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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Die Flut (Ulrike Schmitzer)

Die Flut is a novella by Ulrike Schmitzer. As far as I know, it hasn’t been translated, but the title means The Flood.
Finished on: 12.4.2018

Plot:
Red mud has flooded the land, covering pretty much everything. Any human who touches it, turns black, as if coated in paint. Fearing an epidemic, that the blackness might spread, not knowing whether it has an effect apart from the change in looks, hard measures are being taken to control and quarantine the affected. In this situation, a farmer is looking for his grandson. And he has to hurry – not just because the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for everybody, but also because his skin has started to change and if anybody realizes that, he’ll be in big trouble.

Die Flut is a slim volume and gives us a taste of a very unusual worldbuilding and a generally interesting writer. It’s the first thing I read by Schmitzer, but I’ll be sure to check out what else she’s done.

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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Polly Findlay
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Niamh Cusack, Luke Newberry, Raphael Sowole, Edward Bennett, David Acton, Mariam Haque
Seen on: 11.4.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Christopher Eccleston) and Banquo (Raphael Sowole) just fought successfully for King Duncan (David Acton) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Niamh Cusack) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This take on Macbeth is interesting and mostly well done, but it doesn’t work in all regards, ultimately turning out weaker than I had hoped and expected from Findlay.

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The Death of Stalin (2017)

The Death of Stalin
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writer: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows
Based on: Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin’s graphic novel La Mort de Staline
Cast: Adrian McLoughlin, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Brooke, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough
Seen on: 11.4.2018

Plot:
1953 in Moscow. Josef Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) has been in power for decades. But now he suddenly dies, leaving a power vacuum that demands to be filled. His right hand men, the Council of Ministers, try to strike the balance between appearing to grieve, not panicking and grabbing for power. Lavrentia Beria (Simon Russell Beale) and Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) quickly become the heads of the biggest two camps in that fight.

I wanted to like The Death of Stalin more than I actually did. It’s well made, of that there’s no doubt, but I was partly very uncomfortable about the jokes they cracked that I felt made light of things nobdy should make light of.

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Annihilation (2018)

Annihiliation
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Based on: Jeff VanderMeer’s novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac
Seen on: 7.4.2018

Plot:
Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) joins a mission into Area X, an area where nature shows strange behavior that nobody is able to explain, after her husband (Oscar Isaac) went missing there. The expedition, led by Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is supposed to find out more. Anything they can, really. The five women – Lena, Dr Ventress, Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and Cass (Tuva Novotny) – set off and are soon faced with phenomena that are even stranger than anticipated.

I was very excited about Annihilation, having recently read the books and loved them and having mostly enjoyed Garland’s previous films. But I have to admit that Annihilation was a bit of a let-down for me. It might have been different if I hadn’t read the books, but I’m not sure.

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The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

The Hate U Give is a novel by Angie Thomas.
Finished on: 7.4.2018

Plot:
Starr lives in the rather poor, mostly black neighborhood of Garden Heights. But she has been attending the richer, white prep school a little outside of Garden Heights for a while, so she has been out of touch a lot with her childhood friends. So when she attends a party in Garden Heights and she runs into her former best friend Khalil, she is overjoyed. When the police come to break up their party, Khalil gives Starr a ride home. And then the police stop them for a traffic check – an encounter that Khalil doesn’t survive: he is shot by the police officer. Starr is left traumatized and the only witness – and she has to figure out how to deal with both facts.

The Hate U Give is an impressive book – a vibrant story with great characters and many small, important and big, important details that dissect racial relations and racism in the USA way beyond police killings of black people.

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Die letzte Party deines Lebens [Party Hard Die Young] (2018)

Die letzte Party deines Lebens
Director: Dominik Hartl
Writer: Robert Buchschwenter, Karin Lomot
Cast: Elisabeth Wabitsch, Marlon Boess, Markus Freistätter, Michael Glantschnig, Valerie Huber, Antonia Moretti, Hisham Morscher, Thomas Otrok, Chantal Pausch, Alexandra Schmidt, Ferdinand Seebacher, Fabian Unger, Nikolaas von Schrader, Edita Malovcic, Michael Ostrowski
Seen on: 5.4.2018

Plot:
Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch) and her classmates have finished school and as is increasingly common in Austria, that means that they’re packing their bags and heading for a week long party trip on an island off the coast of Croatia. It’s supposed to be a week of drinking, bathing and partying. Instead things turn sideways very quickly and Julia’s classmates start dying.

Die letzte Party deines Lebens is a classic teenie slasher that, unfortunately, has nothing much to recommend it. I was hoping for more from director Hartl.

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Acceptance (Jeff VanderMeer)

Acceptance is the third novel in The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.
Finished on: 4.4.2018
[Here are my reviews of the other two books in the trilogy.]

Plot:
Area X is still as much of a mystery as it ever was. But there is hope in one final expedition to at least gain some insight. Or stop the Area from growing. Or maybe the answers lie in the past of the Area, in the time where the lighthouse was still being taken care of and the Southern Reach didn’t exist yet.

Acceptance is an excellent conclusion, or rather lack of conclusion for the trilogy that ends as weird as it started.

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The Mercy (2018)

The Mercy
Director: James Marsh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Cast: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Buchan, Simon McBurney, Ken Stott
Seen on: 3.4.2018

Plot:
Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) is an inventor and a dreamer. He hasn’t always had the best luck with his business, but he still dreams big. When he hears about a race to sail alone around the world without stopping, amateur sailor Donald decides to go for it, hoping that the cash prize will finally mean financial security. He throws everything he has and more at the project, designing his own boat and getting ready. But everything takes longer than he planned and despite the problems and the increasing worries of his wife (Rachel Weisz) and children, Donald sets off delayed and with an unfinished boat to try and win anyway.

The Mercy is an impressive film with a stellar cast and a healthy dose of criticism of the “if you just work it hard enough, you can have it all” notion. It’s tough to watch but mostly worth it.

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I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Steven Rogers
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Julianne Nicholson, Paul Walter Hauser, Bobby Cannavale, Bojana Novakovic, Caitlin Carver, Mckenna Grace
Seen on: 3.4.2018

Plot:
Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) has trained all her life to become a figure skater, her mother Lavona (Allison Janney) always pushing her. But Tonya is seen as not refined enough by many people in the community. Nevertheless, Tonya manages to fight her way to some success. Her husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan) wants to see Tonya succeed at least as much as she does. When Tonya’s competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Catilin Carver) is attacked, suspicions fall on Tonya and Jeff.

I, Tonya is a strong film that tells a jawdropping story and showcases, once again, Robbie’s talent. It is a little uneven, but most of the time, it works extremely well.

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