Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Sequel to: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark HamillOscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Daniel Craig, Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz
Seen on: 21.12.2015

Plot:
It was 30 years ago that Darth Vader was defeated and the Empire fell. And it’s about as long that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared from the Galaxy. The Resistance is still looking for him. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is hot on the trail of a missing map piece for that search when he comes under attack. He hands the map to his droid BB-8 and sends it on its way. Rey (Daisy Ridley) works as a scavenger on that very same planet and she stumbles first on BB-8 and then on a stormtrooper (John Boyega) who deserted. Before they have a chance to think, they are on the run – and run straight into Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together they decide to try to find Luke.

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a Star Wars fan. I watched Episodes 4 through 6 when I was a kid and thought they were okay, watched Episode 1 when it came out and thought it was so stupid, I never even watched 2 and 3. When 7 came out, I hesitated for a while to watch it, but ultimately I figured why not? I have watched films for less reason than the cast of this one alone. And I have to say, I don’t regret watching it. In many ways it has the IQ of a potato, but it is seriously entertaining and very nice to watch.

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Vargtimmen [The Hour of the Wolf] (1968)

Vargtimmen
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Gertrud Fridh

Plot:
Johan (Max von Sydow) and Alma (Liv Ullmann) had planned to have a nice vacation on a remote island where Johan would get to paint and they both got to get over a bit of a crisis before their baby is born. But it appears that their island is not quite as empty and calm as they both had expected. It becomes clear that Johan has some kind of breakdown. He keeps seeing strange people – he calls them demons. And then an old lady fitting Johan’s description of one of the demons comes to Alma and tells her to read Johan’s diary.

Vargtimmen is a moody film, full of atmosphere and interesting imagery, but rather low on plot. I enjoyed it, but I would have wished for a little more done with the demons.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Eric Roth
Based on: Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel
Cast: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Zoe Caldwell, John Goodman, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright

Plot:
Oskar’s (Thomas Horn) father (Tom Hanks) recently died in the 9/11 attack. Oskar has a hard time coping with it, when he stumbles upon a mysterious key in an envelope with the name “Black” on it in his father’s closet. Oskar decides that he has to find out more and the only logical way to go about it is to talk to every person called Black in New York. So he takes the phone book and starts to visit all of them.

The film is one of the most emotionally manipulative movies I have ever seen. Ever. And I still would have liked it a whole lot, if I hadn’t read the book. But in comparison, the film just leaves a small taste of disappointment.

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Robin Hood (2010)

Robin Hood is Ridley Scott‘s newest movie, starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Mark Addy, Matthew Macfadyen, Scott Grimes and Kevin Durand.

Plot:
King Richard Lionheart (Danny Huston) has been on his crusade for many years and is on his way home now. Unfortunately, he never reaches Britain, dying instead in one last battle.
In his army is the archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), who by coincidence stumbles upon a massive conspiracy against Richard, led by Godfrey (Mark Strong), a confidant of Prince John (Oscar Isaac), but ultimately also plotting against John.
Anyway, Longstride takes on the identity of Robert Loxley and they story only gets more convoluted from there.

I hadn’t heard anything good about this movie beforehand (the most positive “review” was from a co-worker who said, “I expected it to be really bad and with that expectation, it was reasonably entertaining”), so I didn’t expect much (even though I’m one of the five people on earth who actually like Gladiator). But even so, I was incredibly disappointed. This movie is not only bad, no, even more damingly, it is boring as hell.

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Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island is the newest movie by Martin Scorsese, based on the book by Dennis Lehane and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley.

Plot:
US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are called to Shutter Island, a mental institution to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman (Emily Mortimer). As soon as they reach the island, a storm hits and they are prevented from leaving. Haunted by his own ghosts from the past, Teddy soon discovers that things are not what they seem on Shutter Island.

While the story is mostly good and Scorsese delivers fine work, the movie hinges on Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. And boy, does he ever deliver… It was terrific to watch.

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