Movie Watchings 2009 – September

Deutsche Version | August | October

September, 1st

No Reservations

Catherine Zeta-Jones … Kate
Aaron Eckhart … Nick
Abigail Breslin … Zoe
Patricia Clarkson … Paula
Jenny Wade … Leah
Bob Balaban … Therapist

Synopsis: Kate’s life is the kitchen. She’s the head chef of a famous restaurant and she’s the best. But then her sister dies in a car crash and suddenly she has to take care of her niece. And to make matters worse, her boss hires an additional chef, Nick, whose specialty is italian food. And from where Kate is standing, it looks like he’s taken over her kitchen!

My Opinion: I really liked this after the disappointment that was Alex & Emma, especially since it has this melodramatic element of her adopting her niece and the difficulty to adjust to this new situation that both of them have. What I also liked was that the basically mandatory bump in their relationship wasn’t caused by him this time, but by her. And I loved it when she threw a raw steak onto a customer’s table because the previous two weren’t rare enough for him. 😀

September, 2nd

Three Days of the Condor

Robert Redford … Joseph Turner / The Condor
Faye Dunaway … Kathy Hale
Cliff Robertson … J. Higgins
Max von Sydow … G. Joubert
John Houseman … Mr. Wabash
Addison Powell … Leonard Atwood

Synopsis: Joseph Turner works for the CIA, but he is no field agent. He reads books from all over the world to find codes, patterns and new ideas for the CIA. But one day when he’s out getting lunch for himself and his colleagues all of them are killed. From now on he’s on the run from people who want him dead and he doesn’t even know why. And they are not foreign agents, they are CIA, too.

My Opinion: That was a very interesting thriller from before the cell phone and computer age. I really enjoyed it how they conducted they spy work in this “old-fashioned” way. The drawback of modern day movies and shows is that whenever they need an information important for the plot they go to a computer, log into a magical database, type “open sesame” and whatever information they need appears immediately. Even face recognition from a bad surveillance camera shot takes no longer than a minute. And due to its age this movie was different, Condor needed more skill to get what he needed and he had to do actual footwork. Yes I liked it.

September, 3rd

Reclaim Your Brain

Moritz Bleibtreu … Rainer
Elsa Schulz Gambard … Pegah
Milan Peschel … Phillip
Gregor Bloéb … Maiwald
Tom Jahn … Bernd
Andreas Brandt … Karl-Heinz
Robert Viktor Minich … Harry
Ralf Knicker … Sebastian

Synopsis: The TV producer Rainer is very successful in creating shows like “Get Your Own Superbaby” and other brainless activities. But when he has a car crash he also has a revelation. Humankind can’t be that stupid, the viewing rates can’t be real, it’s impossible that people actually watch all that BS. He teams up with others. At first they want to prove that the rates are manipulated only to learn that they are real. Then they decide to hack the system and make their own rates to crush the crap and help better programmes along.

My Opinion: The entire movie is very anvilicious but I still enjoyed it a lot. The supporting characters (the paranoid sociophobic person and a bunch of unemployeds with all kinds of problems) made this movie worthwhile. I also enjoyed both lead characters but they didn’t feel as realistic as the others, more like “we act the way we do because it says so in the script”.
I also liked the ending when they moved to Haßloch (a real test market town in Germany) and began to manipulate purchase statistics. 😀

September, 4th

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segel … Peter Bretter
Kristen Bell … Sarah Marshall
Mila Kunis … Rachel Jansen
Russell Brand … Aldous Snow
Jonah Hill … Matthew the Waiter
Paul Rudd … Chuck

Synopsis: Peter is a composer and musician and he loves his girlfriend, the famous TV star Sarah Marshall. But then she dumps him and his world breaks apart. After a period of crying and bad one night stands he decides to take a vacation in Hawaii. But guess who’s already there? In the same hotel. Sarah and her new rock star boyfriend. That sounds like fun…

My Opinion: This was an interesting take on the genre. The characters were all very detailed and actually multi-dimensional. Even though Sarah was the bad guy of the play, it turns out that she really tried to make their relationship work and that he is at least partly at fault. Everything considered I have to say I like the middle part of this movie best. It started really slow until he arrived in Hawaii and the end was very conventional (I loved the Dracula musical though!) but the entire time on Hawaii was really good.

PS: I don’t think that I would have been able to ghandi out of that one scene. 😀

September, 7th

Legally Blonde

Reese Witherspoon … Elle Woods
Luke Wilson … Emmett
Selma Blair … Vivian
Matthew Davis … Warner
Victor Garber … Professor Callahan
Jennifer Coolidge … Paulette
Holland Taylor … Professor Stromwell
Ali Larter … Brooke Taylor Windham

Synopsis: Elle Woods’s dream is it to marry her boyfriend Warner Huntington III. But he has different plans. He dumps her because he wants to marry “a Jackie, not a Marilyn”. And because she wants to prove her worth to him she also matriculates on Harvard Law School. Elle is not dumb, but she is the prototypical California Barbie and most people make her feel it – until she accepts the challenge.

My Opinion: I love this movie. It’s so perfectly harmless yet Reese is so cute in it. I especially like the time when she starts out at Harvard and is so different from every one else and nobody really knows what to make of her; or the scene where everyone has a black PC notebook and she sits between them all (already looking different with her parrot-coloured clothes) and opens her orange MacBook. 😀

September, 15th

Samurai Commando – Mission 1549

Yôsuke Eguchi … Yusuke Kashima
Kyoka Suzuki … Rei Kanzaki
Haruka Ayase … Nohime
Masatô Ibu … Dohsan Saito
Takeshi Kaga … Tsuyoshi Matoba / Oda Nobugana
Kazuki Kitamura … Shichibe Iinuma
Koji Matoba … Yoda

Synopsis: In 2003 an army experiment went terribly wrong and an entire unit vanished into nothingness. Soon they discover that this unit has been transported back in time – into the year 1547. Suddenly all over Japan anomalies are forming that could be described as black holes and which threaten to destroy everything. In order to prevent this catastrophe two years later a second unit is sent back to repair the past and safe the future.

My Opinion: When I saw that DVD in the store, I knew I wanted to check it out but I was also quite certain to watch a cheesy B movie (a Samurai and an attack helicopter on the same battlefield?!) but this movie is actually pretty decent. They have thought of a reason why changes in the past don’t immediately reflect in the future and they even thought about the fact that tanks and helicopters need fuel. Also the costumes and the special effects look quite good. Ironically the basic principle was the same as in western movies with hierarchy. The designated hero was an outsider and they killed his superiors off until he was in command and was able to save the day.
I’m sure that I will watch this again.

Yojimbo the Bodyguard

Toshirô Mifune … Sanjuro Kuwabatake / The Samurai
Tatsuya Nakadai … Unosuke, gunfighter
Daisuke Katô … Inokichi, Ushitora’s rotund brother
Seizaburô Kawazu … Seibei, brothel operator
Takashi Shimura … Tokuemon, sake brewer
Hiroshi Tachikawa … Yoichiro
Eijirô Tôno … Gonji, tavern keeper
Kyu Sazanka … Ushitora

Synopsis: Sanjuro comes into a small town were two rivalling gangs fight for dominance and the town is suffering. Both sides have attracted criminals to work for them but none of them is a real fighter. Sanjuro decides to play both sides against each other and offers them both his help and through trickery he reduces their numbers to a manageable amount.

My Opinion: A plot which has been re-used many times ever since but it was great to see in this Kurosawa movie. The best moment for me was when Sanjuro fought against a gunslinger with a knife – and won. The irony is that I was made aware of this film because it was the favourite movie of Kevin Costner’s character in The Bodyguard and now I really like it, too.

September, 16th

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Riisa Naka … Makoto Konno
Takuya Ishida … Chiaki Mamiya
Mitsutaka Itakura … Kousuke Tsuda
Ayami Kakiuchi … Yuri Hayakawa
Mitsuki Tanimura … Kaho Fujitani
Sachie Hara … Kazuko Yoshiyama
Yuki Sekido … Miyuki Konno

Synopsis: When Makoto slips in the chem lab one day she falls backwards onto what looks like a walnut. Later that day she drives down a hill towards a train crossing when her bike brakes fail and she falls directly in front of the oncoming train – but then she’s back on top of the hill again. She has acquired the ability to travel back in time and she’s decided to have fun with it – until she learns that it can also hurt people.

My Opinion: This is not a saving the world time travel movie. This is about a young girl growing up and falling in love. It is a slow and quiet movie, sometime a bit to slow for my taste but it conveys its story really well to the viewer and I really enjoyed watching it. As to the animation: Like with all manga and anime (that I know) it uses the art of showing only detail where detail is necessary. It’s not a Pixar animation where you can see every single hair but that doesn’t matter because it isn’t necessary.
There are also the huge eyes but if you compare American/European smiley drawings 🙂 with their Japanese counterparts ^_^ then you begin to understand that in this culture emotions are expressed more through the eyes rather than the mouth. 🙂

September, 28th

The Bourne Identity

Matt Damon … Jason Bourne
Franka Potente … Marie
Chris Cooper … Conklin
Clive Owen … The Professor
Brian Cox … Ward Abbott
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje … Wombosi
Gabriel Mann … Zorn
Julia Stiles … Nicolette

Synopsis: When he wakes up on a fishing boat in the Mediterranean Sea, he has no idea who he his. He only knows that he had two bullets in his back and the address of a bank in Zurich in his hip. He learns in Zurich that his name is Jason Bourne but the scavenger hunt has just started und suddenly he’s not only a hunter but also the hunted. His companion Marie and he drive halfway through Europe to learn the answer to the question: Who is Jason Bourne?

My Opinion: I really like this movie. The story is somewhat plausible, the hand-to-hand combats are awesome and Matt’s German is actually understandable. And I love it when Franka Potente curses in German. I haven’t seen this movie in a while and I noticed that you can actually follow the fights with your eyes. I never understood why more recent movies like the third part of this trilogy choreographs one hell of a fight but then chooses to not show it by using a “shake cam”.

The Bourne Supremacy

Matt Damon … Jason Bourne
Franka Potente … Marie
Brian Cox … Ward Abbott
Julia Stiles … Nicky
Karl Urban … Kirill
Gabriel Mann … Danny Zorn
Joan Allen … Pamela Landy
Marton Csokas … Jarda

Synopsis: For two years Jason and Marie have been hiding. But they have become sloppy and a Russian killer finds them in India and kills Marie when he tried to kill Bourne. Bourne was supposed to be the fall guy for a murder and cover-up in Berlin. Now they’ve made him angry and he wants revenge. And CIA Deputy Director Landy wants him caught or dead because she believes him to be the murderer of her agents.

My Opinion: I fully understand that Marie had to die in order set the story in motion; otherwise he would have never come back. But I was still sad, because I really liked her in that role.
But overall I like this movie, too. What I especially like about these movies is that they actually shoot at the actual locations and that most of them are in Europe. Granted, they still use Hollywood geography where you can run from Berlin Zoologischer Garten to the Friedrichstraße within 5 minutes, but at least they didn’t shoot somewhere and claimed it to be Berlin (or Paris, Moscow, …).
I also really liked how he confessed to the young woman whose parents he killed, though my Russian isn’t good enough to judge Matt Damon’s Russian. 😉

The Bourne Ultimatum

Matt Damon … Jason Bourne
Julia Stiles … Nicky Parsons
David Strathairn … Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn … Ezra Kramer
Paddy Considine … Simon Ross
Édgar Ramírez … Paz
Albert Finney … Dr. Albert Hirsch
Joan Allen … Pam Landy

Synopsis: Six weeks after the events in Berlin and Moscow Jason tries again to find out who he really is and where he came from. But there are still high-ranking CIA officers who can’t let that happen, because it would endanger a number of secret and illegal operations. So once again they send out killers to stop him and everyone he comes in contact with, even other CIA personnel. Luckily for him, he’s not the only one who wants to find out the truth.

My Opinion: This time they overdid it with the shaky cam. The fight between Desh and Bourne was nearly unfollowable, and even in the quiet scenes when Jason was talking to Marie’s brother or to Nicky it appeared as if the cameraman had Parkinson’s.
But I still thought that it was a good conclusion to the story, especially with Bourne choosing not to kill one of his assassins when he was helpless and getting rewarded for it in the end. I also like the final scene which made the imagery becoming full circle with the first scene in Identity.
If it were for me, I’d like to see another Bourne movie.

September, 29th

Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope

Mark Hamill … Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford … Han Solo
Carrie Fisher … Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing … Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness … Obi-Wan Kenobi
Anthony Daniels … C-3PO
Kenny Baker … R2-D2
Peter Mayhew … Chewbacca
David Prowse … Darth Vader
James Earl Jones … Darth Vader (voice)

Synopsis: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … c’mon, really? A synopsis for Star Wars?!?

My Opinion: Ever since I got them on DVD, I only watched the original theatrical cut. Han shoots first as it should be. I would have taken the digital remastered version from 1995 where George only cleared up the picture and made some small corrections (it was available on VHS), but the 1997 version was already too much, if you ask me. And since there’s either the original or the 2006 DVD edition, I stay true to the original.
And I made a habit out of standing up when Luke, Han & Chewie start to walk towards Leia and snap into ten-hut when the soldiers turn. It must look ridiculous from the outside – I don’t care, it’s my form of paying tribute.

Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill … Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford … Han Solo
Carrie Fisher … Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams … Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels … C-3PO
David Prowse … Darth Vader
Peter Mayhew … Chewbacca
Kenny Baker … R2-D2
Frank Oz … Yoda (voice)
Alec Guinness … Obi-Wan Kenobi
Jeremy Bulloch … Boba Fett
James Earl Jones … Darth Vader (voice)

My Opinion: Who would have guessed that Darth Vader is Luke’s father? Many consider this the best part of the trilogy but I still like Jedi a tiny bit more. This movie has so many great scenes, first the battle on Hoth, in the end this amazing light sabre fight and the revelation and in between the Dagobah story. I love Yoda. It’s so great when it’s revealed who he is and how he tries to train Luke and how he pulls the X-Wing out of the swamp. CGI-Yoda totally loses against Puppet-Yoda, no question about it but I will not speak of the trilogy that must not be named any further…

Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Mark Hamill … Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford … Han Solo
Carrie Fisher … Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams … Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels … C-3PO
Peter Mayhew … Chewbacca
Sebastian Shaw … Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid … The Emperor
Frank Oz … Yoda (voice)
James Earl Jones … Darth Vader (voice)
David Prowse … Darth Vader
Alec Guinness … Obi-Wan Kenobi
Kenny Baker … R2-D2 / Paploo

My Opinion: Oh, I love the original ending, this private celebration on Endor, the right music and the right Anakin Skywalker ghost – not this totally over-the-top “the entire galaxy celebrates” ending of the Special Edition.
It’s funny how it’s always the little folk that brings the plans of the Big Bad crushing down, whether they are called the Ewoks or the Hobbits. And I really liked it when Luke gave his father a fire burial and when he saw the three Jedi ghosts, it was the perfect ending.
Too bad that we’ll never learn how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader…