Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Sequel to: Alice in Wonderland
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-CarterSacha Baron CohenRhys Ifans, Matt LucasLindsay DuncanLeo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard ArmitageEd Speleers, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Seen on: 2.6.2016

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is working very hard to keep her father’s shipping company together, but things aren’t going well. Things seem doomed after her mother (Lindsay Duncan) signed over their shares to Alice’ former suitor Hamish (Leo Bill). It is just then that bad news reaches Alice from Wonderland and she sets off there to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who hasn’t been himself. In fact, he seems to have crossed the line into absolute madness, believing firmly that his family isn’t actually dead, but can still be brought back. Reluctantly Alice agrees to help by speaking to Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and trying to get to the chronosphere which would help them clear matters up. But things get more complicated when it becomes obvious that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is also involved.

The first Alice film wasn’t particularly good, though I did enjoy watching that cast in that production design for the most part. That’s why I figured I would give Alice Through the Looking Glass a try as well. Unfortunately, it was even less convincing than the first film.

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Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette
Director: Sarah Gavron
Writer: Abi Morgan
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie DuffHelena Bonham Carter, Romola GaraiGrace Stottor, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 09.02.2016

Plot:
Maud (Carey Mulligan) has spent more or less her entire life working as a washer woman in a factory. Quite to the contrary to her co-worker Violet (Anne-Marie Duff), Maud is trying to keep her head down. Violet, on the other hand, is a passionate suffragette, fighting for women’s rights. But the longer Maud hears about this fight, the more she finds herself drawn to it, slowly stumbling into the movement until she herself has to make some hard choices about her life.

The reactions to Suffragette I encountered so far were lukewarm at best – and I’m the next person with that reaction to add to the list. It’s not really a bad film, but it isn’t very good, either.

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Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz
Based on: the Disney movie, which is in turn based on the fairy tale
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon
Seen on: 16.03.2015

Plot:
After her mother’s (Hayley Atwell) death, Ella’s (Lily James) father (Ben Chaplin) gets married again. Cinderella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) move in and change Ella’s life forever. When her father dies a short time later, Ella becomes Cinderella, a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. When the Prince (Richard Madden) invites all unmarried women to a ball to choose his wife, Cinderella would like to go as well, but needs the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to do so. But there are still some difficulties to be faced until the happy end.

Cinderella brings the aesthetic of the animated Disney version to life and adds its own brand of humor. It is a little long at times and the script isn’t particularly good, but it’s enjoyable.

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The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013)

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Based on: Reif Larsen‘s novel The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
Cast: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Niamh WilsonJakob Davies, Dominique Pinon

Plot:
T.S. (Kyle Catlett) is a scientist, despite his young years. And he just invented the closest thing to a perpetual motion machine that humanity ever managed to built. For that, he is supposed to be honored at the Smithsonian. Only that they don’t know that he is only 10 years old. Since T.S.’s family life is complicated – his mother and fellow scientist (Helena Bonham Carter) is completely occupied with her work, his father (Callum Keith Rennie) is a cowboy and farmer who doesn’t really know how to connect to T.S., his sister Gracie (Niamh Wilson) is an overdramatic teenager dreaming of an acting career and his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davies) just died – he decides to travel to the Smithsonian on his own to receive his award. But crossing practically an entire continent from the West to the East is not easily done.

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a wonderful film. Great characters, touching story, beautiful images, quirky aesthetic and sense of humor. I loved every second of it.

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The Lone Ranger (2013)

The Lone Ranger
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Based on: the radio show
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, James Frain

Plot:
John Reid (Armie Hammer) is a lawyer by vocation. He believes in everything the law stands for. In his capacity as prosecutor, he’s accompanying the infamous murderer, cannibal and generally awful human being Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) who was finally apprehended and is supposed to be hung in John’s hometown. Also on the transport is Tonto (Johnny Depp), a Comanche accused of nobody knows exactly what. When Cavendish manages to escape, it leads to the unlikely and very reluctant team-up of Tonto and John, who becomes The Lone Ranger.

Before going into the film, I only heard awful things about it. Starting with the casting of Johnny Depp as a Native American to the general dumbness of it. So my expectations weren’t high, but I was willing to give the film a try because I like Verbinski’s other stuff. But it turns out that all the terrible things were true.

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Les Misérables (2012)

Les Misérables
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: William Nicholson, Herbert Kretzmer
Based on: Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg‘s musical which is in turn based on Victor Hugo‘s novel
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, Isabelle Allen, Colm Wilkinson

Plot:
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has just been released on parole after years in the galleys for stealing some bread. Police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) doesn’t really want to see him go as he doesn’t trust in his rehabilitation. And he almost seems to be right – as Valjean takes the frist chance he gets to steal from a priest (Colm Wilkinson). But when said priest shows him mercy, Valjean takes the chance to build a life for himself, though skipping parole. Years later, he is a successful factory owner and mayor, when Javert comes to his town. At the same time, Valejan gets drawn into the life of one of his factory employees, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her little daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Seyfried) and decides to help her.

Les Misérables is pretty epic, as can only be expected from a musical based on a Hugo novel. And while the cast mostly does very well with the epicness, neither Tom Hooper nor cinematographer Danny Cohen were up for the task.

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Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on: the TV show
Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham-Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper

Plot:
At the end of the 18th century, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his family emigrate to America, where they build up a town and acquire a lot of wealth. With them came Angelique (Eva Green) and her family as servants. Angelique falls in love with Barnabas. But when he tells her that he doesn’t share her feelings, she gets so angry that she curses him to be a vampire, kills the woman he loves and buries him for almost 200 years.
In 1972, Barnabas is freed and returns to his family – or what remains of it. But also Angelique is still there and ready to pick things up right where they left them.

I was not one of the people bemoaning yet another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration – I usually like when they work together and the trailer for this film looked perfectly charming. But unfortunately the film was very disappointing.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the last movie in the Harry Potter series originally written by Joanne K. Rowling. The film was directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and starring pretty much every British actor ever Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs, Warwick Davis, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Ciarán Hinds, Julie Walters, Kelly Macdonald, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Robbie Coltrane, Jamie Campbell Bower, Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson.

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) slowly uncovers the final secrets surrounding his life while his fight with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) draws to an end. After pretty much everything has gone to hell, things – and people – are finally coming together for the final battle while Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) try to destroy the remaining horcruxes.

After HPatDH:1 2 pretty much had to be a cinematic revelation (I still can’t believe how boring 1 was), just in comparison. And that worked out. Is it the best movie ever? Well no, David Yates is still its director. But it’s a decent and fitting ending to the series.

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Toast (2010)

Toast is a movie by S.J. Clarkson, based on Nigel Slater‘s memoir, starring Freddie Highmore, Oscar Kennedy, Victoria Hamilton, Ken Stott and Helena Bonham-Carter.

Plot:
Young Nigel’s (Oscar Kennedy) mum (Victoria Hamilton) has an aversion towards fresh vegetables and a seemingly general inability to not burn food (except toast, that is). This makes Nigel extremely curious of everything when it comes to food. So when his mother falls sick, he asks her to teach him how to make mince pie, which she does shortly before she dies (making food even more special). When his dad (Ken Stott) starts flirting with the cleaner Mrs Potter (Helena Bonham-Carter), older Nigel (Freddie Highmore) starts competing with her for his father’s attention – through food.

Toast is a very sweet movie with a very good cast and an even better script. It’s got just the right amount of 60s nostalgia, a nice sense of humor and generally makes for a pleasant watch.

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The King’s Speech (2010)

The King’s Speech is Tom Hooper‘s newest film, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham-Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce, Eve Best and Timothy Spall.

Plot:
Prince Albert (Colin Firth) has a stutter. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter) is very supportive and together they’ve tried almost every doctor. Finally, Elizabeth turns up Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor who tries unconventional methods. Albert is hesitant about the whole thing but since his father King George V (Michael Gambon) grows older and weaker and his brother David (Guy Pearce) is unreliable and uninterested, he decides to go for it anyway.

The King’s Speech is an excellent film, with an amazing cast and a very good script (by David Seidler). The set and costume design was brilliant, too. I just didn’t like the camerawork very much.

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