Breaking Fast (2020)

Breaking Fast
Director: Mike Mosallam
Writer: Mike Mosallam
Cast: Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy, Amin El Gamal, Patrick Sabongui, Christopher J. Hanke, Rula Gardenier
Part of: Transition Queer Film Fesitval
Seen on: 19.11.2020

Plot:
Last year during Ramadan, Mo (Haaz Sleiman) and his boyfriend Hassan (Patrick Sabongui) broke up because Hassan wanted to get married to please his family. A year later and Mo is still dreading Ramadan, and especially having to break fast alone. At his best friend Sam’s (Amin El Gamal) birthday party, Mo meets Kal (Michael Cassidy) and they hit it off. Before Mo really knows what’s happening, Kal offers to break fast with him, despite the fact that Kal is not muslim.

Breaking Fast is a delightful, sweet RomCom that offers us a glimpse of what it can mean to be a gay muslim in Hollywood. I really, really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Mo (Haaz Sleiman) and Kal (Michael Cassidy) holding each other.
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Pólvora en el corazón [Gunpowder Heart] (2019)

Pólvora en el corazón
Director: Camila Urrutia
Writer: Camila Urrutia
Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández, Mauricio González
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 19.11.2020

Content Note: sexualized assault

Plot:
Claudia (Andrea Henry) and María (Vanessa Hernández) are best friends, always sticking together. One night when they are out, Claudia finds out that María has a gun. Scared for her friend, she takes it from María without her knowledge and hides it. Later that night, the two find themselves cornered and assaulted by a group of men, and María reaches for the gun that isn’t there anymore. They both only barely escape before the men rape them. Deeply traumatized, both need to find a way to cope – but their ways of coping are very different indeed.

Pólvora en el corazón is an interesting film about a difficult topic that shows a little too much that it is a debut for Urrutia. But it is definitely good enough to give it a go.

The film poster showing a human figure with firework coming out its chest.
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Someone Like Me (M.R. Carey)

Someone Like Me is a novel by M.R. Carey.
Finished on: 17.11.2020

Content Note: domestic violence, stalking

Plot:
Liz tries really hard to bring up her two children and keep her abusive ex-husband in check. But one night when he brings them back to her and she confronts him with the fact that he is late, he almost kills – until something takes over her and almost kills Marc right back. Liz is understandably shaken and worried about psychiatric issues, especially since what took over her – or rather who – doesn’t seem to want to leave. Meanwhile Fran, a school mate of Liz’ son Zak, also struggles with her own trauma. She was abducted when she was a child and ever since, she has had Jinx, an imaginary fox, accompany her. She knows that Jinx isn’t real, but she is a comfort. When her issues flare up again and she arranges an appointment with her psychiatrist, seeing Liz there. Only she sees something strange about Liz, something that isn’t right. When Fran and Zak get closer and Fran is actually introduced to Liz, things keep getting stranger still.

Someone Like Me is a rather slow book, but not in the sense that it gets boring. I’d say it sits more on the thriller side of things than on the horror side, which is not that much my cup of tea, but it still worked for me, albeit not as well as The Girl with All the Gifts.

The book cover showing a woman or girl in a red hoodie standing in front of a pale green background. Her reflection as if in a lake can be seen below her, only that the reflection is looking in the other direction than her.
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Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Writer: Jack Thorne
Based on: Nancy Springer‘s novels
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Louis Partridge, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Hattie Morahan, David Bamber, Frances de la Tour, Fiona Shaw
Seen on: 13.11.2020

Plot:
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) grows up alone with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), her older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) long moved out to pursue their own lives. Enola loves the unconventional, wild lifestyle she has with her mother that includes fight trainings and bedroom tennis. But one day, Enola wakes and finds her mother gone. Her brothers try to take charge of her, but Enola has to figure out where her mother has disappeared to. So she runs away from home to London to find her.

Enola Holmes is sweet fun that tries maybe a tad too hard at times at had me raising my eyebrows a little at the solution at the end. But it is still fun overall.

The film poster showing Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) in a red dress. Behind her is a magnifying glass and in that glass are the other main characters of the film.
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SPF-18 (2017)

SPF-18
Director: Alex Israel
Writer: Michael Berk
Cast: Carson Meyer, Noah Centineo, Bianca A. Santos, Jackson White, Sean Russel Herman, Rosanna Arquette, Molly Ringwald, Goldie Hawn, Keanu Reeves, Pamela Anderson
Seen on: 8.11.2020

Plot:
Penny (Carson Meyer) has always loved Johnny (Noah Centineo), and finally they found their way to each other. Now they finished school and summer stretches before them. Johnny is housesitting Keanu Reeves’ beach house and invites Penny. Since Penny assumes, hopes and fears that this will mean that they will finally have sex, she asks her cousin Camilla (Bianca A. Santos) along as moral support. Things get complicated afterwards, though. Young musician Ash (Jackson White) who is camping at the beach, joins them and Penny and he have an instant connection. Johnny is generally distant, trying to figure out where to head next. As is Bianca, who is afraid that nobody takes her serious. As the summer draws on and they learn to surf together, decisions have to be made.

SPF-18 is a mess with some nice cameos. I got the distinct impression that this was made by somebody so privileged, they live in a world entirely unlike mine, and it shows in pretty much everything. It’s a film utterly removed from the reality of most people – and doesn’t even know it.

The film poster showing five people with surfboards on the beach, getting ready to hit the waves.

[SPOILERS]

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Hotel Artemis (2018)

Hotel Artemis
Director: Drew Pearce
Writer: Drew Pearce
Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, Dave Bautista, Kenneth Choi
Seen on: 8.11.2020

Plot:
Hotel Artemis is a safe haven in the middle of Los Angeles, a LA in full crisis mode. All the criminals can come here in case of medical emergency, knowing they will be cared for by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) and Everest (Dave Bautista) without having to fear the police – or each other. Only called by their room names, Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) brings in his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) after he got shot during a robbery. But some serious shit is about to hit the fan at the usually peaceful Hotel Artemis.

Hotel Artemis, unfortunately, sounds way cooler than it is. Despite the great cast and some very nice ideas, it just never finds its feet.

The film poster showing the main characters of the film with art deco ornaments around them.
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My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite)

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite.
Finished on: 1.11.2020

Plot:
Korede and Ayoola are sisters, though they are very different. Korede is rather calm and conscientous, working as a nurse and has been pining after one of the doctors at the hospital – Tade. Ayoola, on the other hand, is lively, super-pretty and seems to do not much more than dating one guy after the other. The thing is, three of her boyfriends already ended up dead – stabbed by Ayoola. Supposedly in self-defense, but Korede – whom Ayoola always called to help with the clean-up – isn’t too sure about that self-defense part. Maybe Ayoola is just a psychopath. When Ayoola comes to the hospital and meets Tade, Korede has to work out her options, urgently.

My Sister, the Serial Killer was an entertaining and very quick read that I really enjoyed. It does have a couple of issues, but they are easy to forgive, especially since it’s a debut novel.

The book cover showing the face of a black woman wearing a headscarf and sunglasses. The sunglasses are red and you can see a raised hand with a knife reflected in them.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Babyteeth (2019)

Babyteeth
Director: Shannon Murphy
Writer: Rita Kalnejais
Cast: Eliza Scanlen, Toby Wallace, Emily Barclay, Eugene Gilfedder, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn
Seen on: 1.11.2020

Plot:
Milla (Eliza Scanlen) meets Moses (Toby Wallace) quite by chance and is immediately drawn to his reckless way of approaching life. Moses, on the other hand, sees Milla as a good opportunity to maybe get some cash off of her. But when Milla gets a nosebleed, he helps and they end up spending the day together. When Milla brings Moses home for dinner, her parents Anna (Essie Davis) and Henry (Ben Mendelsohn) are horrified. Intensely protective of their daughter, because she is young and she is very sick, unkempt Moses seems like the biggest threat. And when Moses steals some drugs from them to sell them, their fears are confirmed. But Milla is unwilling to let go of Moses. No matter what her parents or even Moses say about it.

Babyteeth was my last cinema visit in this year of the pest and I could have definitely chosen a worse film to complete the cinema roster this year. It is a sweet film that manages to find some fresh new aspects to a story that isn’t all that new anymore.

The film poster showing Milla (Eliza Scanlen) sitting next to a pool, wearing a wig, looking up at the sky.
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Kajillionaire (2020)

Kajillionaire
Director: Miranda July
Writer: Miranda July
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, Gina Rodriguez, Mark Ivanir
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2020

Content Note: abusive parents

Plot:
Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) lives with her parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger). They live rather unconvetionally, getting their money through full-time grifting. But their small crookery is never really enough and they dream of making it big some day. When Robert and Theresa meet Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) by chance, they ask her to join them for a big heist they’re planning. This throws Old Dolio completely for a loop and none of their lives will remain unchanged by that decision.

Kajillionaire looks like a comedy, and it often is funny, but there is an underlying sadness to it that really makes the film. I really liked the mix and the film.

The film poster showing Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) surrounded by a lot of stuff, all in front of a pink background.
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Schwarz Weiss Bunt (2020)

Schwarz Weiss Bunt [literally: Black White Colorful]
Director: David Moser
Writer: Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, David Moser
Cast: Clara Diemling, Elisabeth Kanettis, Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, Sophie Wegleitner, Viktoria Hillisch
Seen on: 21.12.2020
[Screener review. The film will be released in two days, on December 24, 2020. More info.]

Plot:
It’s a weekend during the summer holidays. University student Matilda (Clara Diemling) has several encounters over this weekend – with new acquaintances like youtuber Mikka (Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz), new friends like Aurora (Elisabeth Kanettis) and old friends like Ju (Sophie Wegleitner) and Nico (Viktoria Hillisch), and even a job interview. In their conversations with each other, Matilda finds herself reflecting about herself, who she is and what she wants.

Schwarz Weiss Bunt is a sweet coming of age film that impresses with a polished feeling, despite being both largely improvised and Moser’s debut feature. Above all, it captures that summer days-search for yourself-atmosphere that most people will have experienced around 20 years old. It is a trip back in time for me (and others might enjoy the look forward or seeing themselves reflected as they are right now), and definitely an enjoyable one.

The film poster showing Matilda (Clara Diemling), her arms wide open, as seen through a wire fence.
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