Love & Friendship (2016)

Love & Friendship
Director: Whit Stillman
Writer: Whit Stillman
Based on: Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, Jenn Murray, Lochlann O’Mearáin, Sophie Radermacher, Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Justin Edwards
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2016

Plot:
Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is a widow with a 16-year-old daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Susan very much enjoys her widowhood and has garnered quite a reputation as a seductress. Her most recent conquest, Mr. Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin), has left her in a bit of a delicate situation, so she retreats to her brother’s (Justin Edwards) estate. Her sister-in-law Catherine Vernon (Emma Greenwell) is not pleased as she suspects Susan’s scheming ways. Catherine’s brother Reginald (Xavier Samuel), on the other hand, is rather intrigued by her, despite the warnings. Susan knows she will have to find good husbands for Frederica and herself to secure their futures, so that’s what she sets her mind to.

Love & Friendship was an utterly delightful film. Funny, romantic and filled with great characters, the film is the novel Jane Austen could have written if she had wanted to spend more time on Lady Susan. I absolutely adored it.

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The Face of an Angel (2014)

The Face of an Angel
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: Paul Viragh
Based on: Barbie Latza Nadeau’s book Angel Face: The True Story of Student Killer Amanda Knox
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevingne, Genevieve Gaunt, Lucy Cohu, Ava Acres, Rosie Fellner, Sai Bennett
Seen on: 3.6.2015

Plot:
Thomas (Daniel Brühl) is looking to make a documentary about the murder of a young American exchange student in Italy and the ensuing process against her roommate and fellow exchange student and her boyfriend. Once in Italy he meets with journalist Simone (Kate Beckinsale), who has been covering the entire affair and wrote one of many books about the case. Thomas is looking for an angle to cover the story, which is particularly difficult since there are more opinions about the case, the quality of the police work and the guilt of the accused than can be counted. As he is working on that, he meets the exchange student Melanie (Cara Delevingne) who introduces him to her world.

I am unsure whether The Face of an Angel has the worst script ever, or just an extremely bad script. Either way, I hated it and the entire film with it.

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Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback
Based on: Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
Remake of: Total Recall
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine, Bill Nighy, John Cho

Plot:
Douglas Quail (Colin Farrell) would be happily married to Lori (Kate Beckinsale), if it wasn’t for a recurring dream about a mysterious woman. He decides to confront this dream by going to Rekall Inc., a company that provides real-seeming memories of unreal events. But before the Rekall treatment actually occurs, Doug finds himself surrounded by police and discovers that the memories of his life are pretty much all fake: he is not who he thought he was. With several people on his tail, he tries to figure out what the hell is going on.

Total Recall, much like Prometheus, is not a movie that makes particularly much sense, but it is very pretty to look at. Unlike Prometheus, though, I found it really very entertaining.

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Contraband (2012)

Contraband
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Remake of: Reykjavík Rotterdam
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, David O’Hara, Diego Luna, J. K. Simmons

Plot:
Chris (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a smuggler (and a damn good one). But when he got a wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, he quit. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) isn’t as smart or as good a smuggler and so he gets into trouble with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) who hired him to smuggle drugs Andy promptly had to dump. Briggs threatens Chris and his family and pressures him into a job. And so Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) get their old group together to get counterfeit money into the country.

Contraband is so formulaic, it practically becomes its own archetype. Unfortunately that’s the only thing that stands out about the film.

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Emma (1996)

[Since I finished reading the novel, I figured that I’d watch the adaptations, too and I decided to start with the films I hadn’t yet seen. So, this is the first one, but there will be more.]

Emma is Diarmuid Lawrence‘ adaptation of Jane Austen‘s novel, starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, Dominic Rowan, Samantha Bond, Olivia Williams and Bernard Hepton.

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Samantha Bond) and Mr Weston (James Hazeldine) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Mark Strong), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Dominic Rowan). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Raymond Coulthard) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

This movie has it hard. It came out in the same year as the more famous Gwyneth Paltrow version and so really doesn’t escape comparison. And mostly, it loses. But only mostly, not entirely.

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Everybody’s Fine (2009)

Everybody’s Fine is a remake of Italian movie Stanno tutti bene. It was directed by Kirk Jones and stars Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. (And in small roles: Melissa Leo and James Frain.)

Plot:
Frank (Robert De Niro) lives on his own in a big house after his wife died and all the kids moved out. He’s just preparing for all the kids to visit at the same time – something he’s really been looking forward to. But when all of them cancel on short notice, Frank doesn’t want to wait anymore. He decides to visit them himself, so he gets on a train and sets off.

I liked this film. Though it probably wasn’t the best movie ever and the story was a little “been there, done that”, the cast made up for a lot of things. Plus, it was sensibly written and nicely shot.

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