Certain Women (2016)

Certain Women
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer: Kelly Reichardt
Based on: short stories by Maile Meloy
Cast: Laura DernMichelle WilliamsLily GladstoneKristen StewartJames Le GrosJared Harris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2016

Plot:
A small town in Montana. Here, Laura (Laura Dern) works as a lawyer, currently busy with her client Fuller (Jared Harris) who has trouble accepting an offer for worker’s compensation. Not far from Laura, Gina (Michelle Williams) and Ryan (James Le Gros) are working on their dream home. Gina has her heart set on some stones that go to waste in a neighbor’s garden, but they’ll have to convince the neighbor to part with them. Meanwhile, a young rancher (Lily Gladstone) who stumbles into night school classes out of curiosity finds herself in front of a new teacher, Elizabeth (Kristen Stewart) and feels immediately drawn to her.

By now I’ve seen quite a few Reichardt movies, but Certain Women is the first one where I can say that I actually really liked it. Especially the last segment in this episodic film stole my heart.

[Slight Spoilers]

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram
Based on: the TV series from the 60s
Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Sylvester GrothHugh Grant, Jared Harris
Seen on: 25.8.2015

Plot:
CIA Agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is tasked with finding a scientist who had been working on nuclear technology and has been missing for many years. Now there are rumors that he is being used to create a superweapon. The only way Solo may be able to find him is through the scientist’s daughter, Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander). Just as he approaches her, Solo realizes that the KGB had the same idea and sent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) after Gaby. They manage to escape – only to find themselves being forced to work together to prevent the nuclear weapon falling into the hands of a private organization.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and stylish film. It wasn’t partiuclarly smart, but that was neither expected nor necessary in this case.

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Poltergeist (2015)

Poltergeist
Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on/Remake of: Poltergeist
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kyle Catlett, Kennedi Clements, Jared Harris, Jane Adams, Susan Heyward, Nicholas Braun
Seen on: 3.6.2015

Plot:
The Bowens move into a new home and quickly realize that there are strange occurrences in their house. At first it’s only the family’s youngest children Maddie (Kennedi Clements) and Griffin (Kyle Catlett) who experience it, although older daughter Kendra’s (Saxon Sharbino) phone keeps acting up as well. When Maddie goes missing inside their house – and can still be heard on the TV, talking to them, father Eric (Sam Rockwell) and mother Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) start looking for help. Since their circumstances are extraordinary, they have to seek extraordinary help.

Poltergeist was surprisingly inoffensive. I thought that it would very likely make a mockery of the original film. But in fact, it’s not bad – it’s just not as good or charming as the original, making you wonder why they would remake it at all.

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writer: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Based on: Alan Snow‘s novel Here Be Monsters!
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg

Plot:
Cheesebridge is a town plagued by Boxtrolls who are said to eat children and generally to be despicable. Led by Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), Cheesebridge is on the hunt to find every last one of them. But Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has a different story to tell. When he was a little boy, the Boxtrolls took him in and raised him as one of their own. But now their community is shrinking everyday and Eggs knows that it is up to him to do something against it.

The Boxtrolls was an amazingly cute film that was extremely entertaining. Not everything about it was perfect, but I enjoyed it.

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Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler, Michael Robert Johnson
Cast: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Joe Pingue, Kiefer Sutherland, Currie Graham, Sasha Roiz

Plot:
Milo (Kit Harington) is known as The Celt, a gladiator and the last of his people. Due to his good fighting, he is brought from Britannia to Pompeii where he is supposed to put on a good show. But as Vesuvius rumbles ever louder, Milo gets drawn in the affairs of Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) who has his eyes set on Cassia (Emily Browning). Cassia herself though is more impressed by Milo.

I don’t know what happened but it’s been a while that I brought alcohol to the cinema. In this case it was an absolute pity – because Pompeii would have been the perfect movie to get drunk to. While it doesn’t quite reach the craptacular dimensions of I, Frankenstein, they do play in the same league.

pompeii

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Jessica Postigo
Based on: Cassandra Clare’s novel
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Robert Maillet, Kevin Durand, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aidan Turner

Plot:
One night at a club, Clary (Lily Collins) stumbles upon three teenagers – Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), Alec (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle (Jemima West) – who kill a boy they claim is a demon. She calls her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) for help, but he can’t see the perpetrators or the victim. The next day, Clary runs into Jace again and she receives a frantic phone call from her mom (Lena Headey), telling her not to go back home again. Then her mom goes missing and Clary finds herself in over her head in a world that is suddenly filled with magic and demons, and intriguing Jace.

City of Bones is actually a rather decent adaptation of the book. But since I’m not a huge fan of the book and since that meant that the movie also pretty much copied every flaw, it didn’t blow me away. But it was pretty entertaining and the headdesk-worthy moments are few and far between.

tmi-cityofbones

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Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan

Plot:
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.

Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.

Lincoln

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Dummy (2002)

Dummy
Director: Greg Pritikin
Writer: Greg Pritikin
Cast: Adrien Brody, Milla Jovovich, Vera Farmiga, Illeana Douglas, Jessica Walter, Ron Leibman, Jared Harris

Plot:
Steven (Adrien Brody) works a thankless office job and still lives at  home, where he dreams of becoming a ventriloquist. And one day he decides to actually go for it. He quits his job and starts training, with the support of his best friend Fangora (Milla Jovovich), who dreams of being a successful singer herself. Steven’s unemployment agent Lorena (Vera Farmiga) even finds a job for him, which leads Steven to express his crush on her in a rather unfortunate way. But bit by bit, he pieces his new life together.

I didn’t expect much of this film, despite the cast, because it apparently just disappeared directly into the bargain bin when it came out. But actually tht disappearance was absolutely uncalled for: it is a very sweet movie with a very nice message.

dummy

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Based on: Arthur Conan Doyle‘s characters
Sequel to: Sherlock Holmes
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan

Plot:
A series of bombings has hit all over Europe, unsettling the political atmosphere so much that war is in the air. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) suspects Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) of instigating the events. Unfortunately at the same time, Sherlock’s best friend and partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is finally getting married to Mary (Kelly Reilly) – and thus about to end their partnership. But Moriarty won’t leave Watson alone, so Holmes has to involve him in this case anyway.

The movie does do some things better than the first one, but overall it dragged a bit and wasn’t quite as satisfying. Nevertheless, I had fun.

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The Ward (2010)

The Ward
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Cast: Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker, Laura-Leigh, Lyndsy Fonseca, Jared Harris
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Plot:
Kristen (Amber Heard) is caught burning down a farmhouse and promptly admitted to a mental institution. There she is stationed in a ward with four other young women – and a ghost. The ghost starts picking off the girls one by one, but nobody believes Kristen that anything is happening at all. So she tries to stop it on her own.

The Ward had some good scares, but other than that it was an extremely unimaginative affair with one cliché after the other.

[REALLY BIG SPOILERS]

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