Leise flehen meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (1933)

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Mártha Eggerth, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Anna Kallina
Seen on: 08.02.2021

Plot:
Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) makes his living as a school teacher, but he is barely scraping by and always dreams of making music. When he has to pawn one of his instruments just to get by, pawn shop worker Emmi (Luise Ullrich) takes a shine to him. And Franz seems to like her, too. But right when his career seems to take a turn and he gets the chance to play at an important soiree, he crushes all hopes when he is unable to keep his temper in check when somebody in the audience laughs during his piece. Franz has to accept a teaching position in the country to make his living, a position with none other but the young woman in the audience who laughed at him – Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth).

Leise flehen meine Lieder is a very romantic take on a story that probably wasn’t as romantic. It works with music beautifully and I liked it.

The film poster showing a woman, could be either Emmi (Luise Ulrich) or Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth), leaning against a pillar as Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) plays the piano.
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Ich oder du (1984)

Ich oder du [literally: I or You]
Director: Dieter Berner
Writer: Dieter Berner, Peter Mazzuchelli
Cast: Beate Finckh, Hansi Lang, Karl Kröpfl, Johannes Weidinger, Wolfgang Ambros, Hilde Berger, Bobby Prem, Helmut Vinaccia, Rainer Egger
Seen on: 7.2.2021

Content Note: domestic violence, abuse

Plot:
Christina (Beate Finckh) is dating Robert (Hansi Lang), a singer of local renoun. But he is volatile – addicted to drugs and prone to violence. It seems to come as no surprise that Christina feels also drawn to Franz (Karl Kröpfl) who appears Robert’s opposite in every way: a young farmer to Robert’s city flair, he is much more grounded. Franz is also smitten with Christina. But whether Robert and Christina can give each other up so easily is a different question.

Ich oder du is an exhausting film that seems mostly built around Hansi Lang (a rather famous-at-the-time-and-place musician) and his star appeal – and I have to say that he didn’t appeal all that much to me, and so the film did neither.

The film poster showing Robert (Hansi Lang) and several film stills arranged like the photos from a photobooth.
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Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

Rebecca is a novel by Daphne du Maurier.
Finished on: 6.2.2021

Plot:
Working as a companion to Mrs van Hopper has brought the unnamed protagonist to Monte Carlo where Mrs van Hopper spies Maxim de Winter, whose somewhat tragic story precedes him: he is a widower and lives at the grand estate of Manderley, now all alone. Mrs van Hopper arranges a meeting with Maxim de Winter which also introduces the protagonist to him. When Mrs van Hopper falls ill, the protagonist and Maxim de Winter start to spend more time with each other and finally he asks her to marry him. But living in Manderley, where the shadow of Maxim’s deceased wife Rebecca hangs over everything and her housekeeper Mrs Danvers makes sure it doesn’t leave, proves quite a challenge for them.

I’ve been meaning to read Rebecca for a while, and despite its renown I actually managed to stay spoiler-free – which was a good thing. But even if I had known more about how things would go down, I doubt that I would have been any less engaged in the book. Rebecca is a classic for a reason, a hypnotic novel that doesn’t let go of you easily.

The book cover showing a drawing of a young woman in front of a huge estate.
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Misspelled (ed. by Julie E. Czerneda)

Misspelled is a short story collection edited by Julie E. Czerneda.
Finished on: 5.2.2021

Misspelled is an anthology with stories all about spells that go wrong somehow. The stories are all humorous in tone, but, as usual, not all of them work equally well. Each story in this collection is introduced by a narrator who also comments on it at the end – a bit like an MC. I found that a little irritating, but not so much that it actually bothered me. Overall, the collection didn’t blow me away, though I liked more stories than I didn’t like.

The books cover showing a young woman leaning on a stone table with a key on it, with a kind of lens-flare effect over the image that includes a couple of ghostly figures.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Salir del ropero [So My Grandma’s a Lesbian] (2019)

Salir del ropero
Director: Ángeles Reiné
Writer: Ángeles Reiné
Cast: Rosa Maria Sardà, Verónica Forqué, Ingrid García Jonsson, David Verdaguer, Candela Peña, Mónica López, Pol Monen, Alex O’Dogherty, Leander Vyvey, Liz Lobato, Maria Caballero
Seen on: 5.2.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) is just about to get married to Stuart (Leander Vyvey) who comes from a very rich and very conservative family. So when Eva hears that her grandmother Sofia (Verónica Forqué) wants to get married to her best friend Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà), Eva sees her wedding and her happiness threatened. She decides to return to Lanzarote and to talk some sense into her grandmother, keep her from getting married and thus causing an uproar and saving her union with Stuart. That’s easier said than done, though.

Salir del ropero is okay. It leans a little too hard on some of its comedic aspects, and puts the focus on Eva instead of Sofia and Celia, but it does have sweet moments.

The film poster showing Sofia (Verónica Forqué) and her granddaughter Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) on one side, and Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà) and her son Jorge (David Verdaguer) on the other. Eva and Jorge seem to be pushing them apart.
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Bride for Rent (2014)

Bride for Rent
Director: Mae Czarina Cruz
Writer: Charlene Grace Bernardo, Carmi Raymundo
Cast: Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Pilita Corrales, Empoy Marquez, Martin del Rosario, Tirso Cruz III, Dennis Padilla, Matt Evans, Lloyd Zaragoza, Zeppi Borromeo, Eda Nolan, Gerald Pesigan
Seen on: 02.02.2021

Content Note: a couple of transmisic and fatmisic jokes, but not central to the story

Plot:
Rocco (Xian Lim) can’t wait for the day he turns 25 and will finally get access to the trust fund his grandmother (Pilita Corrales) is taking care of for him. Rocco is living a life of leisure, parties and women and he intends to keep it that way with the money. But his Lala has other plans: she puts a stipulation into the contract that Rocco can only get to the money if he gets married. Rocco and his friends come up with the plan to hire an actress for the role of his wife and deceive his grandmother just long enough to get the money. Enter Rocky (Kim Chiu), a struggling actress from a poor family, hoping to make it big. Even though she feels slightly uncomfortable with the part, she can’t say no to the money. That she has a bit of a crush on Rocco is a bonus. But things quickly become more complicated.

Bride for Rent is a sweet RomCom with a couple of questionable jokes, but overall a fun watch with a nice emotional core.

The film poster showing Rocky (Kim Chiu) with a bridal veil and a big ring, and Rocco (Xian Lim) hugging her with a slightly uncomfortable facial expression.
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The Bye Bye Man (2017)

The Bye Bye Man
Director: Stacy Title
Writer: Jonathan Penner
Based on: Robert Damon Schneck‘s short story/chapter The Bridge to Body Island
Cast: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Jenna Kanell, Erica Tremblay, Marisa Echeverria, Cleo King, Faye Dunaway, Carrie-Anne Moss, Leigh Whannell
Seen on: 31.1.2021

Plot:
Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and their friend John (Lucien Laviscount) decided to move off-campus together. They found a big house that meets their requirements and are excited for this next step into adulthood. But once they move in, strange things start happening. Sasha’s friend Kim (Jenna Kanell), who is a medium, feels a presence and the friends start to grow suspicious of each other. And then Elliot finds a strange name etched into the nightstand drawer: The Bye Bye Man.

The Bye Bye Man opens strongly and then loses a bit of its verve and momentum as it continues. In the end, the okay outweighs the good, but I have definitely seen worse films.

The film poster showing the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones) - a hooded figure whose face you can't see - with the words "Don't think it. Don't say it." repeated all over his body.
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Thirteen (2003)

Thirteen
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed
Cast: Nikki Reed, Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Brady Corbet, Sarah Clarke, Vanessa Hudgens, Jeremy Sisto, Deborah Kara Unger
Seen on: 31.1.2021

Plot:
Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) just started 7th grade and is desperate to fit in. She sets her sight on Evie (Nikki Reed), widely known as the prettiest girl in school. Evie is a wild child who basks in Tracy’s attention and also takes to Tracy’s mother Mel (Holly Hunter). The two girls become inseparable, Tracy quickly discovering drugs and sex through Evie and both egging each other on, as things spiral out of control.

Thirteen is an excellent debut feature for both Hardwicke and Reed that feels like a debut in every frame – but in the best sense, filled with an energy and wildness that mirrors the central characters.

The film poster showing Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Evie (Nikki Reed) sticking out their tongues to show off their tongue piercings.
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The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Tim McCanlies, Brad Bird, Brent Forrester
Based on: Ted Hughes‘ novel The Iron Man
Cast: Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Vin Diesel, James Gammon, Cloris Leachman, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, M. Emmet Walsh
Seen on: 27.1.2021

Plot:
Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) is a bright, curious child, prone to adopting critters and with a love of everything SciFi. His single mother Annie (Jennifer Aniston) has her hands full with him and with work. One night, Hogarth sees something weird in the forest next to his house and goes to investigate. What he finds is a giant metal robot from outer space in some distress, and Hogarth can’t just walk away – he helps. But a robot of its size is bound to draw attention – and not every attention is good.

I missed The Iron Giant when it came out and it had been on my watchlist ever since (that hasn’t kept me from using the ever useful “ART” gif). I finally made it, and I’m glad I did. It’s a really sweet, fun film with very nice animation.

The film poster showing the Iron Giant, a huge robot, standing in a forest, cradling Hogarth in his hands.
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Moffie (2019)

Moffie
Director: Oliver Hermanus
Writer: Oliver Hermanus, Jack Sidey
Based on: Andre Carl van der Merwe‘s autobiographical novel
Cast: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Matthew Vey, Stefan Vermaak, Wynand Ferreira, Rikus Terblanche, Ludwig Baxter, Hendrik Nieuwoudt, Nicholas Van Jaarsveldt, Hilton Pelser
Seen on: 26.1.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, abuse / hazing, racism

Plot:
It’s 1981 and Sout Africa is at war with Angola. Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) is about to start his two-year compulsory military service. He and the other recruits quickly fall into a rhythm of physical and psychological punishment and abuse – in other words, military training. Nicholas finds a friend in Sachs (Matthew Vey) whose political views make the service extra hard for him. But it is to Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) that Nicholas feels inexorably drawn. His feelings are returned, but nobody can know – the rampant homomisia in the army is everywhere and the punishment for getting caught is very harsh.

Much like its title promises – the South African version of f***ot – Moffie is a brutal film that shows us a brutal world and sugarcoating none of it. It is very good at what it does, but you have to steel yourself for it.

The film poster showing Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) in military uniform, looking straight at the camera.
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