Molly’s Game (2017)

Molly’s Game
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Based on: Molly Bloom‘s autobiographical book
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, J.C. MacKenzie, Brian d’Arcy James, Bill Camp, Graham Greene, Justin Kirk
Seen on: 21.3.2018
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Plot:
Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) used to be an Olympic skier but an injury put an end to her career. Looking for a new way to make a living, she moves to Los Angeles and stumbles into the world of gambling. Sharp and business savy as she is, she quickly moves up and becomes a successful host of high stakes poker games – which in turn puts her into the sight of the FBI.

Molly’s Game is the rare case of a film that reaches its climax with the very first scene. But that’s not the only reason it is ultimately disappointing, despite the excellent cast.

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Loving Vincent (2017)

Loving Vincent
Director: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Cast: Douglas Booth, Josh Burdett, Holly Earl, Robin Hodges, Chris O’Dowd, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Saoirse Ronan, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
Seen on: 18.1.2018
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Plot:
Postmaster Roulin (Chris O’Dowd) has attempted several times to deliver the last letter of Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk). By now, the intended recipient – Vincent’s brother – has passed away as well. Hoping that Vincent’s close friend, Dr Gachet (Jerome Flynn), is the right person to receive it under the circumstances, Roulin sends his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to Gachet’s village with the letter. Armand is not happy about the task, but once he learns more about Vincent, he becomes intrigued and starts to investigate his death.

Loving Vincent is visually astounding, taking van Gogh’s paintings and bringing them to life. Unfortunately the story doesn’t do the visuals justice, so the film only half works.

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The Incredible Jessica James (2017)

The Incredible Jessica James
Director: Jim Strouse
Writer: Jim Strouse
Cast: Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield, Noël Wells, Taliyah Whitaker,
Sarah Jones
Seen on: 6.1.2018
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Plot:
Jessica (Jessica Williams) is a playwright with a whole lot of rejection letters to prove it. She makes her living as a theater teacher for children. And she just broke up with her boyfriend Damon (Lakeith Stanfield), a break-up that still gnaws at her although she was the one who instigated it. When she starts dating again, she meets Boone (Chris O’Dowd). They get along, but Boone has just been divorced and is equally hung up on his past relationship as Jessica is on hers. Nevertheless, there is something between them that both want to follow up on.

The Incredible Jessica James isn’t a re-invention of anything, but it is a super-sweet, super-nice film with great character and performances that are simply enjoyable. It’s absolutely lovely.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Jane Goldman
Based on: Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy
Cast: Asa ButterfieldElla PurnellFinlay MacMillanLauren McCrostieHayden Keeler-StoneGeorgia PembertonMilo ParkerRaffiella ChapmanEva GreenSamuel L. JacksonJudi DenchRupert EverettAllison JanneyChris O’DowdTerence Stamp,
Seen on: 5.11.2016

Plot:
Jacob (Asa Butterfield) has always been very close to his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) who told him all kinds of stories of his childhood in an orphanage led by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), among children that all had very special gifts. Only as Jacob grew older, he stopped believing in those stories. Then his grandfather is attacked and Jacob sees a strange monster that nobody else is able to see. He is unsettled, to say the least and convinces his father (Chris O’Dowd) to head to Cairnholm, the island where his grandfather’s orphanage was, to find out more about his past and to hopefully be able to separate fact from fiction.

I read the first book of the trilogy and I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it, so I didn’t have high expectations about this film. And rightly so. Miss Peregrine’s Home is a decidedly mediocre affair with the best thing about it that they actually finish the story and are obviously not banking on an entire trilogy of films.

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The Program (2015)

The Program
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: David Walsh‘s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Lee PaceGuillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Dustin Hoffman, Edward Hogg, Denis Ménochet
Seen on: 21.10.2015

Plot:
Journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) is impressed by newcoming cyclist Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster), but Lance’s career doesn’t quite take off. But Lance has the will to win. When he realizes that doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet) has a special program – which consists of doping, among other things – Lance wants in on it. Ferrari declines at first but when Lance loses a lot of weight due to testicular cancer, Ferrari does see a viable candidate in him after all. Lance starts on the program, but Walsh grows suspicious of his incredible success and decided to investigate.

I couldn’t care less about cycling and I think doping is just stupid. These are not exactly the best starting points for watching the film and might explain the lengths I felt in an otherwise excellent movie.

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St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard
Seen on: 21.01.2015

Plot:
Vincent (Bill Murray) seemingly hates everything but alcohol and his weekly sessions with sex worker Daka (Naomi Watts). But he also needs money and when newly single mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door, desperately in need of help with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), Vincent offerst to babysit Oliver in the time between end of Oliver’s school and end of Maggie’s job. As Oliver soon discovers, there is more to Vincent, though, than meets the eye.

St. Vincent is nice, but ultimately completely inconsequential, brings nothing new to the table and, apart from the parts that annoyed me, I’ll probably forget it as soon as I finish this review.

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Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Director: Anna D. Shapiro
Writer: John Steinbeck
Based on: his novella Of Mice and Men
Cast: James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester, Jim Parrack, Jim Norton, Alex Morf

Plot:
George (James Franco) and Lenny (Chris O’Dowd) are a team, working as hired hands on farms. But Lenny, who has a mental disability, got them fired from their last job when his attempt to pet the skirt of a girl was mistaken for a sexual assault. They had to leave in a hurry, but have found a new job already, which starts off well enough with their coworkers Candy (Jim Norton) and Slim (Jim Parrack), and less well with their boss Curly (Alex Morf) and his flirty wife (Leighton Meester). George and Lenny are dreaming of buying a bit of land together and becoming independent – a dream that suddenly becomes very attainable when Candy offers to pitch in. But attainable isn’t the same as attained and money isn’t the only issue.

This version of Of Mice and Men really was a very straightforward production that focused on making the characters and their actors shine. And shine they did.

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Calvary (2014)

Calvary
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan GleesonChris O’DowdKelly ReillyAidan GillenDylan MoranIsaach De BankoléMarie-Josée CrozeM. Emmet WalshDomhnall GleesonOrla O’Rourke
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
In the confession stand, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) hears from one of his parish that they were abused by another priest as a child and that they decided to kill Father James for it on Sunday. To kill an innocent to make more of a dent. So James has a week to put his things in order and try to figure out who confessed and see if he can’t convince him otherwise.

Calvary was hard to take, but in the best way. It was thoughtful, smart and opinionated; and had an absolutely stellar cast.

calvary

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor: The Dark World
Director: Alan Taylor
Writer: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on: Stan Lee‘s, Larry Lieber‘s and Jack Kirby‘s comic character
Sequel to: Thor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Zachary Levi , Jaimie Alexander, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jonathan Howard, Chris O’Dowd, [SPOILERS] Benicio Del Toro, Chris Evans
Part of: Marvel movies

Plot:
Ever since the events in Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has done his best to ensure the peace across the realms, while Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is locked up on Asgard. Which means that Thor doesn’t have time for Jane (Natalie Portman) who is still waiting for him. But when Jane stumbles on the Aether, an ancient weapon, Thor comes to her aid, just as Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) comes for the Aether, planning to destroy the universe with it.

As much as I love the first Thor movie – and I do – I have to admit that it doesn’t quite reach the heights that Thor: The Dark World reaches. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard in a movie, especially an action movie. It does almost everything completely right and it’s just plain great.

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[SPOILERS]

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Epic (2013)

Epic
Director: Chris Wedge
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, James V. Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere
Based on: William Joyce‘s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Aziz AnsariChris O’Dowd, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé Knowles, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Judah Friedlander, Steven Tyler

Plot:
M.K.’s (Amanda Seyfried) mother just died so he moves back in with her father Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), a very confused professor who is convinced that there are tiny people living in the woods and taking care of it. A theory that got him laughed out of every scientific community. But then M.K. discovers that he was right and finds herself caught in the middle of a struggle between the Leafmen who let the things in the forest grow and the Boggans who let them rot.

Epic was funny, totally sweet and very entertaining. I was very pleasantly surprised by the entire thing.

Epic

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