Dune (2021)

Dune
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
Based on: Frank Herbert‘s novel
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chen Chang, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clémentine
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism

Plot:
Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and Bene Gesserit Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice that keeps interstellar travel going. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit (Charlotte Rampling) comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

Dune is pretty much the epitome of an epic hero’s journey – with all the advantages and disadvantages of that. It’s a faithful adaptation with only few modernizations in the story and characters – and that, too, comes with its own problems. I guess, how much you like this film will strongly depend on how much you like the source material and how much you like the colors grey, brown and beige.

The film poster showing a moon, science fiction machinery, sand and a sandworm as a background. In the foreground, Leto (Oscar Isaac), Paul (Timothée Chalamet), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Chani (Zendaya), Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and Gurney (Josh Brolin) as floating heads in different sizes.
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The Roads Not Taken (2020)

The Roads Not Taken
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Branka Katic, Salma Hayek, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney
Seen on: 13.8.2020

Plot:
Molly (Elle Fanning) has a big day planned with her father Leo (Javier Bardem). They have two doctor’s appointments, which is quite a challenge for and with Leo as he has early onset dementia. Molly does her best, but not everything works well – neither with Leo nor with her job that she is neglecting for her father. Meanwhile Leo is living alternative lives that make him re-examine the biggest life choices he made.

The Roads Not Taken is a beautifully acted, interesting film that focused too much on Leo for me – and not enough on Molly.

The film poster showing Leo's (Javier Bardem) head dissolving into photos.
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Mother! (2017)

Mother!
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceJavier BardemEd HarrisMichelle PfeifferBrian GleesonDomhnall GleesonStephen McHattieKristen Wiig
Seen on: 13.9.2017
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Plot:
A couple (Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem) has just moved into a new house. He dreams of finding the inspiration to write there, while she painstakingly renovates the house. One night their routine is interrupted by a man (Ed Harris) who knocks on their door, thinking they are running a bed and breakfast. The writer is overjoyed at the change in routine and invites the man to stay the night, while she is more cautious. Things take a turn for the worse, when the man’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives the next day.

I expected bad things of Mother! and was pretty happy when things weren’t as bad as I expected them to be. But that’s not the same as saying that I was happy with the film: despite his strengths, I wasn’t too taken with it.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Writer: Jeff Nathanson
Sequel to: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Cast: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Golshifteh Farahani, David Wenham, Stephen GrahamAngus Barnett, Martin KlebbaAdam Brown, Giles New, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Paul McCartney
Seen on: 30.5.2017
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Plot:
Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is approached by a young man, Henry (Brenton Thwaites), who needs to find the Trident of Poseidon to break his father’s curse, his father none other than Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). As luck will have it, Jack also desperately needs the Trident as very recently, vengeful ghost Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) managed to free himself from the Devil’s Triangle and is now hellbent on ridding the seas of all pirates, particularly Jack. And even more luckily, Henry runs into Carina (Kaya Scodelario) who happens to have all the necessary clues to find the Trident – if she can only get out of being tried and executed as a witch.

My excitement to watch yet another installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series was rather low (especially with Johnny Depp the abuser at the forefront of the film), but since it became a group outing and there is a certain amount of nostalgia attached to these films, I ended up seeing it anyway. I shouldn’t have bothered.

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The Counselor (2013)

The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt, Toby Kebbell, Édgar Ramírez, Dean NorrisJohn Leguizamo, Natalie Dormer, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is about to marry his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz). He is also somehow involved in the drug business through his client Reiner (Javier Bardem) and he’s about to get involved more deeply. And to no one’s surprise except his own, things go very wrong very quickly and it’s all somehow connected to Reiner’s enigmatic girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz).

There were many things I could see going wrong with this film, but what I did not anticipate was that it would be Cormac McCarthy’s writing where things go very wrong. But unfortunately that was the case and the result was a film that was pretty much unbearable.

the-counselor

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory

Plot:
James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) mission is to protect a computer drive that contains the identities of several agents. But things go very wrong, Bond loses the drive and is shot by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – at the orders of M (Judi Dench). Believed dead, Bond disappears. But M has to face a lot of criticism for her actions and losing the list. When the MI6 HQ is bombed, Bond returns from his supposed death and he and M both have to face their pasts to clear this matter up.

I had heard only good things about Skyfall before seeing it and that might have made me expect a little too much. It was still a very good film, it just wasn’t as great as I had expected.

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Biutiful (2010)

Biutiful is Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s newest film, starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella.

Plot:
Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a small time gangster, barely scraping by with what he can earn from acting as a broker between (illegal) street vendors (mostly from Africa originally) and the (illegal) Chinese immigrants who produce the fakes that are sold. Then Uxbal is diagnosed with prostate cancer and knows that he only has a short time to get his life in enough of an order that at least his kids (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella) are taken care of since their mother Marambra (Maricel Álvarez) suffers from bipolar disorder and it’s quite unlikely that she can be relied on.

Biutiful is a heavy, difficult and very excellent film, arguably the best Iñárritu and Bardem both have made so far. It’s beautifully [no pun intended] crafted, in all aspects and very gripping. In short, awesome.

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Eat Pray Love (2010)

Eat Pray Love is Ryan Murphy‘s adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert‘s autobiographical book, starring Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins.

Plot:
Liz (Julia Roberts) drifts from relationship to relationship, first her husband (Billy Crudup), then a new boyfriend (James Franco). But she never seems to find what she’s actually looking for until she decides that she will interrupt her normal life to go on a year long trip to Italy (because of the food), India (because of an Ashram) and to Bali (because she’s been there and an old medicine man told her that she would be back).

I didn’t expect much from Eat Pray Love, but I like travel stories and I thought that the movie would at least entertain me. It didn’t. It dragged and dragged and dragged and sprinkled above it all was so much esoteric shit that not even the eye-candy (both the landscapes and the guys) could keep me interested. In short: I am so very happy that I didn’t spend any money on this.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen‘s newest movie.

A slight disclaimer before I start: I’m a fan of his early work, but his latest movies sucked so much that I shouldn’t have bothered to watch them. Yet, somehow, I can’t leave it be. So, if you can’t stand bitter comments about Match Point or Cassandra’s Dream (my review here), better not read this.

Anyhoo, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is okay, I guess. It definitely isn’t as abysmal as the aforementioned movies. But it’s not very good, either.

Plot: Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends and decide to go to Barcelona together. Both girls are complete opposites – Vicky is the practical, calm, rational stereotype, whose life seems happy, but actually, she’s very unhappy because there’s no passion in it, while Cristina is the impulsive, fickle artist-stereotype, who goes from one relationship to the next, never actually being able to stay anywhere for long. When they meet the painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who barely escapes the fate of being a complete stereotype himself, both fall for him. Which of course can’t end well, especially since Juan Antonio’s manic-depressive artist cliché ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) is still very present in his life.

vicky_cristina_barcelonaIf I was Rebecca Hall, I would be very angry about this marketing – she’s more of a main character than Penelope Cruz.

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Artsy and Less Artsy Movies

I went with my little nephew Y (he’s 3 and a half) to the movies this weekend and we watched Dragon Hunters. He’s a huge fan of the TV series, I think I’ve seen half an episode once. Apart from my nephew who’s as cute as he’s hilarious (“All day, I have to fight, you know. Dragons are everywhere… In kindergarten, at home, in the car, at granny’s place…”, “My dad is not a dragon hunter… he’s only a pirate.”), the experience was not so much for my enjoyment. Which is ok, since I took Y and not myself. But there are a lot of animated movies marketed for children but aimed at adults (Shrek comes to mind) and this is not one of them.
There are some beautifully made sequences (the opening credits for example, and a lot of the backgrounds – I’m a sucker for the flying islands) but the characters look weird.

I guess, it’s one of the films I’m just too late for. If I had grown up with the TV series, things might have been different.

[Almost totally off topic: Writer/director’s name is Arthur Qwak. Does anybody else think this is a pseudonym to honour Alfred J. Kwak?]

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This weekend also provided me with the opportunity to finally see Mar Adentro (yes, I know, I’m a bad movie goer for not having seen it earlier. No cookie for me). As expected, it was good. Javier Bardem was brilliant as usual and I really liked the lighting and colours.

What I didn’t expect was that I didn’t cry all the time, but almost every scene with Ramón’s father made me cry.

And I really liked about it that it was honest (or at least it felt honest). I didn’t feel like they wanted to corner me and force their point of view on me [I’m not even entirely sure what their point of view is].

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Last but not least we have Léolo.

Léolo is weird. It is touching. It is outspoken. All things I very much like about movies. It has some very interesting and good ideas. It has a very nice soundtrack.

But for me, it falls under the category “is good but could have been better if it was not trying so hard”.