I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, Mckenna Grace
Seen on: 3.4.2018

Plot:
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) has trained all her life to become a figure skater, her mother Lavona (Allison Janney) always pushing her. But Tonya is seen as not refined enough by many people in the community. Nevertheless, Tonya manages to fight her way to some success. Her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan) wants to see Tonya succeed at least as much as she does. When Tonya’s competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Catilin Carver) is attacked, suspicions fall on Tonya and Jeff.

I, Tonya is a strong film that tells a jawdropping story and showcases, once again, Robbie’s talent. It is a little uneven, but most of the time, it works extremely well.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Jane Goldman
Based on: Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy
Cast: Asa ButterfieldElla PurnellFinlay MacMillanLauren McCrostieHayden Keeler-StoneGeorgia PembertonMilo ParkerRaffiella ChapmanEva GreenSamuel L. JacksonJudi DenchRupert EverettAllison JanneyChris O’DowdTerence Stamp,
Seen on: 5.11.2016

Plot:
Jacob (Asa Butterfield) has always been very close to his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) who told him all kinds of stories of his childhood in an orphanage led by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), among children that all had very special gifts. Only as Jacob grew older, he stopped believing in those stories. Then his grandfather is attacked and Jacob sees a strange monster that nobody else is able to see. He is unsettled, to say the least and convinces his father (Chris O’Dowd) to head to Cairnholm, the island where his grandfather’s orphanage was, to find out more about his past and to hopefully be able to separate fact from fiction.

I read the first book of the trilogy and I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it, so I didn’t have high expectations about this film. And rightly so. Miss Peregrine’s Home is a decidedly mediocre affair with the best thing about it that they actually finish the story and are obviously not banking on an entire trilogy of films.

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The Girl on the Train (2016)

The Girl on the Train
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson
Based on: Paula Hawkinsnovel
Cast: Emily BluntHaley BennettRebecca FergusonJustin TherouxLuke EvansEdgar RamírezAllison JanneyLisa Kudrow
Seen on: 3.11.2016

Plot:
Rachel (Emily Blunt) takes the same train to work every day. And every day she sees Megan (Haley Bennett) who lives a few houses down from the one Rachel used to live with her now ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Tom left her for Anne (Rebecca Ferguson) and they still live in that house with their new baby. Rachel becomes rather obsessed with Megan, catching three seconds of her life every day. And then she hears that Megan went missing. Rachel wants to help, but she is also worried about herself because she lost the memory of the night Megan went missing and just knows that she woke up dirty and with blood on her hands.

The Girl on the Train tries very much to hit the same lane as Gone Girl but fundamentally misunderstands what made Gone Girl so great. It was a frustrating experience.

[SPOILERS for The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl]

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Spy (2015)

Spy
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Rose ByrneAllison Janney, Morena Baccarin, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale, Will Yun LeeNargis Fakhri, Peter Serafinowicz, 50 Cent
Seen on: 8.6.2015

Plot:
Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is a superspy as you imagine him: good-looking, suave and mostly investigating within the upper class. But he wouldn’t be half the spy he was without Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), his handler: Susan might not be in the field herself, but with the help of visual and audio equipment, she sees the world through Bradley’s eyes – with multiple enhancements. And she is the best at what she does. But when Bradley ignores her advice, is killed by Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). And Rayna goes on to blow the cover of every active field agent. While uncovered spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham) goes rogue, Susan herself steps up – and out into the field.

Spy does many things right, but it does enough that didn’t work for me to keep me only very mildly enthusiastic about it – despite the good stuff.

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Touchy Feely (2013)

[Touchy Feely will be shown today at the Framing Reality film festival in Vienna: 20.30, Filmcasino. They have a focus on Lynn Shelton and Barbara Kopple.]

Touchy Feely
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney, Tomo Nakayama, Shannon Kipp, Ron Livingston
Part of: Framing Reality

Plot:
Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who suddenly can’t touch people anymore at all. This severely hampers her relationship wih her boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy) with whom she was about to move in. In the meantime her brother Paul (Josh Pais), a dentist in a floundering clinic, seems to discover that he has a healing touch which he wants to explore with Abby’s friend and reiki practitioner Bronwyn (Allsion Janney). Paul’s daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) who works as his assistant, is slowly suffocating because of both the routine in her life and her love for and need to touch Jesse.

Touchy Feely is a sweet, calm film with a great cast and a good script. It’s enjoyable and smart, even if I’m not all over it.

touchyfeely

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The Way Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back
Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Cast: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Zoe Levin, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Plot:
Duncan’s (Liam James) mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) are taking Duncan and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) to Trent’s beach house for the summer. Duncan is less than overjoyed. He doesn’t get along with Trent at all, his mother spends all her time with Trent though. Steph ignores him and while the neighbor’s daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) is friendly, she’s also older and has her own problems. And then Duncan meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the cool if slightly immature manager of the local water park and somehow Duncan and Owen become friends.

The Way Way Back was very sweet for the most part, had a really nice cast and a wonderful sense of humor. Some things I didn’t like that much, but generally I really enjoyed it.

thewaywayback

[SLIGHT SPOILERS]

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Love & Distrust (2010)

Love & Distrust (it’s a short film anthology with the following segments)
Segment The Summer House
Director: Daisy Gili
Writer: Ian Beck
Cast: Talulah Riley, Robert Pattinson
Segment Blue Poles
Director: Darcy Yuille
Writer: Stewart Klein
Cast: Sam Worthington, Hallie Shellam
Segment Grasshopper
Director: Eric Kmetz
Writer: Eric Kmetz
Cast: James Franco, Rachel Miner
Segment Pennies
Director: Diana Valentine, Warner Loughlin
Writer: Eddie Adams, Marcus Kayne
Cast: Amy Adams
Segment Auto Motives
Director: Lorraine Bracco
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., James Cameron, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jim Rash, Tate Taylor

Plot:
In Summer House, Jane (Talulah Riley) tries to get away from her ex Richard (Robert Pattinson).
In Blue Poles, country guy Miles (Sam Worthington) picks up hippie hitchhiker Libby (Hallie Shellam).
In Grasshopper, business man Travis (James Franco) forgets his cell phone on the train which is found by punk Terri (Rachel Miner).
In Pennies, Charlotte (Amy Adams) has to come into some money really quickly for the sake of her daughter. Unfortunately, she’s only a waitress.
In Auto Motives, we see various people in different situations involving cars.

I got drawn in by the impressive cast list in this collection. Unfortunately that seems to have also been the only criteria in the choice of putting those originally unconnected short films together in one film. There is no thematic arch whatsoever, but even taken on their own, the films are absolutely damn weak.

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Margaret (2011)

Margaret
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Anna Paquin, J. Smith-Cameron, Jeannie Berlin, Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Jean Reno, Allison Janney, Kieran Culkin, Rosemarie DeWitt, Matthew Broderick, Olivia Thirlby, Matt Bush, Michael Ealy
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Lisa (Anna Paquin) is a normal teenager until the day she co-causes a bus accident by distracting the driver (Mark Ruffalo). The bus hits and kills Monica (Allison Janney), leaving Lisa distraught and unsettled. Unable to find another outlet for her feelings of guilt, she gets on a crusade to get recompensation for Monica’s death, while everything around her keeps spiraling out of control.

Margaret is 2 1/2 hours long and you get to feel every minute of it.* It’s 2 1/2 hours of an hysteric teenager and emotionally incompetent adults, a combination that is at the same time boring and nerve-wrecking. What it isn’t, is enjoyable.

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The Help (2011)

The Help
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Tate Taylor
Based on: Kathryn Stockett’s novel
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Anna Camp, Sissy Spacek

Plot:
1960  in Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen (Viola Davis) is a maid who is currently working for the Leefolt family, where she especially loves taking care of Mae Mobley, the Leefolts’ little girl. Her best friend is Minny (Octavia Spencer) who – quite contrary to Aibileen – usually gets in trouble because she won’t hold her peace. Which is not the best course of action for a maid. But when the white Skeeter (Emma Stone) looks for a maid to talk about her life, so she can write a book about it, it’s Aibilieen who jumps at the chance.

The Help is pretty much the perfect Christmas movie – sentimental, sweet and even more of a tear-jerker than the book (I was actually surprised that this was possible). A very nice way to shed some cathartic tears, despite a few weaknesses.

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Away We Go (2009)

Away We Go is the newest movie by Sam Mendes, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey.

Plot:
Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a happy couple, even if they have financial difficulties and rather crappy jobs. When they discover that Verona is pregnant and that Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are moving away, they decide to start life anew and go on a (road) trip through the US, visiting friends and relatives to decide where that new life should happen.

Away We Go is another one of those movies where somebody somewhere decided that it is not fit for marketing. Oh, and what a bad choice again. It’s a wonderful, funny and heart-warming movie with a great soundtrack that I can only recommend. Over and over again.

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