You Were Never Really Here (2017)

You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writer: Lynne Ramsay
Based on: Jonathan Ames‘ novel of the same name
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Dante Pereira-Olson, Vinicius Damasceno, Judith Roberts, Frank Pando, John Doman, Alex Manette, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Plot:
Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a veteran with PTSD whose job it is to retrieve trafficked girls as a freelancer. His newest task is to find Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) who ran away from home. Her father (Alex Manette) is a state senator and he’s pretty sure she’s held against her will at a house he knows of. He wants as little fuss as possible, not only for his own position, but also because he works for the Governor (Alessandro Nivola). Joe takes the job but soon finds that things may be more complicated than anticipated.

You Were Never Really Here is a fantastic film that really carries a punch. There’s a lot to dissect and reflect here – and since it is such a good film, you’ll be happy to engage with it after having seen it to do just that.

The film poster showing Joaquin Phoenix with a hammer in his hand, looking down with an image of Ekaterina Samsonov floating in water superimposed over his body.
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The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Cast: Elle FanningJena MaloneBella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Karl Glusman, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 8.6.2016

Plot:
Jesse (Elle Fanning) just moved to L.A., dreaming of a career as a model. She meets photographer Dean (Karl Glusman) and make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who both take a shine to her and try to help. Since there is something about Jesse, that seems barely necessary though – her career is definitely off to a good start. But young girls like Jesse are quickly swallowed by the fashion world and grow older too fast – which is what happened to Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who can’t stand Jesse waiting in the wings to take their place.

The Neon Demon is a hypnotizing film that manages to conjure up an intriguing atmosphere that kept me glued to my seat. But – as with Drive – it only worked for me because I read it completely different from what Refn apparently intended to say.

theneondemon

[SPOILERS]

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A Most Violent Year (2014)

A Most Violent Year
Director: J.C. Chandor
Writer: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert BrooksElyes Gabel, Elizabeth Marvel, Alessandro Nivola
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is working hard to make the company he has taken over from his wife Anna’s (Jessica Chastain) family a thriving success. But as they can finally make an offer on a plot of land that would give them a significant advantage in the business, they hit a snag: the trucks carrying the oil they are selling keep getting robbed. When Abel tries semi-official channels to try and figure out who’s targeting him, he comes under scrutiny of D.A. Lawrence (David Oyelowo) himself. Now he has only a week to fulfill the stipulations of the deal on the land, keep his business afloat and himself out of jail.

A Most Violent Year is a strong film that is always engaging and has great cast. But it does have a few weaknesses as well.

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Selma (2014)

Selma
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson, Giovanni Ribisi, André Holland, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Colman Domingo, Omar J. Dorsey, Tessa Thompson, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Dylan Baker, Corey ReynoldsWendell Pierce, Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Martin Sheen
Seen on: 24.02.2015

Plot:
Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) may have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize, but the fight for racial equality is far from over, which is proven again when a bombing of a predominantly black church kills four girls and injures others or when a woman in Selma, Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey), is denied to registrate for voting, only the latest of many attempts of hers to do so. King makes voting legislation his next big topic, coming to Selma to start his campaign of civil resistance that is supposed to culminate in a march from Selma to Montgomery. But before things get that far, a lot of stuff has to happen first.

Of all the biopics I’ve recently seen, Selma was by far my favorite. The story is amazing, wonderfully told and the cast was absolutely mind-blowing.

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American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea WhighamAlessandro Nivola, Saïd Taghmaoui

Plot:
Irving (Christian Bale) is a con man who finds a new partner in all things in Sydney (Amy Adams), despite being married to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). But then police man Richie (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act and decides to use them to convict the mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of corruption. But things keep on spiraling out of control.

I can imagine that American Hustle would have been a good film if somebody other than David O. Russell had made it. Or if Russell had found a consistent tone in which to tell his story. But as is the movie was just a mess.

american-hustle

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Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Ginger & Rosa
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Elle FanningAlice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, Jodhi May

Plot:
1962. Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) grew up together and are best friends. While Rosa’s father left a while ago and she fights a lot with her mother (Jodhi May), Ginger’s parents Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and Roland (Alessandro Nivola) are still together, if barely. But as nuclear warfare is threatening the entire world, so is Ginger’s world starting to crumble and bit by bit things start to slip away.

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Ginger & Rosa was brilliant. Beautiful and wonderfully made, it went straight for my heart and I bawled my eyes out.

Ginger-and-rosa

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