Trolls (2016)

Trolls
Director: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Based on: Thomas Dam‘s dolls
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, John Cleese, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Funches, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis
Seen on: 8.4.2017

Plot:
The Trolls live a very happy life, carefree and filled with music and definitely not thinking about the Bergens who are only happy when they can eat Trolls. Nobody more so than Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick). It’s only Branch (Justin Timberlake) who refuses to sing and who fears that the Bergens will be back. Therefore he is constantly trying to prepare for that eventuality. When Poppy throws a big party that actually does attract the Bergens and a few Trolls end up taken, Poppy knows that she has to rescue them. And who could help her better than Branch?

When Trolls came out last year, I decided pretty quickly that I really wasn’t interested in it. I did have Troll dolls when I was a kid, but I was never particularly taken with them and basing a film on them just seemed weird. But my niece loves the film and she wanted to watch it with me, so I did. And it turns out, it’s actually really sweet and funny.

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The Accountant (2016)

The Accountant
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Cast: Ben AffleckAnna KendrickJ.K. SimmonsJon BernthalJeffrey TamborCynthia Addai-RobinsonJohn Lithgow
Seen on: 9.11.2016

Plot:
Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) has discovered irregularities in her company’s accounts. So an external accountant is called in to look at the books – Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck). Wolff is usually more occupied with keeping the accounts of criminal organizations, but since he’s being investigated by the Treasury Department in the form of Ray King (J.K. Simmons), a legitimate job seems like a good idea at this moment. But when Wolff confirms Cummings’ suspicions, people start dying and soon he finds himself deeply involved.

The Accountant’s claim to fame is the fact that Christian Wolff is an autistic character/action hero. Other than that it doesn’t really have anything unusual to offer, but it’s a decent film.

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Writer: Kay Cannon
Sequel to: Pitch Perfect
Cast: Anna KendrickHailee SteinfeldBrittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Ben PlattAdam DeVine, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae LeeChrissie FitBirgitte Hjort SørensenFlula Borg, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Hodgman, Snoop Dogg, David Cross, Keegan-Michael Key
Seen on: 31.5.2015

Plot:
The Barden Bellas have been quite successful for the past few years, when a new catastrophe hits: their by now huge show falls completely apart, right when they are performing for the President. Banned from college competitions afterwards, their only chance of making up for the massive blunder is by winning the World Championship of Acappella. But that won’t be easy: the championship takes place in Europe, where everybody hates the USA, Beca (Anna Kendrick) got an internship at a music studio which takes up a lot of her time and the formerly strong friendship between the women is crumbling.

Pitch Perfect 2 was completely disappointing. I really enjoyed the first film (even with a couple of hesitations) and I even re-watched it before seeing this one, but unfortunately PP2 enhanced all the worst parts of PP and didn’t improve anything else.

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The Voices (2014)

The Voices
Director: Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Michael R. Perry
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jacki Weaver, Ella Smith

Plot:
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a little off, but he does his best. He has found steady employment at an appliance factory, he regularly sees his therapist (Jacki Weaver) and he is in love with his co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton). So, how much can it really matter that his dog Bosco (Ryan Reynolds) and his cat Mr. Whiskers (Ryan Reynolds) talk to him? When things start to go very wrong for Jerry and everybody in his life, it turns out, it matters quite a bit.

I was afraid that I would miss the film because it only got a very limited release and in Vienna, they didn’t seem to show it in English at all – when I stumbled over a cinema announcing it in a subbed version weeks after the start, right before the last showing (they have since started to show it again, after a two week break). This coincidence, added to my general excitement for the film, really made my expectations higher than ever – and I’m happy to say that those expectations were completely fulfilled. The Voices was really great. It’s funny (in a very macabre way), but it’s also sad and quite touching.

thevoices

[Very slight spoilers]

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Cake (2014)

Cake
Director: Daniel Barnz
Writer: Patrick Tobin
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Britt Robertson
Seen on: 15.04.2015

Plot:
After an accident Claire (Jennifer Aniston) is in chronic pain, bitter and lonely. Her only points of social contact are her housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza) and her chronic pain self-help group. But after one of its members, Nina (Anna Kendrick), committed suicide and Claire had a bit of a meltdown, the group has asked her to leave. Instead Claire pays a visit to Nina’s widower Roy (Sam Worthington). They both start leaning on each other for their recovery, even if that’s a very slow-going process.

Cake was an excellent film. Great performances, smart script, interesting topic handled seriously but also with a sense of humor, all tied together in a neat little package.

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Into the Woods (2014)

Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer. James Lapine
Based on: James Lapine‘s (book) and Stephen Sondheim‘s (music and lyrics) musical, which is in turn based on a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Lilla CrawfordChris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Mauzy, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Meryl Streep, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, Frances de la Tour
Seen on: 11.3.2015

Plot:
The baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) dream of having a child, but due to a curse by the evil witch (Meryl Streep), they can’t conceive. But the witch offers to reverse the curse – if they bring her certain items: a cow as white as milk, hair the color of corn, a golden slipper and a red cape. They set off into the woods where they hope to find all of those items. As luck will have it, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) runs away from her prince (Chris Pine) in golden slippers, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) tries to sell his white cow, Litte Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is visiting her gran in her red cape and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and her blonde hair meet her prince (Billy Magnussen) – all in those same woods. But things don’t go quite as planned.

The first half of Into the Woods is extremely enjoyable. In the second half, the plot completely unravels, but at least cast and production design are still awesome.

Into_the_Woods

[SPOILERS]

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The Company You Keep (2012)

The Company You Keep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Based on: Neil Gordon’s novel
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott

Plot:
30 years ago, The Weather Underground robbed a bank and shot a guard. Nobody was arrested. Now the FBI managed to arrest Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon). Her arrest has journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) digging into the story. He talks to lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) who turns out to have been one of the Weathermen, Nick Sloan. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, but there seems to be more to the story than that.

The Weather Underground are certainly a topic that deserves discussion and cinematic treatment. Unfortunately this movie skirts the interesting bits and ends up being boring, unrealistic and self-congratulatory.

company_you_keep

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End of Watch (2012)

End of Watch
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, America Ferrara, Cody Horn

Plot:
Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Peña) are LA cops and have been partners and best friends for quite a while. Brian started to take a film class for which he films his daily routine. It consists mostly of gang shootings and drugs. But when they stumble upon a case of human trafficking, they really start to get in the way of the wrong people, namely the Mexican cartel. When Brian and Mike won’t back down, instead keep on making names for themselves, things get even hotter for the two of them.

I really thought that End of Watch would be better than it was. But the plot is all over the place, the format is an ill fit and I just was bored most of the time.

end_of_watch

[SPOILERS]

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Pitch Perfect (2012)

Pitch Perfect
Director: Jason Moore
Writer: Kay Cannon
Based on: Mickey Rapkin’s book
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae LeeAdam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, Donald Faison

Plot:
Beca (Anna Kendrick) just started college, even though she’d much rather get started on her music producing career directly. As a deal with her father, she enters one of the university’s club – the all-girl acapella group The Bellas, headed by Aubrey (Anna Camp) and Chloe (Brittany Snow). The Bellas have to overcome a recent humiliation. Plus, they really want to beat the all-male campus acapella group. But The Bellas have been doing their thing for a little too long – and they desperately need some fresh input to win.

Pitch Perfect is a whole damn lot of fun. It is a little silly and very predictable, but it is amazingly entertaining.

pitch-perfect

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ParaNorman (2012)

ParaNorman
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Writer: Chris Butler
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, John Goodman

Plot:
Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) would be a normal boy if it wasn’t for the fact that he is able to speak with ghosts. Which the people around him either try to ignore (his family) or use as an excuse to bully him (his schoolmate Alvin). Only his dead grandma gives him support and his schoolmate Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) tries insistently to befriend him. But everything changes when his (seemingly?) crazy uncle Mr Prenderghast (John Goodman) warns him of the witch’s curse – and that Norman is the only one who can keep the dead from rising.

ParaNorman is sweet and absolutely funny, made with a lot of loving references to the B-to-D-horror-movies that usually feature zombies. I loved it.

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