Plot: Marie (Joséphine Japy) got the coveted spot in the prize-winning kitchen of Bruno Mercier (Philippe Résimont), but she struggles to find her place there and reach the expected quality to advance in her position. That she has to compete against everybody else there, especially Thomas (Sébastien Houbani) who has been there longer, doesn’t help either. But one night she cuts herself – and it appears that her blood is the ingredient that was missing in her cooking so far.
I have to admit that I usually snub short films – if I have to choose between watching short films and watching a feature, I will go for the feature in like 99% of cases. So I always like that they show the winner of the Short Film Prize together with the closing film of the SLASH festival, although I have no idea what the competition was like overall. In any case, Nouvelle Saveur was well made and good to watch, although I thought that the idea wasn’t all that revolutionary or fresh. Generally it was a rather conventional short – not bad at all, very well executed, but lacking that special ingredient, that spark that would make it really stand out.
Plot: Hendrik (Leon Orlandianyi) and his little brother Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) move with their mother (Julia Koschitz) from Germany to Carinthia in the south of Austria. Their mother is a geologist who will study caves in the area. Hendrik is less thrilled about having to leave all his friends behind. And as soon as they move in the house, strange things start to happen with Eddie. Hendrik meets local kids Ida (Marii Weichsler) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) who tell him of the legends surrounding the house. Together the kids start to investigate.
Das schaurige Haus is a pretty perfect example for a kids’ horror film: it is always aimed at kids without being patronizing, funny, and it manages to be creepy in the right dose. Even though I’m not a kid anymore, I enjoyed it as well.
Plot: Libby (Romane Denis) is excited to start her job at the trendiest, most fashionable clothing store in existence – and just before their new line of jeans is set to be revealed. It is a special night indeed as the staff prepares the store for the new line after it closed. Not only does the owner of the franchise, Harold Landsgrove (Stephen Bogaert) drop by for a visit, they are also expecting influencer Peyton Jules (Erica Anderson) who will get an exclusive look at the new pants to stream to her followers. But when it turns out that the new pants are out for blood, things take an unexpected turn.
Slaxx had a difficult position in the day’s schedule as the fourth film of a quadruple feature – but it had no problems to keep my attention at all. I really enjoyed it – both the absurd premise and the serious core behind that silliness.
Plot: Prospero (Lloyd Kaufman) and his sister Antoinette (Lloyd Kaufman) were working together to make the world a better place with their scientific achievements. But when Prospero realizes that Antoinette’s motives aren’t quite as noble, he took his blind daughter Miranda (Kate McGarrigle) and fled to Tromaville. Now Antoinette and her cronies are on a cruise and Prospero has a plan: he feeds laxatives to the whales around them and the ensuing literal shit storm brings them all to Tromaville.
#ShakespearesShitstorm is the Troma take on Shakespeare’s Tempest, plus the evil of pharmaceutical companies and, for some reason, the evil of “woke culture”. I know that Troma movies aren’t my thing and I probably would have skipped it entirely if it hadn’t been the third film in a quadruple feature, but that last part – the dig at social activism – really made me hate the film.
Scare Package is a great anthology that takes on horror tropes and ridicules them with a whole lot of love and a great sense of humor. The various segments all bring something else to the table and yet all fit together, creating the feeling of a unified film more than many other anthology movies manage. It really is very well done overall.
Plot: Ami (Himena Tsukimiya) and her sister Yoshie (Kanon Hanakage) struggle to get along. They earn their living by performing acrobatics together, hoping to stave of having to sell more body parts to Dharma Corp. What Ami doesn’t know is that after hourse, Yoshie exchanges her prosthetic arm for a machine gun and fights for justice on the streets. When assassin Tetsuya (Tak Sakaguchi) comes to watch their show around the same time that Yoshie’s campaign starts to strike very close to the heart of Dharma Corp, things start to become dangerous for all of them.
Rise of the Machine Girls makes a very clear case for one thing: movies of its kind seem to have run their course. This particular subgenre (I will dub it “out of control Japanese movies” for now) is in dire need of fresh material. Or at least Rise of the Machine Girls is.
Plot: Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a nurse who works with dying patients at their homes. She just got a new case – actor Amanda (Jennifer Ehle). Maud goes about her work quietly and diligently, but when Amanda takes an interest in Maud’s religious beliefs, pious Maud sees it as a sign that she is supposed to save Amanda’s soul. With Amanda’s death quickly approaching, there is an urgency to that mission that Maud can’t escape.
Saint Maud is an atmospheric film with great performances. Your mileage will probably vary on the religious themes, but I thought that the film handles them very well.
Content Note: (critical treatment of) ableism, cripping up (debatable)
Plot: Jeanne (Noémie Merlant) divides her time between her home where she lives with her mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot), and the amusement park where she works. She loves carousels, ferris wheels and the other attractions in the park and she loves building models of them. This year, the park bought a new ride and Jeanne feels incredibly drawn to it. She nicknames it Jumbo – and Jumbo even starts to communicate with her. Soon their relationship becomes even more intense.
Jumbo is one of the sweetest, most romantic films I’ve seen in a long while (well, together with Dinner in America) and I’m here for this trend of unusual love stories being where the romance lives. Jumbo is well done in any case and hit me right in the feels.
Plot: Breq seems to be doing just fine on Athoek Station. Things are calm. But it’s a fragile calm that starts to get disrupted when she finds a stowaway on the station who shouldn’t exist. Plus, a new Presger translator, Zeiat, arrives at Athoek Station to inquire about the old translator. And Breq’s enemy, the ruler of the Radchaai Empire, Anaander Mianaai, approaches the Station as well. Things are coming to a head and decisions will have to be made.
This is such a satisfying series, I can hardly believe it is over now. Ancillary Mercy brings a great trilogy to a fantastic ending that ties everything up nicely and confirms the core messages the story has been sending so far, without feeling hamfisted.
Plot: Mitsui (Kengo Kôra) leads a lonely life and seems to be generally entirely forgettable – most of the people around him barely remember having met him. There was only Chihiro (Kanako Nishikawa), long ago, who went on a date with him and actually seemed to care for him. Mitsui tracks her down and quickly becomes obsessed with her again. When watching her from afar isn’t enough for him anymore, he starts to hide in her apartment – and becomes a witness to the abusive relationship Chihiro has with her husband (Ken’ichi Abe).
Andâ yua beddo might as well be called The Incel Movie because it absolutely, perfectly fits with the narrative that incels like to tell themselves and the world. And if that wasn’t enough to steer clear of it, it’s also repetitive and simply exhausting.