Now You See Me 2 (2016)

Now You See Me 2
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Ed Solomon
Sequel to: Now You See Me
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe, Morgan Freeman, Michael CaineSanaa Lathan, Jay Chou, Tsai Chin
Seen on: 5.9.2016

Plot:
After the last stunt they pulled, the Four Horsemen have to lie low. Danny (Jesse Eisenberg) is growing increasingly frustrated with the situation – he doesn’t want to hide anymore, while Dylan (Mark Ruffalo), working as a double agent at the FBI, does his best to keep them off the Horsemen’s real trail. But when Lula (Lizzy Caplan) shows up in Danny’s apartment with a whole lot of knowledge about the Horsemen, it seems that the time of hiding is over anyway. Danny calls together the remaining Horsemen – Jack (Dave Franco) and Merritt (Woody Harrelson) to figure out a plan, only to realize that Lula wants to become one of them. So they start planning their heist, but things don’t go as planned.

While Now You See Me was an entertaining, if far from perfect, romp, Now You See Me 2 was simply a catastrophe. The best thing I can say about it is that it wasn’t entirely boring.

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Triple 9 (2016)

Triple 9
Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Matt Cook
Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Michael Kenneth Williams, Clifton Collins Jr.
Seen on: 21.5.2016

Plot:
Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) used to be in the special forces, but now he works as a private contractor. And currently he’s been contracted by Irina (Kate Winslet) who runs the Russian mob in Atlanta. Although Michael is not particularly happy with his assignment, she forces his hand to pull off an impossible heist. Together with his crew, a mix of dirty cops and professional criminals, they realize that the only chance they have to pull it off is if they kill a cop as a distraction for their heist. But things don’t go as planned.

Triple 9 was one of the quietest releases ever, especially considering cast and crew involved in the film. After having seen it, though, it seems pretty clear that they simply didn’t want to waste any more money on a movie that fails in almost everything.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the second half)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie
Seen on: 22.11.2015

Plot [with Spoilers for everything up until this part]:
Still reeling from brainwashed Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) attack on her, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has no chance of really gathering herself. Instead she shoots promo videos for the rebellion and their cause. As outright war with the Capitol becomes ever more likely, Katniss decides that she has to put an end to things and the only way it will end is if Katniss kills President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

My expectations were pretty low for this final installation in the series since the second half of the last book was the weakest part of the series by far and that was the only thing that was left to bring to the screen. But Mockingjay Part 2 turned out to be better than I expected.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour HoffmanJulianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer

Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.

Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.

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The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Based on: James Jonesnovel
Cast: Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Dash Mihok, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Miranda Otto, Jared Leto, John Travolta, George Clooney, Kirk Acevedo, Mark Boone Junior, Nick Stahl

Plot:
The Guadalcanal is an important strategic point in World War II. Therefore a group of soldiers is brought in to battle for an airfield held by the Japanese which quickly turns into a slaughter with pressures from within and without rising for everyone.

I never liked Malick movies. I wanted to watch this one anyway because it’s a classic and so I decided to jump at the chance when it was shown at the Filmmuseum in Vienna. Now that I have seen it, I can say: I really don’t like Malick movies.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Sequel to: The Hunger Games
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald SutherlandPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Jena MaloneWillow ShieldsPaula Malcomson

Plot (with SPOILERS for the first one):
With the way the Hunger Games ended Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has definitely upset the system. So before she, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and their entourage travel from district to district on their victory tour, Katniss gets a visit from President Snow (Donald Sutherland). He lets her know without a doubt that rebellion of any kind on her part will not be tolerated – and that she has to make this clear to the districts as well, where unrest is brewing. Since it’s not only Katniss’ life that he threatens, but also that of her family and friends, Katniss complies as well as she can. And then the rug is completely pulled from under her when she and Peeta are drawn back into the 75 year special edition of the Games.

Where the second book was slightly worse than the first book, I thought that the second film was even better than the first. It’s a fantastic sequel, great adaptation and a wonderful film.

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Re-Watch: The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields). Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.

Despite actually getting the story for the third time, I was completely into it again and it made me cry. Again.

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Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writer: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Michael Kelly, Common

Plot:
Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt (Woody Harrelson), Henley (Isla Fisher) and Jack (Dave Franco) are talented magicians who get a mysterious invitation including instructions to form a magic troupe and pull off certain acts. Among those acts is a bank heist that skeptic Detective Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol agent Alma Dray (Mélanie Laurent) have to investigate. But things are getting weirder and weirder.

Now You See Me is not a particularly smart or mind-blowing film, even though it tries very hard to be. But it is a movie that is fun and entertaining.

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Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Linda Bright Clay, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Pitt, Harry Dean Stanton, Kevin Corrigan, Zeljko Ivanek, Gabourey Sidibe

Plot:
Marty (Colin Farrell) is trying to write a screenplay. He has a title – Seven Psychopaths – and a rough idea for a first psychopath. But apart from a drinking problem, he doesn’t have much else. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) tries to help, but is mostly caught up with the dognapping business he runs with Hans (Christopher Walken). But when Marty’s girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) kicks him out and Billy naps the beloved Shi-Tzu of the crazy Charlie (Woody Harrelson), everything unravels pretty quickly.

The marketing for this film is completely off. And when I say completely off, they decided to take away the movie’s selling point to make it look like a pretty standard action comedy. But it’s not – instead it’s an exercise in meta – and I loved it.

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Rampart (2011)

Rampart
Director: Oren Moverman
Writer: James Ellroy, Oren Moverman
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
It’s 1999  in LA. Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop who lives for his job and does not care so much about his methods as long as things get done. He lives with his two ex-wives, Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), who also happen to be sisters, and his two daughters (one with each ex-wife) which goes surprisingly well, even though Dave drinks too much and spends most of his spare time looking for the next lay. After he gets filmed savagely beating a suspect, Dave’s live and job start crumbling around him.

Apart from the camera work, the movie was really good. Cast, pacing, characters and story really come very well together in this. Even though I don’t go for the cop dramas that much, this one was just very good.

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