The Power of the Dog (2021)

The Power of the Dog
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Jane Campion
Based on: Thomas Savage‘s book
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Thomasin McKenzie, Alice Englert, Peter Carroll, Frances Conroy, Keith Carradine, Alison Bruce
Seen on: 6.3.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, misogyny

Plot:
Rose (Kirsten Dunst) is a widow who runs a restaurant with the help of her son Pete (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Their restaurant lies on the herding trail of brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons). When they stop at Rose’s restaurant, Phil starts making fun of Pete’s softness, while George starts courting Rose. After they actually marry, and move to the brothers’ farm, Phil is taken aback and does his best to make Rose feel utterly uncomfortable. When Pete joins them during the summer break from school, things start to shift, though.

The Power of the Dog both ambles through a sprawling landscape taking its time, and it is a sharp analysis of power when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. I thought it was really interesting.

The film poster showing a rope tied to a saddle.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Sequel to: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home
Cast: Tom HollandZendayaJacob Batalon, Marisa TomeiJon Favreau, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict WongTony Revolori, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Andrew Garfield, Tobey MaguireAngourie Rice, Martin Starr, Hannibal Buress, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Rhys Ifans, Charlie Cox, Thomas Haden Church
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 20.12.2021

Plot:
Now that the world knows that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man, Peter’s life is thoroughly screwed up. Although things could be so very good now that both his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his finally-girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) know the truth. Not to mention Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). But things just can’t work that way anymore, and so Peter asks Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a spell to make the world forget about Spider-Man’s identity. Things don’t work out the way he’d hoped, though, and the mess becomes even bigger than before.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is entertaining as hell, a cross-over of epic proportions and proof of that Spider-Man is never allowed to be happy ever. In short: it gives you one hell of a ride.

The film poster showing Spider-Man (Tom Holland) on a pile of rubble, surrounded by metal tentacles and the Green Goblin in the distance behind him.

[Slight SPOILERS follow]

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1917 (2019)

1917
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Richard McCabe, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden
Seen on: 26.1.2020

Plot:
Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) are called on by their superior officer General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to go on a special mission: they learned about a trap set for another battalion and if they aren’t warned, it will mean the death of 1,600 men. As Blake’s brother would be one of them, it falls to Blake and with him Schofield to deliver the message about the trap. The only problem is that they have to do it on foot and moving through enemy territory and if they don’t get there by morning, it will be too late.

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to see 1917 at all, as my interest in war movies is limited. But I went to see it anyway (because Mendes, Deakins, that cast) and it’s definitely a film that hits home, despite some of my reservations about the general set-up.

The film poster showing two soldiers running into the sunset.
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Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on: the comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Sequel to: The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian StanTom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Vin Diesel, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Sean Gunn, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Frank Grillo, Hiroyuki Sanada, James D’Arcy, Jacob Batalon, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Redford, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, Ty Simpkins, Stan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 1.5.2019
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Content Note: fat hate

Plot:
It’s been a while since Thanos (Josh Brolin) changed the entire universe. People are coping, but how well varies from person to person. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), for one, didn’t realize at all what was happening, having spent years trapped in the quantum realm. But now he has finally been able to return to find the world very much changed. He seeks out the remaining Avengers, believing that the quantum realm may just be the very thing to help them undo what Thanos caused.

Avengers: Endgame basically had no choice but be epic (the sheer number of people and characters alone!) and it certainly delivered that. It does feel like a worthy end to the series, even if not everything about it works or is as good as it should be.

The film poster showing the main characters in a montage.
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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on: the comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Sequel to: The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth OlsenPaul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Sean Gunn, William Hurt, Letitia Wright, Carrie Coon, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson, Stan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 2.5.2018

Plot:
Thanos (Josh Brolin) has reached the final stages of his plan: he will collect all of the Infinity Stones and with their power reshape the universe after his own ideas. The hunt for the stones makes him cross paths with the Avengers on Earth, as well as the Guardians and the Asgardian refugees in space, leading to them coming together in a desperate effort to stop him and his plans.

Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of more than a decade of films. That alone makes it a momentous, if not to say monumental film. And it’s not bad per se, but it does feel like a step down from the recent absolute highlights that were Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok.

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher L. Yost
Based on: Stan Lee‘s, Larry Lieber‘s and Jack Kirby‘s comic character
Sequel to: Thor, Thor: The Dark World
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom HiddlestonMark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Taika Waititi, Rachel House, Clancy Brown, Tadanobu Asano, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Ken Watanabe
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 4.11.2017
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Plot:
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is fighting to prevent Ragnarok – the end of the world. Having successfully defeated the demon Surtur, he returns to Asgard, only to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) posing as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). After having located the real Odin, he tells Thor and Loki that Ragnarok is still coming: the real threat is their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). It doesn’t take long for Hela to appear and show how much of a threat she really is.

Thor: Ragnarok is probably the best Marvel film to date. It’s entertaining, full of queer (and also straight) aesthetics and had me in literal tears it’s so funny. It’s absolutely lovely.

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Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on: the comic character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Cast: Benedict CumberbatchChiwetel EjioforRachel McAdamsBenedict WongMads MikkelsenTilda SwintonMichael StuhlbargBenjamin BrattScott Adkins, Stan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 8.11.2016

Plot:
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a great neurosurgeon, and he knows it. But after a car accident that leaves him severely injured, Strange loses control of his hands – a skill absolutely necessary for his delicate job. He tries everything he can to get back to his former abilities. He is so desperate that when he hears of Jonathan Pangborn’s (Benjamin Bratt) apparently miraculous recovery, he asks him for the secret to it. Pangborn tells him of an temple in Nepal where they know about magic. Strange makes his way there, hoping to regain what he lost – and more.

If you manage to disregard the blatant racism in the film and its casting (and I can understand if you can’t manage this), Doctor Strange is an entertaining film that offers a lot of fun.

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Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass
Director: Scott Cooper
Writer: Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob
Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, Julianne Nicholson, W. Earl Brown, Bill Camp, Juno Temple
Seen on: 11.11.2015

Plot:
Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) runs one of the more powerful crime syndicates in Boston. But he does have his rivals. That’s when ambitious FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) approaches him. Connolly knows Bulger of old and he’s eager to make a name for himself, so he suggests that Bulger could become a FBI informant. That would give him more freedom in his affairs and it would help Connolly’s career by taking out plenty of bad guys – all of Bulger’s enemies.

Black Mass covers many years. Unfortunately it also feels like it lasts many, many years. It was such a boring film, I ultimately lost the battle against sleep and drifted of for a few minutes in-between.

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Hamlet

Hamlet
Director: Lyndsey Turner
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Benedict CumberbatchSian Brooke, Ciarán HindsAnastasia Hille, Jim Norton, Leo Bill, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Matthew Steer, Rudi Dharmalingam
Seen on: 15.10.2015

Plot:
Prince Hamlet (Benedict Cumberbatch) just returned to Denmark after his father’s death. His mother Gertrud (Anastasia Hille) has quickly remarried – and who else but Hamlet’s uncle Claudius (Ciarán Hinds)? But Hamlet’s father still haunts the castle grounds and he tells Hamlet that it was his own brother who killed him. Now it’s upon Hamlet to set things right again. But Hamlet’s grasp on sanity is slipping. Or maybe that is all a ruse?

I have seen Hamlet now in many iterations and just like Shakespeare’s historical plays aren’t for me, Hamlet isn’t for me either. This production certainly didn’t change my mind. (The only notable exception to that rule is Branagh’s Hamlet. And North’s To Be or Not To Be, which I have yet to read in its entirety/play through.)

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The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Graham Moore
Based on: Andrew Hodges‘ book Alan Turing: The Enigma
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Tuppence Middleton
Seen on: 01.02.2015

Plot:
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is brilliant, but he is also very weird. When he shows up at Bletchley Circle, ready to crack the German code machine Enigma, he has trouble fitting into the team working there, led by Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode). Hugh thinks they need to keep cracking the codes manually, while Alan is convinced that only a machine can crack Enigma. Things shift after Alan complains to Winston Churchill directly who puts him in charge, much to the team’s dismay. It is only after Alan hires Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) and the machine starts to take on shape that the team comes around as well.

The Imitation Game is a mess, there is no other way to put it. I pretty much hated everything about it except the supporting cast, and even so most of them were underused.

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