Listed in reverse chronological order, more or less.
- Seven Psychopaths
A movie starring Christopher Walken and Tom Waits as just two out of seven psychopaths is surely worth watching. It follows
a screen writer into a world of psychopathic killers that he figures out much too late isn't actually a figment of his
imagination, but all too real, and filling up fast with dead people. The honor of last psychopath standing in the showdown
(although not ultimately surviving) goes to Woody Harrelson, another great bad guy.
- The Departed
Based on the same subject as Black Mass, this one focuses more on the cat-and-mouse game between mobster and police
who each have an informant on the other side. In the end, nobody gets away.
- Black Mass
Having lived in Massachusetts, I definitively wanted to see this one, and by coincidence, I ended up seeing it in Boston
where the events depicted in the movie took place. A rogue FBI agent works with a local crime boss in order to eliminate
the New England Mafia - only to find out that the crime boss himself is no better. Having seen the movie, I now want to read
the book to fill in the details. Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger is hardly recognizable.
- Inside Out
I caught this one thanks to inflight entertainment. It's a cute idea, to show how a brain might work by having it inhabitated
by some base emotions (joy, sadness, rage, fear) who battle it out constantly how the person will respond to its environment.
Unfortunately, the best scene (where we see simultaneously the brains of two parents and their
little daughter) was in the trailer, so a bit of a give-away. But well worth the zero price :-)
The movie tells the story of the 1996 ascent when due to a sudden storm several climbers died, including some experienced guides.
I think I would have had little clue about what was going on, or why certain things were happening, had I not read Jon Krakauer's
(one of the climbers that year) account Into Thin Air first. So my advice is to read the book (a gripping and informative
tale), and then go watch the movie if you liked it.
- Bringing Up Baby
Fast-paced (particularly in the character played by Katherine Hepburn) screwball comedy that shows off the comedic talent
of Cary Grant that's also on display in Arsenic and old Lace. Hepburn is really annoying, but also quite funny.
- The Fabulous Baker Boys
25 years behind the times watching this one, but neither Jazz music nor the Bridges brothers were high on my list back then.
As a couple of piano players, the Bridges' fortunes improve when Michelle Pfeiffer enters their lives. Well, whose live wouldn't?
Twists, turns and some soulsearching (and soulfinding!) ensue on the path towards a happy ending.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Spy thriller about the cold war where a KGB James Bond teams up with a CIA James Bond to save nuclear secrets
(developed by a leftover Nazi, of course). The part of the Bond girl is played by an East German MI6 agent. Confused yet?
No matter, it's good entertainment.
- Despicable Me
Since the Minions are everywhere this year I thought I'd catch up on where they came from. Although the story takes a sappy
turn at the end (the villain is evil on all scales, from one-on-one small stuff all the way to stealing the moon, yet at the end
adopts 3 orphaned girls after using them for his exploits), it's highly watchable for his evil machinations and those of his
hapless yello minions (which are more capable -although less cuddly- than Ewoks).
Glorious nonsense with a high entertainment factor. The complicated goings-on between neo-Nazis, law enforcement,
an African-German writer, talkshows, politicians and girlfriends culminate in an attempted war between Germany
and Poland. Due to all-around ineptitude, none of this goes down as planned. Ample fun is poked at everyone and everything,
making this a very entertaining movie.
- Ex Machina
An intriguing look at the consequences of embedding human-level AI in human-looking robots. Nicely understated in its set and
acting, the film leaves room for contemplation of who plays whom, and for what purposes. If you know what the Turing Test is,
you'll enjoy it.
This year's big winner at the German Film Awards, the movie has an engaging story played by largely unknown actors,
and was filmed in a single shot, roaming the streets of Berlin, thus requiring some unusual choices for camera,
location and plot. Worthwhile watching.
- Jurassic World
Finally the theme park is open (opportunities to snack on lots of visitors), and some impressive new dinosaurs on land and in the water
provide new material to continue the saga. Some more comedic parts between the snacking make for very good entertainment.
- Die Folgen der Tat
A very personal account of how a terrorist act is perceived by the family members of one of the perpetrators,
and what it does to family life and relationships. This particular case has some twists as to how the perpetrator
got to know the victim, and what happened to her after the deed, and after getting caught much later. Quite interesting
for anyone curios about the German RAF.
- Atlantic Rim
To call this a B-movie would be an insult to all B-movies, but I'm committed to the "monsters from the deep" series of
trash movies on Tele 5. First movie I saw with an IMDb rating of below 2, this one has superheroes with superpowers fight
the ancient monsters.
- B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989
An insider's look at the West Berlin music scene and lifestyle of the Eighties, this engaging pseudo documentary
brings back memories of the early days of many well-known bands and personalities, like Die Ärzte, Die Toten Hosen,
Der Wahre Heino, Blixa Bargeld, Nick Cave, Ideal, Christiane F. and others. Anyone who was alive in the Eighties,
and is interested in Berlin, will get a kick out of it.
- Big Eyes
Based on a true story, the husband of a painter sells her pictures under his name, and they have great success - until the painter
wants to distribute her work under her own name and things start to become tense. Good entertainment, and enjoyable performances by Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams.
- The Monuments Men
Somewhat entertaining story of a group of arts experts who follow Allied troops at the tail end of WWII to recover and protect
art stolen by Nazi Germany. A cast of well-known actors can't hide the lack of a real story line (probably not something the
director could do much about, given that it's based on a true story). OK to watch once, though.
- Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
A great cast, interesting story line, and well-done cinematography justify the Oscars this one received,
and remind us that Michael Keaton is still around and that he's actually a good actor.
- The Theory of Everything
Catching up with the Oscars, this winner for best actor has a splendid performance of impersonating Stephen Hawking indeed.
Being largely biographical, the plot is more informative than anything else, but still worthwhile watching.
It's never too late to catch a movie you deliberately missed 30 years ago because ghosts weren't your kind of thing,
since you had no idea who Bill Murray was back then.
- Cha và con và
From the Berlinale cometition, sort of a coming out story of a young photographer, and what he and his circle of friends go
through in daily life in and around Saigon. Shot in beautiful pictures, it's mostly about young people trying to figure out their lives.
From the Berlinale competition, and co-winner of the Silver Bear for best director, a story of gypsy slavery in Romania
in the early 19th century. For them, life could be nasty, brutish and short. It's striking how everybody in that multicultural,
multinational, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious region looks down on everybody else that's not part of their group.
- Yi bu zhi yao
The first Berlinale competition film that I ever really, really disliked. While somewhere in the back there was a
story line -based on true events, actually- it was too hard to follow the rapid jumps between important and unimportant scenes,
and to figure out which was which. I'd say half the film could have been cut without damage to the plot. And while I believe
that films do not necessarily need to follow a stringent plot line, or even have one, this one didn't offer much else (apart
from a memorable rip-off of the opening scene from The Godfather).
- Honig im Kopf
A granddaughter accompanies her grandfather's journey from the onset of Alzheimer until the very end. A good performance by
Dieter Hallervorden can't really make up for the simplification of the consequences of the illness, and the entire film
is a bit too sappy and shallow, including the characters of the son and daughter-in-law. More comedy than serious treatment of the subject.
- The Imitation Game
The story of Alan Turing, his code-breaking achievements at Bletchley Park, and his homosexuality and prosecution thereof that
ultimately killed him, featuring a fantastic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role.
- Mr. Turner
A biography of the latter part of the eponymous English painter's life, well acted, and well shot, evoking several of his pictures.
Since the film starts mid-life it feels a bit incomplete at times, particularly his relationship with fellow painters lacks some
background to clarify how they evolved. So it's more about the man and his paintings than about his times and the reception of his work.