Pirmdzimtais [Firstborn] (2017)

Pirmdzimtais
Director: Aik Karapetian
Writer: Aik Karapetian
Cast: Maija Doveika, Kaspars Znotins, Dainis Grube, Kaspars Zale
Seen on: 28.6.2019
[Screener Review.]

Plot:
Katrina (Maija Doveika) and Francis (Kaspars Znotins) have been a couple for a while and things can be a little tense between them. When they are assaulted by a biker (Kaspars Zale), they are both pretty shellshocked. Katrina turns to a police officer for help, leaving Francis feeling inadequate: he couldn’t stop the assault in the first place and now he isn’t even good enough to help afterwards. Determined to prove his worth, he seeks out the biker himself, but their confrontation goes differently than planned.

Firstborn has a strong first half, but then lost me in the second half, unfortunately, when it becomes muddled, confusing and a little boring. But there’s a lot of material for thought about masculinity in the film, so that’s something.

The film poster showing Maija Doveika and Kaspars Znotins.
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Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.
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Camp Death III in 2D! (2018)

Camp Death III in 2D!
Director: Matt Frame
Writer: Matt Frame
Cast: Dave Peniuk, Angela Galanopoulos, Darren Andrichuk, Emma Docker, Chris Allen, Starlise Waschuk, Terry mullett, Cynthia Chalmers, Gerald Gerald Geraldson, Hans Potter, Katherine Alpen, Jason Asuncion, Andrea Bang
Seen on: 6.1.2019
[Screener review.]

Plot:
Camp Crystal Meph was the scene of a horrific bloodbath by the killer Johann Van Damme (Terry mullett). But a few years later, Todd (Dave Peniuk) is ready to give it another try. His uncle Mel (Darren Andrichuk) owns the camp ground and Todd has set up a new camp concept. Together with his camp counselors Rachel (Angela Galanopoulos) and Barry (Chris Allen), they are ready to welcome their group. But soon after their arrival, people start dying – again -, murderous squirrels run wild and nobody has any clue what is actually happening

Camp Death III in 2D! is a parody of Friday the 13th Part III in 3D that has some nicely silly ideas, but unfortunately overdoes it a lot of the times. Plus, it is just so ableist that I really wanted to scream.

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Ballon [Balloon] (2018)

Ballon
Director: Michael Herbig
Writer: Kit Hopkins, Thilo Röscheisen, Michael Herbig
Cast: Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross, Alicia von Rittberg, Thomas Kretschmann, Jonas Holdenrieder, Tilman Döbler
Seen on: 6.10.2018
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Plot:
Peter (Friedrich Mücke) and Doris Strelzyk (Karoline Schuch) live in the GDR with their family, as do Günter (David Kross) and Petra Wenzel (Alicia von Rittberg). They would all like to leave the GDR, but exit is severely limited and they don’t have the right connections to get an exit visa. When they have the idea to fly across the border to West Germany in a home-made hot air balloon, they start the work. But their activities are noted by Seidel (Thomas Kretschmann) whose job it is to hunt down people who try to flee. And he is very good at it.

Ballon is an exciting, tense film that makes the repression in the GDR very tangible. I was surprised to get a film like this from Herbig who I only know as a comedy director – but it was in no way a bad surprise.

The film poster showing balloon silk burning.
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Venom (2018)

Venom
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Based on: David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane‘s comics character
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson, Peggy Lu
Seen on: 5.10.2018
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Plot:
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a journalist and he loves to dig deep. When he gets the chance to interview Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who runs a huge tech company, he can’t resist asking some hard questions. But that choice leads for his entire life to explode around him – he loses his job and his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). A year later, he is still reeling – and still obsessed with Drake. So when he gets a chance to take another dig at him, he does – and that brings him in touch with one of Drake’s projects: Venom, an alien who hitches a ride in his body.

Venom was a lot more fun than I expected. It’s not necessarily a good film, but it is definitely entertaining and very enjoyable.

The film poster showing Tom Hardy's face, half of which is an Alien with a huge eye and a mouth with sharp teeth.
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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Cast: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Joana Ribeiro, Jordi Mollà, Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgård, Jason Watkins, Paloma Bloyd, Óscar Jaenada, Will Keen
Seen on: 5.10.2018
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Plot:
Toby (Adam Driver) is a director who is trying to shoot Don Quixote in the Spanish countryside. He actually attempted this before when he was a film student – and when he stumbles upon a copy of the film he made back then. He is inspired to track down the two key actors of the film, the shoemaker who played Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) as well as his Dulcinea, played by Angelica (Joana Ribeiro). But when he discovers that the shoemaker is still convinced that he really is Don Quixote and that Toby is Sancho Panza, Toby is roped into quite an adventure.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was 25 years in the making and Gilliam fought hard to have it made. Having seen it now, I wonder whether it was worth the fight. It has its moments, but those really aren’t enough to make the film work.

The film poster showing a giant hand on which a couple of figures are standing in front of a windmill. Above it is a collage of the main characters of the film.
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The Nun (2018)

The Nun
Director: Corin Hardy
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Prequel to/Spin-Off from: The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor
Seen on: 4.10.2018
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Plot:
After the suicide of a nun there, Father Burke (Demián Bichir), an exorcist weighed down by his past, is sent to Romania to investigate her suicide and to figure out if something more is going on. By his side is the novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who had visions that might relate to the incident. As they arrive at the convent in the middle of nowhere, they find that there is more to the suicide and to the convent itself than they had anticipated.

As a fan of the Insidious and Conjuring movies, I wanted to see The Nun, but I have to admit that it can’t quite keep up with this films. It’s an okay horror film, but I just expected a little more.

The film poster showing a young nun in white, but the image is torn across her face, revealing the creepy face of a nun in black behind her.
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Artefacts and Other Stories (Rebecca Burns)

Artefacts and Other Stories is a short story collection by Rebecca Burns.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 3.10.2018

Artefacts and Other Stories is a decent short story collection. It’s not amazing, but there are some good stories in there. The collection could have profited from a little more variation between stories and a little more narrative within the stories. But mostly, it’s okay.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Der Besuch der alten Dame [The Visit]

Der Besuch der alten Dame
Director: Frank Hoffmann
Writer: Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Cast: Maria Happel, Rolf Mautz, Hans Dieter Knebel, Burghart Klaußner, Petra Morzé, Roland Koch, Dietmar König, Daniel Jesch, Marcus Kiepe, Michael Abendroth, Harald Retschitzegger, Franz Schöffthaler, Peter Nitsche
Seen on: 1.10.2018

Plot:
Claire Zachanassian (Maria Happel) returns to her hometown of Güllen for the first time in decades. She had to leave the town in shame, betrayed by her lover. But she rose from the ashes, married rich and now she has a plan to get revenge on everybody who ever wronged her – especially her ex.

Der Besuch der alten Dame seems to be a good play, but this production of it really didn’t work. They managed to have a comedy where I could see the funny bits and yet I never laughed. That’s really a problem.

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Indecision (Caragh Bell)

Indecision is a novel by Caragh Bell. It’s the first in the Follow Your Heart series.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 30.9.2018

Plot:
Lydia loves her boyfriend Dominic with whom she’s been quite a long time already. When she moves away to do a Master’s degree, the separation isn’t easy to take. Plus, there’s Luca right there beside her: gorgeous, flirty, American, he is as intriguing to her as he is off-limits. But the effect he has on her makes her start to question her life’s decisions so far.

Indecision, unfortunately, didn’t work for me. It was badly written and full of unlikable and/or clichéd characters. I found it an exhausting read.

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