The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate
Director: Mike Nichols
Writer: Calder WillinghamBuck Henry
Based on: Charles Webb‘s novel
Cast: Dustin HoffmanAnne BancroftKatharine RossWilliam DanielsMurray HamiltonElizabeth Wilson
Seen on: 15.3.2016

Plot:
Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) just finished college where he did very well. Now he’s returned home and has to make decisions about what to do next. But he’s overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do with himself. When his parents’ friend Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft) makes a pass at him, he starts an affair with her. But then he is set up on a date with Elaine (Katharine Ross), the Robinsons’ daughter. Without meaning to, he finds himself drawn to her as well.

I know that The Graduate is an important film in cinematic history and it is by no means a bad film. I just didn’t like it very much.

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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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Boychoir (2014)

Boychoir
Director: François Girard
Writer: Ben Ripley
Cast: Garrett Wareing, Dustin HoffmanKathy BatesEddie Izzard, Josh Lucas, Debra Winger, Kevin McHale, Joe West
Seen on: 9.9.2015

Plot:
Stet (Garrett Wareing) comes from a difficult family background that turns even more difficult when his mother suddenly dies. His biological father Gerard (Josh Lucas) has no interest whatsoever in him. Pressured by Stet’s school principal Ms Steele (Debra Winger) who sees a singing talent in Stet, Gerard does take him to a school famous for its boy choir and makes Stet’s admittance happen with the help of a generous donation. There Stet starts to train with Master Carvelle (Dustin Hoffman) who demands much of his students but also gets results.

Boychoir wasn’t exactly a bad film, but from a pedagogical stand-point it is highly questionable. So questionable, in fact, that I couldn’t really enjoy the film anymore. But at least the music is pretty.

Boychoir

[SPOILERS] Continue reading

Chef (2014)

Chef
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John LeguizamoEmjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters
Seen on: 9.6.2015

Plot:
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a passionate chef, but his boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick with the tried and tested menu – always. That brings him an abysmal critique by Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), the most important food critic. After fundamentally misunderstanding twitter, Carl transform that critique into a public feud with Michel, ultimately leading to him losing his job. Suddenly Carl has all the time in the world. Taking a recommendation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), he goes back to his roots and re-builds his career with a food truck that he takes on a cross-country tour, helped by his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his friend Martin (John Leguizamo).

Chef was an entertaining film, although it felt to me like Favreau made a film where he out-latinos all the latin@s in it – which was very weird, if not to say problematic.

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Quartet (2012)

Quartet
Director: Dustin Hoffman
Writer: Ronald Harwood
Based on: Ronald Harwood’s play
Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Andrew Sachs

Plot:
At a home for retired musicians, the inhabitants are preparing for their yearly concert with which they also wish to raise some funds to keep the home opened. But things get disrupted when Jean (Maggie Smith) arrives at the home. Not only does Jean still stick to her diva ways, though she refuses to sing, she used to be married to Reggie (Tom Courtenay) who also lives in the home. Things between Reggie and Jean are unresolved, to put it mildly. But with the help of their friends Cissy (Pauline Collins) and Wilf (Billy Connolly), plus a planned quartet performance by the four of them, they start to put the past to rest.

Quartet was okay, but it certainly wasn’t great. Though it’s actually short, it dragged on. Plus, it remained annoyingly shallow and I just took an immediate dislike to Billy Connolly’s character.

quartet

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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Kung Fu Panda 2 is the first feature film by Jennifer Yuh, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and starring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber, Danny McBride and James Hong. [Here’s my review of the first one.]

Plot:
Po (Jack Black), head of the Furious Five – Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross) – is pretty content with his life. That is, until the kingdom is threatened by the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who developed a new weapon that is able to defeat Kung Fu and with which he plans to take over. But a soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) has predicted his defeat – and his fate and Po’s seem to be more closely tied together than both realise at first.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a very sweet film and an excellent sequel.The cast is good, the story is nice, but it’s the animation that really stands out: it’s that fantastic.

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The Tale of Desperaux (2008)

The Tale of Desperaux is the new animated movie based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, directed by Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen and with a very long, very prolific cast list: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciarán Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Tony Hale, Frances Conroy, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Shaughnessy and Sigourney Weaver. [Phew!]

Unfortunately, in Austria we got only the German version, so I got exactly nothing from that cast – and not even famous German actors to do the parts. [Which is not to say that the speakers didn’t do a good job…]

Plot:
The kingdom of Dor has one thing they’re absolutely famous for: Soup. Every year, they have the Day of the Soup where everybody gets to eat the royal soup and party. One year, an accident happens – Roscuro [Dustin Hoffman], a rat, drawn in by the smell of the soup, stumbles and falls into the plate of the queen. When he tries to apologise, the queen has a heart-attack and dies. Filled with grief, the king banishes all soup and all rats from the kingdom and Roscuro goes into exile.
This is the world Desperaux [Matthew Broderick] is born into – a mouse, who unlike all the others, is not afraid, doesn’t cower, duck or shoo. When he crosses paths with Roscuro, they set out to save themselves and the kingdom.

The movie is really very sweet, quite funny and the story is interesting, though it did feel a little unconnected in the beginning – probably a problem of the adaptation. [And I did have some issues.] But it’s definitely a movie that kids will enjoy.

despereaux-poster

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Movie-Mania

Ok, my last two posts were about movies, this one will be, too, but as I won’t have time to go to the cinema for at least until Tuesday, I guess, next time you’ll read something else. Probably about what I’m reading now (Siegfried Lenz – “Die Deutschstunde”, Tad Williams – “Otherland: Mountain of Black Glass”, Angela Baron & Michael Armstrong – “Human Capital Management”), probably not.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the cinema, again. My partner in crime: K. Maybe she will wake from her blogging coma to post about the movies we saw yesterday because they were really good. Made up for the two bad ones I saw before.

To not keep you on tenterhooks (I love that word) anymore: We saw “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” and Becoming Jane.

Mr. Magorium is just wonderful. Although there was a slight technical difficulty (after the advertisement we just got a black screen for about 10 minutes), it definitely was my highlight of the week. I laughed, I cried, I watched the colours and the lack of colours with fascination and I saw the saddest stuffed animal ever (even though K. claims to have seen an even sadder one – I can’t really believe it). Eric, the little boy and hat collector (played by Zach Mills), is sooo cute (I wonder why jug ears are cute when a boy is 12, but not anymore when he’s 22…). Never heard of Jason Bateman before (though every time I see/hear the name Bateman I have to think about American Psycho) but he completely convinced me as the accounting mutant, especially in the scene where he plays with Eric in his room. Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman play just wonderfully and altogether it’s the perfect Christmas story.
Go and see it RIGHT NOW! (Ok, you may finish reading this post first…)

[Warning Spoiler!]
Becoming Jane
is beautiful. Sad, witty, well played. It gave off the vibe of her books, although the obligatory happy ending is missing. You keep on hoping until the end. Anne Hathaway plays well, very passionately. James McAvoy was as he always was – perfect actor, but I’m still not sure about his looks. (It was the same in Atonement – one minute I think that he’s oh-so-good-looking, the next I think he will be, when he’s older, and the next I think he never will reach the good-looking-status. [I just saw his picture on the imdb… oh my… he really should change that…]) The casting for the supporting roles was amazing – Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, and also the not so famous actors were perfectly chosen: Joe Anderson (I was sure I saw him in another movie before but after looking on his site, on the imdb as usual, I don’t think I have), Laurence Fox, Leo Bill and Ian Richardson.
Again, I laughed and cried and thought about what I would have done in her situation. *sigh* Beautiful.