Trolls (2016)

Trolls
Director: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Based on: Thomas Dam‘s dolls
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Gwen Stefani, John Cleese, James Corden, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Funches, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis
Seen on: 8.4.2017

Plot:
The Trolls live a very happy life, carefree and filled with music and definitely not thinking about the Bergens who are only happy when they can eat Trolls. Nobody more so than Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick). It’s only Branch (Justin Timberlake) who refuses to sing and who fears that the Bergens will be back. Therefore he is constantly trying to prepare for that eventuality. When Poppy throws a big party that actually does attract the Bergens and a few Trolls end up taken, Poppy knows that she has to rescue them. And who could help her better than Branch?

When Trolls came out last year, I decided pretty quickly that I really wasn’t interested in it. I did have Troll dolls when I was a kid, but I was never particularly taken with them and basing a film on them just seemed weird. But my niece loves the film and she wanted to watch it with me, so I did. And it turns out, it’s actually really sweet and funny.

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The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest
Director: Julie Taymor
Writer: Julie Taymor
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play
Cast: Helen MirrenFelicity JonesDavid StrathairnAlan CummingChris CooperBen WhishawDjimon HounsouRussell BrandAlfred MolinaReeve CarneyTom Conti
Seen on: 16.3.2016

Plot:
Many years ago Prospera (Helen Mirren) was betrayed by her brother Antonio (Chris Cooper). He sent her and her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who both have been enslaved by Prospera’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (David Strathairn), his brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming) and his son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), but also Antonio. Prospera knows that her time has come at last.

The Tempest is a visually impressive film with a great cast, but it never quite takes off – there are simply too many things that don’t work.

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Russell Brand: Messiah Complex

Russell Brand came to Vienna with his Messiah Complex program. He was supported by Mr Gee.

Mr Gee is basically a spoken word artist, basically a stand-up poet. He did a bit of traditional stand-up and then recited two of his poems (you can listen to Beauty and the Beast here) that I quite liked, though I’m really crap with taking in  poetry audibly.

russellbrand_messiahcomplex

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Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Despicable Me 2
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writer: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Sequel to: Despicable Me
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Kristen Schaal

Plot:
Gru (Steve Carell), his girls and the minions are living the good (and honest) life. But when a new villain shows up, Gru is recruited by Lucy (Kristen Wiig), agent of the Anti-Villain-League. Together they start staking out the local mall, which not only prompts Gru’s girls to dream about a woman in his life, but also Gru himself.

I thought that I could maybe get more into Despicable Me 2 than I did into Despicable Me. Because it seems to have all the right ingredients for a movie that I would like. But somehow it ends up missing its mark with me. Or, to be more exact, it hits its mark and then it continues on and on until it’s so far past the mark it’s like it didn’t hit in the first place. (This might sound a little harsher than I mean it, but it’s still true.)

despicable-me-2

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Re-Watch: Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer, Danny McBride, Mindy Kaling, Ken Jeong
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Gru (Steve Carell) is a super-villain whose best days are past. When he hatches a plan to steal the moon with the help of a shrink ray, all that’s missing is the necessary cash for the operation. So he goes down to the Bank of Evil – and is denied credit. When Gru tries to follow through with his plan on his own, he is bested by Vector (Jason Segel), the nerdy new kid on the supervillain block. Since Gru is unable to recover the shrink ray, he makes a new plan: Vector has a weakness: cookies. So Gru adopts three little girls and sends them to his house to sell him some. But what Gru didn’t expect was that he’d start to like the little girls.

When I saw Despicable Me for the first time, I wasn’t very excited about it. Now that I re-watched it, I’m still not. Yes, it’s sweet and the minions are awesome, but it just feels so run of the mill that it doesn’t really get anywhere.despicable_me Continue reading

Rock of Ages (2012)

Rock of Ages
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo, Allan Loeb
Cast: Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Tom Cruise, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston, Eli Roth

Plot:
Sherrie (Julianne Hough) just arrived in LA, dreaming of being a singer but instead she gets robbed straight away and somebody makes off with her record collection. Drew (Diego Boneta) who witnessed the incident manages to get Sherrie a job as a waitress at the living off its former glory Bourbon club where he works, too. The club is preparing for a huge concert by Stacie Jaxx (Tom Cruise) while Christian protesters lead by Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) try to shut down rock in general.

As long as the movie was camp, it was brilliantly funny. Unfortunately most of the time we’re stuck with the absolutely colorless and frankly just boring lead characters.

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Arthur (2011)

Arthur is Jason Winer‘s remake of Steve Gordon‘s 1981 film. The new version stars Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzmán and Nick Nolte. (And in small cameos: John Hodgman and Scott Adsit.)

Plot:
Arthur (Russell Brand) is the epitome of the rich kid: never had to work or worry about anything, always had his driver (Luis Guzmán) and nanny (Helen Mirren) to take care of him and spends money on frivolous things just for the hell of it. Now that he’s more or less an adult, his life consists of parties, sex and alcohol. When his mother (Geraldine James) tells him to marry Susan (Jennifer Garner) who she thinks the perfect person to take over her business later, Arthur is less than overjoyed since Susan is a bit of a psycho. But the threat of losing all the money is enough to make him comply. It’s only when he meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig) that he thinks about maybe taking charge of his own life.

I was pleasantly surprised by Arthur – the trailer made me laugh but after all the bad press the film was getting, I was afraid that they had all the good jokes in there already. But not only does the movie keep up a stable level of humor, it’s generally a very nice and sweet film – that gets the love story completely right.

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Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me is Universal’s first animated feature. It was directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and stars the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Jemaine Clement and Jack McBrayer.

Plot:
Gru (Steve Carell) is a super-villain whose best days are past. When he hatches a plan to steal the moon with the help of a shrink ray, all that’s missing is the necessary cash for the operation. So he goes down to the Bank of Evil – and is denied credit. When Gru tries to follow through with his plan on his own, he is bested by Vector (Jason Segel), the nerdy new kid on the supervillain block. Since Gru is unable to recover the shrink ray, he makes a new plan: Vector has a weakness: cookies. So Gru adopts three little girls and sends them to his house to sell him some. But what Gru didn’t expect was that he’d start to like the little girls.

Despicable Me is sweet, but it’s nothing if not shallow. The characters are stock characters without any addition, the story is predictable and generally it lacks a bit of a spark of originality. Nevertheless, it’s nice.

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Penelope (2006)

Penelope, Penelope, why can’t more movies be like you?

Just so you know, I absolutely loved every frickin detail of this story. Starting with the plot, continuing with the characters, ending with set/production/costume design. Oh, and let’s not forget the beautiful message this movie sends, which actually makes sense.

Penelope is the daughter of a rich, aristocratic family. Unfortunately, she was cursed and is born with a pig nose. In an attempt to keep her safe until the nose is gone and the curse lifted, her parents lock her in at home and bring her one blue-blooded husband contender after the other, in the hopes that he’s Mr Right.

The setting is magical realism (tor has a great essay up on magical realism), the style reminded me of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium or Big Fish. And it really made me want more movies set in worlds like that. In literature, it’s pretty prevalent (think Gabriel García Márquez or Haruki Murakami among others), in movies, it’s not. Very sad.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Christina Ricci is a wonderful Penelope, sweet and naive, but also strong and powerful, filled with purpose and a sharp mind. Catherine O’Hara is the well-meaning mother of everybody’s nightmares. James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Simon Woods and Russell Brand (who is everywhere nowadays) complete a perfect and very funny cast.

As I said before, I loved the design of the whole thing – Penelope’s clothes, her room, the city… it all fits the general mood of the movie and is just extremely pretty. And magic.

What it boils down to is that it’s a wonderful fairy tale that reminds you that the world is kind of enchanted. When you look at it closely.

And it’s actually a movie that got 10 out of 10 points on my list.

Fun for Teens, References for Me

When St. Trinian’s came out here, I figured I had to see it, because of Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, Colin Firth and Russell Brand. Plus, it’s always nice to see Lena Headey. I haven’t seen any of the old movies, nor read the book or had any other connection to St. Trinian stuff before. [Just so you know.]

I think it’s mostly a film aimed at teenagers [My teenage sis will love it, I think.] and men who get off on sexy school girls. Which can potentially make for a pretty weird crowd in the theatre.

Gemma Arterton (middle) will be in the next Bond… and she’s definitely a good choice, at least considering sex appeal.

Anyway, the humour was mostly a bit bland, boring so to say… It had the usual jokes. It was nice, but it didn’t leave me rolling on the floor.

Except when Colin Firth and Rupert Everett were seen together and the movie references just flew around.

Ms. Fritton (Rupert Everett): We met in college. It was another time.
Geoffrey Thwaites (Colin Firth): And Another Country.

Or when Geoffrey walks up to Ms. Fritton in his wet white shirt, which was so much more revealing than in Pride and Prejudice. [And while we’re at it, how come Anna Chancellor always gets the Miss Bingley roles?]

Well, summarising, it was nice, had some good scenes, but I just wasn’t the target group.

[SPOILER WARNING FOR MAMMA MIA!, OF ALL THINGS.]

[Oh, and btw, maybe you remember that when I posted about Mamma Mia! there was this comment, where Dee told me that Colin Firth couldn’t possibly be uncomfortable with portraying a gay character because he kisses Rupert Everett in St. Trinian’s. Well, he doesn’t. Sure, they get together in the end, but there’s never more than a hug seen on screen.
Which pissed me off. Seriously, people, I didn’t go to this movie to see them make out (although that would have been an attractive sight), but if you have two guys, who get it on together (regardless if one of them dresses up as or plays a woman or not), show them kissing, just as you would with a heterosexual couple. It is not shocking anymore (or, the people who are still shocked by this, need to be), it’s just plain weird when you have loads of special shoulder squeezes. Really.]

Further Reading:

An Interview with Anna Chancellor