Cake (2014)

Cake
Director: Daniel Barnz
Writer: Patrick Tobin
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, Lucy Punch, Britt Robertson
Seen on: 15.04.2015

Plot:
After an accident Claire (Jennifer Aniston) is in chronic pain, bitter and lonely. Her only points of social contact are her housekeeper Silvana (Adriana Barraza) and her chronic pain self-help group. But after one of its members, Nina (Anna Kendrick), committed suicide and Claire had a bit of a meltdown, the group has asked her to leave. Instead Claire pays a visit to Nina’s widower Roy (Sam Worthington). They both start leaning on each other for their recovery, even if that’s a very slow-going process.

Cake was an excellent film. Great performances, smart script, interesting topic handled seriously but also with a sense of humor, all tied together in a neat little package.

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Ruby Sparks (2012)

Ruby Sparks
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Toni Trucks, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan, Deborah Ann Woll, Elliott Gould

Plot:
Calvin (Paul Dano) wrote a critically acclaimed bestseller when he was very young – and has been stuck ever since. He can’t really write anything, he’s afraid that he won’t live up to his own reputation. But then he starts writing about Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) – the perfect girl for him – and literally falls in love with his own creation. That is, until she actually shows up in his kitchen. At first, Calvin believes that he’s finally cracked, but other people can see her, too. And so Calvin doesn’t question it, instead starts enjoying their relationship. But how long can anybody remain perferct?

Ruby Sparks is the perfect take-down of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. And not only that, it is also a wonderfully charming, touching and funny movie with an extremely excellent cast.

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Argo (2012)

Argo
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Chris Terrio
Based on: Joshuah Bearman‘s article [pdf link]
Cast: Ben Affleck, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber

Plot:
In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the USAmerican embassy in Teheran. In the middle of this confusion, 6 employees managed to flee to the Canadian embassy and hide there. The CIA hires exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to get them out of there. So Tony concocts a story about the shoot of a SciFi movie to provide a cover for the six of them, which includes the basic pre-production of the film.

Argo is a classic, straightforward and very well-made thriller that hits all the right notes in the right way, even if it doesn’t surprise. But it makes the perfect case for a tried and tested format executed well.

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Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009)

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Director: John Krasinski
Writer: John Krasinski
Based on: David Foster Wallace’s short stories
Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Chris Messina, Max Minghella, Dominic Cooper, Will Arnett, Christopher Meloni, Denis O’Hare, Josh Charles, Bobby Cannavale, Rashida Jones

Plot:
Sara (Julianne Nicholson) recently broke up with her boyfriend Ryan (John Krasinski). To cope with the ensuing funk she starts an interview project she wants to use for her dissertation where she interviews various men or records conversations she overhears. The subjects of these interviews are varied but mostly they revolve around sex.

I thought that the film’s set-up was a little weird, focusing away from the interviewee’s and on to the interviewer as it does. That just didn’t work that well for me. But the cast was good and most of the respective interviews very nicely done.

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Devil (2010)

Devil is John Erick Dowdle‘s latest film, starring Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend and Jacob Vargas.

Plot:
5 people get trapped in an elevator: a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green), a guard (Bokeem Woodbine), an old lady (Jenny O’Hara), a young woman (Bojana Novakovic) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend). While police detective Bowden (Chris Messina) tries to get them out of there, weird things start happening inside the elevator. And it’s soon apparent that one of the five trapped people is the devil himself.

I saw the name M. Night Shyamalan (who is credited with the story of the film) and I thought that it was going to be one of those movies that will have an interesting premise and then suck the hell out of it. And not surprisingly, I was right. I’m really glad I didn’t spend any money on this film.

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Greenberg (2010)

Greenberg is the newest movie by Noah Baumbach, written by himself and Jennifer Jason Leigh, starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Chris Messina, Merrit Wever and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Plot:
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) just finished his therapy at a psychiatric facility and returns from New York to Los Angeles. Until things look differently, he stays at his brother’s (Chris Messina) house. His brother, in the meantime, is on holiday. With only the family dog for company, Roger tries to reconnect with his old friend (Rhys Ifans) but in the end only finds some form of human connection in Florence (Greta Gerwig), his brother’s personal assistant/house keeper.

I know I’m probably losing all of my indie cred and any reputation I have built up as a film critic on this here blog but, dammit all: That movie was fucking boring. Yes, the cast was excellent but there’s only so much you can do without an actual plot.

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Away We Go (2009)

Away We Go is the newest movie by Sam Mendes, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey.

Plot:
Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a happy couple, even if they have financial difficulties and rather crappy jobs. When they discover that Verona is pregnant and that Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are moving away, they decide to start life anew and go on a (road) trip through the US, visiting friends and relatives to decide where that new life should happen.

Away We Go is another one of those movies where somebody somewhere decided that it is not fit for marketing. Oh, and what a bad choice again. It’s a wonderful, funny and heart-warming movie with a great soundtrack that I can only recommend. Over and over again.

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Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie & Julia is Nora Ephron‘s latest movie starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina.

Plot:
Julie Powell (Amy Adams) is working in an office, but her real passion in life is cooking. So, one day, she decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) French cookbook and blog about it, not anticipating the changes this will make to herself and her life.
Interwoven into Julie’s story, we see how Julia Child’s gets to write the book and how hard she had to work for it.

Julie & Julia is good, solid entertainment: Nothing too deep, nice sense of humour and good performances. Makes for a very enjoyable evening.

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