Romance & Cigarettes (2005)

Romance & Cigarettes
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Christopher Walken, Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard, Amy Sedaris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2016

Plot:
Nick (James Gandolfini) and Kitty (Susan Sarandon) have been married many years and have managed to build a very middle-class existence. When Kitty finds out that Nick has been having an affair, she’s outraged. Her three daughters Baby (Mandy Moore), Constance (Mary-Louise Parker) and Rosebud (Aida Turturro) are firmly on Kitty’s side, but also have their own issues to deal with. And Nick will have to figure out whether he wants to fight for his marriage or start a new life with the other woman, Tula (Kate Winslet).

Romance & Cigarettes is a very idiosyncratic film. A musical in that setting and with those costumes and an off-beat sense of humor, it’s funny and manages to entertain, but it’s also unfortunately steeped in sexism.

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Welcome to the Rileys (2010)

Welcome to the Rileys
Director: Jake Scott
Writer: Ken Hixon
Cast: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo

Plot:
Ever since their daughter died, Lois (Melissa Leo) and Doug (James Gandolfini) have grown distant. Doug has an affair with waitress Vivian (Eisa Davis) and keeps on losing money playing poker, while Lois hasn’t left the house in a while and practically only gets by with the help of medication. After Vivian suddenly dies, Doug is completely lost. He goes to New Orleans for a conference where he meets 16-year-old runaway, stripper and prostitute Mallory (Kristen Stewart). On a whim he decides to stay and help Mallory out, which actually prompts Lois to finally leave the house.

There were a lot of good things about Welcome to the Rileys and some things that didn’t work so well. Generally I was pretty unimpressed though.welcome_to_the_rileys

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Édgar Ramírez, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, Stephen Dillane, John Barrowman, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Taylor Kinney

Plot:
Maya (Jessica Chastain) works for the CIA and has just been sent to Pakistan. Her mission is to find out where Osama bin Laden is hiding. A mission that takes her from torturing prisoners under the the tutelage of colleauge Dan (Jason Clarke) to plain old research. When she stumbles across the name of a guy she believes is a close collaborator of bin Laden, she becomes obsessed with finding him as the most direct way to bin Laden himself.

I really did my best to be interested in this film. Admittedly, the topic is not so much my cup of tea, but it is important. Unfortunately the movie is so very boring that, with the best of motivation, it was impossible to keep up the interest. I mean, I know they searched for this guy a very long time – but was it really necessary that the audience feels every minute of that 10-year-search? At some point I just gave up and fell asleep for a little while – just to get away from the boredom of it all for a bit.

zero-dark-thirty

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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are is the newest movie by Spike Jonze based on the book by Maurice Sendak. The movie was written by Jonze and Dave Eggers and stars Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Mark Ruffalo.

Plot:
Max (Max Records) is a lonely child full with fantastic [in the original sense] ideas. One day, after getting into a fight with his mother (Catherine Keener), Max runs from the house in a frenzy. He stumbles upon a boat which takes him to a land inhabitated by huge monsters. After they threaten to eat him, Max becomes their king and befriends them, especially Carol (James Gandolfini). But all is not well there, either.

Where the Wild Things Are is perfect. The look, the feel, the script, the actors, the music… it’s absolutley wonderful. The only caveat: They shifted the target demographic from preschooler to anyone older than ten.
[If that wasn’t warning enough, there’s going to be some serious gushage in this post.]

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