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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The Wind Through the Keyhole (Stephen King)

The Wind Through the Keyhole is an extra novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King that is set between the fourth – Wizard and Glass – and the fifth novel – Wolves of the Calla without actually advancing the major plot. It was also written after the seven actual novels of the series were finished.
Finished on: 28.7.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
The ka-tet Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy get trapped in a storm, a starkblast. As they wait it out, Roland tells them the story of when he and Jaime De Curry were sent west to Debaria as young men to investigate the claims of a town that a shapeshifter is terrorizing them. In Debaria Roland finds that the only person who might be able to identify the shapeshifter is a young boy, Bill. They, too, have to wait for a bit, so Roland tells Bill a story he heard in his own childhood, of Tim Ross and his magical quest to avenge his father.

I liked this interlude that provides us with yet another look at Roland’s youth. In fact, it might be one of my favorites of the series – although mostly for the story within the story within the story that was a beautiful fairy tale.

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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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Angels in America

Angels in America – Part One: The Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika
Director: Marianne Elliott
Writer: Tony Kushner
Cast: James McArdle, Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey, Denise Gough, Susan Brown, Nathan Lane, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Seen on: 20. and 27.7.2017

Plot:
It’s the 80s and the AIDS crisis is in full swing. Louis Ironson (James McArdle) just found out that his boyfriend Prior Walter (Andrew Garfield) is infected and he doesn’t know how to deal. Joe Pitt (Russell Tovey) also isn’t able to deal: as a Mormon and a Republican and married to Harper (Denise Gough), he can’t possibly be gay, can he? Joe and Louis both work for Roy Cohn (Nathan Lane), a lawyer who may enjoy fucking other man, but that doesn’t make him gay. But Roy’s health is also on the decline.

Angels in America is an affective and effective play, and this production feels monumental. It weighs heavily – as is only right for the topic matter.

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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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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Jonathan GoldsteinJohn Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher FordChris McKennaErik Sommers
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Cast: Tom HollandMichael KeatonRobert Downey Jr.Marisa TomeiJon FavreauGwyneth PaltrowZendayaDonald GloverJacob BatalonLaura HarrierTony RevoloriHannibal BuressAngourie RiceMartin StarrMichael ChernusLogan Marshall-GreenJennifer ConnellyChris Evans
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 18.7.2017
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Plot:
Peter (Tom Holland) is excited about the new superpowers he has gained and wants to become a proper superhero, like Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who recruited him not too long ago. But now Tony is keeping him at arm’s length and Peter is supposed to keep a low profile and go to high school, when he just wants to be properly heroic Spider-Man. When a new villain makes an appearance, Peter can’t keep still, though. Something needs to be done. And if nobody else does it, he will.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is entertaining and fun and has its fair share of problems. I enjoyed it, but not without reservations.

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Gifted (2017)

Gifted
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Tom Flynn
Cast: Chris EvansMckenna GraceLindsay DuncanOctavia SpencerJenny SlateElizabeth MarvelGlenn Plummer
Seen on: 18.7.2017
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Plot:
Frank (Chris Evans) raises his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace). Mary is very smart. So far, Frank was able to keep her talents under wrap, but now it’s time for her to start school. And immediately Mary’s math abilities are noticed by her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate). But Frank doesn’t want to place Mary in special classes. His refusal causes both Bonnie and the school to dig deeper, bringing Frank’s mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) who has very different ideas about how to raise Mary. As neither Frank nor Evelyn want to budge from their position, they take the question to court in a custody battle.

Gifted is very surprisingly a smart film about being smart. I did have a couple of issues with it, but they are not related to that. And mostly the film was engaging and emotional and went right for the feels in just the right way.

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