Toy Story 4 (2019)

Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley
Writer: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom
Sequel to: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Emily Davis, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Carl Reiner, Bill Hader, Patricia Arquette, Timothy Dalton, Flea
Seen on: 28.8.2019

Plot:
Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and Andy’s other old toys have found a good home with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). When Bonnie starts kindergarten, she crafts a new toy from some trash, Forky (Tony Hale) who promptly comes to life and joins the entire family. But Forky is not ready to be a toy – he believes himself to be trash. Woody has his hands full just to make sure that Forky doesn’t throw himself away. And if that wasn’t enough to deal with, Woody actually catches up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) on the family trip. She was sold years ago – and has a very different outlook on the world now than Woody.

Toy Story 4 was really great. It was definitely worth the wait (almost ten years have passed since Toy Story 4 after all) to get this emotional and funny film.

The film poster showing Woody tipping his hat. In the background we can see a fair.
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Forbidden by Time (Negeen Papehn)

Forbidden by Time is the third novel in the Forbidden Love series by Negeen Papehn.
Finished on: 27.8.2019
[I won this book in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Bita is a successful dentist and she’s pretty content with her life. But her family – above all her mother – can’t accept that Bita is single. When Bita decides that it is time to get her own house, she finds an old family friend as the real estate agent – Ramtin. Ramtin is incredibly charming, divorced and 15 years her senior, but sparks fly between them. Their age gap shouldn’t be a problem – or at least that’s what Bita thinks at first.

Forbidden by Time is a generally nice read and I liked that it was set in the Iranian-American community, but it definitely would have needed some more editing. I enjoyed it for the most part anyway.

The book cover showing the silhouettes of a couple looking at each other in front of a sunset and a beach.
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Gloria Bell (2018)

Gloria Bell
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Alice Johnson Boher, Sebastián Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Remake of: Gloria
Cast: Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Caren Pistorius, Michael Cera, Brad Garrett, Holland Taylor, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rita Wilson, Chris Mulkey, Cassi Thomson, Sean Astin, Barbara Sukowa
Seen on: 27.8.2019
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Content Note: fatmisia

Plot:
Gloria (Julianne Moore) has a full life. With a job and two grown children, divorced and free, she likes to spend her nights in the local bars, dancing and meeting people her age. One night she meets Arnold (John Turturro). He is also divorced, but not as long as Gloria, and the two of them hit it off. But when they start dating, things don’t go quite as smoothly as that first night.

Apart from it handling fatness very questionably, I very much enjoyed Gloria Bell that stands out from most films because it tells a story that might as well happen to your neighbor, and that centers a middle-aged woman.

The film poster showing Gloria (Julianne Moore) drenched in purple light, dancing.
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Dolor y gloria [Pain and Glory] (2019)

Dolor y gloria
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, César Vicente, Asier Flores, Penélope Cruz, Cecilia Roth, Susi Sánchez, Raúl Arévalo
Seen on: 27.8.2019
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Plot:
Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) used to be a great director, but his career has been declining in recent years, as has his health. Now that the re-release of his first big hit is in the works, an even that brings back its lead actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) into Salvador’s life, Salvador starts to reminisce about his childhood (Asier Flores) with his mother (Penélope Cruz) and his forming encounters with art.

After a series of more disappointing films, Dolor y gloria was a return to form for Almodóvar. Probably still not my favorite of his films, but really good.

The film poster showing Salvador (Antonio Banderas) in profile, looking down and right. Behind him on the red background is a shadow that is similar to him but is looking straight ahead to the left.
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About a Donkey (2018)

About a Donkey
Director: Christina Raia
Writer: Kelsey RauberKelsey Rauber
Cast: Christina Shea-Wright, Katherine Wessling, Peter Jensen, Alexandra Clayton, Ben Kaufman, Ricardo Manigat, Ellen Graff, Elisha Mudly, Sarah Haruko, Nabil Vinas, Gwen Albers, Dana Scurlock
Seen on: 25.8.2019
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Plot:
Ann (Katherine Wessling) and Tim (Peter Jensen) have been stuck in a rut that has grown to an outright depression in Ann, and their three adult children Cecilia (Christina Shea-Wright), Burgh (Ben Kaufman), and Annie (Alexandra Clayton) aren’t necessarily in a good place either. Cecilia is currently staying with Annie and her husband Paul (Ricardo Manigat) who are expecting their first baby, while Cecilia doesn’t really know what to do with herself, apart from visiting her grandmother Farrah (Ellen Graff) who encourages her to date Jordan (Elisha Mudly), her caretaker. Burgh is already dating someone, but he is afraid to tell his family because there is bad blood between Annie and his girlfriend Cassie (Sarah Haruko). When Tim decides to purchase a donkey, it shakes up the entire family.

About a Donkey is a tiny-budget production and that doesn’t always work to its advantage. But in the important things, it has all the budget its need and it is funny, sweet and entertaining.

The film poster showing the Owens family facing the drawing of a donkey.
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Fantasy Magazine 52

Fantasy Magazine 52 is the July 2011 issue, edited by John Joseph Adams. It contains four short stories and four non-fiction pieces.
Finished on: 25.8.2019

This issue of Fantasy Magazine was split right down the middle for me – the first half (two short stories, 1.5 non-fiction pieces) didn’t work for me that well, but the second half was really good with two great short stories and two non-fiction pieces that I really enjoyed.

The magazine cover showing an elf reading, surrounded by birds.
Read more about each of the stories and the non-fiction pieces

Flatland (2019)

Flatland
Director: Jenna Cato Bass
Writer: Jenna Cato Bass
Cast: Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin, Izel Bezuidenhout, De Klerk Oelofse, Albert Pretorius, Clayton Evertson, Kim Goncalves, Brendon Daniels, Eric Nobbs, Maurice Carpede
Seen on: 23.8.2019
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Content Note: rape

Plot:
Natalie (Nicole Fortuin) was just married to Bakkies (De Klerk Oelofse) but the marriage immediately took a turn for the worse. When she tries to find help with Reverend Salmon (Maurice Carpede), she finds nothing but scorn. One thing leads to another and Natalie kills Salmon and runs, taking her best friend Poppie (Izel Bezuidenhout), who is basically about to give birth to a child she will have to raise on her own, with her. Police captain Beauty Cuba (Faith Baloyi) takes on the case of the murdered reverend and is soon on Natalie and Poppie’s trail. But Cuba has her own personal reasons to take the case, too.

There is a lot in Flatland that can and should be puzzled out – definitely not one that is immediately out of mind when you’re done with it. I didn’t like everything about it, but I definitely found it interesting.

The film poster showing Natalie (Nicole Fortuin) huddled over a horse's neck.
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Midsommar [Midsummer] (2019)

Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster
Writer: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Henrik Norlén, Gunnel Fred
Seen on: 22.8.2019
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Content Note: ableism, saneism, suicide

Plot:
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) have been dating for a while, though their relationship isn’t exactly good anymore. But Christian feels he can’t break up with Dani after a tragedy in her family. When Christian is invited to a midsummer festival in Sweden by his Swedish friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), he plans on going with his friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter). Dani invites herself along, not exactly to Christian’s joy. But the change of scenery seems to do them some good, at least until the festival takes a distinct turn for the weird.

Midosmmar is probably the worst case scenario for a break-up but a really cool film. I did have some issues with it, but overall, I really liked it.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Dani's (Florence Pugh) face. She is wearing a flower crown and crying.
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Wolf Rain (Nalini Singh)

Wolf Rain is the third novel of the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series (or the 18th novel of the Psy-Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 22.8.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the Psy-Changeling series.]

Plot:
E-Psy Memory was kidnapped and imprisoned for many years, but she has been finally freed – by Alexei, one of SnowDancer’s wolves. But the danger for Memory is far from over as her captor really wants her – and her abilities – back. Alexei is not about to let this happen, though, especially since Memory quickly obliterates all the barriers he has built between himself and the rest of the pack. Alas, there is a reason for those barriers that isn’t as quickly broken.

Wolf Rain brings us back to familiar places and faces while expanding Singh’s already quite extensive world. It will definitely satisfy fans of the series – as it did me.

The book cover showing the face of blond man in front of a a rainy night sky.
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The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019)

The Red Sea Diving Resort aka Operation Brothers
Director: Gideon Raff
Writer: Gideon Raff
Cast: Chris Evans, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennett, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 21.8.2019
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Content Note: racism, (critical treatment of) antisemitism

Plot:
It’s 1979 and the situation for Ethiopian Jewish refugees in Sudan isn’t exactly great, to put it mildly. Kebede Bimro (Michael Kenneth Williams) is trying to find ways to get them out of there and to Israel. When he teams up with Mossad agent Ari Levinson (Chris Evans), things start to come together. Ari suggest that they could use an old vacation resort as a cover to get the refugees out. Recruiting a team (Alessandro Nivola, Haley Bennet, Michiel Huisman, Alex Hassell), they set to work.

The Red Sea Diving Resort really is a mess. Not only is it a series of clichés, it is also absolutely racist and uncritically zionist. I can only recommend that you stay far, far away from this one.

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