Straight A’s (2013)

Straight A’s
Director: James Cox
Writer: Dave Cole
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Anna Paquin, Luke Wilson, Riley Thomas Stewart, Ursula Parker, Amparo Garcia-Crow, Augustin Solis, Tess Harper, Powers Boothe, Christa Campbell
Seen on: 30.4.2020

Plot:
Scott (Ryan Phillippe) is the family screw-up and he hasn’t shown his face at home in a while. But after he has a vision of his dead mother (Tess Harper) telling him to make amends with his brother William (Luke Wilson), his sister-in-law and first love Katherine (Anna Paquin) and his father (Powers Boothe), Scott just shows up at Katherine’s home while William is on a business trip. As he waits for William to return, Scott causes an uproar for Katherine and her kids (Riley Thomas Stewart, Ursula Parker) who take a shine to their newly discovered uncle. Scott himself is uneasy with his own plan, drunk all the time and really not all that well.

Straight A’s is so firmly rooting for Scott without really acknowledging his many flaws or interested in him making up for past (and current) transgressions, that it is just annoying. I didn’t care for redeeming Scott, I wanted to strangle him instead. The film can’t work that way.

On a sidenote: in a film that is obviously trying to be smart and deep and that is so firmly rooted in its own privilege, that incorrect apostrophe in the title is annoying as fuck.

The film poster showing Katherine (Anna Paquin), Scott (Ryan Philippe) and William (Luke Wilson). An arrow points from Scott to Katherine with "He loves her", another arrow from Katherine to William with "She's married to his brother".

[SPOILERS]

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Re-Watch: Cruel Intentions (1999)

Cruel Intentions
Director: Roger Kumble
Writer: Roger Kumble
Based on: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius, Sean Patrick Thomas, Swoosie Kurtz, Christine Baranski, Tara Reid
Seen on: 7.2.2016
[This concludes my Dangerous Liaisons marathon. At least until I can get ahold of the other adaptations.]

Plot:
Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are step siblings, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Annette Hargrove (Reese Whitherspoon), the new principal’s daughter, who is widely known for her chastity pledge and that before school starts. Kathryn, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just dumped her for the naive Cecile (Selma Blair). So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cecile.

I was 14 when Cruel Intentions came out, 15 by the time I saw it the first time and I think that it is one of the defining teen movies of my generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good film, though it definitely does have its strengths, but it is very hard to view it separately from its influence.

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The Bang Bang Club (2010)

The Bang Bang Club
Director: Steven Silver
Writer: Steven Silver
Based on: Greg Marinovich‘s and João Silva‘s autobiographical book The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Taylor Kitsch, Malin Akerman, Neels Van Jaarsveld, Frank Rautenbach
Seen on 06.03.2015

Plot:
The Bang-Bang Club was a group of photographers in South Africa who chronicled the rebellion against apartheid in the townships. Most notably among them were Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach), and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld). When Greg takes up the job as photographer, he is quickly noticed by the more established photographers, especially Kevin, because of his willingness to take risks, a quality all four of them share and that makes their work extraordinary. As they throw themselves into the documentation of the fights and the violence, they are not entirely unaffected by it though. And the question remains whether documentation alone is enough or whether more action isn’t needed after all.

The Bang Bang Club was okay, but in the end it doesn’t move past its being a movie about a few rather unlikeable white guys being reckless and inconsiderate. And there are too many of those already to be interesting anymore.

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The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer is Brad Furman‘s adaptation of Michael Connelly‘s novel, written by John Romano, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña and Bryan Cranston.

Plot:
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is pretty much the definition of a sleazy lawyer. But then he takes on the defense of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a rich kid accused of murder. Together with his best friend, private detective Frank Levin (William H. Macy) he digs into the particulars of the case. Pretty soon he discovers that the story Louis is telling can’t be quite true – and there might be a connection to one of Mick’s old cases.

The Lincoln Lawyer is basically the cinematical equivalent of fast food. There’s some nurtitional value to it, it will satisfy your hunger – but only for a little while. Is it a culinary delight? Well, no. But it does its job without leaving much behind, good or bad.

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