Vita & Virginia (2018)

Vita & Virginia
Director: Chanya Button
Writer: Eileen Atkins, Chanya Button
Based on: Vita Sackville-West‘s and Virginia Woolf‘s letters
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones, Peter Ferdinando, Emerald Fennell, Gethin Anthony, Rory Fleck Byrne, Karla Crome
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
Vita (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) move in similar social circles, but have yet to meet personally. Vita has admired Virginia from afar and she is determined to become friends with her. Virginia is taken aback by Vita’s adamant attempts at first, but she has to admit that she is also drawn to Vita. It doesn’t take long and they become friends, then lovers, inspiring each other in their writing. Despite their progressive surroundings, not everybody can deal equally well with their relationship though.

With Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf being who they were and having led the lives they led, it is hard to imagine a film about them that wouldn’t be at least interesting. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film would have been well-made. In this case, luckily, the film is not only interesting, it is very well-made indeed.

Film poster showing Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki leaning against each other.
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Incredibles 2 (2018)

Incredibles 2
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Brad Bird
Sequel to: The Incredibles
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Eli Fucile, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Bush, Isabella Rossellini, Barry Bostwick
Seen on: 3.8.2018

Plot:
Superheroes are illegal but that’s not keeping the Parr family from still doing their best ot help everybody. But the Deavor siblings (Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk) have hatched a plan on how to rehabilitate superheroism. To that purpose, they ask Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to become the public face of the campaign. That leaves Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) in charge of the kids at home. While Helen takes on her new role with gusto, Bob struggles as a stay-at-home dad.

Incredibles 2 is alright. It’s not a great film and at times it becomes a little too long, but it’s entertaining enough and has some very funny moments.

Film poster showing the "Incredible" family and Mr. Freeze in action mode.
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Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet 
Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Cast: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lange, Dean StockwellGeorge DickersonJack Nance
Seen on: 10.5.2016

Plot:
Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) finds a severed human ear in his neighborhood. He brings it to the police but then finds himself too intrigued by the mystery to leave the investigation up to them. Hoping to find out more, he visits Detective Williams (George Dickerson) at home, but – unsurprisingly – Williams is unwilling to share. His daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), though, points Jeffrey to a mysterious night club singer, Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) who is mixed up with the wrong kind of people, led by Frank (Dennis Hopper). And soon Jeffrey finds himself in over his head as well.

I haven’t seen much of Lynch’s work (yet), but Blue Velvet was my favorite so far, the first one I really fell in love with. It’s a thing of weirdness, beauty and intricacy with mesmerizing performances. How could I not?

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Joy (2015)

Joy
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Joy Mangano‘s life (roughly)
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceEdgar RamirezRobert De NiroDascha PolancoVirginia Madsen, Elisabeth RöhmIsabella RosselliniBradley CooperDiane Ladd
Seen on: 10.1.2016

Plot:
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her agoraphobic mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), and her two children in a small house that just become smaller as her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) also moves in after separating from his most recent girlfriend. Joy does her best to keep everything together. All of that could have been enoudh for anyone, but when Joy has an idea for a new product, she is willing to chase the dream of actually producing it, hoping to make a better life for herself and her family.

Joy was nice enough, but it didn’t blow me away. While there were many things to like about it, there was also some weird stuff, not the least of which was the decision to cast Jennifer Lawrence.

joy

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Poulet aux prunes [Chicken with Plums] (2011)

Poulet aux prunes
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Based on: Marjane Satrapi‘s graphic novel
Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Eric Caravaca, Chiara Mastroianni, Isabella Rossellini

Plot:
Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric) is a violinist who recently lost his violin. Unfortunately he can’t manage to find a new one that satisfies him and so he descends into a deep depression and decides to die by refusing to eat. While he wastes away, he  revisits important episodes in his life and imagines his kids’ futures. But maybe his depression has less to do with his violin and more with the woman he met on the street and  who didn’t recognize him?

Poulet aux prunes is a visually stunning film – especially every time they mix it up with animated sequences – and has a nice sense of humor. But Nasser-Ali is such an asshole that I couldn’t really enjoy the film.

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Two Lovers (2008)

Two Lovers is the latest film by James Gray, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rossellini.

Plot:
Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) just returned to his parents’ place after being hospitalised for a suicide attempt. His life is a mess, he is not done yet with the suicide option, he works at his parents’ drycleaning business and he just doesn’t really know what to do. His parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov) try to set him up with Sandra (Vinessa Shaw), the sweet, good Jewish girl who knows of Leonard’s problems and wants to take care of him. At the same time, Leonard meets his new neighbor Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow). Michelle is unstable and completely fascinating to Leonard, who falls in love with her.

Two Lovers is an excellent character study – as long as you don’t try to see the ending as happy [though I’m pretty sure that some people will and will be content with that]. It’s wonderfully told and just cemented my respect for James Gray as a filmmaker [whose Little Odessa I absolutely adore].

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