Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) lives with her grandfather Hee Bong (Hee-Bong Byun) and with Okja. Okja is a genetically modified breed of superpigs. To see how the animals fare, twelve of them have been placed in various situations worldwide to see what environment suits them best. It turns out that Okja is the winner. That means that they find themselves confronted with nature filmer Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has been sent by the corporation Okja actually belongs to to publicize the result of the contest. But even though Wilcox is not the most charming individual, he quickly becomes the least of Mija’s problems as she has to fight for Okja and their life together.
Okja is sweet and it has a great cast. It has a political message that it puts front and center, but unfortunately that message is muddled at the best of times and incomprehensible at other times. When you make a film that so obviously has something to say, when that something remains that unclear, the entire experience is frustrating and nothing else.
Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island. His only company is Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). It’s just that Manny is actually dead. But he is still able to speak and his body has some absolutely perfect properties for Hank’s escape. So the two of them make their way back home. And the longer they travel together, the more they discover about each other.
It’s hard to put into words how strange Swiss Army Man actually is and how much that strangeness benefits it without it being a gimmick. Much too often, the strangeness of a film feels like posturing, here it is an absolutely central part of the film’s heart and soul – and it’s got a lot of those, transforming Swiss Army Man into a magical experience that is bound to make you emotional.
Fred (Michael Caine) is on holiday in a Swiss resort with his best friend Mick (Harvey Keitel). Mick is trying to write his latest screenplay, supposed to be his big oeuvre, together with a group of young writers. Fred is just trying to get some peace and quiet, when an emissary (Alex Macqueen) from the Queen of England approaches him to ask him to conduct his most famous symphony for Prince Philipp’s birthday, much to the surprise of the emissary and Fred’s daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz). Lena comes to visit but stays longer than planned when her husband and Mick’s son Julian (Ed Stoppard) announces that he’s leaving her.
I was very reluctant to see Youth. I was afraid that the film would be all about a couple of old guys olging young women (the poster suggests nothing different). Fortunately the lusting was kept to a minimum and there was a lot about the film that I enjoyed. It won’t become my favorite film ever, but it was far from as bad as I expected.
Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) works as car saleswoman and one day, a guy (John Cusack) strolls into her shop, interested to buy. Turns out, he is Brian Wilson, formerly of The Beach Boys. Brian seems a little off and is accompanied by two bodyguards and a doctor – Eugene (Paul Giamatti). Nevertheless he manages to pass on a message, a cry for help, to Melinda. Even when he was young, Brian (Paul Dano) has had mental health issues, but now he seems completely under Eugene’s control – and apparently not doing very well.
Love & Mercy has an interesting structure and a cast that absolutely shines. I was completely immersed in the story. Yet it is also interesting to think about what has been left out of the story.
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is one of the few free black people in the USA. Or rather he used to be until he took a job offer that turned into a kidnapping. Suddenly Solomon finds himself removed from his family, mistreated and enslaved. As he goes from owner to owner, he tries his best to not only survive, but be free again.
12 Years a Slave is one hell of a film. It has a great cast, is beautifully shot and has an awesome soundtrack. It’s also a film that hurts pretty much all over and will stay with me for a very long time.
It’s Thanksgiving and the Dovers are celebrating with their friends and neighbors, the Birchs. But when the little daughters of both families suddenly disappear, the festivities are quickly interrupted. As Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is called, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) quickly loses his temper. And when suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is apprehended to be released soon afterwards, Keller decides to take justice into his own hands.
Prisoners has a rather similar theme as Big Bad Wolves, so it’s hard not to compare the two and in that comparison, Prisoners stays a bit behind – but that’s just because Big Bad Wolves was that exceptional. Prisoners is, in fact, a really good movie.
Calvin (Paul Dano) wrote a critically acclaimed bestseller when he was very young – and has been stuck ever since. He can’t really write anything, he’s afraid that he won’t live up to his own reputation. But then he starts writing about Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) – the perfect girl for him – and literally falls in love with his own creation. That is, until she actually shows up in his kitchen. At first, Calvin believes that he’s finally cracked, but other people can see her, too. And so Calvin doesn’t question it, instead starts enjoying their relationship. But how long can anybody remain perferct?
Ruby Sparks is the perfect take-down of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. And not only that, it is also a wonderfully charming, touching and funny movie with an extremely excellent cast.
Joby Taylor (Paul Dano) is a rather successful rock musician about to get divorced from his already very estranged wife Claire (Margarita Levieva). In fact, Claire has been bringing up their daughter Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo) while Joby’s been gone and now they’re only talking through their lawyers. In a last attempt to salvage something, Joby refuses to sign the divorce papers unless he gets to spend time with Ellen.
For Ellen was an extremely nice and sweet and touching and cute and absolutely wonderful film. It was one of those films that I wanted to see again the minute it was over.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a looper – gangsters from the future send the people they wish to kill back in time, where the loopers dispose of them. The last person they will dispose of that way will be their older selves, and thereby fulfilling their contract. As it happens, most loopers’ contracts are starting to get closed. But when it’s Joe’s turn, Old!Joe (Bruce Willis) won’t play along and makes a break for it.
Apart from one inconsistency, Looper is an expertly crafted and engaging time travel story. While it is not the greatest film ever made, I did enjoy it a whole lot.
Matthew (Emile Hirsch) is a senior in high school and just applied for a scholarship to Brown university (given to students with special moral fiber). He’s rather geeky, though his best friends Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano) are even geekier. But that changes when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door. Matthew falls hard for Danielle and isn’t even deterred when he finds out that she’s a porn star. But she quickly turns his whole life upside down.
I was pretty sure that I would hate this film, Manic Pixie Dream Girl and all, but in the end it really wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Though that doesn’t make it any good, either.