The Iceman (2012)

The Iceman
Director: Ariel Vromen
Writer: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Based on: Anthony Bruno’s book of the same name about Richard Kuklinski
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Danny A. Abeckaser, John Ventimiglia, Ryan O’Nan, McKaley Miller, Megan Sherrill, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
Seen on: 30.4.2017

Plot:
Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) works behind the scenes in the porn industry, a job that brings him in contact with Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who sees potential in Richard and promptly hires him as a contract killer. Richard takes to this new job with a sense of professionalism that includes keeping it very far away from his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and kids. But mob politics aren’t easy to navigate and Richard can’t make everybody happy at all times.

I didn’t expect much from this film, but despite a lengthy second half and some seriously atrocious 70s hair, it drew me in, mostly thanks to a magnetic Michael Shannon.

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Wanderlust (2012)

Wanderlust
Director: David Wain
Writer: David Wain, Ken Marino
Cast: Paul RuddJennifer AnistonJustin TherouxAlan AldaMalin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo TruglioKathryn HahnJordan PeeleKeegan-Michael KeyRay Liotta
Seen on: 9.4.2017

Plot:
Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) are a young, urban couple set for success. Linda expects her documentary to be financed, George expects to be promoted. But life doesn’t play along and both find themselves without a job but with an expensive apartment they can’t afford anymore. Desperate, George agrees to work for his brother Rick (Ken Marino), even though that means moving across the country. But on the way, Linda and George coincidentally spend a night in a commune led by the charismatic Seth (Justin Theroux). Initially taken aback by the alterantive way of life, Linda and George quickly start to take to the lifestyle and decide to give it a try for real.

Wanderlust is pretty much how you’d expect it to be: not particularly smart or insightful or novel, but it’s often quite funny in a rather stupid way.

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh BrolinEva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher MeloniJeremy PivenChristopher Lloyd, Juno TempleStacy KeachMarton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia GarnerJaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis

Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.

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Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Muppets Most Wanted
Director: James Bobin
Writer: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
Based on: Jim Henson‘s characters
Sequel to: The Muppets
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey
Cameos by [put in camouflage so you can still be surprised by the people who show up, if you don’t know already. If you wanna be surprised, don’t read the tags, either]: Tony Bennett, Hugh Bonneville, Jemaine Clement, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Mackenzie Crook, Céline DionLady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom HiddlestonTom Hollander, Toby Jones, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloë Grace Moretz, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz

Plot:
After solving their problems in the last film, the Muppets hit a bit of a low. They don’t really know what they should do now. That’s when Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) shows up and proposes a world tour to them. Kermit is hesitant but the others are in love with the idea. But Badguy has ulterior motives – he is teamed up with the most evil frog in the world, Constantine. And for his plan to work, Constantine impersonates Kermit while banishing the real Kermit to a Russian gulag.

I think I liked Muppets Most Wanted a little better than the first Muppets film. Maybe I’m starting to have more of a connection to the Muppets themselves. (There are so many Muppets in this paragraph alone. Muppets. Muppets. Muppets.) Either way, there is not much of a quality difference between this one and the first one.

muppetsmostwanted

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The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Ryan GoslingBradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose ByrneDane DeHaanEmory Cohen, Ben MendelsohnBruce Greenwood, Mahershala Ali, Gabe Fazio, Ray Liotta

Plot:
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver. But when he finds out that Romina (Eva Mendes) – with whom he had a fling a year earlier – had his son, he decides to give up his job and stay near them and take care of them. But since he lacks the resources to do so properly, he starts to rob banks which puts him right in the path of Avery (Bradley Cooper), a young and ambitious police man.

I loved Blue Valentine and the cast of this movie is pretty damn good, so I expected big things. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. The Place Beyond the Pines is boring, clichéd and way too long.

theplacebeyondthepines

[Major SPOILERS]

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Date Night (2010)

Date Night is the newest movie by Shawn Levy, starring Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, Mark Ruffalo, James Franco and Mila Kunis.

Plot:
The Fosters (Steve Carell, Tina Fey) are a rather ordinary couple – he is a tax lawyer, she a real estate agent. Once a week, they have their Date Night, which is mostly the same every week. One week, they decide to do something special and have dinner in New York. But they arrive late at this ultra-hip restaurant and don’t get a table. On a whim, they decide to take the reservation of somebody else. Unfortunately these somebodies are in real trouble and now the Fosters get caught up in the whole thing.

Date Night is nothing special, but it has some really awesome moments. It’s fun and it will keep you entertained, as long as you don’t expect a meditation on life and death. [But honestly, who would?]

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