Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: John McNamara
Based on: Bruce Alexander Cook‘s biography of Dalton Trumbo
Cast: Bryan CranstonMichael StuhlbargDiane LaneHelen MirrenAlan TudykLouis C.K.Sean BridgersAdewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeElle FanningJohn GoodmanDean O’GormanChristian Berkel
Seen on: 17.3.2016

Plot:
Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is an immensely successful screen writer and at the height of his career – when his affiliation with the Communist Party means that he gets caught up in a political witch hunt and is finally imprisoned and put on a blacklist. And he’s not the only one affected – his family suffers, too, as do quite a few colleagues who also get branded as communists. Unable to work officially, he devises a plan how he and his colleagues may ensure their livelihoods.

Trumbo is pretty much how you’d expect it. It’s expertly crafted and tells an interesting story very well. But it plays everything so safe, it’s hard to get excited about it.

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The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Julie Taymor
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Helen MirrenFelicity JonesDavid StrathairnAlan CummingChris CooperBen WhishawDjimon HounsouRussell BrandAlfred MolinaReeve CarneyTom Conti
Seen on: 16.3.2016

Plot:
Many years ago Prospera (Helen Mirren) was betrayed by her brother Antonio (Chris Cooper). He sent her and her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who both have been enslaved by Prospera’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (David Strathairn), his brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and his son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), but also Antonio. Prospera knows that her time has come at last.

The Tempest is a visually impressive film with a great cast, but it never quite takes off – there are simply too many things that don’t work.

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Woman in Gold (2015)

Woman in Gold
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Alexi Kaye Campbell
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Charles Dance, Antje Traue, Elizabeth McGovern, Frances Fisher, Moritz Bleibtreu, Tom Schilling, Justus von Dohnányi, Olivia Silhavy, Ludger Pistor
Seen on: 8.6.2015

Plot:
Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren/Tatiana Maslany) had to flee Austria during the Second World War because she’s Jewish, and has never returned there since she was exiled to the USA and lost most of her family to the Nazis. But after the death of her sister, Maria realizes that she has the responsibility to guard her family’s memories. And part of those memories is the painting of her aunt Adele (Antje Traue), painted by Gustav Klimt (Moritz Bleibtreu), that the Nazsi took from her home and that is now hanging in a federal Austrian museum. As the Austrian government just started hearing restitution claims, Maria asks lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) for help with recovering that painting. They even travel to Austria together, where they meet journalist Hubertus Czernin (Daniel Brühl) who warns them that the Austrian government won’t be cooperative. That proves to be right and Maria and Randy have to dig in for a long fight.

After I read the first reviews, I didn’t expect Woman in Gold to be any good. But I was pleasantly surprised: it’s an engaging and well-made film that is only marred by the German used in the film.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: Steven Knight
Based on: Richard C. Moraisnovel
Cast: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Dillon Mitra, Aria Pandya

Plot:
The Kadam family left India after a horrible fire to try and find new luck in Europe. The UK wasn’t so much their thing, so they head for France where they become stranded in a small village where they plan to open a restaurant, especially because son Hassan (Manish Dayal) has a gift for food. But the place they find is right across the street from the Michelin-starred restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Mallory is taken aback by her new neighbors but Hassan dreams of learning French cuisine.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is not an earth-shattering film but it is sweet and entertaining and despite being a film about cultural differences, it doesn’t hinge on stereotypes (the usual pitfall of movies of its type). I enjoyed it.

The-Hundred-Foot-Journey

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Red 2 (2013)

Red 2
Director: Dean Parisot
Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Based on: Warren Ellis‘ and Cully Hamner‘s comic
Sequel to: Red
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Helen MirrenAnthony HopkinsByung-hun Lee, Brian Cox, Catherine Zeta-Jones, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough, Titus Welliver

Plot:
Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are starting to settle down. But Frank’s past, Sarah’s sense for adventure and Marvin (John Malkovich) make it pretty impossible for them to really live in peace. And so they soon find themselves hunting down what remains of Project Nightshade, a super-secret Cold War weapons project.

Red 2 was fun. Maybe not as much as the first one, but it gets pretty damn close. Great characters, nice dialogues and awesome performances.

Red2

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Re-Watch: Red (2010)

Red
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Based on: Warren Ellis‘ and Cully Hamner‘s comic
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Karl Urban, Julian McMahon, Richard Dreyfuss, James Remar
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) enjoys his retirement. Most notably, he enjoys his monthly calls to his represntative at his insurance company, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker). Shortly before he gets the courage to actually see her, though, his CIA-operative past catches up with him: a kill squad comes to his house and levels it pretty much completely. Frank survives, the assassins don’t but now Frank has to get Sarah to safety and then call on the help of his old squad – Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Ivan (Brian Cox). All the while he’s being hunted by CIA-agent William Cooper (Karl Urban).

Red still is one hell of an entertaining movie. I think I enjoyed it just as much as the first time round.

red

[SPOILERS]

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Monsters University (2013)

Monsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson
Prequel to: Monsters, Inc.
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina,
Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader

Plot:
Ever since he was a little kid, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of becoming a scarer. Even though he’s not particularly scary, he applied himself and got into Monsters University. But competition is fierce and there are just some scarers who seem more naturally suited to the task – like Sully (John Goodman). The two of them quickly become rivals, until circumstances force them to work together.

Monsters University was nice. It was not as good as the first one, but the sequels rarely are. And it had enough good things to keep you very entertained.

MonstersUniversity

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Hitchcock (2012)

Hitchcock
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Based on: Stephen Rebello‘s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Kurtwood Smith

Plot:
Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) just finished his last film and is looking for his next project. But nothing seems right to him. While his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) is happily working on a novel by her friend Whit (Danny Huston), Alfred gets increasingly jealous of both Whit and their creativity. But then he discovers a novel – Psycho – and is convinced that he found his new hit, even if everybody else seems to doubt it. Everybody but Alma, that is.

Hitchcock was partly really good and partly not that much. I was entertained but it smacked of “the woman behind the strong man should be happy that she gets to be there at all” syndrome. And it just ran a little long.

Hitchcock

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The Debt (2010)

The Debt
Director: John Madden
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan
Based on: Ha-Hov [I haven’t seen it. Yet.]
Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas, Jesper Christensen

Plot:
1997: Rachel (Helen Mirren) is a retired Mossad agent. Her daughter is launching her book about Rachel’s most important assignment when Rachel’s ex-husband Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) brings her the message of David’s (Ciarán Hinds) suicide. In 1966, Rachel (Jessica Chastain), Stephan (Marton Csokas) and David (Sam Worthington) were in Germany together on said assignment: they were supposed to find the Nazi doctor Jürgen Vogel (Jesper Christensen) and bring him back to trial in Israel.

The movie is absolutely excellent. The cast is great, the story (while not completely surprising) was tense and I was completely involved. It did have some weaknesses but they hardly mattered.

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Arthur (2011)

Arthur is Jason Winer‘s remake of Steve Gordon‘s 1981 film. The new version stars Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzmán and Nick Nolte. (And in small cameos: John Hodgman and Scott Adsit.)

Plot:
Arthur (Russell Brand) is the epitome of the rich kid: never had to work or worry about anything, always had his driver (Luis Guzmán) and nanny (Helen Mirren) to take care of him and spends money on frivolous things just for the hell of it. Now that he’s more or less an adult, his life consists of parties, sex and alcohol. When his mother (Geraldine James) tells him to marry Susan (Jennifer Garner) who she thinks the perfect person to take over her business later, Arthur is less than overjoyed since Susan is a bit of a psycho. But the threat of losing all the money is enough to make him comply. It’s only when he meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig) that he thinks about maybe taking charge of his own life.

I was pleasantly surprised by Arthur – the trailer made me laugh but after all the bad press the film was getting, I was afraid that they had all the good jokes in there already. But not only does the movie keep up a stable level of humor, it’s generally a very nice and sweet film – that gets the love story completely right.

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