In Dubious Battle (2016)

In Dubious Battle
Director: James Franco
Writer: Matt Rager
Based on: John Steinbeck‘s novel of the same name
Cast: Nat Wolff, James Franco, Vincent D’OnofrioSelena GomezAhna O’ReillyAnaleigh TiptonJack KehlerScott HazeSam ShepardJoel Marsh GarlandJohn SavageRobert DuvallEd HarrisJosh HutchersonJulian De NiroBryan CranstonAshley GreeneKeegan AllenZach BraffAustin Stowell
Seen on: 24.4.2017

Plot:
Jim (Nat Wolff) just joined a political party who’s goal it is to empower workers. There he meets the charismatic and politically experienced Mac (James Franco) who takes him under his wing. Together they make their way to a fruit plantation where they hope to instigate a strike without the workers noticing that that’s what they came there to do. When they hear about a case where a plantation owner (Robert Duvall) reduced the workers’ pay from 3 to 1 Dollar, they know they have their in.

In Dubious Battle profits from Steinbeck’s strength as a writer and an absolutely stellar cast that makes the film worth seeing even though Franco directing Franco is not the best thing to ever happen.

Continue reading

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk
Remake of: The Magnificent Seven
Based on: Shichinin no samurai
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Cam Gigandet, Sean Bridgers
Seen on: 14.10.2016

Plot:
Rose Creek is slowly being squeezed dry by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). When one of the citizens (Matt Bomer) refuses to cooperate with Bogue, he is shot. His widow Emma (Haley Bennett) decides to go and look for help, somebody to take on Bogue. By chance she finds Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and becomes a witness to his skills as a gunman. She begs for his help and Chisolm agrees reluctantly. But first he’ll have to get together a team and so he gets in touch with a few old friends.

I have neither seen Seven Samurai, nor the old Magnificent Seven, so I was fresh to the story with this film and I really wasn’t particularly taken with it.

Continue reading

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly
Based on: Michael Crichton‘s book (plus sequel)
Sequel to: Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake JohnsonLauren Lapkus, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer, Katie McGrath
Seen on: 21.6.2015

Plot:
Years after the events at Jurassic Park, Jurassic World has opened – a theme park with actual dinosaurs. And things are going very well. A lot of that success is due to Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who manages the park, is looking after investors and generally is always looking for ways to expand and to ameliorate. This weekend, she is visited by her two nephews Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), but she also has to make sure that the park’s anticipated newest attraction – a new crossbreed of dinosaur – gets ready to be marketable. But then everything goes wrong and Claire has to team up with Owen (Chris Pratt) to avoid an even bigger disaster. Oh, and save her nephews.

I love the old movies and have loved them ever since I was a kid. So I was really looking forward to Jurassic World. But it manages the absolutely unthinkable: it makes dinosaurs boring. I am still unsure how they managed that particular feat, but it happened.

Jurassic_World Continue reading

The Judge (2014)

The Judge
Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio,Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard, Leighton Meester, David Krumholtz, Denis O’Hare

Plot:
Hank (Robert Downey Jr.) fled from his hometown and his harsh, strict father (Robert Duvall), a well-respected judge, as soon as he was able to and never returned. Now a successful lawyer, Hank finally has to make the trip back home after his mother dies. But practically as soon as he arrives, his father becomes a murder suspect, forcing Hank to stay longer and not only confront his feelings about his father, but also his two brothers Dale (Jeremy Strong) and Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), and even his old girlfriend Samantha (Vera Farmiga).

I wouldn’t have thought it possible that a film with that cast could ever bore me – because if all else fails, there’d still be this brilliant cast to watch – but thanks to a really bad script and uninspired direction, the film managed just that.

thejudge Continue reading

Escape Plan (2013)

Escape Plan
Director: Mikael Håfström
Writer: Miles Chapman, Jason Keller
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan , Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, 50 Cent

Plot:
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) works as a security consultant, basically: it’s his job to test prison security system by getting incarcerated and then breaking out. But his newest assignment doesn’t go as planned. He gets taken differently than agreed on, he finds himself facing the sadistic warden Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) instead of the person who knew about his real identity and the prison seems impossible to break out of. But at least he finds support for his breakout plans in fellow prisoner Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Escape Plan has all the markings of a craptastic film. And parts of it are as shitmazing as I expected them to be. But unfortunately I found myself pretty bored during most of the film despite that.

escape_plan

Continue reading

Sinister (2012)

Sinister
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, [and surprise Vincent D’Onofrio]
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Premieres

Plot:
Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a writer of true crime fiction who has the tendency to get a little too involved with his subjects. When he takes on a new murder case – the case of an entire family being murdered apart from their youngest daughter who went missing – and promptly moves his family into that family’s house (without telling his wife), things start to go wrong. And it all starts with a box of 8mm home movies that shows several murdered families like the one Ellison is researching.

Sinister is one hell of a scary movie. It immediately creeped itself on my scariest movies ever list. And that even though it follows the usual form to the letter and is completely predictable. Respect, Scott Derrickson, respect.

Continue reading

Chained (2012)

Chained
Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Writer: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Based on: a screenplay by Damian O’Donnell
Cast: Vincent D’Onofrio, Eamon Farren, Evan Bird, Julia Ormond, Conor Leslie
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Plot:
When Tim (Evan Bird) is 9 years old, he and his mother Sarah (Julia Ormond) are abducted by Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), a taxi driver. Bob kills Sarah and chains Tim – from then on called only Rabbit – to the house, using him as a slave for general housekeeping, but also for body disposal. Almost 10 years later, Rabbit (Eamon Farren) is still there and Bob realizes that he can’t just leave things as they are – and starts to educate Rabbit to be his successor.

Chained was an excellent, engaging movie – right up until the very end where they tried to surprise the audience with a really implausible twist.

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Men in Black (1997)

Men in Black
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Ed Solomon
Based on: Lowell Cunningham‘s comic
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub

Plot:
James (Will Smith) is a young and very talented police officer who catches the eye of the Men in Black – a secret government organization charged with dealing with alien life on earth – when he almost arrests an alien. One of the Men in Black, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) recruits James, now Agent J. And in just in time, too, so that the two of them can prevent the end of the world.

I don’t even know how many times I have seen this film. I watched it pretty regularly as a kid and then a little more irregularly as an adult. So of course there’s a whole lot of nostalgia and fond memories that I connect with this film. But even without that, it’s just an entertaining, creative and above all fun movie.

Continue reading

Strange Days (1995)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Strange Days is a film by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner.

Plot:
1999: Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) is a former cop who now makes his money by selling discs that can be inserted into the so-called SQUIDs: machines that can record everything a person experiences and can play it back to somebody else so that they experience it themselves. These recordings are illegal, and often record illegal things happening. Lenny’s life is pretty pathetic, he barely makes enough money to survive and he still dreams of his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis). The only constants in his life are his friends Max (Tom Sizemore) and Mace (Angela Bassett). In the middle of the world preparing for the new millenium, Lenny stumbles upon a conspiracy somehow involving Faith.

Strange Days is a pretty fantastic movie. The cast is great, the ideas interesting and even though the camera moves practically all the time, it never gets too shaky. The weakest point is the script, though – the big twist at the end is way too obvious, most of the characters are a little flimsy and the dialogue hurts a bit sometimes.

Continue reading