Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman
Director: James Wan
Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns, James Wan
Based on: Paul Norris and Mort Weisingercomics
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Ludi Lin, Michael Beach, Randall Park, Graham McTavish, Leigh Whannell
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 21.12.2018
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Plot:
Arthur (Jason Momoa) grew up with his lighthouse keeper father Thomas (Temuera Morrison), his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) having left the family to return to Atlantis where she is queen. Now Arthur, also known as Aquaman, leads a rather aimless existence, though he does take care of the Ocean. That’s when is Atlantean roots come to haunt him in the form of Princess Mera (Amber Heard) who urges him to get into politics, as war is brewing between Atlantis and land-dwelling humanity. She believes that only Arthur can stop it by reuniting both races.

As with most DC movies, I was hesitant about it at first, but given that the early reactions about the film were pretty good and the trailer (as well as Momoa) looked good, I did allow myself to have some expectations about the film. I’m happy to say that the film absolutely fulfilled them, if not to say surpassed them. It’s very fine entertainment.

The film poster showing Arthur/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) with his trident, and Mera (Amber Heard).
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Secret Santa (2018)

Secret Santa
Director: Adam Marcus
Writer: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan
Cast: Michael Rady, Drew Lynch, Debra Sullivan, A Leslie Kies, Ryan Leigh Seaton, John Gilbert, Pat Destro, Nathan Hedrick, Michelle Renee Allaire, Curtis Fortier, Freddy John James, Petra Areskoug, Tracy Drolet, William Dixon
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Christmas special
Seen on: 20.12.2018
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Content Note: transmisia

Plot:
Christmas dinner brings together the entire family. But as is so often the case, it is also the perfect place to bring out the tensions that have run in the family for many, many years. Things get really bad this year though – and turn outright bloody. It appears that something more than just the usually family feuds is going on.

Secret Santa is a cheesy, low-budget film that was a whole lot of fun. It’s perfect to scratch any gorey B-movie itch you might have, at least with a nice crowd like the /slash people.

The film poster showing a man holding a bloody package standing in front of a house.
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Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Mary Poppins Returns
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca
Based on: P.L. Traversbooks
Sequel to/Remake of: Mary Poppins
Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Jeremy Swift, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury
Seen on: 19.12.2018
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Plot:
Many years ago, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) stayed with the Banks family to take care of Michael and Jane. Now Michael (Ben Wishaw) is a father and widower himself and he and Jane (Emily Mortimer) try their best to provide everything Michael’s children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson) could need. But they are struggling, emotionially and financially. So Mary Poppins makes a return to the Banks’ home to help them once again.

Mary Poppins Returns is nice enough, but it didn’t really make me happy, given that it doesn’t really know if it is a remake or a sequel, makes some questionable choices, and generally it just doesn’t hold a candle to the old film.

The film poster showing Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).
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Alles ist gut [All Is Well] (2018)

Alles ist gut
Director: Eva Trobisch
Writer: Eva Trobisch
Cast: Aenne Schwarz, Andreas Döhler, Hans Löw, Tilo Nest, Lina Wendel, Lisa Hagmeister, Dagny Dewath, Thomas Gräßle
Seen on: 19.12.2018
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Content Note: rape

Plot:
Janne (Aenne Schwarz) and her boyfriend Piet (Andreas Döhler) run a publishing house together, but they are struggling. So when Janne returns to her hometown for a high school reunion and meets with Robert (Tilo Nest) who she used to babysit for, she is very happy that he offers her a job. Robert also introduces her to Martin (Hans Löw), his brother-in-law who is also going to the reunion. Janne and Martin party together and when they make their way from the reunion, Janne offers Martin to crash on her sofa. He accepts, misreads the invitation as a come-on and makes a pass at her. When Janne rebukes him, he doesn’t stop though: he rapes her. Janne decides that it’s no big deal and that she will just go on as if nothing has happened. But that’s not as easy as she thinks.

Rape is often a topic in films in many different ways. But I have never seen it dealt with as Alles ist gut deals with it: realistically, looking at the everyday nature of it. It is a really strong film.

The film poster showing Janne (Aenne Schwarz) dressed only in panties, standing in the hallway of an apartment building.
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Widows (2018)

Widows
Director: Steve McQueen
Writer: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen
Based on: Lynda La Plante‘s TV series
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Carrie Coon, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Coburn Goss, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver
Seen on: 18.12.2018
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Plot:
Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) has made a career out of being a thief. Together with his crew Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Florek (Jon Bernthal), and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) he sets out to do another job – but this time things go wrong and they all die. Harry’s wife, now widow, Veronica (Viola Davis) who never knew much about his career, finds herself being pressured by Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) to whom Harry owed money. Not knowing what else to do, Veronica gets in touch with the other widows – Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Amanda (Carrie Coon) and tries to convince them to pull off a heist themselves.

Widows was a pretty good and more than usual complex heist film, but I’m afraid that my expectations were a little too high – it just wasn’t as good as what I’ve come to rely on in a Steve McQueen film.

The film poster showing portrait images of the main characters.
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Unga Astrid [Becoming Astrid] (2018)

Unga Astrid
Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Writer: Kim Fupz Aakeson, Pernille Fischer Christensen
Cast: Alba August, Maria Bonnevie, Trine Dyrholm, Henrik Rafaelsen, Magnus Krepper, Björn Gustafsson
Seen on: 18.12.2018
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Plot:
Coming from a poor farmer’s family, Astrid (Alba August) is a driven young woman who jumps at the chance to work at the local newspaper when she is 16 years old. She gets along well with the editor-in-chief Reinhold Blomberg (Henrik Rafaelsen). In fact, they start to have an affair. When Astrid ends up pregnant, it’s a wake-up call for her. She goes to Denmark to have her son there. As she is in no position to raise him herself, she leaves him with a foster family, but is resolved to get him back as soon as possible. But building a life as a young woman is no easy task.

Becoming Astrid is an interesting biopic that isn’t made by the fact that it is about famous writer Astrid Lindgren – it would have been just as engaging if it had been a film about a woman called Astrid who doesn’t rise to fame later-on. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Astrid Lindgren (Alba August) and her son on a train.
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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Writer: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman
Based on: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko‘s comic
Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Natalie Morales, Edwin H. Bravo, Oscar Isaac, Greta Lee, Stan Lee
Seen on: 17.12.2018
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Plot:
When Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider, he finds himself facing a whole new set of problems – as if starting a new school wasn’t enough. But then he has to watch as Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) kills Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Chris Pine) who tries to keep Kingpin from using a dimension-crossing machine, and things get even worse. That’s when Miles stumbles upon yet another Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) and he realizes that he might be able to find other Spider-Men in other dimensions. If they team up, they may stand a chance against Kingpin, although not all of them are of equal help.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse got a whole lot of advance prasie and all of it was absolutely deserved. In fact, I felt that it actually surpassed my expectations. It was funny, hit all the right emotional notes and was visually really interesting. Absolutely fantastic.

The film poster showing Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as Spider-Man jumping high over the skyline of New York.
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Crooked House (2017)

Crooked House
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writer: Julian Fellowes, Tim Rose Price, Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Cast: Max Irons, Stefanie Martini, Glenn Close, Honor Kneafsey, Christina Hendricks, Terence Stamp, Julian Sands, Gillian Anderson, Christian McKay, Amanda Abbington, Preston Nyman
Seen on: 17.12.2018
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Plot:
Charles Hayward (Max Irons) used to be a diplomat/spy in Egypt, but now he is back in London and takes up a business as a private detective. When the rich Aristide Leonides is poisoned in his home, his granddaughter Sophia (Stefanie Martini) calls on Hayward, who was her lover some time ago, to solve the case. Hayward arrives at the Leonides estate to face a complicated family filled with suspects and suspicions.

Crooked House was bad. Holy shit, it was such an exhausting film. I hated it so much, I was very happy that I coincidentally had alcohol-filled chocolates with me so I could dull the pain a little.

The film poster showing the main characters in front of a dark manor.
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Rock Addiction (Nalini Singh)

Rock Addiction is the first novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 15.12.2018

Plot:
Molly has always played it safe in her life, following the rules, careful not to attract undue attention. But when she meets rockstar Zachary Fox at an event, sparks fly and Molly allows herself one night without her usual restraint. After that night, Fox is not read to give her up. Instead he suggests that they take a month for their fling. In that time, he hopes to win her over entirely, while Molly still dreads the media spotlight that will necessarily fall upon her by his side.

I have been reading Singh’s Psy-Changeling series for a while now (and still love it), but her Guild Hunter series wasn’t my cup of tea. So, when she announced a new series that centers a rock band, I didn’t jump at it because rock bands also aren’t necessarily my thing (well, to listen to, absolutely, but to fantasize about, not so much). But then there was a day where this novel was free, so I thought, it’s the ideal opportunity to see if I didn’t love it after all. And what can I say? I guess I have another series of Singh’s that I’m going to follow now.

The book cover showing a shirtless guy with a tattoed arm and a microphone in his hand.
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Love Among the Chickens (P. G. Wodehouse)

Love Among the Chickens is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse. It is the first appearance of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge.
Finished on: 14.12.2018

Plot:
Jeremy Garnet gets a visit from his old friend, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge. Garnet has been planning to devote his time to his new book, but with Ukridge in his life, that is absolutely unthinkable. Ukridge has recently gotten himself a wife, Millie, and a chicken farm with which he hopes to make a lot of money. He convinces Garnet to come with him to his farm to find the peace and quiet to write his novel there. An empty promise, as Garnet soon discovers, finding himself knee-deep in Ukridge’s chaos, and in love himself.

Love Among the Chickens is fun and romantic. The former worked for me, the latter not so much – but I think I will continue to read Wodehouse.

The book cover showing a drawing of a man working on a chicken shed, surrounded by chickens.
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