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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Hugo (2011)

Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Based on: Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law

Plot:
After the death of his father (Jude Law), Hugo (Asa Butterfield) started to live in Paris’ Central Station, winding the clocks and trying to rebuild an automaton he and his father were working on. When he tries to steal some cogs from Papa George (Ben Kingsley), he gets caught and George takes the notebook in which Hugo’s father detailed the plans for the automaton. So Hugo enlists Papa George’s ward Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) to get it back. But what is George’s connection to the automaton in the first place?

Hugo is a beautiful, engaging and very entertaining. Plus, it’s basically a love letter to George Méliès – and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoyed every minute of it.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the newest movie by Mike Newell, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina.

Plot:
Persia is a huge and powerful kingdom, led by the King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and his brother Nizam (Ben Kingsley). One day, they find a little street boy who stands out by being courageous and, impressed, Sharaman adopts him. The boy, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), grows up with the princes and as their equal. And then he goes to war with his brothers, against the Holy City of Alamut, under the supervision of Nizam. But there’s something mysterious about the city and the Princess of Alamut, Tamina (Gemma Arterton), is closely connected to the mystery. Soon, Dastan finds his fate ever more entangled with Tamina’s.

Prince of Persia is pretty awesome. It’s predictable, but in a very comforting way, it is full of one-liners, it is definitely one of the better-acted movies of its kind and it’s damn entertaining. In short, it’s everything you need from a movie like it.

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Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island is the newest movie by Martin Scorsese, based on the book by Dennis Lehane and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley.

Plot:
US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are called to Shutter Island, a mental institution to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman (Emily Mortimer). As soon as they reach the island, a storm hits and they are prevented from leaving. Haunted by his own ghosts from the past, Teddy soon discovers that things are not what they seem on Shutter Island.

While the story is mostly good and Scorsese delivers fine work, the movie hinges on Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. And boy, does he ever deliver… It was terrific to watch.

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