The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

The Kindergarten Teacher
Director: Sara Colangelo
Writer: Sara Colangelo
Remake of: Haganenet
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Gael García Bernal, Ato Blankson-Wood, Libya Pugh, Michael Chernus, Carter Kojima, Jillian Panlilio, Anna Baryshnikov, Noah Rhodes, Rosa Salazar, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ajay Naidu
Seen on: 13.7.2021

Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a kindergarten teacher. Her own kids are growing up fast, things with her husband (Michael Chernus) are comfortable, and Lisa takes a poetry classe with Simon (Gael García Bernal) to do something for herself. One day, she hears one of her kindergarteners, Jimmy (Parker Sevak), making up a poem – a poem that speaks of great talent. Lisa starts doing everything in her power to foster his talent.

The Kindergarten Teacher is a strong film with a fantastic Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I do have issues with the ending it gives us. Still, the way to that ending is really good.

The film poster showing Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Jimmy (Parker Sevak) sitting dressed up on plastic chairs on a ferry.
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Frank (2014)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Writer: Jon RonsonPeter Straughan
Cast: Domhnall GleesonMichael FassbenderMaggie GyllenhaalScoot McNairyFrançois CivilCarla Azar
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) dreams of becoming a musician. When he stumbles upon the idiosyncratic indie band Soronprfbs on the beach while their keyboardist tries to drown himself, he offers to step in for him that night. Band member/manager Don (Scoot McNairy) agrees after talking to Frank (Michael Fassbender), the band’s lead singer who always wears a big papier-maché head. It doesn’t take long and Jon is invited to join the band for good, despite band member Clara’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) hesitation about him. But being part of the band isn’t at all what Jon expected.

From what I heard about the film before, I was afraid that it would be another hipster movie about oh-so-quirky people and an indie-soundtrack. But Frank might look like that but it is way, way more. I was really very taken by the film.

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River of Fundament (2014) – DNF

River of Fundament / Festwochen link
Director: Matthew Barney
Writer: Matthew Barney, David Grimm
Based on: Norman Mailer‘s novel Ancient Evenings
Cast: John Buffalo Mailer, Milford Graves, Dave Bald EagleMadyn CoakleyMaggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Deborah Harry, Salman Rushdie
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Norman I (John Buffalo Mailer) is on his way to be reborn. But a lot of things have to happen for that to be possible. First Norman has to wade through a river of shit to get to his own wake. But that’s only the beginning.

When I got the ticket for this film (which is part new footage, part footage from earlier outdoor productions), I knew that there was a high chance I wouldn’t like a five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. But I wanted to give it a shot anyway. Well. Now I can say with confidence that I don’t like this five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. I walked out after the first act.

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White House Down (2013)

White House Down
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: James Vanderbilt
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Rachelle Lefevre, Lance Reddick

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a bodyguard and wants nothing more than to work for the Secret Service and on the protection detail of the president Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Especially because his daughter Emily (Joey King) is a huge fan of the president. So when John actually gets an interview in the White House, he takes Emily with him. Unfortunately this just happens to be the day where the White House and the president are attacked. Suddenly everything depends on John.

It is hard to not compare this film to Olympus Has Fallen. And White House Down is the clear winner in that comparison. I didn’t even have alcohol and I enjoyed pretty much every second of it, even if not everything was supposed to be as funny as it was.


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Hysteria (2011)

Director: Tanya Wexler
Writer: Stephen Dyer, Jonah Lisa Dyer
Cast: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett

Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a doctor who believes in germs and modern medicine which sets him at odds with the rest of the medical establishment at the time. So he is more than happy when he finds a job with Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), the resident expert in treating hysteria (by vaginal massage). Dalrymple also has two daughters – Emily (Felicity Jones) who is basically the ideal woman of the time and Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal), her complete opposite who is more interested in the shelter she runs than being a good wife to anyone. Mortimer soon finds that treating women for hysteria generally takes it out of him and his wrist. But then his friend Edmund St. John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) invents something that changes all their lives: the vibrator.

Hysteria is sweet and funny, but also very by the numbers. Nevertheless, coated around the formulaic structure there’s a lot of charm that makes the film very enjoyable.

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Re-Watch: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Based on: Bob Kane‘s comics
Sequel to: Batman Begins
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael CaineGary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Eric Roberts, Chin Han
[Here’s my first review.]

Gotham’s streets are considerably cleaner since the Batman (Christian Bale) started his work. Nevertheless, the mob is still going strong. So when the up and coming DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Lt Gordon (Gary Oldman) ask Batman to help with the rest, he doesn’t say know. But at the same time, a new villain is trying to make the Batman’s life hell: the Joker (Heath Ledger).

I know I just gushed about Batman Begins, but I have to gush even more about The Dark Knight. It does have its faults, but it’s fucking amazing and even better than the first film.


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Crazy Heart (2009)

Crazy Heart is the adaptation of Thomas Cobb’s book, directed by Scott Cooper and starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall.

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) once was a very successful musician, but since then, he’s become an alcoholic first and a musician second. By chance he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young music journalist, and he falls in love with her. Jean is cautious because of his alcoholism, but lets him into her life – and the life of her son. At the same time, Bad gets the chance to get back on stage with his former pupil, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). Life seems to go up for Bad, but things have to get worse, before they can get better.

Crazy Heart is an excellent film in some parts, in others, not so much. The performances were great but I felt like the script focussed on the wrong things. The music was wonderful, but the climactic final song was, strangely enough, not the best song.

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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang is the sequel to Nanny McPhee, directed by Susanna White, written by Emma Thompson and starring Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Ewan McGregor, Bill Bailey, Ralph Fiennes and Maggie Smith.

Mrs. Green (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has a rather difficult life: Her husband (Ewan McGregor) is at war (and hasn’t sent a letter for quite some time). Her brother-in-law (Rhys Ifans) is pressuring her to sell her half of the farm they own. She works for the elderly Mrs. Docherty (Maggie Smith) who shows signs of dementia but doesn’t recognise it. Her three kids (Asa Butterfield, Oscar Steer and Lil Woods) are really wild and especially nervous since their cousins (Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson) are about to come live with them to escape London in the war. That’s when the magical Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) appears, to make Mrs. Green’s life a little easier, but mostly to teach the five kids five lessons.

If you’ve seen the first Nanny McPhee film, you know what to expect: adorable entertainment for the whole family. Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang does not disappoint at all. Quite to the contrary, it might even be more spectacular and even sweeter.

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Adaptation. (2002)

[And we’ve entered the Viennale programme. If I continue in this manner, I’ll probably be up to date by the end of this year…]

Adaptation. is Spike Jonze‘ movie adaptation based on Susan Orlean‘s book The Orchid Thief. The script was written by Charlie Kaufman and it stars Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, (in a very small role) Tilda Swinton and (in an even smaller role) Maggie Gyllenhaal.

At the end of the shoot of Being John Malkovich, Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is trying to get his new project going – an adaptation of Susan Orlean’s (Meryl Streep) book The Orchid Thief. The Orchid Thief is about John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a strangely charismatic florist/thief/survivalist. Just as Susan is pulled into Laroche’s story, the only way Charlie seems to get things going is by writing himself into the story. Especially since his twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage) decided he wants to be a screenwriter as well and does so with more easy and apparently more success than Charlie.

If that plot summary sounds a little confusing, I’m sorry. But I think that every summary of this film will end in confusion – though the movie itself is rather easy to follow. If you can handle self-referentialism. [If you feed on it, like I do, you’re going to love this movie.] In any case, Adaptation. is very funny, well-played and weird. In a very good way.

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Away We Go (2009)

Away We Go is the newest movie by Sam Mendes, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey.

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a happy couple, even if they have financial difficulties and rather crappy jobs. When they discover that Verona is pregnant and that Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are moving away, they decide to start life anew and go on a (road) trip through the US, visiting friends and relatives to decide where that new life should happen.

Away We Go is another one of those movies where somebody somewhere decided that it is not fit for marketing. Oh, and what a bad choice again. It’s a wonderful, funny and heart-warming movie with a great soundtrack that I can only recommend. Over and over again.

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