Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
Remake of: King Kong
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Miyavi, Richard Jenkins
Seen on: 13.3.2017

Plot:
Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are convinced that monsters exist – and they may be hiding on a recently discovered island. When they can finally secure funding for an expedition there, they hire ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a group of soldiers under command of Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to make sure they succeed in finding and documenting whatever lives on that island. But once they get to the island, things don’t go according to plan.

Over and over again I try to like kaiju movies and over and over again, I fail. In this case, though, it’s mostly because Kong: Skull Island really sucks.

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T2 Trainspotting (2017)

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: Irvine Welsh’s Porno
Sequel to: Trainspotting
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, Shirley Henderson, James Cosmo, Irvine Welsh
Seen on: 13.3.2017

Plot:
Twenty years after the events of Trainspotting, the now clean Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland for the first time. He wants to see his family and to catch up with Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), though he’d rather not see Begbie (Robert Carlyle). He suspects that Begbie is still very angry with him from when he left. Simon is angry, too, but once they get over the inital anger, they are back to making plans of how to make their lives more than it is. But the past can’t be left behind that easily.

T2 Trainspotting captured most of the mood of Trainspotting perfectly, although it does lack some of the inescapable energy of the first one. That being said, I’m very content with this sequel so many years later.

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Re-Watch: Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: Irvine Welsh’s novel
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, Shirley HendersonJames Cosmo, Irvine Welsh
Seen on: 12.3.2017

Plot:
Renton (Ewan McGregor), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Tommie (Kevin McKidd) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) are friends. At least as much as you can be friends with anybody you share a heroin addiction with. And don’t necessarily like each other all that much. As they tumble through Edinburgh, alternatively looking to buy the next hit and to kick the habit altogether, their paths cross with the same people over and over again, people like the violent Begbie (Robert Carlyle). They all struggle with their own problems but at least they are not stuck in the wheel of capitalism. Or that’s what Renton tells himself.

It’s been many years since I saw the film (although some images have burned themselves into my retina, they are that present in my head). Re-watching it now, I’m still very much taken with it. It’s a really great film, despite a couple of weaknesses.

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Hermann und Dorothea [Hermann and Dorothea]

Hermann und Dorothea
Director: Alfred Kirchner
Writer: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Cast: Maria Happel, Martin Schwab
Seen on: 12.3.2017

Plot:
Hermann falls in love with Dorothea, a young refugee who is passing through his village. Since Hermann comes from a rather rich family and Dorothea is penniless, he can’t simply marry her. To make sure that she is of sound character, the Priest and the Apothecary ask for character witnesses. When those are overwhelmingly positive, Hermann brings Dorothea home – introducing her as a maid though.

Hermann and Dorothea is not a play but a poem and Kirchner decided not to adapt it as a play, either, but to have Happel and Schwab dramatically read the poem instead. I think, I would have appreciated a drama version of it a little more.

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Lion (2016)

Lion
Director: Garth Davis
Writer: Luke Davies
Based on: the autobiography A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose
Cast: Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek BharatePriyanka BoseDavid WenhamRooney Mara
Seen on: 10.3.2017

Plot:
Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his family in Khandwa. He adores his big brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and when Guddu leaves to take a job for a day, Saroo tags along, the start of an oddyssey that leads him to Calcutta without any means to contact his family, or any clear idea where they are. Finally Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham). Many years later, the by now grown Saroo (Dev Patel) tries desperately to find out about his origins and what happened to his biological family.

Lion is practically the epitome of a tear-jerker and it worked very well for me. Meaning I was emotionally invested the entire time and sobbing a lot.

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Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler
Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Patrick Marber
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Rafe Spall, Kyle Soller, Kate Duchêne, Sinead Matthews, Chukwudi Iwuji, Éva Magyar
Seen on: 9.3.2017

Plot:
Hedda (Ruth Wilson) and her husband George (Kyle Soller) have just returned from their honeymoon. But instead of excitement about their new life together, Hedda feels nothing but bored. When George reveals that – despite his best attempts – his promotion may be at risk and that they will have to cut their spendings as well, Hedda is less than happy. The appearance of her husband’s rival Lovborg (Chukwudi Iwuji), his lover Thea (Sinead Matthews) and her husband’s friend and colleague Brack (Rafe Spall) comes just at the right time to provide her with a bit of entertainment, then.

This production of Hedda Gabler is a thing of beauty. Wonderfully acted, emotionally devastating and great stage design – there’s really nothing more you could ask for.

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Logan (2017)

Logan
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Based on: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s comic series Old Man Logan, which is in turn based on the character Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and the Marvel Comics X-Men series
Sequel to: the X-Men movies
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse
Seen on: 8.3.2017

Plot:
Mutants have been practically eradicated. There are only a few left – those who manage to hide very well. One of them is Logan (Hugh Jackman), whose age is starting to show in the decreased tempo of his healing. He takes care of Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose age is in turn showing in the dementia he developed. They are constantly at risk of being discovered. When Logan is asked to drive the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to Canada, he smells trouble and tries to refuse. But Laura won’t let herself be refused. She is like Logan in many ways and definitely a mutant. And she is pursued by an organization that means her harm. Laura forces Logan to face the world and his place in it.

Logan is probably the most emotionally mature superhero film, at least of recent years. Nevertheless, I’m not quite as taken with it as many other people were.

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Porno (Irvine Welsh)

Porno is a novel by Irvine Welsh; the sequel to Trainspotting.
Finished on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Ten years after the events of Trainspotting, Sick Boy inherits a pub in Leith from his aunt, so he leaves London behind where things haven’t been going that well for him anyway, hoping to be on the winning side of gentrification for once. But before things take off in that direction, Sick Boy finds himself hosting an amateur porn shoot in his pub. But Sick Boy isn’t the only one returning to Leith: Begbie is being released from prison and even Renton returns from his exile in Amsterdam, hoping to avoid pretty much everybody he knows from back then, except maybe for Spud who is desperately trying to stay clean.

Porno was an excellent continuation of Trainspotting, but also different in many ways. It’s a strong book, looking at some of humanity’s worst traits without losing all hope entirely.

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Les innocentes [Agnus Dei] (2016)

Les innocentes
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Sabrina B. KarineAlice Vial, Anne Fontaine, Pascal Bonitzer
Cast: Lou de LaâgeAgata BuzekAgata KuleszaVincent MacaigneJoanna KuligEliza RycembelKatarzyna DabrowskaAnna PróchniakHelena SujeckaMira MaluszinskaDorota KudukKlara Bielawka
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) works at a doctor for the red cross just after World War 2. She finds herself dispatched to Poland to take care of the concentration camp survivors and the French soldiers stationed there. It is in the hospital there that a young nun, Maria (Agata Buzek) from a near-by convent finds Mathilde and begs her to help them at the convent as well: they were raped by Russian soldiers and many of them are pregnant as a result. And not only do these pregnancies come with the usual dangers, but should anybody find out about their state, they would risk losing the convent, their home, entirely.

Les innocentes tackels a hard topic and it does so with a lot of sensitivity, but also a couple of lenghts. But I did enjoy it and the push it makes for solidarity among women.

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Ya umeyu vyazat [I Know How to Knit] (2016)

Ya umeyu vyazat
Director: Nadezhda StepanovaSergey Ivanov
Writer: Tatyana Bogatyreva
Cast: Alina KhodzhevanovaVladimir SvirskiyIrina Gorbacheva
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Tanya (Alina Khodhzevanova) realizes one day that nothing about her life really makes sense to her. Her father is an alcoholic, her boyfriend brings other women home – while she’s there -, her mother is distant. She really has no joy in her life. Her conclusion is to attempt suicide. But it doesn’t work out that way and she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital where she starts to knit – both literally and figuratively.

I Know How to Knit was described as a dark comedy, a heartwarming tale in dire circumstances. Unfortunately, all I found were dire circumstances and depression, and very little humor.

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