Don’t Look Up (2021)

Don’t Look Up
Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Adam McKay, David Sirota
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Evans
Seen on: 14.5.2022

Plot:
Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is an astronomer who works on her PhD under the supervision of Randall Mindy (Leonard DiCaprio). One night, Kate makes a harrowing discovery: there is a life-destroying comet heading straight for earth. Kate and Randall do everything to make the world aware of this fact, but things don’t go exactly as they thought they would.

I was debating with myself whether I wanted to see this film. From all I had heard about it, I was pretty sure that it would be a film that drops its good points into a sea of smugness. Ultimately, though, my curiosity got the better of me and I can now definitively say that my suspicions about it were confirmed.

The film poster showing the main characters of the film, all looking up.
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Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan
Based on: William Lindsay Gresham‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Mark Povinelli, Peter MacNeill, Holt McCallany, Jim Beaver, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, David Hewlett
Seen on: 1.2.2022

Plot:
After hiding a body under the floor and burning down the house around it, Stanton (Bradley Cooper) is leaving town. He ends up with a traveling carneval troupe, and he seems made for that career, learning the tricks of the business from Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette) and her husband Pete (David Strathairn). Stanton is ambitious, he definitely has plans to make his own way and he hopes to bring Molly (Rooney Mara), beauty of the carneval along for them. After they do make their own start, psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) shows up at one of their performances – and Stanton believes that they can build a business together.

Nightmare Alley was quite a disappointment with strange casting choices and pacing issues that completely hobble the film. I was expecting more form a del Toro film.

The film poster showing Stanton (Bradley Cooper) and below him Zeena (Toni Collette), Dr. Ritter (Cate Blanchett) and Molly (Rooney Mara).
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Re-Watch: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien‘s novel
Sequel to: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Andy Serkis, Sean Bean, Marton Csokas, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Craig Parker, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, David Wenham, John Noble
Seen on: 6.1.2022

Plot:
Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) have not only to find their way into Mordor, but also to Mount Doom, unnoticed by Sauron, to destroy the One Ring. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) slowly claims his role as King and leads the human army into battle against Sauron to draw his gaze away from the hobbits and the ring. The time of decision draws near.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is my least favorite Lord of the Rings movie and probably the most boring of the three. But it is still a satisfying ending to a trilogy that I continue to love overall (much more than the books, probably).

The film poster showing some of the central characters, most in fighting poses.
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Re-Watch: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien‘s novel
Sequel to: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Craig Parker, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Bernard Hill, Brad Dourif, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Sean Bean
Seen on: 6.1.2022

Content Note: racism

Plot:
The fellowship of the ring is no more. Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood) are heading towards Mordor with the help of Gollum (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) are chasing after Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) who were taken by orcs under the command of Saruman (Christopher Lee). Things are coming to a head.

The Two Towers does have a couple of blunders that really haven’t aged well, but other than that, it is still an excellent film (though it is only my second favorite in the trilogy).

The film poster showing headshots of the main characters arranged vertically next to a tower.
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Re-Watch: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien‘s novel
Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Andy Serkis, Sean Bean, Marton Csokas, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Craig Parker, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving
Seen on: 6.1.2022

Plot:
Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) is an unusual Hobbit in that he actually left the shire to go on an adventure. Now his 111th birthday is approaching and Bilbo feels that it is time to withdraw from the shire. One of his birthday guests is Gandalf (Ian McKellen), a wizard and old friend who suspects that there is something more to Bilbo’s tiredness than his age. Gandalf’s suspicions harden when he sees that Bilbo has a magic ring. He gets Bilbo to leave it to his nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood) before leaving the shire. The end of Bilbo’s adventure is just the beginning of Frodo’s who needs to figure out a way to keep evil forces away from the ring.

It’s been many years that I last watched the Lord of the Rings movies, but given that they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary, I (and a friend) decided to make a day of watching all three movies (extended editions of course) just like we used to do when we were younger. I was afraid that it would be a little disappointing to do so, but really, the movies stand the test of time – especially the first one.

The movie poster showing Frodo (Elijah Wood) front and center, with the other main characers behind him, most in fighting poses. Below him we can see a group of hooded riders.
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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois
Based on: Cressida Cowell‘s books
Sequel to: How to Train Your Dragon, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Cast: Jay BaruchelAmerica Ferrera, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harington, David Tennant, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Gideon Emery
Seen on: 13.2.2019
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Plot:
Under Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) leadership, Berk has become a sanctuary for dragons, and a bustling city filled with both humans and dragons. In fact, things are going so well, they are actually running out of space for everyone. But dragon hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) has set his sight on Berk and its dragons – Toothless in particular. And he finds the perfect bait for his plan.

I loved the first How to Train Your Dragon film a lot. And I very much liked the second one, but didn’t love it as much anymore. The third film, unfortunately, continues the trend and is the weakest one so far. It’s still cute, but it’s probably for the best that they (probably?) won’t continue after this.

The film poster showing Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) standing together with Toothless and Light Fury.
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Ocean’s Eight (2018)

Ocean’s Eight
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Olivia Milch
Spin-off from: Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Dakota Fanning, Elliott Gould, Richard Armitage, James Corden
Seen on: 2.7.2018

Plot:
Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) was just released from prison and has already plans for a new, daring heist at the Met Gala. She just needs to convince her friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to go along with it and then they can assemble a team to pull it off. And Debby already knows the women they need to do it.

Ocean’s Eight may not be the film of the century, but it never set out to be. What it is, is a perfectly entertaining heist film with a great cast that is a wonderful addition to the Ocean films that have come before it. I hope there will be a sequel or five.

Film poster showing the eight main women in front of a red background.
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Manifesto (2015)

Manifesto
Director: Julian Rosefeldt
Writer: Julian Rosefeldt
Cast: Cate Blanchett
Seen on: 8.2.2018
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“Plot”:
In 13 segments and with 13 different protagonists (Cate Blanchett), the film digs into artists’ manifestos, combining and contrasting them to meditate on art, artists and their role in society.

Manifesto is an experimental and highly demanding film. At times I was very lost and would have liked somebody to take my hand and walk me through it. But even when I didn’t understand everything about it and could categorize it perfectly, it affected me.

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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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Truth (2015)

Truth
Director: James Vanderbilt
Writer: James Vanderbilt
Based on: Mary Mapes‘ book Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, John Benjamin Hickey, David Lyons, Dermot Mulroney, Rachael Blake, Andrew McFarlane
Seen on: 9.6.2016

Plot:
Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) is a producer on CBS’ 60 Minutes, hosted by Dan Rather (Robert Redford). They get wind of a story that George Bush Jr may have received favorable treatment in the army which kept him out of harm’s way and could considerably hurt his run for the presidency. They investigate and despite a few incongruencies decide to go ahead and report on the story. It doesn’t take long, though, for serious doubts to arise as to the veracity of the story and the supporting documents. Quickly, Mary finds herself under heavy fire.

Truth is a decent film carried by Blanchett, but it fundamentally misunderstands the quest it is on, which does throw a wrench in its own works.

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