The Forest (2016)

The Forest
Director: Jason Zada
Writer: Nick Antosca, Sarah Cornwell, Ben Ketai
Cast: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken, Rina Takasaki
Seen on: 18.8.2021

Content Note: suicide, racism

Plot:
Sara’s (Natalie Dormer) twin sister Jess (Natalie Dormer) has disappeared in Japan. Everyone seems to assume that she is dead as she was last seen in Aokigahara forest, a spot known for people to go to kill themselves. But Sara is convinced that Jess isn’t dead, just lost. So she goes to Japan to find her. She meets journalist Aiden (Taylor Kinney) who is about to write about Aokigahara and invites her to join his exploration with local guide Michi (Yukiyoshi Ozawa), if she lets him use her story. Sara agrees. As they head into the forest, they soon realize that there is more to it than they thought at first.

Sometimes I want to kick myself for my memory and for my tendency to not read much about films before seeing them. If my memory had been better, I would have remembered why I hadn’t watched The Forest before, and if I had read more about it, I probably would have remembered better or realized anew. Because The Forest is one fucking racist mess and it isn’t even subtle or debatable. It’s just really, really racist. And even apart from that, it’s not particularly good.

The film poster showing Sara's (Natalie Dormer) face, the lower half dissolving into a series of nooses below a line of trees.
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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the second half)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie
Seen on: 22.11.2015

Plot [with Spoilers for everything up until this part]:
Still reeling from brainwashed Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has no chance of really gathering herself. Instead she shoots promo videos for the rebellion and their cause. As outright war with the Capitol becomes ever more likely, Katniss decides that she has to put an end to things and the only way it will end is if Katniss kills President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

My expectations were pretty low for this final installation in the series since the second half of the last book was the weakest part of the series by far and that was the only thing that was left to bring to the screen. But Mockingjay Part 2 turned out to be better than I expected.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer

Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.

Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.

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The Counselor (2013)

The Counselor
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt, Toby Kebbell, Édgar Ramírez, Dean NorrisJohn Leguizamo, Natalie Dormer, Goran Visnjic

Plot:
The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is about to marry his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz). He is also somehow involved in the drug business through his client Reiner (Javier Bardem) and he’s about to get involved more deeply. And to no one’s surprise except his own, things go very wrong very quickly and it’s all somehow connected to Reiner’s enigmatic girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz).

There were many things I could see going wrong with this film, but what I did not anticipate was that it would be Cormac McCarthy’s writing where things go very wrong. But unfortunately that was the case and the result was a film that was pretty much unbearable.

the-counselor

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Rush (2013)

Rush
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Peter Morgan
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder, Natalie Dormer, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay

Plot:
James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) is a cocky race car driver who dreams of finally making it into Formula One. When his path crosses with Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), their personalities immediately clash, giving rise to a giant rivalry. When Niki buys his way into Formula One, James follows suit. But their rivalry becomes increasingly risky, which finally leads to a horrific accident.

We’ve been bombarded with trailers for this movie for quite a while – so much so that I almost didn’t want to see it anymore when it finally come out. But I went anyway and was generally rather pleasantly surprised by it.

rush

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Sweet Nothings

It’s Festwochen time again! [For my reviews of last year’s plays, click here.] I got a lot of theatre tickets lined up in the next weeks, so expect a lot of reviews of this stuff.

Sweet Nothings is a new translation of Arthur Schnitzler‘s Liebelei [my review] by David Harrower. The play was produced for the Young Vic in London, directed by Luc Bondy and stars Kate Burdette, Hayley Carmichael, Natalie Dormer, Tom Hughes, Jack Laskey, David Sibley and Andrew Wincott.

Plot:
End of the 19th, early 20th century, Vienna. Fritz (Tom Hughes) and Theodor (Jack Laskey) are best friends, both pretty wealthy but have a very different outlook on life, though both are ultimately jaded. While Dori doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, Fritz is in a rather destructive relationship with a married woman and fears that her husband found out about them and will challenge him to a duel. Dori tries to distract Fritz by introducing him to his current girlfriend Mizi’s (Natalie Dormer) best friend, Christine (Kate Burdette). But Christine really falls in love with Fritz, and quite hard at that. During an evening of partying, the husband actually shows up at Fritz’ place.

Sweet Nothings is an excellent production. The cast is absolutely great. The stage design pretty minimalistic but very effective and I like the play. The only thing that went a little awry was the marketing.

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