Demolition (2015)

Demolition
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Cast: Jake GyllenhaalNaomi WattsChris CooperJudah LewisC.J. WilsonPolly DraperDebra MonkHeather Lind
Seen on: 21.6.2016

Plot:
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) thought his life was pretty good, but after his wife Julia (Heather Lind) dies in a car accident, he finds that things weren’t all what they cracked up to be: he didn’t really know Julia, and he simply overlooked all the things that weren’t right. In his grief, he writes a letter of complaint to a company filling vending machines, detailing not only that his candy got stuck in the machine, but his entire situation. The customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) who reads his letter finds herself intrigued and together with her son Chris (Judah Lewis), they starts playing no small part in Davis’ attempt to first destroy, then rebuild his life.

When I saw the trailer for Demolition for the first time, I was very much reminded of this tweet (that I can’t find anymore) where somebody wrote something along the lines of “look, it’s my favorite genre: woman dies so man can learn something about himself.” It seemed the perfect description for this film. I decided to see it despite of this, mostly because Jake Gyllenhaal can do pretty much anything. Unfortunately there really isn’t much more to this film than what you can see in the trailer.

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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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August: Osage County (2013)

August: Osage County
Director: John Wells
Writer: Tracy Letts
Based on: his play
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregorMargo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Misty Upham

Plot:
When their father (Sam Shepard) dies, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) all gather home with their mother Violet (Meryl Streep). Everyone comes with their baggage: Barbara and her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) are separated but haven’t told their family and their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) doesn’t deal very well. Ivy has a secret lover. Karen brings home her newest fiancé (Dermot Mulroney). And Violet, a mean-spirited pill-addict, likes to stir things up.

August: Osage County isn’t always easy to watch but it is always well-acted and engaging. Toward the end I thought that it got a little much but altogether it was a really good film.

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The Company You Keep (2012)

The Company You Keep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Based on: Neil Gordon’s novel
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott

Plot:
30 years ago, The Weather Underground robbed a bank and shot a guard. Nobody was arrested. Now the FBI managed to arrest Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon). Her arrest has journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) digging into the story. He talks to lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) who turns out to have been one of the Weathermen, Nick Sloan. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, but there seems to be more to the story than that.

The Weather Underground are certainly a topic that deserves discussion and cinematic treatment. Unfortunately this movie skirts the interesting bits and ends up being boring, unrealistic and self-congratulatory.

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Re-Watch: The Bourne Identity (2002)

The Bourne Identity
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Tony Gilroy, W. Blake Herron
Based on: Robert Ludlum‘s novel
Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Clive Owen

Plot:
A man (Matt Damon) is found floating in the middle of the sea with several shot wounds. The doctor on board puts him back together again, but the guy suffers from amnesia. The only clue he has is a number to a Swiss bank account. When he follows that clue, he finds out that his name is Jason Bourne. And he finds himself hunted by several agencies. Finding an ally in Marie (Franka Potente) who gives him a ride, Bourne tries to piece back together his past.

The Bourne Identity is one of our modern classics, and with good reason. It’s tightly paced, very well acted and tells a good story that keeps you interested even after multiple viewings.

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The Muppets (2011)

The Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Based on: Jim Henson‘s characters
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Cameos by [put in camouflage so you can still be surprised by the people who show up, if you don’t know already. If you wanna be surprised, don’t read the tags, either]: Jack Black, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman, Donald Glover, Emily Blunt, Leslie Feist, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney

Plot:
Walter and Gary (Jason Segel) are brothers, but Walter is pretty different from the rest of the world. It is only when he finds the Muppets that he feels he has somewhere he belongs. So he jumps at the chance, of course, to go to Los Angeles with Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to visit the Muppet Studios. But the studio is decrepit and threatened by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who wants to drill for oil there. The only chance to save it all would be to get Kermit and the rest of the Muppets together to raise 10 million dollars. So Walter takes it on himself to make just that happen.

I never watched The Muppets when I was a kid and apart from their Christmas Carol and a few choice youtube videos, I never really had much contact with them. So I felt like I was missing some ingredient in the whole thing (nostalgia? character background?), but nevertheless, I enjoyed the film. I just think you would get more out of it if you were more of a Muppets fan.

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The Town (2010)

The Town is Ben Affleck‘s adaptation of Chuck Hogan‘s book Prince of Thieves, starring Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Peter Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper.

Plot:
Doug (Ben Affleck) and his best friend James (Jeremy Renner) head a team of bank robbers. During one of their robberies they force bank employee Claire (Rebecca Hall) to open the safe. Afterwards Doug – who has been thinking of quitting robberies for good – “accidentally meets” Claire (who doesn’t recognise him) for a bit to see if she knows anything she could have told FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm). But Doug and Claire really hit it off and now Doug has to try to protect Claire from his lifestyle and from James, who is pretty volatile.

Here’s a movie I don’t understand the positive reviews of: Yeah, the supporting cast is good, but unfortunately, Ben Affleck still can’t act and neither can Rebecca Hall. And the whole film is boring.

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Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me is the newest movie by Allen Coulter, starring The Emo Prince of Emoness Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Chris Cooper, Lena Olin, Ruby Jerins and Pierce Brosnan.

Plot:
Tyler (Robert Pattinson) has trouble coping with the death of his brother. (We know that because he smokes. And looks sad.) One night, he gets into a fight, trying to protect a few strangers from other strangers. (Because he’s self-destructive. Geddit?) When the police shows up, the detective in charge (Chris Cooper) is about to let Tyler and his best friend Aidan (Tate Ellington) go, when Tyler has to show that he really doesn’t care about himself, only about ideals, when he attacts said police men because Tyler feels that Police Guy doesn’t do his job. Both Tyler and Aidan are then arrested.
A few weels later, Aidan digs up the info that Police Guy has a daughter, Ally, (Emilie de Ravin) and he tells Tyler to get back at Police Guy by sleeping with his daughter [yes, they’re still living in the middle ages where young girls don’t have sex and are only tools to settle scores between the menfolk]. Tyler complies, even though a little unwillingly. But what no-one [except the entire audience] ever expected was that Ally and Tyler actually fall in love.

Oh bloody hell, people, this movie was bad. It was not only ridiculous per se, but it has no redeeming feature whatsoever. The acting was bad [how the hell did they get Pierce Brosnan to do this? I mean, that guy is not famous for his taste his movies but he usually does better than this…], the editing was absolutely gruesome [with continuity errors that actually made me flinch] but the worst offender was the script which just made me want to barf. And then, it doesn’t even have the decency to be funny in its badness. Instead it’s just boring. Man, I don’t even know where to start with ripping this movie apart.

[SPOILERS]

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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are is the newest movie by Spike Jonze based on the book by Maurice Sendak. The movie was written by Jonze and Dave Eggers and stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Mark Ruffalo.

Plot:
Max (Max Records) is a lonely child full with fantastic [in the original sense] ideas. One day, after getting into a fight with his mother (Catherine Keener), Max runs from the house in a frenzy. He stumbles upon a boat which takes him to a land inhabitated by huge monsters. After they threaten to eat him, Max becomes their king and befriends them, especially Carol (James Gandolfini). But all is not well there, either.

Where the Wild Things Are is perfect. The look, the feel, the script, the actors, the music… it’s absolutley wonderful. The only caveat: They shifted the target demographic from preschooler to anyone older than ten.
[If that wasn’t warning enough, there’s going to be some serious gushage in this post.]

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Adaptation. (2002)

[And we’ve entered the Viennale programme. If I continue in this manner, I’ll probably be up to date by the end of this year…]

Adaptation. is Spike Jonze‘ movie adaptation based on Susan Orlean‘s book The Orchid Thief. The script was written by Charlie Kaufman and it stars Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, (in a very small role) Tilda Swinton and (in an even smaller role) Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Plot:
At the end of the shoot of Being John Malkovich, Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is trying to get his new project going – an adaptation of Susan Orlean’s (Meryl Streep) book The Orchid Thief. The Orchid Thief is about John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a strangely charismatic florist/thief/survivalist. Just as Susan is pulled into Laroche’s story, the only way Charlie seems to get things going is by writing himself into the story. Especially since his twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage) decided he wants to be a screenwriter as well and does so with more easy and apparently more success than Charlie.

If that plot summary sounds a little confusing, I’m sorry. But I think that every summary of this film will end in confusion – though the movie itself is rather easy to follow. If you can handle self-referentialism. [If you feed on it, like I do, you’re going to love this movie.] In any case, Adaptation. is very funny, well-played and weird. In a very good way.

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