Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Amanda Warren, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving
Seen on: 5.2.2018
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Plot:
Mildred (Frances McDormand) has had enough. Her daughter was murdered and the police don’t even seem to try to solve it. So she posts three huge billboards that call attention to the fact. The billboards don’t fan the investigation so much as the emotions of the locals. They do make the life of police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) more difficult, especially since his hotheaded deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) takes it personally.

Three Billboards tells its story very well. Unfortunately it just tells the completely wrong story, managing to perpetuate the racism it tries to stand against by centering the white perspective.

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Everest (2015)

Everest
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Jason Clarke, John HawkesJosh Brolin, Naoko Mori, Michael KellyMartin Henderson, Jake GyllenhaalAng Phula Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki, Robin WrightVanessa Kirby, Clive Standen, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson
Seen on: 5.10.2015

Plot:
Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) thought he found his niche when he established guided tours up Mount Everest for more or less amateur climbers, but since he started, many others have followed his lead and now base camp is full with groups – one of them led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). Rob, too, brings yet another group to climb the top, among them journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), postman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), enthusiastic climber Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) and Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori) who wants to complete her collection of over 8000m peaks she’s climbed. But the group encounters more than one problem.

I’m not a mountain person. I don’t even understand skiing as a pastime, something people do voluntarily (and I’m fucking Austrian). So the concept of climbing Mount Everest is utterly alien to me. I understand it even less after having seen this film.

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Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan

Plot:
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.

Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.

Lincoln

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The Sessions (2012)

The Sessions
Director: Ben Lewin
Writer: Ben Lewin
Based on: Mark O’Brien‘s life
Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin

Plot:
Mark (John Hawkes) got polio when he was a child and has been paralyzed ever since. Now he’s in his thirties and spends most of his time in an iron lung and helped by personal assistants. Recently a wish has been  growing in Mark: he wants to lose his virginity. After talking it over with his priest, Father Brendan (William H. Macy), Mark enlists the help of a sex surrogate, a kind of sex therapist – Cheryl (Helen Hunt).

The Sessions is a sweet and fun film with a really good cast. The story is interesting and gives you a glimpse at an extraordinary life. It’s really touching.

the-sessions

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Contagion (2011)

Contagion
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle, Elliott Gould, Bryan Cranston, Josie Ho

Plot:
Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) travels home from a business trip in Hong Kong. But almost as soon as she reaches her husband (Matt Damon) and son, the cold she brought from Hong Kong turns out to be much worse and is, in fact, the beginning of a worldwide epidemic. While people around them start dying the CDC sends an agent (Kate Winslet) to Boston, while the WHO sends one of their people (Marion Cotillard) to Hong Kong in a desperate attempt to find a cure – and quickly.

In Contagion, Soderbergh dodges most of the classic movie conventions on how to tell his story. Instead he makes a film that feels so utterly realistic that you can almost believe it to be a documentary. That is not only impressive per se, it also makes for an excellent film.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Director: Sean Durkin
Writer: Sean Durkin
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) has been living with a sect for the past two years when she breaks free and returns to her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her fiancé Ted (Hugh Dancy). But just leaving the cult doesn’t get rid of Martha’s scars. So she slowly and painfully starts the process of getting reacquainted with society as we know it.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is an excellent and really, really scary movie. Only the ending can’t keep up with the rest of the film and is a bit disappointing.

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Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

Wristcutters: A Love Story is movie by Goran Dukic, based on a short story by Etgar Keret, starring Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, Shannyn Sossamon, Leslie Bibb, Abraham Benrubi, John Hawkes, Will Arnett and Tom Waits.

Plot:
After the break-up with his girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb), Zia (Patrick Fugit) kills himself. But his death is not the end – instead he ends up in a kind of half-world afterlife, where all the suicides come together. His afterlife is dull, probably even duller than his actual life and not even his friendship with Eugene (Shea Whigham), a rather crazy Russian singer, can change that. But then Zia hears that Desiree committed suicide herself. Since that means, she has to be somewhere in the same afterlife, he convinces Eugene to go on a road trip to look for her. Along the way, they pick up Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) who is looking for the People in Charge because they made a mistake with her.

Wristcutters is a movie that just floats along. It’s pleasant, it moves you, it’s nice, but it never makes you excited (apart from when Will Arnett shows up because he’s great). It’s a good watch, but I don’t think I’ll be thinking of it very often.

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Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter’s Bone is Debra Granik‘s second movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Lauren Sweetser and Dale Dickey.

Plot:
Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) is only a teenager, but she’s been taking care of her family – a psychotic mother and two little kids – ever since her father got arrested for drug dealing. When the sheriff (Garret Dillahunt) turns up to tell her that her father gave their house and land as security for his bail and disappeared, Ree can’t take the risk of losing everything. So she starts to look for her father. But it seems that nobody wants her to find him.

Winter’s Bone is an excellently cast, wonderfully shot and very atmospheric film. Despite being not that “actiony”, it’s a very tense film and one that will draw you in right away.

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