Tag: Willem Dafoe

The Northman

Hey kids, do you love Spider-Man?

Then why not check out The Northman!? He does whatever the…cold North can? Hmm. Nope. This is not a super hero movie. This is just a movie about Vikings!

We don’t really get a lot of Viking movies. A lot of them are trash, remember Pathfinder? I unfortunately do. I wish I could forget. We are luck that the How to Train Your Dragons films are technically Viking inspired. But they are animated and they don’t do a super lot with the Vikings religion and atmosphere. They are cute, they are good, but they aren’t what you think about when you hear a Vikings movie.

We also very recently had the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla game, to get people in the spirit. I don’t know if the God of War reboot counts as a Viking game, but it does deal with Norse mythology, so close enough. Not to mention we had several seasons of a Vikings show, which probably disappointed a lot of people without going too hardcore with it.

All of this to say, that time for something like The Northman to come out has been building up for a few years. And I know I was ready.

This was me screaming like a giddy little school girl.

Set sometime before the year 1000, we start off in some Viking kingdom. The king of this land is King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) and he is a mighty warrior. His village often gets loot and slaves and plunder from their conquests. His son, Amleth (Oscar Novak), looks up to his father despite rarely seeing him. His wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) is loyal and true. And his brother, Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang), well…Let’s just say that he earned that title by betraying the King and killing him to take his kingdom. Damn Auvandil, sorry to see you go.

Luckily, Amleth is able to escape by boat. He promises to enact vengeance for the life of his father and rescue his mother, who was taken by Fjölnir. He just has to grow up and get strong. So, several years later, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) does just that. He was found as an orphan by another tribe, and eventually joined their elite wolf fighter unit, and he was a mighty warrior. But thanks to a prophecy, he was eventually told about how he could find Fjölnir and finally complete his vows.

He just now has to journey to Iceland. He pretends to be a slave. A big strong man like him? Yeah. He just does what Clark Kent does. He hunches his shoulders and looks down a lot. But this gets him to Iceland, so he can find Fjölnir, complete his promise, and fulfill his destiny.

Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Elliott Rose, Willem Dafoe, Eldar Skar, and Björk!

The face you make when you need this little weakling to avenge your future death. 

I think I need to talk about Robert Eggers. Outside of a few video shorts, Eggers has now directed three motion pictures. I think most people who have seen his work would agree he is hitting all of the right notes. The Witch was terrifying, unique, and really felt accurate to the area, which was a nice surprise. It helped introduce the world to Anya Taylor-Joy. The Lighthouse was an strong follow up, an impressive visual film with excellent performances from the leads. I didn’t love it as much as The Witch, but I recognized its ambitiousness. 

The Northman however just takes the ball that is already knocked out of the park, and he knocks it into another park. The Northman is a lot of things, except for boring. This is a film that the trailer does justice for, while still giving you very little of the story. It is a revenge flick. It is kind of like Hamlet. It is not just a straight action fantasy film, it has a lot of deeper and slower moments. The film is tense, and intense at various points. 

Honestly, I was surprised at so many moments of the plot. Big strong Amleth finds his uncle pretty early on in the film, I was assuming that it would be over fast. But the set backs that occur are not expected. They do make sense, and it just helps build up some of the bigger events, while still allowing teases along the way.

The Northman is just such a visually stunning film. It is gorgeous, and we get to see many different scenes and locations. There are some battles and scenes that take place in night, with unfortunate authentic lighting, but it isn’t a majority of the film. It is a film that wants to be seen. 

All of this build up from Viking properties have given me what, frankly, is probably the best movie about Vikings ever made. I don’t think Eggers can keep up this pace. He might have to retire before Marvel has him make a film where he has no control in the output. 

4 out of 4.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Ready for that new movie, Spider-Man: All the Hype in the World?

Oh, it is called No Way Home. Fine, that is fine. It could have also just been called “Print Money for us Please” because a lot of people are going to see this movie and they are going to see it fast. This is arguably the most excited people have been for a movie since Avengers: Endgame. After all, in our last Spider-Man movie, we were given a very strong credits scene. [Note: I hated that this was a credit scene. That scene was really important for the film. It made the ending really work. The fact that it was “credits” scene and arguably less important really bugs me]. It helped build up the hype.

I personally am hoping that this movie does…something to help establish what the actual fuck Marvel (even if Sony is helming this film like always) is doing with their time. If I see one more “Present Day” tag line in the MCU this year I will lose it. No one has any clue when any of these movies are taking place, because they all are in the future based on the Thanos Snap.

Is this one in 2024? 2025? Who knows. Will the movie know? Doubtfully.

Is she enjoying this ride? 
Spider-Man: No Way Home takes place basically right after the end of Long Way Home. Mysterio’s last trick. Telling everyone Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) identity and blaming the bad stuff on Parker.

Now everyone knows! Now everyone knows about his friends and his girlfriend (Zendaya) and that causes issues. Some still love him, some now hate him. Some just want to make his life miserable. Hell, it is even affecting his ability to get into college. Because they know his name, and they aren’t sure if they want that publicity or trouble. Is he a MURDERER?

Needless to say, Peter feels like shit about this. And he hates it more that it is affecting those who love him and he loves in returns. So he wants things to change. Maybe time travel? Maybe people can just forget the whole thing happened? Maybe magic can be involved?

Well, once magic gets involved, and potentially unstable magic at that, it seems like the reality Peter knows is not going to be the same forever. Time to face old villains for the first time.

Also starring some other people you know from these movies. Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Benedict Wong, and Hannibal Buress. Also (checks trailers to see what is and isn’t a spoiler) Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans, and Jamie Foxx!

Anyone else? Maybe! Maybe we also get other villains played by Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan/James Franco, or Topher Grace? Maybe we get villains in the last two movies showing up, like Michael Keaton and Jake Gyllenhaal. Will we have past Spider-Men like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire? Will DONALD GLOVER appear as old Miles Morales?

Doc Ock
This isn’t a spoiler, this is the main advertisement! 

Spider-Man: Oops! All Villains! edition. Frankly, I wondered if this would feel crowded. Crowded is what they were going for after all. And arguably, crowded villains helped kill the last two Spider-Man franchises. “But no! This time we will do it better!” And how is that? By giving us previously established villains so we don’t need an eight hour movie. Sure, it requires a five film commitment, but they figure if you are watching these new ones, you probably already committed to the over 20 that is the MCU at this point.  So why not five more, assuming you didn’t already have them?

It works though. For those without the previous films, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can’t get myself in that headspace. It is a risky move, and a ridiculous move, but damn it, trying new stuff is one of the reasons I watch movies. To see those that make risks, and this film is so risky. I don’t care what the past has told us, MCU printing their name on it doesn’t always guarantee success. Having a likable cast can help a lot.

This is the most emotional we have seen Holland as our web crawler before, and that includes the time when he didn’t feel so good in outer space. From the villains, Molina brings the same despair and anger he had before. Foxx felt better and more confident than the shit they gave him in his original. Ifans/Church were very underutilized, in more ways than one. I just assume the actors couldn’t really be involved that much with the film.

But Dafoe? Holy shit Dafoe. He has had like, twenty years to forget how to be the Green Goblin, and I was honestly worried about him the most. I know he is a fantastic actor, but even early on into his scenes in this one, I was skeptical, but that dude NAILED IT so hard. That is some real good review writing right there. What an absolute madlad he is. Why did they kill him off in that first film? So sad.

Honestly, people will get mad at me if I say much more. So in order to keep things vague and mysterious, I will. Let’s just say, I cried once, and it is not likely a moment you would fully expect. There is obviously an early credits scene, and an end credits scene. Feel free to leave early after the first one, in my opinion. The post credits scene is trash.

4 out of 4.

Nightmare Alley

The last time we got a Guillermo del Toro film is when he directed the one about fucking a fish.

Will someone fuck a different creature in Nightmare Alley? Hard to say based on the title alone. I did not know until a little bit before hand that Nightmare Alley was an older book, and also an older movie from 1947. So we are getting a remake. And honestly, this is the exact reason for remakes in my mind. Often remakes are made for successful film that they just want to try again because people liked the first one. They should do more remakes either based on films that failed, or at least just more unknown work to give them a new fresh light.

Not to insult those of you who know and love the original Nightmare Alley film, but honestly, it isn’t super well known now, regardless of how big it may have been in the past.

This new version promised to be closer to the book. Alright, whatever, I am just hear for the movies. Specifically, Guillermo del Toro movies.

carnyNo, this isn’t a screengrab from the next Indiana Jones flick…
Who is that mysterious stranger, Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper)? The one with the smooth outfit, the clean face, the twinkle in his eyes, the hat? The one who burned down that house for some reason and is willing to just…drift.

Stan finds himself at a traveling show, a carnival, full of lies and deceit. But he sees a geek show, and agrees to help load up for the night for a small payment. And then he gets offered a job to stay along more, because he looks like someone who just needs to be there.

So he stays, he listens, and he learns. Quickly. He learns the tools of the trade. He has plans and ambitions. He has been kept quiet and hidden for so long, he thinks he can take some of these skills and become famous. A celebrity. But if he becomes a man who deals with deceit, eventually, he will be deceited right in the ass.

Also starring Cate Blanchett, Clifton Collins Jr., David Strathairn, Holt McCallany, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, Tim Blake Nelson, Toni Collette, and Willem Dafoe.

blindI bet his eyes aren’t even closed under there. He is using those eyes and his blindfold eye. He is a phony!

Nightmare Alley is so damn aesthetically pleasing to look at. It is polished (some would even say, polished as fuck). I know it is getting harder and harder to really tell how much of a movie is made in front of green screens, but it feels as if this film was mostly main in real places and scenes, using fine cameras to make everything pop. That is what I truly hope and believe, especially since I know del Toro is a fan of using as many practical effects as possible, generally. But maybe most of it is CGI’d, who knows. It looks wonderful.

The big cast works really together. Some in much smaller roles than expected, but still bringing in their all to tell this strange story. It was good to see Perlman get some work in a non straight to video film. Blanchett is in particular quite a force, basically stealing the movie away from Cooper’s character after she walks into it. She is given a really strong role and one that is hard to top. Cooper also does a wonderful job. It takes awhile before his character starts to talk. I wondered if he would be a silent protagonist for the whole film (like Cage was recently in Wally’s Wonderland) but once he started to actual talk, getting him to stop was the harder part.

The actual story for the film is also a pretty good one, if not slightly familiar in some ways. The ending is the type of thing you can see miles away, because they foreshadow everything really hard. However, it is okay knowing how it ends up, because finding out the lengths someone can fall and also rise is often the most exciting part of a film.

Nightmare Alley, shockingly, has no puppet animals, or strange creatures, or any non humans getting fucked. Is this growth? Nah. That was a one time thing for del Toro. Until it isn’t.

3 out of 4.

The French Dispatch

Seven years, Wes? SEVEN YEARS?

No. Don’t blame this on the Pandemic. The French Dispatch is your first live action movie in 7 years. Honestly, I thought The Grand Budapest Hotel came out earlier than that, so 7 years is a little shocking, because it certainly feels like a decade. Yes, I know we had Isle of Dogs, but that was stop motion.

Come on Wes. You used to churn out these films like buttah.

And it took a long time for this quirky little number to get made and released. This should not have been a 7 year wait. Did you have to wait for Timothée Chalamet‘s schedule to clear up?!

That Timothee, so hot right now.

The French Dispatch is sort of about a newspaper insert from a small town in France, that tells news of the world and Europe in their periodical, specifically for the people in Kansas, due to very specific plot reasons. You know. Quirkiness.

The writers for the paper are great though, and the main editor, Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray), has been running it for 50 years. He wants his writers to not be unlimited in their potential and will not try to limit their word count or cut sections out if it ruins their vision. As long as their articles sound like they wrote it that way on purpose and they don’t cry in his office, he will be fine.

This movie is actually about its final issue, because with Arthur’s death, in his will was to dismantle the paper and cease operations completely. This movie is about the final three main stories of the paper, a smaller city piece, and of course, an obituary.

Starring literally ever actor ever a Wes Anderson movie and more, a whole lot of people are involved in these three stories. Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Henry Winkler, Lois Smith, Tony Revolori, Denis Ménochet, Larry Pine, Christoph Waltz, Cécile de France, Liev Schreiber, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Fisher Stevens, Griffin Dunne, and Anjelica Huston.

A lot of people close together staring towards the camera. Classic Wes shot.
Alright, so was the wait worth it? Or did I overhype it?

I probably overhyped it. I went in not knowing anything about the film, and honestly, a few smaller stories is not usually what I hope for in a film. A bigger plot with subplots, sure.

Technically there is one bigger plot, but it is also relatively minor compared to the three main stories. So why do I care if it is three main stories? Well, if two of the stories are great, and the other is okay, then the whole film doesn’t feel really great anymore.

I definitely feel the stories weren’t even in quality or whimsy. The middle story in particular left a lot to be desired for me, despite elements I liked. My favorite would be the first one, in the prison, although narratively, I don’t know how this person became a normal writer for the paper, and why they are telling this story in their issue that is so far in the past. The third story was fine, but confusing for a bit and that is…less fine.

Overall, this might be the most Wes-Andersy film ever that he has made, and it is incredibly weird. Probably his most black and white and just…strange. He did try a lot with this film, and I guess wanted to tell stories he didn’t think were strong enough for a solo film.

The cinematography, colors, and dialogue are superb of course, but that was to be expected.

3 out of 4.

The Florida Project

When I think of Florida, I rarely think of projects. I usually just think of Ponce De Leon, Disney World, Recounts, and Flo Rida.

And it turns out that The Florida Project wants me to think about Disney World, as apparently Disney World was first called The Florida Project in initial design phases.

This movie is brought to us by Sean Barker, who famously brought us Tangerine by filming the whole things on iPhones. Don’t worry, this film is filmed with traditional cameras. Well, except the ending, that one was filmed on iPhones for legal reasons.

Legal reasons like how creepy it would be if he filmed a whole movie on his phone of 6 year olds.

Welcome to the Magic Castle! which is just a motel in Kissimmee, Florida, right outside of Disney World! It is a cheap place, but it relies mostly on tourists who doesn’t want to stay in the fancier hotels in order to save money. And at this motel lives a girl Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). Yes that is right, I said lives. She lives in a single room with her mother (Bria Vinaite). They get around the rules by leaving the motel once a month to go to another hotel, so they aren’t officially “living there” like a lot of people at this same motel.

Her mom is in a rough place, being a young single mother. She has no discernible skills, outside of slightly good looks, but she has still been recently fired from the club she worked at. Now they have to rely on more handouts, borrowing more money from friends, and scamming tourists in order to survive. If necessary, she also will have to resort to selling her body.

In order to not go insane, six year old Moonee basically has free control over her life. She can wander around the city, across the various motels with her friend Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and new friend, Jancey (Valeria Cotto). They like to pray pranks and be general nuisances on the public. Moonee has close to no filter, and will yell and scream if necessary. She doesn’t fully understand the problems her mom has to deal with, but she doesn’t care as long as she can continue on her free spirited ways.

Also featuring Willem Dafoe as the most considerate motel manager I have ever seen. And also Caleb Landry Jones, Mela Murder, and Macon Blair.

Really he is just everyone’s dad in this movie. All of them.

The Florida Project gives a unique look at what I have to imagine is a real subculture of people, not just in Florida, but around the world. Families who are practically homeless and living in cheap motels with reasonable managers turning a blind eye every day. A lot of the better aspects is just watching how these people live, what they do with their spare time and their justifications for their actions.

It is clear watching this why children put through these measures would grow up to be unreasonable entitled individuals. The kind who take handouts while voting Republican thanks to the American dream. The kind who end up in prison systems because they never had a fair shot of growing up in a good environment.

And the kids are just so realistic, kids being kids, running around, causing trouble, being inquisitive creatures that are learning on the streets. I can’t imagine those actor kids are actually that shitty, so they are actually acting on some level and they do their own impressive performance. Dafoe in this movie is probably his least likely role ever. A caring man, who has patience, and empathy in others. That is not normal for Dafoe’s choice of roles. It was so bizarre given the actor, and it is likely to earn him nominations at the same time.

The Florida Project is quirky, but faithful to the people whose story it tells. It is not a group of wholesome people, but they are not villains either. It does a great job of toeing the line. The only thing I’d really want is a better conclusion and more information on what happens after the credits role.

3 out of 4.

The Great Wall

Timing is everything. And I don’t think that Yimou Zhang, director of The Great Wall, intended for his alternative fantasy epic to tie in at all to American Politics.

But here we are, soooo.

The Great Wall has nothing to do with America. Just an American stars in it, because the Chinese director wanted him. And again, it is an alternative universe, so it isn’t taking place in Modern current China. What I am really getting at is there are people angry about a white guy starring in a Chinese setting film. Well, the director is Chinese. And he is telling a story he wants to tell. And they are playing Europeans who end up in China. So there is no reason to cry afoul. Unless the movie is terrible.

Then? Then we can cry afoul together.

Boom, racism over.

Set somewhere before now and sometime after, I don’t know, the year 1,000, we are introduced to a few white Europeans. William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), two mercenaries, working their way to China in hopes of acquiring some of this black powder they have heard about, a destructive weapon and powerful force. They are the only two remaining members of their group after a few set backs. And hey, they get attacked by some big green creature they have never seen before too.

While running from some locals, they find themselves at a wall. A GREAT WALL! With thousands upon thousands of Chinese soldiers. Now they find themselves prisoners and in a war they had no idea even existed.

But good news, there is another white guy! Ballard (Willem Dafoe), a monk looking guy, who came here decades ago also in search of the black powder, but was unable to leave based on what he learned. And he can fill them in on the stories. There is also a female general here, in wonderful blue armor, General Lin (Tian Jing), who helps fill in our story.

The Chinese are being attacked by the Tao Tie, a large swarm of monsters. Every sixty years they attack, evolving and learning tactics, in order to get through to the other side. There is a Queen that controls them all, with every beast working for her in order to feed her. If she eats enough, she will be able to create an army to take over the world, so they have to prevent her from getting to their capital. Easy enough!

But can two extra soldiers really help? Sure, if they have some new ideas and have fought in many wars before this. Like mercenaries. Hooray!

Also featuring Andy Lau, Hanyu Zhang, Kenny Lin, Eddie Peng, Xuan Huang, and Lu Han.

Power Rangers
We straight up got the Chinese Power Rangers leading this army.

Th Great Wall is a weird movie. Bizarre, really. It is a film that stays true to its roots and gives us a unique story.

When I say it stays true to its roots, I mean that it definitely feels like a Chinese movie. It fits the directors style. It is not overly Hollywoodized despite the Western cast members and writers (of which there was six)! The dialogue is shit, some build up scenes are rushed, but most of the focus is on the action, the mythology, and the colors.

The colors Duke! The colors! I loved that the outfits were stylish and seemingly useful. Each faction of the army with specialized weapon styles and tasks had a colorful cloak and armor to tell them apart to help with formations and look spectacular on the screen. I am especially impressed with the Crane Corps, all female fighters wearing blue. Their speciality was exciting, and it reminded me fondly of a Final Fantasy class system.

The ending was unfortunately a bit rushed. Moving the climax of the film to a new location put a damper on it for me. The CGI felt a bit weaker then too, with a lot of strange character actions.

Most of the characters were pretty two dimensional. But the film is weird. And it is pretty. So it has its uses.

2 out of 4.

John Wick

Due to the way my website works, I am now missing a lot more movies when they are in theaters. I have to decide every week what I want to watch, as I only let myself go to one pre-screening per week except for special circumstances. So some movies fall by the wayside. What did I see instead of John Wick? I don’t even remember. I know I didn’t see Nightcrawler to see Birdman, which was technically the right choice, but Nightcrawler ended up being pretty sexy on its own right.

But everyone already has over-hyped this movie for me. Is it cool to like Keanu again? Sweet! Because I actually liked his last two projects, Man of Tai Chi and 47 Ronin. But if everyone likes this one, then I might love it. Yay Keanu! Yay good publicity! Yay generic as fuck sounding action movies!

How bad ass could his character be, needing to use a sight and all?

John “Leave Me Alone” Wick (Keanu Reeves) has a mysterious past, like most movie characters that are new properties that aren’t based on real live people. But we know he used to be happy. He had a wife. A lover. A soul mate. But now she is gone. No foul play or anything, just a normal bitchy disease that took her life. They knew it was coming. It still hurts though.

And then John gets a package in the mail. A puppy. A fucking puppy?! Yes, a fucking puppy. This puppy, Daisy, was actually arranged to be sent to him from his now dead wife. She wanted to leave him something to help him cope and what better way to cope than A FUCKING PUPPY NAMED DAISY. Seriously guys.

Well, thanks to a small altercation, he ends up pissing up some Russian street thugs. Namely, Iosef (Alfie Allen) really liked his car and wanted to buy it. John tells him no and responds in Russian angering him. So they follow him home, break into his house, KILL HIS NEW PUPPY FROM HIS DEAD WIFE and steal his car. What in the fuck, Russia? What in the fuck?

Unfortunately for the Russians, literally everyone kind of recognizes his car in the car shops, including Iosef’s dad, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). Why? Oh, because John Fucking Wick used to be a hitman for them. Their own Boogieman, who could kill anyone or anything that they wanted. But he retired and got out of the business to be with his woman, promising never to kill again basically.

But then, you know. Dude’s Daisy is dead. So a revenge flick like any other, Wick has to take down the whole organization to feel at peace. Or will it really help?

Also featuring Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick.

“Iosef, Iosef, rhymes with …fuck, I dunno”

Action packed AND I actually feel sympathy for the main character. This is a great change in my mindset. I am used to getting shitty action movies with un-sympathetic anti-heroes, or just tough guys who have bullets bouncing off their chest, or just action movies without a plot. BUT THIS HAS PLOT AND ACTION. I was freaking out. Because the plot was pretty good, despite being something one could break down into “guy gets revenge on the mob” type of flick. I felt some fear for his life.

On TOP of that (more caps is better right?), the action was also interesting to watch. Some work went into the choreography. Work definitely went into the cinematography. Someone cared behind the helm of this movie and didn’t want just another forgettable movie. My mind is blown. When I first saw a picture for the movie, it was so generic and boring. Well, there might have been a turtle neck, which would have been the only odd thing (outside of Archer).

Keanu was a great man to carry this film. I don’t know if it is due to his own really sad life, or the sad Keanu meme, but his angst was apparent the whole movie. It looked like he carried the weight of the world on his manly shoulders.

John Wick is easily a nice recommendable action movie from 2014. I know it sounds like I am describing a 4 out of 4 movies, but I feel like The Raid 2‘s existence kind of makes it hard for me to elevate any other action movie up to its level. I bet John Wick had faults or things I disliked, I just can’t remember them right now. Shhh.

3 out of 4.

A Most Wanted Man

I hope I am not a wanted man. To be more specific, I don’t want to be wanted for like, violent awkward crimes and have to go on the run. I wouldn’t mind being wanted for my dashing good lucks, charismatic hair, or my sweet sweet movie trivia skills.

I definitely wouldn’t want to be wanted after I am dead either. Like, you know, Philip Seymour Hoffman. A Most Wanted Man is apparently his last leading role that he had completed post death, so just like fucking Brick Mansions, it will definitely increase the sales by some amount.

Clearly this will be a film about terrorism though, based on the title. Terrorism. So hot right now.

Dead Man
Definitely one of the most impressive “investigation walls” I have ever seen.

This movie is set in the world famous Hamburg, Germany, known for its tasty mountains of meat that appear every few blocks. More importantly, an Al Qaeda terrorist cells was in Hamburg in secret, which eventually lead to some of its members becoming key operatives in the 9/11 Terrorist attacks. Who would have thought such a magical place would have such terrible atrocities associated with it?

Because of their terror issues, Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) leads a German espionage team who have been surveillancing the local Muslim community. One of those fool me once sort of situations. Which some how leads them to Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen who has snuck into Hamburg. Chechens are the new North Korea.

Issa is using an immigration lawyer (Rachel McAdams) to help him out. Apparently his dad has a large sum of money in a bank (run by Willem Dafoe) and he wants to get it, but he is an illegal citizen.

Günther and his team have heard from Russia that he is associated with terrorism. And now he wants a large sum of money. They also have a suspect, Dr. Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who they believe is funneling money into groups but without any proof. Hmm. This is very interesting again.

Some terrorism shit must be going down!

Also featuring Rainer Bock, Robin Wright, and Daniel Brühl.

A most wanted lawyer, amirite?

A Most Wanted Man ends up being a sort of political thriller/drama. But is it the political drama/thriller that we need or deserve? That question doesn’t really make sense.

To me, I am a bit disappointed by the film. I liked the plot, it had a bunch going for it, but in the end, it felt like it was going too slow for me. The acting was fine, not spectacular. The plot ended up being only fine as well.

I am also finding it hard to really explain what in particular I liked and didn’t like. Again, only because the film seemed to drag. Not to imply that I have any form of adult ADHD, but I just wish more happened throughout the film instead of a lot of waiting.

It is an okay movie, but not Hoffman’s best work. At least it is better than Brick Mansions.

2 out of 4.

Nymphomaniac Vol 2

When I first started the two Nymphomaniac movies, I figured I would just watch them back to back, get all four hours done with and have a unique, if not disturbing, experience. After all, the original movie is 5.5 hours and was split into 2 two hour movies for practical reasons. A lot hit the floor.

But if you remember my Nymphomaniac Vol 1 review, you might recall that I just needed a break. I couldn’t do it right after the other. Just intense subject matter with a lot of themes on top of it.

I figured enough time had past though, possibly way too much time. Had to read an outline of part 1 before I watched Nymphomaniac Vol 2. Make sure I was in the right frame of mind and all, you know. But no matter how much prep I thought I had before delving back into this story, I certainly now know it could have never been enough.

I am reusing the same first picture too, damn it. We determined

The story continues right where it left off in part 1. But Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is going down a much darker path now that she finds herself in relationship with Jerome (Shia LaBeouf). At least Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) is still there to hear here story, not judge her, not get excited, and offer advice as to why people or she acted the way they did.

Darker path indeed. We have some hard stuff in here. Mostly due to her issues with her relationship with Jerome, she lost the good feeling down there and really wants it back. Sure she accidentally also had a kid. But responsibilities aren’t important. Getting that urge back is.

So she started to experience a lot of new things. Strangers of another language barriers and BDSM mostly. So much went down that it of course affected her parenting and lead her to support groups, and eventually using these skills she has learned through the years to help shake down people for cash.

But maybe there is a reason for all of this. Maybe things are going to start finally looking up.

Also still featuring Christian Slater, along with Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth and Jamie Bell.

This one was actually the safer of two potential images.

Just like my last review, let’s just say that this movie is hard movie to talk about. After all, a lot of this is about her experiences and it is a continuation. I don’t want to give things away, as I know most people who read this review wouldn’t have seen part 1, but since this is a continuation, part 1 knowledge is necessary.

I felt very uncomfortable during several scenes, but also found these darker plotlines a bit more interesting than the first volume. I am sure I gasped at more than one occasion, staring in disbelief at others. So much shocking material, but the movie itself isn’t just a shocker meant to put you on guard. There are deeper themes and elements going around to make sense of the chaos.

And shit. You know what? Life is hard, is the basic theme of the movie. No matter your position in life and circumstances, you will have faced hard experiences and hopefully you can over come them.

I think it ended on a strong, if not shocking final two hours, and am glad I didn’t leave super disappointed like Melancholia.

3 out of 4.

The Fault In Our Stars

If there is one thing that has been made abundantly clear over the last few years, it is that teenage based romance novels turned into movies make a lot of money. Why? Fan girls, mostly. But as long as it is teenage and romance, then it will make money. Most of them have seemed to do well, assuming they actually have a big following, unlike random shit like Vampire Academy.

Which is why it should come to no surprise that The Fault In Our Stars was breaking presale records.

Even if the movie ended up being shitty, I can’t get mad at it being made. Because after it gets made, then it is done and over. This is not a trilogy that will have the third book getting broken up into ten parts. Just one complete story, no cliff hangers, no bull shit. And really, that makes this feel a little bit more special for me.

Hilary Rodham Clinton
I can see they are also showcasing the Hillary Rodham Clinton look in this movie.

Speaking of being special, Hazel (Shailene Woodley) is a girl who had cancer when she was thirteen, got over it, then had some lung issues. Now she has problems breathing, has one of those oxygen tanks by her at all times, going into her nose. Kind of hard to be a normal teenage girl like that! She can’t make friends, or even a boyfriend.

Until she goes to a support group. There she meets Isaac (Nat Wolff), a guy going blind from his eye cancer. But he isn’t important. His friend, Augusts Waters (Ansel Elgort), who is there to support Isaac is the important one. He had some cancer stuff, lost half of his leg, but now he has survived and wants to live life to the fullest. No worries. No problems. And he wants to do it all with Hazel.

Hazel is of course unsure of this boy. How could anyone like her? She has plastic in her nose!

Well, after finding out he is also pretty smart, willing to read the same book she likes and discuss death in a nice way, then yeah, she kind of likes him.

They have some goals. Like figuring out a way to go to Amsterdam, not for debauchery, but to see a recluse author (Willem Dafoe) and his assistant (Lotte Verbeek) to figure out what happened to the characters after the book ends and to talk about life and death. Augustus wants to be remembered when eventually goes away. Hazel just wants to be loved before she goes away even earlier.

Also starring Sam Trammell and Laura Dern as her very optimistic parents.

It is good to see Dr. Ellie Sattler still getting work. Even if it is awkward.

The first half of this movie, I was sitting in the theater wondering what is the point? It felt extremely basic, and almost a shitty non realistic love story. Bordering on disliking the film entirely.

Then the second half happened.

If there is one thing you hear about this book/movie ahead of time, it is probably that it is sad and to bring Kleenex. Well, that seems to be absolutely true. I can’t actually point out the number of times I cried, just that it happened on multiple occasions, sometimes for scenes that were pretty long. They just kept happening, both from being sad and beautiful/sweet.

And that literally is most of the reason I have to talk about this movie. Very touching and sad and beautiful. A first half that drags, and a second half that is a tear jerker. Does that mean it is great? On its own, it just means it knows how to tug on our emotional strings. Yet at the same time, I loved it for doing so.

I didn’t think the acting was anything special. I hated a few of the plot points. But at the same time, I think this is the type of movie I could watch multiple times and still feel an emotional connection with it, knowing what happens or not. That is a solid enough reason for this rating, in my eyes.

3 out of 4.