Entries in Rooney Mara (6)


A Ghost Story- review


“A Ghost Story” (2017)

Directed by David Lowery

Starring Casey Affleck,  Rooney Mara

Running Time 92 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


“A Ghost Story” isn’t your typical popcorn view, patience is needed for this one, and rewarded for this viewer.  David Lowery comes off the big budget “Pete’s Dragon” with a micro budget film he did in secret with his previous co-stars from “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.  Affleck plays “C” and Mara plays “M”, a married couple who are struggling with communication and the fact that she is ready to leave their small suburban house while he isn’t.  He so much isn’t that when he unexpectedly dies he nixes taking the white light and instead dons a cliche ghost get-up donning a white sheet with pitch black eye holes bound to the house and his love for her.  


There is very little dialogue, and much contemplating of existence, “A Ghost Story” is greatly helped by Lowery’s editing and Daniel Hart’s composing.  C’s journey through time and reflection is grandiose but I wasn’t exactly moved to asked life’s bigger questions after the film was through but it was a well worth it journey, that and you get to Rooney Mara get to eat a whole pie in one uninterrupted take (which is kinda haunting).

Job 7:9-10



Lion- review


“Lion” (2016)

Directed by Garth Davis

Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


The story of Saroo Brierley is an extraordinary one.  Saroo, impoverished and only five years old is tragically separated from his family when he gets stuck in a train that goes 1,000 miles to Calcutta.  Unable to speak the language and with no way to find his way back home, he is eventually put in an orphanage until he is adopted by a well off Australian couple Jon (David Wenham) and Sue Brierley (Nicole Kidman who is truly terrific here, deserving award attention).  Eventually a grown up Sarro, played by Dev Patel (who looks like he’s been lifting) is reminded of these past transgressions and sets out to find his biological family.


I appreciated that Saroo’s childhood and the journey he goes on isn’t quick lived, as it actually takes its time for us to try to appreciate what it would be like for a five year old to be on his own in a foreign land.  This takes up the first half or so of the film and not coincidentally enough this is the film’s compelling half.  I’m not sold on Dev Patel’s acting yet, and as the older Saroo, his brooding and distancing himself when he sets out for his Indian family actually distances us the audience from the story.  This is just as equal a directing problem from Garth Davis and script problem from Luke Davies screenplay that’s adapted from Brierley’s book “A Long Way Home”.  And as for the ending, which of course is a beautiful thing in real life, but in the film it comes across as either happenstance or divine intervention and neither of these themes were set up at anytime prior in the film. 

“Lion” has heart but a rocky path about it.

Psalm 32:8



Carol- review


“Carol” (2015)

Directed by Todd Haynes

Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated R

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Todd Haynes returns to 1950’s forbidden love that he was so critically praised for in 2002’s “Far From Heaven” and is getting just as much if not more love for his latest, “Carol”.  There are great costumes, art direction, cinematography, and overall just a painstakingly great amount of detail to flesh out a story with great pain bound to it.  

Therese (Rooney Mara) is a shopgirl who chances upon the wealthy Carol (Cate Blanchett) who comes in flustered looking for a Christmas present for her little daughter.  Carol leaves her gloves (maybe on purpose, maybe not), and the transfixed Therese takes the opportunity to reach out to her resulting in Carol treating her to lunch.  Both leads quickly understand that there is an attraction to each other, and both proceed ahead despite their era's restrictions.


Carol has much more to risk as she’s in the middle of a divorce with her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) who has been brought to pettiness with his despair of knowing Carol’s alternative lifestyle.  Carol is threatened that she might lose all contact with her daughter because of her so-called morality clause breakage.  

The acting is superb all around.  Chandler shows a man still in love being wrongfully desperate while Sarah Paulson is soulful as Carol’s ex-love and now best friend, but it’s Blanchett and Mara who dutifully carry the heavy baggage.  I was most impressed with the two actresses timing, showing the dance choreography that is two people slowly falling in love with each other.  Mara is exquisite as someone young and caught up in the heart’s affairs, allowing that to be enough to be the compass to guide her through whatever storms may come.

“Carol” is one of the strongest films of the year.

“This” is one of the strongest films of the year.

Song of Solomon 7:6



Pan- review


“Pan” (2015)

Directed by Joe Wright

Starring Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara

Running Time 111 Minutes, Rated PG

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

A Pan-iverse is attempted here, trying to leave us in bated breath for an imposed trilogy of J.M. Barrie’s classic of ‘the boy who won’t grow up’  but instead leaves us with “the film that won’t entertain” as Joe Wright’s (“Hanna”, “Atonement”) prequel doesn’t bode well for more to come as “Pan” never takes flight.   

It’s WW2 stricken England and young Pan (Levi Miller) is toiling away at the orphanage while corrupt nuns hoard the delectable rations.  With nothing but a pan flute necklace, Pan knows nothing of his birth mother but dreams of the day he can meet her.  The only thing the film’s opening tells us of her (Amanda Seyfried) is that she has those giant Seyfried rainmaker eyes, and she practices the long holding British tradition of parkour. One night a Cirque du soleil band of pirates drop down from the rooftop and kidnap the young kids, one being Pan, to a flying Pirate ship that gets into quick dogfight skirmish with some Allied fighter pilots and take them away to Never Never Land.  


Pan is thrown into the Neverland rock pits to mine for Pixum- the street name for pixie dust that the slave driving pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) secretly uses to keep him forever young (who wants to do a line off Blackbeard pirate sword?!).  Down there, Pan meets James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), whom we all know that the two are destined to be mortal enemies (isn’t that forced cool, sigh).  Hedlund is an attractive chap, but has done nothing to rev my motors.  He’s trying really hard here, but his performance comes off as a really strained Karl Urban impersonation. Also, there’s nothing wrong with Adeel Akhtar’s quivering Smiegel, but I couldn’t help but think how much edgier and funnier it would have been if they casted the likes of Jason Mantzoukas (“The League”).

Jackman is hammy as Blackbeard but in a way that lets him get weird, which works for me, what doesn’t work for me was his introduction that has everyone forced to sing the shanty of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Hey Wright, have you ever seen “Moulin Rouge”, your film is no “Moulin Rouge” so learn some new tricks!

After a quick rebellion Pan is sent to walk the plank off a flying pirate ship, from which it is discovered by him and everyone else that he has the ability to fly.  This, in turn, brings notice to Blackbeard of the prophecy that a young boy who can fly will stop the nasty pirate from smelling the teen spirit anymore.  Which begs the question; it’s gotta be weird if you’re Blackbeard because you know of a prophecy that directly references you and your demise, wouldn’t that make me change my ways or at least enjoy who I am to the fullest until such event.  

Here lies the biggest fault of “Pan”; once we find out about the prophecy of the ‘boy who could fly’, we’re simply waiting out the last two-thirds of the film going through the motions until the little bugger can finally make lift off.   So why is Neo, sorry, I mean Pan not an exciting character to watch?  Mostly because Wright’s direction and mainly Jason Fuchs screenplay really fuchs it up.  Tonally, the storytelling is everywhere; trying to be at times a dark Christopher Nolan Pan but throwing in fart jokes and Hedlund’s Dr. McCoy/Indiana Jones makes the film feel like oil and water.  Fuchs borrows a little too much with his Neo/Pan, and when we find the tribal territory it comes off as a sloppy love child between the magical forests of Avatar’s Pandora and the wooden huts of Endor.  All the winks and nods to Pan’s later highlights are simpleminded at best.  Pan and Hook’s friendship isn’t cool and innovating it simply is, and at that there isn’t a lot of entertainment.         

“Pan” was all out of fairy dust from the start.  

“This” was all out of fairy dust from the start.  



Side Effects- review

“Side Effects” (2013)
Directed by  Steven Soderbergh
Starring Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law
Running Time 106 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

“Side Effects” is the first must-see film of 2013.  Watch it, take two pills, and then read this in the morning.

Steven Soderbergh has been killing it of late.  He rocked 2012 with Magic Mike and Haywire but out does both of those by nailing a top-notch psychological thriller that knocked me off my seat with “Side Effects”.  Accompanied by a chess master script from Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant!), Soderbergh gives us one of those “this crazy crap could actually happen” tales that expertly sets you up and knocks you down over, and over again.  

Soderbergh’s visuals and shot selections float like butterflies and his twists and turns sting like a bees.  The famed director duped this viewer; framing figures in the shadows while leading me one way and gleefully bringing me somewhere Hitchcockian else.  In what could of played out sillier than a very special episode of Scrubs meets Law & Order SVU, Soderbergh brings a playfully devilish war, skimping on morals that scared the hell out of me and made me love it.

I’m not going to go too much into the plot as to keep this treasure spoil free.  Side Effects tackles many topics and isn’t afraid to do it in Soderbergh’s 3 outta 10 minority voice.  From a look at our pill popping culture, to what are the consequences and responsibilities of the doctors who prescribe them, to revenge, financial needs, paranoia, and much more.  All of this done to the fine tuned mastery of Soderbergh.

You can take my word for it and enjoy, or you can read on and I’ll give you a little to nosh on.  

“Side Effects” starts out with 20-something Emily (Rooney Mara) welcoming her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) from prison who did time for insider trading.  Even with her husband back and life getting on track, she falls prey to extreme anxiety and serious depression resulting in a suicide attempt.  Assigned to the care of psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Jude Law), Emily is allowed to not be put in a mental hospital if she’ll visit him regularly. Dr. Banks put her on a new drug, Ablixa, which results in her feeling better, being able to function properly, and even gives her a higher sex drive, even if she does develop a nasty sleepwalking habit as a side effect.  

From there a very unfortunate incident happens resulting in the question being asked: “If the patient is responsible for their actions when put on strong pharmaceutical drugs?” ---basically putting the system on trial.  

From there, all hell breaks loose and its a wonderful ride worth taking.
Besides Rooney Mara who uses her talents to, once again, show a cold and distant character, Soderbergh has his usuals in his leads.  He’s right to have a mancrush on Channing Tatum, and Tatum is beyond blessed getting to have a director that is stretching him dramatically leaps and bounds.  You might not think it from the trailers, but this is Jude Law’s film and his semi-sleazy exterior does all the more to have us every which way but loose.  

But it was Catherine Zeta-Jones who made me do a double take.  As Emily’s old psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Siebert, Zeta-Jones looks like one of Robert Palmer’s addicted to love femmes with a bachelors in psychology.  It took about five seconds, but “Side Effects” became by far her most intriguing and best work.   

Steven Soderbergh says “Side Effects” will be his last directed film for quite some time to which I say boo, but if it is, then job well done sir.

Steven Soderbergh says “this” will be his last directed film for quite some time to which I say boo, but if it is, then job well done sir.

Proverbs 17:22


The Girl With Dragon Tattoo- review


“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (2011)
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Running Time 158 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

I didn’t read Stieg Larsson’s best selling thriller, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, because you don’t have to wait long for those to get made into movies.  I didn’t watch Niels Arden Oplev‘s 2009 Swedish film by the same name because you don’t have to wait long for Hollywood to remake international blockbusters.  So now, it’s all fresh to me like all the Harry Potter films were (didn’t read a one) and David Fincher rewards my patience with his version.  Stupid American.

Even though that formula would quite often work out for you, the truth is I did not take that route on purpose, I just never got around to the revered Swedish take and just so you know- I read the first Harry Potter book- and I plan to get around to the rest when the rest are put on tape in gift form.  So while everybody will be making the comparisons between Oplev versus Fincher’s direction or Noomi Rapace versus Rooney Mara’s iconic Lisbeth performance, I will not.

Right from the opening credit sequence that involves a sadomasochistic-black rubbery-weird bondage motif with a Led Zeppelin cover you can see Fincher’s slick execution taking hold of his usual dark storytelling. Fincher brings back Trent Reznor from The Social Network for an even more in your face score that damns subtlety and embraces punk angst.  “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is also served well by Steven Zaillian‘s script that embraces the oddities of its two leads who don’t come together until the third act.  Rapists, serial killers, Nazi’s, and so much more with darkened tones is David Fincher’s way of Season’s Greetings.

Recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by wealthy island owner Henrik Vanger, played by Christopher Plummer taking a page from Max von Sydrow, to solve a family member murder 40 years ago that has long gone cold.  Along the way Blomkvist is knee-high in Vanger family quarrels, and through above average detective skills, uncovers a bevy of female murders, unleashing a strong message of men who hate women.  

Larsson’s novel and Zaillian’s script give us vengeance justified with a female lead like no other in Lisbeth Salander played by Rooney Mara.  Rooney Mara, who you know from the first five minutes of “The Social Network”, gives an absolute star making performance as the violently troubled bi-sexual computer genius. Lisbeth isn’t much for extraneous conversation, which can be hard to keep interesting for the audience, but Mara’s intensely brave portrayal accomplishes more than just interest, it accomplishes fascination.  Still under the ward of the state, Lisbeth’s social welfare worker is the worst of men.  Two anal-rape scenes show you the injustices to Lisbeth and her ‘an eye for an eye’ way of living.  

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” may not be as smart as it wants to be, and I never reached the edge of my seat.  There’s a Lord of the Rings multi-ending that isn’t much for holding tension but like the “..Rings” Fincher’s expertise has characters interesting enough to follow for 158 minutes.

Expertise has “this” interesting enough to follow for 158 Minutes.