Humpday (2009)

[Humpday will be shown today at the Framing Reality film festival in Vienna: 20.30, Filmcasino. They have a focus on Lynn Shelton and Barbara Kopple.]

Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore
Part of: Framing Reality

Ben (Mark Duplass) is happily married with Anna (Alycia Delmore) but their harmonious existence is shaken up by the surprising arrival of Ben’s old friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard). Andrew is an artist and what you’d call a free spirit. And then in drunken night, Ben and Andrew hatch the plan to do an art project together for Humpfest – a porn film festival. But doing porn isn’t easy.

Humpday has got to be one of the most charming films I’ve ever seen. It left me with a huge grin on my face and a spring in my step for the entire day.


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Touchy Feely (2013)

[Touchy Feely will be shown today at the Framing Reality film festival in Vienna: 20.30, Filmcasino. They have a focus on Lynn Shelton and Barbara Kopple.]

Touchy Feely
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney, Tomo Nakayama, Shannon Kipp, Ron Livingston
Part of: Framing Reality

Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a massage therapist who suddenly can’t touch people anymore at all. This severely hampers her relationship wih her boyfriend Jesse (Scoot McNairy) with whom she was about to move in. In the meantime her brother Paul (Josh Pais), a dentist in a floundering clinic, seems to discover that he has a healing touch which he wants to explore with Abby’s friend and reiki practitioner Bronwyn (Allsion Janney). Paul’s daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) who works as his assistant, is slowly suffocating because of both the routine in her life and her love for and need to touch Jesse.

Touchy Feely is a sweet, calm film with a great cast and a good script. It’s enjoyable and smart, even if I’m not all over it.


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The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

The Raid 2: Berandal
Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Sequel to: The Raid
Cast: Iko UwaisArifin Putra, Yayan Ruhian, Julie Estelle, Donny Alamsyah, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusodewo, Alex Abbad, Very Tri Yulisman
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

After what happened in the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) finds himself with a small Internal Affairs task force that operates with rather extreme measures. They want him to infiltrate a crime syndicate and expose the police corruption within. After Rama finds out that his brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) was executed, he accepts the proposal and takes up the fight, quite literally.

The Raid 2 has the distinct disadvantage over the first film that I had expectations this time. But it did manage to fulfill them for the most part and I really enjoyed it.


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Der Samurai [The Samurai] (2014)

Der Samurai
Director: Till Kleinert
Writer: Till Kleinert
Cast: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uwe Preuss, Kaja BlachnikUlrike Hanke-Haensch, Christopher Kane
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Jakob (Michel Diercks) is a police man in a small town. He lives with his grandmother (Ulrike Hanke-Haensch) and tries very hard to have everything just right. At the moment he is fascinated by a wolf that roams through the local woods and that he tries to catch and not just kill. But then he stumbles on a man (Pit Bukowski) in a wedding dress who just got a samurai sword delivered to him via Jakob. Katana in hand, that man starts to wreak havoc on the town and Jakob’s life.

I knew nothing about the film going in. It was another case of “it’s in the /slash program, so I’m going to see it, whatever it is”. And it left me absolutely breathless. A weird, fascinating, bold film that is completely fucked up, melancholy and fun at the same time.


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Re-Read: The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (Mike Carey, Peter Gross)

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity is the first book (first five issues) in The Unwritten series of comics, written by Mike Carey and art by Peter Gross and additional art by Yuko Shimizu.

Wilson Taylor wrote a famous series of books about child wizard Tommy Taylor – modelled after his own son. Before he could complete the series with the fourteenth book, though, Wilson vanished without a trace. Now Tom is living off his father’s estate, going from convention to convention and is generally pretty frustrated with his life and his father. At one of the usual conventions, a woman confronts him and raises the question whether Tom isn’t actually Tommy Taylor, having crossed over from the fictional world. This spawns a series of investigations and nutjobs and completely disrupts Tom’s life until he starts questioning his own identity.

Ugh, I’ve been meaning to continue reading this series for so long, I had to restart it from the beginning because I could barely remember the first one. But fortunately, re-reading this is not exactly a chore since it’s an amazing comic.


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Las brujas de Zugarramurdi [Witching & Bitching] (2013)

Las brujas de Zugarramurdi
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Writer: Jorge Guerricaechevarría, Álex de la Iglesia
Cast: Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Terele Pávez, Carolina Bang, Carmen Maura, Gabriel Ángel Delgado
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

José (Hugo Silva) was recently divorced and is in the middle of a custody battle with his wife. It really doesn’t help that he takes his son (Gabriel Ángel Delgado) with him on a robbery that he planned together with some guys, among them Antonio (Mario Casas). But things go wrong and the guys find themselves on the run. Their flight leads them directly into a coven of not particularly well-meaning witches.

Witching & Bitching starts out funny but the longer it went on, the more difficulty I had with its blatant misogyny. In the end I was too horrified to really enjoy it.


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All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

All Cheerleaders Die
Director: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Writer: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
Cast: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brooke Butler, Amanda Grace Cooper, Reanin Johannink, Tom Williamson, Chris Petrovski, Leigh Parker, Nicholas S. Morrison, Jordan Wilson, Felisha Cooper
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

After a tragic accident Maddie (Caitlin Stasey) signs up for the cheerleading team, despite that really not being her clique. But she leaves her old life and friend Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) behind and throws herself into the squad and her friendship with squad leader Tracy (Brooke Butler). But Maddie has an ulterior motive. One that is quickly overshadowed by supernatural events.

I was completely taken by surprise by All Cheerleaders Die and I loved every second of it. The story twists several ways, none of which I suspected at first. It plays with stereotypes, has a good sense of humor and was above all a film that was fun.


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Dracula 3D (2012)

Dracula 3D
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento, Enrique Cerezo, Stefano Piani, Antonio Tentori
Based on: Bram Stoker‘s novel
Cast: Thomas Kretschmann, Marta Gastini, Asia Argento, Unax Ugalde, Miriam Giovanelli, Giovanni Franzoni, Rutger Hauer
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) just arrived in a small town in the middle of nowhere where his old friend Lucy Kisslinger (Asia Argento) managed to get him a job as a librarian with the local Count Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann). As Jonathan nervously starts his job while waiting for his wife Mina (Marta Gastini) to arrive as well, it becomes quickly clear that not all is right with the Count and the village.

Ever since the film was shown in Cannes a couple of years back, the /slash Filmfestival has been trying to get this film to Vienna. And finally they succeeded, and even managed to bring Dario Argento as well which is pretty damn awesome. Unfortunately I missed about half the program with him and only saw the rest of his audience talk and this film.

And while I understand Argento’s status as a living legend, Dracula really didn’t prove that it’s justified. In fact, the film was rather horrible.


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King Lear

King Lear
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Adrian Scarborough, Anna Maxwell Martin, Olivia Vinall, Kate Fleetwood, Sam Troughton, Tom Brooke, Stanley Townsend

King Lear (Simon Russell Beale) is growing old and maybe even feels dementia approaching, so he decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters and their husbands. But he expects a certain amount of flattery for it, which his youngest (and up to this point favorite) daughter Cordelia (Olivia Vinall) is unwilling to give him. Lear takes this as a sign that she doesn’t love him and banishes her. But a feeble king is the opportunity for all kinds of power struggles and soon there is trouble stirring all over.

This production of King Lear practically lives off the monumental performance by Simon Russell Beale. Though the rest isn’t bad either, he just takes center stage and completely dominates it. And maybe he should do that more often because the result is awesome.


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w Delta z (2007)

w Delta z
Director: Tom Shankland
Writer: Clive Bradley
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Melissa George, Ashley Walters, Tom Hardy, Selma Blair, Sally Hawkins

Detective Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård) is investigating a series of murders with his new partner Helen Westcott (Melissa George). The bodies all have parts of an equation carved into their skin. They all seem to lead back to a horrific crime that happened a few years ago and that Eddie was deeply involved with. But what do the killings have to do with the equation?

w Delta z is a rather idiosyncratic film. It feels like a philosophical thought experiment in movie form. For long stretches that is interesting, but sometimes the film part suffers for it. But it’s always thought-provoking.


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