Snowden (2016)

Snowden
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Based on: the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Zachary QuintoShailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant, Erol Sander, Scott Eastwood, Ben Chaplin
Seen on: 4.10.2016

Plot:
Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) used to be a soldier, then he started working for the NSA. Growing disillusioned with the NSA’s surveillance practices, he decides to do something about it. He contacts journalists Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and leaks documents and evidence through them. But whistleblowing like that is treason and Snowden has to be smart to make sure that the information reaches the public and that he doesn’t get caught.

Snowden is a very nice companion piece to Citizenfour. It’s a well done, engaging film and you can’t repeat this horrifying story and the sheer scope of everything enough.

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Mother’s Day (2016)

Mother’s Day
Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker, Tom Hines
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Shay MitchellJason Sudeikis, Julia RobertsHector Elizondo, Kate Hudson, Margo Martindale, Aasif Mandvi, Robert Pine, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito, Jennifer Garner, Britt Robertson, Jack Whitehall, Jon Lovitz, Penny Marshall
Seen on: 16.8.2016

Plot:
Mothers come in many shapes and forms. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is really good at being divorced from Henry (Timothy Olyphant): they get along better now than they ever did before. That is, until Henry tells her that he has a new girlfriend (Shay Mitchell) who is much younger. Meanwhile, sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are both happy in their respective partnerships and with the distance that lies between them and their parents (Margo Martindale, Robert Pine) – who don’t know that Jesse’s partner (Aasif Mandvi) is of Indian descent and that Gabi’s partner (Cameron Esposito) is a woman. Miranda (Julia Roberts) on the other hand opted out of being a mother and rather focused on her career, while Kristin (Britt Robertson) and Zack (Jack Whitehall) just had a baby, despite being rather young and poor. And Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) has to face the first Mother’s Day with his daughters since his wife passed away.

Mother’s Day was shown in the sneak preview I attended, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it. But I have to admit that it was a rather enjoyable film – even if far from flawless.

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This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

This Is Where I Leave You
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Jonathan Tropper
Based on: Jonathan Tropper‘s novel
Cast: Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk, Abigail SpencerBen Schwartz

Plot:
Judd (Jason Bateman) is not in a good place in a moment. He just found out that his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) cheated on him with his boss Wade (Dax Shepard) and then he gets the message that his father died. So Judd returns home for the funeral where he sees his siblings Phillip, Paul and Wendy (Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Tina Fey), and his mother Hillary (Jane Fonda) as well, of course. They don’t spend much time together and that’s for a reason. So when Hillary reveals that it was his father’s dying wish that they sit shiva together, more than just a little tension boils to the surface.

This Is Where I Leave You was mostly enjoyable but a little uneven all around. Some things were great about it, other things annoyed me a whole lot.

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Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Live Free or Die Hard
Director: Len Wiseman
Writer: Mark Bomback
Based on: John Carlin‘s article A Farewell to Arms
Sequel to: Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Cast: Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, Kevin Smith, Zeljko Ivanek, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Plot:
After the FBI has been hacked, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is supposed to bring in Matthew (Justin Long), a suspected hacker. What should be a routine pick-up and drop-off, ends up in a full-blown shoot-out. And suddenly McClane finds himself right in the middle of the biggest hack of the century, trying to avoid the complete dismantling of the financial system.

After I actually liked the third Die Hard movie, I thought that I had finally hit my stride with these films. Unfortunately McClane is totally unhinged in this film, and they liberally peppered the script with misogyny and racism. That is not cool.

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The Girl Next Door (2004)

The Girl Next Door
Director: Luke Greenfield
Writer: Stuart Blumberg, David Wagner, Brent Goldberg
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar, Chris Marquette, Paul Dano

Plot:
Matthew (Emile Hirsch) is a senior in high school and just applied for a scholarship to Brown university (given to students with special moral fiber). He’s rather geeky, though his best friends Eli (Chris Marquette) and Klitz (Paul Dano) are even geekier. But that changes when Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) moves in next door. Matthew falls hard for Danielle and isn’t even deterred when he finds out that she’s a porn star. But she quickly turns his whole life upside down.

I was pretty sure that I would hate this film, Manic Pixie Dream Girl and all, but in the end it really wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Though that doesn’t make it any good, either.

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I Am Number Four (2011)

I Am Number Four is the newest film by D. J. Caruso, starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer, Callan McAuliffe and Jake Abel.

Plot:
A while ago, 9 young aliens and their protectors were sent to earth by a race that was about to be exterminated. The 9 children belong to a group of sentinels that are supposed to protect and rebuild their race. But the evil aliens that wiped out their entire world have arrived on earth, too and are now wiping out the remaining kids one by one. They already got to three – now it’s John/Number Four’s (Alex Pettyfer) turn.

I expected I Am Number Four to be so bad as to be hilarious. Unfortunately, the movie falls short of the mark and remains only really, really bad with some hilarious moments.

[SPOILER]

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Rango (2011)

Rango is Gore Verbinski‘s newest film, starring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant and Ray Winstone.

Plot:
An unnamed pet chameleon (Johnny Depp) spends his time setting up plays for himself and whatever he can find in his terrarium. But then he gets thrown out of the car by accident and ends up in the middle of the desert. On his own. In the small town Dirt he first only hopes to find some water but then he realises that it’s a possibilty for him to become somebody – and Rango is born, hero extraordinaire. But something weird is happening with the water in Dirt – and Rango takes it upon himself to find out what that is.

Rango is astonishingly beautiful, funny and a very nice play on Western stereotypes. It also tries to tackle some larger themes (especially about identity) but with less success, at least for its adult audience. Still, put together it’s a wonderful film.

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The Crazies (2010)

The Crazies is the newest movie by Breck Eisner, a remake of the 1973 Romero movie (which I haven’t seen). It stars Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson.

Plot:
A small town in the middle of the US. Nothing much ever happens here until one day, a guy stumbles onto the baseball field in the middle of a game, seemingly drunk, brandishing a shotgun. The town sheriff, David (Timothy Olyphant) shoots him. But that’s only the beginning of the craziness that seems to spread around town…

The Crazies is a mixed bag of beans. There are some beautiful shots, which are promptly used ad nauseam; the acting is mediocre, mostly; there are some frankly scary moments but most of the time, I was too busy thinking about the plot holes to be actually scared.

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