they are offered the chance to go on an USO tour of Europe, they decide to go for it: one last big splash before the rest of their lives. But touring with other (non-acapella) bands isn’t as easy as they thought and their own insecurities make things even harder.

After the (racist) catastrophe that was Pitch Perfect 2, I hadn’t planned on seeing Pitch Perfect 3. But then circumstances aligned and I ended up seeing it anyway. I have to say that it was definitely better than the second film, though it still wasn’t great.

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