Lovesong (2016)

Lovesong
Director: So Yong Kim
Writer: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray
Cast: Riley KeoughJena MaloneCary Joji FukunagaJessie Ok GraySky Ok GrayNeal HuffRyan EggoldMarshall ChapmanBrooklyn DeckerAmy SeimetzRosanna Arquette
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 9.6.2017
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Plot:
Sarah (Riley Keough) has been best friends with Mindy (Jena Malone) since about forever. But with adulthood, their ways have separated a bit. Sarah is married to Dean (Cary Joji Fukunaga) and has a small daughter Jessie (Jessie Ok Gray), while Mindy lives a wilder life. But when Sarah and Mindy reconnect and go on an impromptu road trip, their relationship starts to change.

I enjoyed Lovesong the longest time, despite a couple of issues here and there. But the ending left me disappointed and a little bitter.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Cast: Elle FanningJena MaloneBella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Karl Glusman, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 8.6.2016

Plot:
Jesse (Elle Fanning) just moved to L.A., dreaming of a career as a model. She meets photographer Dean (Karl Glusman) and make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who both take a shine to her and try to help. Since there is something about Jesse, that seems barely necessary though – her career is definitely off to a good start. But young girls like Jesse are quickly swallowed by the fashion world and grow older too fast – which is what happened to Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who can’t stand Jesse waiting in the wings to take their place.

The Neon Demon is a hypnotizing film that manages to conjure up an intriguing atmosphere that kept me glued to my seat. But – as with Drive – it only worked for me because I read it completely different from what Refn apparently intended to say.

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[SPOILERS]

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the second half)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie
Seen on: 22.11.2015

Plot [with Spoilers for everything up until this part]:
Still reeling from brainwashed Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has no chance of really gathering herself. Instead she shoots promo videos for the rebellion and their cause. As outright war with the Capitol becomes ever more likely, Katniss decides that she has to put an end to things and the only way it will end is if Katniss kills President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

My expectations were pretty low for this final installation in the series since the second half of the last book was the weakest part of the series by far and that was the only thing that was left to bring to the screen. But Mockingjay Part 2 turned out to be better than I expected.

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Inherent Vice (2014)

Inherent Vice
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Based on: Thomas Pynchon‘s novel
Cast: Joaquin PhoenixJoanna Newsom, Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Eric Roberts, Serena Scott Thomas, Maya Rudolph, Michael Kenneth Williams, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Sasha Pieterse
Seen on: 18.02.2015

Plot:
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private detective who spends most of his time being high. When his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) surprisingly visits him to tell him about a plot against her current boyfriend, real estate tycoon Wolfmann (Eric Roberts), by his wife Sloane (Serena Scott Thomas) and then disappears, Doc takes up the investigation. As more people go missing and the police in the form of Christian ‘Bigfoot’ Bjornsen (Josh Brolin) gets involved as well, Doc quickly finds himself in deeper than he expected.

My relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson is difficult. With few exceptions I just don’t care for hard-boiled Detective Stories. Stoner movies are not my cup of tea. So it probably comes to no-one’s surprise that I did not like Inherent Vice, though it did surprise me how bored I was by it.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer

Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.

Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Sequel to: The Hunger Games
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson

Plot (with SPOILERS for the first one):
With the way the Hunger Games ended Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has definitely upset the system. So before she, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and their entourage travel from district to district on their victory tour, Katniss gets a visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland). He lets her know without a doubt that rebellion of any kind on her part will not be tolerated – and that she has to make this clear to the districts as well, where unrest is brewing. Since it’s not only Katniss’ life that he threatens, but also that of her family and friends, Katniss complies as well as she can. And then the rug is completely pulled from under her when she and Peeta are drawn back into the 75 year special edition of the Games.

Where the second book was slightly worse than the first book, I thought that the second film was even better than the first. It’s a fantastic sequel, great adaptation and a wonderful film.

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For Ellen (2012)

For Ellen
Director: So Yong Kim
Writer: So Yong Kim
Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Shaylena Mandigo, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Joby Taylor (Paul Dano) is a rather successful rock musician about to get divorced from his already very estranged wife Claire (Margarita Levieva). In fact, Claire has been bringing up their daughter Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo) while Joby’s been gone and now they’re only talking through their lawyers. In a last attempt to salvage something, Joby refuses to sign the divorce papers unless he gets to spend time with Ellen.

For Ellen was an extremely nice and sweet and touching and cute and absolutely wonderful film. It was one of those films that I wanted to see again the minute it was over.

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The United States of Leland (2003)

The United States of Leland
Director: Matthew Ryan Hoge
Writer: Matthew Ryan Hoge
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Jena Malone, Lena Olin, Chris Klein, Michelle Williams, Kevin Spacey (and about 2 minutes of Michael Peña)

Plot:
The distant Leland (Ryan Gosling) just stabbed a mentally disabled boy and is sent to prison. Nobody really understands why he did it and his prison teacher (and aspiring writer) Pearl (Don Cheadle) is so intrigued that he wants to write a book about him. So he starts interviewing Leland about his life and tries to figure out what moved him to such a desperate act.

The United States of Leland has a wonderful cast but despite Ryan Gosling giving his best, Leland as a character just doesn’t work at all. Nevertheless the film is interesting, if completely predictable.

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Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild is a movie by Sean Penn, based on Jon Krakauer‘s book, starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook and Zach Galifianakis.

Plot:
Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) has just finished university and decides to drop out. He is fed up with the dishonesty of the lives around him, his parents’ (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt) loveless marriage, the unfairness of capitalism. So he packs his things and takes off on a cross-country tour of the USA. Without any money and avoiding any contact with his parents and sister (Jena Malone), he sets off with the big goal to go to Alaska, encountering various people along the way.

Chris McCandless story is interesting and touching and Sean Penn found himself an amazing cast to tell it. Unfortunately he is not the world’s greatest director and the cinematography could have been better, too (he’s very lucky that Emile Hirsch is as pretty as he is, because that camera spends an inordinate amount of time shoved in his face). But despite that, it is still a very good film to watch.

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Sucker Punch (2011)

Sucker Punch is the newest film by Zack Snyder, starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn.

Plot:
After the death of her mother, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is left alone with her abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) and her little sister. In an attempt to save her little sister from him, Baby Doll accidentally shoots her which is the ideal possibility for him to have her admitted to a mental hospital. There, the stepfather bribes an orderly (Oscar Isaacs) into getting Baby Doll lobotomised. The only defense Baby Doll has left is retreating into a fantasy world (and from there in yet another fantasy world) where she hatches a plan to escape.

I have pushed writing this review back and back again because I’m not in a ranting mood but this film deserves little else. Apart from the screwed up empowerment message this movie sends, it’s just not a very good film. Not even the special effects held up the end of their bargain. And that’s just sad. At least the soundtrack was cool.

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