Re-Watch: Sunshine (2007)

Sunshine
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Cillian MurphyMichelle YeohTroy GarityRose ByrneHiroyuki SanadaBenedict WongChris EvansCliff CurtisMark Strong
Seen on: 27.11.2016

Plot:
2057. The sun is dying and the only solution humanity has found is to send a team of astronauts there to reignite it with a fission bomb or else find all of life on earth doomed. The first mission, Icarus-I, to do just that has already failed, now a new team, Icarus-II, is on its way. When they pick up the distress signal of the Icarus-I, they decide to pick up the bomb that the ship has aboard, as a failsafe for their own mission. But that bomb may come at a higher price than they expected.

When I watched Sunshine for the first time, I remember not being particularly taken with it. But it was one of those films where I started getting doubts about my own judgement and that made me curious to check it out again almost 10 years later. And in this case, it definitely paid off, although I still didn’t fall head over heels for it, I did appreciate it much more than the last time.

[SPOILERS]

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A View from the Bridge

A View from the Bridge
Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Arthur Miller
Cast: Mark Strong, Michael Gould, Nicola Walker, Phoebe Fox, Emun Elliott, Luke Norris, Richard Hansell
Seen on: 26.03.2015

Plot:
The lawyer Alfieri (Michael Gould) tells the story of Eddie Carbone (Mark Strong). Eddie is an Italian immigrant in the USA, a dockworker who lives for his wife Beatrice (Nicola Walker) and above all his 18-year-old niece Catherine (Phoebe Fox) of whom he’s fiercely protective. When Beatrice’s cousins Marco (Emun Elliott) and Rodolfo (Luke Norris) join them in the USA, Eddie eyes Rodolfo’s obvious interest in Catherine with a lot of suspicion and jealousy.

A View from the Bridge is not a fun play, but it is a good one and this production of it is really excellent, with a few minor things that I didn’t like so much.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Based on: Mark Millar’s and Dave Gibbons’ comic
Cast: Colin FirthTaron Egerton, Mark StrongSophie Cookson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Hanna Alström, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill, Michael Caine
Seen on: 20.03.2015

Plot:
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a specialist for getting in trouble. When he’s arrested and facing actual jail time, he calls a number on his dead father’s medal that Eggsy got from a co-worker of his father, with the instruction to call if he ever needed help. A short while later Eggsy is released and introduced to Harry Hart (Colin Firth). It turns out that Eggsy’s father belonged to a privately run spy organization – the Kingsman and Hart still works there. The Kingsmen have taken some serious hits recently and are recruiting. Hart sees potential in Eggsy and so Eggsy finds himself in an entirely unknown world a short while later – not only the spy world, but also the mostly snooty upper class.

Kingsman was a fun film that proves not only Vaughn’s talent for directing action movies with awesome soundtracks, but also that the spy genre can be made fun of very easily and very lovingly. It is not completely issue-free though, even if the good parts outweigh the issues.

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The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Graham Moore
Based on: Andrew Hodges‘ book Alan Turing: The Enigma
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Tuppence Middleton
Seen on: 01.02.2015

Plot:
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is brilliant, but he is also very weird. When he shows up at Bletchley Circle, ready to crack the German code machine Enigma, he has trouble fitting into the team working there, led by Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode). Hugh thinks they need to keep cracking the codes manually, while Alan is convinced that only a machine can crack Enigma. Things shift after Alan complains to Winston Churchill directly who puts him in charge, much to the team’s dismay. It is only after Alan hires Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) and the machine starts to take on shape that the team comes around as well.

The Imitation Game is a mess, there is no other way to put it. I pretty much hated everything about it except the supporting cast, and even so most of them were underused.

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Before I Go to Sleep (2014)

Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Writer: Rowan Joffe
Based on: S.J. Watson‘s novel
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff

Plot:
Christine (Nicole Kidman) has a special form of amnesia: she can’t remember the past few years, instead she can only retain a day’s worth of new memories at a time. That means that each morning she wakes up next to a stranger who turns out to be her husband of many years, Ben (Colin Firth). Then she spends the days trying to get her bearings in her life, but after she goes to sleep at night, it’s all erased and it starts all over again the next morning. But then one morning Christine gets a call from Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong). He claims that he has been working with her for a while, without Ben’s knowledge, and that she’s hiding a video diary. The Christine in the video diary has her suspicions about her general situation. Christine herself has to figure out what her life is and who to trust.

Before I Go to Sleep is not a revolutionary film but it is a pretty decent thriller with a good cast that works quite well. I enjoyed it.

Before-I-Go-To-Sleep[Massive SPOILERS]

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Re-Watch: Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Based on: the comic book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage, Lyndsy Fonseca
[Here is my first review.]

Plot:
Dave (Aaron Johnson) is a normal teenager who likes to read comic books and gets beat up a lot. But then one day he decides that, actually, nothing is keeping him from donning a superhero suit and changing the world for the better. This seems to work fine for about 30 seconds and then Dave is in over his head.

Damn, I had forgotten just how fricking awesome this film is. I still have a couple of issues but I left the film absolutely hyped. It’s fantastic.

kick-ass

[SPOILERS]

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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Édgar Ramírez, Mark Duplass, James Gandolfini, Stephen Dillane, John Barrowman, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Taylor Kinney

Plot:
Maya (Jessica Chastain) works for the CIA and has just been sent to Pakistan. Her mission is to find out where Osama bin Laden is hiding. A mission that takes her from torturing prisoners under the the tutelage of colleauge Dan (Jason Clarke) to plain old research. When she stumbles across the name of a guy she believes is a close collaborator of bin Laden, she becomes obsessed with finding him as the most direct way to bin Laden himself.

I really did my best to be interested in this film. Admittedly, the topic is not so much my cup of tea, but it is important. Unfortunately the movie is so very boring that, with the best of motivation, it was impossible to keep up the interest. I mean, I know they searched for this guy a very long time – but was it really necessary that the audience feels every minute of that 10-year-search? At some point I just gave up and fell asleep for a little while – just to get away from the boredom of it all for a bit.

zero-dark-thirty

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John Carter (2012)

John Carter
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
Based on: Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s novel A Princess of Mars
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church

Plot:
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) calls his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) to come to him, just before he dies. When Edgar arrives – just a bit too late – he gets John’s diary and starts to read about how John traveled to Mars many years ago with the help of a mysterious amulet. On Mars, he found himself captured by an alien tribe and then caught in a war that threatens the entire planet.

John Carter delivers exactly what you expect it to: brainless but extremely entertaining action with campy performances. Is it great film-making? No. But it’s great entertainment.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writer: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
Based on: John le Carré‘s novel
Cast: Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds

Plot:
Control (John Hurt), head of the British Intelligence, suspects that there is a double agent very high up the ladder in “the Circus.” So he sends Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to meet a source who can reveal the identity of the mole. But things go wrong, Prideaux gets shot and Control and his right hand George Smiley (Gary Oldman) have to retire. But then the agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) also brings the info about a double agent and Smiley gets hauled out of retirement to find said agent.

I was so looking forward to this film. I mean – look at that cast! What more could you wish for? [Except for a few women.] Unfortunately the movie ended up being so incredibly boring, I don’t even have words. Also, the brown, the brown! It kinda started hurting my eyes after a while.

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The Guard (2011)

The Guard
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong

Plot:
Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a cop in a small Irish town. He has carved himself his niche, where he can ignore everything he doesn’t want to deal with at his leisure. His cynic routine is only interrupted when he meets with his dying mother or prostitutes. But all of this is threatened when FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) comes to Ireland to investigate an international drug smuggling ring. Reluctantly, Gerry teams up with Wendell. If only to get his peace back.

The Guard is funny, well-written and has an excellent cast and a pretty subversive sense of humor. In the end it’s a mean film, but in a very good way.

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