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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Await Further Instructions (2018)

Await Further Instructions
Director: Johnny Kevorkian
Writer: Gavin Williams
Cast: Sam Gittins, Neerja Naik, Abigail Cruttenden, David Bradley, Grant Masters, Holly Weston, Kris Saddler
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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Content Note: Racism

Plot:
The Milgrams have come together for Christmas. Nick (Sam Gittins) has brought home his girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik). Unfortunately Nick’s grandfather (David Bradley) is a raging racist, making things incredibly uncomfortable in addition to the usual family tensions with Nick’s constantly worried mother (Abigail Cruttenden), his dominant father (Grant Masters), pregnant sister (Holly Weston) and her husband (Kris Saddler). On Christmas Day, Nick and Annji have had enough. But when they try to leave they discover that the house is covered in goo that has blocked them in. The TV cautions them to stay inside and await further instructions – and those instructions become increasingly strange.

Await Further Instructions starts off interesting enough, but I didn’t really get into the film and the longer it lasted, the more this became a problem.

The film poster showing a drawing of Grant Masters with cables coming out of his mouth.

[Vague SPOILERS]

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Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse
Director: John McPhail
Writer: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins, Mark Benton, Paul Kaye, Sean Connor, John Winchester, Euan Bennet, Ella Jarvis
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 21.9.2018
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Plot:
Usually nothing much happens in Little Haven. But this Christmas, zombies have found their way into town. As the town becomes quickly chaotic, Anna (Ella Hunt), her best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) and a few other high schoolers have to get across town to their high school where they hope to find safety.

Anna and the Apocalypse reads pretty much like your standard zombie film on paper. But it really isn’t standard at all – starting with the fact that it’s a musical and one of the most fun films I’ve seen in a while. It’s perfectly entertaining.

The film poster showing Ella Hunt raising a giant sharpened candy cane.
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Blue My Mind (2017)

Blue My Mind
Director: Lisa Brühlmann
Writer: Lisa Brühlmann, Dominik Locher
Cast: Luna Wedler, Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller, Georg Scharegg, Lou Haltinner, Yael Meier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 21.9.2018
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Plot:
Mia (Luna Wedler) just moved to a new place with her parents. Trying to find her place at her new school, she finds the popular Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) and her friends who spend most of her time partying with alcohol and drugs. Mia starts to hang out with them and pushing her own limits. But it’s not only her behavior that changes: Mia’s body is starting to become very different as well.

Blue My Mind is a queer coming of age monster film – what’s not to love about that? I was very impressed by the film, especially considering that it’s the film school graduation piece by writer and director Brühlmann.

The film poster showing Luna Wedler and Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen.
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Azanian Bridges (Nick Wood)

Azanian Bridges is a novel by Nick Wood.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 21.9.2018

Plot:
In a South Africa where Apartheid is still in full swing, Martin is a white psychologist who developed a machine that can deeply connect two people with each other. He is ready to proceed to human testing wiht his Empathy Enhancer and finds an ideal subject in black Sibusiso who was traumatized at a political rally. Sibusiso agrees and when it turns out that the machine actually works, more than one party is interested in the machine, leading to both Martin and Sibusiso finding themselves thrown into politics much deeper than they ever thought possible.

Azanian Bridges has an interesting setting and set-up but in the end, the execution was very flawed and didn’t manage to convince.

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Mandy (2018)

Mandy
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 20.9.2018
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Plot:
Red (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) couldn’t be happier with each other. They live remotely and they live mostly for each other. But their intense togetherness is not only disrupted, it is destroyed when Mandy catches the eye of Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache), the leader of a local cult. Jeremiah shows up at Red and Mandy’s home ready to do everything to get Mandy to himself.

Mandy starts off well enough, but after the first hour or so, I lost interest in it. It’s intriguing, and as an opening to this year’s /slash Filmfestival it was well-chosen, but it just didn’t work all the way through.

The film poster all in red hues, showing various of the film's characters.
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The Children Act (2017)

The Children Act
Director: Richard Eyre
Writer: Ian McEwan
Based on: his own novel
Cast: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead, Rosie Cavaliero, Ben Chaplin
Seen on: 20.9.2018

Plot:
Fiona (Emma Thompson) is a judge who lives for her work. Her husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) has been fully supportive of that – so far. But he doesn’t want things to continue as they are. Fiona can’t deal with that revelation as she’s just taken on a new case about Adam (Fionn Whitehead), a teenager just shy of his 18th birthday refusing a blood transfusion for religious reasons – a transfusion that he needs to survive. Fiona has to decide whether he should be forced to have the transfusion despite his wishes. The only way to speak with him personally is if she visits him in the hospital – a visit that has a profound impact on both her and Adam.

The Children Act is a well-done film that tells an emotional story. It was a good film, but I think my favorite part of watching it were the reactions of the school class who watched it in the cinema with me.

The film poster showing Emma Thompson as a judge in court.
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Letters for Scarlet (Julie C. Gardner)

Letters for Scarlet is a novel by Julie Gardner.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 18.9.2018

Plot:
When they were teenagers, Corie and Scarlet were best friends, basically inseperable. Now 28, Corie finds a graduation letter she wrote and completely forget about. Having to face her past, she is confronted again with what happened to her and Scarlet and Tucker. Meanwhile Scarlet also has to face facts: she is pregnant and pretty certain that she will be a horrible mother who deserves nothing good. Through letters both of them explore feelings, both old and new, they haven’t figured out yet.

Letters for Scarlet is a nice, quick read that something was a bit much for me and that I didn’t entirely love. But I enjoyed it for the most part.

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