Travis (Support: Turin Brakes)

Travis played a concert in Cambridge with Turin Brakes as their support.
Seen on: 13.12.2018

When Travis brought out their album The Man Who almost 20 years ago, Turin Brakes were actually their supporting band then as well. So when they went on an anniversary tour for The Man Who, they decided to team up again – to my absolute pleasure.

Turin Brakes have been one of my favorite bands for 15 years now and in that time, I don’t think they ever played a concert in Austria. So, when I learned that they are on tour again and that they are on tour with Travis, who are also one of my favorites, and that they’d make a stop in Cambridge where my friend lived (and would come with me), tickets were bought (at first it looked like I was too late and the concert was sold out, but then I found some after all) and I was on the plane. And what an excellent decision on my part – it was a great show from both bands.

The band Turin Brakes, consisting of four white guys, in the woods.
Turin Brakes
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Merry Inkmas (Talia Hibbert)

Merry Inkmas is a novel by Talia Hibbert.
Finished on: 12.12.2018

Plot:
Cash goes to the same coffee shop every day. Not really for the coffee, but for Bailey, the barista. One night, Bailey gives John, a homeless guy she knows, the opportunity to warm up in the coffee shop. Her boss doesn’t like it and fires Bailey on the spot. Cash is a witness to the scene and offers Bailey a job at his tattoo parlour straight away, as well as offering to help John out. Bailey accepts the job, even though she feels at least as drawn to Cash as he to her. But both of them have learned hard lessons in earlier relationships and may not be open to make more of their attraction to each other.

Merry Inkmas is a great read that pushed a lot of my buttons – starting with a tattoo artist (tattooed himself, of course) hero and a fat, black heroine. I’m absolutely here for it.

The book cover showing a guy in a leather jacket, no shirt, showing off his abs and his tattoos.
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Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim [The History of Lady Sophia Sternheim] (Sophie von La Roche)

Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim is an epistolary novel by Sophie von La Roche.
Finished on: 11.12.2018

Plot:
Sophie grows up very sheltered. Her mother died when she was very young and her father did the very best to bring her up good and decent. But he, too, dies when Sophie is only 19 years old. Her aunt and uncle, Countess and Count Löbau, take her in and move her to the city and bring her to court. Sophie is overwhelmed with the intricacies of court and her virtues are constantly tested. To make things even harder for her, she catches the eye of two men, tough and correct Lord Seymour and manipulative Lord Derby.

For me, Sophie von La Roche – one of the few (German-speaking) female writers who are still remembered 250 years later – was an exciting discovery. I really loved Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim and finding another successful, historical female writer.

The book cover in simple yellow, no frills.
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9 Dead Gay Guys (2002)

9 Dead Gay Guys
Director: Lab Ky Mo
Writer: Lab Ky Mo
Cast: Glen Mulhern, Brendan Mackey, Steven Berkoff, Michael Praed, Vas Blackwood, Fish, Simon Godley, Carol Decker, Raymond Griffiths, Abdala Keserwani, Karen Sharman, Leon Herbert, Steven Woodhouse
Seen on: 9.12.2018
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Content Note: ableism, homomisia, antisemitism

Plot:
Byron (Brendan Mackey) and Kenny (Glen Mulhern) are two Irish guys in London who make their way through the gay scene there. To make some cash, they dabble in sex work. But one night, their customer Queen (Michael Praed) ends up dead. Rumors of a cash-filled bed abound and more men end up dead as Byron and Kenny hope to get to the cash in the bed.

9 Dead Gay Guys is what happens when somebody decides that the trouble with “politically incorrect humor” is that it simply doesn’t have enough gay guys. I thought it was a catastrophe.

The film poster showing the outline of a guy hanging from a noose.
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Battle (2018)

Battle
Director: Katarina Launing
Writer: Karsten Fullu, Maja Lunde
Cast: Lisa Teige, Fabian Svegaard Tapia, Vebjørn Enger, Stig R. Amdam, Silje Marie Baltzersen, Charlott Utzig, Sofie Albertine Foss, Georgia May Anta, Sigyn Åsa Sætereng, Morad Aziman
Seen on: 8.12.2018
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Plot:
Amalie’s (Lisa Teige) world turns upside down when her father goes bankrupt and she suddenly finds herself ripped from her comfortable life. At school, Amalie tries to hide her new situation. She finds relief in dancing ballet, even though the only training space available to her now is at the local community center. There she meets Mikael (Fabian Svegaard Tapia), a street dancer who also trains there. Despite initial hesitation on both sides, they become closer. But Amalie still keeps her two lives apart – and that cannot go on forever.

I do like dance films, so of course, I couldn’t skip this one when it popped up on netflix. And probably because I generally like them so much, I also enjoyed Battle, despite quite a few flaws and a lot of tropiness.

The film poster showing Amalie (Lisa Teige) and Mikael (Fabian Svegaard Tapia).
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Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly, Ariana Neal
Seen on: 8.12.2018
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Content Note: police violence, racism

Plot:
It’s New Year’s Eve and Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) has a full day ahead of him. He lives with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their daughter and he hasn’t been exactly honest with her, but he wants to do better. He also wants to try and find a new job before she finds out that he lost his old one. And it’s his mom’s (Octavia Spencer) birthday to boot. But by the end of the day, all of his plans will come to a screeching halt and Oscar will be dead, shot by the police.

Given that Fruitvale Station is based on a true story, I was aware that this film wouldn’t be exactly easy. Even though I was braced for that, it still hit me hard. It’s just really, really good.

The film poster showing Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) standing on a subway platform.
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Don Roos, Kevin Hood, Thomas Bezucha
Based on: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ novel
Cast: Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay, Katherine Parkinson, Matthew Goode, Glen Powell, Penelope Wilton
Seen on: 7.12.2018
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Plot:
Shortly after WW2. Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is a successful columnist who recently published a book with collected essays and is now struggling to find a topic for a new book. That’s when she receives a letter from Guernsey from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman). Juliet becomes interested in the history of Guernsey during the war, and in particular the history of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Dawsey writes about, and decides that she wants to go there to find the stuff for her new book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was nice, but I didn’t like it as much as I liked the book, despite many good things. Still, it’s a good watch and will probably motivate you to join/create a book club of your own.

The film poster showing Juliet Ashton (Lily James) arriving on Guernsey.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Angelo (2018)

Angelo
Director: Markus Schleinzer
Writer: Alexander Brom, Markus Schleinzer
Cast: Makita Samba, Alba Rohrwacher, Larisa Faber, Kenny Nzogang, Lukas Miko, Gerti Drassl, Michael Rotschopf, Jean-Baptiste Tiémélé, Nancy Mensah-Offei, Christian Friedel
Seen on: 4.12.2018
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
The Countess (Alba Rohrwacher) wants a new accessoire, so she heads to the slave market to get herself a black boy. The first Angelo she gets gets ill and dies, unfortunately, so she gets another one. This Angelo (Kenny Nzogang) is hardier. He grows up in her household. Baptized and educated, Angelo Soliman (Makita Samba) becomes the court mascot in Vienna. But he will not be confined to his assigned role.

I’m afraid that I saw Angelo on the wrong day and in the wrong way, so I’m not sure how much of its lack of an effect on me is due to that and how much is the film itself. It definitely does have very strong moments and is interesting in many ways, so I definitely wouldn’t discount it entirely.

Angelo as a child (Kenny Nzogang) and the countess (Alba Rohrwacher) standing next to each other. She's praying.
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Leutnant Gustl (Arthur Schnitzler)

Leutnant Gustl is a novella by Arthur Schnitzler.
Finished on: 4.12.2018

Plot:
Leutnant Gustl goes to a concert. At the coat check he meets an acquaintance, the baker Habetswallner. They get into a fight and Gustl is ready to draw his sword, but Habetswallner keeps him from doing it, telling him basically he is an immature little boy and walks away. Gustl can’t take this insult and the military honor codex demands that someone who has been insulted in such a way, has to commit suicide. Gustl decides to do so in the morning, passing through the night in thought.

Leutnant Gustl is the first German-language story written entirely as a stream-of-consciousness inner monologue. This can get a little exhausting, especially since Gustl is an ass (fortunately it’s only a novella), but it’s definitely worth sticking with it.

The book cover showing a pencil drawing of soldier, half lying in a chair.

[SPOILERS]

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Die Geschichte von der Gänseprinzessin und ihrem treuen Pferd Falada (1989)

Die Geschichte von der Gänseprinzessin und ihrem treuen Pferd Falada [literally: The Story of the Goose Princess and Her Loyal Horse Falada]
Director: Konrad Petzold
Writer: Angelika Mihan, Marion Wallroth, Konrad Petzold
Based on: the fairy tale The Goose Girl as collected by the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Dana Morávková, Michaela Kuklová, Eberhard Mellies, Regina Beyer, Peter Zimmermann, Gerry Wolff, Alexander Höchst, Karsten Janzon
Seen on: 2.12.2018
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Plot:
Liesa (Michaela Kuklová) is the daughter of a duke who was the enemy of Aurinia’s (Dana Morávková) father who took in Liesa after she was orphaned. Liesa and Aurinia grew up as sisters, although they couldn’t be more different. When Aurinia travels to the neighboring kingdom to marry Prince Ivo (Alexander Höchst), Liesa accompanies her. On the way, she forces Aurinia to switch roles and ultimately makes Aurinia into a goose herder. But will Prince Ivo really be tricked?

Die Geschichte von der Gänseprinzessin und ihrem treuen Pferd Falada is a nice fairy tale adaptation that I would have probably loved as a child. Seeing it as an adult, I still thought it was sweet, but I also saw some problems.

The film poster showing a girl (Dana Moráková) putting a flower crown on a boy (Karsten Janzon).
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