Director : Maren Ade Writer : Maren Ade (screenplay) Stars : Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn
Genre : Comedy, Drama
Release : 14 Mei 2016 Cannes Film Festival – 23 February 2017
Toni Erdmann is a 2016 German-Austrian comedy-drama film directed, written and co-produced by Maren Ade. It stars Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanov and Victoria Cocias.
“Tonny Erdmann(Peter Simonischek) is Winfried, 65, a music teacher with a strong penchant for jokes, who lives with his old dog. His daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) is a career woman who travels around the world in order to optimize companies. Father and daughter could therefore not be more different. He, the soulful, socially romantic ’68. She, the rational management consultant who tries to raise her profile at a major outsourcing project in Romania to compete in a mans world.
Winfried does not see much of his daughter at home, he decides after the death of his dog to visit her spontaneously. But the visit does not lead to a rapprochement. Winfried annoys his daughter with mild jokes and subliminal criticism of their performance-oriented life between meetings, hotel bars and countless emails. Father and daughter at an impasse and it comes to a confrontation between the two.
But instead, as announced to leave Bucharest, he surprised Ines with a radical transformation in Toni Erdmann, his dazzling alter ego. With crooked teeth, bad suit and wig Toni is wilder and bolder than Winfried and does not mince his words. Toni mixes in Ines professional life, to be with the assertion that the coach of her boss and start a rampage of jokes. Surprisingly leaves Ines on his offer, and father and daughter making a startling discovery: The harder they clashed, the closer they come.”
Toni Erdmann (2016) Trailer
Toni Erdmann (2016) Reviews
Toni Erdmann starts slow and is in general a movie that takes its time. 162 minutes might suggest an overlong or very slow paced film, but in this 162 minutes we get a firework-like examination of a relationship between a father and a daughter. And yes, Toni Erdmann is a comedy. There are some moments that are so hilarious, that they gained applause mid film from the audience at my screening. But it is also a tragedy. A really complex one actually. There is so much loneliness in those characters, so much longing. Toni Erdmann is constantly entertaining, extremely well acted and emotionally compelling. A masterpiece of German cinema.
Director : Theodore Melfi Writers : Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi Stars : Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
Genre : Drama
Realease : 25 December 2016 USA(Unlimited) – 2 March 2016 France
Hidden Figures is an upcoming 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi from a screenplay co-written with Allison Schroeder, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, the African American physicist, space scientist, and mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. The film also features Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons.
“As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers”, we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.”
Director : Stephen Gaghan Writers : Patrick Massett, John Zinman Stars : Bryce Dallas Howard, Matthew McConaughey, Toby Kebbell
Genre : Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Release : 25 December 2016 Canada – 13 April 2016 German
Gold is an upcoming 2016 American crime adventure film directed by Stephen Gaghan and written by Gaghan, Patrick Massett and John Zinman. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Joshua Harto, Timothy Simons, and Michael Landes. Principal photography began on June 29, 2015, in New York City, New Mexico and Thailand. The film is scheduled to be released in a limited release on December 25, 2016, by TWC-Dimension.
“An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold.”
Director : Denzel Washington Writers : August Wilson, August Wilson Stars : Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson
Genre : Drama
Release : 25 Decenber 2016 USA – 3 March 2017 Sweden
Fences is an upcoming drama film directed by Denzel Washington and written by August Wilson, based on his play of the same name. The film stars Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney.
“An African-American father struggles with race relations in the United States while trying to raise his family in the 1950s and coming to terms with the events of his life.”
Director : Ben Affleck Writers : Ben Affleck, Dennis Lehane Stars: Ben Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning
Genre : Drama, Crime
Release : 25 December 2016 USA – 26 January 2017 Netherland
Live by Night is an upcoming American crime film written, directed and co-produced by Ben Affleck, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. The film stars Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Cooper and follows a Ybor City bootlegger who becomes a notorious gangster.
“Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world. Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw. But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one-neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover-can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt. Joe embarks on a dizzying…”
Patriots Day (2016) Reviews. An account of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’s actions in the events leading up to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists behind it. Director: Peter Berg Writers: Peter Berg , Matt Cook Stars: Melissa Benoist, Michelle Monaghan, Mark Wahlberg
Patriots Day (2016) trailer
Patriots Day (2016) Reviews / Metascore: 72
In his third collaboration with director Peter Berg, Mark Wahlberg plays a cop investigating the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Like the heroic Bostonians it celebrates, civilians and law enforcement both, Peter Berg’s Patriots Day gets the job done. The director’s second big-screen release of the year — and his third portrait of frontline heroism starring Mark Wahlberg, after Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon — the movie is, for Berg, a characteristically high-powered rendition of a real-world disaster that’s still fresh in the collective memory. If nothing else, Berg proves himself a master of filmmaking efficiency; he made this technically complex action piece, which took its bow in the closing-night slot at AFI Fest, in a matter of months. Set for a limited holiday opening in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, it should click strongly with moviegoers, especially after its mid-January expansion into the heartland.
Written by Berg, Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer, the movie is a countdown thriller to a disaster we all know is coming. Beginning hours before the 2013 edition of Boston’s world-renowned race and moving through the manhunt that follows it, the story jumps among survivors, first responders and investigators, with Wahlberg filling the Everyman shoes, and providing a typically likable focal point, as fictional character Tommy Saunders, a sergeant with the Boston PD.
As Saunders, Wahlberg is no less engaging than in any of his somewhat underappreciated screen performances. Yet this is the least interesting of the men of duty he’s played for Berg, more a stand-in for the American working-class hero than a fully fleshed character, albeit one who’s married to an exceptionally clear-eyed woman, played with dependable grit by Michelle Monaghan. It’s no fault of Wahlberg’s when his brief third-act monologue remains a screenwriterly statement of theme, never finding a pulse.
But as a man of action, he’s thoroughly convincing. Fighting his way back from an injury that has sidelined him on the job, Saunders considers his marathon-day assignment an insult. With his neon-yellow vest, he feels like a crossing guard in a clown suit, but when the spring day is shattered by incomprehensible violence, he springs into action, limp and all. In the ensuing days of investigation, he puts his homicide experience to work to interview victims and witnesses, his know-how explained rather than explored.
With a strong assist from production designer Tom Duffield, Berg captures the fascinating speed and precision with which the feds, led by FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (a fittingly terse Kevin Bacon), set up a command center in the Black Falcon Terminal, a vintage warehouse on the city’s waterfront, for their digital and DNA forensics. Even so, procedural matters aren’t Berg’s focus so much as the on-the-ground manhunt and its every high-octane thrill.
But first, the setup. It’s a given that every introduced character will be, in one way or another, a victim of the attacks. They include a young married couple (Rachel Brosnahan, Christopher O’Shea), an MIT security guard (Jake Picking) and Dun Meng (a superb Jimmy O. Yang), the Chinese app designer whose carjacking by the Tsarnaevs is by far the most tense, suspenseful and involving portion of the movie.
Elsewhere, the film offers up generic clashes between local cops and the feds, with John Goodman’s Ed Davis, commissioner of the Boston Police Department, sounding off in favor of swift action. Bacon’s FBI honcho has no less a sense of urgency, but he’s more attuned to political currents and potential pitfalls, and seeks a more measured public stance — until, that is, the identifying surveillance photos of the perpetrators, Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff), are leaked to Fox News.
Melikidze and Wolff lend nuance to their portrayals of the brothers — respectively, threateningly charismatic controller and seemingly depressive acolyte — but the Tsarnaevs aren’t of particular interest to Berg except as villains. As for the elder Tsarnaev’s wife (Melissa Benoist), she figures in a standout scene in which an enigmatic police interrogator, played commandingly by Khandi Alexander, reads her the riot act. J.K. Simmons is the epitome of old-school cool as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese of the police department in neighboring Watertown, where Dzhokhar’s attempted escape famously ends in a backyard boat.
Berg recreates the marathon explosions themselves with full-frontal pandemonium, a confusion of blood and noise as limbs are severed and families are torn apart, rushed to separate hospitals. While Tobias A. Schliessler’s restless camerawork expertly evokes the unspeakable panic and confusion, it can also feel self-consciously kinetic. Pulling back from explicit imagery, he crafts striking aerial shots of the city that poignantly suggest its upheaval. Throughout the film, the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross intensifies the action with its relentless jabs and tremors, from chords to ticks to clangs to heart-pounding drumbeats.
Yet however technically proficient the movie, however heartfelt its admiration for everyone who worked feverishly to contain the damage, nothing in the narrative proves remotely as affecting as the documentary footage and interviews that Berg includes at film’s end. Some stories don’t require special effects.
A Monster Calls (2016) Reviews. A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom’s terminal illness. Director: J.A. Bayona Writers: Patrick Ness, Patrick Ness Stars: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
A Monster Calls (2016) Trailer
A Monster Calls (2016) Reviews / Metascore: 76
The trailer for this movie was perfect, a real tearjerker focusing on exactly what the synopsis says: a little boy coming to terms with his mother’s terminal illness with the help of his imagination. As someone who just lost his mother to cancer I was sobbing while watching the trailer and put this movie on my “must-see” -list. Unfortunately, the movie left me a bit cold.
First the good parts. The relationship between the boy (Connor) and the monster works very well and the animations that go along with the monster’s stories are absolutely gorgeous. I’m usually quite sceptical about combining different visual elements because it rarely works but here the tone and amount is just perfect. Another aspect of the film that works is the chemistry between the dying mother and her son. Oddly enough, this is the movie’s biggest flaw since the mother has such a small part in the storyline.
The first half of the movie strikes as unfocused, as if the director didn’t know what he wanted to say. Quite often movies based on novels suffer from lack of focus because the director was unable to cut away portions from the source material. That is also the case with A Monster Calls. The heart of the story, the mother, is pushed aside in the very first minutes and we are introduced to a number of characters that add nothing to the story. More screen time is given to school bullies than to the mother which seems very odd. Apparently the director couldn’t help himself and just had to dwell in bullying. A pattern which seems to be a norm in children’s movies. Then we are introduced to the father, a character completely irrelevant to the story. His only purpose is to show that Connor comes from a broken family. I haven’t read the novel the film is based on, so I can not say what his purpose was supposed to be. Perhaps his role was to showcase how important the mother was for the boy, since she’s the only parent he’s got. None of that comes through in the film, though. The father walks in and out, amounting to nothing.
Then there’s the grandmother who is introduced as an uptight caricature with too many minutes wasted on stressing her strictness. This is a real shame since the character also provides the most heartfelt moments in scenes establishing the shared grief she and Connor both feel. Something really amazing could’ve been accomplished with this pairing without the needless “evil grandmother” tropes. A real missed opportunity, I feel.
Once the film has established just how hard a life Connor has, the focus goes back to where it should have always been: the mother and Connor’s acceptance of her state of health. This is clearly the strong point of the story and the ending is executed beautifully. The emotional impact of the last half an hour or so also reminds the viewers of how impactful the entire film could’ve been had the father been reduced to a side mention and the minutes dedicated for school bullies cut in half in order to raise the profile of the mother. By doing so, A Monster Calls could’ve accomplished something groundbreaking by talking about cancer to children, many of whom will unfortunately be affected by it. This message, however, gets lost with the director juggling with too many elements.
Passengers (2016) Reviews. A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early. Director: Morten Tyldum Writer: Jon Spaihts Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen
Passengers (2016) Trailer
Passengers (2016) Reviews
Passengers is something of an anomaly. It’s a big-budget original, costing anywhere from $90 million to 120 million depending on who you ask, from a major studio that is being sold entirely on star power. The trailer, which dropped a few hours ago, shows off a certain amount of sci-fi razzle-dazzle. But the core selling point, arguably the only selling point, is the idea that audiences will flock to see Jennifer Lawrence (who got $20m plus 30% of the profits once it breaks even) making outer-space whoopie with Chris Pratt (who will starve with a mere $12m payday).
There’s no IP, no franchise potential, and no previously established universe or characters. Passengers is an honest-to-goodness “star vehicle.” Jon Spaihts’s much-liked screenplay has been making the rounds for nearly a decade, with a bunch of theoretical pairings (Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams, for example). I don’t know (vague spoiler warning) if the final film kept the somewhat creepy central premise intact, but it’s not my place to discuss what may be a late-in-the-game reveal.
Morten Tyldum got the directing gig after The Imitation Game, and this is Sony’s big Christmas gamble. In a world of franchises and superheroes, is there still any worth in pure star power? Jennifer Lawrence is arguably one of the most famous women on the planet (and the world’s highest-paid actress) with the X-Men and The Hunger Games franchises under her belt and four Oscar nominations (and one win) since 2010.
Chris Pratt is one of the Internet’s most beloved celebrities, and he is unquestionably a big reason why Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s The LEGO Movie, Walt Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Jurassic World all soared to unexpectedly large box office glories. But is he worth anything starring in a movie that isn’t an explicit brand name play?
Even Sony’s The Magnificent Seven won’t prove much, despite the fact that I’m expected it to break out pretty well this weekend. Denzel Washington has a long list of seemingly popular white male co-stars (Russell Crowe, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, etc.) who flourish with him only to stumble without him.
And even Lawrence’s successful David O.Russell collaborations (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) had the advantage of mostly solid reviews, ensemble casts, the Oscar season heat and a long and leggy award season release. Absent those things, Joy “only” made $101 million worldwide for Fox last year on a $60m budget, albeit she gets credit for every dime of that.
And Pratt has never had a “just me and my star power” test, although to be fair he’s only been “a name” since early 2014. Point being, lot is riding on Passengers, including the notion that we can make new movie stars today outside the realm of cheap(er) comedy vehicles.
Can Sony still score a big-scale blockbuster that isn’t a James Bond movie or a Spider-Man picture? Will Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt prove themselves to be more than franchise supplements and/or Internet famous (to the extent that actual drawing power even exists in 2016)? Will audiences show up for one of those big-budget adult-skewing star-vehicles they always say Hollywood doesn’t make or were they just bluffing?
All of these questions and more will be answered when Passengers arrives in theaters on Dec. 21.
Do you remember the scene at the very end of animation studio Illumination’s Despicable Me where Gru’s adopted daughters manage to persuade their new dad to come up on stage during their ballet recital and they all boogie together to the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” with the minions? And Gru busts out the most amazing moves, and it’s all so perfectly animated, every hip shake and arched eyebrow calibrated down to the tiniest cartoon muscle, it draws tears? Well, Sing pulls off that trick for around 20 minutes straight in its last act, producing pure, sappy joy with a string of air-punching, applause-coaxing performances from nearly every main character as they put on a show right there, in a nearly derelict theater with a soundtrack album’s worth of crowd-pleasing tunes. It’s as corny as the syrup tank at a candy factory, but it works, and it will undoubtedly ensure enthusiastic enough word-of-mouth to keep this in cinemas long into the new year after it opens Dec. 21 in the U.S. and then rolls out worldwide.
That said, and sorry to be a buzzkill, but it’s a bit of a shame that the rest of the film doesn’t achieve that same high standard. Illumination’s latest plays to the company’s strengths, with inventive character and background design, hyper-rendered animation that pushes the technology envelope, especially in the realm of lighting and cute sight gags. But just as with, for example, The Secret Life of Pets or Minions (and let’s not even go there with Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax), storytelling remains the outfit’s weak spot.
It might be conjectured that the powers-that-be are aware of this and that might be one reason why British live-action writer-director Garth Jennings, who made the delightful homage to low-budget filmmaking Son of Rambow, was hired to oversee this. But the fit isn’t quite perfect, and while there’s much to admire about the script, not least the fact that it’s an original concept in a sea of remakes, reimaginings and reboots, it doesn’t entirely gel. Maybe the problem is that at this point in 2016, the whole talent-show format that has so dominated television for the last 10 years or so finally feels exhausted and dreary.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t quite help Sing’s case that, so soon after Disney’s Zootopia, it unfolds in a world of bipedal talking animals living in another sprawling city. Sure, there have been articulate critters ever since Mickey Mouse started whistling and Betty Boop had long ears suggestive of her spaniel heritage, although the trope had fallen out of favor of late. Part of what made Zootopia effective was the way it not only revived the idea but also made the harmony — or lack thereof — in a multispecies society an integral part of the plot.
By way of contrast, in Sing there’s no reason within the story for one of its major characters, Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), to be a koala except that it means he’s cute. Also, his size serves well for an admittedly very funny car-wash gag halfway through. But he’s not even Australian. Buster is just another American-accented marsupial with a passion for showbiz, whose inciting idea to put on a talent show brings together the disparate characters that make up the roster talent assembled here. Unluckily for Buster, a typing mistake made by his faithful one-eyed lizard secretary and factotum Miss Crawl (voiced by Jennings himself) mistakenly reports the prize will be $100,000, not the $1,000 Buster has in his savings bank.
The money certainly motivates Mike, a mouse on the hustle whose abrasive, jerky quality is only enhanced by the fact he’s voiced by Seth MacFarlane. But money is only part of the lure for most of the other major characters, an assortment of mammalian hopefuls that includes: Rosita, a put-upon porcine mom of 25 (Reese Witherspoon); a teenage British gorilla (Taron Egerton) who doesn’t really want to follow his father (Peter Serafinowicz) into the family’s bank-robbing business; spiky porcupine punk Ash (Scarlett Johansson), whose acceptance onto the show jeopardizes her relationship with her rejected boyfriend (Beck Bennett); and Meena (Tori Kelly), the painfully shy elephant at the back of the room who is too scared to sing in front of others and ends up working as a stagehand for Buster.
One can only speculate at how many billable hours went toward intellectual-property lawyers for clearing the rights to the 65 different songs that are featured here. Some are merely snatches and phrases (hello pan-pipe theme from Once Upon a Time in America) which might have been free under the terms of fair use, but still, the music alone must have represented a big chunk of the budget, along with the above-the-line talent’s fees and the computing costs that went into rendering the film’s many dazzling traveling shots
Solace (2015) Reviews. A psychic works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer.
Director: Afonso Poyart Writers: Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish
Solace (2015) Trailer
Solace (2015) Reviews
Review: I quite enjoyed this deep, psychological thriller and it was good to see Hopkins back on the big screen but they could have done a bit more with the concept. Although the cast was quite good, Hopkins didn’t really push his performance and Farell didn’t get much screen time. With that aside, it’s intense throughout and the attention to detail made it watchable. Anthony Hopkins plays a psychic doctor (John Clancy), who has become a recluse, after losing his daughter to cancer 2 years ago. He then gets approached by his old work colleague, Agent Joe Merriweather (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who needs his help to track down a serial killer. After turning down the opportunity, Joe’s partner, Agent Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish), leaves the case notes with John and when he finally has a look at the file, he decides to join the agents to hunt down the killer. After a few more murders, John follows the cryptic clues which lead to a man called Charles Ambrose (Colin Farell), who also has psychic abilities and is always 2 steps ahead of the agents. They soon work out that Ambrose is killing people with terminal illnesses, so he is basically putting them out of there misery, before they start to suffer with there disease. Regardless of his good intentions, he is still classed as a serial killer and when Joe dies of terminal cancer, John makes it his mission to stop Ambrose from killing anyone else. He then comes face to face with Ambrose on a train and he can foresee Katherine getting shot during there alteration, so he steps in front of the bullet and kills Ambrose on the spot. After recovering in hospital, John gets back with his wife after being away from her since his daughter passed away. A decent concept but you do have to be in the right mood to watch it because it’s quite depressing and the murders are brutal. Its also one toned and Hopkins seems to be in a zone of his own most of the time but I still got into the whole investigation side of the movie and I liked the way that Hopkins controlled his unique gift. It won’t go down as an all time classic like the Silence of the Lambs but it’s still a watchable movie which picks up once Farell comes face to face with Hopkins. Watchable!
Round-Up: Anthony Hopkins, 78, hasn’t really peaked since his Silence of the Lambs days but he is still highly respected in Hollywood, who has a unique style of acting. With a couple of TV movies in the pipeline along with Go With Me, alongside Ray Liotta, he’s not showing any signs of slowing down but there isn’t any big budget projects coming soon. This is the first major movie from director Afonso Poyart and he is lucky to direct such an experienced cast. I liked the chemistry between Hopkins, Morgan and Cornish and Farell played the baddie, convincingly but it still seemed like it was missing something.
Budget: NA Worldwide Gross: $18million
I recommend this movie to people who are into their mystery, thrillers starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, Janine Turner and Marley Shelton. 4/10