Rock Redemption (Nalini Singh)

Rock Redemption is the third novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 1.6.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Content Note: child abuse/pedophilia, stalking (not in the main couple)

Plot:
Actress Kit and guitar player Noah used to be really close and there was definitely sexual tension brewing between them. But before anything more could happen, Kit walked in on Noah sleeping with one of the band’s groupies – and they both knew he wanted her to find him like this. Any trust between them was destroyed and Kit’s heart thoroughly broken. Then one night, she receives a call from Noah and he is not in a good place at all. Despite her own worries – she has a stalker – she picks Noah up from a sketchy motel super drunk and this close to doing hard drugs. Looking at all the pieces of their relationship so far, Kit and Noah decide to try to rebuild their friendship, hard as it may be to navigate all the hurt.

Rock Redemption is the usual quick, engaging read I have come to expect from Singh, though it follows the normal structure of her stories a little less than usual. I had no problem with that, but I did struggle a little with Noah and his pain.

Continue reading

Hatuna Meuheret [Late Marriage] (2001)

Hatuna Meuheret
Director: Dover Koshashvili
Writer: Dover Koshashvili
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Ronit Elkabetz, Moni Moshonov, Lili Koshashvili, Aya Steinovitz, Rozina Cambos, Simon Chen, Sapir Kugman, Dina Doron, Leonid Kanevskiy, Libia Hakmon, Eli Turi, Maria Ovanov
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 31.5.2020

Plot:
Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi) is over 30 years old and about to finish his PhD. For his family this means one thing: he really needs to get married. Tradition demands that he marries a young virgin and so they have brought him to girl after girl, but Zaza never found the right one among them. The truth is, Zaza doesn’t want any of the girls his parents find for him because he is already very much in love with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz). But Judith is divorced and has a child already – Zaza’s family could never accept that and things are bound to come to a head soon.

Hatuna Meuheret is an engaging, but also somehow unsatisfying film .I appreciated it, but I didn’t like it very much.

The film poster showing Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi) holding up his left hand with a wedding ring. Judith (Ronit Elkabetz) can be seen in the mirror.

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Americanah is a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Finished on: 31.5.2020

Plot:
Ifemelu and Obinze fell in love in high school in Nigeria. But after Ifemelu left to go to college in the USA, they fell out of touch. Fifteen years later, Ifemelu is ready to return home, despite the fact that she has a successful blog about race relations in the USA, a settled life and a nice boyfriend. As she prepares for her return, she also reconnects with Obinze who spent some time in the UK and has since become a rich man in Nigeria.

Americanah is an interesting novel with sharp observations that I nevertheless struggled with. It is definitely insightful about race, but the story just didn’t come together for me.

The book cover showing colorful triangles on a blue striped background.
Continue reading

Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World (2014)

Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World
Director: Nabwana I.G.G.
Writer: Alan Hofmanis, Nabwana I.G.G.
Cast: Isaac Newton Kizito, Kirabo Beatrice, Nattembo Racheal Monica, Kayibaare Fausitah, Lubega Jojo, Kyazze Phillo, Alex, Mukiibi Alex, Kabuye John, Nakabiiri Tisha, Kasigwa Diana, Wephukulu Anthony, Nabaggala Phionah, Bisaso Dauda, Kagolo Francis, Farouk
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 29.5.2020

Plot:
Tiger Mafia have been kidnapping children at the behest of Mr. Big (Mukiibi Alex). When they kidnap the daughter Diana (Kirabo Beatrice) of the greatest commando (Bisaso Dauda) just as he returns home, it seems at first that they have bitten off more than they can chew. But in the end, Tiger Mafia succeeds and the commando turns crazy. But when another father (Wephukulu Anthony) stumbles upon him as he tries to chase after his son Kido (Isaac Newton Kizito) who has been kidnapped as well, the two fathers team up to save their children. Not that they need much saving, given that their kids are proficient martial artists themselves.

I haven’t seen many Wakaliwood movies so far (Who Killed Captain Alex? and Bad Black), but those I have seen have been utterly delightful in the anarchist way they pay hommage to action movies. Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World is another case in point. As long as you don’t expect the films to adhere to Western storytelling standards, you’ll have the time of your life.

The film poster showing a drawing of planet earth in a trench coat holding a gun to its head; and a bunch of kids in karate poses.
Continue reading

Truth or Dare (2018)

Truth or Dare
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Sophia Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk, Landon Liboiron, Sam Lerner, Tom Choi, Aurora Perrineau
Seen on: 21.5.2020

Plot:
Olivia (Lucy Hale) lets herself get dragged along on spring break to Mexico by Markie (Violett Beane), her best friend, who insists that they have one last bash together with their friends before university is over. Olivia had other plans, but she finds that she does enjoy herself, especially when she meets Carter (Landon Liboiron). Looking for a new thrill, Carter suggests to the group that they could all head to a special place: ruins of a monastery. Once there, they start to play Truth or Dare. But even when they leave and say that they want to quit playing, the game has other ideas – and the stakes grow ever higher.

I didn’t expect much of Truth or Dare (I mostly watched for Lucy Hale), but even so what I got was pretty underwhelming. It’s just generally a meh kind of film.

The film poster showing Olivia (Lucy Hale) in black and white with a big pink question mark superimposed.
Continue reading

I Am Mother (2019)

I Am Mother
Director: Grant Sputore
Writer: Michael Lloyd Green
Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank, Luke Hawker
Seen on: 20.5.2020

Plot:
A long time after a terrible infection wiped out humanity, a robot takes on its role as Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne) to one child. Daughter (Clara Rugaard) grows up under Mother’s watchful eye, learning about the world in theory, getting tested to see whether Mother’s upbringing is actually fine before bringing more children into the world and repopulating Earth once more. But before the final exam, there is a banging on the door and a Woman (Hilary Swank) finds her way into the facility where Daughter and Mother have lived an unbothered existence so far. And with her arrival, Daughter’s life gets turned completely upside down.

I Am Mother works in a minimalist setting and it works pretty well, although I am uncertain about the image of motherhood that it conveys. I’m also not sure whether it’s a film with a lot of staying power, at least for me. But it was fine while it lasted.

The film poster showing a robot carrying a baby and the faces of the Woman (Hilary Swank) and the Daughter (Clara Rugaard).

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Content Note: sexism, possible transmisogyny, racism

Plot:
Carly (Cameron Diaz) is usually all business and has no time for love. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) somehow made it into her life anyway – and she’s ready for him to meet her father Frank (Don Johnson). But when he cancels the meeting on short notice because of plumbing problems at his house, Carly decides to surprise him there – only to find Kate (Leslie Mann), Mark’s wife. When Kate realizes what’s happening, she finds that she only has Carly to talk to and to understand what it’s like to get cheated on by Mark. They start plotting their revenge together, especially when they find out that Mark has been seeing Amber (Kate Upton), too.

The Other Woman is a nice take where the cheating dude gets his due and the women don’t get the blame for once. But they could have made more of that premise, I thought, both with regard to the basically-feminist message and the comedy.

The film poster showing Carly (Cameron Diaz) standing stiffly as Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) cling to her.
Continue reading

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

The Cloverfield Paradox
Director: Julius Onah
Writer: Oren Uziel
Prequel to: Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Plot:
Earth is quickly nearing the point of no return in the energy crisis. Aboard the Cloverfield Space Station, Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is working with her colleagues on a particle accelerator, hoping that they can make it work which would mean a near-endless energy supply. But so far, they have not been successful and they are running out of possibilities to try. But when thing finally seem to go right, the consequeces of their experiments are definitely not what they expected.

The Cloverfield Paradox is a decent space station thriller/horror film. It wouldn’t have necessarily needed the connection to the other two Cloverfield films, but that it can be watched independently is one of its strength, I’d say. As is the awesome cast.

The film poster showing the starry universe.
Continue reading

Disobedience (2017)

Disobedience
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Sebastián Lelio, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Based on: Naomi Alderman‘s novel
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola, Anton Lesser, Allan Corduner, Nicholas Woodeson, David Fleeshman, Bernice Stegers
Seen on: 15.5.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Ronit (Rachel Weisz) left the Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up behind. But when her father (Anton Lesser) dies, she returns for the funeral. Reconnecting with her best friends Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), her father’s closest student, and Esti (Rachel McAdams), she learns that the two got married. This further complicates her return – because she left all those years ago because she and Esti were in love. And maybe they still are.

Disobedience is a film that finds its strength in the quiet moments and in the lead performances. But it’s also a film that left me with a sense of unease regarding its protrayal of both queerness and of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The film poster showing Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Ronit (Rachel Weisz) kissing.
Continue reading

Self/less (2015)

Self/less
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley, Victor Garber, Derek Luke, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Melora Hardin, Michelle Dockery
Seen on: 14.5.2020

Plot:
Damian (Ben Kingsley) has led a hugely successful life, regretting only that he is estranged from his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery). Now he is old, rich and dying. But he doesn’t feel ready to die just yet, so he is happy when he discovers Albright (Matthew Goode), a scientist who promises that he can have a new, freshly grown body and start all over again. Damian agrees to the procedure. When he wakes up, his body (Ryan Reynolds) lives up to all of his dreams. As he gets used to it, though, he also keeps getting haunted by dreams and nightmares that appear to him more real than they have any right to be.

Self/less is a decent film. Nothing here says greatness, but it isn’t bad either. It is like a case study for solid entertainment of a kind that has gotten rarer in recent years as budgets have grown and shrunk, leaving few players in the middle of the field.

The film poster showing older Damian (Ben Kingsley) and younger Damian (Ryan Reynolds) lying on slabs in front of medical machinery.
Continue reading