Bird People (2014)

Bird People
Director: Pascale Ferran
Writer: Guillaume Bréaud, Pascale Ferran
Cast: Josh CharlesAnaïs DemoustierRoschdy ZemTaklyt VongdaraGeoffrey CantorCamélia JordanaRadha Mitchell
Part of: Viennale, Scope50
[Review by cornholio.]

Gary (Josh Charles) comes to Paris for a business meeting and quite suddenly he decides that he won’t be returning home anymore. Audrey (Anaïs Demoustier) works as a chamber maid in the hotel Gary’s staying at. Her interest is piqued by Gary but quickly moves away from him when she finds herself transformed into a sparrow. For both of them, the sudden shift in perspective means a re-ordering of their lives.

Bird People was charming and amusing, but it lacked a sense of direction for me. I would have liked to get a bit more focus, but I didn’t miss it too much.


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Bande de filles [Girlhood] (2014)

Bande de filles
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Karidja TouréAssa SyllaLindsay KaramohMariétou TouréIdrissa DiabatéSimina Soumaré
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Marieme (Karidja Touré) lives in a poor area of Paris, heading towards a dead end in school, strictly supervised by her brother while charged with taking care of her younger sisters while their mother works. Everywhere boys seem to rule the world – until Marieme meets Lady (Assa Sylla), Adiatou (Lindsay Karamoh) and Fily (Mariétou Touré). These girls don’t take shit from anybody and as Marieme joins them, she turns into Vic who goes after her own dreams.

This year’s start to the Viennale was strong, but it was Bande de filles that really blew me away for the first time at the festival this year. It was beautifully done, fantastically acted and absolutely striking.


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Dólares de arena [Sand Dollars] (2014)

Dólares de arena
Director: Israel CárdenasLaura Amelia Guzmán
Writer: Israel Cárdenas, Laura Amelia Guzmán
Based on: Jean-Noél Pancrazi‘s novel
Cast: Yanet MojicaGeraldine ChaplinRicardo Ariel Toribio
Part of: Viennale
[Review by cornholio.]

Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) has been going to the Dominican Republic on her holidays for years and years. And every year there is Noeli (Yanet Mojica) who is one of the many sex workers who spend the holidays as the companion of one of the tourists, partly encouraged by her boyfriend Menor (Ricardo Ariel Toribio). Anne is aware of Noeli’s job, but she finds herself falling for the younger woman, and even hoping that Noeli might feel the same way, while Noeli just tries to find a way to a better life.

Dólares de arena turned into quite another love story than what I expected from the description, but arguably it was the better story. It’s a distinctly political film, clad in beautiful shots and good acting.


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Los hongos (2014)

Los hongos (literally translates to “the Mushrooms”, apparently)
Director: Oscar Ruiz Navia
Writer: Oscar Ruiz Navia
Cast: Jovan Alexis MarquinezCalvin BuenaventuraAtala EstradaGustavo Ruiz MontoyaMaría Elvira Solis
Part of: Viennale

Ras (Jovan Alexis Marquinez) and Calvin (Calvin Buenaventura) move through the streets of Bogota, always looking for paint and walls to apply that paint on. Both aren’t easy to come by as neither of them has any money and street art is illegal. When an opportunity presents itself to work with some of the most famous street artists in Colombia on a joint mural, they start conceptualizing their part with enthusiasm, wanting to combine political messages and art. But such a mural isn’t easily done.

Los hongos tells an interesting, very political story that gives the impression that you really get a good window in that slice of Colombian life, but left me with a very unclear take-away.


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Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015)

Le Fear II: Le Sequel
Director: Jason Croot
Writer: Jason Croot
Sequel to: Le Fear
Cast: Kyri Saphiris, Andrew Tiernan, Seye Adelekan, Tom Bonington
[Screener Review.]

Even the rather, let’s say, unideal ending of Carlos’ (Kyrie Saphiris) last film can’t discourage him – he’s already looking for funding for his next film and finds Dirk Heinz (Andrew Tiernan), a producer who mostly works in Nollywood and who promises him 10 million, if Carlos puts in 500.000 of his own money. Carlos agrees and several months later he is eager to look at the custom built set his money bought him. But that set turns out to be just a caravan that comes with the fast-talking enthusiastic Efi (Seye Adelekan). Will Carlos be able to shoot his film this time?

Le Fear II is on a much bigger scale than Le Fear, which sometimes works to its advantage and sometimes not. While it does run a little long, I mostly had fun watching.

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Le Fear (2010)

Le Fear
Director: Jason Croot
Writer: Jason Croot
Cast: Kyri Saphiris, Spencer Austin, Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty, Ilona Saic, Andre Samson
[Screener Review.]

Carlos (Kyri Saphiris) wants to shoot a horror film. He’s got a small studio and even an investor lined up whom he might have promised a little too much. So he didn’t get Brad Pitt, he just got Leon (Spencer Austin) who has at least the same size ego as you’d expect from a big star. His lead actress Debbie D (Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty) might never have actually acted outside of porn. And his werewolf may be wearing a raincoat. But Carlos is sure that he can work around all of it. He’s probably wrong.

Le Fear has a lot of good ideas and some very nice moments. But despite it’s short 60 minute runtime, it does drag in places. lefear Continue reading

The Boxtrolls (2014)

The Boxtrolls
Director: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Writer: Irena Brignull, Adam Pava
Based on: Alan Snow‘s novel Here Be Monsters!
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg

Cheesebridge is a town plagued by Boxtrolls who are said to eat children and generally to be despicable. Led by Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley), Cheesebridge is on the hunt to find every last one of them. But Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) has a different story to tell. When he was a little boy, the Boxtrolls took him in and raised him as one of their own. But now their community is shrinking everyday and Eggs knows that it is up to him to do something against it.

The Boxtrolls was an amazingly cute film that was extremely entertaining. Not everything about it was perfect, but I enjoyed it.

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Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: David Hare
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, Matthew Beard

Kyra (Carey Mulligan) works as a teacher and lives in a small, pretty crappy apartment – but she likes it. She is surprisingly visited by Edward (Matthew Beard) whose nanny she used to be. Edward feels lonely and abandoned by Kyra, especially since his mother died, but mostly he struggles with his father Tom (Bill Nighy) and hopes for help from Kyra which she can’t really give. After Edward leaves, Tom shows up himself, wanting answers, reconciliation, a fresh start. After all, Kyra left the family when Tom’s wife discovered that Tom and Kyra had an affair. But a lot of time has passed and it is unclear whether such a fresh start is possible – or even desirable.

Skylight is an excellent play and the production we saw is fantastic. It was absolutely captivating.

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Gemma Bovery (2014)

Gemma Bovery
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Pascal Bonitzer, Anne Fontaine
Based on: Posy Simmondscomic and Gustave Flaubert‘s Madame Bovary
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Isabelle Candelier, Niels Schneider, Edith Scob

Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) is a literature professor turned baker, living a rather quiet life with his family in a small village. But then new neighbors arrive: Gemma (Gemma Arterton) and Charlie Bovery (Jason Flemyng) who moved there from England. Martin is quickly obsessed with Gemma, believing that she is the real life Madame Bovary since he keeps finding parallels between her life and the book. Soon he starts meddling and that’s not really a good thing, even if done with good intentions.

I really enjoyed Gemma Bovery. It was funny, sweet and it had Gemma Arterton [who is a wonderful actress and one the most beautiful people on this earth, so that’s always a plus].

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Neil Gaiman reads

Neil Gaiman came to Vienna in October (have I mentioned how far behind I am with my reviews?) to read from his newest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which was just released in German).

Neil Gaiman is a great writer and also a wonderful reader, so it was a joy listening to him. The Q&A afterwards was most charming and he took the time to sign stuff. What more could you ask from such an event?

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