Ničija zemlja [No Man’s Land] (2001)

Ničija zemlja
Director: Danis Tanovic
Writer: Danis Tanovic
Cast: Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Sovagovic, Georges Siatidis, Serge-Henri Valcke, Sacha Kremer, Alain Eloy, Simon Callow
Seen on: 9.2.2018
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Plot:
At the height of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ciki (Branko Djuric), a Bosnian Muslim, and Nino (Rene Bitorajac), a Bosnian Serb get trapped in No Man’s Land. Despite being caught in the same boat, the two can’t help but fight with each other while they wait for a possibility to get back to their respective troops. Things are made even more complicated when they discover that they are in very real danger of being blown up.

No Man’s Land is a bitter and angry film, but its also so funny that the darkness almost disappears – only to come through at important moments to hit you even harder. The film is a little rough at times, but that just makes it stronger.

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Manifesto (2015)

Manifesto
Director: Julian Rosefeldt
Writer: Julian Rosefeldt
Cast: Cate Blanchett
Seen on: 8.2.2018
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“Plot”:
In 13 segments and with 13 different protagonists (Cate Blanchett), the film digs into artists’ manifestos, combining and contrasting them to meditate on art, artists and their role in society.

Manifesto is an experimental and highly demanding film. At times I was very lost and would have liked somebody to take my hand and walk me through it. But even when I didn’t understand everything about it and could categorize it perfectly, it affected me.

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Den of Thieves (2018)

Den of Thieves
Director: Christian Gudegast
Writer: Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring
Cast: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr., 50 Cent, Meadow Williams, Maurice Compte, Brian Van Holt, Evan Jones, Mo McRae, Kaiwi Lyman, Dawn Olivieri, Eric Braeden
Seen on: 7.2.2018
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Plot:
Nick (Gerard Butler) has been after Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) and his crew of bank robbers for a while. After they hit yet another bank, Nick manages to corner Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) who runs with Merrimen and learns that they plan to rob the Federal Reserve. But as Nick’s personal life spirals ever more out of control, it remains questionable whether he can gain the upper hand on Merrimen and his boys.

I hoped that Den of Thieves would fall into the category of f”ilms so bad that they’re good”. Unfortunately that hope didn’t come true at all. It was so serious and so boring, it practically sucked my higher brain functions straight out of my head.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Amanda Warren, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving
Seen on: 5.2.2018
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Plot:
Mildred (Frances McDormand) has had enough. Her daughter was murdered and the police don’t even seem to try to solve it. So she posts three huge billboards that call attention to the fact. The billboards don’t fan the investigation so much as the emotions of the locals. They do make the life of police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) more difficult, especially since his hotheaded deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) takes it personally.

Three Billboards tells its story very well. Unfortunately it just tells the completely wrong story, managing to perpetuate the racism it tries to stand against by centering the white perspective.

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Schlechte Partie [Bad Match]

Schlechte Partie aka Mädchen ohne Mitgift [Without a Dowry]
Director: Alvis Hermanis
Writer: Alexander Ostrovsky
Cast: Dörte Lyssewski, Marie-Luise Stockinger, Peter Simonischek, Martin Reinke, Michael Maertens, Nicholas Ofczarek, Fabian Krüger, Hermann Scheidleder, Hans Dieter Knebel, Christoph Kohlbacher, Peta Klotzberg
Seen on: 4.2.2018

Plot:
Larissa (Marie-Luise Stockinger) is beautiful and if she had any dowry, she would surely be able to choose her suitor. Unfortunately she doesn’t. Karandyschew (Michael Maertens) wants to marry her anyway. But then Paratow (Nicholas Ofczarek) shows up. He and Larissa used to be engaged until Paratow broke it off. Larissa is stull very much in love with him. Now that he’s back, she gets her hopes up once more. But recently broke Paratow is set to marry a rich woman the next day. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a little fun with Larissa, though.

Schlechte Partie looks lush, but that’s about the only really good thing about it. It’s too long, too male and too tame.

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Die Judenbuche [The Jew’s Beech] (Annette von Droste-Hülshoff)

Die Judenbuche is a novella by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.
Finished on: 2.2.2018

Plot:
Friedrich grows up under tough circumstances with an alcoholic, abusive father. Even after his father dies and he is adopted by his uncle Simon, Friedrich grows up to become a very hard man who is followed around everywhere by Johannes, Simon’s illegitimate son. When a group of wood thieves turn more violent, Friedrich is involved. And when a Jewish man, Aaron, is murderd, Friedrich is also implicated.

Die Judenbuche is an interesting novella that I think could have even profited from being expanded into a novel. In any case the slim volume does carry quite a punch already.

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Downsizing (2017)

Downsizing
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Rolf Lassgård, Ingjerd Egeberg, Udo Kier, Søren Pilmark, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Margo Martindale
Seen on: 1.2.2018
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Plot:
The world has latched onto a new concept: downsizing. People are literally shrunk down to five inches. Given that they need much less resources that way, their dollar stretches much further, buying them a life of luxury. Paul (Matt Damon) is intrigued by the idea and when his friend Dave (Jason Sudeikis) tells him all about his newly shrunken life and how great it is, Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to take the leap themselves.

Payne isn’t my kind of director, and Downsizing is unfortunately no exception, despite the fun premise. The execution is racist, sexist and gets lost inside its own metaphor. I was hoping for more.

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Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology (Ed. by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson)

Behind the Mask is an anthology of superhero stories edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson.
Finished on: 29.1.2018
[I won this book as an uncorrected ARC in a Librarything Early Reviewer giveaway.]

Behind the Mask is a very entertaining anthology. Of course, there are stories that worked better for me than others, but overall, I had a lot of fun with the various takes on superheroes in this, stretching from origin stories to questions of inheritance, from every day obstacles to big fights.

After the jump, there’s more about each of the stories separately.

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Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes (Steph Swainston)

Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes is a collection of moments, scenes and vignettes that are part of the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston.
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]
Finished on: 29.1.2017

“Plot”:
Wrought Gothic collects various glimpses into the background of the Fourlands in differing forms. There are some outtakes, a few descriptions from a tour guide, a history essay by Simoon, and a look at Jant’s past.

Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes provides us with some nice background information of the world of the Fourlands and some of its characters, but not everything worked all that well for me. Still, as a supplement of this complex world, it was nice.

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Aftermath (Steph Swainston)

Aftermath is kind of a novella in the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston. It’s actually a first look at the next novel in the Series, The Savant and the Snake which hasn’t been released yet, and includes some bonus material.
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]
Finished on: 27.1.2017

Plot:
After the events of Fair Rebel, there are a lot of pieces to be picked up. When Gayle, the Castle’s Lawyer, wakes up from her injuries, Simoon, the Castle’s Treasurer, is already waiting for her. He is deeply unsettled by events and tries to find his footing again. He talks things through with Gayle, trying to figure out how to go on from there.

Aftermath is short and probably mostly for more committed fans of the series, with the background information and the glimps of what’s to come it provides. I really enjoyed it.

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