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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Blue Valentine (2010)

[Viennale.]

Blue Valentine is Derek Cianfrance‘s newest film, starring Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel and Faith Wladyka.

Plot:
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) are married and have a daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka). Their life is mostly just fine, if not especially great but when the family dog runs away and gets hit by a car, this is kind of the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In an attempt to get things back on track, Dean and Cindy leave Frankie with her grandfather and spend the weekend in a hotel.

Blue Valentine is a heavy movie. It’s pretty damn fantastic but I can still feel it working inside of me; especially Dean (as a character) has me pretty occupied. I’m not sure yet what conclusions I’m going to take away from it. [Which might make this review seem a little disjointed and Dean-centered.]

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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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Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche, New York is Charlie Kaufmann‘s directorial debut (he wrote it, too, of course), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Emily Watson and Dianne Wiest.

Plot:
Caden (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a theatre director. He’s married to Adele (Catherine Keener), an artist who paints miniature pictures (and when I say miniature, I mean that you need magnifying glasses to see them). They have a daughter together and even though Caden is constantly worrying about his health, things seem to be going good. Until Adele leaves for Germany to do an art show there and takes her best friend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and their daughter with her. Then Caden’s life kind of falls apart until he receives a grant that let’s him realise a rather ambitious theatre project: He wants to show life as it is – so he starts rebuilding Synecdoche, a part of New York inside a warehouse.

Well, this is not only a Charlie Kaufmann movie, this is Charlie Kaufmann squared. The outcome is even more surreal than anything else he’s ever done. I can’t say that I know what’s going on in this movie, but I know that I don’t care: I liked it anyway.

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Wendy and Lucy (2008)

Wendy and Lucy is the new movie by Kelly Reichardt, starring Michelle Williams.

Plot:
Wendy [Michelle Williams] is driving to Alaska with her dog Lucy, in the hopes of finding a job there. Unfortunately, in a small town in Oregon, her car breaks down, her dog goes missing and she loses more and more of the little money she has left.

It’s a slow movie and incredibly depressing in its inevitability. The low budget it had is noticeable, but that fits the story pretty well. I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed by Michelle Williams though.

wendy-and-lucy2

[SPOILERS]

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