The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts is a novel by M.R. Carey (aka Mike Carey).
Finished on: 21.8.2016

Melanie has a very regular life. She gets up in the morning, gets dressed, sits herself down in her chair and waits to be strapped down by the soldiers lead by Sergeant Parks. When her legs, arms and head are secure, she is rolled to class together with the other children. Her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau who sometimes tells them stories. But her routine is destroyed when she is first carted off by Dr. Caldwell who wants to perform some kind of surgery on her – and then the military base she lives at is overrun by hungries. And suddenly Melanie finds her life turned upside down – and she has to learn the truth about her world and herself.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a wonderful novel. Gripping plot, vivid characters and a take on zombie lore that feels entirely fresh and new. Simply lovely.


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Meine Tochter nicht [Not My Daughter] (2010)

Meine Tochter nicht
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Konstanze Breitebner
Cast: Lisa Martinek, Bernhard Schir, Nikola Rudle, Christopher Schärf, Mercedes Echerer, Karl Fischer, Raimund Wallisch, Max SchmiedlHary Prinz, Gerhard Liebmann, Sissy Höfferer
Seen on: 20.8.2016

Maria (Lisa Martinek) and Paul Hofer (Bernhard Schir) have a great life – and a wonderful daughter in Nadja (Nikola Rudle). But shortly after Nadja’s sixteenth birthday, trouble arrives in the form of Nadja’s boyfriend Robi (Christopher Schärf). He is older and obviously from a social background that is nowhere near the Hofer’s lifestyle. But worst of all: Robi takes drugs – and he starts to drag Nadja into his addiction, despite her parents’ desperate attempts to keep her safe.

Meine Tochter nicht comes with a strong cast and hits some notes very accurately, but unfortunately loses almost all points in its resolution of the story and its moralizing tone.


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Das Floß! [Floating!] (2015)

Das Floß!
Director: Julia C. Kaiser
Writer: Julia C. Kaiser
Cast: Julia Becker, Anna König, Jakob Renger, Till ButterbachRhon Diels, Christian Natter, Nina Bernards, Sina Bianca Hentschel
Seen on: 20.8.2016

Katha (Julia Becker) and Jana (Anna König) are about to get married. Before marriage, though, comes the bachelorette party. Katha is dragged off by her best friend Charly (Till Buterbach) to spend the weekend on a float on a river with her little brother Tobi (Christian Natter), her friend Ken (Rhon Diels) and – much to her dismay – with Momo (Jakbo Renger) as well, the guy who is about to donate his sperm so Katha and Jana can have a baby and with whom Katha doesn’t really want to have anything to do outside of the donating. Meanwhile Jana is partying at home with her friends and has to confront another unwanted guest: her ex-girlfriend Susan (Nina Bernards).

Das Floß! is entertaining enough, though it didn’t entirely blow me away. At least it’s a refreshingly modern take on some old tropes.

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Julieta (2016)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Based on: three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro
Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana UgartePriscilla DelgadoBlanca Parés, Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner, Pilar Castro, Nathalie Poza
Seen on: 17.8.2016

Julieta (Emma Suárez) has plans to leave the country with her boyfriend Lorenzo (Darío Grandinetti). But just before they leave, she coincidentally meets Bea (Michelle Jenner) who used to be her daughter’s Antía (Priscilla Delgado) best friend. And Bea tells her that she met Antía by chance. Suddenly Julieta cancels all plans for her future and decides to confront her past instead: how she met Xoan (Daniel Grao) when she was a young woman (Adriana Ugarte); how she lived with her daughter and how things changed when Antía grew up (Blanca Parés).

It’s been a while that I genuinely liked an Almodóvar film and, unfortunately, Julieta does not mark a change in that particular trend, as much as I wanted to like it.

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Mother’s Day (2016)

Mother’s Day
Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker, Tom Hines
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Shay MitchellJason Sudeikis, Julia RobertsHector Elizondo, Kate Hudson, Margo Martindale, Aasif Mandvi, Robert Pine, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito, Jennifer Garner, Britt Robertson, Jack Whitehall, Jon Lovitz, Penny Marshall
Seen on: 16.8.2016

Mothers come in many shapes and forms. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is really good at being divorced from Henry (Timothy Olyphant): they get along better now than they ever did before. That is, until Henry tells her that he has a new girlfriend (Shay Mitchell) who is much younger. Meanwhile, sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are both happy in their respective partnerships and with the distance that lies between them and their parents (Margo Martindale, Robert Pine) – who don’t know that Jesse’s partner (Aasif Mandvi) is of Indian descent and that Gabi’s partner (Cameron Esposito) is a woman. Miranda (Julia Roberts) on the other hand opted out of being a mother and rather focused on her career, while Kristin (Britt Robertson) and Zack (Jack Whitehall) just had a baby, despite being rather young and poor. And Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) has to face the first Mother’s Day with his daughters since his wife passed away.

Mother’s Day was shown in the sneak preview I attended, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it. But I have to admit that it was a rather enjoyable film – even if far from flawless.

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Contact High (2009)

Contact High
Director: Michael Glawogger
Writer: Michael Glawogger, Michael Ostrowski
Sequel to: Nacktschnecken
Cast: Michael Ostrowski, Raimund WallischPia Hierzegger, Georg Friedrich, Detlev BuckHilde Dalik, Alina Pölzl, Jeremy Strong, Anna Frances Dioso
Seen on: 15.8.2016

A spanish drugdealer forgot a bag in Poland, so he asks his partner/employee Harry (Detlev Buck) who works in Vienna to retrieve it for him. Harry passes on the job to Schorsch (Georg Friedrich) who in turn asks Mao (Pia Hierzegger) because he wants to watch the 24 hour Le Mans race. But Mao has to babysit, so she sends Max (Michael Ostrowski) and Johann (Raimund Wallisch) to do it instead. But those two can’t necessarily be trusted, and Harry is anxious to see the bag home safe and sound. While Max and Johann think of the entire thing as a nice adventure and an excellent opportunity to make some much-needed cash, Harry convinces Schorsch to follow them and make sure that they fulfill their mission.

Contact High is often funny and sometimes stronger than Nacktschnecken, but for the most part it’s clearly weaker.

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Puncture (2011)

Director: Adam KassenMark Kassen
Writer: Chris Lopata
Cast: Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Marshall Bell, Brett Cullen, Jesse L. Martin, Vinessa Shaw, Roxanna Hope Radja, Michael Biehn, Kate Burton
Seen on: 14.8.2016

Mike (Chris Evans) and Paul (Mark Kassen) have a law firm together, but their lives are looking very different: while Paul is a settled family man, Mike loves nothing more than to party – with drugs. They meet nurse Vicky (Vinessa Shaw) who contracted HIV/Aids froma patient by way of a needle he stabbed her with, and who introduces them to a safety needle that would make infections like hers impossible but that the hospitals refuse to buy. They know that somebody has to fight on her side. But suing the company who runs the hospitals in the area is a huge undertaking and who knows whether they’ll be able to keep up with it.

Puncture tells a big story, but unfortunately it tells it in such a boring way that I could barely make myself pay attention. Despite Chris Evans in suspenders (and often without a shirt), which is really saying something.

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Schnick Schnack Schnuck (2015)

Schnick Schnack Schnuck [a more or less nonsensical phrase said when playing Rock, Paper, Scissors in German]
Director: Maike Brochhaus
Writer: Maike Brochhaus, Sören Störung
Cast: Felix Anderson, Jana Sue Zuckerberg, Elia Légère, Jenz, Dana, Lotta Habmut, Sören Störung
Seen on: 14.8.2016

Felix (Felix Anderson) and Emmi (Jana Sue Zuckerberg) have been a couple for a while and are rather settled in their ways. When Felix hatches the plan to go to a festival in Amsterdam for the weekend with his friend Kai (Elia Légère), Emmi prepares for a quiet weekend working at home. But things turn out different for the both of them: Instigated by Kai’s sense for (sexual) adventure, he and Felix meet Steffi (Dana) and Anke (Jenz), while Emmi catches up with her old friend Magda (Lotta Habmut) whom she happens to find in a rather explicit online video.

Schnick Schnack Schnuck is pretty much what I think porn should be like. There’s a plot, a very nice sense of humor, interesting characters who have smart conversations and then end up fucking. It’s great.

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Nacktschnecken [Slugs] (2004)

Nacktschnecken [Slugs is the correct translation, but literally it means “naked snails”]
Director: Michael Glawogger
Writer: Michael Glawogger, Michael Ostrowski
Cast: Michael Ostrowski, Raimund Wallisch, Pia Hierzegger, Iva Lukic, Sophia Laggner, Georg Friedrich, Mike Supancic, Brigitte Kren, Christoph Grissemann, Andreas Kiendl, Detlev Buck
Seen on: 14.8.2016

Johann (Raimund Wallisch), Max (Michael Ostrowski) and Mao (Pia Hierzegger) are constantly looking for opportunities to make a little money. While Johann works as a postman, Max simply dreams and Mao occasionally sells drugs. Through that work she meets Schorsch (Georg Friedrich) who tells her that the easiest way to  make some money is to shoot a porn film. Inspired by that, Johann, Max and Mao jump at the chance. They find two women (Iva Lukic, Sophia Laggner) willing to participate, grab a camera and get going. But maybe shooting a porn isn’t quite as easy as they imagined.

Nacktschnecken is a fun film without much pretense at anything else than wanting to be fun. While I couldn’t go along with it all the time, I did enjoy it most of the time.

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Something About You (Julie James)

Something About You is a novel by Julie James, the first in the FBI/US Attorney series, though it can also be read as a standalone.
Finished on: 13.8.2016

Cameron Lynde is a successful US Attorney, a career that brought her a lot of work and stress. When she is told that she can’t stay in her apartment due to some construction work, she decides to splurge and rent a room in one of the more expensive hotels in the city. Unfortunately she ends up next door to a room where a politician is having an affair and ends up dead, with Cameron being the only witness. And who else but FBI agent Jack Pallas is assigned to handle the case. He is an excellent agent, but he and Cameron have a history together: the last thing they worked on together made Jack’s career implode almost completely and he is convinced, it’s Cameron’s fault.

Something About You is a fun read and a nice mix of crime novel and romance, but I didn’t fall in love with it.

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