Re-Watch: The Mechanic (2011)

The Mechanic
Director: Simon West
Writer: Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino
Remake of: the 1972 Charles Bronson film
Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn
Seen on: 29.8.2016
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a contract killer, the best there is. Even when his next assignment is his mentor and best friend Harry (Donald Sutherland), he only waits to see the evidence that Harry is guilty until he kills him. Yet, afterwards he takes on Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) as an apprentice, despite all his doubts about Steve as a person and social proximity in general, and teaches him everything he knows.

I completely missed that a sequel to this film was coming, so when I saw the posters for that, I was all excited and decided that I really needed to re-watch the first film – and then I missed the sequel because they didn’t show it at decent times in the original version and how can I watch a film with the Stat without hearing his voice? Does not work. In any case, watching The Mechanic a second time is as entertaining as watching it the first time, which is to say: very.

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Warcraft (2016)

Warcraft
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Charles Leavitt, Duncan Jones
Based on: World of Warcraft
Cast: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga, Anna Galvin, Callum Keith Rennie
Seen on: 1.6.2016

Plot:
The orc world is being killed by evil fel magic, that slowly drains the life force of the entire planet. That’s why the warlock Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) creates a portal to the human world of Azeroth: he and his army plan to take over Azeroth for themselves. Among his generals is Durotan (Toby Kebbell) and his mate Draka (Anna Galvin) who risks the journey despite being pregnant; and as a translator they have the slave Garona (Paula Patton) who has the gift of languages. Meanwhile the humans of Azeroth are unsuspecting of the threat to their world. Only Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer) who used to study to become a mage notices the signs of fel magic use and warns King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper). The King sends Khadgar and his own brother Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel) to find the mage and protector of the realm Medivh (Ben Foster) to ask for his help.

Warcraft really didn’t get much good buzz before its release, so I did not expect much of it, I have to admit (although I was hopeful due to Duncan Jones). But to my surprise I actually quite liked it, although it does suffer from the fact that it really is only one big piece of set-up and not a finished story.

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The Program (2015)

The Program
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: David Walsh‘s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee PaceGuillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, Edward Hogg, Denis Ménochet
Seen on: 21.10.2015

Plot:
Journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) is impressed by newcoming cyclist Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster), but Lance’s career doesn’t quite take off. But Lance has the will to win. When he realizes that doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet) has a special program – which consists of doping, among other things – Lance wants in on it. Ferrari declines at first but when Lance loses a lot of weight due to testicular cancer, Ferrari does see a viable candidate in him after all. Lance starts on the program, but Walsh grows suspicious of his incredible success and decided to investigate.

I couldn’t care less about cycling and I think doping is just stupid. These are not exactly the best starting points for watching the film and might explain the lengths I felt in an otherwise excellent movie.

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Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Kill Your Darlings
Director: John Krokidas
Writer: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2014

Plot:
Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) gets a place of university and isn’t unhappy to get away from home, where his mentally ill mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes his life difficult, the relationship with his father (David Cross) is strained. At university, Allen meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and is immediately fascinated by him and his reckless lifestyle. Lucien introduces him to David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Jack’s wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). Allen realizes that something strange is going on between Lucien and David, but is swept up in the anarchistic energy that envelops Lucien, William, Jack and him. But the harmonious and fun beginnings soon give way to difficulties and tensions.

I am still a little undecided about this film. The cast is really good, the story is interesting and it’s all packaged into a film that is mostly fine but lacks something I can’t put my finger on.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
Director: Benedict Andrews
Writer: Tennessee Williams
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Vanessa Kirby, Corey Johnson
[I reviewed reading the play here.]

Plot:
Blanche DuBois (Gillian Anderson) comes to visit her sister Stella (Vanessa Kirby) in New Orleans. The two of them come from a family of plantation owners who have been slowly but steadily going bankrupt. Now their plantation (Belle Reve) is gone and Blanche, who has always been a nervous type, is falling apart due to her alcoholism and the fact that she can’t really deal with her growing age and fading looks. Stella is happy to see Blanche, but Stella’s husband Stanley (Ben Foster), a factory worker, doesn’t trust Blanche or her story about how Belle Reve was lost. Blanche herself is shocked about the circumstances Stella lives in. As Blanche’s and Stanley’s worlds collide, something has got to give.

I love A Streetcar Named Desire. It really is one of my favorite plays. And because I love it so much, I have high expectations and a clear image of what the play should be like. Unfortunately, Benedict Andrews did not fulfill them.

streetcarnameddesire

[SPOILERS]

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Rampart (2011)

Rampart
Director: Oren Moverman
Writer: James Ellroy, Oren Moverman
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
It’s 1999  in LA. Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop who lives for his job and does not care so much about his methods as long as things get done. He lives with his two ex-wives, Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), who also happen to be sisters, and his two daughters (one with each ex-wife) which goes surprisingly well, even though Dave drinks too much and spends most of his spare time looking for the next lay. After he gets filmed savagely beating a suspect, Dave’s live and job start crumbling around him.

Apart from the camera work, the movie was really good. Cast, pacing, characters and story really come very well together in this. Even though I don’t go for the cop dramas that much, this one was just very good.

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360 (2011)

360
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Writer: Peter Morgan
Based on: Arthur Schnitzler‘s Reigen (loosely)
Cast: Lucia Siposová, Gabriela Marcinkova, Johannes Krisch, Jude Law, Moritz Bleibtreu, Jamel Debbouze, Dinara Drukarova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Rachel Weisz, Juliano Cazarré, Maria Flor, Ben Foster, Anthony Hopkins

Plot:
Starting with a whore Mirka (Lucia Siposová) and her pimp Rocco (Johannes Krisch) in Vienna, 360 moves through various stories that are all somehow connected. From Paris to London and Denver it takes a look at the various kinds of relationships, infidelities and betrayals.

360 is a bit uneven. It has a good cast and some of the stories work perfectly, while others are bland or don’t fit. In short, it just doesn’t really come together.

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Contraband (2012)

Contraband
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Remake of: Reykjavík Rotterdam
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, David O’Hara, Diego Luna, J. K. Simmons

Plot:
Chris (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a smuggler (and a damn good one). But when he got a wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, he quit. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) isn’t as smart or as good a smuggler and so he gets into trouble with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) who hired him to smuggle drugs Andy promptly had to dump. Briggs threatens Chris and his family and pressures him into a job. And so Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) get their old group together to get counterfeit money into the country.

Contraband is so formulaic, it practically becomes its own archetype. Unfortunately that’s the only thing that stands out about the film.

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The Mechanic (2011)

The Mechanic is Simon West‘s remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson film, starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland and Tony Goldwyn.

Plot:
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a contract killer, the best there is. Even when his next assignment is his mentor and best friend Harry (Donald Sutherland), he only waits to see the evidence that Harry is guilty until he kills him. Yet, afterwards he takes on Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) as an apprentice and teaches him everything he knows.

The Mechanic is everything it promised to be: a rather violent, well-paced and pretty mindless action flick with good looks (Statham*), talent (Foster) and ham (Sutherland). An evening’s worth of perfect entertainment.

[*teashoe, I can just about imagine your face when I say that Statham is good-looking. :P]

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The Messenger (2009)

The Messenger is the first movie Oren Moverman directed and it stars Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and in a small role Steve Buscemi.

Plot:
Will (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq after he was shot. Since he’s not fit for going into war anymore, he gets assigned to Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson), who is responsible for personally notifying the next of kin of fallen soldiers when those soldiers fall. During this job, Will meets the freshly widowed Olivia (Samantha Morton) and falls in love with her.

The Messenger is not a movie that speaks for or against the war. Instead it looks at the personal tragedies that arise from it. It does so with a lot of sensitivity and compassion. And it’s wonderfully acted (remind me again, why isn’t Ben Foster world famous yet?). If that wasn’t enough reason to watch it, it’s also funny.

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