Romance & Cigarettes (2005)

Romance & Cigarettes
Director: John Turturro
Writer: John Turturro
Cast: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Christopher Walken, Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard, Amy Sedaris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2016

Plot:
Nick (James Gandolfini) and Kitty (Susan Sarandon) have been married many years and have managed to build a very middle-class existence. When Kitty finds out that Nick has been having an affair, she’s outraged. Her three daughters Baby (Mandy Moore), Constance (Mary-Louise Parker) and Rosebud (Aida Turturro) are firmly on Kitty’s side, but also have their own issues to deal with. And Nick will have to figure out whether he wants to fight for his marriage or start a new life with the other woman, Tula (Kate Winslet).

Romance & Cigarettes is a very idiosyncratic film. A musical in that setting and with those costumes and an off-beat sense of humor, it’s funny and manages to entertain, but it’s also unfortunately steeped in sexism.

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Escape from L.A. (1996)

Escape from L.A.
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Kurt Russell
Sequel to: Escape from New York
Cast: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Valeria Golino, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Bruce Campbell, Georges Corraface, Michelle Forbes, A.J. Langer, Ina Romeo, Peter Jason, Leland Orser
Seen on: 26.5.2016

Plot:
2013. The future. After an earthquake, Los Angeles was turned into an island, separated from the rest of the USA, and used as a deportation station, not only for illegal immigrants, but also for people who lost their citizenship because they didn’t conform to the ultra-conservative morality enforced by the government. But the President’s own daughter Utopia (A.J. Langer) rebels against him and manages to get stranded in L.A. with a deadly device. Fortunately it’s just then that Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is caught once more and threatened with deportation himself – unless he retrieves both Utopia and the weapon.

Well. Since I wasn’t particularly taken with the first Escape film, it is not surprising that I didn’t love the second one either – a film that is inferior in almost every way to its predecessor.

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Re-Watch: Fargo (1996)

Fargo
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter StormareFrances McDormandJohn Carroll Lynch, Kristin Rudrüd, Harve Presnell, Tony Denman, Steve Reevis, Larry Brandenburg
Seen on: 15.3.2015

Plot:
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) has a business plan and a foolproof way of getting the money for it: he hires Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife (Kristin Rudrüd) and extort money from his father-in-law Wade (Harve Presnell). But even before they can act out the plan, things start going wrong and pregnant police woman Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) takes up the investigation.

I haven’t seen Fargo in so long that I still watched it in German the last time I saw it (I’ve avoided dubbed films for about 15 years now). I still remembered the film quite well and I still love it. It’s just a wonderful black comedy.

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Monsters University (2013)

Monsters University
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writer: Dan Scanlon, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson
Prequel to: Monsters, Inc.
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina,
Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Bonnie Hunt, John Krasinski, Bill Hader

Plot:
Ever since he was a little kid, Mike (Billy Crystal) dreamed of becoming a scarer. Even though he’s not particularly scary, he applied himself and got into Monsters University. But competition is fierce and there are just some scarers who seem more naturally suited to the task – like Sully (John Goodman). The two of them quickly become rivals, until circumstances force them to work together.

Monsters University was nice. It was not as good as the first one, but the sequels rarely are. And it had enough good things to keep you very entertained.

MonstersUniversity

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Re-Watch: Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Monsters, Inc.
Director: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson
Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson

Plot:
Sully (John Goodman) is the star employee of Monsters, Inc: nobody scares children quite like him. They need the children’s screams as it’s their energy source. But as kids are getting more jaded, it’s increasingly harder to scare them. As the Monster World is heading for an energy crisis, Sully and his best friend Mike (Billy Crystal) have a different problem though: through the workings of their rival Randall (Steve Buscemi), a little girl has managed to come to their world. Boo (Mary Gibbs), as they start calling her, isn’t safe there – monsters are deathly scared of children. But it’s also pretty hard for Sully and Mike to get her back.

I don’t know when I last saw Monsters, Inc., but I should watch it more often. It’s sweet. It’s funny. It’s smart. And most of all it’s really entertaining.

monstersinc

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Rampart (2011)

Rampart
Director: Oren Moverman
Writer: James Ellroy, Oren Moverman
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
It’s 1999  in LA. Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop who lives for his job and does not care so much about his methods as long as things get done. He lives with his two ex-wives, Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), who also happen to be sisters, and his two daughters (one with each ex-wife) which goes surprisingly well, even though Dave drinks too much and spends most of his spare time looking for the next lay. After he gets filmed savagely beating a suspect, Dave’s live and job start crumbling around him.

Apart from the camera work, the movie was really good. Cast, pacing, characters and story really come very well together in this. Even though I don’t go for the cop dramas that much, this one was just very good.

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On the Road (2012)

On the Road
Director: Walter Salles
Writer: Jose Rivera
Based on: Jack Kerouac’s novel
Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Elisabeth Moss, Terrence Howard, Alice Braga, Tom Sturridge, Steve Buscemi

Plot:
After his father’s death, Sal (Sam Riley) decides to go on a road trip to visit his new friend Dean (Garrett Hedlund) and his girlfriend Marylou (Kristen Stewart). Together they hook up with some old friends in around the USA. Sal is fascinated with Dean’s energy and joie de vivre. For a while, Sal travels alone, then he travels together with Dean and other people, always looking for the next party and the next kick.

After the book, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about watching the film but I thought that with the lengths the book had, the shortenings necessary for a movie script might improve the whole thing. But if anything the movie was even more boring.

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The Messenger (2009)

The Messenger is the first movie Oren Moverman directed and it stars Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone and in a small role Steve Buscemi.

Plot:
Will (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq after he was shot. Since he’s not fit for going into war anymore, he gets assigned to Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson), who is responsible for personally notifying the next of kin of fallen soldiers when those soldiers fall. During this job, Will meets the freshly widowed Olivia (Samantha Morton) and falls in love with her.

The Messenger is not a movie that speaks for or against the war. Instead it looks at the personal tragedies that arise from it. It does so with a lot of sensitivity and compassion. And it’s wonderfully acted (remind me again, why isn’t Ben Foster world famous yet?). If that wasn’t enough reason to watch it, it’s also funny.

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