It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Based on: Ned Vizzini‘s novel
Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Dana DeVestern, Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, Aasif Mandvi, Zoë Kravitz, Thomas Mann, Viola Davis, Bernard White
Seen on: 16.5.2021

Content Note: (attempted) suicide, suicidal ideation

Plot:
Craig (Keir Gilchrist) has been thinking about suicide a lot. So much so that he has scared himself into getting committed. To his horror he realizes that the psychiatric ward for teens is closed at the moment, though, and he finds himself in the adult station. There the charismatic Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) takes him under his wing as Craig tries to figure out whether he actually belongs in the hospital, and what he feels for fellow patient Noelle (Emma Roberts).

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a rather realistic look at what a psychiatric ward looks like, with a problematic take on mental health regardless and a slightly too sweet ending that doesn’t fit the setting of the film.

The film poster showing close-ups of Craig (Keir Gilchrist), Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts) above an image of Craig and Noelle hugging on the hospital roof.
Continue reading

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Jennifer Lee, Jeff Stockwell
Based on: Madeleine L’Engle’s novel
Cast: Storm Reid, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, André Holland, Rowan Blanchard, Bellamy Young, David Oyelowo
Seen on: 22.3.2021

Plot:
Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is an unusual child from an unusual family. Her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a scientist, as is her father (Chris Pine) – who has been missing for a while. He was working on tesseracts when he just disappeared. Meg’s genius little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) seems to know more about it. And he has made some strange friends who know even more than that: Mrs Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs Which (Oprah Winfrey). The three women prompt Meg, Charles Wallace and Meg’s class mate Calvin (Levi Miller) to go looking for her father – all through the universe.

I was rather disappointed when A Wrinkle in Time never got a big cinema release here in Austria, and I still think I would have appreciated seeing it on the big screen – the film is at its best, after all, when it just creates visuals. Other than those, it is very fine, but not great.

The film poster showing the main characters arranged in a circle.
Continue reading

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey
(I saw the dubbed German version, though.)
Seen on: 9.2.2017

Plot:
Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett) leads a rather lonely existence. Between beating up criminals like the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and eating lobster thermidor prepared by his trusted butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), he spends most of his time alone and in pain at the memory of the family he lost. But things change rapidly when Bruce not only accidentally adopts an orphan (Michael Cera), but the Joker and pretty much the entire league of supervillains surrender themselves to Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) who just proposed a new approach to crime for the police. But there must be something behind that surrender and Bruce has to find out.

The Lego Batman Movie is a celebration and parody of all things Batman and more. It’s as funny as it is nonsensical, and yet it manages to say more about the character Batman than more serious adaptations have managed. But at its heart, there is not much behind the jokes.

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris,Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 26.02.2015
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Re-watching the film, I might have focused on its weaknesses a little more than the first time round, but it’s still a very strong film that entertained me a lot.

birdman

[SPOILERS] Continue reading

Birdman (2014)

Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea RiseboroughEdward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.

Birdman was funny, sad and cringeworthy all at the same time. Even though it wasn’t completely issue-free, I really enjoyed it a lot.

birdman Continue reading

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Muppets Most Wanted
Director: James Bobin
Writer: James Bobin, Nicholas Stoller
Based on: Jim Henson‘s characters
Sequel to: The Muppets
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey
Cameos by [put in camouflage so you can still be surprised by the people who show up, if you don’t know already. If you wanna be surprised, don’t read the tags, either]: Tony Bennett, Hugh Bonneville, Jemaine Clement, Sean Combs, Rob Corddry, Mackenzie Crook, Céline DionLady Gaga, Zach Galifianakis, Josh Groban, Salma Hayek, Tom HiddlestonTom Hollander, Toby Jones, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloë Grace Moretz, Usher Raymond, Miranda Richardson, Saoirse Ronan, Til Schweiger, Russell Tovey, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz

Plot:
After solving their problems in the last film, the Muppets hit a bit of a low. They don’t really know what they should do now. That’s when Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) shows up and proposes a world tour to them. Kermit is hesitant but the others are in love with the idea. But Badguy has ulterior motives – he is teamed up with the most evil frog in the world, Constantine. And for his plan to work, Constantine impersonates Kermit while banishing the real Kermit to a Russian gulag.

I think I liked Muppets Most Wanted a little better than the first Muppets film. Maybe I’m starting to have more of a connection to the Muppets themselves. (There are so many Muppets in this paragraph alone. Muppets. Muppets. Muppets.) Either way, there is not much of a quality difference between this one and the first one.

muppetsmostwanted

Continue reading

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012)

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
Director: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
Writer: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Jonathan Krisel, Doug Lussenhop, Jon Mugar
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Twink Caplan, Jeff Goldblum, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Will Forte, John C. Reilly, Ray Wise, Matt O’Toole, Robert Loggia
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Plot:
Tim (Tim Heidecker) and Eric (Eric Wareheim) just threw out a billion dollars to make one scene of a crappy movie. And their producer Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) now wants the money back. So Tim and Eric jump at Damien Weebs’ (Will Ferrell) offer to run his shopping center for a billion dollars, never questioning the job’s or the payment’s validity. And the mall is in quite a state. As are Tim and Eric.

I did not expect that I would like this film, and I was spot on with my expectations. It really wasn’t my cup of tea.

Continue reading

The Muppets (2011)

The Muppets
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Based on: Jim Henson‘s characters
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones
Cameos by [put in camouflage so you can still be surprised by the people who show up, if you don’t know already. If you wanna be surprised, don’t read the tags, either]: Jack Black, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman, Donald Glover, Emily Blunt, Leslie Feist, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney

Plot:
Walter and Gary (Jason Segel) are brothers, but Walter is pretty different from the rest of the world. It is only when he finds the Muppets that he feels he has somewhere he belongs. So he jumps at the chance, of course, to go to Los Angeles with Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to visit the Muppet Studios. But the studio is decrepit and threatened by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) who wants to drill for oil there. The only chance to save it all would be to get Kermit and the rest of the Muppets together to raise 10 million dollars. So Walter takes it on himself to make just that happen.

I never watched The Muppets when I was a kid and apart from their Christmas Carol and a few choice youtube videos, I never really had much contact with them. So I felt like I was missing some ingredient in the whole thing (nostalgia? character background?), but nevertheless, I enjoyed the film. I just think you would get more out of it if you were more of a Muppets fan.

Continue reading

Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss in Boots
Director: Chris Miller
Writer:  Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg, Brian Lynch, Jon Zack
Based on: Charles Perrault‘s character and the Shrek movies to which it is a prequel
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro

Plot:
Puss (Antonio Banderas) is a talented thief who has set his eyes on the magic beans, currently in the possession of the criminals Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). But when he tries to steal them, he crosses paths with the mysterious Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). Kitty is working with Puss’ former best friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who is obsessed with the magic beans – and the goose that lays golden eggs to which the beans lead. And so the three of them throw their lots together to best Jack and Jill.

This movie could and should have been better than it actually was. It was not totally bad but it left me with a vague sense of unfulfilment.

Continue reading

Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild is a movie by Sean Penn, based on Jon Krakauer‘s book, starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook and Zach Galifianakis.

Plot:
Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) has just finished university and decides to drop out. He is fed up with the dishonesty of the lives around him, his parents’ (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt) loveless marriage, the unfairness of capitalism. So he packs his things and takes off on a cross-country tour of the USA. Without any money and avoiding any contact with his parents and sister (Jena Malone), he sets off with the big goal to go to Alaska, encountering various people along the way.

Chris McCandless story is interesting and touching and Sean Penn found himself an amazing cast to tell it. Unfortunately he is not the world’s greatest director and the cinematography could have been better, too (he’s very lucky that Emile Hirsch is as pretty as he is, because that camera spends an inordinate amount of time shoved in his face). But despite that, it is still a very good film to watch.

Continue reading