Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Based on: Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin‘s character
Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Benedict Wong, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 6.9.2021

Plot:
Shaun (Simu Liu) tried to built a life for himself, away from his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) and Wenwu’s private army, the Ten Rings – including actual ten rings that give Wenwu awesome powers. And for the last decade, Shaun has been pretty successful in his endeavor. Not even his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) suspects that there is more to him than a party-loving valet. Until a group of fighters led by Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) attack Shaun and he has to finally confront his past, his family, and his future. Not without Katy, though.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a thoroughly enjoyable film with a good mix of fighting, emotions and humor. I had a very good time with it.

The film poster showing Shaun (Simu Liu), his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) looming large behind him, wearing the ten rings. The two can be seen fighting as smaller figures in the front. Other important characters are arranged around them.
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Self/less (2015)

Self/less
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley, Victor Garber, Derek Luke, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Melora Hardin, Michelle Dockery
Seen on: 14.5.2020

Plot:
Damian (Ben Kingsley) has led a hugely successful life, regretting only that he is estranged from his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery). Now he is old, rich and dying. But he doesn’t feel ready to die just yet, so he is happy when he discovers Albright (Matthew Goode), a scientist who promises that he can have a new, freshly grown body and start all over again. Damian agrees to the procedure. When he wakes up, his body (Ryan Reynolds) lives up to all of his dreams. As he gets used to it, though, he also keeps getting haunted by dreams and nightmares that appear to him more real than they have any right to be.

Self/less is a decent film. Nothing here says greatness, but it isn’t bad either. It is like a case study for solid entertainment of a kind that has gotten rarer in recent years as budgets have grown and shrunk, leaving few players in the middle of the field.

The film poster showing older Damian (Ben Kingsley) and younger Damian (Ryan Reynolds) lying on slabs in front of medical machinery.
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The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)

The Red Sea Diving Resort aka Operation Brothers
Director: Gideon Raff
Writer: Gideon Raff
Cast: Chris Evans, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 21.8.2019
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Content Note: racism, (critical treatment of) antisemitism

Plot:
It’s 1979 and the situation for Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan isn’t exactly great, to put it mildly. Kebede Bimro (Michael Kenneth Williams) is trying to find ways to get them out of there and to Israel. When he teams up with Mossad agent Ari Levinson (Chris Evans), things start to come together. Ari suggest that they could use an old vacation resort as a cover to get the refugees out. Recruiting a team (Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennet, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell), they set to work.

The Red Sea Diving Resort really is a mess. Not only is it a series of clichés, it is also absolutely racist and uncritically zionist. I can only recommend that you stay far, far away from this one.

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The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Based on: Rudyard Kipling‘s books
Remake of: The Jungle Book
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
Seen on: 27.4.2016

Plot:
A few years ago, the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) found a human baby and decided he couldn’t just let it die. So he brought it to the wolves Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) who raised him as their own. Now the baby – Mowgli (Neel Sethi) – has grown into a child who feels perfectly at home in the jungle. But the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) will not suffer a human in the jungle. With the threat of murder in the air, Bagheera decides that the safest option is to bring Mowgli back to the humans.

The Jungle Book is a weird film. On the one hand, it stays extremely close to the animated Disney version, on the other hand it often enters grimdark territory. That makes for a very weird mix that made me scratch my head more than once.

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The Walk (2015)

The Walk
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne
Based on: Philippe Petit‘s memoir To Reach The Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between The Twin Towers
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le BonClément SibonyCésar Domboy, Ben Kingsley, Steve Valentine, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Benedict Samuel
Seen on: 11.11.2015

Plot:
Philippe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a tightrope walker and he dreams of doing something daring, more daring than anybody would think possible. When he sees the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York for the first time, he is dead set on walking between them. And he knows that his time is limited – once they will have finished construction on the towers, the feat will be impossible to pull off. So Philippe gathers his co-conspirators and starts preparing.

The Walk is an entertaining film that suffers from the fact that the documentary Man on Wire covered the same ground and at least equally as entertaining. It’s not bad to watch, but the 3D doesn’t really make it better than the original documentary.

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Life (2015)

Life
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Luke Davies
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Alessandra Mastronardi, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 8.10.2015

Plot:
Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) is a young photographer who is always looking for a story. When he meets actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan) just before the premiere of his first big film East of Eden, Dennis is sure that he is on to something. He convinces his boss John Morris (Joel Edgerton) to go along and starts trailing Jimmy. Jimmy is not an easy person and Dennis is desperate for things to work out somehow. Slowly they get closer though.

Life is one of the most static, boring and long [I’m trying very hard not to make a “lifeless” pun] films I have ever seen. It was so intensely boring that I was absolutely uncomfortable while watching.

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Knight of Cups (2015)

Knight of Cups
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Wes Bentley, Cate Blanchett, Imogen Poots, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Teresa Palmer, Joe Manganiello, Isabel Lucas, Nick Offerman, Joel Kinnaman, Nicky WhelanAntonio BanderasFreida PintoKatia WinterMichael WincottThomas LennonClifton Collins Jr.Shea WhighamNick KrollRyan O’NealKevin CorriganBrian DennehyJoe Lo Truglio, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 15.9.2015

Plot:
Rick (Christian Bale) is a screenwriter living in LA. He moves from party to party, woman to woman. He seems to be looking for something, but who knows for what?
[Actually the first note I wrote down for this film is: “I don’t think I could write a plot description for this film”, so you’ll have to live with that little bit.]

I don’t like Terrence Malick movies. I decided to watch this one anyway because Cate Blanchett! Christian Bale! Natalie Portman! And so many other actors I love. But it turns out that Knight of Cups is everything I hate about Malick movies turned up to 11, while nothing I used to still like about them works for me anymore.

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Learning to Drive (2014)

Learning to Drive
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Sarah Kernochan
Based on: the article by Katha Pollitt
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, John Hodgman, Samantha Bee, Avi Nash
Seen on: 10.8.2015

Plot:
Wendy’s (Patricia Clarkson) husband Ted (Jake Weber) just left her, which came as a complete surprise to her. Wendy is slowly losing herself in despair, she barely has any social contacts and her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) works on a farm in Connecticut. But if Wendy learned how to drive, she could visit her. So when chance brings Darwan (Ben Kingsley) to her doorstep who happens to be a driving instructor, she goes for it. But it turns out that Darwan can teach her much more than just to drive.

Learning to Drive was nice, though I didn’t care for the romantic angle or for the occasional bouts of orientalism in it.

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writer: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Based on: Alan Snow‘s novel Here Be Monsters!
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg

Plot:
Cheesebridge is a town plagued by Boxtrolls who are said to eat children and generally to be despicable. Led by Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), Cheesebridge is on the hunt to find every last one of them. But Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has a different story to tell. When he was a little boy, the Boxtrolls took him in and raised him as one of their own. But now their community is shrinking everyday and Eggs knows that it is up to him to do something against it.

The Boxtrolls was an amazingly cute film that was extremely entertaining. Not everything about it was perfect, but I enjoyed it.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3
Director: Shane Black
Writer: Drew Pearce, Shane Black
Based on: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby‘s comic
Sequel to: Iron Man, Iron Man 2 [here are all my Iron Man reviews]
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer and [SPOILER] Mark Ruffalo
Part of: Marvel movies

Plot:
After the events in The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is at least as shook up as his entire worldview. He tries to deal with things by tinkering around with his Iron Man suits but he doesn’t really get anywhere with it. In the meantime, a terrorist keeps setting off bombs and they aren’t close to finding him yet. In a bad mood, Tony challenges him and gives him his home address. And suddenly things get very personal indeed.

Iron Man 3 was very enjoyable and entertaining and far from being as dark as the trailer made it seem. I did have a couple of issues with it, but mostly it’s a wonderful continuation of the series.

iron man 3

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