Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin
Based on: James Dashner’s novel
Sequel to: The Maze Runner
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya ScodelarioDexter DardenAlexander Flores, Jacob LoflandRosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Lili Taylor, Barry Pepper, Alan Tudyk
Seen on: 9.10.2015

Plot [with spoilers for the first film]:
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Frypan (Dexter Darden) made it out of the labyrinth and are now under the care of the resistance against WICKED, led by Janson (Aidan Gillen). But there is something fishy going on there as well and soon, Thomas and his friends find themselves on the run through a desolate world they barely understand.

Although I didn’t like the first book or film, I decided to give The Scorch Trials a try, fully expecting a bad, but entertaining film. What I got, though, was a bad and painfully boring film that is so stupid it becomes incomprehensible.

mazerunner-scorchtrials

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Learning to Drive (2014)

Learning to Drive
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Sarah Kernochan
Based on: the article by Katha Pollitt
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, John Hodgman, Samantha Bee, Avi Nash
Seen on: 10.8.2015

Plot:
Wendy’s (Patricia Clarkson) husband Ted (Jake Weber) just left her, which came as a complete surprise to her. Wendy is slowly losing herself in despair, she barely has any social contacts and her daughter Tasha (Grace Gummer) works on a farm in Connecticut. But if Wendy learned how to drive, she could visit her. So when chance brings Darwan (Ben Kingsley) to her doorstep who happens to be a driving instructor, she goes for it. But it turns out that Darwan can teach her much more than just to drive.

Learning to Drive was nice, though I didn’t care for the romantic angle or for the occasional bouts of orientalism in it.

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Regarding Susan Sontag (2014)

Regarding Susan Sontag
Director: Nancy D. Kates
Writer: Nancy D. Kates, John Haptas
Narrated by: Patricia Clarkson
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2015

“Plot”:
Susan Sontag was a writer, philosopher, film maker and political activist. In this documentary, they take a look at the woman behind the work and who Susan Sontag was in her private life, rather than her public work.

Susan Sontag is an interesting woman and makes for an interesting topic for a documentary. Nevertheless I’m a little uneasy with the focus on her private life instead of her work.

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Annie (2014)

Annie
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Will Gluck, Aline Brosh McKenna (script), Greg Kurstin, Sia (new music)
Based on: the play written by Thomas Meehan (book), Charles Strouse (music), Martin Charnin (lyrics) which is in turn based on Harold Gray‘s comic strip Little Orphan Annie
Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas, Cameron Diaz, Michael J. Fox, Patricia Clarkson, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Rihanna, Sia
Seen on: 23.01.2015

Plot:
Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) is an orphan and lives with the difficult Ms Hannigan (Cameron Diaz) and several other foster children. She dreams of finding her parents and whenever possible she passes her time coming up with ways she could find out more about them. But her life takes an abrupt turn when she is saved from getting hit by a car by the self-involved businessman Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who is running for mayor. Stacks’ PR person Guy (Bobby Cannavale) sees the perfect opportunity to make Stacks more likeable and convinces him to take in Annie, despite the misgivings of Stack’s assistant Grace (Rose Byrne). But Annie is not just a passive thing to be used – she makes her own life.

I don’t know whether I have actually ever seen the film from the 80s and I know for a fact that I didn’t see any of the other adaptations of this. And as practically an Annie virgin, I really enjoyed the film, even if it had its weak spots.

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The Maze Runner (2014)

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: Noah Oppenheim, Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin
Based on: James Dashner’s novel
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Aml Ameen, Blake Cooper, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Patricia Clarkson

Plot:
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself among a group of other teenage boys in the middle of a maze. He has no memories of his previous life and no idea why he or the other boys are in the maze in the first place – none of them do. But they try their best to solve it and get out of there. But the maze is a dangerous, even deadly place and despite their best attempts to map it, they haven’t been successful so far. And then a mostly unconscious girl (Kaya Scodelario) is delivered to them, causing further confusion.

I was less than enthusiastic about the book and I am not sure whether I was even less enthusiastic about the film, or just equally unimpressed. In any case I was glad I won tickets and didn’t spend any money for it.

themazerunner

[SPOILERS]

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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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The East (2013)

The East
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Writer: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Aldis Hodge, Danielle Macdonald, Hillary BaackJason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Patricia Clarkson

Plot:
Sarah (Brit Marling) works for a private security company. Their newest client is worried about ecoterrorist group The East, so Sarah gets the assignment from her boss (Patricia Clarkson) to infiltrate them. After a long search, Sarah meets Luca (Shiloh Fernandez) who brings her into the group which is (unofficially) led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgard). Even though it isn’t easy to get in at first, Sarah quickly finds herself in deeper than she ever thought.

The East is exciting, interesting and well acted. It asks many smart questions and though the way it ultimately resolves those questions was a little unfortunate, especially since it tries not to resolve anything too clearly for the first 112 minutes (runtime: 116 min). But it is still excellent.

the-east

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Cairo Time (2009)

Cairo Time
Director: Ruba Nadda
Writer: Ruba Nadda
Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Anaya, Amina Annabi

Plot:
Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) comes to Cairo to visit her husband who is working there for the UN. But when she lands, instead of her husband, it’s Tareq (Alexander Siddig) who picks her up. Tareq used to work with her husband, who is caught up in Gaza. As Juliette waits for her husband to return, she starts to spend more time with Tareq and their sympathies for each other deepen.

Cairo Time was a beautiful, well-written and perfectly acted film that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would.

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One Day (2011)

One Day
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: David Nicholls
Based on: David Nichollsnovel
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Anne Hathaway, Patricia Clarkson, Jodie Whittaker, Romola Garai, Ken Stott, Matt Berry

Plot:
Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the day of their graduation. Despite a sligth awkwardness in the beginning, they develop a deep friendship. The film chronicles their relationship by showing the both of them on one day in the year for the next 20 years, through highs and lows.

One Day is a nice chick flick, with enough kitsch to work but not too much to make you gag. Plus, it has a nice soundtrack. But it doesn’t really stand out from the mass of competitors.

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Friends with Benefits (2011)

Friends with Benefits
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone

Plot:
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) gets headhunted by Jamie (Mila Kunis) and moves from Los Angeles to New York. They get along well and quickly become very good friends. But both are pretty unlucky when it comes to romantic relationships – so one day they decide to hook up with each other. Strictly without any romantic entanglement, of course. But will that really work?

Friends with Benefits is a charming and fun film. Will it be a contender for cinematic masterpiece? No. But nevertheless it’s a very nice piece of entertainment.

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