Cézanne et moi [Cezanne and I] (2016)

Cézanne et moi
Director: Danièle Thompson
Writer: Danièle Thompson
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Guillaume Gallienne, Alice Pol, Déborah François, Pierre Yvon, Sabine Azéma, Gérard Meylan, Laurent Stocker, Isabelle Candelier
Seen on: 25.4.2021

Content Note: sexism, misogyny

Plot:
Émile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) have known each other since they were children. But as they grew older, they grew apart from each other. But now Cézanne has come to visit Zola and both are excited to see each other again. Once they get to talking, though, tensions between the two become obvious: Zola wrote a novel that draws on their life and Cézanne is unhappy with how he was portrayed in it. As both reflect on their relationship with each other, their lives and their women, it is unclear whether they can move past that tension and the very different way their lives developed.

Oh boy, Cézanne et moi was an absolutely boring movie. It moves slowly and spends most of its time dwelling on the sexism and misogyny those two men exhibit, while still wanting us to like them. That equation doesn’t work, nor does the film.

The film poster showing Émile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) walking through a landscape that looks like it was painted by Cézanne.
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Love and Monsters (2020)

Love and Monsters
Director: Michael Matthews
Writer: Brian Duffield, Matthew Robinson
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Dan Ewing, Ariana Greenblatt, Ellen Hollman, Tre Hale, Pacharo Mzembe, Senie Priti, Amali Golden, Te Kohe Tuhaka
Seen on: 25.4.2021

Plot:
7 years ago, the world basically ended. There was a meteorite heading towards earth. To stop it, humanity blew it up, but the chemicals that got blown back to earth changed things forever, creating monsters and forcing people underground. Joel (Dylan O’Brien) is one of those people, living in a community in a bunker. Joel is not a fighter, so he hasn’t actually left the bunker, but through a radio, he has found Aimee (Jessica Henwick), the girl he dated when everything went down. Her colony is only a week or so away, but a week among monsters is a very long way. But after the radio dies, Joel decides that he has had it – he will make the trek and find Aimee. Easier said than done, though.

Love and Monsters is cute enough. Not great and probably not a film that will become a favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it while it lasted for sure.

The film poster showing the main characters, including a dog, in various sizes in front of a desolate landscape.
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Saints Astray (Jacqueline Carey)

Saints Astray is the second (and last) novel in the Santa Olivia series by Jacqueline Carey.
Finished on: 24.4.2021
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Content Note: rape culture, misogyny

Plot:
Loup and Pilar made it out of Outpost 12, aka Santa Olivia – but what are a genetically modified girl and her girlfriend supposed to do when they legally don’t exist at all? Well, in Loup’s case, she quickly has a job offer: to work for an international security firm as the world’s first GMO bodyguard. She agrees, but only if Pilar gets to come, too. Meanwhile, Loup’s old friend Miguel Garza also made it out of Outpost 12 and has promised to testify in front of the senate to shed light on the outposts as well as the GMOs. But nothing is ever as easy as that, is it?

I was so excited about Santa Olivia – I didn’t know what to expect and was wonderfully surprised by what the book delivered. With Saints Astray, unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite. I was expecting so much more, but this is very much a disappointment.

The book cover showing two shadowed women against a red background. One is holding a gun.
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Naissance des pieuvres [Water Lilies] (2007)

Naissance des pieuvres
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, Adèle Haenel, Warren Jacquin
Seen on: 18.4.2021

Plot:
Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Anne (Louise Blachère) are best friends, united in being not terribly popular. Anne is in the synchronized swimming team, as is Floriane (Adèle Haenel) with whom Marie is very much in love, while Anne has her eye on François (Warren Jacquin) who happens to be dating Floriane. When both Marie and Anne go after their crushes without telling the other, things become very complicated, though.

Water Lilies is a beautiful coming-of-age film, at once kind and emotionally raw, it will probably remind you of many moments when you were young yourself – mostly in a good way. Absolutely fantastic.

The film poster showing Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Floriane (Adèle Haenel), their faces close together. Floriane is looking straight at the camera, Marie is looking at Floriane.
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Spellman Six (Lisa Lutz)

Spellman Six (aka The Last Word) is the sixth and final novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 18.4.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Plot:
After Izzy Spellman took over the family business in what could be considered a hostile take-over, her parents have started to be hostile right back. Izzy’s management has generally caused a bit of trouble for the business, and it doesn’t help that she is being accused of embezzling a client. With her bookkeeping skills, Izzy might actually have spent some money that she shouldn’t have, but that’s not the point. The question is whether Izzy will actually run the family business into the ground.

Spellman Six gives us a nice ending to the series, albeit not a simple and clean happy end. But then again, when has Izzy ever given us something clean and simple? In any case, it’s sad but also okay that the series has ended now.

The book cover showing blinds being pulled apart in the shape of an eye, behind it a big pupil.
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The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

The Little Shop of Horrors
Director: Roger Corman
Writer: Charles B. Griffith, Roger Corman
Cast: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, Karyn Kupcinet, Toby Michaels, Leola Wendorff, Lynn Storey, Wally Campo, Jack Warford, Meri Welles, John Herman Shaner, Jack Nicholson, Charles B. Griffith
Seen on: 17.4.2021

Plot:
Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) has a small flower shop on Skid Row, always worrying about his shop’s continued existence. He has two employees, Audrey (Jackie Joseph) and Seymour (Jonathan Haze), but Seymour is not exactly the greatest at his job. When Mushnick threatens once again to fire him, Seymour tells him about an unusual plant that he has been growing and that might be a customer draw. Mushnick gives Seymour one more chance to prove his worth. The plant – nicknamed Audrey Junior – is unusual indeed, not just in the way it looks, but also in the (bloody) care it needs.

The Little Shop of Horrors is a fun film, even if not all its jokes work all that well anymore in today’s context. But overall, I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing the drawing of a man holding a small potted flower. There is a vine around his feet that goes to a huge flower that is about to bite his head off.
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Till det som är vackert [Pure] (2010)

Till det som är vackert
Director: Lisa Langseth
Writer: Lisa Langseth
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Samuel Fröler, Josephine Bauer, Martin Wallström, Helén Söderqvist Henriksson
Seen on: 16.4.2021

Plot:
Katarina (Alicia Vikander) lives with her boyfriend Mattias (Martin Wallström) and fights with her mother (Josephine Bauer). Her life seems to stretch out before her: working a dead-end job, always this close to poverty, and having many children with Matthias. When she discovers classical music, a new world opens up to Katarina. After actually attending a concert together with Mattias, Katarina is even more intrigued. After losing her job, she returns to the concert hall and just stumbles into a job interview. Much to her surprise, the HR manager (Helén Söderqvist Henriksson) hires her. Her position is more than she hoped for, and puts her in the sight of conductor Adam (Samuel Fröler) who takes a liking to her.

Pure was a fantastic film debut for both Langseth and Vikander. It’s an intense portrayal of a young woman and a sharp look at the intersection of gender and class.

The film poster showing Katarina (Alicia Vikander) looking fiercely at the camera, while Adam (Samuel Fröler) holds her and smells her neck.
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Slaying the Dragon (1988) + Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded (2011)

Slaying the Dragon
Director: Deborah Gee
Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded
Director: Elaine Kim
Seen on: 14.4.2021

“Plot”:
Slaying the Dragon looks at how stereotypes about Asians, especially Asian women, shaped their portrayal in Hollywood movies and vice versa. Trying to outline the major tropes, female and male actors are interviewed and films examined.
23 years later, Slaying the Dragon updates that documentary and looks at how films have – and have not – changed in the meantime.

Both documentaries are insightful, making clear statements about representation and how movies affect the world beyond the screen as well. They’re an excellent primer to recognize problematic characterizations and offer a succinct explanation of why they’re problematic.

The film poster of Slaying the Dragon Reloaded showing a drawn female figure holding a long reel of film that shows stills from various films, all with Asians.
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Home (2008)

Home
Director: Ursula Meier
Writer: Ursula Meier, Antoine Jaccoud, Raphaëlle Desplechin, Gilles Taurand, Olivier Lorelle, Alice Winocour
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet, Adélaïde Leroux, Madeleine Budd, Kacey Mottet Klein
Seen on: 11.4.2021

Plot:
Marthe (Isabelle Huppert), Michel (Olivier Gourmet) and their children Judith (Adélaïde Leroux), Marion (Madeleine Budd) and Julien (Kacey Mottet Klein) live right next to a piece of unfinished highway. The highway has remained unfinished for a decade and has become their personal playground, separating them from their mailbox and the road that lead to the next town. Much to their surprise, though, overnight the highway is finished and opened, completely disrupting the life they built together.

Home is an intriguing film with an unusual setting that grows increasingly more absurd and remains captivating throughout. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Marthe (Isabelle Huppert) standing in her kitchen with a truck rushing past just outside her window. Behind her on the lawn is her daughter Judith (Adélaïde Leroux) giving the truck the finger.
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Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Velvet Buzzsaw
Director: Dan Gilroy
Writer: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, John Malkovich, Billy Magnussen, Pat Healy
Seen on: 11.4.2021

Plot:
Morf (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an art critic, always looking for something new and good. But currently, he is rather more occupied with Josephina (Zawe Ashton). She works in the gallery run by Rhodora (Rene Russo), hoping to become a successful agent herself, and Morf is deeply in love with her, despite having a boyfriend. When Josephina finds out that a recently deceased tenant in her building was an artist who wanted to have all his art destroyed upon his death, she is convinced that his art is something special. She is not wrong, though she couldn’t have foreseen what kind of special it really is.

Velvet Buzzsaw is visually engaging, and has a great cast who obviously had a lot of fun chewing the scenery in this one. But the metaphor at its heart feels a little flimsy and could have done with a little more work.

The film poster showing a white frame on a white wall with the words Velvet Buzzsaw spraypainted across it, the red paint dripping down and over the frame.
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