Whip It (2009)

Whip It
Director: Drew Barrymore
Writer: Shauna Cross
Based on: her own novel Derby Girl
Cast: Ellen PageKristen WiigZoë BellEveDrew Barrymore, Andrew Wilson, Juliette Lewis, Marcia Gay Harden, Alia ShawkatCarlo AlbanLandon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon
Seen on: 17.9.2016

Plot:
Bliss’ (Ellen Page) mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden) has been raising Bliss to participate in beauty pageants. But Bliss has no interest whatsoever in being pretty or in pageantry. That becomes even clearer to her when she discovers roller derby. On a whim she goes to a match, and falls in love immediately. After talking to team captain Maggie Mayhem (Kirsten Wiig), she decides to try out for the team herself. Despite the fact that her parents can’t know about it or that she isn’t the required 21 years old yet. So she dons skates and starts practicing, findig her place in the team and the world.

Whip It is a sweet film, with a lot of fun moments and it wouldn’t surprise me if it made at least half of its audience fall in love with roller derby. There’s one big draw back though – and that’s the fact that they didn’t dare to make this a queer story. But other than that I enjoyed it a lot.

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Nerve (2016)

Nerve
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Based on: Jeanne Ryan’s novel
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles HeizerKimiko GlennMarc John Jefferies, Machine Gun Kelly, Juliette LewisSamira Wiley
Seen on: 10.9.2016

Plot:
When Vee (Emma Roberts) is accused by her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) that she always plays it safe, Vee impulsively decides to get active in Nerve, an online game of Dare that is making the rounds among the teenagers of the city. Her first dares are innocent enough and bring her in touch with another participant, Ian (Dave Franco). They decide to team up. But the longer they play, the higher the stakes. And soon Vee finds that she can’t get out of the game anymore and she doesn’t even know if she can actually trust Ian.

I didn’t expect much from Nerve, but it turns out it’s an absolutely entertaining film. It’s not a masterpiece in any sense of the word, but it’s enjoyable popcorn cinema.

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Sympathy for Delicious (2010)

Sympathy for Delicious
Director: Mark Ruffalo
Writer: Christopher Thornton
Cast: Christopher Thornton, Juliette LewisLaura Linney, Orlando Bloom, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo

Plot:
Dean (Christopher Thornton) used to be a successful DJ until an accident puts him in a wheelchair permanently. Now Dean is homeless, mostly depressed and it is made impossible for him to work. But then two things happen that change Dean’s life from one day to the next: One, Ariel (Juliette Lewis) asks Dean to work with her band, led by eccentric The Stain (Orlando Bloom), And two, after being introduced to the world of faith healing by Father Joe (Mark Ruffalo), Dean discover that he actually has the power to heal people – everyone but himself.

Sympathy for Delicious consists of many good parts, but it lacks a bit of adhesive between those parts. Nevertheless it is a very nice watch.

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August: Osage County (2013)

August: Osage County
Director: John Wells
Writer: Tracy Letts
Based on: his play
Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregorMargo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Misty Upham

Plot:
When their father (Sam Shepard) dies, Barbara (Julia Roberts), Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Karen (Juliette Lewis) all gather home with their mother Violet (Meryl Streep). Everyone comes with their baggage: Barbara and her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) are separated but haven’t told their family and their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) doesn’t deal very well. Ivy has a secret lover. Karen brings home her newest fiancé (Dermot Mulroney). And Violet, a mean-spirited pill-addict, likes to stir things up.

August: Osage County isn’t always easy to watch but it is always well-acted and engaging. Toward the end I thought that it got a little much but altogether it was a really good film.

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Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Wesley Stick
Based on: John D. MacDonald‘s novel The Executioners
Remake of: Cape Fear
Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Joe Don Baker

Plot:
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is a successful lawyer with a nice family. But when Max Cady (Robert De Niro) – who Sam defended for raping a young girl, but not very well – is released from prison, Max starts to threaten Sam’s entire life and family. He stalks all of them, but particularly Sam’s daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis), but always just within the law – until he forces Sam to resort to desperate measures.

Since I wasn’t that into the original, I didn’t expect much from this film. But this film has three things the original didn’t have: Scorsese, a modern feel and some idea of feminism. I liked it a lot.

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The Switch (2010)

The Switch
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Writer: Allan Loeb
Based on: Jeffrey Eugenides‘ short story “Baster”
Cast: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Thomas Robinson, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis (and about 30 delicious seconds of Scott Elrod)

Plot:
Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are best friends and both long-time singles. When Kassie decides that her being single is no reason that she can’t have a baby, Wally is a bit taken aback, gets completely drunk at Kassie’s insemination party and then spills the chosen donor Roland’s (Patrick Wilson) semen. As drunk as he is, he figures that the best thing he can do is to donate his own sperm instead – and immediately forgets it ever happened. 7 years later, after Kassie moved to the suburbs and back again, Wally is confronted with Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), her son, and discovers eerie similarities.

I was extremely hesitant to see this movie. The idea that somebody hijacks somebody else’s pregnancy is far from funny and more really icky. But in the end, curiosity won me over and they did handle the concept way better than I thought they would. It still remains an average movie, though.

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Conviction (2010)

Conviction is the newest film by Tony Goldwyn, starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Clea DuVall, Ari Graynor, Peter Gallagher and Juliette Lewis.

Plot:
Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) gets convicted of murder. He insists that he’s innocent and his sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) believes him. From then on, she does everything she can think of to get Kenny out. She even starts going to law school in the evening, even though she has a a job and two kids. And she sticks with it – for 16 years.

Conviction tells a fascinating story but gets a bit too sappy at times. But anchored by the amazing cast, you can lean back and enjoy the sap.

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Strange Days (1995)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Strange Days is a film by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner.

Plot:
1999: Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) is a former cop who now makes his money by selling discs that can be inserted into the so-called SQUIDs: machines that can record everything a person experiences and can play it back to somebody else so that they experience it themselves. These recordings are illegal, and often record illegal things happening. Lenny’s life is pretty pathetic, he barely makes enough money to survive and he still dreams of his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis). The only constants in his life are his friends Max (Tom Sizemore) and Mace (Angela Bassett). In the middle of the world preparing for the new millenium, Lenny stumbles upon a conspiracy somehow involving Faith.

Strange Days is a pretty fantastic movie. The cast is great, the ideas interesting and even though the camera moves practically all the time, it never gets too shaky. The weakest point is the script, though – the big twist at the end is way too obvious, most of the characters are a little flimsy and the dialogue hurts a bit sometimes.

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Metropia (2009)

[Anilogue.]

Metropia is Tarik Saleh‘s first fiction film, starring the voices of Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard and Alexander Skarsgard.

Plot:
2024. After using up the world’s ressources, Europe is in shambles. A huge underground network connects all the subway lines of the major cities, controlled by the Trexx corporation. Roger (Vincent Gallo) tries to avoid the subway as much as possible, going so far as biking to work (which is illegal). But when his bike is broken, he enters the subway station, starts hearing a voice (Alexander Skarsgard) in his head and suddenly sees Nina (Juliette Lewis) – the girl from the shampoo commercial and his dreams. Nina kinda leads him down the rabbit hole into a huge conspiracy.

Metropia has a strange aesthetic, an interesting premise and great voice acting. Unfortunately the animation itself is not that great and it loses itself a bit in the plot.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Due Date (2010)

Due Date is the newest film by Todd Phillips, starring Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride and RZA.

Plot:
Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) is on his way home from a business trip to witness the birth of his son, scheduled for the end of the week. Unfortunately, at the airport he meets the obnoxious Ethan (Zach Galifianakis), who immediately gets him into all kinds of troubles and finally booted off the plane and on the No-Fly-List. Unfortunately, Peter’s luggage, including his wallet and ID stay on plane. And so he finds himself on a cross-country-trip with Ethan (who at least had the decency to get kicked off the plane as well).

I should have known. After The Hangover I just should have known better than to go ahead and watch this movie, let alone pay good money for it. But then along comes Robert Downey Jr. and has to be in the film. And I let myself be swayed. Boy, do I ever regret it.

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