Hotel Rock’n’Roll (2016)

Hotel Rock’n’Roll
Director: Helmut Köpping, Michael Ostrowski
Writer: Michael Glawogger, Michael Ostrowski
Sequel to: Nacktschnecken, Contact High
Cast: Michael Ostrowski, Pia Hierzegger, Gerald Votava, Georg Friedrich, Detlev Buck, Hilde Dalik, Johannes Zeiler, Jayney Klimek, Helmut Köpping
Seen on: 3.9.2016

Plot:
Mao (Pia Hierzegger) inherited an old hotel from her uncle and decides to run it together with her friends and band mates Max (Michael Ostrowski) and Jerry (Gerald Votava). They want to make it a hotel with a rock theme and lifestyle. Meanwhile Schorsch (Georg Friedrich) just happens to crash into the hotel pond after robbing a bank, which brings Schorsch’s business partner Harry (Detlev Buck) to the hotel. Since Harry owns a big hotel in the area, he would like nothing more than to take over the hotel from Mao, but she won’t give up that easily, despite everything.

Hotel Rock’n’Roll was entertaining and fun. Although it didn’t manage to blow me away, it definitely had its moments.

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Wiener-Dog (2016)

Wiener-Dog
Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Cast: Keaton Nigel Cooke, Tracy Letts, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Zosia Mamet, Ari Graynor
Seen on: 2.9.2016

Plot:
Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) can’t believe his luck when his dad Danny (Tracy Letty) brings home a dog. Remi’s mother Dina (Julie Delpy) is less taken by Danny’s gift, fearing that she will be the one having to care for it. Pretty soon it becomes clear that it’s not going to work out for the dog in this family. And so begins a oddyssee for the little guy, from one weird owner to the next.

Wiener-Dog wasn’t great, but it was a decent film that was often very funny and sometimes a little too cruel. There are many things to like about it, but also a few things I didn’t like.

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Jeder der fällt hat Flügel [Those Who Fall Have Wings] (2015)

Jeder der fällt hat Flügel [der should be two commas there but aren’t and it’s making me only a little bit nervous]
Director: Peter Brunner
Writer: Peter Brunner
Cast: Jana McKinnon, Pia Dolezal, Christos Haas, Renate Hild
Seen on: 2.9.2016

Plot:
Kati (Jana McKinnon) spends her summer with her grandmother (Renate Hild) and her little sister Pia (Pia Dolezal). There’s a vulnerability in the air. Kati has asthma and seems depressed, her parents are not in the picture, her grandmother’s death seems just around the corner. Kati tries to take everything on, but she’s only 15 years old and things are bound to overwhelm.

Jeder der fällt hat Flügel manages to create an interesting atmosphere with engaging imagery but I wasn’t really able to connect with the film. In fact, my reaction was mostly boredom and a certain annoyance at the artsy-fartsy symbolism of it all.

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The Fall (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Fall is the second novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
Finished on: 1.9.2016
[Here’s my review of The Strain.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for the The Strain]:
The vampires have effectively taken over the world and the Master doesn’t need much more to achieve his goals, supported by billionaire Eldritch Palmer who is still hoping for immortality. In New York, there are only a few pockets of resistance left. One of them is the group surrounding Ephraim and his son Zach, who are both still reeling after Zach’s mother and Ephraim’s ex-wife Kelly was turned into a vampire. Their group further consists of Abraham Setrakian who has been fighting vampires all his life, Nora Martinez, Ephraim’s former colleague at the CDC and Vasily Fet, an exterminator who sees vampires as yet another pest. On their own, they will stand no chance against the vampire threat. But they still have to try.

The Fall couldn’t quite keep up with The Strain, taking a few turns that I didn’t like that much and leaving a couple of things unclear. I still want to know how everything will end, but my enthusiasm has notably cooled.

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The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada
Seen on: 1.9.2016

Plot:
Nancy (Blake Lively) has been looking for a beach in Mexico where her mother surfed when she was pregnant with her. Since Nancy neither knows the exact location of the beach, nor its name, this has proved to be difficult, but she was finally successful. Leaving her best friend in the hotel, a local (Óscar Jaenada) drives Nancy to the beach so she can get in a good day’s surfing. There is practically no one there and Nancy enjoys the water – until she’s actually all alone and attacked by a shark who cuts off her way back to shore.

There is not a boring minute in The Shallows, although the film does have a few other issues. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it for the most part.

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[SPOILERS]

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

Captain Fantastic
Director: Matt Ross
Writer: Matt Ross
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve ZahnErin Moriarty, Missi Pyle, Frank Langella, Ann Dowd
Seen on: 31.8.2016

Plot:
Ben (Viggo Mortensen) is trying to raise his six kids (George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell) away from capitalist society. They live in the woods, engage in rigorous physical exercise and study hard and for the most part, they are really happy. But Ben’s wife and the mother of the kids, Leslie (Trin Miller) isn’t with them: she had to go to the hospital to treat her mental illness. Unfortunately, though, instead of getting better, she commits suicide. Ben and the kids decide to go to the funeral, despite the fact that it means that they have to confront not only a world very different from their own, but also Leslie’s parents (Frank Langella, Ann Dowd) who are critical of Ben and Leslie’s lifestyle choices.

Captain Fantastic is an interesting film set to inspire political debates, but with a – to me – disappointing ending.

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Pete’s Dragon (2016)

Pete’s Dragon
Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks
Remake of: Pete’s Dragon (1977)
Cast: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Marcus Henderson
Seen on: 31.8.2016

Plot:
After his parents die in a car crash, Pete (Oakes Fegley) finds himself in the woods, seemingly all alone. But it soon turns out that there is somebody with him after all: a big, green dragon Pete calls Elliot. Together they have a good life in the forest until the local lumber company run by brothers Jack (Wes Bentley) and Gavin (Karl Urban) starts encroaching on their territory. Pete becomes curious and approaches Jack’s daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence), which ultimately leads to him being caught by the adults and brought in to the city by ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who happens to be Jack’s fiancée. But Pete doesn’t want to leave the forest behind, much less Elliot – and his stories of a dragon in the forest can become quite dangerous for Elliot.

Pete’s Dragon is very different from the movie it’s based on, but I did enjoy it – more so than I expected I would. But I didn’t really fall in love with it.

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Re-Watch: Charlie & Louise – Das doppelte Lottchen (1994)

Charlie & Louise – Das doppelte Lottchen
Director: Joseph Vilsmaier
Writer: Stephan Reinhart, Klaus Richter
Based on: Erich Kästner‘s novel Lottie and Lisa
Cast: Fritzi Eichhorn, Floriane Eichhorn, Heiner Lauterbach, Corinna Harfouch, Hanns Zischler, Hans Werner Meyer
Seen on: 30.8.2016

Plot:
Charlie (Fritzi Eichhorn) grew up with her father Wolf (Heiner Lauterbach), while Louise (Floriane Eichhorn) grew up with her mother Sabine (Corinna Harfouch). By chance they meet at a summer camp in Scotland – and after taking an initial dislike to each other, they realize that their parents have been lying to them all their lives and that they’re actually twins. Of course they are both curious to meet the parent they don’t know, so they decide to switch places with each other after their return. And maybe they’ll have a chance to bring their parents back together.

I really loved the movie when I was a kid (I’m reasonably certain that I saw it in the cinema when it came out and I saw it many times since then), but it’s been many years since I actually watched it. Rewatching it now together with my nieces who are just about the right age was a really nice experience, although the film is definitely geared towards kids more than towards adults.

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Re-Watch: The Mechanic (2011)

The Mechanic
Director: Simon West
Writer: Richard Wenk, Lewis John Carlino
Remake of: the 1972 Charles Bronson film
Cast: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn
Seen on: 29.8.2016
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a contract killer, the best there is. Even when his next assignment is his mentor and best friend Harry (Donald Sutherland), he only waits to see the evidence that Harry is guilty until he kills him. Yet, afterwards he takes on Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster) as an apprentice, despite all his doubts about Steve as a person and social proximity in general, and teaches him everything he knows.

I completely missed that a sequel to this film was coming, so when I saw the posters for that, I was all excited and decided that I really needed to re-watch the first film – and then I missed the sequel because they didn’t show it at decent times in the original version and how can I watch a film with the Stat without hearing his voice? Does not work. In any case, watching The Mechanic a second time is as entertaining as watching it the first time, which is to say: very.

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Auroras Anlaß [Aurora’s Motive] (Erich Hackl)

Aurora’s Anlaß is the first novel by Erich Hackl. It was translated as Aurora’s Motive and is based on the actual lives of Aurora Rodríguez and her daughter Hildegart Rodríguez.
Finished on: 28.8.2016.

Plot:
One day, Aurora Rodríguez gets up in the morning, takes a gun and shoots her teenaged daughter Hildegart with whom she has always been close. Then she goes to the police to confess. Aurora brought up Hildegart on her own, and she worked extremely hard to groom her into a feminist, critical thinker and political leader – and Hildegart was a highly gifted girl who showed every promise to fufill her mother’s dream. So what could have possibly led her to do what she did?

With Auroras Anlaß, Hackl combines historical research with literary writing and a dash of journalism, telling a fascinating (true) story in an extremely intriguing way.

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