The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Content Note: sexism, possible transmisogyny, racism

Plot:
Carly (Cameron Diaz) is usually all business and has no time for love. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) somehow made it into her life anyway – and she’s ready for him to meet her father Frank (Don Johnson). But when he cancels the meeting on short notice because of plumbing problems at his house, Carly decides to surprise him there – only to find Kate (Leslie Mann), Mark’s wife. When Kate realizes what’s happening, she finds that she only has Carly to talk to and to understand what it’s like to get cheated on by Mark. They start plotting their revenge together, especially when they find out that Mark has been seeing Amber (Kate Upton), too.

The Other Woman is a nice take where the cheating dude gets his due and the women don’t get the blame for once. But they could have made more of that premise, I thought, both with regard to the basically-feminist message and the comedy.

The film poster showing Carly (Cameron Diaz) standing stiffly as Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) cling to her.
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Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out
Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Cast: Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz, K Callan, Noah Segan
Seen on: 8.1.2020

Plot:
Famous author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) has died, leaving behind an eccentric family, a lot of money and a police investigation into his death. Just before it is officially declared a suicide, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) joins the investigation to make sure that everything is as everybody thinks it is. As he interviews the entire family, including Harlan’s nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), there is no telling what he will uncover. But it’s probably nothing good.

Knives Out was an amazingly entertaining film that managed to breathe some new life into a genre that has been well-established for many, many years (and it’s not even a genre that I personally love a lot). I had the best of times.

The film poster showing all of the main characters standing in a group.
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Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Fred Melamed, Justine Warrington
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 4.5.2019
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
Veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger, more volatile partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on tape using excessive force on a black suspect. They are suspended when the tape reaches the media. Ridgeman decides to turn to crime himself in this forced downtime: he and Lurasetti plan to take over a robbery of which they get wind. Part of the robbery crew is Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), just released from prison, who came home to find the poverty of his family completely overwhelming. Without other options, he lets himself get roped into the robbery plot. But things don’t go according to plan for anybody.

I was this close to not watching Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s last film – Bone Tomahawk – was racist crap. That he then turns to make a film that is a whole lot about racism and casts Mel Gibson, a known racist and antisemite, in the lead is insensitive to say the least. But then I figured, I had an all-access pass to the festival and I may as well give this film a go. Well. I should have listened to my gut and saved myself because the film is just as racist as the last.

The film poster showing the main characters in red paint that looks like something was dragged over the white poster background.
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Book Club (2018)

Book Club
Director: Bill Holderman
Writer: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Ed Begley Jr., Richard Dreyfuss, Wallace Shawn, Alicia Silverstone, Katie Aselton, Mircea Monroe, Ravi Kapoor
Seen on: 14.9.2018

Plot:
Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) have had a book club for decades. They each take turns picking the books they read and this month it’s Vivian’s turn. Her choice is 50 Shades of Grey, much to the dismay of the other women. But as they start reading, they all start wondering about their own sexual and romantic lives: widowed Diane meets Mitchell (Andy Garcia); perpetual single Vivian reconnects with Arthur (Don Johnson); Carol rekindles the sexual side of her relationship with her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson); and divorced Sharon braves online dating.

Book Club is rather inconsequential but it’s fun and it captures something of why the 50 Shades series was such a big success, despite the problematic bits. But ultimately it doesn’t have any big insights.

The film poster showing  DIane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen around a table.
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A Boy and His Dog (1975)

A Boy and His Dog
Director: L.Q. Jones
Writer: L.Q. Jones
Based on: the stories by Harlan Ellison
Cast: Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards, Tim McIntire, Alvy Moore, Helene Winston, Charles McGraw, Hal Baylor, Ron Feinberg
Seen on: 2.1.2017

Plot:
In a postapocalyptic landscape Vic (Don Johnson) and his dog Blood (Tim McIntire) make their way through the desert, trying to survive. Vic and Blood can communicate telepathically and they share their chores: Vic looks for food for the both of them, while Blood tries to find a woman for Vic and teaches him about history. Blood is also sure that they will be able to find green farming land, but Vic is more interested in getting laid.

A Boy and His Dog was simply a horrible film, packed with misogyny and sexism and when it’s not offensive, it’s boring. I hated almost all of it.

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Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern, Zoe Bell, Don Johnson, Jonah Hill, Franco Nero, Quentin Tarantino

Plot:
Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is a bounty hunter who’s looking for a trio of brothers that he can’t identify. But he knows that the recently sold slave Django (Jamie Foxx) can. So he goes after Django and frees him in return for his help with the bounty hunting. Django agrees and the two of them start working very well together. But Django really wants to get his wife (Kerry Washington) back who has been sold separately. So he and Schultz hatch a plan how to get her out of the clutches of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Django Unchained was pretty damn great. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun, had a great cast, beautiful cinematography and, as usual for Tarantino movies, an amazing soundtrack.

DjangoUnchained

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Machete (2010)

[Viennale.]

Machete is the newest film by Robert Rodriguez, also directed by Ethan Maniquis and starring Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Robert De Niro, Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey and Lindsay Lohan.

Plot:
Machete (Danny Trejo) is basically the last police man in Mexico, who’s not corrupt. The evil drug dealer Torrez (Steven Seagal) doesn’t take too kindly to this and Machete finds himself trapped while he has to watch how Torrez kills his family.
Years later, Machete is stranded in the US and tries to get by with day labor, rather unsuccessfully. But then he gets hired by Booth (Jeff Fahey) to shoot the right-right-right-wing senator MacLaughlin (Robert De Niro), who wants to build a great electrical fence between the US and Mexico. Machete takes the job – it’s not as if he has much choice about it anyway – and finds himself in yet another trap. But this time, he fights back.

Machete is pretty much all it’s cracked up to be: gory, entertaining, funny… in short, the perfect B-Movie with a pretty strong political message. At times, it’s a bit lengthy, but if you like this kind of cinema, it’s totally going to make your year.

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