On the Basis of Sex (2018)

On the Basis of Sex
Director: Mimi Leder
Writer: Daniel Stiepleman
Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root
Seen on: 27.3.2019
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Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism, misogyny

Plot:
In 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) is one of only a handful female law students. But she’s ambitious and smart, has a supportive husband in Marty (Armie Hammer) and doesn’t let herself be discouraged. But sticking to her guns is only half the battle for her, and for the next years, Ruth has to fight for her place in the world of law and of women in the world in general over and over again.

On the Basis of Sex is an excellent film. Well made with a wonderful cast and politically outspoken. That’s how I like my movies.

The film poster showing a giant Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felictiy Jones) leaning against the supreme court building.
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Us (2019)

Us
Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Cast. Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon
Seen on: 26.3.2019
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Plot:
The Wilson family – Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), Gabe (Winston Duke) and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) – are heading to a beach house for their vacation. There they meet their friends, the Tyler family (Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon). But instead of spending a relaxing time, Adelaide is reminded of the time she got lost at an amusement park when she was a child, when Jason wanders off himself. And then at night, when things seem to have calmed down a little, The Wilson family finds themselves facing another family that looks just like them, but isn’t in the slightest – and they have come to take their place.

Us really is a fantastic film. Both honestly scary and funny, it uses its talented cast to its full advantages and is definitely a worthy follow-up to Get Out for Peele.

The film poster showing Adelaid/Red (Lupita Nyong'o) with horrified eyes, tears streaking down her face, holding a mask of her own smiling face.
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Les frères Sisters [The Sisters Brothers] (2018)


The Sisters Brothers
Director: Jacques Audiard
Writer: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
Based on: Patrick deWitt‘s novel
Cast: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rebecca Root, Allison Tolman, Rutger Hauer, Carol Kane
Seen on: 25.3.2019
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Plot:
Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) are hitmen and their newest task is to kill prospector Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed) who stole from their employer The Commodore (Rutger Hauer). Tracking Warm is private investigator John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is supposed to hand Warm over to the Sisters brothers. But when Morris starts doubting Warm’s guilt, he teams up with him instead. Meanwhile the Sisters brothers are plagued by bad luck, Charlie’s drinking and Eli’s misgivings about their profession.

I’m not much of a Western fan (a few exceptions notwithstanding), but time and again I get roped into them. In this case, it was the cast that drew me. But the film still didn’t work for me – that’s a resounding meh from my part.

The film poster showing Eli (John C. Reilly) and Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) in close-up.
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An Eastern Westerner (1920), Pollyanna (1920) + Brussels Jazz Orchestra

An Eastern Westerner
Director: Hal Roach
Writer: Frank Terry, H.M. Walker
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Noah Young

Pollyanna
Director: Paul Powell
Writer: Frances Marion
Based on: Eleanor H. Porter‘s novel
Cast: Mary Pickford, Wharton James, Katherine Griffith, Helen Jerome Eddy, George Berrell, Howard Ralston, William Courtleigh, Herbert Prior

Both part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by the Brussels Jazz Orchestra
Seen on: 24.3.2019

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
In An Eastern Westerner, a boy (Harold Lloyd) gets sent from New York to the Wild West because his parents have had it with his partying. But there is space enough to get into trouble in the Wild West as well.
In Pollyanna, orphaned Pollyanna (Mary Pickford) goes to live with her grumpy Aunt Polly (Katherine Griffith). Pollyanna relentless optimism slowly transforms Polly and all the other people around her.

I found An Eastern Westerner very entertaining and Pollyanna suffocating in its ableism and make-your-own-fate mentality. The music for both was not my cup of tea.

Both film posters next to each other. An Eastern Westerner's simply shows Harold Lloyd laughing. Pollyanna's shows Pollyanna (Mary Pickford) talking to Jimmy (Howard Ralston).
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If Beale Street Could Talk (James Baldwin)

If Beale Street Could Talk is a novel by James Baldwin.
Finished on: 21.3.2019
[Here’s my review of the movie adaptation.]

Content Note: rape, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Tish and Fonny are young and very in love. But then Fonny gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and Tish discovers that she is pregnant. Her joy at expecting a baby from the man she loves pushes her even more to prove his innocence. Fortunately she has her family to support her.

If Beale Street Could Talk is a beautifully written novel filled with truths that are mentioned so casually you almost miss how wise this book is. There is a lot of tenderness in the book, but the world’s harshness is ever present, making the book weigh more than it may appear at first. I was very impressed.

The book cover showing a black and white photo of a Black kid jumping off a wooden post.
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Evelina (Fanny Burney)

Evelina or, the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World is an epistolary novel by Fanny Burney.
Finished on: 20.3.2019

Plot:
Evelina grew up the ward of Reverend Villars because her mother Caroline died when she was a baby and her nobleman father John Belmont denied any knowledge of her. But now her family is catching up with her in the form of Madame Duval, Caroline’s mother. Madame Duval never knew she had a granddaughter, is determined to connect with Evelina, and wants to France. Not trusting Madame Duval’s judgement, Reverend Villars fears that Evelina will find a similar fate as her mother, so he arranges that Evelina visit his friend Lady Howard at her estate. But when Lady Howard resolves to go to London and take Evelina with her, an overwhelmed Evelina herself is introduced to the world at large and its dangers after all, especially in the form of two very different men: Lord Orvell and Sir Willoughby.

Evelina was quite the discovery for me. It’s a well-written, often funny and always engaging novel. Simply fantastic.

The book cover showing the painting of a young woman writing.
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Re-Watch: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Director: Jim Sharman
Writer: Richard O’Brien, Jim Sharman
Cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Jonathan Adams, Peter Hinwood, Meat Loaf, Charles Gray
Seen on: 19.3.2019
[Here is my last review of it.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) just got engaged and decide to visit their former teacher in whose class they met. But on the way there, they get lost and a flat tire and so they end up at a weird manor where strange things are going on. Not only is there a strange celebration, but the host, Dr Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) has announced that what they’re celebrating is that he built a man.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is probably one of the films I have seen the most times in my life, and that’s not even counting the live versions I saw of it. When they announced a sing-along screening at the cinema, of course I had to be there again. And what a fun evening it was!

The film poster showing Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) lounging in the oversized lips of a mouth.
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If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

If Beale Street Could Talk
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writer: Barry Jenkins
Based on: James Baldwin‘s novel
Cast: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Ethan Barrett, Milanni Mines, Ebony Obsidian, Dominique Thorne, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Diego Luna, Emily Rios, Ed Skrein, Finn Wittrock, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, Pedro Pascal
Seen on: 14.3.2019
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Content Note: rape, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) are young and very in love. But then Fonny gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and Tish discovers that she is pregnant. Her joy at expecting a baby from the man she loves pushes her even more to prove his innocence. Fortunately she has her family to support her.

If Beale Street Could Talk may not quite achieve the heights of Moonlight, but it is a beautiful, well-acted film that is, unfortunately, way too timely still. It’s definitely a film to be seen.

The film poster showing Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) leaning their foreheads against each other. Superimposed in their shapes we can also see them walking down a New York street, huddled under a red umbrella.
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Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Director: Marielle Heller
Writer: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
Based on: Lee Israel‘s memoir
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone, Gregory Korostishevsky, Jane Curtin, Stephen Spinella, Christian Navarro, Pun Bandhu, Erik LaRay Harvey
Seen on: 13.3.2019
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Plot:
Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is a biographer. Or rather, she was – the people she would like to write about are barely of interest anymore, and coupled with Lee’s difficult personality, she just isn’t able to sell her books anymore to a publisher. So Lee needs another source of income. When she sells a letter she received from Katherine Hepburn to Anna (Dolly Wells) who sells books and autographs, Lee may have found a way out of her misery: she turns to forgery.

Although Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an interesting portrayal of a complex and unusual woman, it was a little disappointing for me. I just didn’t connect enough with it.

The film poster showing Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) writing something on a very fill desk, a glass of whiskey next to her.
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Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Based on: Roy Thomas and Gene Colan‘s character
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg, Stan Lee, Don Cheadle, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 11.3.2019
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Plot:
Vers (Brie Larson) is one of the warriors on the Kree planet Hala, led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). They are fighting against the Skrulls. Vers is a skilled fighter, but she struggles with keeping her emotions in check and she also lost her memories, some of which may or may not be haunting her in her dreams. After yet another skirmish with the Skrull, Vers crashlands on Earth where she draws the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D., in particular Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Together they try to find out about Vers’ past, but also to find a way to fight the Skrulls that keep coming.

I am very content with Captain Marvel. It may not be the best of the Marvel movies but it is very good and a Marvel film with a woman at the center (and a woman directing) was more than overdue anyway. More of this please.

The film poster showing Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) in her Captain Marvel outfit, energy flowing through her.
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