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Christoph Waltz

Review: Downsizing

Alexander Payne has become known for directing bittersweet comedies rooted in recognizable—you might say warts and all—humanity. Movies like NebraskaAbout Schmidt, and Sideways are not always easy on their characters, but they sometimes crackle with lightning bolts of insight. Payne’s latest, written with his frequent writing partner Jim Taylor, adds a sci-fi framing device to his work. But ultimately Downsizing looks a lot like his previous films—and I think that’s a good thing.

The gimmick here is that Norwegian scientists have discovered a way to shrink people, a breakthrough that will lead to enormous environmental and financial benefits for the planet.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Review: Spectre

Daniel Craig

The last time James Bond dusted off his license to kill, I lamented the franchise’s reluctance to simply go out and make a good spy movie. Skyfall had a glum Bond, too much psychology, and a tired revival of 007’s signature traits. Then it went and raked in a billion dollars, so it comes as no surprise that the long-running series brought back the Skyfall creative team for the new outing. But Spectre is, at least, a little more of a Bond picture — there’s less fretting about the hero’s state of mind, for starters.

Bond (Daniel Craig, returning for his fourth go at the role) has bounced back from his Skyfall adventure, but has one bit of business left to settle. It leads to the unlikely revelation that a mysterious super-villain (Christoph Waltz) might somehow be connected to all the nefarious action of the three previous 007 films.

That’s a reach, but it provides the excuse for the usual hair-raising stunts and globe-trotting espionage.

Continue reading at The Herald (paywall alert)

Film Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2’

Jason Bateman

Maybe the bar wasn’t set especially high, but let’s not dampen the rare, humble pleasure of declaring that a sequel is better than the original. Horrible Bosses 2 is looser and funnier than its 2011 predecessor; and if its R-rated comedy misses as often as it hits, at least the timing is there. The first film’s trio of losers—played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day—is now trying to go the self-employment route by creating a new bathing gadget. But their idiotic invention, the “Shower Buddy,” brings them into partnership with a corporate shark (Christoph Waltz) and his conniving son (a manic Chris Pine, from Star Trek). When the boys get screwed over, their response is to kidnap the son and hold him for ransom.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Film Review: ‘The Zero Theorem’

‘The Zero Theorem’

Since creating the dystopian classic Brazil in 1985, Terry Gilliam has directed just eight more features—a disappointing total for such a feverish imagination. And those films have frequently been half-cocked or messed up, as though damaged in transit. His newest is signature Gilliam: visually exuberant and robustly cynical, it shows the director still circling the big ideas he’s been nursing since his Monty Python days.

Pat Rushin’s futuristic script is draped around the defeated shoulders of a worker drone named Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz). Convinced he is dying, he pesters his manager (David Thewlis) to be allowed to work—Qohen inputs “entities” into a fearsomely complicated database—at home.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly