Sister Tempest (2020)

Sister Tempest
Director: Joe Badon
Writer: Joe Badon, Jason Kruppa
Cast: Kali Russell, Holly Bonney, Linnea Gregg, Alex Stage, Taylor Guarisco, Nadia Eiler, Aubrey Elise, Andre LaSalle, Collin Galyean
Seen on: 30.1.2021
[Screener Review.]

Plot:
Anne (Kali Russell) has been taking care of her sister Karen (Holly Bonney) ever since they were children (Nadia Eiler, Aubrey Elise) and their parents died. But Karen has started dating drug dealer Chris (Taylor Guarisco) and things have been tense between the sisters ever since. When Chris gets shot and Karen goes missing, Anne’s life completely unravels and she finds herself in front of an alien tribunal tasked with finding out what happened.

Sister Tempest is a strange film, to say the least. It wraps the two sisters’ story into a surreal package of aliens, vampire-cannibals and angels. I enjoyed that approach a lot. Though there were a couple of things that I didn’t love, overall the film is an experience you should go for.

The film poster showing drawings of Anne and Karen both as adults and children in front of a much bigger drawing of an astronaut.
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Re-Watch: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse
Director: John McPhail
Writer: Alan McDonald, Ryan McHenry
Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins, Mark Benton, Paul Kaye, Sean Connor, John Winchester, Euan Bennet, Ella Jarvis
Seen on: 27.12.2020
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Usually nothing much happens in Little Haven. But this Christmas, zombies have found their way into town. As the town becomes quickly chaotic, Anna (Ella Hunt), her best friend John (Malcolm Cumming) and a few other high schoolers have to get across town to their high school where they hope to find safety.

After recently talking about Anna and the Apocalypse again and it just being Christmas, I thought it would be the perfect time to re-watch the film and I have to say that this was one of the best decisions. The film remains a delight.

The film poster shwoing Anna (Ella Hunt) in bloody clothes, raising a huge sharp plastic sugar cane.
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Spirit Trap (2005)

Spirit Trap
Director: David Smith
Writer: Phil O’Shea, Rohan Candappa, Paul Finch
Cast: Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Sam Troughton, Emma Catherwood, Alsou, Chiké Okonkwo
Seen on: 23.12.2020

Content Note: racism, lynching

Plot:
Jenny (Billie Piper) is excited to start university. Through student housing she was allocated a flat share in what turns out to be quite a mansion. Sharing with her are fellow first semester students Tom (Luke Mably), Tina (Alsou) and the couple Nick (Sam Troughton) and Adele (Emma Catherwood). The mansion is rather unusual and it also houses a spirit clock. When Tom gets it to work again, strange things start happening in the house and to the students.

Well. Spirit Trap is certainly a film. It has Billie Piper in it and it exists. And other than that, I really don’t have much to say about it, but I will anyway because that’s what I’m doing on here.

The film poster showing a skull superimposed over clockwork and the five main characters.
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The Year of the Crocodile (Courtney Milan)

The Year of the Crocodile is a novella/short story in the Cyclone series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 21.12.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Tina and Blake have been dating for almost a year and Tina is excited to bring Blake home for Chinese New Year. Blake has been suggesting that Tina’s parents should also meet Blake’s father Adam, but Tina is afraid of that encounter. Her parents Hong Mei and Jian had to flee China for political reasons and don’t let anybody push them around. And Adam Reynolds, CEO of Cyclone Industries, is a pusher if ever there was one. But when Adam gets wind of it all, he decides to take matters in his own hands – as per usual. It will be an explosive New Year indeed.

The Year of the Crocodile is an absolute blast (no pun intended) (okay, pun slightly intended). It is funny and emotional and a sweet intermediate course in the series.

The book cover showing a blond, white man hugging an Asian woman from behind. She is turned to look back at him.
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Skinwalkers (2006)

Skinwalkers
Director: James Isaac
Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday Rodriguez
Cast: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson, Matthew Knight, Barbara Gordon, Shawn Roberts, Lyriq Bent
Seen on: 20.12.2020

Content Note: cultural appropriation, racism

Plot:
Some werewolves see their condition as a curse, but some werewolves revel in the chaos and the blood that surrounds them every month. Prophecies have predicted that a boy will be the answer – he will cure werewolves. If he lives past his 13th birthday that is. While some werwolves have sworn to protect the boy, others mean to kill him before he can cure them. The boy in question is Timothy (Matthew Knight) who doesn’t even know that werewolves exist. Neither does his mother Rachel (Rhona Mitra). But when Varek (Jason Behr) come for them, they have to learn quickly. Fortunately Timothy’s uncle Jonas (Elias Koteas) and the rest of the family are werwolves themselves and know how to protect him. Nevertheless, it is not an easy job.

Skinwalkers is the kind of film you find in the bargain bin and you know it’s there for a reason, but still, it’s a werewolf film, so you go for it and then the film does exactly nothing to surpass your expectations. To say that is disappointing is a lie, but it would have been nice if it had been one of the forgotten/hidden treasures. It is not.

The film poster showing a woman's mouth filled with sharp teeth, her face is splattered with blood.
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The Cipher (Kathe Koja)

The Cipher is a novel by Kathe Koja.
Finished on: 20.12.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
In a small storage room in Nicholas’ building, there is a hole in the floor. But it’s not just a hole, it’s apparently endless and might be alive. Nicholas’ on-again-off-again girlfriend Nakota is obsessed with what they call the funhole, dragging Nicholas to the storage room any chance she gets to just look at the hole. Nicholas doesn’t understand her fascination, he would rather forget the hole’s existence. But he can’t say no to her, not even when she hatches a plan to dangle a video camera into the hole and film what’s there. The longer they spend time with the hole, the more they change.

The Cipher was difficult for me. I loved the concept and the body horror elements were utterly visceral, but I often struggled with the prose and the story. I wish I could have loved it more.

The book cover showing a hand being held up above a face. Both are pixelated as if looked at through a faulty camera.
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Coded Bias (2020)

Coded Bias
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Writer: Shalini Kantayya
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

“Plot”:
When MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started working with facial recognition software for a class, she didn’t expect to discover that the AI is absolutely biased. She dug into the matter, uncovering more and more problems. Meanwhile facial recognition is used more all the time, for surveillance and police work, regardless of the problems that still aren’t solved.

Coded Bias takes on a very timely topic, considering the racist and also sexist bias in apparently neutral software and algorithms and its implications for police work, amont other things. It’s interesting, well-argued and so well-structured that time flies by and yet you never feel overwhelmed by the topic. It was the perfect choice of final film for the this human world Film Festival.

The film poster showing a white mask in front of a black background. Around the eyes you can see that a Black person is wearing the mask.
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Glory to the Queen (2020)

Glory to the Queen
Director: Tatia Skhirtladze, Anna Khazaradze
Writer: Ina Ivanceanu, Tatia Skhirtladze
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are all world-class Georgian chess players. Their careers changed chess forever, and all four of them are still active teaching and playing chess. But even outside of that, they became feminist icons in Georgia and beyond.

Glory to the Queen tells the story of four very different women who happened to have the same knack for chess. Combining historical footage and current images, it tries to show what their achievements in chess meant to them, to the world, to women, especially the women of Georgia. Unfortunately it isn’t always as clear in its storytelling as it should have been.

The film poster showing drawings of the four women walking over a chess board.
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La casa dell’amore [The House of Love] (2020)

La casa dell’amore
Director: Luca Ferri
Writer: Luca Ferri
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Bianca Dolce Miele is a trans sex worker in Milan. She works at home and the film shares her space and her work for a while.

I had issues with La casa dell’amore. It seems more interested in undressing Bianca and showing her at work than giving us an idea of her as a person.

The film poster showing Bianca half-naked, sitting on a whie cube, wearing nothing but a white skirt and white furry boots. A black cat's but is also in the picture in the corner.
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Bring Down the Walls (2020)

Bring Down the Walls
Director: Phil Collins
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 12.12.2020

Plot:
Right in Manhattan, there is an old firestation that has been transformed into a communal center. During the day, it is an educational space, offering political workshops and talks. During the night, it becomes a club playing house music. The thing that unites those halves is the prison-industrial complex in the USA as the center gives space to former inmates to share their experiences, to activists to campaign for prison abolishment and traces the way house music was developed by Black and Latinx communities as a form of liberation.

Bring Down the Walls takes a look at the strength that lies in community, activism and music, especially when they come together. It is an unusual perspective on the prison-industrial complex, but a welcome one.

The film poster showing the back of a Black head with short hair.
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