Posts Tagged ‘movie review’

Director: Wes Anderson

Actors: Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe,
Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel

Another piece of gold from the Wes Anderson treasure chest is coming. Set between the wars in a fast changing Europe, The Grand  Budapest Hotel tells the story of Gustave, a Chef d’hotel played by a very untypical Ralph Fiennes. The picture looks like it has everything you expect from a Wes Anderson story: colorful, funny and a cast that keeps on getting more impressive every time. What’s great about Wes Anderson films is his ability to cast actors we all know pretty well to play certain roles, and make them surprise us. It looks like it’s not going to be any different this time. Grand Budapest Hotel is set to come out in March of next year.

Director: Richard Linklater

Actors: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy

before-midnight-video-articleLarge-v3Before Midnight is the third part of a magnificent cinema-story that started almost 20 years ago, in 1994. Director Richard Linklater, known for his films taking place within a single day, continues the story of Jesse and Celine, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy. Jessy and Celine, both in their early twenties back then, met on the train to Vienna in 1994. They hit it off immediately and decided to get off the train in Vienna where they wander around and spent a romantic night together. The following morning their ways part, without exchanging phone numbers or addresses, but with the promise to meet each other again 6 months later. That’s where Before Sunrise, the first part of this trilogy, ends. Leaving us guessing about if they really met up again or not.

Nine years later, the answer to this question was finally given in Before Sunset (2003). Jesse returns to Europe to promote his first novel, a modest bestseller, based on a romantic night he once spent with a young parisienne in Vienna… On his book-tour Jesse also makes a stop in a small bookstore in Paris.  Where, of course, Celine shows up and they once again spend a few hours together before Jesse has to catch another plane home. Before Sunset ends on an ambiguous note with Jesse ending up in Celine’s apartment, postponing his ride back to the airport over and over again. Will he get back back to his unhappy family life in The States or will he choose to miss his plane this time?

We were made to wait another 9 years to know what happened. In Before Midnight (2013), Jesse and Celine are in their early forties and are finally living together. Better yet, they have 7 year old twin girls together.The romance and magic of meeting, missing and wondering about one another have been replaced by the every day life of any family and their struggles. Nevertheless, this 3rd part is my favorite.

Basically, all three movies consist of nothing else than these two talking. Talking about small things, big life events,…anything really, without ever getting boring. These movies aren’t part of some cheap romance franchise. To be honest, i could easily listen to these two talking for hours and hours. The conversations are natural, real and recognizable on every level.

Director: Jeff Nichols

Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard

Mud_300

It was somewhere during the end of the nineties that the seed of Mud was planted in the head of director Jeff Nichols. In 2008 he wrote down the script, and in 2011 he finally started making it, without any help from any big studios.

Ellis and Neckbone, two fourteen year olds boys who live on a remote town in the Mississippi delta in Arkansas, deep in the American south. Where people hold on to a way of life that is ceasing to exist, where all metal has rusted and all wood has rotten. Nevertheless , the two boys lead careless lives, in an adventurous scenery that the Mississippi brings with it. One day they decide to go look for an abandoned boat that ended up in a tree after the latest flood, on an island in the Mississippi delta. They find the boat, but they quickly find out it isn’t as abandoned as they thought.

A man called Mud (Matthew McConaughey) is living in it. The boys’ curiousness gradually takes over from their initial distrust over this strange man who seems to be hiding, waiting for something or someone. Especially Ellis (Tye Sheridan) grows closer to Mud and helps him out. First by getting him food, later by being a go-between for Mud and his supposed girlfriend on the main land. Ellis has a naive understanding over the concept of love, which, to him only exists in a pure and never ending form. When he finds out that Mud is sort of waiting for his girl, his alliance to him becomes almost dangerously unconditional.  But Ellis is about to find out, through different events in his life, that love doesn’t always come in a fairytale-version.

Mud is a movie that with striking acting performances: a sturdy Sam Shepard, as Mr. Blankenship.  Tye Sheridan is magnificent as young Ellis. But without any doubt it is (even-though he is once again wearing a white shirt) the melancholic Matthew McConaughey, who plays the part of his life and seems to keep getting better and better. Mud is beautiful storytelling, with a tinge of the adventurousness of Tom Sawyer, it inevitably will also remind you of Stand By Me, brought together in a shade of American tristesse.

Director: Jacques Audiard

Actors: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb

Un prophète

After seeing ‘Rust and Bones’ a few weeks ago, I decided to dig a little deeper in the works of its director Jacques Audiard. It seems that the man is anything but a one hit wonder. The story of ‘Un prophète’ could be compared to that of ‘Scarface’, as it also revolves around the the life of a nobody-thug who works his way up on the crime ladder to become a mafia kingpin. I would even go so far to call it a better version of the eighties-cult-classic. I know that might be a bold statement to many film fans, but this film has a more raw and real feel to it. Maybe the fact that Scarface seems a bit outdated when watching it now has something to do with it.

Malik is a nineteen-year-old smalltime French-Algerian criminal who gets sentenced to six years after beating up a cop. On arrival in prison, somewhere near Paris, he knows no one there, has no money and no protection. He gets singled out by the Corsican prison-crew to kill a snitch who is temporary transferred to the same prison. He gets the job done (in what is in my opinion an epic killing scene) and gradually finds his place in their gang, winning the trust of their leader César Luciani. Half way through his sentence, Malik occasionally gets a day off to leave jail, perfect for Luciani to use him as his errand-boy to take care of his business on the outside. But Malik also has his own little business on the side, trafficking drugs from Paris to Marbella.

Things start looking up for Malik, his role within the Corsican crew becomes more substantial and his trafficking-scam is flourishing. That is until he runs into a conflict of interest between his two ‘jobs’. He has to outsmart all parties within the prison walls: the Corsicans who ‘adopted’ him and the Arabs to whom he still is connected through his roots, as well as people on the outside. That’s why this is such a great movie: not only is the plot very clever, the portrayal of Malik, from a scared, helpless kid to a smart and confident mobster who rules them all, is magnificent and very up close and personal. You feel for him at first and you too will want him to succeed on his quest when you’re watching.

‘A Prophet’ won the BAFTA award for best non-English film in 2010 as well as the ‘Grand Prize of the Jury’ at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona

Actors: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep

el_orfanato

Laura grew up in an orphanage, she and her doctor husband adopted a nine-year-old boy Simon. The presence of this sweet-natured, imaginative boy in their lives has awakened complex feelings in Laura, as she herself was adopted too. So, driven by a need for closure, she has persuaded her husband to buy the old orphanage where she spent the first years of her life, and to be foster-parents there to six new orphans with learning difficulties.

The orphanage itself is an impressive Gothic-styled mansion, close to a rocky beach and the sea. A perfect horror-tale setting. On the day Laura and her family welcome the first new orphan arrivals, Simon disappears. Months pass by without any trace of her son until Laura decides to call for the help of a parapsychologist. She discovers that the orphan kids she grew up with are all dead and that their spirits still roam around the house. Laura remembers her son playing a riddle game with what she thought was an imaginary friend at the time. She now realizes that Simon was playing with one of the dead children, and in order to find him, she will have to play the riddle game too.

Although this film soaks in an horror-atmosphere, it is much more than that. It is much more elaborate than your average horror-movie and it is also an intelligent and compassionate drama about loss and death, and about following the departed into the void so they can be made to live again.

Director: Jacques Audiard

Actors: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

de rouille et dos

Maybe better known under its English title ‘Rust and Bone’, French director Jacques Audiard based this story on the book bearing the same title by Canadian author Craig Davidson. It tells the story of Alain, who is in his mid-twenties and is the only parent to his 6 year old son Sam. Being unemployed, he leaves Belgium to go live with his sister in the South of France. Alain is an ex-boxer, he’s been in and out of trouble with the law and has trouble taking responsibility. He has no real relationships with the people around him, including his family. When landing in France, he gets a job as a bouncer at a local night club where he meets Stéphanie, who works at a local marine tourist park. Initially, their meeting is short and superficial and doesn’t lead anywhere, but when Stéphanie suffers a surreal accident at the water park where she works, she seeks to get in touch with him again.

This is one of those films that got stripped from all in-necessities. What is left is just a genuine, sometimes raw story about two every day people, superbly portrayed by both lead actors. It has that kind of pureness we lack so often in today’s film business. It doesn’t judge, there’s no good or bad, there’s just a story being told. As a viewer you are free to do whatever you want with that.

Audiard decided to go with Matthias Schoenaerts for the leading male role. Although initially, no professional actor was to play Alain. But after more than 200 unsuccessful auditions in numerous gyms and boxing clubs and after seeing Schoenaerts’ performance in “Bullhead’, he finally changed his mind, all for the best if you ask me.

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Actors: Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Tukur

Cover of "The Lives of Others"

Yes, another German movie makes it on Moviemojoblog :-). That’s 2 in a row even. I can’t help it. It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose, but this film was on my ‘must see’ list for quite some time already and than I noticed it got an extremely high user rating on IMBD, placing it on the 61st spot on their top 250 of all time. More than enough reason not to put it off any longer… I’m glad I didn’t.

This is what it’s about: Gerd Wiesler is a cold-hearted, incorruptible captain of the East German secret police in East-Berlin during the mid-eighties. He conducts rigorous marathon- interrogations on citizens who are suspected to doubt or undermine the ideas of the Social Unity Party. He trains and screens young Stasi recruits and he monitors suspects in their homes by means of bugs, wires and cameras. One day he is ordered to find incriminating evidence against a well-known and respected play-writer, Georg Dreyman. Dreyman’s girlfriend is a famous theater actress who is being courted by a corrupt minister, Bruno Hempf, of the Social Party. Hempf knows she is involved with Dreyman and that in order to get her, he needs to get Dreyman out of the way. Since Dreyman is part of a high profile circle of writers and artists, and thus knows many dissidents, free-thinkers and possible enemies, Hempf believes he can be found guilty of something and be put away.

When Wiesler finds out that this is the actual reason why he is asked to watch Dreyman, he starts to slack for the first time. And when he actually finds some serious incriminating evidence against him, he faces a difficult dilemma. Obey the corrupt minister, or help the lovers.

Das Leben der Anderen is yet another German masterpiece that effortlessly claims its place among other German modern classics like Lola Rennt, Gegen die Wand, Das Boot and Der Untergang. It’s the story of a man who’s faith in a rigid system start to crumble, a system he served, in an almost robotic way, for most of his life. It gives a detailed insight into the methods used by the Stasi and how far they went to obtain personal information, or to quote Dreyman: “The state office for statistics counts everything; knows everything: how many pairs of shoes I buy a year: 2.3, how many books I read a year: 3.2 and how many students graduate with perfect marks: 6,347. But there’s one statistic that isn’t collected there, perhaps because such numbers cause even paper-pushers pain: and that is the suicide rate.” Privacy was non-existent in those days.

Das Leben der Anderen was the debut of director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (could a name sound any more German?). It scooped up both the BAFTA and the Oscar for best foreign movie in 2006. I didn’t even know that when I watched it, but it makes complete sense, it’s a real ‘must-see’.