The Northman (2022)

The Northman
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Sjón, Robert Eggers
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Björk
Seen on: 26.4.2022

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) only barely escaped with his life when his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) murdered his brother, Amleth’s father, King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) and took over the kingdom. Amleth, only a boy then, had to leave his mother Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) behind, but swore to save her and take his revenge. Now he is grown up and makes his living as a viking. During a raid, he hears news from his uncle and, pretending to be a slave like Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) and many others, lets himself be carted off to finally fulfill the promise he gave as a boy.

I was hoping for The Northman to be a bit of a bloodfest, knowing that with Eggers, I’d probably get a bit of a challenge as well. But unfortunately, mostly what I got with The Northman is darkness – and I mean that quite literally. It’s a film we barely see and that was pretty boring to boot.

The film poster showing Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) standing on a cliff, watching a fleet in the sea.
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Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan
Based on: William Lindsay Gresham‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Mark Povinelli, Peter MacNeill, Holt McCallany, Jim Beaver, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, David Hewlett
Seen on: 1.2.2022

Plot:
After hiding a body under the floor and burning down the house around it, Stanton (Bradley Cooper) is leaving town. He ends up with a traveling carneval troupe, and he seems made for that career, learning the tricks of the business from Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette) and her husband Pete (David Strathairn). Stanton is ambitious, he definitely has plans to make his own way and he hopes to bring Molly (Rooney Mara), beauty of the carneval along for them. After they do make their own start, psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) shows up at one of their performances – and Stanton believes that they can build a business together.

Nightmare Alley was quite a disappointment with strange casting choices and pacing issues that completely hobble the film. I was expecting more form a del Toro film.

The film poster showing Stanton (Bradley Cooper) and below him Zeena (Toni Collette), Dr. Ritter (Cate Blanchett) and Molly (Rooney Mara).
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Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Sequel to: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home
Cast: Tom HollandZendayaJacob Batalon, Marisa TomeiJon Favreau, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict WongTony Revolori, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Andrew Garfield, Tobey MaguireAngourie Rice, Martin Starr, Hannibal Buress, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Rhys Ifans, Charlie Cox, Thomas Haden Church
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 20.12.2021

Plot:
Now that the world knows that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man, Peter’s life is thoroughly screwed up. Although things could be so very good now that both his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his finally-girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) know the truth. Not to mention Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). But things just can’t work that way anymore, and so Peter asks Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a spell to make the world forget about Spider-Man’s identity. Things don’t work out the way he’d hoped, though, and the mess becomes even bigger than before.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is entertaining as hell, a cross-over of epic proportions and proof of that Spider-Man is never allowed to be happy ever. In short: it gives you one hell of a ride.

The film poster showing Spider-Man (Tom Holland) on a pile of rubble, surrounded by metal tentacles and the Green Goblin in the distance behind him.

[Slight SPOILERS follow]

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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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The Lighthouse (2019)

The Lighthouse
Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman, Logan Hawkes
Seen on: 3.12.2019

Plot:
Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) comes to a small island off New England to work as a lighthouse keeper together with Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe). Wake has been on the island for a long time, while Winslow is a newbie at lighthouse keeping. Wake is a strange fellow, and obsessed with the light of the lighthouse where he barely lets Winslow approach. Winslow starts having strange dreams about mermaids and feels under observation by a seagull that behaves suspiciously. And things become ever stranger.

The Lighthouse came with many accolades and sind I also liked Eggers’ first feature The VVitch, I went with pretty high expectations into the film. But unfortunately, the film couldn’t live up to those expectations. I was pretty bored with it.

The film poster in black and white showing half of Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and half of Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson). Between them we can see a lighthouse circled by seagulls.
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At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

At Eternity’s Gate
Director: Julian Schnabel
Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Julian Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Amira Casar
Seen on: 21.5.2019

Plot:
Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends most of his time in Arles, painting in a rather fragile state of mind. His brother Theo (Rupert Friend) is his one great supporter. When news reaches Theo that Vincent isn’t doing so well, he convinces Vincent’s friend Paul Gauguin (Oscar Issac) to travel to Arles. But what ails Vincent is not so simply dealt with.

At Eternity’s Gate is one hell of a boring film with irritating cinematography. Despite the amazing cast, I just couldn’t get into it at all.

The film poster showing Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) with a bandaged ear in front of a yellow wall.
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Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman
Director: James Wan
Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns, James Wan
Based on: Paul Norris and Mort Weisingercomics
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Ludi Lin, Michael Beach, Randall Park, Graham McTavish, Leigh Whannell
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 21.12.2018
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Plot:
Arthur (Jason Momoa) grew up with his lighthouse keeper father Thomas (Temuera Morrison), his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) having left the family to return to Atlantis where she is queen. Now Arthur, also known as Aquaman, leads a rather aimless existence, though he does take care of the Ocean. That’s when is Atlantean roots come to haunt him in the form of Princess Mera (Amber Heard) who urges him to get into politics, as war is brewing between Atlantis and land-dwelling humanity. She believes that only Arthur can stop it by reuniting both races.

As with most DC movies, I was hesitant about it at first, but given that the early reactions about the film were pretty good and the trailer (as well as Momoa) looked good, I did allow myself to have some expectations about the film. I’m happy to say that the film absolutely fulfilled them, if not to say surpassed them. It’s very fine entertainment.

The film poster showing Arthur/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) with his trident, and Mera (Amber Heard).
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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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