Floating in the Neversink (Andrea Simon)

Floating in the Neversink is a novel by Andrea Simon.
Finished on: 25.2.2020
[I won this book in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: child sexual abuse

Plot:
Amanda grows up in New York in the 50s. Her best friends are Francine, the only other Jewish girl in her neighborhood, and her cousin Laura, even though she is a year younger than her. The summer brings her to the countryside, away from Francine, but closer to Laura. Navigating her friendship with those two girls is almost as difficult as navigating her family. As Mandy grows older, she encounters moments of betrayal, but also of true friendship and love.

Floating in the Neversink is an evocative novel that draws on Simon’s own childhood to ground it in a sense of realism that’s devoid of nostalgia. I really enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a bridge over a river with a black old-time driving over it.
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Modo Avião [Airplane Mode] (2020)

Modo Avião
Director: César Rodrigues
Writer: Alice Name Bomtempo, Renato Fagundes
Based on: Alberto Bremer and Jonathan Davis‘s script
Cast: Larissa Manoela, Erasmo Carlos, André Luiz Frambach, Nayobe Nzainab, Katiuscia Canoro, Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço, Mariana Amâncio, Dani Ornellas, Phellyx Moura, Eike Duarte, Amanda Orestes
Seen on: 22.2.2020

Plot:
Ana (Larissa Manoela) is a huge influencer working for Carola (Katiuscia Canoro) and her fashion company. When her influencer boyfriend Gil (Eike Duarte) breaks up with her during a livestream and Ana has yet another car accident because she was on her phone, her parents (Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço) have had it. They pretend that Ana has been ordered by court to hand over her cell phone and go on a digital detox at her grandfather’s (Erasmo Carlos) place in the middle of nowhere and without cell reception. Ana is appalled. The only bright spot there is João (André Luiz Frambach), the cute grocer’s son. But even as Ana settles into her new life, she still looks for any opportunity to get her hands on a smartphone.

The biggest draw for me to watch this film was the fact that its Brazilian and it’s been a while that I practiced my Portuguese. If that is not a good reason for you, you might want to skip this film because it really doesn’t have that much to offer, though it’s not un-entertaining.

The film poster showing Ana (Larissa Manoela) with a cell phone in her hand.
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The Lucky One (2012)

The Lucky One
Director: Scott Hicks
Writer: Will Fetters
Based on: Nicholas Sparksnovel
Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Stewart, Jay R. Ferguson, Adam LeFevre, Robert Hayes
Seen on: 22.2.2020

Plot:
Logan (Zac Efron) was a Marine in Iraq. One day he found a picture of a woman in the sand there, keeping him away from a blast site and saving his life. And he was lucky enough to return home, proof enough for him that that photo is a talisman that kept him safe. Once he returns to the USA, he becomes restless and starts walking – always looking for the woman on the photo. As luck would have it, he actually finds her, Beth (Taylor Schilling). Before he can tell her the real reason he came to her, Logan finds himself working in Beth’s family business – a dog grooming/training/lodging place.

I was in the mood for a sappy romantic film and I thought I could barely go wrong with a Sparks adaptation to scratch that itch. But The Lucky One is rather lukewarm, I have to admit – it feels a little too much like a color by number thing.

The film poster showing Logan (Zac Efron) and Beth (Taylor Schilling) almost kissing.
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Fractured (2019)

Fractured
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Cast: Sam Worthington, Lily Rabe, Lucy Capri, Adjoa Andoh, Stephen Tobolowsky, Lauren Cochrane, Shane Dean
Seen on: 21.2.2020

Plot:
Ray (Sam Worthington), his wife Joanne (Lily Rabe) and their daughter Peri (Lucy Capri) are on their way home from a Thanksgiving dinner with Joanne’s parents. When they make a quick stop at a gas station, Peri takes a fall and breaks her arm. They hurry to the hospital to make sure that Peri is okay, but something strange is going on there. After Joanne and Peri are taken for a scan, they disappear – and Ray suspects that they have been taken.

Fractured is not very good, nor is it very bad. It’s a run of the mill thriller that thinks it’s a little more clever than it actually is. It was okay to watch, but not much more.

The film poster showing Ray (Sam Worthington) in a twisted hospital corridor, clutching a child's scarf.
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Engel des Vergessens [Angel of Oblivion] (Maja Haderlap)

Engel des Vergessens is a (autobiographical) novel by Maja Haderlap.
Finished on: 21.2.2020

Plot:
A Slovenian farming family in Carinthia, Austria who pick up the pieces after World War II. The grandfather was a partisan fighter, the grandmother was interned in a concentration camp where many of their neighbors, friends and also family died. The father was himself a child at the time, but that didn’t save him from being drawn into the fighting. His daughter, still a child, is now trying to piece together her own family’s history, to understand what happened while the Nazis were in power – and also afterwards, tracing the many scars left from their regime.

Engel des Vergessens sheds light on a little discussed chapter of World War II in a highly personal way. Haderlap has a beautiful way with language and conjures an extremley vivid image of what it must have been like to grow up at the time and in that area of Austria.

The book cover showing the ladder from a chicken coop crossing in front of a barred window.
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Les misérables (2019)

Les misérables
Director: Ladj Ly
Writer: Ladj Ly, Giordano Gederlini, Alexis Manenti
Cast: Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Perica, Al-Hassan Ly, Steve Tientcheu, Almamy Kanouté, Nizar Ben Fatma, Raymond Lopez, Luciano Lopez, Jaihson Lopez
Seen on: 20.2.2020

Content Note: police violence

Plot:
Stéphane (Damien Bonnard) is new at the police station in Montfermeil, one of Paris’ more troublesome neighborhoods. Stéphane is full of good intentions, so seeing how his colleagues Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga) interact with the people around them shocks him. As he tries to get his bearings and figure out the power distribution in the neighborhood, their first case together already starts spiraling out of control.

Les misérables is a tough film in the best way. It takes a very critical look at the pretty much desperate situation in the poorest parts of Paris, but it does leave some air to breathe at the end. Maybe.

The film poster showing a group of men staring at the camera.
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Mighty Oaks (Support: Jackson Dyer)

Mighty Oaks played a show in Vienna with the support of Jackson Dyer.
Seen on: 18.2.2020

I saw the Mighty Oaks a few years ago at the Frequency Festival before I even really knew them and enjoyed them then, but it took me another few years to really start listening to them some more. But now the timing was just right: I listened to them a lot, they just released a new album and I was ready to see them again. And it was a wonderful concert.

A photo of the band consisting of three white men.
Mighty Oaks
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Dolittle (2020)

Dolittle
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Writer: Stephen Gaghan, Dan Gregor, Doug Mand, Chris McKay
Based on: Hugh Lofting‘s books
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Harry Collett, Carmel Laniado, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Kasia Smutniak, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour, Jason Mantzoukas
Seen on: 13.2.2020
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Plot:
Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) has a gift: he’s a veterinarian who can talk to the animals directly. But every since his wife (Kasia Smutniak) was lost at sea, he hasn’t worked anymore. This changes quickly, when he gets two visitors in a day: the first one is Tommy (Harry Collett) who brings in a hurt squirrel, and the second is Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who brings the news that the Queen (Jessie Buckley) may well be dying if Dolittle doesn’t help – and that would mean that he’d lose his entire estate. Forced from his isolation, Dolittle takes on the case – and Tommy makes sure to be part of it.

Dolittle has potential – Downey Jr. surrounded by animals voiced by a whole lot of excellent people? What can go wrong? A lot, apparently. Maybe this film should serve as a case study for that.

The film poster showing Doctor Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) surrounded by various animals.
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The Phantom of the Opera (1925) + Thierry Escaich

The Phantom of the Opera
Director: Rupert Julian, Lon Chaney, Ernst Laemmle, Edward Sedgwick
Writer: Walter Anthony, Elliott J. Clawson, Bernard McConville, Frank M. McCormack, Tom Reed, Raymond L. Schrock, Richard Wallace, Jasper Spearing
Based on: Gaston Leroux‘s novel
Cast: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis, Snitz Edwards, Mary Fabian, Virginia Pearson
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Thierry Escaich
Seen on: 12.2.2020

Plot:
The Opera in Paris haunted – but not by some specter, but by the Phantom (Lon Chaney) that dwells in the catacombs beneath the opera house. When the Phantom, himself a musical genius, realizes the talent of Christine (Mary Philbin), he makes sure that her career as a singer takes off. But ultimately, he wants Christine for himself – and that means getting her away from her fiancé Raoul (Norman Kerry).

The Phantom of the Opera is an absolute classic and with good reason, even if a lot seems cheesy from today’s perspective. Escaich’s accompaniment on the organ was the perfect choice for the film.

The film poster showing a drawing of the phantom diving after a boat.
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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
Director: Ian Samuels
Writer: Lindsey Beer
Cast: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo, Loretta Devine, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck, Mary Pat Gleason
Seen on: 9.2.2020

Content Note: ableism, transmisia, sexualized violence

Plot:
Sierra (Shannon Purser) is far from a popular girl. Not like Veronica (Kristine Froseth) who hates Sierra and has boys flocking to her. Boys like Jamey (Noah Centineo) who gets up his courage to ask for her number. But Veronica isn’t interested in someone she sees as a loser – and instead gives Jamey Sierra’s phone number. Jamey and Sierra start texting and get along great, but Sierra doesn’t dare tell Jamey who she really is – and isn’t. But Veronica, too, has boy trouble: she really wants to impress the college guy she dates with her knowledge – and for that, she needs Sierra’s help.

When Sierra Burgess came out, I remember there being a lot of criticism of it, but that memory had – unfortunately – faded to a point where I thought, I’d give the film a chance. I shouldn’t have. The criticism was right, this film is a very hot mess.

The film poster showing the four main characters of the film.

[SPOILERS]

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