Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner
Sequel to: (kinda) Jumanji
Based on: Chris Van Allsburg‘s picture book Jumanji
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner
Seen on: 10.1.2018
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Plot:
Alex (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman) and Martha (Morgan Turner) are all sent to detention and have to clean up the school’s storage room. There they stumble on an old console with the game Jumanji. They decide to play and as each of them choses their character, they get sucked into the video game. And the only way out is through.

I didn’t expect much of a sequel to Jumanji, one of my childhood favorites. But I was pleasantly surprised by the film: it is genuinely funny and extremely entertaining.

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Ferdinand (2017)

Ferdinand
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writer: Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle, Brad Copeland
Based on: Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson‘s children’s book The Story of Ferdinand
Cast: John CenaKate McKinnon, Jeremy Sisto, Bobby Cannavale, Raúl Esparza, David Tennant, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Flula Borg, Sally Phillips [I saw the German language version, so I can’t speak to their performances.]
Seen on: 27.12.2017
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Plot:
Ferdinand (Colin H. Murphy) is the son of a famous fighting bull and is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. Or rather hoofsteps. But nothing could be further from Ferdinand’s mind: he is more interested in smelling the flowers, bringing him the scorn from the other young bulls. Ferdinand grows up (John Cena) into a formidable bull and as luck would have it, he gets stung by a bee, causing him to go on a rampage that brings him directly to the matador academy to train as a fighting bull.

Ferdinand is a sweet film that works hard to dismantle toxic masculinity in a way that makes sense for kids – and it does so quite admirably.

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Romance & Cigarettes (2005)

Romance & Cigarettes
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Christopher Walken, Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard, Amy Sedaris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2016

Plot:
Nick (James Gandolfini) and Kitty (Susan Sarandon) have been married many years and have managed to build a very middle-class existence. When Kitty finds out that Nick has been having an affair, she’s outraged. Her three daughters Baby (Mandy Moore), Constance (Mary-Louise Parker) and Rosebud (Aida Turturro) are firmly on Kitty’s side, but also have their own issues to deal with. And Nick will have to figure out whether he wants to fight for his marriage or start a new life with the other woman, Tula (Kate Winslet).

Romance & Cigarettes is a very idiosyncratic film. A musical in that setting and with those costumes and an off-beat sense of humor, it’s funny and manages to entertain, but it’s also unfortunately steeped in sexism.

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Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Based on: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Hayley Atwell, Wood Harris, John Slattery, Martin Donovan
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 5.8.2015

Plot:
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison and determined to go straight, at least for the sake of his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder-Fortson) who lives with her mother Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new boyfriend (Bobby Canavale). But getting a foot on the ground as an ex-con is difficult and when Scott’s former cell mate Luis (Michae Peña) promises a riskfree way of getting some starter money, Scott gives in. What he doesn’t know is that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) set him up to do just that because he wants to make Scott the new Ant-Man, a miniaturized superhero, despite the protestation of his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who wants to take on the role herself. In any case time is ticking because Hank’s protégé Darren (Corey Stoll) is working on his own shrinking technology and is becoming more and more unhinged.

With all I had heard about Ant-Man before seeing it, I didn’t expect much. It turned out that it was more entertaining than I anticipated, but also completely infuriating in its choice of main character.

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Chef (2014)

Chef
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John LeguizamoEmjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters
Seen on: 9.6.2015

Plot:
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a passionate chef, but his boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick with the tried and tested menu – always. That brings him an abysmal critique by Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), the most important food critic. After fundamentally misunderstanding twitter, Carl transform that critique into a public feud with Michel, ultimately leading to him losing his job. Suddenly Carl has all the time in the world. Taking a recommendation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), he goes back to his roots and re-builds his career with a food truck that he takes on a cross-country tour, helped by his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his friend Martin (John Leguizamo).

Chef was an entertaining film, although it felt to me like Favreau made a film where he out-latinos all the latin@s in it – which was very weird, if not to say problematic.

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Spy (2015)

Spy
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Miranda Hart, Rose ByrneAllison Janney, Morena Baccarin, Jason Statham, Bobby Cannavale, Will Yun LeeNargis Fakhri, Peter Serafinowicz, 50 Cent
Seen on: 8.6.2015

Plot:
Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is a superspy as you imagine him: good-looking, suave and mostly investigating within the upper class. But he wouldn’t be half the spy he was without Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy), his handler: Susan might not be in the field herself, but with the help of visual and audio equipment, she sees the world through Bradley’s eyes – with multiple enhancements. And she is the best at what she does. But when Bradley ignores her advice, is killed by Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). And Rayna goes on to blow the cover of every active field agent. While uncovered spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham) goes rogue, Susan herself steps up – and out into the field.

Spy does many things right, but it does enough that didn’t work for me to keep me only very mildly enthusiastic about it – despite the good stuff.

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Annie (2014)

Annie
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Will Gluck, Aline Brosh McKenna (script), Greg Kurstin, Sia (new music)
Based on: the play written by Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music), Martin Charnin (lyrics) which is in turn based on Harold Gray‘s comic strip Little Orphan Annie
Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas, Cameron Diaz, Michael J. Fox, Patricia Clarkson, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Rihanna, Sia
Seen on: 23.01.2015

Plot:
Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) is an orphan and lives with the difficult Ms Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and several other foster children. She dreams of finding her parents and whenever possible she passes her time coming up with ways she could find out more about them. But her life takes an abrupt turn when she is saved from getting hit by a car by the self-involved businessman Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who is running for mayor. Stacks’ PR person Guy (Bobby Cannavale) sees the perfect opportunity to make Stacks more likeable and convinces him to take in Annie, despite the misgivings of Stack’s assistant Grace (Rose Byrne). But Annie is not just a passive thing to be used – she makes her own life.

I don’t know whether I have actually ever seen the film from the 80s and I know for a fact that I didn’t see any of the other adaptations of this. And as practically an Annie virgin, I really enjoyed the film, even if it had its weak spots.

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The Station Agent (2003)

The Station Agent
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Richard Kind, John Slattery, Joe Lo Truglio, Lynn Cohen

Plot:
Fin (Peter Dinklage) lives a very quiet life working in a model train shop. Until the shop owner and Fin’s only friend Henry (Paul Benjamin) dies and leaves Fin an abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere where Fin decides to move to. There Fin is found by Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who runs a foodtruck for his sick dad and then Fin is almost run over – twice – by Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a painter going through a rough time. All three are obviously lonely and struggle with human contact in very different ways. But somehow that seems just the perfect recipe.

The Station Agent was a really sweet, entertaining and pretty much wonderful film. There is nothing not to like about it.

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Blue Jasmine (2013)

Blue Jasmine
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alden Ehrenreich, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay

Plot:
Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) married rich when she was younger, but then her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was arrested and she lost everything. So she turns to her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) for shelter, despite their strained relationship and even though Ginger lives way beyond the standards Jasmine is used to. Jasmine tries to get back on her feet but she isn’t in the most stable state of minds to begin with.

Blue Jasmine mostly lives off Cate Blanchett’s incredible performance, but otherwise pretty much continues Woody Allen’s streak of lukewarm films (as far as I have seen them).

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Parker (2013)

Parker
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Based on: Donald E. Westlake (as Richard Stark)‘s novel Flashfire
Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr.Michah Hauptman, Bobby Cannavale, Emma Booth, Nick Nolte

Plot:
Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional criminal and he’s good at his job. After the successful robbery of the Ohio State Fair, the crew he works with sets him up, though. Leaving him for dead, they take off with his share to fund the next heist. But Parker survives and decides to go after them. He finds out that they are in Palm Beach and with the help of real estate agent Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), finds their hiding place. And then he goes after them.

Parker is pretty much exactly what you expect from a Jason Statham film. Which means that it’s fun, entertaining and a little dumb. What surprised me about it, though, was that it’s pretty gory and that Jennifer Lopez what actually pretty good.

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