La La Land (2016)

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan GoslingEmma StoneRosemarie DeWittJ.K. SimmonsFinn WittrockJosh PenceJohn LegendTom Everett Scott
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2016

Plot:
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who dreams of owning his own club and devoting his life to saving jazz as he loves it. Mia (Emma Stone) is an actress and playwright who dreams of the big career and works hard to finally get her breakthrough. No better place for either of their dreams than Los Angeles, where they meet and, despite initial antagonism, fall in love.

I was lucky enough to see La La Land pretty early, before it really became the smash hit it has since gone on to become with the accompanying blowing out of proportion of its qualities and the resulting backlash. And I have to say that I was very much charmed by the film and its two protagonists. Did I think it deserved all of the love it was getting? Not really. Did I think it deserved all the hate? Definitely not. It’s sweet, fun and entertaining, nothing more, nothing less.

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Re-Watch: Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris,Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 26.02.2015
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Re-watching the film, I might have focused on its weaknesses a little more than the first time round, but it’s still a very strong film that entertained me a lot.

birdman

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Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Birdman was funny, sad and cringeworthy all at the same time. Even though it wasn’t completely issue-free, I really enjoyed it a lot.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Sequel to: The Amazing Spider-Man
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie FoxxDane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Marton Csokas, B.J. Novak, Sarah Gadon

Plot:
Peter (Andrew Garfield) enjoys his life, just having graduated from high school and dating the girl of his dreams, Gwen (Emma Stone). Oh, and of course fighting crime as Spider-Man. But the question of why his parents abandoned him still haunts Peter and his investigation only makes things more confusing. Plus, there is something going on at Oscorp that seems directly related.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an extremely entertaining, funny film – but one that does have some major flaws. That makes the film a weird mixture of enjoyable and disappointing, though I’m leaning more towards enjoyable.

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2[SPOILERS]

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The Croods (2013)

The Croods
Director: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Writer: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman

Plot:
Eep (Emma Stone) lives in a cave with her family, fiercely protected by her father Grug (Nicolas Cage). Grug lives by the credo the everything new is bad and will get you killed. But Eep is not satisfied with that – she’s way too curious. And then she stumbles upon Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a young man who is prophesizing the end of the world. When their cave gets destroyed, Eep and her family join Guy on his way to a safe place.

The trailer for the Croods promised a coming-of-age story as Eep gains her independence from her father – which is a movie I would have loved to see. Unfortunately what we got was a movie that quickly sidelines Eep to focus on the guys, especially Grug.

The-Croods

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Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (it’s a comedy anthology with the following segments)
Writer (for the most parts): Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Steve Baker
The Thread (in the European version, that’s the framing device; in the US, I gather, it’s a different story)
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Cast: Devin Eash, Adam Cagley, Mark L. Young
The Catch
Director: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman
Homeschooled
Director: Will Graham
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Allen White
The Proposition
Director: Steve Carr
Cast: Chris Pratt, Anna Faris
Veronica
Director: Griffin Dunne
Cast: Kieran Culkin, Emma Stone
iBabe
Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi, Jack McBrayer
Superhero Speed Dating
Director: James Duffy
Cast: Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Bibb, John Hodgman
Machine Kids
Director: Jonathan van Tulleken
Writer: Jonathan van Tulleken
Middleschool Date
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh
Tampax
Director: Patrik Forsberg
Writer: Patrik Forsberg
Happy Birthday
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Gerard Butler
Truth or Dare
Director: Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg
Cast: Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry
Victory’s Glory
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Cast: Terrence Howard
Beezel
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel

Plot:
Calvin (Mark L. Young) and his best friend JJ (Adam Cagley) wanted to trick his little brother Baxter (Devin Eash) by making him look for a supposedly banned film that doesn’t actually exist – Movie 43. But Baxter actually finds something, and as they move from clip to clip they come ever closer to the truth.

People, heed my warning. I thought that a movie with that cast couldn’t possible be as bad as the trailer. “There must be something there,” I thought. “Something redeeming. It can’t possibly be all dick jokes, scatological humor and misanthropy?” Now I laugh in the face of my naivité. Because that really is all there is to this film: people behaving like disgusting assholes and we’re supposed to laugh about it. And all that remains after seeing the film is a question: Why? Why would anybody want to make such a film? Why are any of the actors involved in this? Why would anybody think that shit is funny? WHYYYYY????

movie-43

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Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster Squad
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Will Beall
Based on: Paul Lieberman’s book Tales from the Gangster Squad
Cast: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Nick Nolte

Plot:
1949 in Los Angeles: former boxer Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) is taking over the city with his criminal empire. The police is mostly bought by him and those who aren’t are too few to do anything about it. That is when Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) asks Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to form an unofficial squad of police men to destroy Cohen’s operation – with any means necessary. So O’Mara gathers some men around him and gets to work.

Gangster Squad is astonishingly bad. You’ve got this excellent cast and a potentially stylish setting, and it’s all ruined by a script that is so stupid it’s practically negligent and a particularly inept direction.

Gangster-Squad

[SPOILERS]

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, Chris Zylka

Plot:
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) grew up with his aunt (Sally Field) and uncle (Martin Sheen) since his parents had to leave him because of his father’s science research. By now, Peter is an adolescent and struggles with the usual teenage problems, like being in love with Gwen (Emma Stone). But then he stumbles upon his father’s notes which in turn leads him to the research of Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). While in Connor’s lab, Peter gets bitten by a weird spider and soon finds that he has developed superpowers.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not the world’s greatest Spider-Man fan. I had hoped that this movie would give me another fresh chance to fall in love with the character, but unfortunately it was way too dumb for anything like that.

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The Help (2011)

The Help
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Tate Taylor
Based on: Kathryn Stockett’s novel
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Anna Camp, Sissy Spacek

Plot:
1960  in Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen (Viola Davis) is a maid who is currently working for the Leefolt family, where she especially loves taking care of Mae Mobley, the Leefolts’ little girl. Her best friend is Minny (Octavia Spencer) who – quite contrary to Aibileen – usually gets in trouble because she won’t hold her peace. Which is not the best course of action for a maid. But when the white Skeeter (Emma Stone) looks for a maid to talk about her life, so she can write a book about it, it’s Aibilieen who jumps at the chance.

The Help is pretty much the perfect Christmas movie – sentimental, sweet and even more of a tear-jerker than the book (I was actually surprised that this was possible). A very nice way to shed some cathartic tears, despite a few weaknesses.

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Friends with Benefits (2011)

Friends with Benefits
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone

Plot:
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) gets headhunted by Jamie (Mila Kunis) and moves from Los Angeles to New York. They get along well and quickly become very good friends. But both are pretty unlucky when it comes to romantic relationships – so one day they decide to hook up with each other. Strictly without any romantic entanglement, of course. But will that really work?

Friends with Benefits is a charming and fun film. Will it be a contender for cinematic masterpiece? No. But nevertheless it’s a very nice piece of entertainment.

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