Miles Ahead (2015)

Miles Ahead
Director: Don Cheadle
Writer: Steven Baigelman, Don Cheadle
Cast: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lakeith Stanfield, Brian Wolfman Black Bowman, Michael Stuhlbarg, Christina Marie Karis
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2016

Plot:
Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) hasn’t released new music in a long time. In fact, he was barely seen in public. That’s why journalist Dave Braden (Ewan McGregor) is dead set on profiling him to find out what’s going on and to give his own career a boost. He manages to find his way into Davis’ home and gets quickly involved in Davis’ chaotic, drug-fueled life and his desperate search for the master tapes containing his new music that were stolen from him.

Miles Ahead takes a very liberal approach to Miles Davis’ life, landing somewhere between crime story and biopic and working as neither. I hated almost every second of it.

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Paterson (2016)

Paterson
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Rizwan Manji, Method Man, William Jackson Harper, Chasten Harmon, Barry Shabaka HenleyMasatoshi Nagase
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2016

Plot:
Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey, and likes to write poetry in his spare time. His girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) champions him and his art, as he does his best to support her in her music and her projects that mostly involve black and white decoration. Their life is quiet and full of routines, but even so, they have their ups and downs.

Paterson is such a wonderfully warm film, I left the cinema floating on cloud number 9 like after a really good first date (only I never had a first date that left me feeling quite like this). It’s a love letter to poetry and to Paterson, NJ, and it sees and shows the beauty of the everyday so clearly, I felt nothing but love for it.

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Arrival (2016)

Arrival
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Based on: Ted Chiang‘s short story Story of Your Life
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Twelve alien spaceships appear all around earth. They don’t seem to do much, but may be trying to establish contact. To try and figure out their language, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is contacted and contracted. In a team together with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and others, and in cooperation with teams around the world, they try to figure out what the creatures could want – and if it’s peace or war they have in mind.

Arrival is the rare breed of science fiction that actually takes Science As It Is Properly Done Right Now seriously and obviously admires and respects it, which is absolutely refreshing as a lot of SciFi today feels mostly like militarized power fantasies with a bit of technobabble. For that alone, I had to like the film, but there are also the cinematography, the soundtrack and the characters to really make me love it.

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Gaukler [Les saltimbanques] (1930)

Gaukler
Director: Robert Land
Writer: Curt J. Braun, Herbert Rosenfeld
Cast: Max Hansen, Käthe von NagyNastia LatkaGeorges Melchior, Hermine Sterler, Louis Ralph, Nicolas Koline, Marthe Ferrare
With music by: Fabian Pollack
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Max (Max Hansen) falls in love with circus artist Suzanne (Käthe von Nagy), alienating his fiancée Daisy (Nastia Latka) and her father (Georges Melchior) by spending more and more time with the circus, a passion that probably won’t end well.

I only saw a fragment (45 min) of Der Gaukler – together with the fragment of Die Jüdin von Toledo. Unfortunately, after my immediate love for Die Jüdin von Toledo, Der Gaukler just couldn’t keep up with it.

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Die Jüdin von Toledo [The Jewess of Toledo] (1919)

Die Jüdin von Toledo
Director: Otto Kreisler
Writer: Robert Land
Based on: Franz Grillparzer‘s play
Cast: Thea Rosenquist, Franz Höbling, Ida Norden, Leopold Iwald, Josef Viktora, Theodor Weiß, Emmy Flemmich
With music by: Fabian Pollack
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Rahel (Thea Rosenquist) is a free spirit and doesn’t care much for rules. When she sees the beauty of the royal gardens, she goes in even though it’s forbidden and promptly stumbles on the King (Franz Höbling) and the Queen (Ida Norden). The King is enchanted by the girl’s passion, her family, all to well aware of their precarious status as Jewish people, are horrified. But after their encounter, the King can’t just let Rahel go.

They showed only a fragment (about 40 minutes) of this film at the Viennale, I’m not sure if there isn’t more of the film at all or if not everything is restored, but either way, I regret deeply not being able to see the film in its entirety because the part of it I saw was absolutely electrifying.

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You Can Count on Me (2000)

You Can Count on Me
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Rory Culkin, Jon Tenney, J. Smith-Cameron, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Ryan, Kenneth Lonnergan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Sammy (Laura Linney) and Terry (Mark Ruffalo) have always been close as siblings, but ever since Terry left their small hometown, they only rarely see each other. Now Terry is back and Sammy is overjoyed, as is her son Rudy (Rory Culkin). But the reason Terry is back is quite prosaic – he needs money and would prefer to get it an leave pretty immediately. But as he connects with Rudy and re-connects with Sammy, he ends up staying longer than intended.

Watching You Can Count on Me so shortly after Manchester by the Sea was an intersting experience, as it both reveals how much time Lonnergan has spent circling around pretty similar themes and how much he has grown as a filmmaker. You Can Count on Me is by no means a bad movie, but compared to Manchester, it’s nowhere near as polished.

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A Quiet Passion (2016)

A Quiet Passion
Director: Terence Davies
Writer: Terence Davies
Cast: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Duncan DuffCatherine Bailey, Jodhi May, Emma Bell, Rose Williams, Benjamin Wainwright, Keith Carradine
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Emily Dickinson (Emma Bell, Cynthia Nixon) grows up and lives rather remotely but in close contact with her sister Vinnie (Rose Williams, Jennifer Ehle) and her brother Austin (Benjamin Wainwright, Duncan Duff). She devotes her life to writing poetry, exploring her inner life instead of the world, always hoping for recognition of her art.

A Quiet passion is a beautifully filmed and well-acted movie that moves at a slow pace. I am sure it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea and I do feel conflicted about it myself, but it is worth to give it a try.

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Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey AffleckLucas Hedges, Ben O’Brien, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Tate Donovan, Matthew Broderick
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 20.10.2016

Plot:
Lee (Casey Affleck) hasn’t been in his hometown Manchester-by-the-Sea for a while and he doesn’t actually want to return. But when his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, leaving behind his teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Lee is called upon to return and take care of Patrick. Added to the grief over Joe’s passing is Lee’s confrontation with the past and the horrible events that are linked to Manchester-by-the-Sea and Lee’s ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

I saw Manchester by the Sea before the news about Affleck’s history of abuse hit the media (or at least reached me) (this review is based on my notes from October). If I had known, I probably would have reconsidered watching this film. But having seen it , I have to admit that it’s a strong film, offering an unusual perspective on an old story.

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Night Shift (Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane)

Night Shift is a paranormal novella anthology with works by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin and Milla Vane [aka Meljean Brook].
Finished on: 17.10.2016

As an avid reader of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I had to grab this anthology, of course, even though I’m not familiar with the other series that were featured with novellas here. The resulting collection and my reading experiences were pretty mixed. It’s a quick read in any case.

After the jump I’ll talk about the four novellas separately.

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Selma & Sofie (2003)

Selma & Sofie
Director: Mia Engberg
Cast: Camilla Carlsson, Sara Lindkvist
Seen on: 15.10.2016

Plot:
Selma (Camilla Carlsson) meets Sofie (Sara Lindkvist) at the pool and feels immediately drawn to her. Despite her boyfriend at home, Selma finds herself actively searching out Sofie.

Selma & Sofie concluded the “Lesbian porn first” special I saw, being the first Lesbian porn film (by and for women) that actually showed explicit sex (the lack of which arguably makes Shadows and Airport not even “real” porn). Despite the explicit sex, the film is more focused on the romance of the story and it’s very sweet indeed. It may not work as well as a porn, but as a love story it’s nice.