Breaking Surface (2020)

Breaking Surface
Director: Joachim Hedén
Writer: Joachim Hedén
Cast: Moa Gammel, Madeleine Martin, Trine Wiggen
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 18.9.2020

Ida (Moa Gammel) and Tuva (Madeleine Martin) are getting ready to go diving together with ther mother Anne (Trine Wiggen). Unfortunately, Anne becomes ill and can’t dive, so the two sisters set out on their own to the place they chose for their winter dive. Things are going well until Tuva is trapped on the ocean floor by falling rocks and Ida has to make sure that she gets out before her air runs out.

Breaking Surface is a tense thriller that feels very realistic. I watched the film breathlessly (no pun intended) and now I’ll probably never go diving ever.

The film poster showing close-ups of Tuva (Madeleine Martin) and Ida (Moa Gammel) as well as the two in diving suits underwater.
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Relic (2020)

Director: Natalie Erika James
Writer: Natalie Erika James, Christian White
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote, Jeremy Stanford, Chris Bunton
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 17.9.2020

Kay (Emily Mortimer) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) make their way to Kay’s mother’s Edna (Robyn Nevin) house. They haven’t been able to reach her for a while and knowing that her memory isn’t what it used to be, they are very worried. And for good reason: Edna is missing. Fortunately, she returns after a few days but she can’t say where she has been. Instead she keeps mentioning that somebody is trying to get into the house. And soon Sam and Kay realize that there is something weird going on indeed.

Relic is a beautiful allegory on dementia and how it affects the entire family. Even though it is not to be taken literally, it is very realistic in that portrayal, reaching a touching emotional truth that is rare.

The film poster showing Edna (Robyn Nevin), Kay (Emily Mortimer) and Sam (Bella Heathcote) standing like a family portrait. Black mold is in the corner of the picture.
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Om det oändliga [About Endlessness] (2019)

Om det oändliga
Director: Roy Andersson
Writer: Roy Andersson
Cast: Bengt Bergius, Anja Broms, Tatiana Delaunay, Jan-Eje Ferling, Thore Flygel, Lotta Forsberg, Göran Holm, Stefan Karlsson, Martin Serner
Seen on: 16.9.2020

A sequence of moments, some trivial, some monumental, accompanied by ironic and earnest ruminations about the vulnerability and humanity of life itself.

About Endlessness is a strange film and one that isn’t easily summarized (as you may have guessed from my “plot description”). It’s probably not a film for a casual viewer and how much you will get out of it will probably vary widely – I’m not sure about it myself. But it is definitely an interesting film and with its short runtime, it is pretty much perfect to just give it a try and see what it does for you.

The film poster showing a man and a woman hugging tight as they fly over the city.
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The Photograph (2020)

The Photograph
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: Stella Meghie
Cast: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chanté Adams, Y’lan Noel, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Chelsea Peretti, Courtney B. Vance
Seen on: 16.9.2020

Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) is a journalist who has been working on a story for a while. When he interviews Isaac (Rob Morgan), a photograph catches his eye in Isaac’s home. Taken by a young photographer, Christine Eames (Chanté Adams) who was obviously very important to Isaac in the past (Y’lan Noel), Michael becomes interested in Christine’s life. But Christine passed away, so instead, Michael finds her daughter Mae (Issa Rae) who works as a curator in a museum. As they both rediscover her mother’s work and her past, the two are drawn to each other more and more.

I expected The Photograph to be a sappy love story and it is certainly that but it didn’t touch me quite as much as it should have.

The film poster showing Mae (Isaa Rae) and Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) pressing their foreheads together. The image is black and white.
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Sunburned (2019)

Director: Carolina Hellsgård
Writer: Carolina Hellsgård
Cast: Zita Gaier, Gedion Oduor Wekesa, Sabine Timoteo, Nicolais Borger, Malik Adan, Flora Thiemann, Anima Schwinn, Mehdi Lamrini
Seen on: 14.9.2020

Claire (Zita Gaier) is on holidays in a big club hotel in Spain with her mother Sophie (Sabine Timoteo) and her sister Zoe (Nicolais Borger). Her mother and sister are quickly busy flirting and have little interest in spending time with Claire. When Claire meets the Senegalese refugee Amram (Gedion Oduor Wekesa) who sells bracelets on the beach, her desire to help him quickly turns into a deeper emotinal connection for her.

Sunburned is a beautifully made film that combines a coming-of-age tale with a serious political topic in a way that feels very natural. It stays with Claire’s childlike perspective at all times which is often to its strength, but does fall a little short sometimes. Even so, it is a strong film worth seeing.

The film poster showing Claire (Zita Gaier) with fox mask.
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Love Sarah (2020)

Love Sarah
Director: Eliza Schroeder
Writer: Jake Brunger
Cast: Shannon Tarbet, Celia Imrie, Rupert Penry-Jones, Shelley Conn, Bill Paterson, Grace Calder, Lucy Fleming, Candice Brown
Seen on: 14.9.2020

Isabella (Shelley Conn) was just about to finally open a bakery together with her best friend Sarah (Candice Brown). But then Sarah dies and Isabella is left scrambling. As is Sarah’s daughter Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet) and Sarah’s mother Mimi (Celia Imrie) with whom she had a big fight just before her death. As Isabella is about to lose everything and unable to open the bakery on her own, Clarissa comes up with an idea: she will ask Mimi for funding and the three will open the bakery together in Sarah’s honor. All they need is a baker – who they seem to find in Matthew (Rupert Penry-Jones), Sarah’s long time ex-boyfriend. But there is still something missing for their success.

Love Sarah is pretty much as you expect it to be: a sweet piece of fluff. Much like the cakes in the film, they are beautifully designed to make you happy for a short moment, though – unlike the cakes in the film – the film will not cause any upheaval in the industry.

The film poster showing Mimi (Celia Imrie) holding up a platter full of cakes in front of a few film stills.
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Waren einmal Revoluzzer [Once Were Rebels] (2019)

Waren einmal Revoluzzer
Director: Johanna Moder
Writer: Johanna Moder
Cast: Julia Jentsch, Marcel Mohab, Aenne Schwarz, Manuel Rubey, Tambet Tuisk, Lena Tronina, Josef Hader
Seen on: 10.9.2020

Helene (Julia Jentsch) is a judge, her husband Jakob (Manuel Rubey) a musician and stay-at-home dad. Their lives are pretty settled, as is their friend’s Volker (Marcel Mohab), a therapist with an unceasing string of girlfriends. The newest is Tina (Aenne Schwarz), an art historian who works with children at the museum. When Volker mentions that he will go to Russia for a conference, Helene asks him to bring a package to Pavel (Tambet Tuisk), her Russian college boyfriend who finds himself in a tight spot. This leads to Pavel actually fleeing from Russia to Austria. To Helene’s surprise, he shows up with his wife Eugenia (Lena Tronina) and their child, getting everything in disarray.

Waren einmal Revoluzzer profits from its political heart that does elevate the film beyond the rather standard comedy it is. Still, while entertaining and well-made, I didn’t really love it.

The film poster shwing the faces of the 3 couples in the film.
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Tangle of Time (Gin Westcott)

Tangle of Time is the first novel in the Tangle of Time series by Gin Westcott.
Finished on: 08.09.2020
[I got this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away.]

Mae, her boyfriend Greg and his friends Toke and Dexter hear about a job opportunity wherre they could make money fast – the perfect thing for college students like them. The job is physically demanding – getting precious stones from an old well – but things are going well. Until they aren’t and the foursome find themselves trapped in a series of tunnels. And when they finally find their way out, they find themselves thrown back in time to the 19th century. To say that they really need to readjust everything as they try to figure out how to get home is putting it mildly.

I like time travel stories and since the back cover text alludes to a feminist outlook, I was very excited to get into Tangle of Time. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t quite live up to my excitement about the idea.

The book cover showing two men and a woman standing in a valley. Arrows can be seen sticking out of a tree, there is a cabin in the distance and a cave that glows blue.
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The Climb (2019)

The Climb
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Writer: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin
Cast: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin, Gayle Rankin, Judith Godrèche, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Daniella Covino, Eden Malyn
Seen on: 8.9.2020

Kyle (Kyle Marvin) is just about to get married. To get away from the wedding planning, he goes on a cycling tour with his best friend and best man Mike (Michael Angelo Covino). As they are cycling, Mike confesses to Kyle that he has been sleeping with Kyle’s fiancée Ava (Judith Godrèche). This causes a rift between them. But having been friends for such a long time means that they can’t get away from each other all that easily.

The Climb is a strange little film with a very nice sense of humor that traces a friendship in an unusual way. I liked it, though I was hoping for a little better treatment of the female characters.

Kyle (Kyle Marvin) and Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) cycling up a mountain, an old red car just behind them.
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Lovecut (2020)

Director: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Writer: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Cast: Kerem Abdelhamed, Sara Toth, Valentin Gruber, Melissa Irowa, Max Kuess, Lou von Schrader, Raphaela Gasper, Marcel Mohab, Doris Schretzmayer
Seen on: 7.9.2020

Content Note: ableism

Jakob (Kerem Abdelhamed) and Anna (Sara Toth) have been a couple for a while and enjoy a rather adventurous sex life. Anna desperately wants to move out from home, but she needs to make money for that. So the two decide to try amateur porn. Meanwhile Jakob’s brother Alex (Valentin Gruber) is dating Momo (Melissa Irowa) – online, because he doesn’t dare telling Momo that he uses a wheelchair. Momo’s friend Luka (Lou von Schrader) also uses online dating sites and meets Ben (Max Kuess). Ben is very much into her, but Luka doesn’t want anything to do with feelings.

Lovecut is an interesting look at sex (and a little bit love) for teenagers in times of online dating and easily available (opportunities for) sex work. It manages to be non-judgmental for the most part, which is nice, but it does suffer a little from the inexperience of both the cast and the writing-directing team.

The film poster with three film stills: Ben (Max Kuess) floating in the danube; Anna (Sara Toth) posing for the camera; and Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).
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