Big Night Out (Ed. by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls, Imogen Edwards-Jones)

Big Night Out is a collection of short stories, recipes, song lists, illustrations and edited by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls and Imogen Edwards-Jones. It was published to benefit the War Child charity.
Finished on: 25.11.2017

Big Night Out isn’t your typical short story collection. There really is a lot here that isn’t a short story at all, although the biggest part are short stories. I grabbed it for those (well, I grabbed it mostly for Jasper Fforde‘s short story in it), so I mostly skimmed through the other things, even though some very big names contributed various things (INXSSteve Coogan, and Nick Hornby recommending songs? Anthony Stewart Head sharing a cocktail recipe? Joan Collins‘ beauty tips? Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Boy George detailing hangover cures? It’s all there). I did feel that the selection was made on the basis of the people in any case and not necessarily for the quality of their content. But hey, it is for charity after all. If you don’t buy it for the stories, but for the good deed, you’ll get what you expect.

After the jump, I will talk about the short stories in the collection separately and you can find the table of contents so you can see what else is in there.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Sequel to: Alice in Wonderland
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-CarterSacha Baron CohenRhys Ifans, Matt LucasLindsay DuncanLeo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard ArmitageEd Speleers, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Seen on: 2.6.2016

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is working very hard to keep her father’s shipping company together, but things aren’t going well. Things seem doomed after her mother (Lindsay Duncan) signed over their shares to Alice’ former suitor Hamish (Leo Bill). It is just then that bad news reaches Alice from Wonderland and she sets off there to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who hasn’t been himself. In fact, he seems to have crossed the line into absolute madness, believing firmly that his family isn’t actually dead, but can still be brought back. Reluctantly Alice agrees to help by speaking to Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and trying to get to the chronosphere which would help them clear matters up. But things get more complicated when it becomes obvious that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is also involved.

The first Alice film wasn’t particularly good, though I did enjoy watching that cast in that production design for the most part. That’s why I figured I would give Alice Through the Looking Glass a try as well. Unfortunately, it was even less convincing than the first film.

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A Little Chaos (2014)

A Little Chaos
Director: Alan Rickman
Writer: Alan Rickman, Alison Deegan, Jeremy Brock
Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman, Jennifer Ehle, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Penry-Jones, Steven Waddington, Pauline Moran
Seen on: 05.05.2015

Plot:
Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is a well-established gardener who gets invited to present her plans for a piece of the Versaille gardens to André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). Le Nôtre is irritated by Sabine’s lack of order, but decides to work with her anyway, even though his esteem in King Louis XIV‘s (Alan Rickman) eyes and his general reputation depend on the success of the gardens. The tension between Sabine and André soon spills from a professional to a more personal level, much to the disdain of André’s wife (Helen McCrory).

A Little Chaos is a film that would proabbly be classically considered a women’s film (not that there isn’t something for the guys there as well) and it’s a beautiful entry in that (if you will) genre, even though it’s a little heavyhanded sometimes.

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The Butler (2013)

The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Based on: Wil Haygood’s article
Cast: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Nelsan Ellis

Plot:
Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm where he officially wasn’t a slave anymore but he practically was. When he was old enough, he left there and after a period of hardship was lucky enough to find employment. Bit by bit he works his way up to becoming a butler and finally gets recruited into the White House. But racism is still a major issue.

The Butler has a great cast and the time passes rather quickly when you watch it, but it’s a manipulative film (which I was prepared for and which isn’t generally bad) that is so sweet that it leaves you in desperate need of insulin to manage it. And that was just too much.

The_Butler

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Gambit (2012)

Gambit
Director: Michael Hoffman
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Remake of: Gambit
Cast: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Tom Courtenay, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Cloris Leachman

Plot:
Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is the art adviser for rich business man Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman). He hates Shahbandar with a passion, so he hatched a plan to let him buy a fake Monet, painted by Major Wingate (Tom Courtenay). For that he needs the help of cowgirl P.J. Puznowski (Cameron Diaz). But as soon as they set the plan in motion, things are already going wrong and the entire plan is soon in jeopardy.

Apparently Gambit got really bad reviews. I don’t get it. It’s a perfectly entertaining film that makes its roots in the 60s felt and has a very nice sense of humor. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

gambit

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Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard
Director: John McTiernan
Writer: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza
Based on: Roderick Thorp‘s novel Nothing Lasts Forever
Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton

Plot:
Police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels from New York to LA for Christmas, where his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and children have been living for the past months. But shortly after he arrives at Holly’s office Christmas party, terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) take the entire party hostage. Everybody but John, that is. With no way of contacting anybody on the outside, it’s up to John to get rid of the terrorists one by one.

I’m a little late to the party with this movie, I know. And maybe because I’m late to the party, I don’t really get what all the fuss about this film is about? I mean, yes, it’s a good action movie. There are some nice jokes. But I just didn’t think it was all that great.

die-hard

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the last movie in the Harry Potter series originally written by Joanne K. Rowling. The film was directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and starring pretty much every British actor ever Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs, Warwick Davis, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Ciarán Hinds, Julie Walters, Kelly Macdonald, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Robbie Coltrane, Jamie Campbell Bower, Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson.

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) slowly uncovers the final secrets surrounding his life while his fight with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) draws to an end. After pretty much everything has gone to hell, things – and people – are finally coming together for the final battle while Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) try to destroy the remaining horcruxes.

After HPatDH:1 2 pretty much had to be a cinematic revelation (I still can’t believe how boring 1 was), just in comparison. And that worked out. Is it the best movie ever? Well no, David Yates is still its director. But it’s a decent and fitting ending to the series.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is – as you all probably now – Number 7 in a series of seven books by Joanne K. Rowling. It was made into two movies, this here is Part 1, which was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, (continuing in no particular order) Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Jamie Campbell Bower, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Miranda Richardson, Warwick Davis and Michael Gambon.

Plot:
[Hell, if you don’t know what Harry Potter is about, you might not want to start here. Anyway.]
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) leave school to find and destroy the horcruxes that keep Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) alive. But the search is more difficult and dangerous than they anticipated.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I think both the books as well as the movies have reached their peak with number four (though The Prisoner of Azkaban is a close second). HPatDH1 did nothing to change my point of view on that. The pacing’s bad, the direction is worse and there’s no reason to drag this out in two films, since nothing really happens in this one anyway.

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland is the newest movie by Tim Burton, based on the book by Lewis Carroll, starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Helena Bonham-Carter, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall.

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is at a party with her family – actually, it’s her engagement party, only she doesn’t know – when a white rabbit (Michael Sheen) appears to her. Since the rabbit is wearing a waistcoat and a pocket watch, Alice is intrigued. She follows it to Wonderland where she discovers that an old prophecy is waiting just for her.

Even with the Tim Burton bonus and the wonderful cast, I cannot say that this was actually a good movie. I mean, it looked great but that script and that plot and the character CGI…

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

[Somehow this film, too, slipped through the cracks in my trying to get this blog up to speed. I saw it in July, I think.]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th movie in the Harry Potter series based on J.K. Rowling‘s book of the same name. It was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael GambonAlan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, David Thewlis and Jim Broadbent.

[SPOILERS for the WHOLE SERIES after this point.]

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in his sixth year at Hogwarts (school for wizadry). He finds a mysterious book that belonged to the half-blood prince and the notes in it help him star in Prof. Slughorn’s (Jim Broadbent) potion class. At the same time he works together with Prof. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to find out more about Lord Voldemort and his weaknesses.

The Half-Blood Prince is definitely the weakest of all the Potter movies so far. The plot’s all over the place, things happen you can only understand if you’ve read the books and HOLY SHIT! they spoil the seventh book/movie. What the hell?

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