St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard
Seen on: 21.01.2015

Plot:
Vincent (Bill Murray) seemingly hates everything but alcohol and his weekly sessions with sex worker Daka (Naomi Watts). But he also needs money and when newly single mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door, desperately in need of help with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), Vincent offerst to babysit Oliver in the time between end of Oliver’s school and end of Maggie’s job. As Oliver soon discovers, there is more to Vincent, though, than meets the eye.

St. Vincent is nice, but ultimately completely inconsequential, brings nothing new to the table and, apart from the parts that annoyed me, I’ll probably forget it as soon as I finish this review.

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The Butler (2013)

The Butler
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer: Danny Strong
Based on: Wil Haygood’s article
Cast: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid Oyelowo, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Nelsan Ellis

Plot:
Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) grew up on a cotton farm where he officially wasn’t a slave anymore but he practically was. When he was old enough, he left there and after a period of hardship was lucky enough to find employment. Bit by bit he works his way up to becoming a butler and finally gets recruited into the White House. But racism is still a major issue.

The Butler has a great cast and the time passes rather quickly when you watch it, but it’s a manipulative film (which I was prepared for and which isn’t generally bad) that is so sweet that it leaves you in desperate need of insulin to manage it. And that was just too much.

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Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Dylan Minnette, Zoe Borde

Plot:
It’s Thanksgiving and the Dovers are celebrating with their friends and neighbors, the Birchs. But when the little daughters of both families suddenly disappear, the festivities are quickly interrupted. As Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is called, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) quickly loses his temper. And when suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is apprehended to be released soon afterwards, Keller decides to take justice into his own hands.

Prisoners has a rather similar theme as Big Bad Wolves, so it’s hard not to compare the two and in that comparison, Prisoners stays a bit behind – but that’s just because Big Bad Wolves was that exceptional. Prisoners is, in fact, a really good movie.

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The Company You Keep (2012)

The Company You Keep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Based on: Neil Gordon’s novel
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott

Plot:
30 years ago, The Weather Underground robbed a bank and shot a guard. Nobody was arrested. Now the FBI managed to arrest Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon). Her arrest has journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) digging into the story. He talks to lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) who turns out to have been one of the Weathermen, Nick Sloan. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, but there seems to be more to the story than that.

The Weather Underground are certainly a topic that deserves discussion and cinematic treatment. Unfortunately this movie skirts the interesting bits and ends up being boring, unrealistic and self-congratulatory.

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The Best Man (1999)

The Best Man
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall

Plot:
Harper (Taye Diggs) is about to publish his autobiographical novel dealing with his time in college. But first there’s a different trip to the past he takes: his best friend from that time, Lance (Morris Chestnut) is getting married to his college sweetheart Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Harper’s the best man. So he travels to New York, leaving his girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan) to join him later in the week. Which gives him the opportunity to reconnect with his friend and missed romantic connection from college Jordan (Nia Long).

The Best Man is interesting because it actually isn’t all that interesting at all: despite being a film that has both race and gender turned on the genre conventions’ head (since RomComs of this kind are usually targeted at and played by white women), it plays out pretty much exactly the same as what we’re used to. Which, from a cinematic pov, isn’t very captivating, but from a sociological pov, there’s much to dissect.

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Re-Watch: Iron Man (2008) + Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man / Iron Man 2
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway / Justin Theroux
Based on: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby‘s comic
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard / Don Cheadle, Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, John Slattery, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau
Part of: Marvel movies
[Here are my other reviews.]

Plot:
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the kind of guy Bruce Wayne always pretends to be: Rich, constantly drunk, an ass. Now take away the social consciousness of Bruce Wayne and add “manufactures weapons” and technical genius and you know Tony Stark.
That changes pretty drastically when he’s abducted in Iraq and forced to build a rocket for a group of terrorists. Instead of building what they ask for, he builds a hightech suit of armour and makes himself a superhero on the way. But becoming a superhero doesn’t come without its costs.

I guess since it’s not the first time that I’m watching the films, nobody will be surprised when I say that I like them. And I really do.

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Dead Man Down (2013)

Dead Man Down
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Writer: J.H. Wyman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, F. Murray Abraham

Plot:
Victor (Colin Farrell) works for criminal Alphonse (Terrence Howard). Alphonse has been receiving threating letters from an anonymous person, the last one attached to the body of one of his employees, and Victor’s best friend Darcy (Dominic Cooper) is supposed to find out who is sending the letters. What he doesn’t know is that Victor is the one sending the letters, enacting a complicated revenge plan. Victor’s entire life revolves around this plan until he is contacted by the woman who lives in the apartment across from him, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). Beatrice was in a car accident and has a scarred face. Now she also wants revenge and thinks that Victor can get it for her.

Dead Man Down creeped up on me. There was practically no marketing, it only got a limited release and it was barely mentioned anywhere. And I really don’t get it. Not only does it have a good cast and a director who made a name for itself (which is very marketable) – the film was absolutely fantastic.

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Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (it’s a comedy anthology with the following segments)
Writer (for the most parts): Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Steve Baker
The Thread (in the European version, that’s the framing device; in the US, I gather, it’s a different story)
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Cast: Devin Eash, Adam Cagley, Mark L. Young
The Catch
Director: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman
Homeschooled
Director: Will Graham
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Allen White
The Proposition
Director: Steve Carr
Cast: Chris Pratt, Anna Faris
Veronica
Director: Griffin Dunne
Cast: Kieran Culkin, Emma Stone
iBabe
Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi, Jack McBrayer
Superhero Speed Dating
Director: James Duffy
Cast: Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Bibb, John Hodgman
Machine Kids
Director: Jonathan van Tulleken
Writer: Jonathan van Tulleken
Middleschool Date
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh
Tampax
Director: Patrik Forsberg
Writer: Patrik Forsberg
Happy Birthday
Director: Brett Ratner
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Gerard Butler
Truth or Dare
Director: Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg
Cast: Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry
Victory’s Glory
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Cast: Terrence Howard
Beezel
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel

Plot:
Calvin (Mark L. Young) and his best friend JJ (Adam Cagley) wanted to trick his little brother Baxter (Devin Eash) by making him look for a supposedly banned film that doesn’t actually exist – Movie 43. But Baxter actually finds something, and as they move from clip to clip they come ever closer to the truth.

People, heed my warning. I thought that a movie with that cast couldn’t possible be as bad as the trailer. “There must be something there,” I thought. “Something redeeming. It can’t possibly be all dick jokes, scatological humor and misanthropy?” Now I laugh in the face of my naivité. Because that really is all there is to this film: people behaving like disgusting assholes and we’re supposed to laugh about it. And all that remains after seeing the film is a question: Why? Why would anybody want to make such a film? Why are any of the actors involved in this? Why would anybody think that shit is funny? WHYYYYY????

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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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Re-Watch: Iron Man (2008)

In preparation for the new film [which I’ll review tomorrow], deadra and me went and watched Iron Man again. It was directed by Jon Favreau and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and the voice of Paul Bettany. [I kinda reviewed it here, though that review can be summed up with “film = fun, Robert Downey Jr. = hot.” Which still holds true, btw.]

Plot:
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the kind of guy Bruce Wayne always pretends to be: Rich, constantly drunk, an ass. Now take away the social consciousness of Bruce Wayne and add “manufactures weapons” and technical genius and you know Tony Stark.
That changes pretty drastically when he’s abducted in Iraq and forced to build a rocket for a group of terrorists. Instead of building what they ask for, he builds a hightech suit of armour and makes himself a superhero on the way.

Iron Man is fun. It does a good job of setting up Tony Stark and his world, it has fine jokes and it keeps you engaged. It is not a “wonder of modern filmmaking” but it works mighty fine and entertains you on the way. I hadn’t re-watched it since I saw it in the cinema, but it can hold its own during a second examination as well.

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