A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski
Writer: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward
Seen on: 14.4.2018

Plot:
Earth has been overrun by monsters who can hear the slightest sound and use it to hunt humans down. The Abbotts are desperately trying to survive in the apocalypse, with father Lee (John Krasinski) and mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) trying to keep their children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe) safe. The family has an advantage because Regan is deaf and they therefore know sign language. But it’s unlikely that they can go on much longer as they have been.

A Quiet Place pulled me in and didn’t let me go. And it isn’t just a strong, emotional film, it’s also a great example of how to represent disability in films, which makes it even better. I’m happy to say that it is a film that deserves its hype.

Continue reading

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: F.W. Murnau, Robert J. Flaherty, Edgar G. Ulmer
Cast: Matahi, Anne Chevalier, Bill Bambridge, Hitu, Ah Fong, Jules, Mehao
Seen on: 14.4.2018

Plot:
On Bora Bora, a young boy (Matahi) and a young girl (Anne Chevalier) fall in love. But when the girl is declared the Chosen Maid, the sacred virgin of the island by their leader, an old warrior (Hito), not even the thought of love is allowed anymore. But the boy and the girl are not willing to accept that and decide to flee.

Tabu is on the one hand an interesting look at Bora Bora’s society at the time and a glimpse at a world mostly unfamiliar to Western audiences. On the other hand it’s a white, exoticizing, racist mess that needs to be looked at with a tablespoon of salt.

Continue reading

Ghost Stories (2017)

Ghost Stories
Director: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Writer: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Based on: their own play
Cast: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Paul Warren, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Nicholas Burns, Daniel Hill, Derren Brown
Part of: /slash Filmfestival special screening
Seen on: 13.4.2018

Plot:
Phillip Goodman doesn’t believe in ghosts and he has made it his life’s mission to disprove cases of hauntings. But he gets handed three cases by his great idol Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne). Cases that Cameron was unable to explain, turning him from a sceptic into a believer. Goodman delves deeper into the stories to figure out what’s going on.

Ghost Stories is an entertaining film, although the episodes differ in strength and the solution was a little overdone. But overall I enjoyed the film.

Continue reading

Sois belle et tais-toi [Be Pretty and Shut Up] (1981)

Sois belle et tais-toi
Director: Delphine Seyrig
“Cast”: Jenny Agutter, Juliet Berto, Ellen Burstyn, Candy Clark, Patti D’Arbanville, Marie Dubois, Louise Fletcher, Jane Fonda, Luce Guilbeault, Shirley MacLaine, Millie Perkins, Maria Schneider, Barbara Steele, Susan Tyrrell, Viva, Anne Wiazemsky, Cindy Williams
Seen on: 12.4.2018

“Plot”:
Delphine Seyrig interviews actresses about their work and the movie industry, touching on casual bias as well as outright sexism all of them encounter pretty much every day, shedding light on the struggles women face when they just want to act.

Be Pretty and Shut Up is a fascinating documentary with very interesting women and interviews, but it’s also incredibly frustrating to see that we still have the same discussions even 40 years later.

Continue reading

Lucky (2017)

Lucky
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Writer: Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja
Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Barry Shabaka Henley, James Darren, Beth Grant, Yvonne Huff
Seen on: 12.4.2018

Plot:
Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton) is old but healthy and he has his set routine in the small town in the middle of the desert where he lives. He does his exercises in the morning, he heads to the diner in town for lunch and goes drinking at the bar in the evening, every day. It seems like life could go on forever this way – and it may already have lasted forever. But when Lucky falls, his own mortality intrudes his routine and he might have to think about how he wants to continue.

Lucky is a soft film and one that is worth watching, even if I didn’t find it as touching as I probably should or could have. It’s still very good.

Continue reading

Die Flut (Ulrike Schmitzer)

Die Flut is a novella by Ulrike Schmitzer. As far as I know, it hasn’t been translated, but the title means The Flood.
Finished on: 12.4.2018

Plot:
Red mud has flooded the land, covering pretty much everything. Any human who touches it, turns black, as if coated in paint. Fearing an epidemic, that the blackness might spread, not knowing whether it has an effect apart from the change in looks, hard measures are being taken to control and quarantine the affected. In this situation, a farmer is looking for his grandson. And he has to hurry – not just because the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for everybody, but also because his skin has started to change and if anybody realizes that, he’ll be in big trouble.

Die Flut is a slim volume and gives us a taste of a very unusual worldbuilding and a generally interesting writer. It’s the first thing I read by Schmitzer, but I’ll be sure to check out what else she’s done.

Continue reading

Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Polly Findlay
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Niamh Cusack, Luke Newberry, Raphael Sowole, Edward Bennett, David Acton, Mariam Haque
Seen on: 11.4.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Christopher Eccleston) and Banquo (Raphael Sowole) just fought successfully for King Duncan (David Acton) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Niamh Cusack) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This take on Macbeth is interesting and mostly well done, but it doesn’t work in all regards, ultimately turning out weaker than I had hoped and expected from Findlay.

Continue reading

The Death of Stalin (2017)

The Death of Stalin
Director: Armando Iannucci
Writer: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows
Based on: Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin’s graphic novel La Mort de Staline
Cast: Adrian McLoughlin, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Brooke, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough
Seen on: 11.4.2018

Plot:
1953 in Moscow. Josef Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) has been in power for decades. But now he suddenly dies, leaving a power vacuum that demands to be filled. His right hand men, the Council of Ministers, try to strike the balance between appearing to grieve, not panicking and grabbing for power. Lavrentia Beria (Simon Russell Beale) and Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) quickly become the heads of the biggest two camps in that fight.

I wanted to like The Death of Stalin more than I actually did. It’s well made, of that there’s no doubt, but I was partly very uncomfortable about the jokes they cracked that I felt made light of things nobdy should make light of.

Continue reading

Annihilation (2018)

Annihiliation
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Based on: Jeff VanderMeer’s novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac
Seen on: 7.4.2018

Plot:
Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) joins a mission into Area X, an area where nature shows strange behavior that nobody is able to explain, after her husband (Oscar Isaac) went missing there. The expedition, led by Dr Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is supposed to find out more. Anything they can, really. The five women – Lena, Dr Ventress, Josie (Tessa Thompson), Anya (Gina Rodriguez) and Cass (Tuva Novotny) – set off and are soon faced with phenomena that are even stranger than anticipated.

I was very excited about Annihilation, having recently read the books and loved them and having mostly enjoyed Garland’s previous films. But I have to admit that Annihilation was a bit of a let-down for me. It might have been different if I hadn’t read the books, but I’m not sure.

Continue reading

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

The Hate U Give is a novel by Angie Thomas.
Finished on: 7.4.2018

Plot:
Starr lives in the rather poor, mostly black neighborhood of Garden Heights. But she has been attending the richer, white prep school a little outside of Garden Heights for a while, so she has been out of touch a lot with her childhood friends. So when she attends a party in Garden Heights and she runs into her former best friend Khalil, she is overjoyed. When the police come to break up their party, Khalil gives Starr a ride home. And then the police stop them for a traffic check – an encounter that Khalil doesn’t survive: he is shot by the police officer. Starr is left traumatized and the only witness – and she has to figure out how to deal with both facts.

The Hate U Give is an impressive book – a vibrant story with great characters and many small, important and big, important details that dissect racial relations and racism in the USA way beyond police killings of black people.

Continue reading