The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writer: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
Prequel/sequel to: Snow White and the Huntsman
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Sope Dirisu, Sam Hazeldine, Sam Claflin, Sophie Cookson, Colin Morgan
Seen on: 23.4.2016

Plot:
Together with many other children Eric (Chris Hemsworth) was drafted/enslaved in the army of Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), Ravenna’s (Charlize Theron) sister. For Freya, who was disappointed in love herself, the most important rule was that there would be no feelings, especially no love, between the children or anybody else for that matter. Despite that, Eric fell in love with Sara (Jessica Chastain), a fellow warrior. Things did not end well. Now many years later, Eric finds himself facing Freya once more after he is charged by King William (Sam Claflin) to bring the dead Ravenna’s magic mirror to a safe space because it is making Snow White dangerously ill.

Snow White and the Huntsman was a spectacular failure, laying the bar very low for The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The film steps easily over that low bar, surpassing expectations. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a high-flying success. But at least Huntsman is way more entertaining than Snow White.

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A Most Violent Year (2014)

A Most Violent Year
Director: J.C. Chandor
Writer: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert BrooksElyes Gabel, Elizabeth Marvel, Alessandro Nivola
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is working hard to make the company he has taken over from his wife Anna’s (Jessica Chastain) family a thriving success. But as they can finally make an offer on a plot of land that would give them a significant advantage in the business, they hit a snag: the trucks carrying the oil they are selling keep getting robbed. When Abel tries semi-official channels to try and figure out who’s targeting him, he comes under scrutiny of D.A. Lawrence (David Oyelowo) himself. Now he has only a week to fulfill the stipulations of the deal on the land, keep his business afloat and himself out of jail.

A Most Violent Year is a strong film that is always engaging and has great cast. But it does have a few weaknesses as well.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope, Doug Jones
Seen on: 18.10.2015

Plot:
Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) dreams of publishing a book but until that happens, she’s quite happy at home with her father Carter (Jim Beaver). But then Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) come from England to her father with a business proposal and Edith finds herself falling for Thomas. Her father makes inquiries about the Sharpes and is not convinced that Thomas would be a suitable match. But then Carter dies surprisingly and Edith follows the Sharpes to England. But there are ghosts that follow all of them. Literally.

Crimson Peak is the quintessential gothic horror story. It is so much the distillation fo the genre that nothing in it will surprise you, but if you like the genre, you’ll love the beautiful love letter to it that del Toro has crafted with this film.

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The Martian (2015)

The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard
Based on: Andy Weir’s novel
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica ChastainMichael PeñaKate MaraSebastian StanAksel HennieChiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Benedict Wong, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover
Seen on: 12.10.2015

Plot:
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is one of five astronauts who come to Mars on a rather routine mission. But then things start going wrong and they have to leave – only that Mark gets injured and to his colleagues he looks like he’s dead. With a heavy heart, they decide to leave without him. But Mark survives miraculously. Now he’s alone. On Mars. With very limited supplies. And a broken communication system. And he only has himself to make his supplies last long enough so that he may be rescued.

Since I really loved the novel the film is based on and the previews I saw for the movie looked great, my expectations for the Martian were pretty high. So when I say that the movie totally fulfilled my expectations, you know that this is high praise indeed.

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The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Director: Ned Benson
Writer: Ned Benson
Cast: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Jess Weixler

Plot:
Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) used to be the perfect couple. But something happened and now they’re not. Eleanor is distant and doesn’t want any contact with Conor and Conor has trouble respecting that boundary. But Eleanor isn’t as done with Conor as it might seem at first and the question remains whether they can find back to each other or not.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was good but not as great as it could have been. I expected a little more from the concept – TDoER: Them is a cut based on two films, TDoER: Him, which tells events from his perspective, and TDoER: Her, which tells them from hers. But the splice generally feels a little uneven.

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Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Cast: Matthew McConaugheyAnne HathawayJessica Chastain, Wes BentleyDavid Gyasi, Michael Caine, Casey AffleckTopher GraceMatt Damon, John LithgowDavid Oyelowo, Bill Irwin, Mackenzie FoyTimothée Chalamet, Ellen Burstyn

Plot:
The earth is dying. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) used to be an engineer, but now he lives on a farm, trying to grow his own food, with his father (John Lithgow), his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) and his son Tom (Timothée Chalamet). Murphy is convinced that their house is haunted and actually figures out a message – coordinates. Intrigued Cooper drives there and stumbles on the world’s largest space project, trying to find other viable planets. It’s headed by his former professor Brand (Michael Caine) who promptly asks Cooper to join their last chance to find a planet in time. Even though it means leaving his family behind, especially Murphy, Cooper agrees and together with Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway), they take off.

Interstellar is a mixed bag of beans. Visually stunning, scientifically apparently accurate, at least for a while (not that I’d really know), and with all around great performances, it nevertheless fails when it comes to the storytelling.

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Mama (2013)

Mama
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Writer: Neil Cross, Barbara Muschietti, Andrés Muschietti
Based on: this shortfilm
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

Plot:
5 years ago, Lucas’ (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) twin brother Jeffrey went on a killing spree, then kidnapped his daughters and disappeared with them into the woods. Now the girls Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) and Victoria (Megan Charpentier) have been found. Somehow, they managed to survive on their own out there. But when Lucas and his girlfriend Annabelle (Jessica Chastain) take the two of them in under the supervision of psychologist Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash), Annebelle soon begins to wonder how alone the girls actually were and what followed them back to the house.

The first hour or so, Mama was a tense, stylish masterpiece. But then the film loses drive and I had my problems with Mama’s backstory and the ending.

mama

[SPOILERS]

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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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Lawless (2012)

Lawless
Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Nick Cave
Based on: Matt Bondurant‘s novel The Wettest Country in the World
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, Gary Oldman
Part of: /slash Filmfestival (it was the surprise movie)

Plot:
In the depression era, the Bondurant brothers, Jack (Shia LaBeouf), Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke), are successful bootleggers who have an understanding with the local police and a very good reputation. But then a new deputy – Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) – enters the scene. When Rakes doesn’t get what he wants, the pressure rises for the Bondurants. At the same time Jack, the youngest and softest, desperately wants to prove his worth and starts business with the mobster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman).

Lawless was really great. Basically my only point of contention is that Gary Oldman was in it for a few minutes only (you can never have enough Gary Oldman).

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Coriolanus (2011)

Coriolanus
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Writer: John Logan
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, John Kani, James Nesbitt

Plot:
Caius Martius (Ralph Fiennes) is a celebrated general, even though he is not particularly popular with the people of Rome who are starving because the rations go to the military instead of them. Caius Martius fights his blood-enemy Aufidius (Gerard Butler) in Corioles and is victorious, which gives him enough leverage to run for consul. Even though Caius Martius isn’t completely sold on the idea, his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) pressures him and he finally caves. But not everyone is a fan of Caius Martius and he quickly finds himself in trouble.

The play and John Logan’s script are really good, as is the cast. But the movie left me pretty cold – not only did I hate the camera work, the pacing was just off.

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