Heat (1995)

Heat
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Susan Traylor, Kim Staunton, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins
Seen on: 2.8.2021

Plot:
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is a professional bank robber and he is very good at running things. But at his latest job, one of his men lost control, turning the job into a bloodbath that puts Lt Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) on the scene. And Vincent is just as good at his job as Neil. When he actually picks up Neil’s trail, Neil has to decide if he can walk away from the heat – or if he needs to take his chances with it.

Heat is the kind of film that regularly shows up on The Best Movies lists, so I decided to give it a try despite the fact I knew that it sounded like a whole lot of “not my cup of tea”. Well, I guess it wasn’t even enough of my tea for me to see why it comes so highly recommended. It just didn’t work for me.

The film poster showing Vincent (Al Pacino), Neil (Robert De Niro) and Chris (Val Kilmer) in black and blue, above an image of a train at night.
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The Dark Tower (2017)

The Dark Tower
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writer: Akiva GoldsmanJeff PinknerAnders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Based on: Stephen King’s series of novels
Cast: Idris ElbaMatthew McConaugheyTom TaylorDennis HaysbertJackie Earle HaleyFran KranzAbbey LeeKatheryn Winnick
Seen on: 16.8.2017
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Plot:
Jake (Tom Taylor) has been having visions. Visions of Roland (Idris Elba) who has been on a quest since about forever, trying to keep the Dark Tower that keeps the universe together from falling. But the Tower is under attack from Walter (Matthew McConaughey) and his henchmen. Jake finally connects with Roland for real, realizing that he has a bigger part to play in Roland’s quest than anyone knew.

The Dark Tower is a catastrophe, but as an adaption of the novels (that I haven’t yet all read) and as a film in its own right. Since I heard nothing good about the film beforehand, my expectations were already low, but the film still limbo danced under them with ease.

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Dear White People (2014)

Dear White People
Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P Bell, Brittany Curran, Dennis Haysbert,
Seen on: 15.9.2016

Plot:
Biracial Samantha (Tessa Thompson) hosts a popular radio show on her campus where she tackles racial issues, “Dear White People”. After she wins the election for head of her House, the black only residence on campus, beating out her ex Try (Brandon P Bell), Sam gets a bigger platform for her outspoken activism and things get considerably more heated. The white students, in particular the frat led by Kurt (Kyle Gallner), want to push back by hosting a blackface party and asking Lionel (Tylor James Williams) to investigate undercover in Sam’s House. Meanwhile, Coco (Teyonah Parris) is trying to land a spot on a reality TV show, but they seem more interested in Sam and the tensions surrounding her.

Dear White People started off a bit weird for me, but once the film and I found our groove together and the story really starts, it is an enjoyable, funny film with a very serious core, presenting a perspective that is much too rare in mainstream entertainment.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh BrolinEva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher MeloniJeremy PivenChristopher Lloyd, Juno TempleStacy KeachMarton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia GarnerJaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis

Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
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. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.

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