No Time to Die (2021)

No Time to Die
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre
Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz, David Dencik, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah
Seen on: 6.10.2021

Content Note: ableism/lookism

Plot:
After having left behind Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) a few years ago, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has retired from service and would like to enjoy a life of leisure. But that’s easier said than done when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leitner (Jeffrey Wright) contacts him and asks for help with a dangerous technology that was stolen, along with the scientist in charge for it. It’s a request that leads Bond right back to MI6, and to Madeleine.

No Time to Die is a bombastic ending to this incarnation of Bond that tries desperately to give Bond more emotional depth and closure, but succeeds only partly. Still, it did leave me with a certain nostalgia knowing that we’ll never get another Craig Bond.

The film poster showing James Bond (Daniel Craig) standing with his back half-turned towards the viewers. IN his silhouette are the otehr major characters of the film as well as a couple of action moments.
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The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writer: Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci
Based on: Charles Dickensnovel
Cast: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Rosalind Eleazar, Morfydd Clark, Ben Whishaw, Benedict Wong, Daisy May Cooper, Gwendoline Christie, Darren Boyd, Aneurin Barnard, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Fisayo Akinade, Matthew Cottle, Jairaj Varsani
Seen on: 9.10.2020

Plot:
After his father’s death, David’s mother Clara (Morfydd Clark) got married to Mr Murdstone (Darren Boyd) who doesn’t really want anything to do with David (Jairaj Varsani). So at the first chance Murdstone and his sister Jane Murdstone (Gwendoline Christie) send David off to London where he is forced to work in a bottle factory and lives with the always-hounded-by-creditors Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi). David grows up there in harsh circumstances, but when he hears that his mother died and he wasn’t even notified to attend the funeral, he has had enough. Grown by now, David (Dev Patel) makes his way to his aunt Betsy Trotwood (Tilda Swinton), hoping to find more luck there. But it’s only the beginning of his journey.

The Personal History of David Copperfield has an almost anarchic sense of humor and a wonderful energy that made it absolutely entertaining and just a blast.

The film poster showing a colorful collage of the characters of the film, with David Copperfield (Dev Patel) taking center stage, between red curtains.
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Little Joe (2019)

Little Joe
Director: Jessica Hausner
Writer: Géraldine Bajard, Jessica Hausner
Cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 5.12.2020

Plot:
Alice (Emily Beecham) is a botanist working on creating the perfect plant – a plant especially designed to make everyone happy who smells it. It appears that her attempts have been met with success and Alice decides to take one of the plants home against company policy. She presents it to her son Joe (Kit Connor) as a gift and calls it Little Joe. But the longer Alice deals with the plant and sees the effect it has on Joe, the more worried she becomes.

Little Joe is stylistically interesting, but everything else is a drag that quickly turns boring. I really wanted to like the film much more than I did.

The filmposter showing Alice (Emily Beecham) and Chris (Ben Whishaw) stadning in a laboratory full of red flowers.
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Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Mary Poppins Returns
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Based on: P.L. Traversbooks
Sequel to/Remake of: Mary Poppins
Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury
Seen on: 19.12.2018
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Plot:
Many years ago, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) stayed with the Banks family to take care of Michael and Jane. Now Michael (Ben Wishaw) is a father and widower himself and he and Jane (Emily Mortimer) try their best to provide everything Michael’s children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson) could need. But they are struggling, emotionially and financially. So Mary Poppins makes a return to the Banks’ home to help them once again.

Mary Poppins Returns is nice enough, but it didn’t really make me happy, given that it doesn’t really know if it is a remake or a sequel, makes some questionable choices, and generally it just doesn’t hold a candle to the old film.

The film poster showing Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).
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Paddington 2 (2017)

Paddington 2
Director: Paul King
Writer: Paul King, Simon Farnaby
Based on: Michael Bond‘s books
Sequel to: Paddington
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Julie WaltersHugh Grant, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Marie-France Alvarez, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ben Miller, Jessica Hynes, Robbie Gee, Richard Ayoade, Brendan Gleeson, Joanna Lumley
Seen on: 9.12.2017
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Plot:
Having settled with the Brown family and in the community, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is happy. And his Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday is coming up, so he is looking for the perfect present. He finds it in Samuel Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) shop: a pop-up picture book of London. But he needs a job to earn money to get it – which is not so easy as a small bear. And then it seems that Paddington isn’t the only one interested in the book at all as it gets stolen, and he gets in trouble for it.

As with Coco, I heard a lot of good things about Paddington 2 beforehand, and again I thought that the resulting film was even better than I expected from what I heard before. It’s a wonderful film that had me floating on a pink cotton candy cloud out of the cinema. What more could you ask of a film?

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A Hologram for the King (2016)

A Hologram for the King
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Tom Tykwer
Based on: Dave Eggersnovel
Cast: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tom Skerritt, Ben Whishaw
Seen on: 9.5.2016

Plot:
Alan’s (Tom Hanks) life has fallen apart quite quickly. He and his wife separated, there’s a weird growth on his back, and his position in his company is being called into question. To at least keep his job, Alan has to go to Saudi Arabia to convince the king to invest in the company’s holographic conference software. When he gets there, though, the king is nowhere to be seen and Alan is completely overwhelmed by the way business is being done. But with the help of driver Yousef (Alexander Black) he starts to find his way, literally and figuratively.

A Hologram for the King feels completely inconsequential. It’s nice enough that I could have liked it, it’s problematic enough that I could have gotten angry about it, but instead it simply didn’t seem to affect me at all.

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The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Julie Taymor
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Helen MirrenFelicity JonesDavid StrathairnAlan CummingChris CooperBen WhishawDjimon HounsouRussell BrandAlfred MolinaReeve CarneyTom Conti
Seen on: 16.3.2016

Plot:
Many years ago Prospera (Helen Mirren) was betrayed by her brother Antonio (Chris Cooper). He sent her and her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who both have been enslaved by Prospera’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (David Strathairn), his brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and his son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), but also Antonio. Prospera knows that her time has come at last.

The Tempest is a visually impressive film with a great cast, but it never quite takes off – there are simply too many things that don’t work.

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The Lobster (2015)

The Lobster
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Cast: Colin FarrellRachel Weisz, John C. ReillyBen Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Michael Smiley, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed, Angeliki Papoulia, Jessica BardenAshley Jensen
Seen on: 15.2.2015

Plot:
David (Colin Farrell) was recently divorced. As a single person, he has to check into the Hotel and find a new suitable partner in 45 days. If he doesn’t, he will be turned into an animal – like his brother was turned into a dog – and if nobody is there to take him in, he will be set loose in the woods surrounding the Hotel. So David tries to find somebody who is like him, but that’s easier said than done.

My history with Lanthimos’ movies has been mixed so far but The Lobster might be his best film yet. It’s certainly his most accessible film, although it is still very, very weird and not easy to get into, and my personal favorite.

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Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette
Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie DuffHelena Bonham Carter, Romola GaraiGrace Stottor, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 09.02.2016

Plot:
Maud (Carey Mulligan) has spent more or less her entire life working as a washer woman in a factory. Quite to the contrary to her co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), Maud is trying to keep her head down. Violet, on the other hand, is a passionate suffragette, fighting for women’s rights. But the longer Maud hears about this fight, the more she finds herself drawn to it, slowly stumbling into the movement until she herself has to make some hard choices about her life.

The reactions to Suffragette I encountered so far were lukewarm at best – and I’m the next person with that reaction to add to the list. It’s not really a bad film, but it isn’t very good, either.

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The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: Lucinda Coxon
Based on: David Ebershoff‘s novel, which was in turn a ficionalized version of Lili Elbe‘s life
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, Adrian Schiller, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sebastian Koch
Seen on: 25.1.2016

Plot:
Einar (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda (Alicia Vikander) are both painters and a happily married couple. While Einar may be more successful than Gerda, at least for now, that doesn’t keep her from continuing to work. When her dancer friend Ulla (Amber Heard) is late for modelling, Gerda asks Einar for help. He feels silly at first, but as he gets in the role, something happens. Einar creates Lili and slowly Lili fights her way to life inside of him.

The way I just described the plot already shows that The Danish Girl is a deeply problematic film – because that is actually an accurate description of how it portrays being trans*. It boils down to a film that is completely misguided and misinformed about what transgender actually is and tears everything apart that stands in the way of that distorted vision, even the basis in reality that it supposedly has.

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