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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Brave (2012)

Brave
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Writer: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Irene Mecchi
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson

Plot:
Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is King Fergus’ (Billy Connolly) daughter. But despiter her mother Elinor’s (Emma Thompson) best efforts, Merida is not really interested in being a princess. She much rather spends her time shooting her bow and riding through the woods. When the queen decides that it’s time for Merida to marry, Merida decides that she needs a way to change her fate – by changing her mother. When she stumbles on a witch’s cottage, she gets a chance to do so – with unforseeable consequences.

I loved Brave. It was funny, sweet, entertaining, touching and beautifully animated. An absolute success.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the last movie in the Harry Potter series originally written by Joanne K. Rowling. The film was directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and starring pretty much every British actor ever Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs, Warwick Davis, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Ciarán Hinds, Julie Walters, Kelly Macdonald, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Robbie Coltrane, Jamie Campbell Bower, Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson.

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) slowly uncovers the final secrets surrounding his life while his fight with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) draws to an end. After pretty much everything has gone to hell, things – and people – are finally coming together for the final battle while Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) try to destroy the remaining horcruxes.

After HPatDH:1 2 pretty much had to be a cinematic revelation (I still can’t believe how boring 1 was), just in comparison. And that worked out. Is it the best movie ever? Well no, David Yates is still its director. But it’s a decent and fitting ending to the series.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is – as you all probably now – Number 7 in a series of seven books by Joanne K. Rowling. It was made into two movies, this here is Part 1, which was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, (continuing in no particular order) Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Julie Walters, Bonnie Wright, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Jamie Campbell Bower, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Miranda Richardson, Warwick Davis and Michael Gambon.

Plot:
[Hell, if you don’t know what Harry Potter is about, you might not want to start here. Anyway.]
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) leave school to find and destroy the horcruxes that keep Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) alive. But the search is more difficult and dangerous than they anticipated.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I think both the books as well as the movies have reached their peak with number four (though The Prisoner of Azkaban is a close second). HPatDH1 did nothing to change my point of view on that. The pacing’s bad, the direction is worse and there’s no reason to drag this out in two films, since nothing really happens in this one anyway.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

[Somehow this film, too, slipped through the cracks in my trying to get this blog up to speed. I saw it in July, I think.]

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th movie in the Harry Potter series based on J.K. Rowling‘s book of the same name. It was directed by David Yates and stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael GambonAlan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, David Thewlis and Jim Broadbent.

[SPOILERS for the WHOLE SERIES after this point.]

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is in his sixth year at Hogwarts (school for wizadry). He finds a mysterious book that belonged to the half-blood prince and the notes in it help him star in Prof. Slughorn’s (Jim Broadbent) potion class. At the same time he works together with Prof. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to find out more about Lord Voldemort and his weaknesses.

The Half-Blood Prince is definitely the weakest of all the Potter movies so far. The plot’s all over the place, things happen you can only understand if you’ve read the books and HOLY SHIT! they spoil the seventh book/movie. What the hell?

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Thank Goodness, the 70s are over…

I saw Mamma Mia! and, boy, am I glad that nobody dresses in silver (or violet or blue or …) one piece body suit thingies anymore.

What can I say, I don’t think I need to see it ever again. There were some funny scenes (when they sing Dancing Queen or Does Your Mother Know), I really loved the interpretation of Lay All Your Love On Me, but if I ever want to see them again, there’s youtube.

So, what was wrong?

First, most of the main actors couldn’t sing. Except for Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper, who were obviously cast for their singing abilities and not their popularity, it was awful. The best thing I can say is that I don’t really remember Stellan Skarsgard‘s singing and that Julie Walters‘ singing didn’t suck completely. Pierce Brosnan probably would have a nice rock voice, but not a good voice for singing ABBA songs, which are too high for him.

Apart from the singing, there was the acting, which had theatre written all over it, in huge, blinking, red neon letters. Theatre acting is not bad in itself, but it is different from movie acting for a reason. When you got a camera that catches every wrinkel in your face, there is no need for big gestures, they just seem weird. Which is exactly what happened here. And they managed to make Meryl Streep seem like she can’t act. Which is some kind of achievement, I guess.
Also, the way the story was structured is very theatre-like. I guess that’s due to Phyllida Lloyd, who also directed the Broadway version.
They could have done a little more adapting. Just a bit.

[SPOILER]

Colin Firth, I love him. No doubt about that. But he was completely miscasted. If there’s someone, who screams “straight” with every pore of his body, it’s him. And he seemed so completely, amazingly and unbelievably uncomfortable with hugging the young guy, who played his lover, that I actually pitied him for having to do that (I wouldn’t have minded, the guy was cute…).

[END SPOILER]

Okay, that probably sounds like I suffered the whole time, which is not true. I enjoyed Julie Walters (she’s just good in everything she does. And she’s really cool as Elvis) and Christine Baranski a lot, as well as Stellan Skarsgaard.

I laughed and I like the music (every 5 years or so, I even dig out the Best Of CD I own and listen to it), it was fun to see the young hippy versions of the guys and Meryl Streep.

I probably would have enjoyed it more, though, if I had been alone in the movie. Well, my sister could have stayed, but that’s it. People actually clapped along. Newsflash, dear audience: THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU! I understand that sometimes you might want to sing along softly, a verse or two. But clapping??? Really not happening.
[Deadra meant that I’d have to see it more like those Sing-Along Rocky Horror Picture Show showings. To which I say: You’ve gotta earn the right by dressing up first, then you can sing along and shout Weiss and throw toilet paper as much as you want (though I haven’t heard of anybody clapping along). But before I don’t see anybody in one of those one piecers and those shoes, and before I don’t get a warning that those things will happen before I buy the ticket, I stay annoyed.]

But what really killed me, was the buzz in the toilet afterwards, people screaming out “Dancing Queen, young and sweet, …” and one woman in particular, who said to a friend, “I love Colin Firth. But already since 1995, when he was in Pride and Prejudice…” [Translation: “I saw him first, he’s mine, mine, mine!”] [Well, I saw Valmont and that film is older, so he must be mine… But wait, L. saw Another Country before me, so he must be hers!]. I actually had the strength not to laugh out loud. Who’s the bigger person now?

Movie-Mania

Ok, my last two posts were about movies, this one will be, too, but as I won’t have time to go to the cinema for at least until Tuesday, I guess, next time you’ll read something else. Probably about what I’m reading now (Siegfried Lenz – “Die Deutschstunde”, Tad Williams – “Otherland: Mountain of Black Glass”, Angela Baron & Michael Armstrong – “Human Capital Management”), probably not.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the cinema, again. My partner in crime: K. Maybe she will wake from her blogging coma to post about the movies we saw yesterday because they were really good. Made up for the two bad ones I saw before.

To not keep you on tenterhooks (I love that word) anymore: We saw “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” and Becoming Jane.

Mr. Magorium is just wonderful. Although there was a slight technical difficulty (after the advertisement we just got a black screen for about 10 minutes), it definitely was my highlight of the week. I laughed, I cried, I watched the colours and the lack of colours with fascination and I saw the saddest stuffed animal ever (even though K. claims to have seen an even sadder one – I can’t really believe it). Eric, the little boy and hat collector (played by Zach Mills), is sooo cute (I wonder why jug ears are cute when a boy is 12, but not anymore when he’s 22…). Never heard of Jason Bateman before (though every time I see/hear the name Bateman I have to think about American Psycho) but he completely convinced me as the accounting mutant, especially in the scene where he plays with Eric in his room. Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman play just wonderfully and altogether it’s the perfect Christmas story.
Go and see it RIGHT NOW! (Ok, you may finish reading this post first…)

[Warning Spoiler!]
Becoming Jane
is beautiful. Sad, witty, well played. It gave off the vibe of her books, although the obligatory happy ending is missing. You keep on hoping until the end. Anne Hathaway plays well, very passionately. James McAvoy was as he always was – perfect actor, but I’m still not sure about his looks. (It was the same in Atonement – one minute I think that he’s oh-so-good-looking, the next I think he will be, when he’s older, and the next I think he never will reach the good-looking-status. [I just saw his picture on the imdb… oh my… he really should change that…]) The casting for the supporting roles was amazing – Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, and also the not so famous actors were perfectly chosen: Joe Anderson (I was sure I saw him in another movie before but after looking on his site, on the imdb as usual, I don’t think I have), Laurence Fox, Leo Bill and Ian Richardson.
Again, I laughed and cried and thought about what I would have done in her situation. *sigh* Beautiful.