Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Motherless Brooklyn
Director: Edward Norton
Writer: Edward Norton
Based on: Jonathan Lethem’s novel
Cast: Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Willem Dafoe, Robert Wisdom, Michael Kenneth Williams, Bruce Willis, Ethan Suplee, Cherry Jones, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Leslie Mann
Seen on: 18.12.2019

Plot:
Lionel (Edward Norton) is a private investigator, even though his Tourette’s can make covert observation a little difficult sometimes. He works for Frank (Bruce Willis) until Frank is killed. Lionel really needs to figure out what case he worked on that turned out to be deadly. Retracing Frank’s steps, picking up where he left off, Lionel finds himself investigating some very powerful people and making a connection with Laura (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is somehow involved.

Motherless Brooklyn has been a long time coming, but sometimes things are not worth the wait. It’s not an outright bad film, but it’s not very good, either.

The film poster showing a man in a trenchcoat and hat on a bridge.
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Vox Lux (2018)

Vox Lux
Director: Brady Corbet
Writer: Brady Corbet, Mona Fastvold
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Raffey Cassidy, Christopher Abbott, Willem Dafoe
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 3.11.2018
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Plot:
When teenager Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) sings at a memorial, her career as a pop star takes off. She finds a manager (Jude Law) and a publicist (Jennifer Ehle) and rises to fame, always accompanied by her sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) who writes her songs. 18 years later, Celeste (Natalie Portman) is still a star, but she also struggles. Especially her relationship with her sister and her daughter Albertine (Raffey Cassidy) is strained, but there are other issues as well. As she prepares for the tour of her new album, tensions rise everywhere.

Vox Lux is a well-made film with an excellent cast that appears to be saying more than it actually does. I failed to really connect with it.

The film poster showing Celeste (Natalie Portman) in full stage make-up singing.
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Re-Watch: Body of Evidence (1992)

Body of Evidence
Director: Uli Edel
Writer: Brad Mirman
Cast: Madonna, Willem Dafoe, Joe Mantegna, Anne Archer, Michael Forest, Julianne Moore, Frank Langella, Jürgen Prochnow
Seen on: 9.7.2018

Plot:
When millionaire Andrew Marsh (Joe Mantegna) is found dead from a heart attack, handcuffed to his bed with a sex tape of him and his lover Rebecca (Madonna), suspicions immediately fall on her to have purposefully fucked him to death. When it’s discovered that she stands to inherit a lot of money from him, suspicions turn into criminal charges and Rebecca is arrested despite her protestations of innocence. Her lawyer Frank (Willem Dafoe) is very much drawn to her and even while he starts to investigate the case, the two start an affair.

Body of Evidence is sensationalist crap. With a bit of a more feminist and less voyeuristic/fetishistic tendency, it could have gone in the direction of Gone Girl, but instead we got objectification and misogyny. It’s literally hateful.

Film Poster shwoing Madonna laying on a pillow, apparently naked.

[SPOILERS]

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton
Seen on: 24.11.2017
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Plot:
Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is supposed to take the Orient Express to travel from one case to his well-earned vacation. But as luck will have it, there’s a murder right there on the train. As it is stopped by an avalanche, Poirot takes up the case, determined to find out who among the illustrous guests was responsible for the death of Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp). Unfortunately, the case is anything but straightforward as Poirot soon discovers.

Murder on the Orient Express starts off strong enough, but with every further plot twist, the film seems to slip more and more out of Branagh’s control. The result was mostly meh with a couple of shiny moments.

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The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Malik, Josie Olivo, Valeria Cotto, Edward Pagan, Bria Vinaite, Patti Wiley, Jasineia Ramos, Willem Dafoe, Caleb Landry Jones
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2017
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Plot:
Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a motel at the edge of Disney World. As Halley struggles to just get by, Moonee has a lot of room to roam the premises, always half-watched by the motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe). Together with her best friend Scooty (Christoph Rivera) and newcomer Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and some other kids, they spend the summer out in the world, discovering everything.

The Florida Project is a film that perfectly captures the children’s perspective and through their eyes, tries to figure out how much space children need and how much is too much. It’s pretty damn wonderful.

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Re-Watch: John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 21.2.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

Before seeing the sequel, I knew I had to re-watch John Wick. And also on re-watching it’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful action movie that I simply adore.

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John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 02.02.2015

Plot:
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

I expected John Wick to be a so bad it’s good kind of film. It isn’t. It is actually, unironically fantastic, a modern action masterpiece and I loved every second of it.

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A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Andrew Bovell
Based on: John le Carré’s novel
Cast: Philip Seymour HoffmanGrigoriy DobryginRachel McAdams, Nina Hoss, Daniel Brühl, Kostja Ullmann, Rainer Bock, Herbert Grönemeyer, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Homayoun Ershadi

Plot:
Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) works for German intelligence. His current obsession is proving that charitable muslim Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) is not quite as good as people think he is. He sees his chance when a young Russian/Chechnyan fugitive arrives in Hamburg. Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) has experienced awful things but he also brings with him a huge inheritance from his politically less than sound father. But first Bachmann has to gain access to the money and connect it to Abdullah, all while the American intelligence and most of the German intelligence has different plans than him.

I knew that I couldn’t resist watching something with that cast, but honestly Corbijn and me, we’ll probably never hit it off. That is also the case in this film which was boring, confusing and generally frustrating.

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Based on: John Green’s novel
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Mike Birbiglia

Plot:
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is sixteen, and is slowly dying from cancer. Her parents (Laura Dern, Sam Trammell) force her to attend a support group which only turns really interesting for Hazel when her friend Isaac (eye cancer) (Nat Wolff) brings his best friend Augustus (Ansel Elgort) to the group. Augustus lost one of his legs to osteosarcoma. Hazel and Augustus quickly bond over a novel – An Imperial Affliction – and their obsession with that book leads them on wholly unexpected adventures.

The Fault in Our Stars is exactly the sobfest you’d expect it to be and works just as well as the book. It is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen on screen.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Director: Wes Anderson
Writer: Wes Anderson
Based on: Stefan Zweig‘s writing (very loosely)
Cast: Ralph FiennesTony Revolori, F. Murray AbrahamJude Law, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Karl Markovics, Bob Balaban

Plot:
Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is not just a concierge, he is probably the best concierge there ever was and he has his fans. One of them is his newly acquired protégé Zero (Tony Revolori), another a frequent guest at the Grand Budapest Hotel, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). When she is f0und dead, though, suspicion falls on Gustave and he has to try and clear his name and to claim his inheritance, all with Zero in tow.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably the best film Anderson made since The Life Aquatic, if not his best film so far, period. It is crazy, enjoyable, funny, aesthetic and weird and has an awe-inspiring cast. Wonderful.

grandbudapesthotel

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