Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.
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The Hole in the Ground (2019)

The Hole in the Ground
Director: Lee Cronin
Writer: Lee Cronin, Stephen Shields
Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, Kati Outinen, David Crowley, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, Eoin Macken, James Cosmo
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 5.5.2019
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Plot:
Sarah (Seána Kerslake) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) move to the countryside for a fresh start. But their remote home becomes less of a refuge for them and more of a constant source of paranoia for Sarah when Christ starts to act stranger and stranger. His behavior seems somehow connected to the sinkhole in the woods behind their house and Sarah is soon convinced that more is going on than just a difficult transition into a new life.

The Hole in the Ground starts well enough and does have some creepy moments, but unfortunately the longer it goes on, the less it manages to keep the story together.

The film poster showing Chris (James Quinn Markey) with a spider crawling over his face.
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Un couteau dans le coeur [Knife + Heart] (2018)

Un couteau dans le coeur
Director: Yann Gonzalez
Writer: Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran, Jonathan Genet, Félix Maritaud, Khaled Alouach, Elina Löwensohn
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 5.5.2019
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Plot:
Anne (Vanessa Paradis) produces gay porn together with her lover and editor Lois (Kate Moran). But Lois isn’t happy anymore with their life and she leaves Anne. Anne tries to win her back by making a new, ambitious movie with Archibald (Nicolas Maury) whom she has worked with a lot already. But a killer is making his way through the gay community and he kills two of Anne’s stars as well, drawing her into the investigation that becomes ever stranger.

Un couteau dans le coeur is a neo-giallo or at least a tribute to the old ones. I, personally, am not really a fan of giallos. Usually they just pass me right by. But I have to say that this film worked very well for me and left a very lasting impression.

The film poster showing drawings of the main characters and a bird in a collage.
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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Director: Joe Berlinger
Writer: Michael Werwie
Based on: Elizabeth Kendall’s autobiography The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy
Cast: Lily Collins, Zac Efron, Angela Sarafyan, Kaya Scodelario, Haley Joel Osment, Terry Kinney, Jim Parsons, John Malkovich
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 4.5.2019
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Plot:
When Liz (Lily Collins) takes a break from being a single mom and goes out with her friend Joanna (Angela Sarafyan), she meets law student Ted Bundy (Zac Efron). He is charming and the two hit it off. It doesn’t take long for him to be a fixture in her life, as well as the of her daughter. But six years later, Ted is arrested and charged with being a serial killer. Liz doesn’t believe that there is any truth to the allegations. But as the trial goes on, she has to face the fact that maybe she doesn’t know as Ted as well as she thought she did.

If Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile had been programmed at the edge of the festival day, I probably would have skipped it because I feared that it would feed into the mythology of Ted Bundy too much. But it was programmed between two films I wanted to see anyway, meaning I was already there, so I gave it a chance – only to see that my fears were absolutely warranted, even if the film isn’t bad.

The film poster showing Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) looking at Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) through the security class in a prison visitors' center.
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Danmarks sønner [Sons of Denmark] (2019)

Danmarks sønner
Director: Ulaa Salim
Writer: Ulaa Salim
Cast: Zaki Youssef, Mohammed Ismail Mohammed, Imad Abul-Foul, Rasmus Bjerg, Morten Holst, Olaf Johannessen, Özlem Saglanmak
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
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Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, white supremacy

Plot:
Denmark, a few years in the future. After an attack on Copenhagen, radicalization in the country has accelarated and with elections coming near, Martin Nordahl (Rasmus Bjerg) is set to win in a landslide victory with his extreme right-wing party. Zakaria (Mohammed Ismail Mohammed) sees that development with unease. He is a muslim and his family migrated to Denmark, so he knows he is a target and he wants to do something about it. He finds an ally in Malik (Zaki Youssef) when they meet at a new organization for young men like them.

Sons of Denmark is a politically astute film that is appropriately suffocating in its look at the rightwing politics that are on the rise in Europe again. The film-making isn’t quite as good as the film’s message, but given that it’s Salim’s feature debut the few things that don’t work that well can be easily forgiven.

The film poster showing the Danish flag with blood dripping from its red parts.
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Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Fred Melamed, Justine Warrington
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 4.5.2019
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
Veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger, more volatile partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on tape using excessive force on a black suspect. They are suspended when the tape reaches the media. Ridgeman decides to turn to crime himself in this forced downtime: he and Lurasetti plan to take over a robbery of which they get wind. Part of the robbery crew is Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), just released from prison, who came home to find the poverty of his family completely overwhelming. Without other options, he lets himself get roped into the robbery plot. But things don’t go according to plan for anybody.

I was this close to not watching Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s last film – Bone Tomahawk – was racist crap. That he then turns to make a film that is a whole lot about racism and casts Mel Gibson, a known racist and antisemite, in the lead is insensitive to say the least. But then I figured, I had an all-access pass to the festival and I may as well give this film a go. Well. I should have listened to my gut and saved myself because the film is just as racist as the last.

The film poster showing the main characters in red paint that looks like something was dragged over the white poster background.
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Arctic (2018)

Arctic
Director: Joe Penna
Writer: Joe Penna, Ryan Morrison
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir, Tintrinai Thikhasuk
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 3.5.2019
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Plot:
Overgård’s (Mads Mikkelsen) plane went down in the Arctic circle months ago and he has found a way to survive, has established a routine for his survival, always in the hope that he will be found and rescued. When a helicopter appears, he believes that his day has finally come. But instead, the helicopter crashes, too. Inside is a lone survivor (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) who is gravely injured. For her sake and his own Overgård has to decide now whether he can continue to stay put, or whether he should take the risk of walking towards help.

Arctic is a strong film that really draws you in – so much so that I got really cold watching it. Unfortunately, the gender dynamics are a little disappointing, but other than that it’s a strong survival film.

The film poster showing a snowy landscape from above, empty except for a broken plane and a lonely human figure walking away from it.
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Koko-di Koko-da (2019)

Koko-di Koko-da
Director: Johannes Nyholm
Writer: Johannes Nyholm
Cast: Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Peter Belli, Katarina Jakobson, Morad Baloo Khatchadorian, Brandy Litmanen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 3.5.2019
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Content note: sexualized violence, rape

Plot:
Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) plan to spend the weekend camping. Their relationship hasn’t been going well and they hope that some time focusing on each other may give them the chance to repair things. They pitch their tent on a clearing in the woods and start settling. But then Mog (Peter Belli) – incongruously dressed in a white suit – shows up with his entourage and things take a very bad turn . And then another. And another.

Koko-di Koko-da builds from a strong idea and has some excellent moments, though overall it runs a tad too long. The main story is intercut with beautiful animation – basically short films within the film, told in chapters. They were the strongest bit for me. I did enjoy the film overall, but I didn’t love it.

The film poster showing the film's characters and a spiral with colorful drawings.

[Vague SPOILERS]

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