Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Based on:  Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières‘s comic Valérian and Laureline
Cast: Dane DeHaanCara DelevingneClive OwenRihannaEthan HawkeHerbie HancockKris WuSam SpruellAlain ChabatRutger HauerPeter HudsonXavier GiannoliLouis LeterrierEric RochantBenoît JacquotOlivier MegatonElizabeth DebickiMathieu KassovitzJohn Goodman
Seen on: 31.7.2017
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Plot:
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Care Delevingne) are operatives, charged with maintaining peace across the universe. A new mission brings them into possession of a converter, the last creature of its kind. But they can’t expect to be the only ones who want that converter. Their mission brings them to Alpha, a city made for all kinds of species that harbors a secret in its heart.

The fact that this film thought that it would be the right move to take the comic Valerian and Laureline and transform it into Valerian alone, is already pretty indicative of the decision making in the entire film: it might look cool at first glance, but it’s short-sighted, stupid and offensive.

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Re-Watch: Sin City (2005)

Sin City
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica AlbaElijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke DuncanRutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon AokiJosh Hartnett, Alexis BledelJaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl

Plot:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.

I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.

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Words and Pictures (2013)

Words and Pictures
Director: Fred Schepisi
Writer: Gerald Di Pego
Cast: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison, Valerie Tian, Amy Brenneman

Plot:
Jack (Clive Owen) is an English teacher who used to be a good poet, but is now an alcoholic who can’t put words to paper anymore. Dina (Juliette Binoche) is a sought-after painter who suffers from rheumatiod arthritis which makes her inable to paint as she used to. So she starts working as an art teacher at Jack’s school and the two become rivals immediately. As they argue over words vs. pictures, their class takes up the fight as well and channel it into a creative outlet.

Words and Pictures was mostly enjoyable even though it is a film that tries way too hard with pretty much everything.

wordsandpictures[SPOILERS]

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Beyond Borders (2003)

Beyond Borders
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Caspian Tredwell-Owen
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo, Linus Roache, Noah Emmerich

Plot:
Sarah (Angelina Jolie) who recently married Henry (Linus Roache), led a generally very sheltered life among the upper class. But that world is pretty much shattered when Nick (Clive Owen) turns up at a charity event. Nick works as a doctor in a refugee camp in Ethiopia from where he dragged a starving boy to London. Nick rants against the charity which just stopped funding his refugee camp and impresses Sarah a lot, as much with his demeanor as with his speech. Inspired, she decides to help herself and organizes a giant care package that she accompanies to Ethiopia herself.

Beyond Borders is kitsch as kitsch can. Seriously, this is pure cheese. It’s basically a Nicholas Sparks novel in front of a humanitarian background. And as such, it is strangely entertaining.

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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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Killer Elite (2011)

Killer Elite
Director: Gary McKendry
Writer: Matt Sherring
Based on: Ranulph Fiennesbook
Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski

Plot:
Hunter (Robert De Niro) and Danny (Jason Statham) are part of a very successful group of assassins. But Danny has had his fill and retires, only to be pulled out of retirement when his mentor and friend Hunter gets kidnapped by a sheikh in Oman. To free Hunter, Danny has to take out three SAS agents who are responsible for the deaths of the sheikh’s sons. But the SAS has their own defense group and so Spike (Clive Owen), part of said group, picks up Danny’s trail.

Killer Elite was, unfortunately, disappointing and mostly boring. I guess that’s what happens when you show the best things in the damn trailer and the rest doesn’t even get close.

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Duplicity (2009)

Duplicity is the new movie by Tony Gilroy, starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson.

Plot:
Ray (Clive Owen), a MI5 agent and Claire (Julia Roberts), a CIA agent meet at a party and sleep with each other. The next morning, Claire disappears after stealing information from Ray. Years later, they meet working on the same assignement – spying on Howard Tully’s (Tom Wilkinson) company for his competitor Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti).

Duplicity is a nice RomCom and doesn’t pretend to be much more. It’s funny and I really liked Ray and Claire’s relationship. While it won’t get movie of the year, it’s entertaining and satisfying.

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Triple Feature

Yesterday was very intense. I left work early (I started early as well) to be able to go to a triple movie feature. I finally saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. [You may call me crazy for doing that.]

Elizabeth: The Golden Age was amazing. I actually like it better than the first part (which was excellent as well and it had Vincent Cassel in drag).
Shekhar Kapur has a perfect feeling for the use of light and the effect of light and light in general. He could have made a little less “shots through ornaments” (he likes them, see also Elizabeth) but that’s ok.
The acting was a-fucking-mazing. I knew Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush do act really good. I also knew Clive Owen could but rarely would (this time he did). Surprises were: Rhys Ifans (I like him and I know he can act but I didn’t know he was in this movie) and Jordi Mollà (who I didn’t know before but who had the incredible ability to scream “I’m a totally fucked-up maniac and nothing can stop me” without uttering a single word). With that cast, I also have to give out a honorary mention of Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton who were noticed :).
The dialogues were wonderful. Watching the movie I felt like I needed to take a pen out and write along. Or probably learn the screenplay (by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst) by heart.
Of course, the movie had some weak spots. I already mentioned the ornament shots. Then there was Archduke Charles, an Austrian who comes so the queen may see if he’s fit to marry. Anyway, Christian Brassington obviously doesn’t speak a word German (although he has a good German accent in English) but has to say a couple of sentences. I actually needed the subtitles to understand him because his accent was so bad. [Cate Blanchett had a better pronunciation.] That’s just embarassing.
And from the characterisation: Sir Walter Raleigh must have been one hell of a guy. First, he’s the perfect gentleman, funny, intelligent, knows how to tell a story, knows what he wants and has amazing green eyes (ok, those belong to Clive Owen). Then you might say he trips a little by sleeping with the queen’s chambermaid (or whatever you call the girls) [but I think that was only rational, not necessarily wise but rational – he knew nothing could happen with the queen]. Anyway, he gets Bess (the chambermaid) pregnant and instantly marries her and is happy with that. And after that he goes out and singlehandedly defeats the Spanish Armada.  That might be a little too much (but feeds my hope that somewhere out there might be a man who is a little bit like that).
Summarising: A wonderful film with wonderful actors and a wonderful script which has some minor faults. Plus: Clive Owen’s hotter than Joseph Fiennes.

On to There Will Be Blood:
I was actually very disappointed by this film. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as usual, as is Paul Dano who does a very good job not disappearing beside DD-L. But the film concentrates so much on DD-L that everything else is lost.
The “deathmatch” between him and the church is actually no match at all, there never is a single shred of doubt about the outcome and I felt like laughing all the time about the “exorcisms”.
Relationships live and die with Plainview’s feelings, the other person he has the relationship with has no say in it. (And no matter how dominant one person may be, relationships don’t work that way.)
And the music was horrible. It was intrusive and didn’t fit. The beginning of the credits deserves an award for Worst Chosen Music In A Film.
I guess, if I ever had the chance to make a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d try to get him into it as much as possible. So I understand why Paul Thomas Anderson did it the way he did. But he should have cut about half an hour of the film and could have tried to incorporate some other actors in this film as well.
Without DD-L there wouldn’t have been a movie. With him, there’s great acting but not much of a film.

So we come to Sweeney Todd.
In a nutshell: Another masterpiece by Tim Burton. I loved it. I loved the story, the music, the costumes (K. [German] wrote about Johnny Depp‘s trousers, I have to point out his leather jacket) and the acting.
Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way: The opening credits. The blood was poorly animated, it looked much too sticky and he could have done better.
That’s it.
Of course, Tim Burton has this very distinct style and some people may call it repetitive but who cares? I love the way he uses colours, and the lack of them. As well as the way he uses the same actors to portray the same roles, gives it all a continuity. (Though I guess, Christina Ricci wasn’t available.)

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spot the five differences… I know, it’s hard…

The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler were just wonderful.

And in the darkness
When I’m blind
With what I can’t forget
It’s always morning in my mind

And there’s another quote (this time from the script by John Logan) I loved, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter) says: “There could be an us, you know. It may not be what I dreamed of and it may not be what you remember, but it could be an us.”
I may be overinterpreting here, but I also liked the reference to Edward Scissorhands: Mr. Todd holds up the razor and says: “Finally, my arm is complete again.”
I laughed my ass off during the dream sequence. The striped bathing suits flat did it for me ((c) Anita Blake).
I don’t know what to think of Jamie Campbell Bower yet. He knows how to sing, that’s for sure, but I don’t think him that good an actor. And he looks weird.

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Alan Rickman, of course, was great. And Sacha Baron Cohen as “Call me Davey” Pirelli had me almost falling off my chair. And Timothy Spall was the perfect cast for Beadle. (When I saw him, my first thought was “Mr. Croup!” but I mistook him for Hywel Bennett. Only my second thought was “Peter Pettigrew!“)
And Giles Anthony Stewart Head was there, if only for five seconds.

There are about a thousand more things I could write about this film, but I’ll leave it at that. I guess you know already what I’m feeling about it.