El bar [The Bar] (2017)

El bar
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Writer: Jorge Guerricaechevarría, Álex de la Iglesia
Cast: Blanca SuárezMario CasasCarmen MachiSecun de la RosaJaime OrdóñezTerele PávezJoaquín ClimentAlejandro Awada
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
In a small bar in Madrid run by Amparo (Terele Pávez) and her cook Sátur (Secun de la Rosa), a group of people comes together who couldn’t be more different. They all plan to go their separate ways when a shot rings out in the streets, striking down one of the customers who just left. A rescue attempt also ends deadly. As they don’t dare to leave anymore, they try to figure out what is going on inside the cafe which quickly leads to them turning on each other.

When I saw El Bar at the festival, it hit me at a bad time and I slept a lot during the film. The parts I saw weren’t really to my liking, and my track record with de la Iglesia is spotty to put it mildly. Nevertheless when I saw that the film had hit netflix, I decided to give it another try. Just to be fair. I shouldn’t have bothered.

[SPOILERS]

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Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman (2017)

Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman
Director: Steffen HaarsFlip Van der Kuil
Writer: Steffen Haars, Flip Van der Kuil
Cast: Tim HaarsBo MaertenMichiel RomeynHenry van LoonMaartje van de WeteringWaldemar TorenstraTygo GernandtDennie ChristianThomas Acda
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Ron (Tim Haars) didn’t amount to much in his life. He does have a wife, Angela (Maartje van de Wetering), he at least used to like at some point, but by now his life mostly consists of getting drunk and getting involved in a dangerous stunt while inebriated. But when one of his stunts is filmed, put online and becomes a viral sensation, Ron finds himself in high demand as a stuntman who costs little and risks a lot. When Ron discovers that Angela slept with pretty much everybody and isn’t interested in him anymore, he wants to try everything to get her back. So Angela tells him he needs to prove his manliness by seducing Bo Maerten (Bo Maerten), the biggest filmstar around.

Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman is the kind of film that should leave you laughing while you ponder the tragedy of Ron’s existence. But that concept didn’t really come together for me, so the film fell a little flat, despite quite a few strengths.

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XX (2017)

XX
Segment 1: The Box
Director: Jovanka Vuckovic
Writer: Jovanka Vuckovic
Based on: Jack Ketchum‘s short story
Cast: Natalie BrownJonathan WattonPeter DaCunhaPeyton Kennedy
Segment 2: The Birthday Party
Director: St. Vincent aka Annie Clark
Writer: Roxanne BenjaminSt. Vincent aka Annie Clark
Cast: Melanie LynskeySeth DuhameSanai VictoriaSheila VandLindsay Burdge
Segment 3: Don’t Fall
Director: Roxanne Benjamin
Writer: Roxanne Benjamin
Cast: Casey AdamsBreeda WoolAngela TrimburMorgan Krantz
Segment 4: Her Only Living Son
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Karyn Kusama
Cast: Christina KirkKyle AllenMike Doyle
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

XX is a strong and very entertaining anthology film that I enjoyed a lot. I particularly loved the animated transition sequences between the segments by Sofia Carrillo that turned into its own small story in the end.

But of course, there was also much to like about the actual segments of the film – I talk about each individually after the jump.

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Shin Gojira [Shin Godzilla] (2016)

Shin Gojira
Director: Hideaki AnnoShinji Higuchi
Writer: Hideaki Anno, Sean Whitley
Cast: Hiroki HasegawaYutaka TakenouchiSatomi IshiharaRen Osugi
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
The coast guard inspects an abandoned yacht just outside Tokyo when they are attacked by something. Viral footage of the incident quickly makes the rounds and reaches Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa). As the cabinet tries to figure out what exactly happened and what next steps are necessary, Yaguchi puts forward the theory that it looks like an animal attack. When he is proven right – there is an massive animal wreaking havoc and that makes its way onto land, where it evolves -, Yaguchi is tasked with figuring out this creature.

Shin Godzilla brings a couple of (to me) fresh ideas to the kaiju movie genre, but it still didn’t manage to win my kaiju-averse heart over.

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Nong hak [Dearest Sister] (2016)

Nong hak
Director: Mattie Do
Writer: Christopher Larsen
Cast: Amphaiphun PhommapunyaVilouna PhetmanyTambet Tuisk
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Nok (Amphaiphun Phommapunya) travels to Vientiane, the Lao capital, to be with her sister Ana (Vilouna Phetmany) who recently turned blind and needs help. Nok, who so far has lived in a small village in relative poverty, is impressed by the rich lifestyle of her sister, who married the white, shady businessman Jakob (Tambet Tuisk). The relationship between the sisters is contentious, and Nok tries to use her new position mostly for her own gain, even at the cost of others. But it appears that Ana is still able to see something – only what she sees may not be exactly on this plane of reality.

Dearest Sister (which I actually crowdfunded, so it was a double pleasure to see it in cinemas here) was engaging throughout, although I did have a couple of issues with it and it didn’t quite blow me away. Still, it was a good watch.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Based on: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning‘s comic
Sequel to: Guardians of the Galaxy
Cast: Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperMichael RookerKaren GillanPom KlementieffSylvester StalloneKurt RussellElizabeth DebickiChris SullivanSean Gunn, Seth Green, Michael Rosenbaum, David HasselhoffVing RhamesMichelle Yeoh, Jeff GoldblumStan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 3.5.2017

Plot:
Peter (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) have made quite a reputation for themselves. People have even started to ask them for help. But it’s not easy to leave your old habits behind and when Rocket not only helps but also steals, one thing leads to another and the group find themselves crashing on a planet where they meet Ego (Kurt Russell) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). This is not a coincidence: Ego tells Peter that he is his father, throwing him for quite a loop. But trouble has only just begun.

I was not a fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie to begin with, and I thought that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was even weaker. At least Baby Groot was cute.

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Tiger Girl (2017)

Tiger Girl
Director: Jakob Lass
Writer: Jakob Lass, Eva-Maria Reimer, Ines Schiller, Hannah Schopf, Nico Woche
Cast: Ella Rumpf, Maria Dragus, Enno Trebs, Orce Feldschau, Benjamin Lutzke, Franz Rogowski, Ulrik Bruchholz, Lana Cooper, Robert Gwisdek
Seen on: 2.5.2017

Plot:
Vanilla (Maria Dagus) failed the police academy entrance exam, so instead she starts training as a security. And then she meets Tiger (Ella Rumpf). Tiger sees the potential of Vanilla’s uniform and starts whittling away at her inhibitions. But as Vanilla loses herself in the exhilarating life Tiger seems to promise, Tiger realizes that maybe some lines should not be crossed. But will Vanilla let herself be put on a leash again?

The only time I could catch Tiger Girl was at a late night showing, so I re-considered watching it at all about 50 times. But in the end I went for it – and I’m more than happy that I did. It’s an absolutely amazing film with two unruly characters who I loved watching.

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Siebzehn (2017)

Siebzehn
Director: Monja Art
Writer: Monja Art
Cast: Elisabeth Wabitsch, Anaelle Dézsy, Alexandra Schmidt, Christopher Schärf, Reinhard Nowak
Seen on: 2.5.2017

Plot:
Paula (Elisabeth Wabitsch) is in love with her classmate Charlotte (Anaelle Dézsy). But Charlotte has a boyfriend, Michael (Leo Plankensteiner). So Paula starts dating the nerdy Tim (Alexander Wychodil) instead, but Tim actually likes her. And then there’s also Lilli (Alexandra Schmidt) who knows how to handle boys and loves to get under Paula’s skin.

I really enjoyed Siebzehn. Not only was it shot where I live and features a bisexual protagonist, it’s simply a strong coming-of-age film with a pretty cool soundtrack. That’s how Austrian cinema should be.

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The Iceman (2012)

The Iceman
Director: Ariel Vromen
Writer: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Based on: Anthony Bruno’s book of the same name about Richard Kuklinski
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Danny A. Abeckaser, John Ventimiglia, Ryan O’Nan, McKaley Miller, Megan Sherrill, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
Seen on: 30.4.2017

Plot:
Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) works behind the scenes in the porn industry, a job that brings him in contact with Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who sees potential in Richard and promptly hires him as a contract killer. Richard takes to this new job with a sense of professionalism that includes keeping it very far away from his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and kids. But mob politics aren’t easy to navigate and Richard can’t make everybody happy at all times.

I didn’t expect much from this film, but despite a lengthy second half and some seriously atrocious 70s hair, it drew me in, mostly thanks to a magnetic Michael Shannon.

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Re-Watch: Frau im Mond [Woman in the Moon] (1929) + Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich / Timothy Brock

Frau im Mond
Director: Fritz Lang
Writer: Fritz Lang, Hermann Oberth, Thea von Harbou
Based on: Thea von Harbou‘s novel
Cast: Klaus Pohl, Willy Fritsch, Gustav von Wangenheim, Gerda Maurus, Gustl GstettenbaurFritz Rasp
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Timothy Brock, played by the Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich under direction of Timothy Brock
Seen on: 27.4.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Professor Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl) has spent his life researching the moon. He has theorized that it has huge gold reserves that could be harvested for earth should space travel ever be achieved. But academia laughed him out of work and into poverty. Now the only one who still believes in him is Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch). After a mysterious man (Fritz Rasp) shows up at Manfeldt’s, trying to steal his research and putting pressure on them all, things are set in motion to finally finish a rocket and fly to the moon together with Manfeldt, his best friend, engineer Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim), scientist Friede Velten (Gerda Maurus) and the mysterious man.

When I saw Frau im Mond for the first time, I was pretty annoyed with the music that came with it. So getting the chance to see it with different music (and that music performed live) was a good thing and made the film better.

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