Re-Watch: Inkheart (2008)

Inkheart
Director: Iain Softley
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: Cornelia Funke’s novel
Cast: Eliza Bennett, Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Sienna Guillory, Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Rafi Gavron, Andy Serkis, Jennifer Connelly
Seen on: 1.1.2022
[Here’s my first review of the film.]
[Here are my reviews of the entire trilogy this is based on.]

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Meggie (Eliza Bennett) and her bookbinder father Mo (Brendan Fraser) have always lived rather withdrawn lives surrounded by books, traveling around where Mo’s work is needed. This gives Mo a chance to look for a rare book. Just when he finds a copy, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) shows up. It’s clear that he is actually an old acquaintance of Mo’s. He warns of Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and his men who are coming for Mo. Meggie and Mo immediately head towards her greataunt Elinor (Helen Mirren). But Dustfinger is right behind them as he desperately needs something from Mo: his ability to read things out of books. It’s that ability that Capricorn is looking for, too and that puts all of them in danger.

Now that I finally finished (re-)reading the trilogy, I wanted to watch the film again, too. It is still a sweet adventure film that captures the essence of the book very nicely, albeit overshooting the goal a little.

The film poster showing Mo (Brendan Fraser) reading from a book. A golden glitterwave curls up from the book, and in it are a unicorn and the other main characters.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The Matrix Reloaded
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Writer: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Sequel to: The Matrix
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Harry Lennix, Harold Perrineau, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gina Torres, Gloria Foster, Nathaniel Lees, Helmut Bakaitis, Lambert Wilson, Monica Bellucci, Randall Duk Kim, Steve Bastoni, Don Battee, Collin Chou, Essie Davis, Terrell Dixon, Nona Gaye, Roy Jones Jr., Shane C. Rodrigo, Cornel West, Leigh Whannell
Seen on: 1.11.2021

Plot:
Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) have joined and built up a strong resistance against the machines, both inside the Matrix and outside of it. When they learn about plans of a large-scale attack on Zion, the one human city left on earth, they only have a short time-frame to prevent it. Meanwhile, Neo is plagued by dreams of Trinity dying that feel an awful lot like visions. Seeking the Oracle (Gloria Foster) for help again, he learns of what is needed. But getting it isn’t easy, especially since Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) also picked up a few skills.

With the upcoming sequel to the original trilogy, I didn’t want to leave it at just watching the first film although I knew that the second film couldn’t keep up with the first. Unfortunately, even with some distance from the hype that the first film generated, The Matrix Reloaded is a disappointment.

The film poster shwoing Neo (Keanu Reeves) and behind him Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) in a brick-built tunnel opening.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Writer: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Julian Arahanga, Matt Doran, Belinda McClory, Anthony Ray Parker
Seen on: 1.11.2021

Plot:
Thomas Anderson, better known under his hacker name Neo (Keanu Reeves), receives a mysterious message that tells him to follow the white rabbit, just before there is a knock on the door and a customer with a white rabbit tattoo leads him away. This fateful encounter brings him to Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), probably the best known hackers in the world, always on the run from the law. They offer him a choice: Neo can follow them and learn the truth about the world, or he can forget about everything and stay trapped. What Neo doesn’t know is that Morpheus is convinced that Neo can save them all. In fact, Neo isn’t even aware that they need saving at first. But he soon learns better.

To say that The Matrix is a formative movie for filmmaking is probably putting it mildly. Seeing it again now, more than twenty years later, the footprint it left is very obvious – and understandable. It is still an awesome film.

The film poster showing Neo (Keanu Reeves), and behind him Cypher (Joe Pantoliano), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). All dressed n black, wearing sunglasses and holding weapons.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That
Director: Robert Iscove
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Kevin Pollak, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Elden Henson, Usher, Lil’ Kim, Gabrielle Union, Dulé Hill, Tamara Mello, Clea DuVall, Tim Matheson
Seen on: 8.10.2021

Plot:
Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) is the star of his high school. He is gorgeous, athletic and rich, he has a beautiful girlfriend in Taylor (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). He should be set to finish High School on a high as prom king with Taylor as prom queen at his side. But when school starts, he is unceremoniously dumped by her for reality TV star Brock Hudson (Matthew Lillard). Zack’s best friend Dean (Paul Walker) is ready to pour salt into Zack’s wound, so in an effort to reassert himself, Zack agrees to a bet with Dean: He can take any girl in school and make her prom queen. Dean chooses Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) for the challenge: disheveled, outspoken and artistic, she seems like the perfect challenge for Zack. But as Zack starts to woo her, and Laney slowly gives into his wooing, he soon finds that there is more to her than just a bet.

I know that I saw She’s All That at some point, but I’ve only had a vague recollection of it. Unfortunately, re-watching it didn’t prove it to be some kind of 90s high school romance winner, but rather a pretty lackluster affair.

The film poster showing Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) and Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) smiling.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: The School of Rock (2003)

The School of Rock
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Cast: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, Lucas Babin, Jordan-Claire Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Kevin Alexander Clark, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale
Seen on: 30.6.2021

Content Note: misogyny

Plot:
Dewey (Jack Black) is a passionate musician, playing guitar in a band that has grown tired of his antics, feeling that he is holding them back with his talk about real rock instead of going in a more crowd-pleasing direction. That’s why they kick him out just before a big music contest. Hurt, Dewey withdraws to Ned’s (Mike White), where he lives for the moment, much to the chagrin of Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman) who would like to see Ned, a substitute teacher, in a more settled position without any old friends who are freeloading. In short, Dewey needs a job, so when Ned gets a call to substitute at a prestigious school, Dewey pretends to be him. And when he realizes that the kids he should be teaching are actually good musicians, he hatched a plan to fulfill his dream after all.

I saw The School of Rock for the first time not long after it came out and I remembered it quite fondly. So when I was in the mood for a nice comedy, I decided to give it another try. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up as well as I’d hoped, even if it is still pretty entertaining.

The film poster showing Dewey (Jack Black) in his teacher outfit with a guitar, in a full-on rocker pose. Behind him, we can see 8 children dressed as rockstars themselves.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: My Girl (1991)

My Girl
Director: Howard Zieff
Writer: Laurice Elehwany
Cast: Anna Chlumsky, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, Richard Masur, Griffin Dunne, Ann Nelson
Seen on: 1.6.2021

Plot:
Vada (Anna Chlumsky) is a bit of a strange child. Her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd) runs a funeral parlor from their home, her grandmother (Ann Nelson) has dementia, and her mother tried when Vada was born. This has given Vada an obsession with death, constantly thinking that she will be dying soon. She spends her summer cycling around town with her best friend Thomas J (Macaulay Culkin), trying to impress her teacher Mr Bixler (Griffin Dunne) with whom she is in love, and also watching her father fall in love with the new make-up artist he hired, Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis). After this summer, life will never be the same again for her.

My Girl is a sweet – maybe at times too sweet – film that carries quite an emotional punch. But despite the difficult things, it’s a warm film that seems to insist that despite everything, life is good and full of beauty.

The film poster showing Vada (Anna Chlumsky) and Thomas J (Macaulay Culkin) laughing.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: Love and Other Disasters (2006)

Love and Other Disasters
Director: Alek Keshishian
Writer: Alek Keshishian
Cast: Brittany Murphy, Matthew Rhys, Catherine Tate, Santiago Cabrera, Elliot Cowan, Stephanie Beacham, Jamie Sives, Will Keen, Michael Lerner, Dawn French, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom
Seen on: 20.5.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Jacks (Brittany Murphy) works at Vogue, lives with her best friend Peter (Matthew Rhys) and is kinda dating James (Elliot Cowan) who she broke up with – but the break-up didn’t stick. Jacks is always rooting for her friends to find love, though, above all Peter – who just ran into the guy of his dreams but didn’t manage to talk to him. So maybe the photographer’s new assistant Paolo (Santiago Cabrera) may be a good match for Peter. Jacks certainly thinks he’s great.

It’s been a long time that I saw Love and Other Disasters, but I had a very fond memory of it – and fortunately, my memory isn’t wrong: this is a sweet and funny film that has a smart message.

The film poster showing Jacks (Brittany Murphy) sitting huddled together with crossed legs.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

But I’m a Cheerleader
Director: Jamie Babbit
Writer: Brian Peterson
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Melanie Lynskey, Katrina Phillips, Katharine Towne, Joel Michaely, Douglas Spain, Dante Basco, Kip Pardue, Cathy Moriarty, Bud Cort, Mink Stole, RuPaul, Eddie Cibrian, Michelle Williams, Wesley Mann, Richard Moll, Julie Delpy
Seen on: 16.5.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, conversion therapy

Plot:
Megan (Natasha Lyonne) comes from a good Christian household, is a cheerleader, has a boyfriend. That’s why she is completely blindsided when her parents (Bud Cort, Mink Stole) suddenly cart her off to True Direction, a “rehabilitation facility” for turning homosexuals into heterosexuals. There Megan undergoes rigorous training together with other kids in the same position. But what happens when you put five lesbians into a room? Well, sparks fly – and so Megan finds herself drawn to Graham (Clea DuVall).

When I watched But I’m a Cheerleader for the first time, I hadn’t realized yet that I was into women myself, and let me tell you, the film hits differently when you know you’re queer. I definitely liked it more now than I did back then (though I did like it then, too). In fact, I adored it.

The film poster showing Megan (Natasha Lyonne) in a pink ball gown, holding a cheerleading pompom.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: Never Been Kissed (1999)

Never Been Kissed
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Garry Marshall, Sean Whalen, Cress Williams, Octavia Spencer, Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton, Jordan Ladd, Katie Lansdale, Branden Williams, James Franco
Seen on: 1.4.2021

Plot:
Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a copyeditor at the Sun-Times, but she would like to be a reporter. Her chance comes quite surprisingly when her unpredictable boss (Garry Marshall) tells her to go undercover at a high school to figure out what kids these days are up to. Josie is so excited about the opportunity, she doesn’t remember that she was bullied in high school. But once she is back, all her old memories flood back again. Maybe this time, though, Josie has a chance to do better.

It has been many years that I watched Never Been Kissed, but I remembered it very fondly. I’m happy to report that it is still an utterly charming film with a cute love story.

The film poster showing Josie (Drew Barrymore) sitting on the floor, one of her knees pulled to her chest.
Continue reading

Re-Watch: Burgtheater [Burg Theatre] (1936)

Burgtheater
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Carl Esmond, Karl Günther
Seen on: 11.2.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: attempted suicide

Plot:
Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss) is the star of the Viennese Burg Theater. The eccentric and basically socio-phobic star. He has the prompter Sedlmayer (Hans Moser) take care of most of his social interactions. Even when he meets the young Leni (Hortense Raky) who finds really charming, he relies on Sedlmayer to establish contact. With these social skills, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t notice that Leni is head over heels for the aspiring actor Josef (Willy Eichberger). When Leni finds an invitation for the Baroness Seebach’s (Olga Tschechowa) weekly party for the rich and famous at Mitterer’s place, she steals it without thinking and gives it to Josef, setting quite a few things in motion.

I had forgotten that I’d seen Burgtheater before. Seeing it again, I started to remember, but only vaguely. This time, I didn’t love it as much as the first time – and it generally struck me very differently. It does have a pretty great and very memorable character in Mitterer, though.

The film poster showing the audience at the Viennese Burgtheater and headshots of the three protagonists of the film - Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss), Josef Rainer (Carl Esmond) and Leni Schindler (Hortense Raky).
Continue reading