Short Cuts (1993)

Short Cuts
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt
Based on: short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Zane Cassidy, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Huey Lewis, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry,
Seen on: 20.10.2018
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Plot:
Nine intersecting stories of people in Los Angeles during the Medfly epidemic: Ann (Andie MacDowell) and Howard’s (Bruce Davidson) child (Zane Cassidy) was in an accident just before his coma. Police man Gene (Tim Robbins) cheats on his wife Sherri (Madeline Stowe). Lois (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works for a sex hotline, much to the dislike of her husband Jerry (Chris Penn). Doreen (Lily Tomlin) and Earl (Tom Waits) have a good marriage, at least as long as Earl is sober. Honey (Lily Taylor) and Bill (Robert Downey Jr.) are housesitting. Stormy (Peter Gallagher) is struggling with his divorce from Betty (Frances McDormand). Zoe tries to connect with her mother Tess (Annie Ross). Claire (Anne Archer) and her husband Stuart (Fred Ward) are invited to dinner by Marian (Julianne Moore) and Ralph (Matthew Modine). Stuart, Gordon (Buck Henry) and Vern (Huey Lewis) are looking forward to a long-planned fishing trip.

Short Cuts was really painful: a film filled with unlikeable men who behave like assholes and somehow we are supposed to think think that’s funny and/or interesting? No, thank you and I mean that in the harshest possible sense.

The film poster showing a fractured red heart in front of a white background.
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Annihilation (2018)

Annihiliation
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Based on: Jeff VanderMeer’s novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac
Seen on: 7.4.2018

Plot:
Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) joins a mission into Area X, an area where nature shows strange behavior that nobody is able to explain, after her husband (Oscar Isaac) went missing there. The expedition, led by Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is supposed to find out more. Anything they can, really. The five women – Lena, Dr Ventress, Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and Cass (Tuva Novotny) – set off and are soon faced with phenomena that are even stranger than anticipated.

I was very excited about Annihilation, having recently read the books and loved them and having mostly enjoyed Garland’s previous films. But I have to admit that Annihilation was a bit of a let-down for me. It might have been different if I hadn’t read the books, but I’m not sure.

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The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce DernJames Parks, Zoë Bell, Channing Tatum
Seen on: 2.2.2016
[I saw the roadshow version.]

Plot:
Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) finds himself with a dead horse, a few frozen corpses he means to deliver to collect the bounty and in the cold in the middle of nowhere. It’s just his luck that John Ruth (Kurt Russell) comes along with his carriage, also transporting a body for the bounty, but a live one – Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Warren manages to hitch a ride with them to the next inn, Minnie’s Haberdashery where they are promptly snowed in. Trapped with a group of strangers in a snow storm, tensions start to rise.

The Hateful Eight was one of Tarantino’s weaker films. Definitely his weakest in a while. But a weak Tarantino is still a strong, well-made film. But it didn’t make me enthusiastic and I did have my issues with it.

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Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa
Director: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Based on: his play
Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is traveling to a reading of his successful book on customer service. Despite his wife and kid at home and his successful career, he feels empty though. Everything seems the same, everyone seems the same. As he arrives in Cincinnati, he debates with himself whether he should contact his ex-girlfriend who lives there. But it’s not until he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that some excitement seems to come into his life.

I liked Anomalisa, but it didn’t blow me away as much as it seems to have most people. It’s a good film, but I’m nowhere near falling over myself from excitement.

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Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Kill Your Darlings
Director: John Krokidas
Writer: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2014

Plot:
Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) gets a place of university and isn’t unhappy to get away from home, where his mentally ill mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes his life difficult, the relationship with his father (David Cross) is strained. At university, Allen meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and is immediately fascinated by him and his reckless lifestyle. Lucien introduces him to David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Jack’s wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). Allen realizes that something strange is going on between Lucien and David, but is swept up in the anarchistic energy that envelops Lucien, William, Jack and him. But the harmonious and fun beginnings soon give way to difficulties and tensions.

I am still a little undecided about this film. The cast is really good, the story is interesting and it’s all packaged into a film that is mostly fine but lacks something I can’t put my finger on.

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Greenberg (2010)

Greenberg is the newest movie by Noah Baumbach, written by himself and Jennifer Jason Leigh, starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Chris Messina, Merrit Wever and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Plot:
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) just finished his therapy at a psychiatric facility and returns from New York to Los Angeles. Until things look differently, he stays at his brother’s (Chris Messina) house. His brother, in the meantime, is on holiday. With only the family dog for company, Roger tries to reconnect with his old friend (Rhys Ifans) but in the end only finds some form of human connection in Florence (Greta Gerwig), his brother’s personal assistant/house keeper.

I know I’m probably losing all of my indie cred and any reputation I have built up as a film critic on this here blog but, dammit all: That movie was fucking boring. Yes, the cast was excellent but there’s only so much you can do without an actual plot.

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Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche, New York is Charlie Kaufmann‘s directorial debut (he wrote it, too, of course), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Emily Watson and Dianne Wiest.

Plot:
Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theatre director. He’s married to Adele (Catherine Keener), an artist who paints miniature pictures (and when I say miniature, I mean that you need magnifying glasses to see them). They have a daughter together and even though Caden is constantly worrying about his health, things seem to be going good. Until Adele leaves for Germany to do an art show there and takes her best friend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and their daughter with her. Then Caden’s life kind of falls apart until he receives a grant that let’s him realise a rather ambitious theatre project: He wants to show life as it is – so he starts rebuilding Synecdoche, a part of New York inside a warehouse.

Well, this is not only a Charlie Kaufmann movie, this is Charlie Kaufmann squared. The outcome is even more surreal than anything else he’s ever done. I can’t say that I know what’s going on in this movie, but I know that I don’t care: I liked it anyway.

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