Judy (2019)

Judy
Director: Rupert Goold
Writer: Tom Edge
Based on: Peter Quilter‘s play End of the Rainbow
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Darci Shaw, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Richard Cordery, Royce Pierreson, Andy Nyman, Daniel Cerqueira, Bella Ramsey, Lewin Lloyd
Seen on: 22.1.2020

Plot:
To say Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) has seen better days is putting it pretty mildly: the glory days of the former child star (Darci Shaw) are over. Now she’s fighting her ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell) for the custody of their children (Bella Ramsey, Lewin Lloyd). But since she has no money, no home and practically no work, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Begrudgingly, she therefore accepts an invitation to do a show in London, even if it means separation from the kids for now – and probably more pressure than she can actually handle.

Judy is, I’d say, okay as a film but elevated above and beyond its overall quality by Zellweger’s amazing performance and the fascination Judy Garland herself can inspire without actually being present herself in the film.

The film poster showing Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger)
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If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

If Beale Street Could Talk
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins
Based on: James Baldwin‘s novel
Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Ethan Barrett, Milanni Mines, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Diego Luna, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, Pedro Pascal
Seen on: 14.3.2019
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Content Note: rape, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) are young and very in love. But then Fonny gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and Tish discovers that she is pregnant. Her joy at expecting a baby from the man she loves pushes her even more to prove his innocence. Fortunately she has her family to support her.

If Beale Street Could Talk may not quite achieve the heights of Moonlight, but it is a beautiful, well-acted film that is, unfortunately, way too timely still. It’s definitely a film to be seen.

The film poster showing Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) leaning their foreheads against each other. Superimposed in their shapes we can also see them walking down a New York street, huddled under a red umbrella.
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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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The Big Short (2015)

The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay
Writer: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Based on: Michael Lewisbook
Cast: Christian BaleSteve Carell, Ryan GoslingBrad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy StrongJohn MagaroFinn Wittrock, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan, Max GreenfieldBilly Magnussen, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, Richard Thaler
Seen on: 20.1.2016

Plot:
Michael Burry (Christian Bale) may not have many social skills, but he knows finance. And he knows that something will have to give in the world of finance – and that he can profit from the banks’ greed if he plays his card rights. So he starts betting against banks, assuming that the loans they give out will start to collapse. His tactic becomes known to Wall Street Broker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) who approaches fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) with the proposal to do the same. At the same time, college kids Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) enlist veteran investor Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) to join into their own version of Burry’s scheme.

The Big Short treads pretty much the same ground as Margin Call, only that it is much more entertaining and made me understand the bursting of the real estate bubble much more.

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Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Based on: Laura Hillenbrand‘s book
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Ross Anderson, Alex Russell
Seen on: 19.01.2015

Plot:
Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a troublemaker as a kid until his brother Pete (Alex Russell) had the idea to channel his energy into running. And it pays of – Louie is sent to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. A few years later, thought, he finds himself fighting against Germany and Japan in World War II. When his plane is shot down over the sea, somewhere close to Japan, and only Louie, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mac (Finn Wittrock) survive the crash, things don’t look too well. And it only becomes worse, when they are captured by Japanese soldiers and end up prisoners of war. But Louie doesn’t give up easily.

Unbroken is okay as a film. It’s a little formulaic and a little too on the nose, but it’s solid filmmaking that just doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights it’s aiming for.

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