Straight Line Crazy

Straight Line Crazy
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: David Hare
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Siobhán Cullen, Samuel Barnett, Alisha Bailey, Danny Webb, Alana Maria, Helen Schlesinger
Seen on: 8.9.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) is a city planner, and an ambitious one to boot. When he has a plan, he will do everything to see it made reality, and he is usually successful. Starting his career with pissing off the rich folk on Long Island, making the island accessible to the poor people of New York, his career later turns to plowing down “slums” and disregarding the Black community. But when it comes to Washington Square, his methods may finally catch up to him.

Straight Line Crazy is a powerful portrait of a thoroughly despicable man. While that’s always very good, it’s not always particularly entertaining.

The production poster showing Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) standing with arms crossed over his chest. Behind him is a photo of the New York City skyline.
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The King’s Man (2021)

The King’s Man
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Karl Gajdusek
Based on: Mark Millar’s and Dave Gibbons’ comic
Prequel to: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Alexandra Maria Lara, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Brühl, August Diehl, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci, David Kross
Seen on: 14.1.2022

Plot:
Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) is an important advisor to King George (Tom Hollander). When his wife Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara) is killed while they are inspecting whether rumors of concentration camps in South Africa were real, he promises her that he would keep their son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) away from violence. In the years since Emily’s death, Orlando has worked to establish a spy network with Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton), trying their best to avoid violence with their work. But now Conrad is grown, and war is coming to Europe – a war Conrad is desperate to join and Orlando is desperate to keep him from.

Oh boy, The King’s Man is one hell of a mess, constantly standing in its own way. It really doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing or what story it’s telling and squanders any potential of finding back to the good roots of the Kingsman franchise.

The film poster showing the main characters of the movie, most with some weapon.
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No Time to Die (2021)

No Time to Die
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre
Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz, David Dencik, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah
Seen on: 6.10.2021

Content Note: ableism/lookism

Plot:
After having left behind Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) a few years ago, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has retired from service and would like to enjoy a life of leisure. But that’s easier said than done when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leitner (Jeffrey Wright) contacts him and asks for help with a dangerous technology that was stolen, along with the scientist in charge for it. It’s a request that leads Bond right back to MI6, and to Madeleine.

No Time to Die is a bombastic ending to this incarnation of Bond that tries desperately to give Bond more emotional depth and closure, but succeeds only partly. Still, it did leave me with a certain nostalgia knowing that we’ll never get another Craig Bond.

The film poster showing James Bond (Daniel Craig) standing with his back half-turned towards the viewers. IN his silhouette are the otehr major characters of the film as well as a couple of action moments.
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Dolittle (2020)

Dolittle
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, Chris McKay
Based on: Hugh Lofting‘s books
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Kasia Smutniak, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas
Seen on: 13.2.2020
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Plot:
Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) has a gift: he’s a veterinarian who can talk to the animals directly. But every since his wife (Kasia Smutniak) was lost at sea, he hasn’t worked anymore. This changes quickly, when he gets two visitors in a day: the first one is Tommy (Harry Collett) who brings in a hurt squirrel, and the second is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who brings the news that the Queen (Jessie Buckley) may well be dying if Dolittle doesn’t help – and that would mean that he’d lose his entire estate. Forced from his isolation, Dolittle takes on the case – and Tommy makes sure to be part of it.

Dolittle has potential – Downey Jr. surrounded by animals voiced by a whole lot of excellent people? What can go wrong? A lot, apparently. Maybe this film should serve as a case study for that.

The film poster showing Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) surrounded by various animals.
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The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey
(I saw the dubbed German version, though.)
Seen on: 9.2.2017

Plot:
Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett) leads a rather lonely existence. Between beating up criminals like the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and eating lobster thermidor prepared by his trusted butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), he spends most of his time alone and in pain at the memory of the family he lost. But things change rapidly when Bruce not only accidentally adopts an orphan (Michael Cera), but the Joker and pretty much the entire league of supervillains surrender themselves to Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) who just proposed a new approach to crime for the police. But there must be something behind that surrender and Bruce has to find out.

The Lego Batman Movie is a celebration and parody of all things Batman and more. It’s as funny as it is nonsensical, and yet it manages to say more about the character Batman than more serious adaptations have managed. But at its heart, there is not much behind the jokes.

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A Bigger Splash (2015)

A Bigger Splash
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: Alain Page, David Kajganich
Based on: La Piscine
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
Seem on: 16.5.2016

Plot:
Rockstar Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is on holidays, recovering from throat surgery that affected her vocal chords. She is spending her time in Italy together with her boyfriend, photographer Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) in companionable calm and silence. Until her ex-husband and ex-producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) shows up with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), a daughter he only just recently met himself. Harry and Penelope both bring their own special kind of trouble to the formerly so idyllic stay.

A Bigger Splash starts off strong. While the cast manages to keep up the strength throughout, the plot does not. But with that much chemistry between everybody involved, I can certainly live without much of a plot.

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar!
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Jack Huston, Michael Gambon
Seen on: 21.2.2016

Plot:
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) fixes problems for a big movie studio. And boy, are there ever problems: Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the biggest star they currently have, is missing, possibly abducted. Star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant und unmarried. Director Laurnce Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) needs a new star for his film and the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), talented stunt cowboy but acting is a whole other story. And the twin journalists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are snooping around for a story, each in her own way and for her own column. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Eddie has an attractive job offer on the table he needs to decide on soon.

After the recent rather serious outings of the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is a return to comedy, and a very successful one at that. The film is a romp through the studio cinema of the 50s, with the only drawback that they’re reproducing the white-maleness of those films as well. Other than that, though, it is simply fun.

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Spectre (2015)

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench
Seen on: 10.11.2015

Plot:
The 00 program is still reeling from recent (forced) restructures. Now M (Ralph Fiennes) has to fight to keep it going at all as C (Andrew Scott) tries to establish a more technological data gathering approach to spying. Meanwhile, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission. A mysterious message from the old M (Judi Dench) reaches him, sending him to a funeral in Italy and with it right in the middle of Spectre – a secret organization that seems to have its hand in every major global event.

I’m not a huge Bond fan – which is probably why I enjoyed the most recent efforts in the franchise (well, apart from Quantom of Solace) as it seemed a step away from the worst of Bond’s inherent sexism. Plus, they were good actions films. Spectre, unfortunately, is a jump back into the 70s and with it, into all the Bond-pitfalls that the Craig-Bond-era has at least partly avoided. I was disappointed.

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Man and Superman

Man and Superman
Director: Simon Godwin
Writer: George Bernard Shaw
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Indira Varma, Nicholas le Prevost, Tim McMullan, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Faye Castelow, Nick Hendrix, Corey Johnson, Christine Kavanagh
Seen on: 14.5.2015

Plot:
After the death of her father, Ann (Indira Varma) is supposed to get two new guardians: Roebuck Ramsden (Nicholas le Prevost) and Jack Tanner (Ralph Fiennes). The problem is that the two of them hate each other, Tanner has no interest in being a guardian and Ramsden does not want to share the position with Tanner who he considers a dangerous revolutionary. But Ann is headstrong and smart and manages to convince both of them to do it anyway, not only fulfilling her father’s wishes but also her own: she has plans for and designs on Jack and is bent on making them real, no matter what Jack might think about it.

Man and Superman has very funny moments, but it left me reeling from the blatant misogyny that soaks every scene.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director: Wes Anderson
Writer: Wes Anderson
Based on: Stefan Zweig‘s writing (very loosely)
Cast: Ralph FiennesTony Revolori, F. Murray AbrahamJude Law, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Karl Markovics, Bob Balaban

Plot:
Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is not just a concierge, he is probably the best concierge there ever was and he has his fans. One of them is his newly acquired protégé Zero (Tony Revolori), another a frequent guest at the Grand Budapest Hotel, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). When she is f0und dead, though, suspicion falls on Gustave and he has to try and clear his name and to claim his inheritance, all with Zero in tow.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably the best film Anderson made since The Life Aquatic, if not his best film so far, period. It is crazy, enjoyable, funny, aesthetic and weird and has an awe-inspiring cast. Wonderful.

grandbudapesthotel

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