xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: F. Scott Frazier
Sequel to: xXx, xXx: State of the Union
Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube
Seen on: 24.1.2017

Plot:
When a new weapon called Pandora’s Box is used to crash a satellite with enough precision to kill Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) and stolen from CIA headquarters by Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his people, high-ranking CIA operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) knows she needs extra help. She finds Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) who has been living a quiet life of retirement. After hearing about Gibbons, Cage aggrees to track down Xiang and Pandora’s Box.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage absolutely delivers what it promises: it’s one of the most satisfying, fun action movies in a very long time.

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Miss You Already (2015)

Miss You Already
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Morwenna Banks
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Paddy Considine, Dominic Cooper, Jacqueline Bisset, Tyson Ritter
Seen on: 1.4.2016

Plot:
Jess (Drew Barrymore) and Milly (Toni Collette) have been friends for pretty much their entire lives, despite or maybe because their not inconsiderable differences. While Jess is trying to have children with her husband Jago (Paddy Considine), Milly, who lives with her husband Kit (Dominic Cooper) and their kids and is successful in her career, is diagnosed with breast cancer. Now they both have entirely new challenges to face.

Miss You Already is like a modern Beaches: a wonderful, touching film with complex, strong, female protagonists that unabashedly centers women in its narrative.

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Krampus (2015)

Krampus
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields, Todd Casey
Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison TolmanConchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler
Seen on: 18.12.2015

Plot:
The Engel family are preparing for Christmas which mostly means hating the stress and fearing the time they have to spend together with the extended family. Only Omi (Krista Stadler) – Austrian for granny – and Max (Emjay Anthony) really seem to like Christmas and be in the mood for it. But when the family fighting and the tension becomes too much for Max, he decides to take it out on Christmas itself and unwittingly summons Krampus, Santa’s evil helper who punishes all those who aren’t in the Christmas spirit.

When the first trailers for Krampus – an originally Austrian myth – dropped, puzzledpeaces’ reaction was that she now knew what cultural appropriation feels like (personally I’d say that the Sound of Music is the first major instance of USAmerican appropriation of Austrian culture but that’s neither here nor there). I can say that Krampus the film has literally nothing to do with Krampus as we know him here in Austria*. But that doesn’t make the film any less entertaining, quite to the contrary.

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writer: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Based on: Alan Snow‘s novel Here Be Monsters!
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg

Plot:
Cheesebridge is a town plagued by Boxtrolls who are said to eat children and generally to be despicable. Led by Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), Cheesebridge is on the hunt to find every last one of them. But Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has a different story to tell. When he was a little boy, the Boxtrolls took him in and raised him as one of their own. But now their community is shrinking everyday and Eggs knows that it is up to him to do something against it.

The Boxtrolls was an amazingly cute film that was extremely entertaining. Not everything about it was perfect, but I enjoyed it.

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Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

Hector and the Search for Happiness
Director: Peter Chelsom
Writer: Maria von Heland, Peter Chelsom, Tinker Lindsay
Based on: François Lelord‘s novel Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche du bonheur
Cast: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgård, Toni ColletteVeronica Ferres, Jean Reno, Christopher Plummer

Plot:
Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist with a well-going practice and a beautiful girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike). But he is stuck in his routine and his safety and his mind keeps wandering back to the “One Who Got Away” (Toni Collette). So he decides that he needs to go on a trip to look for the secret to happiness. Alone, leaving Clara quite take aback. He starts in China but his search will take him to quite a few places.

Hector and the Search for Happiness was perfectly nice, in the slightly derogatory meaning of nice. There was nothing very wrong about it, but nothing very right, either.

Hector-And-The-Search-For-Happiness[SPOILERS]

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A Long Way Down (2014)

A Long Way Down
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
Writer: Jack Thorne
Based on: Nick Hornby‘s novel
Cast: Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Sam Neill

Plot:
Martin (Pierce Brosnan) decides that he’s had enough. On New Year’s Eve he heads to Topper’s House to throw himself off the roof there. But Topper’s House is a popular spot for suicide and so he meets Jess (Imogen Poots), J.J. (Aaron Paul) and Maureen (Toni Collette) who have had the same plan. Instead of following through, circumstances let’s the four of them make a pact that they’ll wait until Valentine’s Day with it.

A Long Way Down is sweet, even if a little inconsequential. But it does have its heart in the right place.

alongwaydown

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The Way Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back
Director: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Writer: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Cast: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander, Zoe Levin, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Plot:
Duncan’s (Liam James) mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) are taking Duncan and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) to Trent’s beach house for the summer. Duncan is less than overjoyed. He doesn’t get along with Trent at all, his mother spends all her time with Trent though. Steph ignores him and while the neighbor’s daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb) is friendly, she’s also older and has her own problems. And then Duncan meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the cool if slightly immature manager of the local water park and somehow Duncan and Owen become friends.

The Way Way Back was very sweet for the most part, had a really nice cast and a wonderful sense of humor. Some things I didn’t like that much, but generally I really enjoyed it.

thewaywayback

[SLIGHT SPOILERS]

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Hitchcock (2012)

Hitchcock
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Based on: Stephen Rebello‘s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Kurtwood Smith

Plot:
Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) just finished his last film and is looking for his next project. But nothing seems right to him. While his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) is happily working on a novel by her friend Whit (Danny Huston), Alfred gets increasingly jealous of both Whit and their creativity. But then he discovers a novel – Psycho – and is convinced that he found his new hit, even if everybody else seems to doubt it. Everybody but Alma, that is.

Hitchcock was partly really good and partly not that much. I was entertained but it smacked of “the woman behind the strong man should be happy that she gets to be there at all” syndrome. And it just ran a little long.

Hitchcock

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Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Marti Noxon
Remake of: Fright Night
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Sarandon

Plot:
Charley (Anton Yelchin) just went from geek to at least moderately cool, with the help of his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots). So when his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) tries to convince him that Charley’s new neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is actually a vampire, Charley shugs it off. But then Ed disappears and Charley starts to investigate. Soon he really does discover evidence that Jerry is a vampire. And since that discovery threatens Jerry, suddenly everyone Charley holds dear is in danger.

Even though I didn’t like the original all that much, I thought that I would give this one a shot for its cast and I actually hoped that a modernization might make it more accessible if you don’t have the nostalgia factor. Unfortunately that didn’t work out.

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Re-Watch: Emma (1996)

[We’re nearing the end of my EmmaComparisonProject. So, if you’re tired of reading about this, it’s only Clueless tomorrow and we’re done. :)]

Emma is Douglas McGrath‘s adaptation of Jane Austen‘s novel, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Alan Cumming, Toni Collette, Ewan McGregor, Greta Scacchi, Polly Walker, Sophie Thompson and Juliet Stevenson.

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Greta Scacchi) and Mr Weston (James Cosmo) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Toni Collette). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Jeremy Northam), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Alan Cumming). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

It’s been a while since I have seen this film and I think that memory has slightly exaggerated its awesomeness. Especially the script and Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t impress that much this time round as they did before. But it’s still a wonderful movie and does have the best Mr Knightley, hands down.

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