Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton
Seen on: 24.11.2017
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Plot:
Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is supposed to take the Orient Express to travel from one case to his well-earned vacation. But as luck will have it, there’s a murder right there on the train. As it is stopped by an avalanche, Poirot takes up the case, determined to find out who among the illustrous guests was responsible for the death of Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp). Unfortunately, the case is anything but straightforward as Poirot soon discovers.

Murder on the Orient Express starts off strong enough, but with every further plot twist, the film seems to slip more and more out of Branagh’s control. The result was mostly meh with a couple of shiny moments.

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Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn WhiteheadMark RylanceTom HardyKenneth BranaghJames D’ArcyCillian MurphyHarry StylesDamien BonnardAneurin BarnardBarry KeoghanTom Glynn-CarneyJack Lowden
Seen on: 28.7.2017
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Plot:
It’s the middle of World War II and the Allied forces are struggling. But the situation is nowhere as precarious as in Dunkirk where 400.000 soldiers are huddled on a beach, with no way out but the sea – only that they are easy targets there for the German air force. The situation is desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, civilans take their boats and start the journey from Great Britain to France to pick up the soldiers.

To say that I liked or enjoyed Dunkirk would be very much the wrong vocabulary to use. But I did think it’s a good film that is very effectively made, managing to create tension and pressure, especially via the soundtrack, that is hard to stand.

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The Winter’s Tale

The Winter’s Tale
Director: Kenneth Branagh, Rob Ashford
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Miranda Raison, John Shrapnel, Hadley Fraser, Tom Bateman, Jessie Buckley, Michael Pennington
Seen on: 26.11.2015

Plot:
Leontes (Kenneth Branagh), King of Sicily, is visited by his old friend Polixenes (Hadley Fraser), King of Bohemia. When Polixenes wants to leave, Leontes asks his pregnant wife Hermione (Miranda Raison) to convince him to stay. When she succeeds, Leontes believes it’s because she and Polixenes have an affair. Convinced that the child isn’t his, Leontes tries to poison Polixenes and imprisons Hermione, setting events in motion that will have consequences for years to come.

The Winter’s Tale is a mixed bag of beans. While I enjoyed much about it and it really was a high quality production, there were so many unnecessary things that kept adding length when I was hoping for speed that the overall effect was rather meh.

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Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz
Based on: the Disney movie, which is in turn based on the fairy tale
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon
Seen on: 16.03.2015

Plot:
After her mother’s (Hayley Atwell) death, Ella’s (Lily James) father (Ben Chaplin) gets married again. Cinderella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) move in and change Ella’s life forever. When her father dies a short time later, Ella becomes Cinderella, a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. When the Prince (Richard Madden) invites all unmarried women to a ball to choose his wife, Cinderella would like to go as well, but needs the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) to do so. But there are still some difficulties to be faced until the happy end.

Cinderella brings the aesthetic of the animated Disney version to life and adds its own brand of humor. It is a little long at times and the script isn’t particularly good, but it’s enjoyable.

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My Week with Marilyn (2011)

My Week with Marilyn
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Adrian Hodges
Based on: Colin Clark‘s autobiography The Prince, The Showgirl and Me
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Judi DenchZoë Wanamaker, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Emma Watson, Derek Jacobi

Plot:
Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) dreams of working in the film industry. Since his parents are well connected and know Vivian Leigh (Julia Ormond), and because he’s rather talented, he gets the chance to work with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) on his newest film, The Prince and the Showgirl. The star of the film is Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Things don’t go too well with her in the film, but Marilyn takes a shine to Colin.

My Week with Marilyn has great, great potential. Unfortunately, it’s also stuck with the most pointless main character. Still, you kind of appreciate the film for what it could have been.

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Thor (2011)

Thor is Kenneth Branagh‘s newest film, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins.

Plot:
After yet another attack by the Frost Giants on Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) loses his cool and together with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) pays them a rather violent visit. Their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is less than happy about this and decides to ban Thor to Earth until he’s learned his lesson and is less rash. On Earth, scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) stumbles upon Thor and doesn’t really know what to do with him. And if it wasn’t challenging enough for Thor to try and return to Asgard, a shitload of trouble is brewing with Loki.

Thor is brilliant. THE END.

Alright, alright. I’ll write more, though the general message will stay the same: The movie is funny, it looks wonderful, the casting is excellent and did I mention Kenneth Branagh’s impeccable comedic timing? In short, this movie is serious fun.

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The Boat That Rocked (2009)

The Boat That Rocked is the new movie by Richard Curtis, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Norrington Jack Davenport and Tom Sturridge.

Plot:
Carl (Tom Sturridge) is sent to his godfather’s Quentin (Bill Nighy) boat because he messed up in school and his mother thought that it would be a good idea to have him live with some men. Unfortunately, Quentin’s ship is a pirate radio station, inhabited by the eccentric radio DJs. At the same time, Minister Dormandy (Kenneth Brannagh) tries to shut down the radio piracy, with the help of his assistant Twatt (Jack Davenport).

While the movie has a wonderful soundtrack and a good cast, the rest was unfortunately highly offensive to me as a woman and as a thinking human being. Most of the jokes were, as we say in German, “unter jeder Sau” (which might be translated to “beneath every sow” and means abysmal). At one point, I was about to walk out of the theatre and I have never done that before. If you wanna know why, read on. If you don’t want to read me rant again, you better skip the rest of the post.

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[SPOILERY SPOILERS]

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Valkyrie (2008)

Valkyrie is the story of the – in the end unsuccessful – coup Stauffenberg staged in WW II to get rid of Hitler. It stars Tom Cruise and a legion of talented supporting actors and it’s directed by Bryan Singer.

Plot:
Stauffenberg doubts the war Hitler is waging on the world. After he is wounded during a bombing in Africa, he is contacted by the German resistance. Together they develop a plan to overthrow Hitler. And if the plan doesn’t succeed, at least, to show the world that not everybody in Germany simply followed along.

This film had to take a lot of crap, even before it had even started or was done shooting. Casting Tom Cruise was an unpopular choice, the wild mix of accents was criticised etc etc.
Plus the marketing in Austria and Germany still claimed Stauffenberg as the unknown hero of WW II, which might be true in the US, but definitely isn’t here.
Therefore, I went into this film with mixed feelings and rather low expectations. Fortunately, I should have trusted Bryan Singer. Because he is damn good.

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