Alien: Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: John Logan, Dante Harper
Sequel to: Prometheus
Prequel to: the Alien movies
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz
Seen on: 23.5.2017
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Plot:
The Covenant is a spaceship that carries colonizers who hope to find a new habitable planet. But before they reach their chosen destination, there is a malfunction that requires Walter (Michael Fassbender), a robot in charge of the ship, to wake the crew from cryostasis. As they are dealing with the aftermath of the damage, a transmission reaches them, a call for help that brings them off their intended path and down to a planet that seems to offer perfect conditions for colonization. But as soon as they land, things start to become weird.

Alien Covenant failed to leave much of an impression with me. The first half was pretty good, but the second half turned pretty boring and was simply too clichéd to work.

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Spectre (2015)

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench
Seen on: 10.11.2015

Plot:
The 00 program is still reeling from recent (forced) restructures. Now M (Ralph Fiennes) has to fight to keep it going at all as C (Andrew Scott) tries to establish a more technological data gathering approach to spying. Meanwhile, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission. A mysterious message from the old M (Judi Dench) reaches him, sending him to a funeral in Italy and with it right in the middle of Spectre – a secret organization that seems to have its hand in every major global event.

I’m not a huge Bond fan – which is probably why I enjoyed the most recent efforts in the franchise (well, apart from Quantom of Solace) as it seemed a step away from the worst of Bond’s inherent sexism. Plus, they were good actions films. Spectre, unfortunately, is a jump back into the 70s and with it, into all the Bond-pitfalls that the Craig-Bond-era has at least partly avoided. I was disappointed.

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory

Plot:
James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) mission is to protect a computer drive that contains the identities of several agents. But things go very wrong, Bond loses the drive and is shot by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – at the orders of M (Judi Dench). Believed dead, Bond disappears. But M has to face a lot of criticism for her actions and losing the list. When the MI6 HQ is bombed, Bond returns from his supposed death and he and M both have to face their pasts to clear this matter up.

I had heard only good things about Skyfall before seeing it and that might have made me expect a little too much. It was still a very good film, it just wasn’t as great as I had expected.

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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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Hugo (2011)

Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Based on: Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law

Plot:
After the death of his father (Jude Law), Hugo (Asa Butterfield) started to live in Paris’ Central Station, winding the clocks and trying to rebuild an automaton he and his father were working on. When he tries to steal some cogs from Papa George (Ben Kingsley), he gets caught and George takes the notebook in which Hugo’s father detailed the plans for the automaton. So Hugo enlists Papa George’s ward Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) to get it back. But what is George’s connection to the automaton in the first place?

Hugo is a beautiful, engaging and very entertaining. Plus, it’s basically a love letter to George Méliès – and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoyed every minute of it.

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Triple Feature

Yesterday was very intense. I left work early (I started early as well) to be able to go to a triple movie feature. I finally saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. [You may call me crazy for doing that.]

Elizabeth: The Golden Age was amazing. I actually like it better than the first part (which was excellent as well and it had Vincent Cassel in drag).
Shekhar Kapur has a perfect feeling for the use of light and the effect of light and light in general. He could have made a little less “shots through ornaments” (he likes them, see also Elizabeth) but that’s ok.
The acting was a-fucking-mazing. I knew Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush do act really good. I also knew Clive Owen could but rarely would (this time he did). Surprises were: Rhys Ifans (I like him and I know he can act but I didn’t know he was in this movie) and Jordi Mollà (who I didn’t know before but who had the incredible ability to scream “I’m a totally fucked-up maniac and nothing can stop me” without uttering a single word). With that cast, I also have to give out a honorary mention of Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton who were noticed :).
The dialogues were wonderful. Watching the movie I felt like I needed to take a pen out and write along. Or probably learn the screenplay (by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst) by heart.
Of course, the movie had some weak spots. I already mentioned the ornament shots. Then there was Archduke Charles, an Austrian who comes so the queen may see if he’s fit to marry. Anyway, Christian Brassington obviously doesn’t speak a word German (although he has a good German accent in English) but has to say a couple of sentences. I actually needed the subtitles to understand him because his accent was so bad. [Cate Blanchett had a better pronunciation.] That’s just embarassing.
And from the characterisation: Sir Walter Raleigh must have been one hell of a guy. First, he’s the perfect gentleman, funny, intelligent, knows how to tell a story, knows what he wants and has amazing green eyes (ok, those belong to Clive Owen). Then you might say he trips a little by sleeping with the queen’s chambermaid (or whatever you call the girls) [but I think that was only rational, not necessarily wise but rational – he knew nothing could happen with the queen]. Anyway, he gets Bess (the chambermaid) pregnant and instantly marries her and is happy with that. And after that he goes out and singlehandedly defeats the Spanish Armada.  That might be a little too much (but feeds my hope that somewhere out there might be a man who is a little bit like that).
Summarising: A wonderful film with wonderful actors and a wonderful script which has some minor faults. Plus: Clive Owen’s hotter than Joseph Fiennes.

On to There Will Be Blood:
I was actually very disappointed by this film. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as usual, as is Paul Dano who does a very good job not disappearing beside DD-L. But the film concentrates so much on DD-L that everything else is lost.
The “deathmatch” between him and the church is actually no match at all, there never is a single shred of doubt about the outcome and I felt like laughing all the time about the “exorcisms”.
Relationships live and die with Plainview’s feelings, the other person he has the relationship with has no say in it. (And no matter how dominant one person may be, relationships don’t work that way.)
And the music was horrible. It was intrusive and didn’t fit. The beginning of the credits deserves an award for Worst Chosen Music In A Film.
I guess, if I ever had the chance to make a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d try to get him into it as much as possible. So I understand why Paul Thomas Anderson did it the way he did. But he should have cut about half an hour of the film and could have tried to incorporate some other actors in this film as well.
Without DD-L there wouldn’t have been a movie. With him, there’s great acting but not much of a film.

So we come to Sweeney Todd.
In a nutshell: Another masterpiece by Tim Burton. I loved it. I loved the story, the music, the costumes (K. [German] wrote about Johnny Depp‘s trousers, I have to point out his leather jacket) and the acting.
Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way: The opening credits. The blood was poorly animated, it looked much too sticky and he could have done better.
That’s it.
Of course, Tim Burton has this very distinct style and some people may call it repetitive but who cares? I love the way he uses colours, and the lack of them. As well as the way he uses the same actors to portray the same roles, gives it all a continuity. (Though I guess, Christina Ricci wasn’t available.)

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spot the five differences… I know, it’s hard…

The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler were just wonderful.

And in the darkness
When I’m blind
With what I can’t forget
It’s always morning in my mind

And there’s another quote (this time from the script by John Logan) I loved, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter) says: “There could be an us, you know. It may not be what I dreamed of and it may not be what you remember, but it could be an us.”
I may be overinterpreting here, but I also liked the reference to Edward Scissorhands: Mr. Todd holds up the razor and says: “Finally, my arm is complete again.”
I laughed my ass off during the dream sequence. The striped bathing suits flat did it for me ((c) Anita Blake).
I don’t know what to think of Jamie Campbell Bower yet. He knows how to sing, that’s for sure, but I don’t think him that good an actor. And he looks weird.

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Alan Rickman, of course, was great. And Sacha Baron Cohen as “Call me Davey” Pirelli had me almost falling off my chair. And Timothy Spall was the perfect cast for Beadle. (When I saw him, my first thought was “Mr. Croup!” but I mistook him for Hywel Bennett. Only my second thought was “Peter Pettigrew!“)
And Giles Anthony Stewart Head was there, if only for five seconds.

There are about a thousand more things I could write about this film, but I’ll leave it at that. I guess you know already what I’m feeling about it.