Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Based on: Ernest Cline’s novel
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, Ralph Ineson, Susan Lynch
Seen on: 14.4.2018

Plot:
Wade (Tye Sheridan) spends every possible second in OASIS, virtual reality world where he can be Parzival and kick ass. When one of the creators of OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, it is revealed that he left OASIS to whoever is able to find three hidden elements in it that could be anywhere. Obsessed with OASIS and Halliday as Wade is, he figures, he will give it a shot. But he’s not the only one trying to get it.

Ready Player One is really, really bad. It’s insufferable, illogical and generally induces eye-rolling until you’re sore. At least there’s Lena Waithe to make things a little better.

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Darkest Hour (2017)

Darkest Hour
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Cast: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, David Strathairn
Seen on: 25.1.2018
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Plot:
Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) just became Prime Minister of the UK and he already has a huge decision to make: should he enter into peace negotiations with Nazi Germany or should he refuse any kind of arrangement with them, even if that means waging war against them? With less than enthusiastic support from the most powerful people around him, Churchill tries to make his decision.

To put it plainly, Darkest Hour is not a good film. Maybe it would have stood a chance with another (better) script, but what we got is just insufferable

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Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones, Daniel Mays, Geraldine James, Warwick Davis, Michael Smiley
Part of/Sidequel/Prequel to: Star Wars
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
There are rumors that the Empire is building a great new weapon, called the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance has caught wind of that and hatches a plan to steal the plans for that weapon as they heard that there was a structural weakness that they may use to destroy it. They believe that Jyn (Felicity Jones) may be the key to success as her father (Mads Mikkelsen) seems to be involved with the planning. But Jyn hasn’t seen her father in 15 years and she’s also not all that interested in helping the Alliance. But they do reach a deal and Jyn finds herself accompanying pilot Cassian (Diego Luna) on the mission.

I will probably never be super excited about Star Wars – it’s just not my franchise. But I did enjoy Rogue One a whole lot, despite a couple of lengths it suffered from.

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Slow West (2015)

Slow West
Director: John Maclean
Writer: John Maclean
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPheeMichael FassbenderBen MendelsohnCaren PistoriusRory McCannKalani Queypo
Seen on: 11.8.2015

Plot:
Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is on a mission: he has to find the love of his life, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius), who has found a new home in the Wild West. Jay is all alone, which is not without dangers. When Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) stumbles upon him, he practically forces himself on Jay as a guide. Together they make the track West. But there seems to be more to the story than just simple romance and to Silas’ motivations than pure kindheartedness.

I’m not a huge fan of Westerns in general (though I do find myself starting to appreciate the genre), but quite apart from genre considerations, Slow West is a beautifully crafted, well executed film that I enjoyed a lot.

SlowWest

[SPOILERS]

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Lost River (2014)

Lost River
Director: Ryan Gosling
Writer: Ryan Gosling
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.4.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Plot:
Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives alone with her two kids in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. When he’s not busy dreaming about his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), Billy’s older son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) tries to support them by stealing copper from the empty houses around them, which draws the ire of local thug (Matt Smith) who claims all the copper for himself. Threatened by foreclosure, Billy accepts a job offer from Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager who has a little business at the side at a strange night club.

Lost River is not a perfect film. But it is an enchanting, strong debut that I won’t mind watching again.

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The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Ryan GoslingBradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose ByrneDane DeHaanEmory Cohen, Ben MendelsohnBruce Greenwood, Mahershala Ali, Gabe Fazio, Ray Liotta

Plot:
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver. But when he finds out that Romina (Eva Mendes) – with whom he had a fling a year earlier – had his son, he decides to give up his job and stay near them and take care of them. But since he lacks the resources to do so properly, he starts to rob banks which puts him right in the path of Avery (Bradley Cooper), a young and ambitious police man.

I loved Blue Valentine and the cast of this movie is pretty damn good, so I expected big things. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. The Place Beyond the Pines is boring, clichéd and way too long.

theplacebeyondthepines

[Major SPOILERS]

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Based on: Bob Kane‘s comics
Sequel to: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (1st review, 2nd review)
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway,   Morgan Freeman, Burn Gorman, Ben Mendelsohn, Matthew Modine, Aidan Gillen, Juno Temple, Daniel Sunjata, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson

Plot:
Batman (Christian Bale) disappeared after taking the fall for Harvey Dent. But while Gotham City is getting cleaned up by the regular police now – and quite successfully so – a new threat is rising in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy). And when Bruce Wayne himself gets robbed by a Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cunning cat burglar, he decides that it might be time to come out of the retirement and face the world again.

I had very high expectations for this film (I mean, who hadn’t?) and while the film did not surpass them, it fulfilled them extremely well and was a very good ending to the trilogy.

[SPOILERS]

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Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal Kingdom is David Michôd‘s newest film, starring James Frecheville, Jacki Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Sullivan Stapleton, Ben Mendelsohn and Guy Pearce.

Plot:
After the death of his mother, J (James Frecheville) moves in with his – until then – estranged grandmother Janine, also called Smurf (Jacki Weaver). Smurf lives with her sons Darren (Luke Ford), Pope (Ben Mendelsohn) and Craig (Sullivan Stapleton). The three of them, and Pope’s best friend Baz (Joel Edgerton), are not really good guys: Pope is an armed robber, Craig a drug dealer. J gets slowly drawn into the whole story, despite the investigating police officer Leckie’s (Guy Pearce) to help him (and have him help arrest his uncles).

Animal Kingdom is a very tight movie.The story is realistic, well-paced and interesting but the really great part about it are the performances: they are absolutely amazing.

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$9.99 (2008)

$9.99 is a stop motion animated movie by Tatia Rosenthal, based on short stories by Etgar Keret (who also wrote the script) and starring the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia. Again, I saw it during the Anilogue Festival in Vienna.

Plot:
The movie is about the various inhabitants of an apartment home in Sidney. Dave (Samuel Johnson) is 28, unemployed and still lives with his father Jim (Anthony LaPaglia). When he sees an ad for a book explaining the meaning of life for only 9.99, he buys it. Unfortunately, nobody wants to listen to him explain it all. Meanwhile his brother Lenny (Ben Mendelsohn) falls in love with the model (Leeanna Walsman) moving into the building, while a boy called Zack (Jamie Katsamatsas) falls in love with his piggy bank. Ron (Joel Edgerton), on the other hand, gets visited by two inch tall guys after his girlfriend (Claudia Karvan) breaks up with him. In another flat, retiree Albert (Barry Otto) is incredibly lonely until he is visited by a rather bitter Angel (Geoffrey Rush).

I quite liked $9.99. It has no big revelations, it’s not going to make any best of the decade lists, probably, but it’s sweet, has a fine sense of humour and is nicely absurd. The design of the characters and the set was especially good.

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