Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau [Paris 05:59] (2016)

Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau
Director: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau
Writer: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau
Cast: Geoffrey Couët, François Nambot
Part of: identities Festival (special screening)
Seen on: 7.10.2016

Plot:
Théo (Geoffrey Couët) sees Hugo (François Nambot) in a sex club for the first time and is immediately drawn to him. Their eyes meet and without actually speaking to each other, they fuck. Afterwards they both feel like something special has happened, so they leave the club together and start talking to each other. Their budding romance is interrupted though when Hugo realizes that Théo did not use a condom like he assumed. Hugo is horrified, especially because he is HIV positive – and Théo risks having been infected himself.

Théo and Hugo is practically built to be a dramatic, shocking and sad film and it somehow ends up being one of the sweetest and romantic couples I have seen in a while. It left me grinning from ear to ear.

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Une vraie jeune fille [A Real Young Girl] (1976)

Une vraie jeune fille
Director: Catherine Breillat
Writer: Catherine Breillat
Based on: her novel Le Soupirail
Cast: Charlotte Alexandra, Hiram Keller, Rita Maiden, Bruno Balp, Georges Guéret, Shirley Stoler
Seen on: 7.10.2017

Plot:
Alice (Charlotte Alexandra) is 14 and has the entire summer vacations in her parents’ small country home ahead of her, an outlook that fills her with dread. All she has to occupy her time with is her own body, so Alice experiments. Worker Jim (Hiram Keller) becomes a part of that experimentation as Alice starts to fantasize about him. But soon fantasy isn’t enough for her anymore.

Une vraie jeune fille wasn’t quite as engaging as Breillat’s later work Romance, at least not for me, but since this is Breillat’s first feature film, it’s not all that surprising. And it definitely has enough to say to still make it an interesting film.

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The Drawing of the Three (Stephen King)

The Drawing of the Three is the second novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. [Here’s my review of the first one, The Gunslinger.]
Finished on: 7.10.2016

Plot:
After the encounter with the Man in Black, Roland wakes on a beach, the Man in Black’s tarot reading of his fate still ringing in his ear. Before Roland can get his bearings, he is attacked and injured by lobstrosities. In an increasingly weakened state, he starts to move along the beach in search of the Three that were announced to him as his partners. It’s then that he stumbles upon a door that stands on its own on the beach. When Roland opens it, he is transported to another world, New York City, which is deeply connected to his own.

The Drawing of the Three is an exciting read that left me wanting more (fortunately there is more), although there were also things I didn’t exactly like about it.

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Romance (1999)

Romance
Director: Catherine Breillat
Writer: Catherine Breillat
Cast: Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand, Rocco Siffredi
Seen on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
Marie (Caroline Ducey) is very much in love with her boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), but Paul doesn’t want to have sex with her. Her increasing sexual frustration leads her to encounters with other men – be it Robert (François Berléand) who work in the school she works at, or Paolo (Rocco Siffredi) who she picks up in a bar. All the while Marie still tries to keep her relationship with Paul alive.

Romance is an interesting film that provokes discussion about sex, relationships and power. Though I found myself disagreeing with a lot of the conclusions it seems to draw, I enjoyed the thought experiments that come with watching it.

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Tschick (Wolfgang Herrndorf)

Tschick [literally a slang word for cigarette, at least in Austria; in this case the name of a character] is a novel by Wolfgang Herrndorf.
Finished on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
14 year old Maik is one of those kids who don’t really register and when he does, he’s perceived as weird. Like when he read that homework about his mother and her alcoholism, leading to absolute incomprehension from teacher and students alike. His class mate Tschick on the other hand registers everywhere, despite – or maybe because – rarely showing up in school, and when he does, he’s often drunk. When Maik and Tschick are the only people not invited to the birthday party of popular girl Tanja, Tschick kind of adopts Maik. And even though Maik is uncomfortable at first, when Tschick shows up with an old car and invites Maik to go on an adventure, Maik doesn’t have to think long about the empty summer ahead of him to agree to go along.

Tschick is a nice, quick read with a cool story. I don’t know exactly why it got as popular as it is, but it’s fun to read in any case.

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Eros in Ketten (1929)

Eros in Ketten [literally: Eros in Chains]
Director: Conrad Wiene
Writer: Louis Nerz, Conrad Wiene
Cast: Emmy Flemmich, Maly Delschaft, Walter Slezak, Christian Holt, Anita Dorris, Bert Torren, Lizzi Natzler, Trude Fiedler-Seitz
Seen on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
Maria (Anita Dorris) is the daughter of a good family, her father (Christian Holt) a magistrate. When Maria strikes up a friendship with Lilo (Maly Delschaft), she meets Heinz (Walter Slezak) and falls in love with him. So much so, that she actually sleeps with him against all conventions. When she ends up pregnant, she knows she has to get an abortion. But abortions are illegal and Maria is promptly arrested and forced to have the child.

The film’s sensationalistic title is bound to give people wrong ideas about the nature of the film. It’s not some kind of (BDSM) erotica, but a highly political take on the topic of abortions. I was surprised, but definitely not in a bad way.

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I tempi felici verranno presto [Happy Times Will Come Soon] (2016)

I tempi felici verranno presto
Director: Alessandro Comodin
Writer: Alessandro Comodin, Milena Magnani
Cast: Erikas Sizonovas, Luca Bernardi, Sabrina Seyvecou, Marco Giordana, Carlo Rigoni
Seen on: 5.10.2016

Plot:
Tommaso (Erikas Sizonovas) and Arturo (Luca Bernardi), who may or may not be brothers, appear on the run and escape into the woods where they make a life for themselves, at least for a while. Years later there are legends about the woods, the story of a white wolf and a girl who fell in love with him. Ariane (Sabrina Seyvecou) decides to explore the woods and meets Tommaso who seems semi-feral. But they do get closer.

I tempi felici verranno presto feels like a modern attempt at capturing the magical, out of this world feeling of the fairy tales of old. And while that sounds like an intriguing idea, unfortunately the film lacks coherence and doesn’t work.

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Mein Fleisch und Blut [Place of Shelter] (2016)

Mein Fleisch und Blut [literally: My Flesh and Blood]
Director: Michael Ramsauer
Writer: Michael Ramsauer
Cast: Ursula Strauss, Andreas Kiendl, Lili Epply, Wolfgang Rauh, Nikolai Klinkosch, Hary Prinz
Seen on: 5.10.2016

Plot:
Katharina (Ursula Strauss) and Martin (Andreas Kiendl) adopted their son Tobias (Nikolai Klinkosch) when he was just a baby and now most of their live revolves around giving him the best home they possibly can and maybe try and figure out whether he actually is on the autistic spectrum. Since Tobias lives in his own world a little bit, it comes as a welcome surprise to Katharina and Martin when their new neighbors, the young nurse Nicole (Lily Epply) and her boyfriend Christian (Wolfgang Rauh), immediately get along with Tobias. But it doesn’t take long until Martin suspects that there is something going on with the young couple.

Mein Fleisch und Blut is a decent thriller, but it also comes with a few problems and some overused tropes which meant that I couldn’t really get into it.

[SPOILERS]

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La jeune fille sans mains [The Girl Without Hands] (2016)

La jeune fille sans mains
Director: Sébastien Laudenbach
Writer: Sébastien Laudenbach
Based on: the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Anaïs Demoustier, Jérémie Elkaïm, Philippe Laudenbach, Olivier Broche, Françoise Lebrun, Sacha Bourdo, Elina Löwensohn
Seen on: 4.10.2016

Plot:
A struggling miller (Olivier Broche) is offered riches by the devil (Philippe Laudenbach) in exchange for what stands behind his mill. As there’s just an apple tree there, the miller agrees, only to realize that his daughter (Anaïs Demoustier) was climbing the tree at that moment. When the devil comes to claim her years later, her goodness makes it impossible for him. In a rage he forces her father to chop off her hands and that only marks the beginning of the girl’s struggle to find her way and place in the world.

Visually La jeune fille sans mains is engaging and interesting and the story is interesting as well, but I still don’t feel very enthusiastic about it, unfortunately.

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Snowden (2016)

Snowden
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Based on: the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Zachary QuintoShailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson, Timothy Olyphant, Erol Sander, Scott Eastwood, Ben Chaplin
Seen on: 4.10.2016

Plot:
Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) used to be a soldier, then he started working for the NSA. Growing disillusioned with the NSA’s surveillance practices, he decides to do something about it. He contacts journalists Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and leaks documents and evidence through them. But whistleblowing like that is treason and Snowden has to be smart to make sure that the information reaches the public and that he doesn’t get caught.

Snowden is a very nice companion piece to Citizenfour. It’s a well done, engaging film and you can’t repeat this horrifying story and the sheer scope of everything enough.

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