Bone Shop (T.A. Pratt)

Bone Shop is a prequel novella to the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 10.10.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
16-year-old Marla has had it rough in her life so far and she’s ready to start fresh in Felport. By chance, she stumbles into a world filled with magic. And while she may not have an innate magical telling, she is stubborn enough to make up for that, as her mentor Artie quickly discovers. He takes her under his wing. Marla isn’t alone in working for Artie and learning from him, though – there’s also Daniel who becomes an important part of Marla’s life.

Bone Shop is a very enjoyable look at Marla’s youth and a nice read. Even though it is a prequel, I think it’s better not to start with it, but rather read it in publication order, as I did. That way, you’ll get the most out of it.

The book cover showing a woman in a dark, smoky cloak with red lights clutching a skull.
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Ready or Not (2019)

Ready or Not
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer: Guy Busick, R. Christopher Murphy
Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Elyse Levesque, Nicky Guadagni, John Ralston
Seen on: 4.10.2019

Plot:
Grace (Samara Weaving) just married Alex (Mark O’Brien) at his luxurious family estate. The ceremony was beautiful and things are winding down, when Alex informs her that it is family tradition that the play a game on wedding night with the entire family. Grace is determined to make a good impression, so of course she’ll play. What she doesn’t know, though, is that it’s not really a game – it’s a question of life and death as she needs to survive the night.

Ready or Not is an entertaining film with a great first, and a not-so great second half. It does squander its critical potential a little, but I definitely had fun with it.

The film poster showing Grace (Samara Weaving) wearing a wedding dress and a bullet belt, and holding a shotgun. She is surrounded by several characters, all sporting different weapons.
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Catwoman: Soulstealer (Sarah J. Maas)

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas is the third of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 4.10.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the loose series.]

Plot:
Selina Kyle does her best to take care of her sister Maggie who has cystic fibrosis. To cover her medical expenses, Selina fights for mob boss Carmine Falcone. Despite her best efforts, though, Maggie is taken by Child Protection Services and Selina finds herself with Talia of the League of Assassins who offers her a chance to expunge her criminal record – if she works for them. When Selina accepts, it puts her right in the middle of the city’s rich people – and into the sights of Batwing.

Catwoman: Soulstealer is my favorite of the DC Icons novels so far. It’s cute and fun, and even though the ending didn’t quite work for me, I was overall happy with it.

The book cover showing a young woman wearing cat ears behind a safe door with a cat logo on it.
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The Last Days of New Paris (China Miéville)

The Last Days of New Paris is a novella by China Miéville.
Finished on: 29.9.2019

Plot:
1950 in Paris. The resistance against the Nazis is on-going, as neither the Nazis nor the Parisians can really leave the city as Paris is home to the manifs, manifestations of surrealist art that roam the streets. Thibaut would like to get out, though, and so he joins forces with Sam, an American photographer who hopes to capture the city with its manifs. But Sam is in a precarious position, too.

The Last Days of New Paris is yet another, completely different thing. I’m in awe of what Miéville always comes up with and how his books barely resemble each other. In any case, it’s an engaging novella that doubles as a love-letter to surrealism.

The book cover showing a sepia shot of Paris with the Eiffel tower in the background, its bottom covered in fog.
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Feedback (2019)

Feedback
Director: Pedro C. Alonso
Writer: Pedro C. Alonso, Alberto Marini
Cast: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero, Richard Brake, Oliver Coopersmith, Alexis Rodney, Anthony Head, Alana Boden, Nacho Aldeguer
Part of: Secret Society screening at the /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29.9.2019
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Content Note: rape, rape culture

Plot:
Jarvis (Eddie Marsan) and Andrew (Paul Anderson) used to have a radio show together when they were younger, but they went different ways a while ago. Now Jarvis has his own show where he tackles social problems and generally politicizes in a very straight-forward, brash way. But the show hasn’t been going so well, so the radio station has asked him to team up with Andrew again to increase ratings. Jarvis is not enthusiastic, but doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. On their first night back in front of the mic together, masked men storm the radio station and force Jarvis and Andrew to reveal their secrets live on air.

Feedback is a film that takes the implications of the entire #metoo movement seriously and makes a bold statement about what white cis men can get away with. It’s a bit of a downer, but given its subject matter, that’s entirely appropriate.

The film poster showing Jarvis (Eddie Marsan) from behind. He is wearing headphones and watching four screens with masked men, a woman and himself screaming.

[SPOILERS]

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Two Sisters (2019)

Two Sisters
Director: James Lee
Writer: James Lee
Cast: Emily Lim, Lim Mei Fen, Paige Chan, Mike Chuah, Angelyna Khoo, Venice Ng
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29.9.2019
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Plot:
Mei Yue (Lim Mei Fen) gets picked up from the psychiatric hospital by her sister Mei Xi (Emily Lim). She spent a long time there but she can finally be released and return home. The two sisters return to their childhood home that has been empty for a long time. But as they start to make themselves at home there, strange things start happening around them.

Two Sisters could have been a decent film if the sound design and especially the soundtrack hadn’t ruined it entirely.

The film poster showing Mei Xi (Emily Lim) and Mei Yue (Lim Mei Fen) melting into one person. Behind them is a scary woman.
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Boyz in the Wood (2019)

Boyz in the Wood (aka Get Duked!)
Director: Ninian Doff
Writer: Ninian Doff
Cast: Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben, Jonathan Aris, Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, James Cosmo, Kevin Guthrie, Brian Pettifer, Alice Lowe, Georgie Glen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2019
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Plot:
Ian (Samuel Bottomley) has signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh trek that leads through the wilderness of the highlands. He wants to pad his resume with the experience to better his college applications. With him are DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja), Dean (Rian Gordon), and Duncan (Lewis Gribben) whose motivation couldn’t be much more different: they were mostly forced to complete the trek to avoid juvie. What all four have in common is that they don’t have a clue about the outdoors. As they make their way across the highlands regardless, they realize that it’s not the camping that is the real danger. They are being hunted and it really is about all of their survival.

Boyz in the Wood is a fantastically fun film with a serious class critique at its heart. I felt absolutely energized when I left the cinema.

The film poster showing the heads of DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja), Dean (Rian Gordon), Ian (Samuel Bottomley) and Duncan (Lewis Gribben) mounted on a wall like hunting trophies.
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La coquille et le clergyman [The Seashell and the Clergyman] (1928)

La coquille et le clergyman
Director: Germaine Dulac
Writer: Antonin Artaud, Germaine Dulac
Cast: Alex Allin, Genica Athanasiou, Lucien Bataille
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2019
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Plot:
A clergyman (Alex Allin) becomes obsessed with the general’s (Lucien Bataille) wife (Genica Athanasiou). As he grapples more and more with his own sexual desires, a seashell containing a mysterious fluid becomes more important to him as well.

The Seashell and the Clergyman is maybe the earliest surrealist film and is therefore hard to sum up and confusing to watch. I completely fell into the film and it really did feel like watching a dream.

The clergyman (Alex Allin) walking through a hallway with checkered tiles.
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Bai She: Yuan Qi [White Snake] (2019)

Bai She: Yuan Qi
Director: Amp Wong, Ji Zhao
Writer: Damao
Cast: Zhe Zhang, Tianxiang Yang, Xiaopu Zheng, Wei Liu, He Zhang, Boheng Zhang, Yaohan Zhang, Xiaoxi Tang
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2019
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Plot:
Xiao Bai (Zhe Zhang) is a snake spirit who loses her memory in a battle. Fate brings her to A Xuan (Tianxiang Yang) who happens to be a snake hunter. Contrary to his entire village, though, A Xuan is very reluctant about the hunt itself and only takes part in it because Guo Shi (Yaohan Zhang) who rules the area demands a snake tax. Before A Xuan and Xiao Bai can figure much out, Guo Shi’s man take over A Xuan’s village and they find themselves on the run with Xiao Bai’s sister Xiao Qing (Xiaoxi Tang) fast on their heels and the Guo Shi’s not far behind either.

White Snake is a stunningly gorgeous film that has a nice sense of humor and a sweet love story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The film poster showing A Xuan (Tianxiang Yang) and his dog Dudou (He Zhang) facing Xiao Bai (Zhe Zhang) in her snake form.
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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Director: André Øvredal
Writer: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Based on: Alvin Schwartzbook series
Cast: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Lorraine Toussaint
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2019
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Plot:
It’s Halloween 1968 and Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Chuck (Austin Zajur) and Auggie (Gabriel Rush) are up to some mischief – more or less enthusiastically. One thing leads to another and the three find themselves on the run together with Ramon (Michael Garza). They end up in the Bellows Mansion that is said to be haunted. There they find a notebook with handwritten stories. Stella – an avid reader and writer herself – takes an interest in the stories. But she quickly realizes that the stories seem to be written just for them. And they start to become real.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark doesn’t have a lot of new things to offer, but it is sweet and charming and just works.

the film poster showing the drawing of a long-haired ghoul with various figures behind it. Below it is a house with four kids in front of it. The house and the kids are standing in an opened book.
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