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.

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John Carter (2012)

John Carter
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
Based on: Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s novel A Princess of Mars
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church

Plot:
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) calls his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) to come to him, just before he dies. When Edgar arrives – just a bit too late – he gets John’s diary and starts to read about how John traveled to Mars many years ago with the help of a mysterious amulet. On Mars, he found himself captured by an alien tribe and then caught in a war that threatens the entire planet.

John Carter delivers exactly what you expect it to: brainless but extremely entertaining action with campy performances. Is it great film-making? No. But it’s great entertainment.

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Daybreakers (2009)

Daybreakers is the newest movie by Michael and Peter Spierig, starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Claudia Karvan and Michael Dorman.

Plot:
10 years into the future and vampires have pretty much taken over the world. Humans are a minority – and hunted, since the vampires are slowly running out of blood. Edward (Ethan Hawke) works at a research company headed by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) and tries to develop synthetic blood, unsuccessfully so far. Edward is not only motivated by the fear that they’re all going to starve but also by compassion with the humans, wishing he could become one again himself. So when he stumbles upon human Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and a small resistance, he decides to help.

Daybreakers is an inconsistent affair: On the one hand there’s really good world building, on the other the plot is completely predictable and populated by stock characters. On the one hand the special effects are quite good, on the other the constant blue filter was tiring. The premise (despite one serious flaw*) is interesting, but in the end the execution is too conventional.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox is the newest stop-motion animation movie by Wes Anderson, based on the book by Roald Dahl, starring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzmann, Michael Gambon, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker and Willem Dafoe.

Plot:
Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a great thief, but sometimes, he risks too much. When Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) gets pregnant, he promises her that he would quit stealing.
A few years later, the Foxes move into a new tree, right across the three biggest and meanest farmers around, Boggis, Bunce and Bean (Michael Gambon). And Mr. Fox can’t help himself – he takes up the thieving again, bringing on problems not only for his family but for all the animals around him.

Even though the plot stayed basically the same as in the book, not much of Roald Dahl is left in the movie. Which in itself is not a bad thing (but a pity). Unfortunately, Anderson outwhimsied himself [(c) deadra] and just got way over the top with this film, at least for me.

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