Eyimofe [This Is My Desire] (2020)

Eyimofe
Director: Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri
Writer: Chuko Esiri
Cast: Jude Akuwudike, Temiloluwa Ami-Williams, Cynthia Ebijie
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2020

Plot:
Lagos. Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) is an electrician who dreams of going to Spain and making a new life for himself in Europe. But it is difficult to arrange everything and life has a habit of getting in the way. Also dreaming of Europe, Italy to be specific, is Rosa (Temiloluwa Ami-Williams) and with her her sister Grace (Cynthia Ebijie). But for them, too, life just keeps happening and crossing their already complex arrangements.

Eyimofe shows what people are willing to put themselves through in the hope for a better life (and what they have to put themselves through). While it captures that nicely, I just didn’t connect with it in the way I should have.

The film poster looking like a passport cover.
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Nomery [Numbers] (2020)

Nomery
Director: Oleg Sentsov, Akhtem Seitablaev
Writer: Oleg Sentsov
Cast: Viktor Andrienko, Oleksandr Yarema, Irina Mak, Viktor Zhdanov, Lorena Kolibabchuk, Denis Rodnyanskiy, Olena Uzlyuk, Evhen Chernykov, Agatha Larionova, Aleksandr Begma, Mariya Smolyakova, Maksym Devizorov, Evgeniy Lebedin, Oleg Karpenko, Laptii Oleksandr
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2020

Plot:
In a dystopian world, the Numbers from One to Ten (Oleksandr Yarema, Irina Mak, Viktor Zhdanov, Lorena Kolibabchuk, Denis Rodnyanskiy, Olena Uzlyuk, Evhen Chernykov, Agatha Larionova, Aleksandr Begma, Mariya Smolyakova) go about their daily tasks, overseen by Zero (Viktor Andrienko). Things should be settled, but illegally, Seven and Four have an affair and the ensuing child – Eleven (Evgeniy Lebedin) – brings even more disorder.

Nomery has an interesting origin story and a nicely absurd sense of humor. Unfortunately, I was a little too tired and kept nodding off, so I missed chunks of it. But the parts I saw, I very much liked.

The film poster showing the 10 Numbers in a V formation.
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Sheytan vojud nadarad [There Is No Evil] (2020)

Sheytan vojud nadarad
Director: Mohammad Rasoulof
Writer: Mohammad Rasoulof
Cast: Baran Rasoulof, Mohammad Seddighimehr, Kaveh Ahangar, Mahtab Servati, Pouya Mehri, Zhila Shahi, Mohammad Valizadegan, Ehsan Mirhosseini, Salar Khamseh, Alireza Zareparast, Kaveh Ebrahim, Reza Bahrami, Parvin Maleki, Gholamhosein Taseiri, Shaghayegh Shoorian, Darya Moghbeli
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2020

Plot:
Four stories, all set in Iran, all dealing with the death penalty and its implications in different ways. Can you be really free under a despotic regime? Can you make moral choices? And how many people will be affected by what you decide?

There Is No Evil has three (of four) very strong segments, but the last story it tells seemed to me as if it came from another film, handling another topic. Still, interesting idea and most stories are well-handled.

The film poster showing a man lying in the grass. Behind him in the distance a woman can be seen.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Trail of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Trail of the Spellmans is the fifth novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 24.10.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Spellman Investigations is busy as usual, but also as usual, Izzy has to keep a close eye on her family members as well because something is going on with pretty much all of them. Rae and David aren’t speaking, and neither is David’s little daughter Sydney. Rae has gone off to college. Izzy’s mother keeps finding new hobbies for herself so that she is barely home – only it doesn’t seem like she actually likes her new activities. And Henry’s mother is coming to visit and, what is even worse, Henry wants to have a talk with Izzy – two encounters Izzy has been trying to avoid by sneaking and hiding, her usual strategies. And Izzy’s father is working a case that seems to be connected to her own, but he won’t let Izzy peek at his files. Things are complicated indeed.

Trail of the Spellmans gives us some nice twists and turns that continue in the Spellman series tradition, but also add some new elements. It was fun and enjoyable until it ripped out my heart.

The book cover showing a stylized person wearing a hat and trenchcoat. But when you look more closely, you see that the face only consists of eyes that are footprints.
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Kaze no denwa [Voices in the Wind] (2020)

Kaze no denwa (the name for a disconnected phone box in Japan, said to be able to let you speak to the loved ones you lost)
Director: Nobuhiro Suwa
Writer: Kyôko Inukai, Nobuhiro Suwa
Cast: Serena Motola, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tomokazu Miura, Makiko Watanabe, Mirai Yamamoto, Shoko Ikezu, Toshiyuki Nishida, Fusako Urabe
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2020

Plot:
Haru (Serena Motola) lost her parents and her brother in the Tohoku earthquake and the ensuing tsunami almost a decade ago. She has been living with her aunt Hiroko (Makiko Watanabe) ever since, quite a way away from her childhood home. When Hiroko has to go to the hospital unexpectedly, by now 14 years-old Haru’s last anchor is gone – and she sets off to revisit what remains of the town she grew up in. Along the way she meets many people, all of whom were deeply affected by loss.

Voices in the Wind provides a, to me, unusual perspective on Japan, focusing on the destruction left behind by the tsunami, but also featuring, for example, immigrants in Japan. It does have a few lengths, but I did enjoy it overall.

The film poster shwoing five stills from the film, all featuring Haru (Serena Motola). The one in the center shows a phone booth in the middle of a garden.
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Été 85 [Summer of 85] (2020)

Été 85
Director: François Ozon
Writer: François Ozon
Based on: Aidan Chambers‘ novel Dance on My Grave
Cast: Félix Lefebvre, Benjamin Voisin, Philippine Velge, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Melvil Poupaud, Isabelle Nanty
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2020

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
It’s summer and the sea stretches out before Alexis (Félix Lefebvre). He borrows a small boat from a friend to sail out, but he capsizes. Fortunately along comes David (Benjamin Voisin) and fishes him out of the water. Could there be a more romantic encounter? Alexis certainly doesn’t think so. Despite his more reserved nature, he is taken in by David’s spontaneity and charm and the two start spending a lot of time together. But David isn’t quite as easy-going as it may seem at first and every summer has to end.

Été 85 has strong moments and those moments manage to create some emotional resonance, but it does not achieve the involvement that would have been necessary to really make the story work.

The film poster showing David (Benjamin Voisin) and Alexis (Félix Lefebvre) on a motorcycle together.
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El Prófugo [The Intruder] (2020)

El Prófugo
Director: Natalia Meta
Writer: Natalia Meta
Based on: C.E. Feiling’s novel El mal menor
Cast: Erica Rivas, Daniel Hendler, Mirta Busnelli, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Cecilia Roth, Agustín Rittano, Guillermo Arengo
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2020

Plot:
Inés (Erica Rivas) and her boyfriend Leopoldo (Daniel Hendler) are going on a holiday together. But the trip that should be idyllic is anything but and Inés returns home unable to cope. Her works – she is a singer and a voice actor – soon starts to suffer as she can’t hit the right notes anymore. As things become stranger and stranger, Inés starts to doubt that her voice issues are psychosomatic. Maybe something more is going on here.

El Prófugo is an entertaining film that meanders between being creepy and being funny. The middle part has some weaknesses, but overall, I had fun with this one.

The film poster showing Inés (Erica Rivas) with another person's hand going for her throat. Waves emanate from where the hand touches the throat.
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Druk [Another Round] (2020)

Druk
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, Lars Ranthe, Maria Bonnevie, Helene Reingaard Neumann
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2020

Plot:
Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) and Peter (Lars Ranthe) are all middle-aged teachers and kind of stuck in their daily routine. You might even say that they are in a rut. After spending a night partying and losing all control, they decide that they want to test a theory that human beings were just born with too little alcohol in their blood – and if everybody maintained a constant level of drunkenness, live quality would improve considerably. The theory seems to work in practice as well – at least at first.

I expected Druk to be much more depressing than it was. But there is a certain levity to it, all the while being a very critical look at the ways alcohol and masculinity intertwine. I really liked it.

The film poster showing Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) running through a champagne shower, the background completely blurry.
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Shirley (2020)

Shirley
Director: Josephine Decker
Writer: Sarah Gubbins
Based on: Susan Scarf Merrell‘s novel
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Odessa Young, Michael Stuhlbarg, Logan Lerman
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2020

Plot:
Fred (Logan Lerman) and Rose (Odessa Young) were recently married and are excited to embark on a new step in their life: Fred got a dissertation spot with Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Rose could enrol at his university, too. Rose is also excited to meet Hyman’s wife, the famous writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss). But things come very different than expected. Shirley is abrasive and the few days that Fred and Rose were invited to stay at their home until they get settled in their own turn longer and longer, with Rose picking up more and more of the domestic duties. Her presence seems to help Shirley focus on her work at least, and the two women become closer.

Shirley is a film made of ambivalences – ambivalent characters make very ambivalent choices in a blend of fact and fiction that is also pretty ambivalent. That makes it rather challenging, but I thought it was more than worth it.

The film poster showing Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss) sitting at a desk in the middle of the woods.
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Miss Marx (2020)

Miss Marx
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Cast: Romola Garai, Patrick Kennedy, John Gordon Sinclair, Felicity Montagu, Karina Fernandez, Emma Cunniffe, Philip Gröning, George Arrendell, Célestin Ryelandt, Oliver Chris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2020

Plot:
After the death of her father Karl (Philip Gröning), Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), who has always been a socialist activist, takes over her father’s mantle. She works hard to make workers’ concerns heard and takes a particular interest in female workers. When she meets Edward Aveling (Patrick Kennedy), also a speaker and activist, she falls for him hard – and he is equally taken with her. Despite their passion for each other and for the socialist movement, their relationship isn’t always happy.

Miss Marx was an excellent start into the Viennale, shedding light on a woman we probably know way too little about. I would have liked it if the film had focused a little more on her political activism and a little less on her relationship with Aveling, but it was really well done.

The film poster showing Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), blurred because she is moving, her hair wild.
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