A Million Little Pieces (2018)

A Million Little Pieces
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Writer: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson
Based on: James Frey‘s memoir/novel
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Odessa Young, Charlie Hunnam, Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Bob Thornton, David Dastmalchian, Dash Mihok, Ryan Hurst
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
After falling from a balcony because he is so high, James (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is finally admitted into a rehab center in Minnesota by his brother (Charlie Hunnam). As James slowly starts to work through is own issues and becoming clean, he gets to know his rehab colleagues, above all Lilly (Odessa Young) whom he feels very drawn to, his roommate (Giovanni Ribisi) and Leonard (Billy Bob Thornton) who becomes something like a guide for him.

A Million Little Pieces is a strong film that interestingly enough puts the body front and center, drawing on dance as a form of expression and is much more serious and less sensationalistic than I expected after the book’s history. I was much more impressed by it than I thought it would be.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the film.
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The Bad Batch (2016)

The Bad Batch
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Jayda Fink, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Yolonda Ross, Aye Hasegawa, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna
Seen on: 28.12.2017
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Plot:
Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is released into the Texan desert, a wasteland where all of the undesirables are sent to and have to weather not only the harsh climate but also each other to survive. It doesn’t take long and Arlen is captured by cannibals led by Miami Man (Jason Momoa). But even though she doesn’t escape unharmed, Arlen does manage to escape and find her way in this cruel world.

I wasn’t a big fan of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Amirpour’s first film. But The Bad Batch, her second film, was really bad: racist, ableist and boring.

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Results (2015)

Results
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Writer: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Brooklyn Decker, Anthony Michael Hall, Constance Zimmer
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Recently divorced Danny (Kevin Corrigan) doesn’t know what to do with the sudden wealth he just inherited surprisingly. But he knows that he wants things to change. So he approaches Trevor (Guy Pearce), who runs a fitness studio, looking for a personal trainer. Trevor’s most successful personal trainer is Kat (Cobie Smulders) who likes to disappear in her work. Trevor is initially hesitant to send Kat to Danny because he gets a weird vibe of Danny, but Kat insists anyway. Danny’s egocentric indecisiveness quickly upends both Trevor’s and Kat’s lives.

Results starts off well enough, but loses its momentum in the middle and then veers off into a direction I just couldn’t go along with, ending on a very sour note.

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Selma (2014)

Selma
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson, Giovanni Ribisi, André Holland, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Colman Domingo, Omar J. Dorsey, Tessa Thompson, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Dylan Baker, Corey ReynoldsWendell Pierce, Tim Roth, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Martin Sheen
Seen on: 24.02.2015

Plot:
Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) may have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize, but the fight for racial equality is far from over, which is proven again when a bombing of a predominantly black church kills four girls and injures others or when a woman in Selma, Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey), is denied to registrate for voting, only the latest of many attempts of hers to do so. King makes voting legislation his next big topic, coming to Selma to start his campaign of civil resistance that is supposed to culminate in a march from Selma to Montgomery. But before things get that far, a lot of stuff has to happen first.

Of all the biopics I’ve recently seen, Selma was by far my favorite. The story is amazing, wonderfully told and the cast was absolutely mind-blowing.

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Heaven (2002)

Heaven
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Remo Girone, Stefania Rocca

Plot:
British Philippa (Cate Blanchett) has been trying and trying to get the Italian police’ attention regarding her husband’s death but was continuously ignored. So she decides to plant a bomb in the office of the man she holds responsible for her woes. Only that things go bad and she kills four other people instead. She is arrested quickly and demands that her interrogations are held in English, not Italian. A young officer (Giovanni Ribisi) takes over that duty and falls in love with Philippa, deciding that he has to help her.

I saw the cast of this film and knew that I had to watch it – which meant that I went in without really knowing much about it. It did take me on a quite surprising voyage through twists and turns that I really didn’t expect. And I enjoyed every second of it.

heaven

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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 Rum Diary (2011)

The Rum Diary
Director: Bruce Robinson
Writer: Bruce Robinson
Based on: Hunter S. Thompson‘s novel
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins

Plot:
Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) just arrived in Puerto Rico to work there as a journalist, since he couldn’t get a job anywhere else as he is pretty much continuously drunk. But that also means that he fits in perfectly with the journalists there. He moves in with Sala (Michael Rispoli) and Moberg (Giovanni Ribisi). Then he is quickly approached by business man Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) who wants to use him for one of his real estate plans. But that’s really where trouble starts, as Kemp practically immediately falls in love with Sanderson’s girlfriend Chenault (Amber Heard) and Sanderson’s plans aren’t all kosher anyway.

The Rum Diary really has its moments but it becomes a little repetitive and then it runs a little too long. There’s only so long until you need to get drunk yourself to really enjoy drunken shenanigangs.

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Contraband (2012)

Contraband
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Remake of: Reykjavík Rotterdam
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, David O’Hara, Diego Luna, J. K. Simmons

Plot:
Chris (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a smuggler (and a damn good one). But when he got a wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, he quit. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) isn’t as smart or as good a smuggler and so he gets into trouble with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) who hired him to smuggle drugs Andy promptly had to dump. Briggs threatens Chris and his family and pressures him into a job. And so Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) get their old group together to get counterfeit money into the country.

Contraband is so formulaic, it practically becomes its own archetype. Unfortunately that’s the only thing that stands out about the film.

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Avatar (2009)

If you live on earth, you probably know that Avatar is the newest James Cameron movie, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Giovanni Ribisi. And if you live on earth and like going to the movies, you’ve probably already seen this film.

Plot:
Some time in the future, there’s a space station on the planet Pandora where the humans are mining for a valuable mineral. To ameliorate the relations with the humanoid inhabitants, the Na’vi, the military has developped a program where a few people get avatars – Na’vi bodies humans can steer.
One of the people with avatars is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). He quickly develops a friendship with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), one of the Na’vi. But when the tension between the humans and the aliens becomes stronger, Jake will have to decide.

Avatar looks beautiful. And that’s where the good things stop. The story is crap. Ridiculous crap. The acting is so-so. The music is pompous. Actually, the whole film is pompous. Not to mention racist and ableist and just plain bad.

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Public Enemies (2009)

Public Enemies is a movie directed by Michael Mann and starring Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale and Billy Crudup [and Faramir David Wenham and Giovanni Ribisi in mini-roles].

Plot:
Public Enemies follows the last years in the life of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), famous bank robber who managed to be highly popular with the general public because he seemed like Robin Hood to them.

The movie was incredibly disappointing. Such an amazing cast and then what’s left is a confusing pile of explosions and shoot-outs. Half of the time I didn’t know what was going on and the other half I was bored.

public-enemies

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