Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson
Based on: Laura Hillenbrand‘s book
Cast: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, Ross Anderson, Alex Russell
Seen on: 19.01.2015

Plot:
Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a troublemaker as a kid until his brother Pete (Alex Russell) had the idea to channel his energy into running. And it pays of – Louie is sent to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. A few years later, thought, he finds himself fighting against Germany and Japan in World War II. When his plane is shot down over the sea, somewhere close to Japan, and only Louie, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mac (Finn Wittrock) survive the crash, things don’t look too well. And it only becomes worse, when they are captured by Japanese soldiers and end up prisoners of war. But Louie doesn’t give up easily.

Unbroken is okay as a film. It’s a little formulaic and a little too on the nose, but it’s solid filmmaking that just doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights it’s aiming for.

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Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Behind the Candelabra
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Richard LaGravenese
Based on: Scott Thorson‘s and Alex Thorleifson’s memoir
Cast: Michael Douglas, Matt DamonScott Bakula, Debbie Reynolds, Cheyenne Jackson, Dan AykroydRob Lowe, David Koechner, Garrett M. Brown

Plot:
When young Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) meets Liberace (Michael Douglas), he is impressed – by his lifestyle, his money and status, his talent. Liberace, whose relationship with Billy (Cheyenne Jackson) is in its last moments, also takes to Scott and Scott quickly finds himself in Billy’s place. But living with Liberace sure isn’t easy.

Behind the Candelabra was entertaining and funny, had a great cast and awesome make-up. It probably isn’t the best movie of all times, but it is extremely enjoyable.

behind-the-candelabra

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Beautiful Creatures (2013)

Beautiful Creatures
Director: Richard LaGravenese
Writer: Richard LaGravenese
Based on: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s novel
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale, Zoey Deutch

Plot:
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) lives in the small South Carolina town of Gatlin. Ever since his mother’s death, his father pretty much hasn’t left his room and Ethan is taking care of him. He dreams of college and leaving. But recently he’s been having strange dreams of a girl. And then Lena (Alice Englert) shows up at his school. She’s the niece of the town’s supposed madman Macon Ravenwood (Jeremy Irons). Ethan feels an instant connection with Lena, even recognizes her as the girl he dreamt about. But even more crazy things happen around and to Lena, and time is running out for her.

What the movie did to this book was incredible. From a nice, if not great young adult story, it was turned into a misogynistic, illogical, offensive crapfest. I actually had to shout DAFUQ several times.

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All-but-Irish Men in Ireland and Non-American Cowboys

P.S. I Love You was exactly as it should be: wonderful. Funny and sad and full of gorgeous guys. I mean, I knew Gerard Butler was hot, but then getting Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a bonus was perfect. The only thing a little weird was that it was set in New York. K. said that it’s an Hollywood law that RomComs can only play in NY but honestly, the ending seemed a little strained because of that. I can only assume that Hilary Swank can’t fake an Irish accent. Interestingly enough, neither Gerard Butler nor Jeffrey Dean Morgan are from Ireland (GB: Glasgow and JDM: Seattle). At least for someone like me (non-english-native and never been to Ireland), their Irish accents were very believable.
Richard LaGravenese brought us a perfect chick flick. (This time there’s not too much pathos as in Horse Whisperer or the we’ve-all-seen-that-before effect from Freedom Writers…)
K. will lend me the book tomorrow, can’t wait to read it.

Before I start talking about 3:10 to Yuma, a little disclaimer: I was never a Western fan. I never watched the classics and am not that interested to do so in the future. Therefore, I might lack a little understanding for the genre and the cultere within. But the ending just left me puzzled.
(Warning, spoiler ahead!)
Why the hell did Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) help Dan Evans (Christian Bale) in the end? I mean, you are in the middle of strangling someone then he tells you he’s never been a hero but can’t let his kids know and suddenly you stop and make him a hero? That just doesn’t really make sense to me.
(Spoiler end.)
Maybe, apart from a lack of understanding for Westerns, I also have a severe lack of testosterone to understand them anyway.
K., who has a profound education in Spaghetti-Westerns, told me that it cited a lot of movies (like exploding horses and the such). Therefore, it gets a little more credit but altogether there was too much “huh?” for me.
Things I enjoyed about it: Well, watching Christian Bale (looks and talent) and Russell Crowe (looks and I know there is some talent buried deep down somewhere) is always a treat. Luke Wilson‘s brief appearance (not necessarily because of him but because of the whole scene). Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk‘s character). Ben Foster‘s acting (seriously, this guy knows how to act. 10 minutes in the movie and I already thought: Psycho! Judging from his performance in X-Men: The Last Stand I wouldn’t have thought that possible).
Interesting: Neither Christian Bale nor Russell Crowe are Americans (CB: somewhere in Wales and Russell Crowe: Wellington [New Zealand, damn, I thought he was from Australia… It’s probably good, he’ll never read this blog…]).
The whole thing is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard who I thought I didn’t know and K. mistook for some other writer. A little research shows: not only have I seen movies which were written by him or based on one of his novels (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Out of Sight) but I actually have a book by him (Mr. Paradise). I can only excuse this by blaming, first, the size of my private library and second, the fact that I haven’t read it yet and third, that I am a bad human being.

I’m sorry that this isn’t very coherent but there are really many things worth noting in this film and it’s one of those which get better the more you think about it. I really enjoyed everything up to the ending, I think it was beautifully done (but James Mangold already proved himself before so that was no suprise) and well played. It didn’t shrink from the violence nor did they have to show everything in all gory details. But I’m no Western fan and this film won’t change my mind. Maybe I will understand the ending someday but until then I’m afraid it’s number three of worst Christian Bale movies (Number 2 being Reign of Fire and Number 1: American Psycho [so much potential – great book, great actor – just going to waste]). I’d only recommend it to male Western fans.