The Lion King (2019)

The Lion King
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Remake of: The Lion King
Cast: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, James Earl Jones, John Kani, Alfre Woodard, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Penny Johnson Jerald, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric André, Florence Kasumba, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Amy Sedaris, Chance the Rapper [I saw the German dub, though]
Seen on: 9.8.2019
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Plot:
Mufasa (James Earl Jones) rules the lions and the other animals in his valley. He has a son, Simba (JD McCrary), who is poised to inherit everything. But Mufasa’s brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is plotting against both of them – and succeeds. And so, Simba finds himself exiled and what used to be his kingdom taken over. Will he find the courage to fight for his people?

The original Lion King was “my” Disney movie – probably my favorite, certainly a very formative one – it just hit me at exactly the right age. Given this fact and the fact that I find these remakes mostly unnecessary, I was pretty much decided to not watch this film at all. But then I had a cinema date with my nieces and they chose this film and I ended up seeing it anyway (and in German to boot, though since I knew all the songs and so on in German anyway, that’s not that much of a deal in this case). This is all to say, I went into the film with trepidation and I left it very impressed by the visuals.

The film poster showing Mufasa standing with small Simba on a rock as the sun sets.
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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.

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Chef (2014)

Chef
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John LeguizamoEmjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters
Seen on: 9.6.2015

Plot:
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a passionate chef, but his boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick with the tried and tested menu – always. That brings him an abysmal critique by Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), the most important food critic. After fundamentally misunderstanding twitter, Carl transform that critique into a public feud with Michel, ultimately leading to him losing his job. Suddenly Carl has all the time in the world. Taking a recommendation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), he goes back to his roots and re-builds his career with a food truck that he takes on a cross-country tour, helped by his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his friend Martin (John Leguizamo).

Chef was an entertaining film, although it felt to me like Favreau made a film where he out-latinos all the latin@s in it – which was very weird, if not to say problematic.

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Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer’s Body
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, J. K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris, Cynthia Stevenson, Chris Pratt

Plot:
Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) have been best friends since about forever, even though by now Jennifer is the school’s most popular girl and Needy is kind of a geek. But everything changes when the two of them head to a concert by the up and coming band Low Shoulder. The band plans to insure their success by sacrificing a virgin – a plan that horribly backfires when they mistakenly think that Jennifer was one. Suddenly Needy finds herself with a pretty evil best friend.

I was one of the few people who were not utterly enchanted by Juno and also Jennifer’s Body didn’t convince me of Diablo Cody’s writing in general. That being said I did like this movie much better than I thought I would. Especially every time it got out its sense of humor.

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Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss in Boots
Director: Chris Miller
Writer:  Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg, Brian Lynch, Jon Zack
Based on: Charles Perrault‘s character and the Shrek movies to which it is a prequel
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro

Plot:
Puss (Antonio Banderas) is a talented thief who has set his eyes on the magic beans, currently in the possession of the criminals Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). But when he tries to steal them, he crosses paths with the mysterious Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). Kitty is working with Puss’ former best friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who is obsessed with the magic beans – and the goose that lays golden eggs to which the beans lead. And so the three of them throw their lots together to best Jack and Jill.

This movie could and should have been better than it actually was. It was not totally bad but it left me with a vague sense of unfulfilment.

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