Certain Women (2016)

Certain Women
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Writer: Kelly Reichardt
Based on: short stories by Maile Meloy
Cast: Laura DernMichelle WilliamsLily GladstoneKristen StewartJames Le GrosJared Harris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2016

Plot:
A small town in Montana. Here, Laura (Laura Dern) works as a lawyer, currently busy with her client Fuller (Jared Harris) who has trouble accepting an offer for worker’s compensation. Not far from Laura, Gina (Michelle Williams) and Ryan (James Le Gros) are working on their dream home. Gina has her heart set on some stones that go to waste in a neighbor’s garden, but they’ll have to convince the neighbor to part with them. Meanwhile, a young rancher (Lily Gladstone) who stumbles into night school classes out of curiosity finds herself in front of a new teacher, Elizabeth (Kristen Stewart) and feels immediately drawn to her.

By now I’ve seen quite a few Reichardt movies, but Certain Women is the first one where I can say that I actually really liked it. Especially the last segment in this episodic film stole my heart.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey AffleckLucas Hedges, Ben O’Brien, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Tate Donovan, Matthew Broderick
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 20.10.2016

Plot:
Lee (Casey Affleck) hasn’t been in his hometown Manchester-by-the-Sea for a while and he doesn’t actually want to return. But when his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, leaving behind his teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Lee is called upon to return and take care of Patrick. Added to the grief over Joe’s passing is Lee’s confrontation with the past and the horrible events that are linked to Manchester-by-the-Sea and Lee’s ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

I saw Manchester by the Sea before the news about Affleck’s history of abuse hit the media (or at least reached me) (this review is based on my notes from October). If I had known, I probably would have reconsidered watching this film. But having seen it , I have to admit that it’s a strong film, offering an unusual perspective on an old story.

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Suite Française (2014)

Suite Française
Director: Saul Dibb
Writer: Saul Dibb, Matt Charman
Based on: Irène Némirovsky‘s (unfinished) novels
Cast: Michelle WilliamsMatthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas, Margot Robbie, Eric Godon, Deborah Findlay, Ruth Wilson, Sam Riley, Tom Schilling, Harriet Walter, Eileen Atkins
Seen on: 18.1.2016

Plot:
Lucile (Michelle Williams) lives with her mother-in-law Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas). The Angelliers are one of the richest families in the areas and Madame Angellier sees no reason not to continue getting her share from the farmers who work her lands just because it’s war time. Lucile – whose husband is a soldier – doesn’t like that strictness and harshness, their relationship is tense. Their situation grows even more difficult when the Germans reach their village and office Bruno von Falck (Matthias Schoenaerts) is placed in their home. Madame Angellier insists on ignoring him, but Lucile feels drawn to Bruno after she discovers that they share a passion for music.

Suite Française is a strong film although it didn’t quite manage to blow me away. Still, it’s a touching story with a strong cast and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of them at all.

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The Station Agent (2003)

The Station Agent
Director: Thomas McCarthy
Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Richard Kind, John Slattery, Joe Lo Truglio, Lynn Cohen

Plot:
Fin (Peter Dinklage) lives a very quiet life working in a model train shop. Until the shop owner and Fin’s only friend Henry (Paul Benjamin) dies and leaves Fin an abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere where Fin decides to move to. There Fin is found by Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who runs a foodtruck for his sick dad and then Fin is almost run over – twice – by Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a painter going through a rough time. All three are obviously lonely and struggle with human contact in very different ways. But somehow that seems just the perfect recipe.

The Station Agent was a really sweet, entertaining and pretty much wonderful film. There is nothing not to like about it.

thestationagent

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Take This Waltz (2011)

Take This Waltz
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Cast: Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman

Plot:
Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou (Seth Rogen) have been married for a few years now and seem happy. But then Margot meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a business trip and then it turns out that they’re neighbors. Daniel and Margot flirt, but there’s more to it – both of them feel a very strong connection. And it’s up to Margot to decide what she wants.

I was really looking forward to this film. I adore Michelle Williams and I really loved Away From Her. But unfortunately this seems like the epitome of a hipster movie and that is just not something I can even pretend to actually be interested in.

take_this_waltz

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Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Oz the Great and Powerful
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: L. Frank Baum‘s Oz novels
Cast: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell

Plot:
Oz (James Franco) is a second rate magician in a small travelling circus and a great womanizer. When he gets into trouble for sleeping with the wrong woman, he flees in a balloon, but ends up caught in a tornado. When the wind calms down, Oz is – surprisingly – still alive and finds himself in the magical country of Oz. He is greeted by Theodora (Mila Kunis), a beautiful witch, who tells him that his arrival has been prophesized and he needs to save the land from the evil witch. Oz takes on the challenge because there seems to be money on the horizon, plus a chance to get into Theodora’s pants. But it turns out that there is more to the story than that.

I have so many issues that I’m surprised I managed to enjoy Oz the Great and Powerful at all. But enjoyment was had, though the issues outweigh it by far.

Oz-The-Great-and-Powerful

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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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The United States of Leland (2003)

The United States of Leland
Director: Matthew Ryan Hoge
Writer: Matthew Ryan Hoge
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Jena Malone, Lena Olin, Chris Klein, Michelle Williams, Kevin Spacey (and about 2 minutes of Michael Peña)

Plot:
The distant Leland (Ryan Gosling) just stabbed a mentally disabled boy and is sent to prison. Nobody really understands why he did it and his prison teacher (and aspiring writer) Pearl (Don Cheadle) is so intrigued that he wants to write a book about him. So he starts interviewing Leland about his life and tries to figure out what moved him to such a desperate act.

The United States of Leland has a wonderful cast but despite Ryan Gosling giving his best, Leland as a character just doesn’t work at all. Nevertheless the film is interesting, if completely predictable.

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Le Surréalisme, c’est moi!

Le Surréalisme, c’est moi! Salvador Dalí & Louise Bourgeois, Glenn Brown, Markus Schinwald, Francesco Vezzoli” is an exhibition currently in the Kunsthalle Wien.

The exhibition shows Salvador Dalí in relation to other artists. In fact, there is mostly art from the other artists and very little from Dalí himself. Though the walls in the entrance area are covered with quotes by Dalí and since he’s got some great quotes, that’s pretty awesome. And there was the illustrations for the Maldoror Songs which were interesting, though definitely not my favorite Dalí drawings..

The artists shown are very different and I absolutely fell in love with Francesco Vezzoli‘s work and Glenn Brown‘s work, though Louise Bourgeois and Markus Schinwald were not so much my thing.

It’s a very short exhibition and if I hadn’t seen it in combination with the Space one, I probably would have been slightly disappointed and annoyed by that. As it was, it was a very good second course.

Also, coolest bit of trivia I learned: Dalí started signing empty sheets of paper and those still keep turning up as forgeries. (According to wikipedia, he was forced to do so. The exhibition didn’t mention that part.)

[Portrait by Philippe Halsman]

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Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

[Viennale.]

Meek’s Cutoff is the newest film by Kelly Reichardt, starring Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Rod Rondeaux.

Plot:
A small group of settlers turn from the Oregon Trail to take a shortcut, led by the grandtalker Meek (Bruce Greenwood). When their water starts to run out in the middle of the desert, they don’t really know what to do and neither does Meek. But they notice that there is a Native American (Rod Rondeaux) following them. After Emily (Michelle Williams) makes first contact with him, they both run off. But the men decide that he should lead them to water and capture him.

After Wendy and Lucy*, I expected a lot from this film. So much that I watched it, even though I really couldn’t care less about the genre itself, actually. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I had to fight to stay awake several times and was generally pretty bored.

[SPOILERS]

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