Candy Jar (2018)

Candy Jar
Director: Ben Shelton
Writer: Chad Klitzman
Cast: Jacob Latimore, Sami Gayle, Tom Bergeron, Helen Hunt, Paul Tigue, Austin Flynn, Blake Flynn, Christina Hendricks, Uzo Aduba
Seen on: 4.1.2020

Plot:
Bennett (Jacob Latimore) and Lona (Sami Gayle) are constantly in competition with each other in school and on the debate team, as are their mothers Amy (Christina Hendricks) and Julia (Uzo Aduba) who couldn’t be more different. But when they run into trouble with their individual debates, the only way they can bolster their resumés for college is by teaming up. So, reluctantly and begrudgingly, they decide to go for cooperation instead of competition. Surprisingly, this works much better than either of them expected.

Candy Jar is a nice high school romance that manages to get a little off the beaten path – though it doesn’t stray too far. I enjoyed watching it.

The film poster showing Bennett (Jacob Latimore) and Lona (Sami Gayle) looking at each other in front of a blackboard and a lectern.
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Toy Story 4 (2019)

Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom
Sequel to: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Emily Davis, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Carl Reiner, Bill Hader, Patricia Arquette, Timothy Dalton, Flea
Seen on: 28.8.2019

Plot:
Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and Andy’s other old toys have found a good home with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). When Bonnie starts kindergarten, she crafts a new toy from some trash, Forky (Tony Hale) who promptly comes to life and joins the entire family. But Forky is not ready to be a toy – he believes himself to be trash. Woody has his hands full just to make sure that Forky doesn’t throw himself away. And if that wasn’t enough to deal with, Woody actually catches up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) on the family trip. She was sold years ago – and has a very different outlook on the world now than Woody.

Toy Story 4 was really great. It was definitely worth the wait (almost ten years have passed since Toy Story 4 after all) to get this emotional and funny film.

The film poster showing Woody tipping his hat. In the background we can see a fair.
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Crooked House (2017)

Crooked House
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writer: Julian Fellowes, Tim Rose Price, Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Cast: Max Irons, Stefanie Martini, Glenn Close, Honor Kneafsey, Christina Hendricks, Terence Stamp, Julian Sands, Gillian Anderson, Christian McKay, Amanda Abbington, Preston Nyman
Seen on: 17.12.2018
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Plot:
Charles Hayward (Max Irons) used to be a diplomat/spy in Egypt, but now he is back in London and takes up a business as a private detective. When the rich Aristide Leonides is poisoned in his home, his granddaughter Sophia (Stefanie Martini) calls on Hayward, who was her lover some time ago, to solve the case. Hayward arrives at the Leonides estate to face a complicated family filled with suspects and suspicions.

Crooked House was bad. Holy shit, it was such an exhausting film. I hated it so much, I was very happy that I coincidentally had alcohol-filled chocolates with me so I could dull the pain a little.

The film poster showing the main characters in front of a dark manor.
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The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Cast: Elle FanningJena MaloneBella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Karl Glusman, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 8.6.2016

Plot:
Jesse (Elle Fanning) just moved to L.A., dreaming of a career as a model. She meets photographer Dean (Karl Glusman) and make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who both take a shine to her and try to help. Since there is something about Jesse, that seems barely necessary though – her career is definitely off to a good start. But young girls like Jesse are quickly swallowed by the fashion world and grow older too fast – which is what happened to Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who can’t stand Jesse waiting in the wings to take their place.

The Neon Demon is a hypnotizing film that manages to conjure up an intriguing atmosphere that kept me glued to my seat. But – as with Drive – it only worked for me because I read it completely different from what Refn apparently intended to say.

theneondemon

[SPOILERS]

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Lost River (2014)

Lost River
Director: Ryan Gosling
Writer: Ryan Gosling
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.4.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Plot:
Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives alone with her two kids in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. When he’s not busy dreaming about his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), Billy’s older son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) tries to support them by stealing copper from the empty houses around them, which draws the ire of local thug (Matt Smith) who claims all the copper for himself. Threatened by foreclosure, Billy accepts a job offer from Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager who has a little business at the side at a strange night club.

Lost River is not a perfect film. But it is an enchanting, strong debut that I won’t mind watching again.

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Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Ginger & Rosa
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Elle FanningAlice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, Jodhi May

Plot:
1962. Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) grew up together and are best friends. While Rosa’s father left a while ago and she fights a lot with her mother (Jodhi May), Ginger’s parents Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and Roland (Alessandro Nivola) are still together, if barely. But as nuclear warfare is threatening the entire world, so is Ginger’s world starting to crumble and bit by bit things start to slip away.

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Ginger & Rosa was brilliant. Beautiful and wonderfully made, it went straight for my heart and I bawled my eyes out.

Ginger-and-rosa

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Drive (2011)

Drive
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini
Based on: James Sallis‘ novel
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is actually a stunt man, but he also works as a getaway driver for robberies. He is always on the move. The only constant in his life is his employer/agent/friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston). Shannon tries to find funding to get him established as a race car driver. When the Driver gets involved into a heist for the sake of a friend, things start to go wrong very quickly.

The buzz for Drive is pretty impressive. What’s even more impressive is that it’s also absolutely true. It’s an incredibly intense, well acted and beautifully shot film.

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