The Devil All the Time (2020)

The Devil All the Time
Director: Antonio Campos
Writer: Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos
Based on: Donald Ray Pollock‘s novel
Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Haley Bennett, Sebastian Stan, Kristin Griffith, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Harry Melling, Eliza Scanlen, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska
Seen on: 18.9.2022

Content Note: domestic violence, rape, suicide, animal death

Arvin (Tom Holland) grew up in rural Ohio, shaped by religion, poverty and the tragic story of his parents, war veteran Willard (Bill Skarsgård) and the love of his life, Charlotte (Haley Bennett). After they both die when Arvin is still very young, he grows up with his grandmother (Kristin Griffith) and her adoptive daughter Lenora (Eliza Scanlen). Arvin is desperate to protect Lenora from the world – like his father couldn’t protect his mother. But the world is harsh and protecting isn’t easy.

The Devil All the Time is a movie all about how women die like fleas, and how hard that is for the men. It’s suffocating in its misery and in the end, one can’t help but wonder what the point of all this is.

The film poster showing an arrangement of the main characters in hues of brown and orange over an animal skull.
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The Tower of the Swallow (Andrzej Sapkowski)

The Tower of the Swallow is the fourth novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by David French (not the playwright).
Finished on: 18.9.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other Witcher novels.]

Content Note: sexualized violence

Vysogota, an old hermit living a lonely life in the swamps, stumbles upon an injured girl – Ciri, as it turns out. As he nurses her back to health, she hesitantly starts to tell him her story and what brought her to his swamp and who injured her. Meanwhile, Geralt – accompanied by Regis, Milva and Cahir – is trying to find the druids in the hopes that they can let him know about Ciri’s whereabouts. Time seems to be running out as he is plagued by ominous dreams about her. But the druids have fled from the war and aren’t easy to find.

The Tower of the Swallow started well, but it kind of kept losing me in the end, and I was rather confused by a few things that I feel don’t make sense. In any case, I will finish the series now, but I have lost hope that I will really like it (apart from the first short story collection that led me on this reading journey to begin with).

The book cover showing the silhouette of a howling wolf. Inside the silhouette is a tower with large birds flying around it.
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Grossstadtgeflüster [German] played an open-air concert in the Arena in Vienna.
Seen on: 16.9.2022

I saw Grossstadtgeflüster (also open-air in the Arena) a few years ago and it was a great show, so I was happy to get tickets for this show – for May 2020. We all know what happened then. It took until this month for the show to actually happen – but I’d say that the wait definitely paid off. It was an awesome concert and party, and since the whole thing happened open-air (and the rain had stopped by the time they came on stage), it was even a worry-free experience for me despite the great number of people there. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them again sometime.

The band sitting on a picnic table in a park - two men and a woman.
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Rubikon (2022)

Director: Magdalena Lauritsch
Writer: Magdalena Lauritsch, Jessica Lind, Elisabeth Schmied
Cast: Julia Franz Richter, George Blagden, Mark Ivanir
Seen on: 16.9.2022

Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) and Gavin (Georve Blagden) are sent to the Rubikon, a space station floating above earth and home of the algae experiments of Dimitri Krylow (Mark Ivanir) – humanity’s hope to regain control of the air and the climate down on Earth. Hannah and Gavin are replacing some other crew members, but there is more to their reasons for coming to Rubikon. Shortly after they arrive though, something happens on Earth. Communication is lost and a fog covers more and more of the planet.

I was pretty excited for Rubikon: Austrian Science Fiction, made by a woman no less, and judging from the trailer it looked really good. And all of these things are definitely true, but I found the script a little underwhelming, leaving me not quite as excited about the film going out as I was going in.

The film poster showing Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) wearing a space suit. The Earth is reflected in her visor, with a red fog covering a lot of it.
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The Princess (2022)

The Princess
Director: Le-Van Kiet
Writer: Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton
Cast: Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, Veronica Ngo, Katelyn Rose Downey, Alex Reid, Ed Stoppard, Kristofer Kamiyasu
Seen on: 14.9.2022

The Princess (Joey King) wakes up in a room at the top of the castle tower. She is wearing a wedding dress and chains. Slowly she realises that Julius (Dominic Cooper), king of the neighboring country, is in the middle of a coup and her family is in grave danger. But The Princess is not as easy a victim as Julius has probably imagined. She takes up her sword and will fight her way to her family and save her kingdom. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

The Princess is a fun action film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It does think it is more feminist than it is, but that’s pretty much its biggest flaw. Other than that it is done well enough to give us an entertaining 90 minutes.

The film poster showing the Princess (Joey King) crouched with a sword in hand.
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Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Three Thousand Years of Longing
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Augusta Gore
Based on: A. S. Byatt‘s short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba
Seen on: 13.9.2022

Content Note: orientalism, fatmisia, ableism

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a narratologist, studying the meaning and function of stories. She travels to Istanbul for a convention where she finds an old bottle at the market. She buys it as a souvenir. When she tries to clean it, she can’t believe it when an actual Djinn (Idris Elba) comes out of the bottle. He needs her to make three wishes. She knows how the stories about wishing end up, that they’re all cautionary tales. So the Djinn tries to convince her by sharing his life story.

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a beautiful, romantic fairy tale that I found honestly engaging and incredibly lovely despite its orientalism and a sequence of fetishizing fatness.

The film poster showing the Djinn (Idris Elba) standing behind Alithea (Tilda swinton), surrounded by carious characters from the film.
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Sonne [Sun] (2022)

Director: Kurdwin Ayub
Writer: Kurdwin Ayub
Cast: Melina Benli, Law Wallner, Maya Wopienka, Thomas Momcinovic, Marlene Hauser, Lia Wilfing, Margarete Tiesel
Seen on: 13.9.2022

Yesmin (Melina Benli), Bella (Law Wallner) and Nati (Maya Wopienka) are best friends. On a bored afternoon, they shoot a music video to Losing My Religion using the hijabs of Yesmin’s mother. The video goes a bit viral, and the three girls rise to celebrity in the local muslim community, asked to perform at various events. But Yesmin – the only one of them who actually wears a hijab – grows increasingly uncomfortable with the situation and her friends’ behavior.

Sonne is Ayub’s fictional debut and proves her great talent. The film is creative and funny, but also serious and insightful about the situation of diasporic Kurds, especially young women. I was really impressed by it.

The film poster showing Yesmin (Melina Benli), Bella (Law Wallner) and Nati (Maya Wopienka) singing.
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The Craft: Legacy (2020)

The Craft: Legacy
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Writer: Zoe Lister-Jones
Sequel to/Reboot of: The Craft
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny, Michelle Monaghan, Nicholas Galitzine, Julian Grey, Charles Vandervaart, Donald MacLean Jr., Fairuza Balk
Seen on: 11.9.2022

Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) have always been a team. Now that Helen has met Adam (David Duchovny) and fallen in love, they are moving to a new town together so Helen can be with him. For Lily, it may be a chance to start over socially. Instead she has a rather mortifying start at school and is immediately teased by Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine). But her classmates Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon) and Tabby (Lovie Simone) show her some kindness. What Lily doesn’t know yet: the three girls are witches looking for a fourth to complete their coven. And they may just have found that in Lily.

The Craft: Legacy is more an update of the original Craft film than a sequel, and I have to say that it is an update that I appreciated a lot since it rectifies some of the (narrative) mistakes that the first movie made. I really enjoyed it.

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Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Resident Evil: Afterlife
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on: the video game series
Sequel to: Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Boris Kodjoe, Kim Coates, Spencer Locke, Sienna Guillory, Kacey Clarke, Norman Yeung, Fulvio Cecere
Seen on: 10.9.2022

Alice (Milla Jovovich) is still on her mission against the Umbrella Corporation. When she has finally dealt them a harsh blow, she heads to Arcadia, supposed safe haven, to catch up with her friends. But instead of paradise, she finds Claire (Ali Larter) in a bad state and with some amnesia. Returning to LA, they receive a call for help from a group sheltering in place in an abandoned prison, surrounded by zombies. The group does have news about Arcadia, but no way out. Unless the mysterious prisoner Chris (Wentworth Miller) speaks the truth. But can they risk it?

Resident Evil: Afterlife is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from this movie series. That is: it’s okay, but not great, with some good action and some questionable narrative choices. But to really love the movies, you’ll probably have to have played the games and I didn’t.

The film poster showing Alice (Milla Jovovich, with two guns pointing upwards. It's raining.
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Straight Line Crazy

Straight Line Crazy
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: David Hare
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Siobhán Cullen, Samuel Barnett, Alisha Bailey, Danny Webb, Alana Maria, Helen Schlesinger
Seen on: 8.9.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) is a city planner, and an ambitious one to boot. When he has a plan, he will do everything to see it made reality, and he is usually successful. Starting his career with pissing off the rich folk on Long Island, making the island accessible to the poor people of New York, his career later turns to plowing down “slums” and disregarding the Black community. But when it comes to Washington Square, his methods may finally catch up to him.

Straight Line Crazy is a powerful portrait of a thoroughly despicable man. While that’s always very good, it’s not always particularly entertaining.

The production poster showing Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) standing with arms crossed over his chest. Behind him is a photo of the New York City skyline.
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