Dolittle (2020)

Dolittle
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, Chris McKay
Based on: Hugh Lofting‘s books
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Kasia Smutniak, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas
Seen on: 13.2.2020
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Plot:
Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) has a gift: he’s a veterinarian who can talk to the animals directly. But every since his wife (Kasia Smutniak) was lost at sea, he hasn’t worked anymore. This changes quickly, when he gets two visitors in a day: the first one is Tommy (Harry Collett) who brings in a hurt squirrel, and the second is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who brings the news that the Queen (Jessie Buckley) may well be dying if Dolittle doesn’t help – and that would mean that he’d lose his entire estate. Forced from his isolation, Dolittle takes on the case – and Tommy makes sure to be part of it.

Dolittle has potential – Downey Jr. surrounded by animals voiced by a whole lot of excellent people? What can go wrong? A lot, apparently. Maybe this film should serve as a case study for that.

The film poster showing Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) surrounded by various animals.
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Re-Watch: Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge!
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet, Kerry Walker, David Wenham, Kylie Minogue
Seen on: 22.12.2019

Plot:
Young, promising artist Christian (Ewan McGregor) finds his way to Paris where he hopes to be part of the bohemian revolution. He is quickly adopted by a theater group who hope he can help persuade the Moulin Rouge to put on their play by convincing its most important star Satine (Nicole Kidman) of his talents. Satine is quickly convinced, but the Moulin needs the help of the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) to finance the play – and the Duke wants Satine. That Christian and Satine fall in love, then, is the most inconvenient thing.

Moulin Rouge! came out when I was a teenager and it hit me in just the right way in pretty much everything. I still listen to the soundtrack regularly, but it had been years that I have actually seen the film. Now that I have, what can I say but that it’s still one of my faves despite the many (many) problems I can see.

The film poster showing a woman and a man kissing in front of the Moulin Rouge windmill.
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Paddington 2 (2017)

Paddington 2
Director: Paul King
Writer: Paul King, Simon Farnaby
Based on: Michael Bond‘s books
Sequel to: Paddington
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Julie WaltersHugh Grant, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Marie-France Alvarez, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ben Miller, Jessica Hynes, Robbie Gee, Richard Ayoade, Brendan Gleeson, Joanna Lumley
Seen on: 9.12.2017
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Plot:
Having settled with the Brown family and in the community, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is happy. And his Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday is coming up, so he is looking for the perfect present. He finds it in Samuel Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) shop: a pop-up picture book of London. But he needs a job to earn money to get it – which is not so easy as a small bear. And then it seems that Paddington isn’t the only one interested in the book at all as it gets stolen, and he gets in trouble for it.

As with Coco, I heard a lot of good things about Paddington 2 beforehand, and again I thought that the resulting film was even better than I expected from what I heard before. It’s a wonderful film that had me floating on a pink cotton candy cloud out of the cinema. What more could you ask of a film?

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Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Director: Sharon Maguire
Writer: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson
Based on: Helen Fielding‘s novels
Sequel to: Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Cast: Renée ZellwegerColin FirthPatrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Shirley HendersonJessica Hynes, Ed Sheeran, Emma Thompson, Celia Imrie
Seen on: 5.11.2016

Plot:
Bridget (Renée Zellweger) is in her early 40s now, still single, still childless and she’s just been to the funeral of her ex Daniel where she met her other Ex Mark (Colin Firth) who is married now. So it’s a good thing that she’s focusing on her career, even though things aren’t entirely problem-free there. So Bridget needs a break and she catches not one, but two in short succession: First she meets the handsome Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and sleeps with him and then Mark tells her that he’s actually getting divorced and the two reconnect. In bed. But things will never be easy for Bridget: it turns out that she’s pregnant and she really doesn’t know who the father is.

It’s been many years that I saw the first two movies, but I remember them very fondly. And Bridget Jones’s baby was a very worthy successor: superfunny and very sweet.

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The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

The Legend of Tarzan
Director: David Yates
Writer: Adam CozadCraig Brewer
Based on: Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ short stories
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot RobbieSamuel L. JacksonChristoph WaltzDjimon HounsouSimon Russell BealeJim BroadbentBen Chaplin
Seen on: 7.8.2016

Plot:
Years ago the man known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) became John Clayton once more and returned from Congo to his home country of England with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Now he’s trying very hard to leave his wild past behind him. But then George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) turns up in London, accusing a Belgian/Congolese mining company run by Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) in the name of King Leopold of slave trade. He needs John’s help to prove it, so reluctantly, John agrees to return.

I didn’t expect Tarzan to be very good and it wasn’t. But it did surprise me in some of the ways that it was bad. That’s… an achievement, I guess.

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The Lady in the Van (2015)

The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Based on: Alan Bennett’s actual experience with Mary Shepherd
Cast: Maggie SmithAlex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Deborah Findlay, Roger Allam, Dominic Cooper, Frances de la Tour, James Corden, Russell Tovey, Alan Bennett
Seen on: 3.6.2016

Plot:
Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) moved to a new neighborhood and he quite like it. Part of the neighborhood is Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a woman living in a van parked in his street. She’s weird, often rough and has issues, but Alan does take a liking to her. So when her existence is threatened because her road is being declared a no parking zone, Alan permits her to park the van in his driveway. What was supposed to be only a temporary solution, turns into a long-term fact and Alan starts to find out more about Mary’s past.

The Lady in the Van was a sweet film, told with a sly sense of humor that keeps the story from turning too dark, even when the realities it faces are harsher. It’s an enjoyable mix, although it stays a little too shallow to use the potential for social criticism it would have.

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Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Eddie the Eagle
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Sean Macaulay, Simon Kelton
Based on: Eddie Edwards‘ life
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Iris Berben, Jim Broadbent, Christopher Walken, Edvin Endre
Seen on: 6.4.2016

Plot:
Eddie (Taron Egerton) has always had one dream: he will be an athlete. And not just any kind of athelte, an Olympic athlete competing for the UK. No matter the sport and no matter that he is perpetually hurting himself in his attempts. When he realizes that there is no British ski jumping team, he sees his chance and he grabs it. Making his way to Germany to train with absolutely no support apart from his mother’s (Jo Hartley) unflinching belief in him, he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman): Bronson came close to be one of the greats in his sport, but now he makes his money driving the snow groomer. Eddie does everything he can to convince Peary to train with him so that he can take his shot.

Eddie the Eagle is a fun, entertaining film. It’s not a big cinematic revelation, but it’s a very nice watch with a good story and two engaging leads.

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Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Nick Hornby
Based on: Colm Tóibín‘s novel
Cast: Saoirse RonanEmory CohenDomhnall Gleeson, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Julie Walters, Emily Bett Rickards, Jim Broadbent
Seen on: 26.1.2016

Plot:
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) lives in a small Irish town with her mother Mary (Jane Brennan) and her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott). But Eilis has the chance to get of there and start a new life in the USA, which is exactly what she does. With the help of an acquainted priest (Jim Broadbent) who already lives abroad, she makes her way to New York where she builds a new life for herself. But when she is called back to Ireland, she will have to decide which way she wants her life to go.

Brooklyn was one of those films that is simply extremely nice to watch and enjoy. It hits all the right emotional buttons in a not exactly subtle, but unobtrusive way and pretty much everybody in it is simply adorable.

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Paddington (2014)

Paddington
Director: Paul King
Writer: Paul King
Based on: Michael Bond‘s books
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas, Steve Oram, Alice Lowe

Plot:
The bear Paddingtion (Ben Whishaw) was happily living with his aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) in the Peruvian jungle. But when their home gets destroyed, Lucy sends Paddington to London, hoping that he will find a safe home there, as promised by an explorer who visited them a long time ago. Thankfully shortly after his arrival in London, Paddington meets the Browns –  Mary (Sally Hawkins), Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and their children Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). Together they start to look for the explorer to find Paddington his safe place. But not everyone is out to help Paddington.

The trailer for Paddington looked awful, full of unfunny slapstick and grossness. I wanted to see it despite the trailer, but was prepared for the worst. And (apart from the general postcolonial qualms I have about the story) I was pleasantly surprised by the film that is much sweeter and funnier than the trailer made me think it was.

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Le Week-End (2013)

Le Week-End
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Hanif Kureishi
Cast: Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum

Plot:
Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent) have been married for a long time. They’ve decided to go to Paris where they honeymooned way back when, to spend time with each other and to rekindle their relationship a little bit. What looks like an utterly romantic idea and a wonderful weekend, soon starts to crack as tensions between the two of them become apparent.

I think that Le Week-End might have worked fantastically well as a 20 minute short. At feature length it felt thin and became tedious, despite its many good qualities.

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