Romance & Cigarettes (2005)

Romance & Cigarettes
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Christopher Walken, Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard, Amy Sedaris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2016

Plot:
Nick (James Gandolfini) and Kitty (Susan Sarandon) have been married many years and have managed to build a very middle-class existence. When Kitty finds out that Nick has been having an affair, she’s outraged. Her three daughters Baby (Mandy Moore), Constance (Mary-Louise Parker) and Rosebud (Aida Turturro) are firmly on Kitty’s side, but also have their own issues to deal with. And Nick will have to figure out whether he wants to fight for his marriage or start a new life with the other woman, Tula (Kate Winslet).

Romance & Cigarettes is a very idiosyncratic film. A musical in that setting and with those costumes and an off-beat sense of humor, it’s funny and manages to entertain, but it’s also unfortunately steeped in sexism.

Continue reading

Fear is an Option – Short Film Program

Fear is an Option [a play on the VIS motto of Fear is not an Option] was a collection of horror short films curated (among others) by the /slash Filmfestival as part of the VIS Vienna Independent Shorts film festival. They showed the following short films:
The Simpsons Couch Gag [You’re Next] (2015)
Directed and written by: Lee Hardcastle
[Can be watched here.]
The Chickening (2015)
Directed and written by: Nick DenBoer, Davy Force
Based on: The Shining
[Can be watched here.]
Invaders (2014)
Directed and written by: Jason Kupfer
Cast: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson
[Can be watched here.]
Jack Attack (2013)
Directed and written by: Bryan Norton, Antonio Padovan
Cast: Helen Rogers, Tyler Rossell, Steve Anderson Jr.
Monster (2005)
Directed and written by: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Susan Prior, Luke Ikimis-Healey, Trash Vaudeville
[Can be watched here.]
One Last Dive (2013)
Directed and written by: Jason Eisener
Cast: Catherine Maltais, Peter Allen
[Can be watched here.]
Polaroid (2015)
Directed and written by: Lars Klevberg
Cast: Annika Witt, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Anne Cloetta
Baskin (2013)
Directed and written by: Can Evrenol, Co-Directed by: Ogulcan Eren Akay
Cast: Muharrem Bayrak, Fadik Bülbül, Gorkem Kasal, Aydin Orak, Remzi Pamukcu
Lights Out (2013)
Directed and written by: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Lotta Losten
[Can be watched here.]
Seen on: 29.5.2016

They put together a strong collection of short films here, some of which were connected to the /slash Filmfestival – where they did show You’re Next, the basis for the Simpsons Couch Gag; both Baskin and Monster were turned into feature films that were also part of the festival program – Baskin and The Babadook respectively; and Jason Eisener had segments in V/H/S 2 and The ABCs of Death, where Lee Hardcastle also made an appearance. The short films ranged from very funny and silly to outright terrifying and most of them were really effective, even if not all worked for me.

fearisanoption

[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the films individually.]

Continue reading

Re-Watch: The Descent (2005)

The Descent
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone
Seen on: 27.03.2015
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
A year after a tragic accident in which her husband and daughter died, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) catches up with her girlfriends for a weekend of caving. But as soon as they get down into the cave system, things start to go wrong: a part collapses and blocks them from getting back the way they got in. It turns out that they’re not in the explored caves they thought they were. And there is something in the dark.

When I watched The Descent for the first time, I was quite taken with the atmosphere but above all with the characters and the portrayal of female friendships. On re-watching I feel like I have to take back some of my accolades.

TheDescent

[SPOILERS] Continue reading

Brick (2005)

Brick
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, Noah Fleiss, Matt O’Leary, Emilie de Ravin, Noah Segan, Richard Roundtree, Meagan Good
Seen on 08.03.2015

Plot:
A couple of days ago, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) received a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), now he only finds her dead body. He decides to dive into the underbelly of his high school and figure out what happened to Emily. But as he starts his investigation, with the help of his class mate Brain (Matt O’Leary), Brendan quickly realizes that Emily was deeply involved with the high school drug trade, especially The Pin (Lukas Haas). And then things start to get dangerous for Brendan.

Brick is a classic noir detective story transplanted to a high school. It’s a concept that has a lot going for it and that shows a very nice, dry sense of humor. But it couldn’t quite get past my lack of love for that genre.

brick Continue reading

Re-Watch: Sin City (2005)

Sin City
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica AlbaElijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke DuncanRutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon AokiJosh Hartnett, Alexis BledelJaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl

Plot:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.

I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.

sincity Continue reading

Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Mark Frost, Michael France
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Ioan GruffuddJessica AlbaChris EvansMichael ChiklisJulian McMahonHamish LinklaterKerry WashingtonLaurie HoldenStan Lee

Plot:
Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his partner Ben Grimm (Michael Chilkis) have been studying cosmic clouds but their funds have run out, just before such a cloud passes the earth. So they go to Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), an old and very successful colleague of Reed’s. He decides to support their research and together the three of them, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and her brother Johnny (Chris Evans) head into space to look at the cloud up close. But then things go wrong and when they finally make it back to earth, they are changed forever.

I was talking with Arysuh about never having seen this film or the sequel and that culminated in me watching and livetweeting both films while drinking vodka. You can read the entire thing after the jump, in lieu of a proper review. For a short summary know this: Fantastic Four is not a particularly good movie, but it is sufficiently entertaining. Watch it with friends and/or with alcohol, and you’re going to have a good time. Just don’t really expect anything much from the script, the actors, the story, the director, … At least you can expect to see Chris Evans topless and Jessica Alba’s boobs a lot.

fantasticfour[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Chinjeolhan geumjassi [Sympathy for Lady Vengeance] (2005)

Chinjeolhan geumjassi
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Seo-Gyeong Jeong, Chan-wook Park
Part of: The Vengeance Trilogy
Cast: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon, Ji-tae Yu, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jeong Kang, Byeong-ok Kim

Plot:
Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) was just released from prison after more than a decade where she did time for kidnapping and killing a young boy. In prison she was known for her beauty and kindness, but as soon as she is out, Geum-ja starts ruthlessly working on her plan for revenge on the person who really was responsible for the murder, with the help of former inmates. At the same time, she tries to reconnect with her daughter (Yea-young Kwon) who was adopted by an Australian couple.

At the start of the movie, I thought that I would end up not liking it, that it would be a surprisingly weak ending to the unofficial trilogy. But the further it went, the absurder its sense of humor got, the more I enjoyed it. By the end, I was loving it just as much as the other two films.

sympathyforladyvengeance

Continue reading

Je préfère qu’on reste amis [Let’s Stay Just Friends] (2005)

Je préfère qu’on reste amis [there’s no official English translation. But it does mean “I want us to be just friends” or “let’s stay just friends”]
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Writer: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Gérard Depardieu, Annie Girardot, Yves Jacques

Plot:
Claude (Jean-Paul Rouve) is extremely shy and therefore also perpetually single. But his life changes drastically when he meets Serge (Gérard Depardieu) who crashed a wedding Claude was invited to. Serge crashes weddings regularly to pick up women. He also uses a dating service to meet even more women, run by Germain (Yves Jacques) – which is where he meets Claude again and decides to take him under his wing. Their new friendship has a deep effect on both of them.

Je préfère qu’on reste amis is the kind of film that you find in the special offer DVD box (or, in my case, my parents’ DVD shelf who found it in the special offer DVD box) and that it also pretty much where it belongs. It’s nice, but nothing more.

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Based on: Bob Kane‘s comics
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Junior

Plot:
After the death of his parents in a robbery and a foiled attempt to kill their murderer, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) leaves the country to search for something else entirely. While his hometown of Gotham City is slowly falling apart and swallowed by crime, Bruce ends up first in a prison, then with the League of Shadows, a mysterious organisation that wants to fight corruption, where he is trained by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson). But when Bruce finds out about the actual goals of the League, he decides that he’d rather come home to Gotham and fight crime on his own terms – as the Batman.

Batman Begins is a wonderful start to the trilogy, and a film that is not only still enjoyable when you’ve seen the 10th time (or so), but also one that stands the test of time very well.

Continue reading

The Descent (2005)

The Descent
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone

Plot:
A year after a tragic accident in which her husband and daughter died, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) catches up with her girlfriends for a weekend of caving. But as soon as they get down into the cave system, things start to go wrong: a part collapses and blocks them from getting back the way they got in. It turns out that they’re not in the explored caves they thought they were. And there is something in the dark.

The Descent is great – basically the perfect horror film, that just gets the teensiest bit too long towards the end. But it’s tense and scary and pretty damn awesome.

Continue reading