Gifted (2017)

Gifted
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Tom Flynn
Cast: Chris EvansMckenna GraceLindsay DuncanOctavia SpencerJenny SlateElizabeth MarvelGlenn Plummer
Seen on: 18.7.2017
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Plot:
Frank (Chris Evans) raises his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace). Mary is very smart. So far, Frank was able to keep her talents under wrap, but now it’s time for her to start school. And immediately Mary’s math abilities are noticed by her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate). But Frank doesn’t want to place Mary in special classes. His refusal causes both Bonnie and the school to dig deeper, bringing Frank’s mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) who has very different ideas about how to raise Mary. As neither Frank nor Evelyn want to budge from their position, they take the question to court in a custody battle.

Gifted is very surprisingly a smart film about being smart. I did have a couple of issues with it, but they are not related to that. And mostly the film was engaging and emotional and went right for the feels in just the right way.

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Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Based on: Margot Lee Shetterly‘s book Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
Cast: Taraji P. HensonOctavia SpencerJanelle MonáeKevin CostnerKirsten Dunst, Jim ParsonsMahershala AliAldis HodgeGlen Powell
Seen on: 6.2.2017

Plot:
NASA is working hard to send their first man into space – and especially to bring him back again. But they haven’t yet cracked the orbit needed for that. Working as computers, the black women Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are far removed from the action, both figuratively and literally. But when the Soviets make quick advances and pressure rises, Katherine’s mathematic skills bring her right into the heart of the team. But racism isn’t all that easily overcome by maths.

Hidden Figures was entertaining, charming and incredibly enjoyable. It was almost too smooth – I was missing a bit of anger. But that’s only a teeny tiny complaint about a film I very much loved.

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Fathers & Daughters (2015)

Fathers & Daughters
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Brad Desch
Cast: Russell CroweAmanda SeyfriedAaron PaulDiane KrugerQuvenzhané WallisBruce GreenwoodJanet McTeerKylie RogersJane FondaOctavia Spencer
Seen on: 17.6.2016

Plot:
Jake Davis (Russell Crowe) is an award-winning writer with a lovely daughter, Katie (Kylie Rogers). But after his wife dies, he falls apart. While he tries to get better in a psychiatric facility, Katie goes to live with her aunt Elizabeth (Diane Kruger) and uncle William (Bruce Greenwood). Even after Jake returns, things are far from easy.
Many years later, Katie (Amanda Seyfried) works as a counselor for kids like Lucy (Quvenzhané Wallis), even though she obviously has many issues of her own. When she meets Cameron (Aaron Paul), those issues might destroy everything.

I had little to no expectations regarding Fathers & Daughters, but I was still taken aback by it. It is perfectly obvious why this move tanked as much as it did. It probably should have tanked more.

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Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Writer: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Kristen Bell (in a small cameo)
Seen on: 13.3.2016

Plot:
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) has always dreamed of becoming a police officer. And although there has never been a bunny police officer before, she fights her way through the academy and into active duty in the capital – only to be relegated to doling out parking tickets. But even then she promptly finds con man Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), although she can’t actually arrest him. But when carnivores start going crazy and threaten the peace of Zootropolis, Judy realize that there are bigger fish to fry – and that she needs Nick’s help to catch them.

Zootopia is a sweet, funny, entertaining film that might not be quite as progressive as it thinks it is. But that’s debatable and it certainly is very good to watch.

zootopia

[SPOILERS]

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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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Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writer: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Based on: Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette‘s graphic novel Le Transperceneige
Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie BellKang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, Alison Pill, Ed Harris, Luke Pasqualino, Ah-sung Ko

Plot:
The world is frozen in its entirety. The only people left are hurtling through it on a high-speed train. On the train there is  a strict class hierarchy – in the front, the rich people live. In the back the poor live in squalor. One of the poor people is Curtis (Chris Evans) who quietly organizes a rebellion with the help of Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Gilliam (John Hurt). But getting to the front of the train might be the least of their problems.

Snowpiercer was an exciting film. Tense, with a weird sense of humor and great action scenes. It did not have the most innovative of plots, but with an awesome setting and beautiful cinematography it more than makes up for that.

snowpiercer

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Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Based on: Rick Riordan‘s novel
Sequel to: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Cast: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Douglas Smith, Leven Rambin, Jake Abel, Anthony Stewart Head, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Yvette Nicole Brown, Robert Knepper, Grey Damon, Ron Perlman, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson

Plot:
After his success with Zeus’ lightning bolt Percy (Logan Lerman) has yet to have another big success, much to his chagrin and Clarisse’ (Leven Rambin) enjoyment. But then things get quickly out of whack: Percy’s half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), a cyclops, shows up. Camp Half-Blood is attacked by the not-dead-after-all Luke (Jake Abel) and its magical barrier starts failing. It’s Clarisse who gets tasked with finding the Golden Fleece to save the camp, but fueled by a prophecy Percy, Tyson, Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) go on the same quest.

Sea of Monsters, much like the first film, was pretty nice the most time, but also ultimately not great or awesome. There is nothing really wrong with it and it did have a great supporting cast, but I didn’t connect with it all that much.

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Love & Distrust (2010)

Love & Distrust (it’s a short film anthology with the following segments)
Segment The Summer House
Director: Daisy Gili
Writer: Ian Beck
Cast: Talulah Riley, Robert Pattinson
Segment Blue Poles
Director: Darcy Yuille
Writer: Stewart Klein
Cast: Sam Worthington, Hallie Shellam
Segment Grasshopper
Director: Eric Kmetz
Writer: Eric Kmetz
Cast: James Franco, Rachel Miner
Segment Pennies
Director: Diana Valentine, Warner Loughlin
Writer: Eddie Adams, Marcus Kayne
Cast: Amy Adams
Segment Auto Motives
Director: Lorraine Bracco
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., James Cameron, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jim Rash, Tate Taylor

Plot:
In Summer House, Jane (Talulah Riley) tries to get away from her ex Richard (Robert Pattinson).
In Blue Poles, country guy Miles (Sam Worthington) picks up hippie hitchhiker Libby (Hallie Shellam).
In Grasshopper, business man Travis (James Franco) forgets his cell phone on the train which is found by punk Terri (Rachel Miner).
In Pennies, Charlotte (Amy Adams) has to come into some money really quickly for the sake of her daughter. Unfortunately, she’s only a waitress.
In Auto Motives, we see various people in different situations involving cars.

I got drawn in by the impressive cast list in this collection. Unfortunately that seems to have also been the only criteria in the choice of putting those originally unconnected short films together in one film. There is no thematic arch whatsoever, but even taken on their own, the films are absolutely damn weak.

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The Help (2011)

The Help
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Tate Taylor
Based on: Kathryn Stockett’s novel
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Anna Camp, Sissy Spacek

Plot:
1960  in Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen (Viola Davis) is a maid who is currently working for the Leefolt family, where she especially loves taking care of Mae Mobley, the Leefolts’ little girl. Her best friend is Minny (Octavia Spencer) who – quite contrary to Aibileen – usually gets in trouble because she won’t hold her peace. Which is not the best course of action for a maid. But when the white Skeeter (Emma Stone) looks for a maid to talk about her life, so she can write a book about it, it’s Aibilieen who jumps at the chance.

The Help is pretty much the perfect Christmas movie – sentimental, sweet and even more of a tear-jerker than the book (I was actually surprised that this was possible). A very nice way to shed some cathartic tears, despite a few weaknesses.

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