Joy (2015)

Joy
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Joy Mangano‘s life (roughly)
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceEdgar RamirezRobert De NiroDascha PolancoVirginia Madsen, Elisabeth RöhmIsabella RosselliniBradley CooperDiane Ladd
Seen on: 10.1.2016

Plot:
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her agoraphobic mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), and her two children in a small house that just become smaller as her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) also moves in after separating from his most recent girlfriend. Joy does her best to keep everything together. All of that could have been enoudh for anyone, but when Joy has an idea for a new product, she is willing to chase the dream of actually producing it, hoping to make a better life for herself and her family.

Joy was nice enough, but it didn’t blow me away. While there were many things to like about it, there was also some weird stuff, not the least of which was the decision to cast Jennifer Lawrence.

joy

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The Intern (2015)

The Intern
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer, Nat Wolff
Seen on: 29.9.2015

Plot:
Ben (Robert De Niro) used to have a full life. But now he’s retired and widowed and he feels a lack, no matter how many hobbies he starts. When he stumbles on an ad for a senior internship, he decides to give it a go. That’s how he ends up at Jules’ (Anne Hathaway) online clothing company. Although Jules isn’t very interested at first in having an intern like Ben, Ben quietly starts to find himself jobs to make her life easier.

The Intern is a film that pretends to be feminist but comes from an ultra-privileged, non-intersectional perspective in that regard that is quite galling. It was nice enough to watch, but it almost made me wish that they hadn’t tried to make what’s happening in it seem like feminism.

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Matthew Quick‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Pat (Bradley Cooper) was just released from a psychiatric hospital where he got committed after a violent episode and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) takes him home, where his fahter Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) carefully tries to reconnect with him. Pat is obsessed with winning his ex-wife Nikki back. So when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his best friend’s (John Ortiz) wife (Julia Stiles) who is still in touch with Nikki, all Pat sees in Tiffany is another chance to contact Nikki. But Tiffany who is just getting over her husband’s death brings her own set of problems. Among them a dance competition she doesn’t have a partner for. So she and Pat come up with a deal: Pat dances with her and Tiffany will deliver a message to Nikki.

On the surface, Silver Linings Playbook is pretty much your standard RomCom. But underneath that, it’s one of the most realistic and smartest films about mental illness Hollywood ever produced. I loved it.

silver-linings-playbook

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Cape Fear (1991)

Cape Fear
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Wesley Stick
Based on: John D. MacDonald‘s novel The Executioners
Remake of: Cape Fear
Cast: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Joe Don Baker

Plot:
Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) is a successful lawyer with a nice family. But when Max Cady (Robert De Niro) – who Sam defended for raping a young girl, but not very well – is released from prison, Max starts to threaten Sam’s entire life and family. He stalks all of them, but particularly Sam’s daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis), but always just within the law – until he forces Sam to resort to desperate measures.

Since I wasn’t that into the original, I didn’t expect much from this film. But this film has three things the original didn’t have: Scorsese, a modern feel and some idea of feminism. I liked it a lot.

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Killer Elite (2011)

Killer Elite
Director: Gary McKendry
Writer: Matt Sherring
Based on: Ranulph Fiennesbook
Cast: Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro, Dominic Purcell, Aden Young, Yvonne Strahovski

Plot:
Hunter (Robert De Niro) and Danny (Jason Statham) are part of a very successful group of assassins. But Danny has had his fill and retires, only to be pulled out of retirement when his mentor and friend Hunter gets kidnapped by a sheikh in Oman. To free Hunter, Danny has to take out three SAS agents who are responsible for the deaths of the sheikh’s sons. But the SAS has their own defense group and so Spike (Clive Owen), part of said group, picks up Danny’s trail.

Killer Elite was, unfortunately, disappointing and mostly boring. I guess that’s what happens when you show the best things in the damn trailer and the rest doesn’t even get close.

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Limitless (2011)

Limitless is the newest film by Neil Burger, based on Alan Glynn’s novel and starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel and Robert De Niro.

Plot:
Eddie (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer, a slob and pretty much hits rock bottom when his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him. In that state, he runs into an old acquaintance who offers him a new drug that can boost his intelligence. Eddie accepts and in the brief time the pill works, he starts writing his book (finally), cleans his apartment and gets his life on track. In short, he gets completely hooked. It’s only when his supply is threatened that he notices the downsides: among other things, withdrawal can be deadly.

From start to finish, one thing dominates Limitless: its stupidity. That a movie about an intelligence increasing pill can be so dumb is, in itself, fascinating. It just isn’t terribly entertaining. There are a few good things about it, but mostly I just wanted to shake people (in front and behind the camera) for being such morons.

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Everybody’s Fine (2009)

Everybody’s Fine is a remake of Italian movie Stanno tutti bene. It was directed by Kirk Jones and stars Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. (And in small roles: Melissa Leo and James Frain.)

Plot:
Frank (Robert De Niro) lives on his own in a big house after his wife died and all the kids moved out. He’s just preparing for all the kids to visit at the same time – something he’s really been looking forward to. But when all of them cancel on short notice, Frank doesn’t want to wait anymore. He decides to visit them himself, so he gets on a train and sets off.

I liked this film. Though it probably wasn’t the best movie ever and the story was a little “been there, done that”, the cast made up for a lot of things. Plus, it was sensibly written and nicely shot.

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Machete (2010)

[Viennale.]

Machete is the newest film by Robert Rodriguez, also directed by Ethan Maniquis and starring Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Robert De Niro, Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey and Lindsay Lohan.

Plot:
Machete (Danny Trejo) is basically the last police man in Mexico, who’s not corrupt. The evil drug dealer Torrez (Steven Seagal) doesn’t take too kindly to this and Machete finds himself trapped while he has to watch how Torrez kills his family.
Years later, Machete is stranded in the US and tries to get by with day labor, rather unsuccessfully. But then he gets hired by Booth (Jeff Fahey) to shoot the right-right-right-wing senator MacLaughlin (Robert De Niro), who wants to build a great electrical fence between the US and Mexico. Machete takes the job – it’s not as if he has much choice about it anyway – and finds himself in yet another trap. But this time, he fights back.

Machete is pretty much all it’s cracked up to be: gory, entertaining, funny… in short, the perfect B-Movie with a pretty strong political message. At times, it’s a bit lengthy, but if you like this kind of cinema, it’s totally going to make your year.

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