3 Generations (2015)

3 Generations aka About Ray
Director: Gaby Dellal
Writer: Nikole Beckwith, Gaby Dellal
Cast: Elle FanningNaomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, Linda Emond, Tate Donovan, Sam Trammell
Seen on: 22.12.2016

Plot:
Ray (Elle Fanning) is fighting to get the hormones he needs to transition. His mother Maggie (Naomi Watts) supports him as best she can, even when she does struggle herself sometimes with his being trans. They live together with Ray’s lesbian grandmother Dolly (Susan Sarandon) who tries to help, too, but doesn’t really understand what Ray is going through. They do not live with Ray’s father Craig (Tate Donovan) who has a new family and not much interest in Ray. But Craig needs to agree to Ray’s treatment, so Maggie and Ray have to convince him.

I knew going in that About Ray – retitled 3 Generations – wouldn’t be an unproblematic film about being trans, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. What I got was okay, but definitely not great.

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Shut In (2016)

Shut In
Director: Farren Blackburn
Writer: Christina Hodson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, Clémentine Poidatz, Alex Braunstein, David Cubitt, Crystal Balint
Seen on: 19.12.2016

Plot:
Mary (Naomi Watts) lives a rather lonely existence. A few months ago, her husband Richard (Peter Outerbridge) and her teenaged son Stephen (Charlie Heaton) got into a car accident. Richard died, Stephen was left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak, becoming totally dependent on her. Now she spends all her time taking care of Stephen and working as a child psychologist from home. Just before a snow storm hits the area, one of the children she works with, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), first hides in her house, then runs into the woods. But finding Tom isn’t the only thing that becomes a pressing matter for Mary.

Shut In starts strong enough as long as it builds tension but when they start resolving the story, it pretty much falls apart, leaving a decidedly meh impression.

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Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive
Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Cast: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Jeanne Bates, Robert Forster, Brent Briscoe, Maya Bond, Patrick Fischler, Michael Cooke, Bonnie Aarons, Michael J. Anderson, Justin Theroux, Melissa George, Mark Pellegrino, Billy Ray Cyrus
Seen on: 28.6.2016

Plot:
Betty (Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood, hoping to kick off her acting career. Her aunt Ruth (Maya Bond) has given her the use of her apartment and Betty is excited to get started. But then she finds Rita (Laura Harring) in her apartment, believing her to be a friend of Ruth’s. But Rita simply wandered into the apartment afte a car accident robbed her of all her memories, leaving her only with a sense of dread. Betty is dead-set on trying to figure out who Rita – if that is actually her name – is and who she’s running from.

Mulholland Drive was strange as is to be expected from a Lynch film, but much less of a mind fuck than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed watching it, mostly due to the fantastic performance by Naomi Watts.

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Demolition (2015)

Demolition
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Cast: Jake GyllenhaalNaomi WattsChris CooperJudah LewisC.J. WilsonPolly DraperDebra MonkHeather Lind
Seen on: 21.6.2016

Plot:
Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) thought his life was pretty good, but after his wife Julia (Heather Lind) dies in a car accident, he finds that things weren’t all what they cracked up to be: he didn’t really know Julia, and he simply overlooked all the things that weren’t right. In his grief, he writes a letter of complaint to a company filling vending machines, detailing not only that his candy got stuck in the machine, but his entire situation. The customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) who reads his letter finds herself intrigued and together with her son Chris (Judah Lewis), they starts playing no small part in Davis’ attempt to first destroy, then rebuild his life.

When I saw the trailer for Demolition for the first time, I was very much reminded of this tweet (that I can’t find anymore) where somebody wrote something along the lines of “look, it’s my favorite genre: woman dies so man can learn something about himself.” It seemed the perfect description for this film. I decided to see it despite of this, mostly because Jake Gyllenhaal can do pretty much anything. Unfortunately there really isn’t much more to this film than what you can see in the trailer.

demolition

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While We’re Young (2014)

While We’re Young
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ben StillerAdam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Dree Hemingway, Charles Grodin, Peter Bogdanovich
Seen on: 11.8.2015

Plot:
Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) have been together for a while and are quite settled in their lives as their friends left and right start to have children. Josh gives lectures at uni and works on the same documentary he’s been working on for years, Cornelia works as a producer with her father Leslie (Charles Grodin), a famous documentary filmmaker. One day after class Josh is approached by Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a young hip couple. Josh is flattered by their admiration and they start to hang out together more, making both Josh and Cornelia painfully aware that they are not 20 anymore. But maybe they can change that.

While We’re Young wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I had fun for the most part, but the end did leave a weird taste in my mouth.

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Insurgent (2015)

Insurgent
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback
Based on: Veronica Roth’s novel
Sequel to: Divergent
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Octavia Spencer, Zoë Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Naomi Watts, Maggie Q, Daniel Dae Kim, Janet McTeer
Seen on: 25.03.2015

Plot:
The Erudite have attacked Abnegation and Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Marcus (Ray Stevenson), Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Peter (Miles teller) are heading to Amity for a safe place to stay. But Erudite’s attack is just the beginning of an upheaval in their society in which the Divergent have a huge part to play. But Tris doesn’t know what exactly is going on. She just knows that Jeanine (Kate Winslet) won’t stop hunting her.

After Divergent I actually thought I’d skip Insurgent but then I was weak and went to see it after all. And it was actually worse than Divergent.

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Re-Watch: Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris,Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 26.02.2015
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Re-watching the film, I might have focused on its weaknesses a little more than the first time round, but it’s still a very strong film that entertained me a lot.

birdman

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St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard
Seen on: 21.01.2015

Plot:
Vincent (Bill Murray) seemingly hates everything but alcohol and his weekly sessions with sex worker Daka (Naomi Watts). But he also needs money and when newly single mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door, desperately in need of help with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), Vincent offerst to babysit Oliver in the time between end of Oliver’s school and end of Maggie’s job. As Oliver soon discovers, there is more to Vincent, though, than meets the eye.

St. Vincent is nice, but ultimately completely inconsequential, brings nothing new to the table and, apart from the parts that annoyed me, I’ll probably forget it as soon as I finish this review.

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Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Birdman was funny, sad and cringeworthy all at the same time. Even though it wasn’t completely issue-free, I really enjoyed it a lot.

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Lo imposible [The Impossible] (2012)

Lo imposible
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Based on: María Belón’s story
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Sönke Möhring, Geraldine Chaplin

Plot:
Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) are flying to Thailand for their Christmas holidays. Everything is as they had planned – that is until a tsunami hits and splits the entire family up. Lucas and Maria find each other floating close to each other, but Maria is gravely injured. A few natives find them and bring them to the hospital but their adventure is far from over. At the same time, Henry who has found Thomas and Simon sends them to a shelter on their own while he continues his search for Maria and Lucas.

The Impossible is an absolute tear-jerker, and a completely effective one. It’s also perfectly acted and well-paced with a soundtrack that plays on your emotions as much as on their instruments.

The-Impossible

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