In My Room (2018)

In My Room
Director: Ulrich Köhler
Writer: Ulrich Köhler
Cast: Hans Löw, Elena Radonicich, Michael Wittenborn, Ruth Bickelhaupt, Kathrin Resetarits
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2018
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Plot:
Armin (Hans Löw) is growing older, though you couldn’t tell it from the life he’s living or the women he’s hitting on. It’s obvious that things can’t go on much longer the way they are. But it’s not Armin who gives in – he wakes up one morning and the world is changed around him: he seems to be the only person left. In this wasteland, Armin has to build himself a new life, relying only on himself.

It is interesting to contrast and compare In My Room with The Wall, but other than that there was little that I enjoyed about watching it. I found it pretty exhausting to be quite honest.

the film poster showing a man riding a horse in a desolate landscape.
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Premières solitudes [Young Solitude] (2018)

Premières solitudes
Director: Claire Simon
Writer: Claire Simon
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2018
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“Plot”:
Following a group of teenagers from the same school in the Parisian suburbs, Premières solitudes listens to their conversations, their reflections, their plans and doubts and dreams.

Teenagers can be the cutest, and Premières solitudes is a film that makes sure we don’t forget that fact. As much as I liked the individual teens, the film is at its strongest when it studies the structures that become apparent in their conversations.

The film poster showing drawings of groups of teenagers and their shadows.
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Leto [Summer] (2018)

Leto
Director: Kirill Serebrennikov
Writer: Michael Idov, Lili Idova, Ivan Kapitonov, Kirill Serebrennikov
Based on: Natalya Naumenko’s memoir
Cast:Teo Yoo, Irina Starshenbaum, Roman Bilyk, Aleksandr Kuznetsov
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2018
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Plot:
1980 in Russia. Despite severe censorship of music and concerts, Viktor Tsoy (Teo Yoo) dreams of becoming a rock star like Mike Naumenko (Roman Bilyk). When he gets to meet Mike and plays for him and his wife Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum), Mike sees his talent and decides to take him under his wing, soon giving him first successes. Viktor is very much taken with Mike, and soon with Natalya, too.

I don’t know much about Russian punk and of the bands who are portrayed in the film here, I only new Kino a little (Bezdelnik is a great song), but even so, I enjoyed Leto a lot – in fact, much more than I thought it would. It gives us a look at a relationship between two men that is allowed to be much more complex than the usual portrayal of them in film. But that is not all.

The film poster showing Mike Naumenko (Roman Bilyk), Natalya Naumenko (Irina Starshenbaum) and Viktor Tsoy (Teo Yoo) in black and white with yellow graphic elements.
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Beoning [Burning] (2018)

Beoning
Director: Chang-dong Lee
Writer: Jungmi Oh, Chang-dong Lee
Based on: Haruki Murakami‘s short story Barn Burning
Cast: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim, Seung-ho Choi
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2018
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Plot:
Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo) meets Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jun) again by chance: they grew up in the same neighborhood when they were kids and are now both pretty much on their own in the big city. Hae-mi asks Jong-su to watch her cat while she goes on a trip to Africa. As he is quite smitten with her, he gladly agrees. When she returns, though, things don’t really take the romantic turn Jong-su had hoped for. Instead Hae-mi introduces him to Ben (Steven Yeun) who she met on the trip. Jong-su is in euqal parts jealous of and fascinated by the richer, suave Ben who he doesn’t trust at all.

Burning starts off well but loses steam in the last third or so, leaving me with an overall feeling of disappointment: despite many good qualities, the film could have been more in my opinion.

The film poster showing a man in a hoody running through a sunset landscape.
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In Fabric (2018)

In Fabric
Director: Peter Strickland
Writer: Peter Strickland
Cast: Gwendoline Christie, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Caroline Catz, Julian Barratt, Hayley Squires, Richard Bremmer, Leo Bill, Susanna Cappellaro, Steve Oram, Fatma Mohamed, Jaygann Ayeh, Simon Manyonda
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2018
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Plot:
Miss Luckmoore (Fatma Mohamed) is a shop assistant at a big department store. But ther is something else going on in the store than your usual shopping experience. Miss Luckmoore does sell a dress, though. In fact, she sells the same dress to several women. A cursed dress that spells trouble for all of the women who buy it.

In Fabric is a weird film, in a very special, entertaining and enchanting way. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it from its horror to its absurd sense of humor.

The film poster showing a floating red dress in front of a black background.
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Minding the Gap (2018)

Minding the Gap
Director: Bing Liu
“Cast”: Keire Johnson, Bing Liu, Zack Mulligan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2018
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“Plot”:
In Rockford, IL there’s not much to do, jobs are scarce and the town’s young people congregate at the skater park. Among them is Zack, a charismatic boy who becomes the center of attention for his friend Bing’s cinematic efforts, capturing their skating, their homes, their relationships. Keire is a little younger than they are, but he looks up to the older boys and becomes part of their friend group. They grow up together – with all growing up entails.

Minding the Gap starts life as a documentary about a group of skaters, a group the director himself belongs to. But spanning over a decade in their lives, the film’s subjects change as much as the film itself, ultimately becoming not only a coming of age story, but also a hard and highly personal look at how a boy can become a good man when he has mostly bad experiences with the men around him.

The film poster showing two skateboards lying over each other to form a heart with a photo collage in the background.
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Drift (2017)

Drift
Director: Helena Wittmann
Writer: Helena Wittmann, Theresa George
Cast: Theresa George, Josefina Gill
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2018
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Plot:
Two women spend time at the North Sea together. It is pleasant, but it is also finite and when they have to part, one (Josefina Gill) leaves for Argentina, while the other (Theresa George) heads to the Atlantic Ocean that carries her to her new destination.

Drift is an experimental film and I can image that it can develop quite a pull if you manage to lose yourself in it. I didn’t manage and the talk with the director after the film didn’t help improve my impression of the film either.

The film poster showing a grainy image of the ocean.
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Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Bad Times at the El Royale
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Drew Goddard
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Xavier Dolan, Shea Whigham, Mark O’Brien, Charles Halford, Jim O’Heir
Seen on: 22.10.2018
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Plot:
The El Royale is a run-down motel literally straddling the state line between Nevada and California. Most of the time, it’s empty now, with a single night clerk, Miles (Lewis Pullman) enough to handle all the guests. But on this particular night, there are more guests than usual – and they are all here for their own unstated purposes: Father Daniel (Jeff Bridges) is looking for something. Darlene (Cynthia Erivo) wants to make her career as a singer. Laramie (Jon Hamm) is a vaccuum salesman on the road. Emily (Dakota Johnson) is running from something. As the guests bring their own story to the motel, things get more and more complicated.

Bad Times at the El Royale obviously tries to be a film in the vein of Tarantino’s best, but while a lot of the right ingredients are there for that, the film doesn’t really come together and starts to fall apart more and more the longer it lasts.

The film poster showing a montage of the main characters atop an image of the motel El Royale.
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Short Cuts (1993)

Short Cuts
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt
Based on: short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Zane Cassidy, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Huey Lewis, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry,
Seen on: 20.10.2018
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Plot:
Nine intersecting stories of people in Los Angeles during the Medfly epidemic: Ann (Andie MacDowell) and Howard’s (Bruce Davidson) child (Zane Cassidy) was in an accident just before his coma. Police man Gene (Tim Robbins) cheats on his wife Sherri (Madeline Stowe). Lois (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works for a sex hotline, much to the dislike of her husband Jerry (Chris Penn). Doreen (Lily Tomlin) and Earl (Tom Waits) have a good marriage, at least as long as Earl is sober. Honey (Lily Taylor) and Bill (Robert Downey Jr.) are housesitting. Stormy (Peter Gallagher) is struggling with his divorce from Betty (Frances McDormand). Zoe tries to connect with her mother Tess (Annie Ross). Claire (Anne Archer) and her husband Stuart (Fred Ward) are invited to dinner by Marian (Julianne Moore) and Ralph (Matthew Modine). Stuart, Gordon (Buck Henry) and Vern (Huey Lewis) are looking forward to a long-planned fishing trip.

Short Cuts was really painful: a film filled with unlikeable men who behave like assholes and somehow we are supposed to think think that’s funny and/or interesting? No, thank you and I mean that in the harshest possible sense.

The film poster showing a fractured red heart in front of a white background.
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