Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Based on: Lewis Carroll‘s novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Sequel to: Alice in Wonderland
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham-CarterSacha Baron CohenRhys Ifans, Matt LucasLindsay DuncanLeo Bill, Geraldine James, Andrew Scott, Richard ArmitageEd Speleers, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall
Seen on: 2.6.2016

Plot:
Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is working very hard to keep her father’s shipping company together, but things aren’t going well. Things seem doomed after her mother (Lindsay Duncan) signed over their shares to Alice’ former suitor Hamish (Leo Bill). It is just then that bad news reaches Alice from Wonderland and she sets off there to help the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who hasn’t been himself. In fact, he seems to have crossed the line into absolute madness, believing firmly that his family isn’t actually dead, but can still be brought back. Reluctantly Alice agrees to help by speaking to Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) and trying to get to the chronosphere which would help them clear matters up. But things get more complicated when it becomes obvious that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is also involved.

The first Alice film wasn’t particularly good, though I did enjoy watching that cast in that production design for the most part. That’s why I figured I would give Alice Through the Looking Glass a try as well. Unfortunately, it was even less convincing than the first film.

alicethrougthelookingglass Continue reading

Les Misérables (2012)

Les Misérables
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: William Nicholson, Herbert Kretzmer
Based on: Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg‘s musical which is in turn based on Victor Hugo‘s novel
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, Isabelle Allen, Colm Wilkinson

Plot:
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has just been released on parole after years in the galleys for stealing some bread. Police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) doesn’t really want to see him go as he doesn’t trust in his rehabilitation. And he almost seems to be right – as Valjean takes the frist chance he gets to steal from a priest (Colm Wilkinson). But when said priest shows him mercy, Valjean takes the chance to build a life for himself, though skipping parole. Years later, he is a successful factory owner and mayor, when Javert comes to his town. At the same time, Valejan gets drawn into the life of one of his factory employees, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) and her little daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen/Amanda Seyfried) and decides to help her.

Les Misérables is pretty epic, as can only be expected from a musical based on a Hugo novel. And while the cast mostly does very well with the epicness, neither Tom Hooper nor cinematographer Danny Cohen were up for the task.

les-miserables

Continue reading

Hugo (2011)

Hugo
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Based on: Brian Selznick‘s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, Jude Law

Plot:
After the death of his father (Jude Law), Hugo (Asa Butterfield) started to live in Paris’ Central Station, winding the clocks and trying to rebuild an automaton he and his father were working on. When he tries to steal some cogs from Papa George (Ben Kingsley), he gets caught and George takes the notebook in which Hugo’s father detailed the plans for the automaton. So Hugo enlists Papa George’s ward Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) to get it back. But what is George’s connection to the automaton in the first place?

Hugo is a beautiful, engaging and very entertaining. Plus, it’s basically a love letter to George Méliès – and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. I really enjoyed every minute of it.

Continue reading

Triple Feature

Yesterday was very intense. I left work early (I started early as well) to be able to go to a triple movie feature. I finally saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. [You may call me crazy for doing that.]

Elizabeth: The Golden Age was amazing. I actually like it better than the first part (which was excellent as well and it had Vincent Cassel in drag).
Shekhar Kapur has a perfect feeling for the use of light and the effect of light and light in general. He could have made a little less “shots through ornaments” (he likes them, see also Elizabeth) but that’s ok.
The acting was a-fucking-mazing. I knew Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush do act really good. I also knew Clive Owen could but rarely would (this time he did). Surprises were: Rhys Ifans (I like him and I know he can act but I didn’t know he was in this movie) and Jordi Mollà (who I didn’t know before but who had the incredible ability to scream “I’m a totally fucked-up maniac and nothing can stop me” without uttering a single word). With that cast, I also have to give out a honorary mention of Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton who were noticed :).
The dialogues were wonderful. Watching the movie I felt like I needed to take a pen out and write along. Or probably learn the screenplay (by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst) by heart.
Of course, the movie had some weak spots. I already mentioned the ornament shots. Then there was Archduke Charles, an Austrian who comes so the queen may see if he’s fit to marry. Anyway, Christian Brassington obviously doesn’t speak a word German (although he has a good German accent in English) but has to say a couple of sentences. I actually needed the subtitles to understand him because his accent was so bad. [Cate Blanchett had a better pronunciation.] That’s just embarassing.
And from the characterisation: Sir Walter Raleigh must have been one hell of a guy. First, he’s the perfect gentleman, funny, intelligent, knows how to tell a story, knows what he wants and has amazing green eyes (ok, those belong to Clive Owen). Then you might say he trips a little by sleeping with the queen’s chambermaid (or whatever you call the girls) [but I think that was only rational, not necessarily wise but rational – he knew nothing could happen with the queen]. Anyway, he gets Bess (the chambermaid) pregnant and instantly marries her and is happy with that. And after that he goes out and singlehandedly defeats the Spanish Armada.  That might be a little too much (but feeds my hope that somewhere out there might be a man who is a little bit like that).
Summarising: A wonderful film with wonderful actors and a wonderful script which has some minor faults. Plus: Clive Owen’s hotter than Joseph Fiennes.

On to There Will Be Blood:
I was actually very disappointed by this film. I mean, Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as usual, as is Paul Dano who does a very good job not disappearing beside DD-L. But the film concentrates so much on DD-L that everything else is lost.
The “deathmatch” between him and the church is actually no match at all, there never is a single shred of doubt about the outcome and I felt like laughing all the time about the “exorcisms”.
Relationships live and die with Plainview’s feelings, the other person he has the relationship with has no say in it. (And no matter how dominant one person may be, relationships don’t work that way.)
And the music was horrible. It was intrusive and didn’t fit. The beginning of the credits deserves an award for Worst Chosen Music In A Film.
I guess, if I ever had the chance to make a movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, I’d try to get him into it as much as possible. So I understand why Paul Thomas Anderson did it the way he did. But he should have cut about half an hour of the film and could have tried to incorporate some other actors in this film as well.
Without DD-L there wouldn’t have been a movie. With him, there’s great acting but not much of a film.

So we come to Sweeney Todd.
In a nutshell: Another masterpiece by Tim Burton. I loved it. I loved the story, the music, the costumes (K. [German] wrote about Johnny Depp‘s trousers, I have to point out his leather jacket) and the acting.
Let’s get the things I didn’t like out of the way: The opening credits. The blood was poorly animated, it looked much too sticky and he could have done better.
That’s it.
Of course, Tim Burton has this very distinct style and some people may call it repetitive but who cares? I love the way he uses colours, and the lack of them. As well as the way he uses the same actors to portray the same roles, gives it all a continuity. (Though I guess, Christina Ricci wasn’t available.)

jayne-wisener.jpg sleepyhollow.jpg
spot the five differences… I know, it’s hard…

The lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler were just wonderful.

And in the darkness
When I’m blind
With what I can’t forget
It’s always morning in my mind

And there’s another quote (this time from the script by John Logan) I loved, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham-Carter) says: “There could be an us, you know. It may not be what I dreamed of and it may not be what you remember, but it could be an us.”
I may be overinterpreting here, but I also liked the reference to Edward Scissorhands: Mr. Todd holds up the razor and says: “Finally, my arm is complete again.”
I laughed my ass off during the dream sequence. The striped bathing suits flat did it for me ((c) Anita Blake).
I don’t know what to think of Jamie Campbell Bower yet. He knows how to sing, that’s for sure, but I don’t think him that good an actor. And he looks weird.

jamie-campbell-bower.jpg

Alan Rickman, of course, was great. And Sacha Baron Cohen as “Call me Davey” Pirelli had me almost falling off my chair. And Timothy Spall was the perfect cast for Beadle. (When I saw him, my first thought was “Mr. Croup!” but I mistook him for Hywel Bennett. Only my second thought was “Peter Pettigrew!“)
And Giles Anthony Stewart Head was there, if only for five seconds.

There are about a thousand more things I could write about this film, but I’ll leave it at that. I guess you know already what I’m feeling about it.