The High Note (2020)

The High Note
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Writer: Flora Greeson
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ice Cube, Bill Pullman, Zoe Chao, June Diane Raphael, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson, Eddie Izzard
Seen on: 8.7.2020

Plot:
Maggie (Dakota Johnson) works as the personal assistant for superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). She is a huge fan of Grace and likes her job, but Maggie’s dream is to become a music producer, so she’s been mixing Grace’s live album in her downtime. When she meets singer David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), she hopes that she can sign him as her first artist and become his producer. But her dreams and her obligations quickly clash and Maggie has to make decisions.

The High Note is an entertaining film that is comfortable in the familiar story it tells. Apart from the fact that it focuses on music production – and not singing or playing instruments – there really isn’t much new to the story. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed.

The film poster showing Maggie (Dakota Johnson), Grace (Tracee Ellis Ross), Jack (Ice Cube) and David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) with palm trees and a big apartment building or hotel.
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Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Lewis Pullman
Seen on: 26.8.2018

Plot:
Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is a successful tennis player, fed up with the sexism in the industry that keeps female players down. Fellow player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is adamant that female players are paid less because they are less entertaining and also less good at tennis. Finally the beack and forth leads to a tennis match between the two that becomes emblematic for the entire fight for women’s rights.

Battle of the Sexes was nice, but it remains flatter than it should have been and doesn’t dare to rock the boat too much, which is disappointing.

The film poster showing Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
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Re-Watch: Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day aka ID4
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Cast: Will SmithBill PullmanJeff GoldblumMary McDonnellJudd HirschRobert LoggiaRandy QuaidMargaret ColinVivica A. FoxJames RebhornHarvey FiersteinAdam BaldwinBrent SpinerJames Duval
Seen on: 4.8.2016

Plot:
Satellites pick up a strange signal from outer space and soon huge spaceships arrive and position themselves around the earth in strategic points. Communications expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is convinced that the aliens will attack and tries to get in touch with the President of the USA (Bill Pullman). Since the two of them don’t have the best history, this is easier said than done. When counterforces are finally mobilized – led by people like Airforce Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) – the aliens turn out to be near invincible. What is needed now is creative problem solving and everybody working together.

I was 11 when Independence Day came out and I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the film since, though it had been years that I’d seen it. After the catastrophe of the new film, I decided that a re-watch was in order to wash away the bitter aftertaste. An excellent decision, as ID4 is still an entertaining bit of popcorn cinema, even after all these years.

independenceday

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Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Independence Day: Resurgence
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt
Sequel to: Independence Day
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Patrick St. Esprit, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope, Chin Han
Seen on: 22.7.2016

Plot:
It’s been 20 years since earth was invaded by aliens and humanity managed to fight back and win. With the alien technology left behind, we even expanded our own reach into the the universe. But what appears to be a golden time to most people, is the calm before the storm for others like former president Whitmore (Bill Pullman) who fears that the aliens will return and that they will be better prepared this time. It’s on Independence Day that his fears seem to come true and a few fighters – old and new – find themselves battling for humanity’s very existence.

I very much like the original Independence Day and I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since it involved many of the people working on the first film. Unfortunately though, Independence Day: Resurgence is a catastrophe on pretty much every level.

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Re-Watch: Spaceballs (1987)

Spaceballs
Director: Mel Brooks
Writer: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan, Ronny Graham
Cast: Bill Pullman, John Candy, Daphne Zuniga, Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, Michael Winslow, Joan Rivers, Lorene Yarnell Jansson, John Hurt
Seen on: 22.12.2015

Plot:
Planet Spaceball has a problem: they are running out of breathable air. That’s why President Skroob (Mel Brooks) sends Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) to the neighboring planet Druidia to take their air. Dark Helmet kidnaps Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) of Druidia to ransom the air, but her father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) decides to hire Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his trusted sidekick Barf (John Candy) instead to rescue Vespa.

I watched Spaceballs a lot when I was a kid (certainly more often than Star Wars which it spoofs) but it has been years since I last watched it (it is still one of the films that gets quoted in my friends’ group from time to time). And I don’t think I ever saw it in English before. So when they showed it for a night in the Gartenbaukino, in honor of the release of Episode VII I figured it was the perfect moment to revisit it. And I still loved it.

spaceballs

[SPOILERS]

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American Ultra (2015)

American Ultra
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writer: Max Landis
Cast: Jesse EisenbergKristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman
Seen on: 20.10.2015

Plot:
Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) have a great life together, if you consider smoking a lot of weed, working dead-end jobs and never leaving the small town they live in a great life. At least they very much love each other. But their existence is completely destroyed when it turns out that Mike is the product of a CIA experimental program which used to be run by Victoria (Connie Britton). But Victoria was demoted, her program scapped and her new boss Adrian (Topher Grace) decided to obliterate the last remains of her program – that means killing Mike. Victoria decides to go against the plan and activates Mike, causing Adrian and his henchmen who came for him a world of trouble.

American Ultra is an entertaining film that is a little uneven but definitely fun to watch.

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No, You Kill _Me_!

So, the last entry on the past weekend’s movie escapades. And we really had an interesting mix – good, bad and finally pretty mediocre.

You Kill Me promised to be good. The cast was fine – Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni, Bill Pullman and Luke Wilson [even if not necessarily first rate], the story seemed interesting and the trailer promised us laughs, and a lot of them. Unfortunately, it did not deliver.

But first things first. The plot. [SPOILERS! Not that there’s much of a surprise.]

It’s simple, really. Frank’s (Kingsley) an assassin for the Polish Snow-Plow Mafia in Buffalo and an alcoholic. After majorly screwing up a job [he falls asleep instead of killing the Irish Mafia boss, who threatens to take out the Polish one – look, sorry, Buffalo isn’t big enough for Italian or Japanese, I guess], he’s sent to San Francisco to sober up.
In San Francisco, the shady real estate agent Dave (Pullman) sets him up with a flat, a job and an AA group and threatens promises to keep an eye on him. The job’s at a funeral parlour, where Frank’s learning to prepare the bodies for the open casket ceremonies. He soon meets Laurel (Léoni) and falls in love with her.
At the AA meeting, Frank meets Tom, who becomes his sponsor and best friend [and is almost never really in the story anymore].
We’re now about half an hour into the movie and suddenly, things stop happening. Frank and Laurel get closer, Frank has some relapses, Tom listens to Frank complain.
And then we’re about 15 minutes before the ending and the Polish Mob boss gets shot back in Buffalo, by the Irish Mob boss, and Frank goes back to avenge him, supported by Laurel, who followed him there. Frank kills the Irish Mob boss, Laurel helps him and they probably live happily ever after.

The End.

[Also, the end of the SPOILERS.]

I have a question: Is anybody else seriously freaked by the size of his ears?

So. The movie wasn’t bad, the acting was fine, the script had funny parts [unfortunately almost all were featured in the trailer already], but this couldn’t change the fact that at 93 minutes runtime, it was one of the longest movies I’ve ever seen. It was boredom, occasionally interrupted by a laugh.

The characters were pretty shallow, the story was, too, the ending was unsatisfying, the whole mafia thing unnecessary…

My recommendation for this would be to watch the trailer and read the quotes on imdb and you’ll have like 90% of the jokes covered. And the rest is pretty dismissable. Or watch it somewhere, where it doesn’t matter if you slowly drift to sleep.