10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Prequel to: [very kinda] Cloverfield
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr., Bradley Cooper [as a voice cameo]
Seen on: 9.4.2016

Plot:
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets into a car accident. When she wakes up, she finds herself chained and locked in a room in a bunker. As he frees her Howard (John Goodman) explains to her that he found her and brought her to his bunker because something has happened outside that makes the very air poisonous. With them in the bunker is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who confirms Howard’s story and says that he fought his way into the bunker to get away from the outside. Michelle is suspicious though and plots her escape.

10 Cloverfield Lane was a thoroughly entertaining, tense film with a great cast. While it did stumble here and there, altogether it raced through its story and dragged the audience right along with it.

10cloverfieldlane

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Trumbo (2015)

Trumbo
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: John McNamara
Based on: Bruce Alexander Cook‘s biography of Dalton Trumbo
Cast: Bryan CranstonMichael StuhlbargDiane LaneHelen MirrenAlan TudykLouis C.K.Sean BridgersAdewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeElle FanningJohn GoodmanDean O’GormanChristian Berkel
Seen on: 17.3.2016

Plot:
Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is an immensely successful screen writer and at the height of his career – when his affiliation with the Communist Party means that he gets caught up in a political witch hunt and is finally imprisoned and put on a blacklist. And he’s not the only one affected – his family suffers, too, as do quite a few colleagues who also get branded as communists. Unable to work officially, he devises a plan how he and his colleagues may ensure their livelihoods.

Trumbo is pretty much how you’d expect it. It’s expertly crafted and tells an interesting story very well. But it plays everything so safe, it’s hard to get excited about it.

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Love the Coopers (2015)

Love the Coopers
Director: Jessie Nelson
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cast: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Alex Borstein, Timothée Chalamet, Maxwell Simkins, Blake Baumgartner, Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, Jake Lacy, June Squibb, Anthony Mackie, Steve Martin
Seen on: 9.12.2015

Plot:
Christmas is just around the corner and Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) is preparing for Christmas dinner with her family – her father Bucky (Alan Arkin), her sister Emma (Marisa Tomei), her husband Sam (John Goodman) and their children Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) and Hank (Ed Helms) including his currently-divorcing wife Angie (Alex Borstein) and their children Charlie (Timothée Chalamet), Bo (Maxwell Simkins) and Madison (Blake Baumgartner). But not all is well with the Coopers: Sam wants to separate from Charlotte but has promised one last Christmas without the family knowing. Emma gets caught shoplifting. Bucky’s closest relationship – with waitress Ruby (Amanda Seyfried) – is threatened when Ruby tells him she will leave town. Hank has lost his job in addition to the divorce and doesn’t want to let his family know. And Eleanor would rather spend the day at the airport than one minute longer than necessary with her family. There she meets soldier Joe (Jake Lacy) and hits it off with him.

Love the Coopers is exactly what you’d expect from an USAmerican Christmas family movie. It’s basically trivial, but rather nice to watch.

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The Monuments Men (2014)

The Monuments Men
Director: George Clooney
Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Based on: Robert M. Edsel‘s non-fiction book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnányi

Plot:
As World War II is in full swing, the European art collections (both private and public) are methodically plundered by the Nazis. So Frank Stokes (George Clooney) manages to get a squad together, consisting mostly of old men who know their art. They are tasked with saving what is left – from statues to paintings. But even as the end of the war comes ever closer, this is neither easy nor without its dangers.

The Monuments Men is a film that is utterly mediocre. (puzzledpeaces called it “beige” and that hits the nail on the head pretty much.) The script isn’t good, the directing isn’t good, the camera work isn’t good – but none of it is all that bad either. It’s a film that tries to be as acceptable as possible to as many people as possible and with that desire loses all shape and impact.

themonumentsmen

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Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham

Plot:
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a struggling folk singer whose life is less than glamorous. He has no money – instead he has a floundering solo album. He doesn’t have an apartment – instead he crashes on friends’ couches until they kick him out. He doesn’t have a girlfriend – instead he sleeps with Jean (Carey Mulligan) who is actually with Jim (Justin Timberlake). And Jean is pregnant and needs an abortion because she really doesn’t want Llewyn’s child. So Llewyn has to figure out a way to make it happen.

Inside Llewyn Davis breaks my Coen Brothers rule: I usually only ever like every other film they make and it wouldn’t have been their turn to be liked, but it worked out that way anyway. I was enchanted by Llewyn and the hypnotically slow pace of the film.

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The Internship (2013)

The Internship
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Vince Vaughn, Jared Stern
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Josh BrenerDylan O’BrienTiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael, Max Minghella, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Josh Gad, Jessica Szohr, Rob Riggle, Eric André, Will Ferrell, John Goodman

Plot:
Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) have been salesmen and friends for their entire working life. But with the rise of the digital age, nobody really needs their services anymore. So they decide to start fresh – with an internship at Google. But not knowing anything about computers/the internet and competing with a whole lot of kids for the jobs might make everything a bit more difficult than they thought.

The Internship is fine. I basically saw it for Dylan O’Brien (though John Goodman and Max Minghella were a nice bonus) and if he hadn’t been in it and if I therefore hadn’t seen it, I probably wouldn’t have missed much. But it was entertaining enough.

theinternship

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Monsters University (2013)

Monsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson
Prequel to: Monsters, Inc.
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina,
Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader

Plot:
Ever since he was a little kid, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of becoming a scarer. Even though he’s not particularly scary, he applied himself and got into Monsters University. But competition is fierce and there are just some scarers who seem more naturally suited to the task – like Sully (John Goodman). The two of them quickly become rivals, until circumstances force them to work together.

Monsters University was nice. It was not as good as the first one, but the sequels rarely are. And it had enough good things to keep you very entertained.

MonstersUniversity

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Re-Watch: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Monsters, Inc.
Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson
Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson

Plot:
Sully (John Goodman) is the star employee of Monsters, Inc: nobody scares children quite like him. They need the children’s screams as it’s their energy source. But as kids are getting more jaded, it’s increasingly harder to scare them. As the Monster World is heading for an energy crisis, Sully and his best friend Mike (Billy Crystal) have a different problem though: through the workings of their rival Randall (Steve Buscemi), a little girl has managed to come to their world. Boo (Mary Gibbs), as they start calling her, isn’t safe there – monsters are deathly scared of children. But it’s also pretty hard for Sully and Mike to get her back.

I don’t know when I last saw Monsters, Inc., but I should watch it more often. It’s sweet. It’s funny. It’s smart. And most of all it’s really entertaining.

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Flight (2012)

Flight
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: John Gatins
Cast: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, Bruce GreenwoodJohn Goodman, Nadine VelazquezJames Badge Dale, Melissa Leo

Plot:
Whip (Denzel Washington) is a divorced pilot with an addiction problem. To get over his hangovers – when he’s not too drunk to have one – he usually takes a bit of cocaine. He goes through that same routine before getting on a plane that subsequently crashes. Though everyone agrees that this is due to a technical error and that Whip is solely responsible for saving most of the people on board, an investigation into his life makes him slowly face his drug problem.

Flight was very long. It could have easily been shorter and it would have been better for it. But even if it had been shorter, it just felt tired. Like both the story and the production was just a paint-by-the-numbers thing. Which is not really what you want from a film.flight

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Argo (2012)

Argo
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Chris Terrio
Based on: Joshuah Bearman‘s article [pdf link]
Cast: Ben Affleck, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber

Plot:
In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the USAmerican embassy in Teheran. In the middle of this confusion, 6 employees managed to flee to the Canadian embassy and hide there. The CIA hires exfiltration expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) to get them out of there. So Tony concocts a story about the shoot of a SciFi movie to provide a cover for the six of them, which includes the basic pre-production of the film.

Argo is a classic, straightforward and very well-made thriller that hits all the right notes in the right way, even if it doesn’t surprise. But it makes the perfect case for a tried and tested format executed well.

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