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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The Sun Is Also a Star (2019)

The Sun Is Also a Star
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Writer: Tracy Oliver
Based on: Nicola Yoon‘s novel
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, Anais Lee, John Leguizamo, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Miriam A. Hyman, Jordan Williams, Jake Choi, Keong Sim, Cathy Shim
Seen on: 17.5.2019

Content Note: deportation, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Natasha (Yara Shahidi) and her family are from Jamaica and face deportation from the USA the very next day. She hopes to get an appointment with a lawyer who may just be able to help them. On the way to this appointment, she meets Daniel (Charles Melton) who is heading towards his college interview. Daniel believes in signs and he sees a sign in Natasha, or rather her jacket. He manages to convince Natasha to spend some time with him and to give him a chance to win her over.

The Sun Is Also a Star is nice and cute, but I wanted to like it more than I did. I’m just not one for narratives about destiny.

The film poster showing Natasha (Yara Shahidi) leaning against Daniel (Charles Melton). Behind them are star signs.
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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Sequel to: John Wick
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Thomas Sadoski, Erik Frandsen, David Patrick Kelly, Perry Yung, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare
Seen on: 22.2.2017

Plot:
After John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finished his quest of vengeance and made sure that there will be no continuation of a blood feud, all he wants is to get back to his life of peace and quiet. But his reappearance in the world of assassins hasn’t gone unnoticed and there is still a debt John owes to Santino (Riccardo Scarmarcio) – and Santino has come to collect. John wants to refuse, but if he does, he goes against one of the central principles of this world – and his life will be up for grabs.

John Wick: Chapter 2 may not have blown me away quite as much as the first film (which may be due mostly to my higher expectations now), but it is definitely a more than worthy sequel.

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Re-Watch: John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 21.2.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

Before seeing the sequel, I knew I had to re-watch John Wick. And also on re-watching it’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful action movie that I simply adore.

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American Ultra (2015)

American Ultra
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writer: Max Landis
Cast: Jesse EisenbergKristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman
Seen on: 20.10.2015

Plot:
Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) have a great life together, if you consider smoking a lot of weed, working dead-end jobs and never leaving the small town they live in a great life. At least they very much love each other. But their existence is completely destroyed when it turns out that Mike is the product of a CIA experimental program which used to be run by Victoria (Connie Britton). But Victoria was demoted, her program scapped and her new boss Adrian (Topher Grace) decided to obliterate the last remains of her program – that means killing Mike. Victoria decides to go against the plan and activates Mike, causing Adrian and his henchmen who came for him a world of trouble.

American Ultra is an entertaining film that is a little uneven but definitely fun to watch.

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Chef (2014)

Chef
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Jon Favreau
Cast: Jon Favreau, John LeguizamoEmjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters
Seen on: 9.6.2015

Plot:
Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a passionate chef, but his boss Riva (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to stick with the tried and tested menu – always. That brings him an abysmal critique by Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt), the most important food critic. After fundamentally misunderstanding twitter, Carl transform that critique into a public feud with Michel, ultimately leading to him losing his job. Suddenly Carl has all the time in the world. Taking a recommendation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), he goes back to his roots and re-builds his career with a food truck that he takes on a cross-country tour, helped by his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his friend Martin (John Leguizamo).

Chef was an entertaining film, although it felt to me like Favreau made a film where he out-latinos all the latin@s in it – which was very weird, if not to say problematic.

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John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 02.02.2015

Plot:
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

I expected John Wick to be a so bad it’s good kind of film. It isn’t. It is actually, unironically fantastic, a modern action masterpiece and I loved every second of it.

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The Counselor (2013)

The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt, Toby Kebbell, Édgar Ramírez, Dean NorrisJohn Leguizamo, Natalie Dormer, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is about to marry his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz). He is also somehow involved in the drug business through his client Reiner (Javier Bardem) and he’s about to get involved more deeply. And to no one’s surprise except his own, things go very wrong very quickly and it’s all somehow connected to Reiner’s enigmatic girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz).

There were many things I could see going wrong with this film, but what I did not anticipate was that it would be Cormac McCarthy’s writing where things go very wrong. But unfortunately that was the case and the result was a film that was pretty much unbearable.

the-counselor

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Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass 2
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jeff Wadlow
Based on: Mark Millar’s and John Romita Jr.’s comic
Sequel to: Kick-Ass
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Lyndsy Fonseca, Morris ChestnutClaudia Lee, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo, Jim Carrey, Iain Glen

Plot:
After the events in the last film, Hit-Girl aka Mindy (Chloe Moretz) now lives with her father’s best friend Marcus (Morris Chestnut) and pretends to be a normal high school girl. But instead, she’s fighting crime and training Dave aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But Dave is dreaming of a superhero-team-up. And when Chris, formerly know as Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), decides to become the world’s first supervillain The Motherfucker, a team-up seems to become absolutely necessary.

I was really looking forward to this film. But I spent most of it in horror at the way they twisted the characters and the story and left the movie quite disappointed. It’s not that bad per se, but it rubbed me the wrong way in so many things.

kick-ass-2

[SPOILERS]

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The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer is Brad Furman‘s adaptation of Michael Connelly‘s novel, written by John Romano, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña and Bryan Cranston.

Plot:
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is pretty much the definition of a sleazy lawyer. But then he takes on the defense of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a rich kid accused of murder. Together with his best friend, private detective Frank Levin (William H. Macy) he digs into the particulars of the case. Pretty soon he discovers that the story Louis is telling can’t be quite true – and there might be a connection to one of Mick’s old cases.

The Lincoln Lawyer is basically the cinematical equivalent of fast food. There’s some nurtitional value to it, it will satisfy your hunger – but only for a little while. Is it a culinary delight? Well, no. But it does its job without leaving much behind, good or bad.

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