Street Kings (2008)

Street Kings
Director: David Ayer
Writer: James EllroyKurt WimmerJamie Moss
Cast: Keanu ReevesForest WhitakerHugh LaurieChris EvansCedric the EntertainerJay MohrTerry CrewsNaomie HarrisCommonGameMartha Higareda
Seen on: 18.10.2017
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Plot:
Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover cop. He is successful, but he rarely sticks to the law. Neither does his superior, Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), which is how Tom got away with it for years. But now Internal Affairs in the form of James Biggs (Hugh Laurie) have started to investigate, just as Ludlow’s colleague Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) has espressed doubts about Ludlow and his methods. It doesn’t take long for things to go from bad to worse for Ludlow.

Street Kings is an utterly grueling film, and not in a good way at all. While the cast promises much, the script doesn’t deliver and what you get is a boring film filled with unlikeable characters.

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Bronson (2008)

Bronson
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Brock Norman Brock, Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Tom HardyKelly AdamsMatt KingJames LanceJuliet OldfieldKaty BarkerJoe Tucker
Seen on: 8.1.2017

Plot:
When Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy) is 19 years old, he robs a post-office. He is apprehended pretty quickly and sentenced to 7 years in prison. But due to his violent behavior, his sentence keeps getting prolonged and he spends most of the decades he ultimately is imprisoned in solitary confinement. There he grooms his public persona Charles Bronson, who started as a bare-knuckle fighter. Peterson/Bronson notoriously becomes Britain’s most violent prisoner.

Bronson is not an easy film to watch but it’s a film that leaves a mark. It definitely left a deep impression on me.

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The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (2008)

The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond
Director: Jodie Markell
Writer: Tennessee Williams
Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Evans, Will Patton, Ann-Margret, Mamie Gummer, Jessica Collins, Ellen Burstyn, Zach Grenier
Seen on: 6.11.2016

Plot:
Fisher Willow (Bryce Dallas Howard) has spent some time overseas. Now she’s back home and supposed to come out to society. But while she was gone, her father caused some trouble in their town and is now hated. Fisher herself is rather wild and outspoken. The two things in combination leave her rather ostracized. She can’t even find a date to accompany her. So she pays Jimmy (Chris Evans) to accompany her. Jimmy’s family used to have a big name, but they have since fallen in standing. And Jimmy has his fair share of troubles to contend with, but he desperately needs the money.

I do wonder why nobody ever talks about The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond. Not only is it by Tennessee Williams (a “lost screenplay” that resurfaced 50 years after it was written), it’s a really good film.

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Kalt kocht [Kalt Cooks] (2008)

Kalt kocht
Director: Eva Testor, Niki Mossböck
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 26.2.2016

“Plot”:
In 1999, Eva Testor and Niki Mossböck wanted to start a documentary cycle where they interview filmmakers (each other and others) about their creative processes and activities. They started with Jörg Kalt, who cooked them dinner and the opened up about his thoughts. It took them almost another 10 years to finish the film, which they only completed after Kalt had passed away.

The first half of the about 15 minutes of the film, we watch Kalt cooking, explaining the recipes, seeing him move in his own kitchen. It’s an effective way to get an impression of his personality and an intimate and very private look at him as a person. The second half seems a little more distanced, as he talks about his work but I quickly realized that the privacy of the setting also transferred to his disclosures. In fact, I hadn’t known before that Kalt had committed suicide, but after this short interview I was very ready to assume that he suffered from depression.

But apart from hobby-psychologing it was also intersting to hear him talk about making art, making films and what drives him. The film shows how much you can uncover when you just let smart, knowledgeable people talk (to each other).

kaltkocht

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

The Secret Life of Bees
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Writer: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Based on: Sue Monk Kidd‘s novel
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Bettany, Hilarie Burton, Tristan Wilds, Nate Parker
Seen on: 16.1.2016

Plot:
When Lily (Dakota Fanning) was a little child, she accidentally shot and killed her mother (Hilarie Burton) who was about to leave her and her father T-Ray (Paul Bettany). Now Lily is fourteen and stuck with her volatile, abusive father. Her only positive relationship is with housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). After Rosaleen is attacked for trying to register to vote while black, Lily decides to run away. She breaks Rosaleen out of the hospital and together they make their way to a place where Lily thinks her mother has spent some time before her death. This leads them to bee-keeping August (Queen Latifah) and her sisters May (Sophie Okonedo) and June (Alicia Keys) where they find refuge.

The Secret Life of Bees is an interesting mix of harsh and naive: it takes many hard realities of the 60s for (black) women and transforms them into a tale of sweet, dreamlike sisterhood. It’s a tale of what should have been possible, even given bad circumstances.

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Gran Torino (2008)

Gran Torino
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Nick Schenk
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, Dreama Walker, Brian Howe, Christopher Carley, John Carroll Lynch
Seen on: 25.11.2015

Plot:
Walt (Clint Eastwood) just lost his wife and the rest of his family – his children and grandchildren – doesn’t particularly like him and vice versa. Mostly Walt is being stubborn about everything which means that he is practically the only white person left in a neighborhood increasingly inhabited by Hmong people, despite the fact that Walt is virulently racist. When the neighbors’ kid Thao (Bee Vang), pressured by a local gang, tries to steal Walt’s car, a pristine Gran Torino, Walt catches him. Thao’s family insists that Thao make it up to Walt and they slowly grow closer.

Gran Torino is a hypermasculine, sexist and racist catastrophe of a movie. To add insult to injury, it’s even boring. In short, it completey re-affirmed to me why I usually hate Eastwood films.

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Deadgirl (2008)

Deadgirl
Director: Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel
Writer: Trent Haaga
Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Candice Accola, Eric Podnar, Jenny Spain, Michael Bowen

[MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNINGS]

Plot:
Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) decide to ditch school and explore the local abandoned mental hospital (as you do). In the basement of said hospital they stumble upon a chained, naked woman (Jenny Spain) who isn’t dead, much to their surprise. Or at least nor really. JT sees the perfect opportunity to acquire a sex slave, while Rickie is a little more hesitant.

Deadgirl could have been an interesting comment on rape culture and the (sexual) objectification of women. Unfortunately instead it tries to be clever without actually understanding what it is about. And that just means it sucks so much there are hardly any words for it.

Deadgirl

[SPOILERS]

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The Brothers Bloom (2008)

The Brothers Bloom
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane, Maximilian Schell

Plot:
Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are broterhs and con artists. They are working together with Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi) and have successfully pulled off quite a few heists already. But Bloom has grown weary of their work. He quits, only to be hauled back in by Stephen for one last job. Their target: Penelope (Rachel Weisz), incredibly rich, very weird and beautiful. Even though it goes against his instincts, Bloom agrees to go along with it as he’s intrigued by Penelope. But things keep twisting and turn out quite differently than originally planned.

The Brothers Bloom is fun and especially with Penelope they created such a wonderful character that you can’t help but love it all. It’s a really nice, entertaining film.

brothersbloom

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Three and Out (2008)

Three and Out
Director: Jonathan Gershfield
Writer: Steve Lewis, Tony Owen
Cast: Mackenzie Crook, Colm Meaney, Gemma Arterton, Gary Lewis, Imelda Staunton

Plot:
Paul (Mackenzie Crook) is a subway driver who just ran over two people in a couple of weeks. His colleagues tell him that he can get 10 years pay and retirement if he hits a third person in the same month. Since that would be exactly what Paul needs to finally write the book he’s been dreaming of, he tries to find a suicidal person to jump in front of his train on purpose. And he finds that person in Tommy (Colm Meaney) who just wants to set a few things straight before jumping. And for that he needs Paul’s help.

Three and Out is sweet and it has its fun moments, but it’s also pretty predictable and doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

threeandout

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Re-Watch: Iron Man (2008) + Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man / Iron Man 2
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway / Justin Theroux
Based on: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby‘s comic
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard / Don Cheadle, Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, John Slattery, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau
Part of: Marvel movies
[Here are my other reviews.]

Plot:
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the kind of guy Bruce Wayne always pretends to be: Rich, constantly drunk, an ass. Now take away the social consciousness of Bruce Wayne and add “manufactures weapons” and technical genius and you know Tony Stark.
That changes pretty drastically when he’s abducted in Iraq and forced to build a rocket for a group of terrorists. Instead of building what they ask for, he builds a hightech suit of armour and makes himself a superhero on the way. But becoming a superhero doesn’t come without its costs.

I guess since it’s not the first time that I’m watching the films, nobody will be surprised when I say that I like them. And I really do.

iron_man

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