Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Daughters of the Dust
Director: Julie Dash
Writer: Julie Dash
Cast: Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbarao, Trula Hoosier, Umar Abdurrahamn, Adisa Anderson, Kaycee Moore, Bahni Turpin, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Tommy Redmond Hicks, Cornell Royal, M. Cochise Anderson
Seen on: 28.11.2017
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Plot:
It is the beginning of the 20th century and the still rather new abolishment of slavery tempts the Peazant family to leave the islands they have been living on and to attempt their luck on the USAmerican mainland. The islands and their isolation gave them the possibility to preserve some of their African ancestral traditions – the Gullah culture. So not everybody is willing to actually leave, while others can hardly wait. In any case, it’s time to make decisions.

Daughters of the Dust is an in the best sense unusual film in many ways. It is absolutely stunning in so many ways. It’s a film you should definitely watch – and then re-watch.

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The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot)

The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot.
Finished on: 26.11.2017

Plot:
Siblings Tom and Maggie Tulliver grow up in the mill their father owns. But things don’t go too well and their father is indebted and keeps fighting with his creditor, Mr. Wakem, forcing pragmatic, serious Tom to quit school and work at the mill. Meanwhile the more idealistic Maggie becomes friends with Philip Wakem, the son of the creditor. But their friendship cannot stand in the face of the antipathy between families and puts Maggie at odds with Tom. Years later, Philip and Maggie meet again at the house of her friend Lucy Deane. Another guest there is Lucy’s fiancé Stephen Guest who starts to pay more attention to Maggie.

It was a fight for me to get through this book, but by the end it had gripped me and then it frustrated me again with the ending. Nevertheless, it’s well-written enough that I will definitely try another Eliot in the future.

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Big Night Out (Ed. by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls, Imogen Edwards-Jones)

Big Night Out is a collection of short stories, recipes, song lists, illustrations and edited by Jessica Adams, Maggie Alderson, Nick Earls and Imogen Edwards-Jones. It was published to benefit the War Child charity.
Finished on: 25.11.2017

Big Night Out isn’t your typical short story collection. There really is a lot here that isn’t a short story at all, although the biggest part are short stories. I grabbed it for those (well, I grabbed it mostly for Jasper Fforde‘s short story in it), so I mostly skimmed through the other things, even though some very big names contributed various things (INXSSteve Coogan, and Nick Hornby recommending songs? Anthony Stewart Head sharing a cocktail recipe? Joan Collins‘ beauty tips? Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Boy George detailing hangover cures? It’s all there). I did feel that the selection was made on the basis of the people in any case and not necessarily for the quality of their content. But hey, it is for charity after all. If you don’t buy it for the stories, but for the good deed, you’ll get what you expect.

After the jump, I will talk about the short stories in the collection separately and you can find the table of contents so you can see what else is in there.

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton
Seen on: 24.11.2017
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Plot:
Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is supposed to take the Orient Express to travel from one case to his well-earned vacation. But as luck will have it, there’s a murder right there on the train. As it is stopped by an avalanche, Poirot takes up the case, determined to find out who among the illustrous guests was responsible for the death of Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp). Unfortunately, the case is anything but straightforward as Poirot soon discovers.

Murder on the Orient Express starts off strong enough, but with every further plot twist, the film seems to slip more and more out of Branagh’s control. The result was mostly meh with a couple of shiny moments.

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Licht [Mademoiselle Paradis] (2017)

Licht [literally: Light]
Director: Barbara Albert
Writer: Kathrin Resetarits, Barbara Albert
Based on: Alissa Walser‘s novel Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik
Cast: Maria Dragus, Devid Striesow, Lukas Miko, Katja Kolm, Maresi Riegner, Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Stefanie Reinsperger, Christoph Luser, Susanne Wuest, Theresa Martini, Julia Pointner
Seen on: 23.11.2017
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Plot:
Maria-Theresia Paradis (Maria Dragus) is a gifted musician who lost her eyesight at a young age for no apparent reason. Now her parents have heard about the revolutionary methods of physician Franz Mesmer (Devid Striesow) and they are hoping that he will be able to restore her eyesight. So Maria-Theresia is brought to his castle where Mesmer sets to work. Soon their relationship becomes very intense and there seems to be improvement in her condition.

I was hoping I would like Licht more than I actually did. Unfortunately I was unhappy with the way the film dealt with disability and I felt that it had considerable lengths.

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Terror – Ihr Urteil [The Verdict] (2016)

Terror – Ihr Urteil
Director: Lars Kraume
Writer: Oliver Berben, Lars Kraume
Based on: Ferdinand von Schirach‘s play
Cast: Burghart Klaußner, Martina Gedeck, Florian David Fitz, Lars Eidinger, Jördis Triebel, Rainer Bock
Seen on: 22.11.2017
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Plot:
Soldier Lars Koch (Florian David Fitz) is on trial. He shot down a civilian plane that was abducted by terrorists who threatened to fly it into the next city which would have raised the death toll considerably. So Koch didn’t wait for orders, he decided on his own to shoot down the plane. Now the judge (Burghart Klaußner) and his jury have to decide whether Koch’s actions were justified. As Koch’s defendant (Lars Eidinger) and the district attorney (Martina Gedeck) make their cases, big philosophical questions arise.

Terror – Ihr Urteil was made for an audience that gets to play the part of the jury. So the people watching the film get to vote in the end whether Koch should be found guilty or innocent. Two endings were shot for the film and depending on the voting results, one of them is screened. I saw the film as part of a scientific conference that couched the film in a lot of interesting discussions (and was able to screen both endings). That conference also made it even clearer that Terror – Ihr Urteil is expertly made bullshit.

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Suburbicon (2017)

Suburbicon
Director: George Clooney
Writer: Joel CoenEthan Coen, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne MooreOscar IsaacNoah JupeTony EspinosaKarimah Westbrook, Leith M. Burke, Richard Kind, Steve Monroe
Seen on: 20.11.2017
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Plot:
Suburbicon is a picture-perfect 1950s community, filled with happy, white, affluent, nuclear families. But then the Mayers (Kamirah Westbrook, Tony Espinosa, Leith M. Burke) move to Suburbicon. They are black and their arrival brings Suburbicon’s facade to crumble, exposing the community’s racism. Their next-door neighbor Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) has other issues, though: he, his wife Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (Julianne Moore), and their son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are being robbed in their own home, with dire consequences. But that’s only the beginning of the troubles in Suburbicon.

I found Suburbicon pretty disappointing. I thought that it would be about racism, but it revolves much more around the Lodges and their story. And that story does have a Coen-esque feel, but one that doesn’t quite come together.

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Justice League (2017)

Justice League
Director: Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon
Writer: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Based on: Gardner Foxteam-up of superheroes
Sequel to: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry CavillGal Gadot, Ezra MillerJason MomoaRay Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, David Thewlis, Billy Crudup
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 19.11.2017
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Plot:
After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Ben Affleck) tries to put together a team of superheroes. Diana aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is already on board, but the recruitment of other team members is more difficult. Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa) isn’t interested, Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller) is very willing but also not easily pinned down and Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher) might even be dead. But when Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) attacks Diana’s home Themyscira to acquire an artefact, gathering forces becomes an even more pressing issues.

I expected bad things from Justice League and was pleasantly surprised by what we got. That’s not to say that Justice League is a good film overall, but at least it has its moments.

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Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle [Top Girl or La déformation professionnelle] (2014)

Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle
Director: Tatjana Turanskyj
Writer: Tatjana Turanskyj
Cast: Julia Hummer, Rolf Peter Kahl, Susanne Bredehöft, Karim Cherif, Samia Dauenhauer, Sarah Grether, Stefan Mehren, Mario Pokatzky, Janina Rudenska, Anna Schmidt, Susanne Strach
Seen on: 18.11.2017
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Plot:
Helena (Julia Hummer) is an actress and a sex worker. She has a daughter, a strained relationship with her mother (Susanne Bredehöft) and is always looking for new possibilities. When she is approached to organize a special event with some of her colleagues, Helena takes the chance. But the event is not your usual escort gig.

Top Girl is a complex approach to sex work that I don’t necessarily agree with, but it gives the topic more thought than a lot of other films and it knows how to work emotions.

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Maudie (2016)

Maudie
Director: Aisling Walsh
Writer: Sherry White
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Billy MacLellan
Seen on: 18.11.2017
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Plot:
Maud (Sally Hawkins) needs to get out from under her family’s wing. She sees her opportunity when she learns that grumpy Everett (Ethan Hawke) is looking for a housekeeper. Even though he is hesitant to take her on because of her disability, he doesn’t exactly have much choice and Maud is persistent, so they give it a try. In her off time, Maud starts to paint and polishes her personal style, while also finding a home in the community and with Everett.

Althoughe Maudie is a sweet film, I’m not entirely happy with it. Some things I knew going in would bother me, other things crept up on me during the film. Nevertheless I found it entertaining.

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