Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

Pawn Sacrifice
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Steven Knight
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov, Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert
Seen on: 16.5.2016

Plot:
Bobby Fisher (Tobey Maguire) loves one thing and one thing only: playing chess. And he’s damn good at it. So good, in fact, that he seems to be the only person who might be able to actually beat the Russians, in particular the current world champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). In times of the Cold War, that victory becomes much more than a simple win in a game. But the pressure that puts on Bobby starts to be too much for his already fractured psyche.

I’m not a huge fan of movies that are yet another take on how closely genius and madness lie together. Usually those films do a great disservice to both. So I probably wouldn’t have seen Pawn Sacrifice if it hadn’t been for Liev Schreiber. Which would have actually been a pity. It didn’t blow me away, but it is a very decent film with great characters.

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Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Jamey Sheridan, Billy Crudup
Seen on: 13.3.2016

Plot:
Robby (Michael Keaton) runs the Spotlight department of the Boston Globe, meaning he and his team – consisting of Mike (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha (Rachel McAdams) and Matt (Brian d’Arcy James) – do in-depth research to uncover the big stories while not getting bogged down in the day-to-day business of writing news articles. When the Globe hires Marty (Liev Schreiber) as the new editor-in-chief, Marty asks the Spotlight team to dive into the story of child abuse by a catholic priest. The more they dig, the more they start to uncover until it becomes clear that the problem runs much deeper than just one priest.

Spotlight was an engaging film with great performances and about an important topic. I don’t know if you can say that you enjoyed a story about systematic abuse, but watching Spotlight it’s probably the closest you’ll ever gonna get to that.

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Creed (2015)

Creed
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Sequel to: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V, Rocky Balboa
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish, Liev Schreiber (in a voice cameo)
Seen on: 21.1.2016

Plot:
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is settled with a big legacy: he is Apollo Creed’s son. He calls himself Donnie and uses his mother’s surname, just to make sure that he isn’t carrying on his father’s legacy but building his own as a boxer, much to the dismay of his foster mother and Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), who would rather not see him box at all. But Donnie makes his own plans: he gives up his job in finance, moves to Philadelphia and seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylverster Stallone) to ask him whether he’d be willing to train him.

I have to admit that I have not seen any of the Rocky films, so I really have no point of reference for the background of this film. But it isn’t actually necessary. Creed was an engaging sports/boxing film that even brings something new to the table.

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The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave
Director: J Blakeson
Writer: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner
Based on: Rick Yancey‘s novel
Cast: Chloë Grace MoretzAlex Roe, Nick RobinsonZackary ArthurMaika Monroe, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello
Seen on: 20.1.2016

Plot:
Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) used to be a normal teenager, but it also used to be a normal world – until aliens attacked Earth. In increasingly destructive waves from EMPs to natural catastrophes and sickness, these aliens have started to decimate the human race. The fourth wave has come and gone, leaving only a fraction of humanity behind, most of them huddling together in refugee camps, awaiting the fifth wave – whatever that will be. Cassie has lost her mother (Maggie Siff), when the army, led by Colonel Vosch (Liev Schreiber), arrives at their refugee camp. Cassie is supposed to go with her brother Sam (Zackary Arthur) and the other children, while her father (Ron Livingston) remains behind. But things go wrong and Cassie finds herself on her own and searching for Sam.

I like young adult dystopia books and films. Usually. But The Fifth Wave is one of the stupidest films I have ever seen. Nothing makes sense and it isn’t even entertaining. I could feel my braincells dying as I watched this shit.

thefifthwave[SPOILERS]

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Fading Gigolo (2013)

Fading Gigolo
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Cast: John Turturro, Woody AllenVanessa ParadisLiev Schreiber, Tonya Pinkins, Sharon Stone, Sofía Vergara
Part of: Vienna Jewish Film Festival

Plot:
Murray (Woody Allen) has to close his bookshop and is now looking at other forms of income. When his doctor (Sharon Stone) tells him about her sexual fantasies, Murray has the idea to pimp out his friend Fioravante (John Turturro), a quiet part-time florist. After initial hesitation, Fioravante agrees to the plan. But when Murray brings him the Jewish-orthdox, recently widowed Avigal (Vanessa Paradis) as a customer, sex is not what is required of Fioravante and soon, love is at stake.

Fading Gigolo wasn’t a bad film, though there was way too much smartmouthing Woody Allen for my taste, but it was definitely a film made for the guys and personally I’m just very tired of those films.

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The Butler (2013)

The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Based on: Wil Haygood’s article
Cast: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Nelsan Ellis

Plot:
Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm where he officially wasn’t a slave anymore but he practically was. When he was old enough, he left there and after a period of hardship was lucky enough to find employment. Bit by bit he works his way up to becoming a butler and finally gets recruited into the White House. But racism is still a major issue.

The Butler has a great cast and the time passes rather quickly when you watch it, but it’s a manipulative film (which I was prepared for and which isn’t generally bad) that is so sweet that it leaves you in desperate need of insulin to manage it. And that was just too much.

The_Butler

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Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (it’s a comedy anthology with the following segments)
Writer (for the most parts): Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Steve Baker
The Thread (in the European version, that’s the framing device; in the US, I gather, it’s a different story)
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Cast: Devin Eash, Adam Cagley, Mark L. Young
The Catch
Director: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman
Homeschooled
Director: Will Graham
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Allen White
The Proposition
Director: Steve Carr
Cast: Chris Pratt, Anna Faris
Veronica
Director: Griffin Dunne
Cast: Kieran Culkin, Emma Stone
iBabe
Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi, Jack McBrayer
Superhero Speed Dating
Director: James Duffy
Cast: Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Bibb, John Hodgman
Machine Kids
Director: Jonathan van Tulleken
Writer: Jonathan van Tulleken
Middleschool Date
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh
Tampax
Director: Patrik Forsberg
Writer: Patrik Forsberg
Happy Birthday
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Gerard Butler
Truth or Dare
Director: Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg
Cast: Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry
Victory’s Glory
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Cast: Terrence Howard
Beezel
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel

Plot:
Calvin (Mark L. Young) and his best friend JJ (Adam Cagley) wanted to trick his little brother Baxter (Devin Eash) by making him look for a supposedly banned film that doesn’t actually exist – Movie 43. But Baxter actually finds something, and as they move from clip to clip they come ever closer to the truth.

People, heed my warning. I thought that a movie with that cast couldn’t possible be as bad as the trailer. “There must be something there,” I thought. “Something redeeming. It can’t possibly be all dick jokes, scatological humor and misanthropy?” Now I laugh in the face of my naivité. Because that really is all there is to this film: people behaving like disgusting assholes and we’re supposed to laugh about it. And all that remains after seeing the film is a question: Why? Why would anybody want to make such a film? Why are any of the actors involved in this? Why would anybody think that shit is funny? WHYYYYY????

movie-43

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Repo Men (2010)

Repo Men is Miguel Sapochnik‘s adaptation of Eric Garcia‘s novel Repossession Mambo, starring Jude Law, Alice Braga, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, Carice van Houten, RZA and John Leguizamo. [And for the Community folks out there: Yvette Nicole Brown in a mini role.]

Plot:
Remy (Jude Law) has been working as a repo man for the Union (a medical company) with his best friend Jake (Forest Whitaker) for quite a while now, even though his wife Carol (Carice van Houten) repeatedly asked him to stop, since what he’s repossessing is organs. But Remy can’t find the courage to ask his boss Frank (Liev Schreiber) for a transfer into sales. After an accident, Remy wakes up in the hospital to find himself with an artificial heart. And that changes everything for him.

Repo Men tanked, as you probably know. It didn’t get good reviews and in Austria, it didn’t even get a cinematic release. So, my expectations were low, but I honestly have to tell you: Repo Men is not that bad. The premise is good (and better dealt with than in Repo! The Genetic Opera), the cast is excellent and the soundtrack is really interesting. Is it a perfect film? No. But it doesn’t deserve the bashing it’s gotten.

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Salt (2010)

Salt is a movie by Phillip Noyce and stars Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor and August Diehl.

Plot:
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA-Agent, and a pretty good one. One day, they have a walk-in (Daniel Olbrychski); a guy claiming to know of Russian sleeper agents who will shortly kill the Russian president. Salt, and her partner Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) dismiss him as a nutcase, until he tells them that the name of the agent was Evelyn Salt. While Winter and Secret Service Man Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) try to figure this out, Salt tries frantically to reach her husband (August Diehl), who doesn’t respond. So she flees and tries to find him.

Salt was well-acted and well-shot but the plot was just waaaaaay too predictable to make it really entertaining. When you try so hard to surprise people with your plot twists, don’t make the hints billboard-announcements, ‘kay?

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Taking Woodstock (2009)

Taking Woodstock is Ang Lee‘s newest movie, starring Demetri Martin, Imelda Staunton, Emile Hirsch, Jeffrey Dean MorganLiev Schreiber and Paul Dano.

Plot:
Taking Woodstock is based on the real life story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), an out of luck interior designer who has to move back to his parents’ motel and of how he gets the Woodstock festival to be in his small town after Woodstock (and a neughbouring village) both pull the permits for it to be held there.

Taking Woodstock is a funny and heartfelt movie but most of all, a movie that manages to capture the spirit of the time (or at least it seems that way to someone who wasn’t alive then). It’s a captivating coming of age story set in slightly crazy but definitely special times that is told with a lot of humour and respect. Loved it.

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