Wizard and Glass (Stephen King)

Wizard and Glass is the fourth novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 11.7.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah and Oy manage to defeat Blaine and arrive at the Topeka railway station, Kansas. Only it’s not the Kansas of Jake’s, Eddie’s and Susannah’s world. Something awful has happened here. As they leave the city, they come close to something Roland calls a “thinny”, an eerie hole in the dimensional fabric. As they camp for the night, Roland tells them the story of where he encountered a thinny for the first time, which is also the story of his first big love, Susan Delgado.

Most of Wizard and Glass is spent in Roland’s past, a “detour” from the quest I very much enjoyed, even though I had some issues here and there with a couple of things.

[SPOILERS]

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I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro
Director: Raoul Peck
Writer: James Baldwin, Raoul Peck
Based on: James Baldwin‘s unfinished manuscript Remember This House
Narrated by: Samuel L. Jackson
Seen on: 6.7.2017
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“Plot”:
James Baldwin was not only a political activist himself, but was also close to civil rights leaders Medgar EversMalcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the manuscript he never finished, he tried to tell their story, as well as the general history of the USA, especially with regard to race. Peck builds on the manuscript and crafts a documentary from it that chronicles the civil rights movement and race relations in the US.

I Am Not Your Negro sheds a fascinating light on USAmerican history. Baldwin was a sharp observer and obviously had a way with words – I loved to discover his perspective.

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Die Migrantigen [The Migrumpies] (2017)

Die Migrantigen
Director: Arman T. Riahi
Writer: Aleksandar Petrovic, Faris Rahoma, Arman T. Riahi
Cast: Aleksandar Petrovic, Faris Rahoma, Doris Schretzmayer, Zijah Sokolovic, Daniela Zacherl, Josef Hader, Mehmet Ali Salman, Julia Jelinek, Maddalena Hirschal, Margarete Tiesel, Dirk Stermann, Mahir Jahmal, Rainer Wöss, Brigitte Kren
Seen on: 5.7.2017
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Plot:
Benny (Faris Rahoma) and Marko (Aleksandar Petrovic) have been best friends for about forever and both find themselves struggling: Benny would like to make it as an actor, but has had no luck so far, mostly because he’s usually reduced to small roles due to his darker skin. And Marko’s ad agency just went bust – and his girlfriend Sophie (Daniela Zacherl) is expecting their first child. As they try to figure out what to do, an opportunity falls into their lap in the shape of Marlene (Doris Schretzmayer), a TV reporter looking to do a hot take on immigrants in Vienna. Just for the heck of it Benny and Marko – who actually do have migration roots – turn into Omar Sharif and Tito to give Marlene all the clichés about immigrants roled into a neat little package. But when Marlene returns with the offer to do an entire reality TV show about them, the two find themselves trapped in their performance and enticed by the money and acting break it would mean for them.

Die Migrantigen is an entertaining film that nails quite a few very problematic things about the discourse on migrants in Austria in a very revealing, yet light-hearted way. Sometimes it’s a little too easy and sometimes its ideas are better than the execution, but mostly, it’s very enjoyable.

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Everything, Everything (2017)

Everything, Everything
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: J. Mills Goodloe
Based on: Nicola Yoon‘s novel
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi
Seen on: 4.7.2017
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Plot:
Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), meaning that her immune system is so weak that just being outside could literally kill her. So she grows up at home, cared for by her mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera), her social contacts pretty much limited to them, Carla’s daughter Rosa (Danube Hermosillo) and the internet. That is, until a new family moves in next door. Their teenage son Olly (Nick Robinson) catches a glimpse of Maddy, and they start a written correspondence that soon develops into something more.

There are many things that Everything, Everything gets right, but I’m not sure that they’re outweighed by the ableist fuckery the story devolves into.

[SPOILERS]

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The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Based on: Thomas P. Cullinan‘s novel
Remake of: the 1971 film
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard
Seen on: 3.7.2017
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Plot:
John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is an injured Union soldier on the run in the South during the US Civil War. He stumbles upon a girl’s school, led by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) and finds pity in the women who don’t turn him in to the Confederate soldiers – at least not until he’s healed and stands a chance to survive. But they keep him under lock and key while they tend to him. The teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and the girls – above all Carol (Elle Fanning) – are intrigued and excited by the soldier and soon vie for his affections. Not even Miss Martha finds herself unmoved as McBurney tries to turn the situation to his advantage.

The Beguiled is visually stunning, but other than that didn’t blow me away all that much. It’s not bad, but I still prefer the original film (although I didn’t love that one that much either).

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The Beguiled (1971)

The Beguiled
Director: Don Siegel
Writer: Albert Maltz, Irene Kamp, Claude Traverse
Based on: Thomas P. Cullinan‘s novel
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Jo Ann Harris, Darleen Carr, Mae Mercer, Pamelyn Ferdin, Melody Thomas Scott, Peggy Drier, Patricia Mattick
Seen on: 2.7.2017
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Plot:
John McBurney (Clint Eastwood) is an injured Union soldier on the run in the South during the US Civil War. He stumbles upon a girl’s school, led by Miss Martha (Geraldine Page) and finds pity in the women who don’t turn him in to the Confederate soldiers – at least not until he’s healed and stands a chance to survive. But they keep him under lock and key while they tend to him. The teacher Edwina (Elizabeth Hartman) and the girls – above all Carol (Jo Ann Harris) – are intrigued and excited by the soldier and soon vie for his affections. Not even Miss Martha finds herself unmoved as McBurney tries to turn the situation to his advantage.

The Beguiled is a protofeminist film that didn’t age well in all aspects but is still a solid, if a little predictable, movie.

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Grave [Raw] (2016)

Grave [literally: grave in the sense of severe, not in the sense of burial]
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Cast: Garance MarillierElla RumpfRabah Nait OufellaLaurent LucasJoana Preiss
Seen on: 1.7.2017
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Plot:
Justine (Garance Marillier) is excited: she finally gets to follow her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) to university to study veterinary medicine. But the Alexia Justine meets there is not the sister she remembers, and she’s definitely no help with the hazing rituals that mean that strict vegetarian Justine is forced to eat meat. Eating meat has unforeseen consequences for Justine and starts a transformation process for her.

Grave had me hooked from the get-go and I found it extremely engaging, even when not everything about it worked for me. But it’s a strong film, especially for a first feature, and definitely worth seeing.

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This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

This Beautiful Fantastic
Director: Simon Aboud
Writer: Simon Aboud
Cast: Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Jeremy Irvine, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Chancellor, Eileen Davies
Seen on: 26.6.2017
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Plot:
Bella (Jessica Brown Findlay) works at a library and dreams of writing children’s books. But first, she has to get a handle on her life because it’s currently falling apart: because she has to check her locks a lot to make sure they’re really closed, she’s always late to work and her grumpy neighbor Alfie (Tom Wilkinson) has sicced her landlord on her who threatens to evict her if she doesn’t clean up her garden. The only trouble is that Bella really doesn’t like plants. But fortunately she can win over Alfie’s cook Vernon (Andrew Scott) to help her out. And there’s also the befuddled library patron and inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine) who takes a liking to her and vice versa.

This Beautiful Fantastic tries very hard to be Amélie but fails on almost all levels, becoming sickly sweet and so very twee that I could barely stand it.

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Ash (Malinda Lo)

Ash is a novel by Malinda Lo, a retelling of Cinderella.
Finished on: 23.6.2017

Plot:
After her mother’s death, Ash and her father were very close until he brought home a new wife. When he died shortly thereafter, and Ash was left alone with her stepmother, things turned for the worst. Now, with a stepmother prone to violent outbursts, the only solace Ash can find is in the fairy tale books she reads. It’s no surprise that she starts to wish, fairies would come and take her away. What is more surprising is that an actual fairy prince, Sidhean, seems to hear her wishes and comes to bring Ash some solace. But then she meets Kaisa, a beautiful, strong huntress, and her wishes start changing.

Ash is a beautiful, queer retelling of Cinderella with the dangerous kind of fairies – what’s not to love about that? I don’t know, because I sure did.

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Ivan Groznyy [Ivan the Terrible] (1945 and 1958) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and Wiener Singakademie / Frank Strobel

Ivan Groznyy [Ivan the Terrible, Part I] (1945) and Ivan Groznyy. Skaz vtoroy: Boyarskiy zagovor [Ivan the Terrible, Part II: The Boyars’ Plot] (1958)
Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Writer: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Cast: Nikolay Cherkasov, Lyudmila Tselikovskaya, Serafima Birman, Mikhail Nazvanov, Mikhail Zharov, Amvrosi Buchma, Mikhail Kuznetsov, Pavel Kadochnikov, Andrei Abrikosov, Aleksandr Mgebrov, Maksim Mikhaylov, Vladimir Balashov, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Semyon Timoshenko, Aleksandr Rumnyov, Pavel Massalsky, Ada Vojtsik, Erik Pyryev
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Sergey Prokofiev, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, sung by the Wiener Singakademie, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 23.6.2017
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Plot:
In the 16th century, Archduke Ivan (Nikolay Cherkasov) crowns himself Tsar of Russia and sets himself the goal to unite Russia under one rule. Not everybody is taken with his plans and Ivan always has to watch his back – also among the people of his court. There his aunt Efrosinia Staritskaya (Serafima Birman) is plotting against him, hoping to put her own son Dmitri in his place. But also his marriage to Anstasia Romanova (Lyudmila Tselikovskaya) costs him support. But Ivan will do anything to achieve his goals, no matter the cost.

Ivan Groznyy is a monumental two-parter and an absolutely affective and effective piece of propaganda. It’s worth seeing – especially on the big screen, when you got a huge orchestra and choir on stage to (under)score it. The film is too big to do anything on a small scale.

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