Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

The film poster showing a group of people in business attire leaning on the word "office".
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Inuyashiki (2018)

Inuyashiki
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Writer: Hiroshi Hashimoto
Based on: Hiroya Oku‘s manga
Cast: Noritake Kinashi, Takeru Satoh, Kanata Hongô, Fumi Nikaidô, Ayaka Miyoshi, Nayuta Fukuzaki, Mari Hamada, Yuki Saitô, Yûsuke Iseya
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Inuyashiki (Noritake Kinashi) tries his best, but he is getting older and success has so far evaded him. He works as hard as he can and his family still isn’t satisfied with the money he makes. Or his personality. To make matters worse, he is diagnosed with cancer and doesn’t have much time left anymore. Just as he wonders how to tell his family about this, he gets struck by a weird light in the park. After that he realizes that he has been given new, superhuman abilities. And he isn’t the only one: Hiro (Takeru Satoh) was also struck. But not everybody should get such powers.

Inuyashiki didn’t really work for me, although I did like Inuyashiki and the film does have a cute dog. But that wasn’t really enough.

The film poster showing a few stills of the film.
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Aterrados [Terrified] (2017)

Aterrados
Director: Demián Rugna
Writer: Demián Rugna
Cast: Maximiliano Ghione, Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis, Julieta Vallina, Demián Salomón, Agustín Rittano, Natalia Señorales
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
A young couple, Juan and Clara (Agustín Rittano, Natalia Señorales), have issues with their neighbor Walter (Demián Salomón) who seems to be renovating his flat at all hours. But things quickly become stranger than just late-night banging. And it doesn’t stay the only strang occurrence in the area. When police man Funes (Maximiliano Ghione) is called in, he in turn brings in three paranormal experts (Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis) to investigate with him.

Aterrados has a great set-up, but once it is done putting everybody in place for the showdown, it kind of lost its steam, and I lost my interest. That being said, it starts off so well, that it makes the rest of the film definitely worth it, too.

The film poster showing a zombie with a split head.
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St. Agatha (2018)

St. Agatha
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels, Clint Sears
Cast: Sabrina Kern, Carolyn Hennesy, Courtney Halverson, Seth Michaels, Trin Miller, Lindsay Seim, Shaun Fletcher
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
It’s the 50s in Georgia and Agatha (Sabrina Kern) is pregnant but unmarried. There’s only one place she can go: the convent that has been taking in women like her for many, many years now. What seems like the perfect place to have her child in peace and then be able to return to her old life as if nothing has happened, quickly turns sour as Agatha starts to find out more about the convent and what happens inside its walls.

St. Agatha didn’t work for me at all. On the one hand, it handles a very sensitive topic very badly and on the other hand it doesn’t make much sense. Additionaly, it’s so full of clichés, it made the entire thing even more annoying.

The film poster showing two nuns with covered faces standing over a girl cowering on the floor.

[SPOILERS]

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The Dark (2018)

The Dark
Director: Justin P. Lange
Writer: Justin P. Lange
Cast: Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Markovics, Sarah Murphy-Dyson, Dan Beirne, Margarete Tiesel
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Content Note: abuse

Plot:
Alex (Toby Nichols) was kidnapped by Josef (Karl Markovics) a while ago, but Josef has to make a run for it. With Alex, traumatized and blinded, in the trunk of his car, he drives off and ends up at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Only that the house isn’t quite as abandoned as he thought: Mina (Nadia Alexander) lives there. Mina finds Alex and since she, too, has experienced unspeakable violence, the two bond and find strength in each other.

The Dark might be a little too long and a little too thin in the story department, but I enjoyed watching it, even if I don’t agree with the story’s angle.

The film poster showing the silhouettes of two kids holding hands in the woods.
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Prospect (2018)

Prospect
Director: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Writer: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Cast: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal, Sheila Vand, Andre Royo
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Plot:
Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father (Jay Duplass) have been roaming space for a while, always looking for the next possibility to make a little money. Now they have a contract to mine for gems on a remote moon. Their mission is not without its dangers to start with, but it becomes even more complicated than they thought. They run into Ezra (Pedro Pascal) who is looking for the very same gems they are – a volatile situation, leaving Cee to make some tough choices.

Prospect was pretty good, but not great. Overall, it left me with a positive impression but it just didn’t make me entirely happy.

The film poster showing Pedro Pascal, Sophie Thatcher and Jay Duplass wearing spacesuits.
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Zoe (2018)

Zoe
Director: Drake Doremus
Writer: Richard Greenberg
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Léa Seydoux, Theo James, Rashida Jones, Christina Aguilera, Miranda Otto, Matthew Gray Gubler
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Plot:
Cole (Ewan McGregor) is a programmer. He has successfully developed a compatability test that can very reliably determine whether two people will be happy together. A test that incidentally led to the end of his own marriage to Emma (Rashida Jones). Now Cole develops AI in the form of robots that he brings ever closer to indistinguishable from humans. His latest project is Ash (Theo James) who is remarkably adept at reading human emotions. Meanwhile it’s Zoe (Léa Seydoux) who runs the day-to-day end of his matchmaking business. Zoe has been quietly in love with Cole for a while now but she doesn’t know what to do with her feelings.

Zoe is soft, tender and a little sad. It doesn’t really have anything new to add to the AI/robot genre, but that doesn’t mean that following it as it treads familiar ground isn’t pleasant.

The film poster showing Ewan McGregor and Léa Seydoux embracing in front of a blue-green background.
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Thee Wreckers Tetralogy (2009-2018)

Thee Wreckers Tetralogy consists of four animated short films made between 2009 and 2018, starting life as music videos for Thee Wreckers. They are supplemented by a documentary about the films and the band.
The four short films are: No Place Like Home (2009), Lonely Bones (2013), Splintertime (2015), Reruns (2018)
Director: Rosto
Writer: Rosto
The documentary is: Everything’s Different, Nothing Has Changed (2017)
Director: Joao MB Costa, Rob Gradisen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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I hadn’t heard of Thee Wreckers and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into with these films, but I admit that I found the films, the animation, the music of the short films pretty mind-blowing. The animation’s aesthetics, the music and the dreamlike narrative style caught me just right and I really managed to lose myself in them. Even though each installment of the tetralogy is very different, they go together very well and make for an all around beautiful body of work.

Poster for the tetralogy showing the animated version of the band.

Read a little more about each of the short films after the jump.

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The Ranger (2018)

The Ranger
Director: Jenn Wexler
Writer: Giaco Furino, Jenn Wexler
Cast: Chloë Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Bubba Weiler, Amanda Grace Benitez, Jeté Laurence, Larry Fessenden
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Plot:
Chelsea (Chloë Levine), Garth (Granit Lahu), Abe (Bubba Weiler), Jerk (Jeremy Pope) and Amber (Amanda Grace Benitez) are all at the same punk club when it gets raided by the police. The five of them make their escape together, but not before Garth actually stabs a police man to avoid getting caught with drugs on his person. Hoping to find refuge in the hunting cabin of Chelsea’s family, they set out for the woods. Once there, a Park Ranger (Jeremy Holm) gets on their case.

The Ranger was a bit underwhelming, I have to admit. It just didn’t really come together for me, although I did like the idea.

The film poster showing a man in a hat and with sunglasses in shades of blue and black.
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