Just Mercy (2019)

Just Mercy
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham,
Based on: Bryan Stevenson‘s memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Harding, Hayes Mercure
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Content Note: (criticism of) racism

Plot:
In 1987, Walter McMillian, called Johnny D. (Jamie Foxx), is arrested for the murder of a young, white woman. Despite his protestations of innocence, he is sentenced to death. In 1989, young Harvard graduate Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) opens the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, determined to help prisoners on death row who are often black and have often had only insufficient legal representation. He meets Johnny D. and, convinced of his innocence, takes up the fight to prove it.

Just Mercy is definitely an emotional film and one with an important political point to make, but it does feel a little like it’s trying too hard to stay too clean.

The film poster showing Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) in front of an orange background with various film stills.
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Colossal (2016)

Colossal
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Anne HathawayJason SudeikisAustin StowellTim Blake NelsonDan Stevens
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.9.2017
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Plot:
Gloria’s (Anne Hathaway) life is a mess. Gloria is a mess. When her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) tells her things have to change or she has to move out, she decides to move back to her hometown to live in her parents’ empty house, instead of going to rehab which would have probably been the better choice. Once there she starts working for her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and keeps partying hard. When reports surface about a giant monster that terrorizes Seoul, Gloria starts to realize that the monster is connected to her somehow.

Colossal has a fun concept that works over long stretches as a metaphor but not always. I enjoyed it, despite a few misgivings.

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Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 17.8.2015
[Here’s my review of the 2005 Fantastic Four film. Or rather, my drunken tweet-along of said film. And its sequel.]

Plot:
Reed (Miles Teller) has been working on a teleporting device ever since he was a kid. With the help of his friend Ben (Jamie Bell), he has even some success to show for it. But nobody takes his attempts seriously – until Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) comes to his science fair to recruit Reed for his secret interplanetary travel project. Also working on that project: Storm’s daughter Sue (Kate Mara), his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) who otherwise would only engage in high risk behavior, and finally the volatile but brilliant Victor (Toby Kebbell). Within a short amount of time, the four of them manage to establish a connection to a planet and in a clandestine nightly operation, the guys invite Ben along and the four of them give it a go. But from that trip, Victor doesn’t return at all, and Reed, Ben, Johnny and even Sue who got them back, end up changed beyond belief.

I had heard bad things about Fantastic Four before seeing it, as did probably everybody else on the planet. So my expectations were low, but I decided to give it a chance anyway, thinking that maybe there was some mob mentality going on and maybe the film isn’t quite as bad as hyped. But I should have believed all those negative reviews. And I should have brought alcohol. Because Fantastic Four is an astoundingly bad film.

Fantastic-Four[SPOILERS]

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The Homesman (2014)

The Homesman
Director: Tommy Lee Jones
Writer: Tommy Lee Jones,Kieran Fitzgerald, Wesley A. Oliver
Based on: Glendon Swarthout‘s novel
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, David Dencik, William Fichtner, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader, Hailee Steinfeld, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 06.01.2015

Plot:
At the very west of the settling effort in the USA, three women (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter) have a psychotic break and there are no options for help in the settlements and their husbands (David Dencik, William Fichtner, Jesse Plemons) are partly overwhelmed and partly cruel, but generally of not much use. Reverend Dowd (John Lithgow) suggest that the women should be taken back east to get some help, and the only one willing to do that is Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) who is trying to build her life in the west on her own. Mary Bee stumbles upon George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) who has been left to hang, and saves his life, but demands that he come with her to bring the women to safety. And so the five of them set off on the dangerous trek, despite the general unwillingness of everybody involved but Mary Bee.

The Homesman could have been a good film, if it hadn’t been for George Briggs and the movie’s obsession with him.

the-homesman[SPOILERS]

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Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner
Based on: Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Costabile, Walton Goggins, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan

Plot:
In the middle of the US American civil war, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) got reelected for his second term of presidency. And he uses that position to make another push to finally do away with slavery in the US for good by adding an amendment to the constitution. But he faces a lot of opposition, not only from the Democrats, but also from within his own Republican party. As the war draws closer to its end, Lincoln and his staff have to work really hard to pass the amendment in time.

Oh boy, Lincoln is one hell of a boring movie. It’s really long, and it feels even longer. The cast is generally fantastic, but the script is unfocused and Steven Spielberg is really off his game in this one.

Lincoln

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Leaves of Grass (2009)

[Viennale started! Yay!]

Leaves of Grass is the newest film by Tim Blake Nelson, starring Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Melanie Lynskey, Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon.

Plot:
Bill Kincaid (Edward Norton) is a successful philosophy professor who’s completely turned his back on his family in Oklahoma; his mother (Susan Sarandon) and his twin brother Brady (Edward Norton), a drug dealer. Brady has got himself into some financial troubles and calls Bill for help and home by telling him that he died. But that’s only the beginning of the mess they’re in.

Leaves of Grass has some very funny moments but the film has two major flaws: One, it tries too hard to be deep and meaningful and two, the film keeps getting away from the director.

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