Lost River (2014)

Lost River
Director: Ryan Gosling
Writer: Ryan Gosling
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.4.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Plot:
Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives alone with her two kids in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. When he’s not busy dreaming about his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), Billy’s older son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) tries to support them by stealing copper from the empty houses around them, which draws the ire of local thug (Matt Smith) who claims all the copper for himself. Threatened by foreclosure, Billy accepts a job offer from Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager who has a little business at the side at a strange night club.

Lost River is not a perfect film. But it is an enchanting, strong debut that I won’t mind watching again.

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The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Ryan GoslingBradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose ByrneDane DeHaanEmory Cohen, Ben MendelsohnBruce Greenwood, Mahershala Ali, Gabe Fazio, Ray Liotta

Plot:
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver. But when he finds out that Romina (Eva Mendes) – with whom he had a fling a year earlier – had his son, he decides to give up his job and stay near them and take care of them. But since he lacks the resources to do so properly, he starts to rob banks which puts him right in the path of Avery (Bradley Cooper), a young and ambitious police man.

I loved Blue Valentine and the cast of this movie is pretty damn good, so I expected big things. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. The Place Beyond the Pines is boring, clichéd and way too long.

theplacebeyondthepines

[Major SPOILERS]

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2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 Fast 2 Furious
Director: John Singleton
Writer: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious
Cast: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Ludacris, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aoki, Amaury Nolasco, Michael Ealy,
Mark Boone Junior

Plot:
After what happened in The Fast and the Furious, Brian (Paul Walker) now makes his money with illegal car races. At least until the police grab him and suggest that he could do some undercover work for them again. So Brian chooses a partner, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) who he grew up with and together they infiltrate the crew of drug dealer Verone (Cole Hauser), joining Monica (Eva Mendes) who has been undercover there for months.

2 Fast 2 Furious was actually pretty boring. I didn’t care much about the plot or the characters and since I don’t care for cars, either, there was nothing, really, that could have sold this film to me.

2fast2furious

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Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors
Director: Leos Carax
Writer: Leos Carax
Cast: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue

Plot:
Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) spends his way being driven around by Céline (Edith Scob) in a limousine. As they drive from place to place, Oscar uses elaborate make-up to move from role to role and at each new location he plays a different, unusual and surreal part. But who does he play these parts for?

Holy Motors is a weird film, but not necessarily worse off for it. It is quite entertaining in its abstract surreality, even if it does go on a little too long.

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Last Night (2010)

Last Night is the newest film by Massy Tadjedin, starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Guillaume Canet, Eva Mendes and Griffin Dunne.

Plot:
Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) are a rather happily married couple. But after a business dinner, they get into a fight about Michael’s attractive co-worker Laura (Eva Mendes). The next day, Michael goes on a business trip with Laura while Joanna runs into her ex-boyfriend Alex (Guillaume Canet). And suddenly both of them spend a night grappling with temptation.

Last Night is a quite little movie. There’s nothing flashy about it, nothing that really stands out – neither in a good, nor in a bad way. It’s just a film you tend not to notice, though it is intelligent, surprisingly well acted and engaging.

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The Other Guys (2010)

[The surprise movie this year at the Viennale.*]

The Other Guys is the newest Adam McKay/Will Ferrell movie, starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan and in cameos Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson.

Plot:
Detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are the joke of their precinct. Gamble is an accountant at heart and Hoitz has a short fuse and unfortunately once shot a famous baseball player. By accident, they stumble into a big financial scandal though, helmed by the slippery investor Ershon (Steve Coogan).

I’m not a huge Ferrell fan. He just doesn’t really push my buttons. This didn’t change with this movie, either. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable and is surely a fine treat for people who like Ferrell.

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The Women (2008)

The Women is a remake of a 1939 movie. I haven’t seen the original film, so I can’t compare the two.

The reason I wanted to watch the movie is the concept behind it – there are no men in the movie. All the actors, extras and animals are female. Plus, I like Annette Bening and Meg Ryan. But I have to admit that I was really disappointed.

First, the plot, let me tell you it.

Mary (Meg Ryan), a rich New Yorker, finds out that her husband is cheating on her with a sales woman (Eva Mendes). With the more or less help of her best friends (Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Debra Messing), she leaves him, struggles with her mother (Candice Bergen) and her daughter (India Ennenga) for it and finally goes her own way.

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The thing is, you need more than an interesting concept and a good cast (strengthened further by Carrie Fisher and Bette Midler) to make a movie work. And this one didn’t.

It was shallow and boring and the fact that there weren’t any men in it, seemed awfully contrived. Not because I don’t think that a movie without men wouldn’t work or that you need men in a movie to make it interesting. The thing is, the movie fails on its first premise: It’s not about women and their relationships with each other. It’s about cardboard cutouts and their relationships with men. And that’s boring.

I mean, any movie should have characters. Fleshed-out, tangible and believable characters. And this movie doesn’t. It has stereotypes. Except for Annette Benning’s Sylvie, maybe. The rest – cliché after cliché piled up on one another. [And I love Bette Midler like the next person, I really do, but can she please NOT play an ageing hippy every once in a while? Although she’s great doing it.]

thewomen

Plus – and this really surprised me – this movie almost fails the Bechdel test. Yeah, you heard me. You have got a movie full of women and most of the time they talk about men. [They are saved, but only barely.] At least, it feels like it. Which is exactly, why it didn’t work not to have men in the movie.

And apart from Annette Bening, none of them seemed to have a job and all they ever did was going shopping.

But what really, really drove me insane, was Meg Ryan. Or better, Meg Ryan’s after-surgery-face, which is not able to convey any facial expressions. Seriously. I kept staring at her, thinking, “please, wrinkle your forehead for me, only once. Or smile and let it reach your eyes. Goddammit, your eyes, woman! What happened!”

And that’s enough to ruin any movie. Even one better than The Women.