Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Amanda Warren, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving
Seen on: 5.2.2018
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Plot:
Mildred (Frances McDormand) has had enough. Her daughter was murdered and the police don’t even seem to try to solve it. So she posts three huge billboards that call attention to the fact. The billboards don’t fan the investigation so much as the emotions of the locals. They do make the life of police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) more difficult, especially since his hotheaded deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) takes it personally.

Three Billboards tells its story very well. Unfortunately it just tells the completely wrong story, managing to perpetuate the racism it tries to stand against by centering the white perspective.

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar!
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Jack Huston, Michael Gambon
Seen on: 21.2.2016

Plot:
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) fixes problems for a big movie studio. And boy, are there ever problems: Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the biggest star they currently have, is missing, possibly abducted. Star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant und unmarried. Director Laurnce Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) needs a new star for his film and the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), talented stunt cowboy but acting is a whole other story. And the twin journalists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are snooping around for a story, each in her own way and for her own column. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Eddie has an attractive job offer on the table he needs to decide on soon.

After the recent rather serious outings of the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is a return to comedy, and a very successful one at that. The film is a romp through the studio cinema of the 50s, with the only drawback that they’re reproducing the white-maleness of those films as well. Other than that, though, it is simply fun.

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The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur
Director: Peter Sohn
Writer: Meg LeFauve
Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Steve Zahn, Peter Sohn, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley
Seen on: 16.12.2015

Plot:
Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is the youngest member of his dinosaur family, and he is not only small, but scared of everything. While his siblings handle their chores and rites of passage with apparent ease, Arlo still has problems feeding the chicken. So his father Henry (Jeffrey Wright) gives him a special task: catch a critter that has been raiding their silo. Arlo actually manages to catch the little human (Jack Bright), but can’t go through with killing him. When the boy runs off after being freed, Henry and Arlo chase after him. They get trapped in a thunderstorm which leads to a flash flood and Henry drowns. Riddled with guilt, Arlo finds himself washed ashore a long way from home and somehow has to find his way back.

The Good Dinosaur is a weird film. The main plot and characters are nowhere near the high standards that we usually get from Pixar movies. But everything happening on the sidelines is frankly amazing.

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Re-Watch: Fargo (1996)

Fargo
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter StormareFrances McDormandJohn Carroll Lynch, Kristin Rudrüd, Harve Presnell, Tony Denman, Steve Reevis, Larry Brandenburg
Seen on: 15.3.2015

Plot:
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) has a business plan and a foolproof way of getting the money for it: he hires Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife (Kristin Rudrüd) and extort money from his father-in-law Wade (Harve Presnell). But even before they can act out the plan, things start going wrong and pregnant police woman Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) takes up the investigation.

I haven’t seen Fargo in so long that I still watched it in German the last time I saw it (I’ve avoided dubbed films for about 15 years now). I still remembered the film quite well and I still love it. It’s just a wonderful black comedy.

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anders0n
Writer: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Cast: Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban

Plot:
A small island in New England. Suzy (Kara Hayward) lives with her family and spends most of her time looking through binoculars, while Sam (Jared Gilman) is a khaki scout currently at Camp Lebanon. The two of them are very much in love, so they decided to run away together. When Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) notices the absence of his charge, he informs Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and soon the entire island is involved in the search for the two kids.

Since I didn’t like Fantastic Mr. Fox that much, I was a bit worried about Moonrise Kingdom. But my worries were for nothing – I really, really, really loved this film. It was sweet and fun and amusing. Plus, it had a wonderful cast. Perfect.

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This Must Be the Place (2011)

This Must Be the Place
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer:  Umberto Contarello, Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Sean Penn, Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch, Eve Hewson, Kerry Condon, Harry Dean Stanton, David Byrne, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a rock star in retirement living in Ireland who divides his time between  his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) and his fan Mary (Eve Hewson). But when he hears that his father is about to die, Cheyenne makes his way to the US – only to find out that he is too late. But he finds out that his father has been hunting a Nazi who has been tormenting him during WWII. And suddenly Cheyenne finds himself on the same hunt.

The movie is much like its protagonist: charming, funny and peculiar. But the whole Nazi-hunting story feels tacked on and runs too long. Still, it’s all worth it for Sean Penn in that role.

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I don’t know what the fuck it is we *did*, but…

Burn After Reading is the new movie by Ethan and Joel Coen and, after No Country For Old Men, they’re back on my good side with this. They really should stick to making comedies.

Burn After Reading is funny. Funnier than I expected. Especially J. K. Simmons had me under my seat, laughing.

But altogether, the cast is really good. Brad Pitt should take on more roles like that, they suit him. George Clooney should always play in Coen brothers comedies.  And do I even have to mention the greatness of Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich?

The story is mind-bending, especially because you can kind of imagine that it could happen that way.

What can I say? I loved it.

— Personal tidbit —

I was in the cinema with my mum and the preview of Burn After Reading came on. My mother saw it for the first time and when J. K. Simmons came up, she said, “Wow… you can hardly recognise John Malkovich!” *rofl*