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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Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

The film poster showing a group of people in business attire leaning on the word "office".
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Inuyashiki (2018)

Inuyashiki
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto
Based on: Hiroya Oku‘s manga
Cast: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongô, Fumi Nikaidô, Ayaka Miyoshi, Nayuta Fukuzaki, Mari Hamada, Yuki Saitô, Yûsuke Iseya
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) tries his best, but he is getting older and success has so far evaded him. He works as hard as he can and his family still isn’t satisfied with the money he makes. Or his personality. To make matters worse, he is diagnosed with cancer and doesn’t have much time left anymore. Just as he wonders how to tell his family about this, he gets struck by a weird light in the park. After that he realizes that he has been given new, superhuman abilities. And he isn’t the only one: Hiro (Takeru Satoh) was also struck. But not everybody should get such powers.

Inuyashiki didn’t really work for me, although I did like Inuyashiki and the film does have a cute dog. But that wasn’t really enough.

The film poster showing a few stills of the film.
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Aterrados [Terrified] (2017)

Aterrados
Director: Demián Rugna
Writer: Demián Rugna
Cast: Maximiliano Ghione, Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis, Julieta Vallina, Demián Salomón, Agustín Rittano, Natalia Señorales
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
A young couple, Juan and Clara (Agustín Rittano, Natalia Señorales), have issues with their neighbor Walter (Demián Salomón) who seems to be renovating his flat at all hours. But things quickly become stranger than just late-night banging. And it doesn’t stay the only strang occurrence in the area. When police man Funes (Maximiliano Ghione) is called in, he in turn brings in three paranormal experts (Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis) to investigate with him.

Aterrados has a great set-up, but once it is done putting everybody in place for the showdown, it kind of lost its steam, and I lost my interest. That being said, it starts off so well, that it makes the rest of the film definitely worth it, too.

The film poster showing a zombie with a split head.
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St. Agatha (2018)

St. Agatha
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels, Clint Sears
Cast: Sabrina Kern, Carolyn Hennesy, Courtney Halverson, Seth Michaels, Trin Miller, Lindsay Seim, Shaun Fletcher
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
It’s the 50s in Georgia and Agatha (Sabrina Kern) is pregnant but unmarried. There’s only one place she can go: the convent that has been taking in women like her for many, many years now. What seems like the perfect place to have her child in peace and then be able to return to her old life as if nothing has happened, quickly turns sour as Agatha starts to find out more about the convent and what happens inside its walls.

St. Agatha didn’t work for me at all. On the one hand, it handles a very sensitive topic very badly and on the other hand it doesn’t make much sense. Additionaly, it’s so full of clichés, it made the entire thing even more annoying.

The film poster showing two nuns with covered faces standing over a girl cowering on the floor.

[SPOILERS]

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The Dark (2018)

The Dark
Director: Justin P. Lange
Writer: Justin P. Lange
Cast: Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Markovics, Sarah Murphy-Dyson, Dan Beirne, Margarete Tiesel
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Content Note: abuse

Plot:
Alex (Toby Nichols) was kidnapped by Josef (Karl Markovics) a while ago, but Josef has to make a run for it. With Alex, traumatized and blinded, in the trunk of his car, he drives off and ends up at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Only that the house isn’t quite as abandoned as he thought: Mina (Nadia Alexander) lives there. Mina finds Alex and since she, too, has experienced unspeakable violence, the two bond and find strength in each other.

The Dark might be a little too long and a little too thin in the story department, but I enjoyed watching it, even if I don’t agree with the story’s angle.

The film poster showing the silhouettes of two kids holding hands in the woods.
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Prospect (2018)

Prospect
Director: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Writer: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal, Sheila Vand, Andre Royo
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Plot:
Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father (Jay Duplass) have been roaming space for a while, always looking for the next possibility to make a little money. Now they have a contract to mine for gems on a remote moon. Their mission is not without its dangers to start with, but it becomes even more complicated than they thought. They run into Ezra (Pedro Pascal) who is looking for the very same gems they are – a volatile situation, leaving Cee to make some tough choices.

Prospect was pretty good, but not great. Overall, it left me with a positive impression but it just didn’t make me entirely happy.

The film poster showing Pedro Pascal, Sophie Thatcher and Jay Duplass wearing spacesuits.
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