War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Based on: Pierre Boulle‘s novel
Sequel to: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Cast: Andy SerkisWoody HarrelsonSteve ZahnKarin KonovalAmiah MillerTerry NotaryTy OlssonMichael AdamthwaiteToby KebbellGabriel ChavarriaJudy Greer
Seen on: 16.8.2017
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Plot:
Caesar (Andy Serkis) just wants to live in peace with his group of apes and his family. But the humans are still hunting them. Especially the army troop led by the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) are not prepared to let any of the apes live, no matter how secluded. After a particularly gruesome attack that strikes at the very heart of Caesar and his apes, Caesar snaps: no longer will he try to resolve things peacefully. Instead he will get his revenge.

War for the Planet of the Apes was okay, despite some serious issues. But it’s nothing that will stay in my mind for very long – or at all.

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

Captain Fantastic
Director: Matt Ross
Writer: Matt Ross
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve ZahnErin Moriarty, Missi Pyle, Frank Langella, Ann Dowd
Seen on: 31.8.2016

Plot:
Ben (Viggo Mortensen) is trying to raise his six kids (George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell) away from capitalist society. They live in the woods, engage in rigorous physical exercise and study hard and for the most part, they are really happy. But Ben’s wife and the mother of the kids, Leslie (Trin Miller) isn’t with them: she had to go to the hospital to treat her mental illness. Unfortunately, though, instead of getting better, she commits suicide. Ben and the kids decide to go to the funeral, despite the fact that it means that they have to confront not only a world very different from their own, but also Leslie’s parents (Frank Langella, Ann Dowd) who are critical of Ben and Leslie’s lifestyle choices.

Captain Fantastic is an interesting film set to inspire political debates, but with a – to me – disappointing ending.

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The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur
Director: Peter Sohn
Writer: Meg LeFauve
Cast: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Steve Zahn, Peter Sohn, Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin, A.J. Buckley
Seen on: 16.12.2015

Plot:
Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is the youngest member of his dinosaur family, and he is not only small, but scared of everything. While his siblings handle their chores and rites of passage with apparent ease, Arlo still has problems feeding the chicken. So his father Henry (Jeffrey Wright) gives him a special task: catch a critter that has been raiding their silo. Arlo actually manages to catch the little human (Jack Bright), but can’t go through with killing him. When the boy runs off after being freed, Henry and Arlo chase after him. They get trapped in a thunderstorm which leads to a flash flood and Henry drowns. Riddled with guilt, Arlo finds himself washed ashore a long way from home and somehow has to find his way back.

The Good Dinosaur is a weird film. The main plot and characters are nowhere near the high standards that we usually get from Pixar movies. But everything happening on the sidelines is frankly amazing.

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Knights of Badassdom (2013)

Knights of Badassdom
Director: Joe Lynch
Writer: Matt WallKevin Dreyfuss
Cast: Ryan KwantenSteve Zahn, Peter DinklageJimmi Simpson, Summer GlauTom HopperJoshua MalinaMargarita Levieva, Danny Pudi
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Plot:
Joe (Ryan Kwanten) was just dumped by his girlfriend Beth (Margarita Levieva) which is why his geeky friends Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage) drag him off to a LARP. Joe enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons a while ago, but he is hesitant about LARPing. It doesn’t help either when it turns out that Eric actually summoned a very real and very murderous demon – and it’s up to them to stop it.

I expected this film to be an ode to LARPing with maybe a bit of friendly ribbing at the idiosyncracies of that particular subculture. But unfortunately Knigths of Badassdom doesn’t laugh with LARPers, it laughs at them – and it isn’t actually very funny.

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
Based on: Ron Woodroof’s life
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, Griffin Dunne, Kevin Rankin

Plot:
Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) loves the rodeo, to fuck women and to drink and take drugs. When he’s checked at the hospital after a work accident, Ron is told that he has HIV and about 30 days to live. First, Ron tries to ignore that, then he tries to get his hands on AZT, the new super-aggressive drug in trial for use against HIV. When nothing works, he heads to Mexico to see a doctor there who helps him. And so Ron decides to take back the medication to the US and sell it there. But that’s only the beginning of what is to become a successful Buyers Club.

Dallas Buyers Club picks an interesting and not that well-known part of HIV history and tells a good story with an excellent Matthew McConaughey and a very nice supporting cast.

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Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

Sunshine Cleaning is a movie by Christine Jeffs, starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin.

Plot:
Rose (Amy Adams) is a single mum who works as a cleaning lady. When her lover Mac (Steve Zahn), a policeman, tells her about the money that’s in crime scene clean-ups, Rose convinces her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) that this would be the perfect opportunity to make some money. Leaving her son in the care of her father (Alan Arkin), who is a freelance salesman, Rose and Norah get to it – with the help of cleaning supplies shop owner Winston (Clifton Collins Jr.).

Sunshine Cleaning is a really sweet comedy with great characters (and with some dark bits) . It’s one of those movies that got no marketing to speak of and it really didn’t deserve it. If you happen to catch it (and you should try to) you get a wonderful story about two sisters finding their place in life.

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