Snowden (2016)

Snowden
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Based on: the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Zachary QuintoShailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant, Erol Sander, Scott Eastwood, Ben Chaplin
Seen on: 4.10.2016

Plot:
Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) used to be a soldier, then he started working for the NSA. Growing disillusioned with the NSA’s surveillance practices, he decides to do something about it. He contacts journalists Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and leaks documents and evidence through them. But whistleblowing like that is treason and Snowden has to be smart to make sure that the information reaches the public and that he doesn’t get caught.

Snowden is a very nice companion piece to Citizenfour. It’s a well done, engaging film and you can’t repeat this horrifying story and the sheer scope of everything enough.

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The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

The Legend of Tarzan
Director: David Yates
Writer: Adam CozadCraig Brewer
Based on: Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ short stories
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot RobbieSamuel L. JacksonChristoph WaltzDjimon HounsouSimon Russell BealeJim BroadbentBen Chaplin
Seen on: 7.8.2016

Plot:
Years ago the man known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) became John Clayton once more and returned from Congo to his home country of England with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Now he’s trying very hard to leave his wild past behind him. But then George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) turns up in London, accusing a Belgian/Congolese mining company run by Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) in the name of King Leopold of slave trade. He needs John’s help to prove it, so reluctantly, John agrees to return.

I didn’t expect Tarzan to be very good and it wasn’t. But it did surprise me in some of the ways that it was bad. That’s… an achievement, I guess.

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Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz
Based on: the Disney movie, which is in turn based on the fairy tale
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon
Seen on: 16.03.2015

Plot:
After her mother’s (Hayley Atwell) death, Ella’s (Lily James) father (Ben Chaplin) gets married again. Cinderella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) move in and change Ella’s life forever. When her father dies a short time later, Ella becomes Cinderella, a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. When the Prince (Richard Madden) invites all unmarried women to a ball to choose his wife, Cinderella would like to go as well, but needs the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to do so. But there are still some difficulties to be faced until the happy end.

Cinderella brings the aesthetic of the animated Disney version to life and adds its own brand of humor. It is a little long at times and the script isn’t particularly good, but it’s enjoyable.

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Murder by Numbers (2002)

Murder by Numbers
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Writer: Tony Gayton
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ben Chaplin, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Agnes Bruckner
Seen on: 23.02.2015

Plot:
Richard (Ryan Gosling) and Justin (Michael Pitt) are at opposite ends of the high school feeding chain, but they are equally brilliant and equally bored by their lives. So they hatch a plan to commit the perfect murder and actually carry it out. Homicide detective Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) and her new partner Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin) are put on the case and Mayweather soon realizes that something is fishy. Quickly she finds herself in a dangerous game with Richard and Justin.

Murder by Numbers is nothing revolutionary, but it is a nice watch, especially for Cassie Mayweather who is a pretty great character and the generally good performances.

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The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Based on: James Jonesnovel
Cast: Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Dash Mihok, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Miranda Otto, Jared Leto, John Travolta, George Clooney, Kirk Acevedo, Mark Boone Junior, Nick Stahl

Plot:
The Guadalcanal is an important strategic point in World War II. Therefore a group of soldiers is brought in to battle for an airfield held by the Japanese which quickly turns into a slaughter with pressures from within and without rising for everyone.

I never liked Malick movies. I wanted to watch this one anyway because it’s a classic and so I decided to jump at the chance when it was shown at the Filmmuseum in Vienna. Now that I have seen it, I can say: I really don’t like Malick movies.

Thin_Red_Line

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Twixt (2011)

Twixt
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Elle Fanning, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Whalley
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Plot:
Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a writer of mystery novels and pretty much down on his luck. And he’s also an alcoholic who gets by by doing book-signing tours in small towns. In one of those small towns, Hall meets Sheriff LaGrange (Bruce Dern) who would like to co-operate on a book about murders that happened there. Hall is not really into the idea, but then he starts to have vivid dreams involving V (Elle Fanning) and it all seems connected.

Twixt was apparently based on a dream Francis Ford Coppola had and you can feel that, which makes it a strange little film. But it’s one that I did enjoy a lot.

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London Boulevard (2010)

London Boulevard
Director: William Monahan
Writer: William Monahan
Based on: Ken Bruen‘s novel
Cast: Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, Ray Winstone, Eddie Marsan, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Graham, Ophelia Lovibond, Jamie Campbell Bower

Plot:
Mitchel (Colin Farrell) was just released from prison (where he spent time for grievous bodily harm) and now tries to leave his old circle. But his friend Billy (Ben Chaplin) who set him up with a place to stay, would rather see him with himself in the money-lending business. But Mitchel declines and finds himself a job as a handyman/bodyguard for the reclusive actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley) and her business manager Jordan (David Thewlis). Unfortunately, Billy’s boss Gant (Ray Winstone) isn’t really willing to let Mitchel go.

London Boulevard should be entertaining. It has an impressive cast and I do enjoy these gangster stories. Unfortunately, the whole thing is much too muddled to really achieve its potential.

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Me and Orson Welles (2008)

Me and Orson Welles is the newest Richard Linklater movie, an adaptation of Robert Kaplow‘s book, starring Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, Zoe Kazan, Eddie Marsan, James Tupper and Kelly Reilly.

Plot:
Richard (Zac Efron) is a student at high school and a great fan of the theatre. When he gets cast in Orson Welles’ (Christian McKay) newest production – Julius Caesar – a dream comes true for him. With a mixture of boldness and naivite he soon endears himself to the entire cast, including Orson Welles and his assistant, Sonja (Claire Danes).

I was very hesitant to see this film. My relationship with Linklater films is rather shaky and that the movie stars Zac Efron… well. But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s entertaining, very nicely acted and funny.

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Dorian Gray (2009)

Dorian Gray is the newest movie by Oliver Parker, starring Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin and Rebecca Hall. It’s an adaptation of Oscar Wilde‘s novel, which I’ve reviewed here.

Plot:
Dorian (Ben Barnes) comes to London after his grandfather’s death; a naive, well-meaning young man. The painter Basil (Ben Chaplin) soon discovers him as his newest muse and introduces him to the high society, especially the cynical Lord Henry (Colin Firth). After the painting is done, Dorian gives his soul so that it ages instead of him. Thoroughly corrupted by Lord Henry, Dorian’s excesses get more and more depraved as his painting gets uglier and uglier.

This… well, this is not a good movie. I think that’s the simplest and yet the most fitting way to put it. Ben Barnes was miscast, the plot was changed, and not to its advantage and Oscar Wilde’s wit was practically eradicated. What’s left is a boring, trite and too long film.

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