Alien on Stage (2020)

Alien on Stage
Director: Lucy Harvey, Danielle Kummer
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2021
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“Plot”:
An amateur theater group from a bus driving company in Dorset have set their eyes on a new project. Instead of the usual pantomime, they want to bring Alien on Stage. It’s an ambitious idea, but with the strenght of community, everything is possible.

Alien on Stage is a warm, wonderful, uplifting film and an ode to passion projects that is sure to put a smile on your face. An instant favorit.

The film poster showing a bus with spotlights on it. Below it we see a xenomorph taking a bow in front of a crowd.
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Lapsis (2020)

Lapsis
Director: Noah Hutton
Writer: Noah Hutton
Cast: Dean Imperial, Madeline Wise, Babe Howard, Ivory Aquino, Dora Madison, James McDaniel, Frank Wood, Arliss Howard
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2021
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Plot:
Ray (Dean Imperial) tries to take care of his brother Jamie (Babe Howard) who suffers from a mysterious illness. Treatments for this illness are expensive and experimental, but Ray is determined to get his brother help. Even if that means having to go cabling – that is, laying miles and miles of cables through the forest on foot, a requirement for the new quantum technology that is taking over the world. Ray is suspicious of the technology and he needs to take an illegal short-cut to start working soon, but in his desperation, he will do anything.

Lapsis is a unique and very entertaining film. I really enjoyed it and its off the beaten path thinking and style.

The film poster showing a big golden cube with various cables potruding from it.
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Dune [Frank Herbert]

Dune is the first novel in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.
Finished on: 23.9.2021
[Here’s my review of the 2021 movie adaptation.]

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism, misogyny, rape, homomisia, eugenics

Plot:
Paul is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides and Bene Gesserit Jessica. By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron, of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

I pretty much hated Dune, and I’m not entirely sure why I struggled my way through it to actually finish it. I’m just very, very sure that I will not be continuing with the series.

The book cover showing a man wrapped in a cloak in front of an orange background. Behind him is a blue moon, his eyes also are a shining blue.

[SPOILERS]

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Titane [Titanium] (2021)

Titane
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau, Jacques Akchoti, Jean-Christophe Bouzy
Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Mara Cisse, Marin Judas, Diong-Kéba Tacu, Myriem Akheddiou, Bertrand Bonello
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2021
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Content Note: sexualized violence

Plot:
Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is a dancer, working at car shows and the like. She is tough, tattooed and shows off a big scar she has on her skull from a car accident. Her roughness is not just exterior. When she is assaulted by a fan, she doesn’t hesitate to stab him. But when her colleague Justine (Garance Marillier) also tries to get closer to her, Alexia has the same reaction though. And it’s neither her first, nor her last killing – and she desperately needs an exit strategy. That presents itself in an unusual option.

Titane is not an easy film, and I had to sleep over it to really get to an opinion about it – but ultimately, I really liked it. It is a wild, refractory, aesthetic film that is certainly worth watching and then discussing a lot.

The film poster showing Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) pushing back her hair to reveal a large, snail-shaped scar behind her ear.
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Buddies (1985)

Buddies
Director: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
Writer: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
Cast: Geoff Edholm, David Schachter, Billy Lux
Seen on: 21.9.2021

Plot:
David (David Schachter) is a typesetter. Inspired by the book about the AIDS crisis that he is currently laying out, and as a gay man, he decided to volunteer as an AIDS buddy – a visitor for one of the many gay men who are dying alone and abandoned in a hospital. He is assigned to visit Robert (Geoff Edholm). Taken aback at first by Robert’s attempts to be humorous and have high spirits in his desperate situation, the two men quickly become close regardless.

Buddies was maybe the first film shot about the AIDS crisis. Shot while it was still raging pretty much unchecked, there is an urgency to this low-budget production that is hard to escape and that reminds us of how long this period lasted and how many people died. But there is also a strength there, a celebration of gay love that is absolutely beautiful.

The film poster showing David (David Schachter) with an arm around Robert (Geoff Edholm).
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Una mujer fantástica [A Fantastic Woman] (2017)

Una mujer fantástica
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Sebastián Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Saavedra, Amparo Noguera, Trinidad González, Néstor Cantillana
Seen on: 20.9.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Marina (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes) have been dating for a while, and despite their considerable age difference, they are very happy. In fact, Marina is just moving in with Orlando. When Orlando suddenly dies, Marina’s world suddenly shatters. On top of her lover dying, she has to also deal with Orlando’s family who can’t accept Marina and the fact that she is trans.

Una mujer fantástica is an intense film about transmisia and the resilience that trans people have to develop in the face of it. Except survival, it has not much space for positivity though.

The film poster showing Marina (Daniela Vega) in a prism of colorful light.
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Madeo [Mother] (2009)

Madeo
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writer: Eun-kyo Park, Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Hye-ja Kim, Won Bin, Jin Goo, Je-mun Yun, Mi-seon Jeon, Sae-byeok Song, Hee-ra Mun, Woo-hee Chun
Seen on: 19.9.2021

Content Note: cripping up, (partly critical treatment of) ableism and whoremisia

Plot:
Do-joon (Won Bin) is everything for his mother (Hye-ja Kim) who has a fiercely protective streak, despite him being grown up. But he also has a learning disability, and tends to get in trouble together with his best friend Jin-tae (Jin Goo), so she has good reasons not to let go. When a neighborhood girl turns up dead, and a golf ball with Do-joon’s name is found next to her, he is arrested. His mother is certain that Do-joon is being framed and is determined to get to the bottom of things.

Mother is an unusual crime movie. Unusual in the way it is told, but also unusual in the story it tells. This unusualness makes it enjoyable for crime fans and those (like me) who aren’t that much into crime as a genre.

The film poster showing Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) huddling behind his mother (Hye-ja Kim).
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Tigerland (2000)

Tigerland
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Ross Klavan, Michael McGruther
Cast: Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Clifton Collins Jr., Tom Guiry, Shea Whigham, Russell Richardson, Nick Searcy, Afemo Omilami, James MacDonald, Keith Ewell, Matt Gerald, Stephen Fulton, Michael Shannon, Cole Hauser
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: slurs abound, especially racist and misogynistic ones

Plot:
It’s 1971 and a fresh batch of recruits has come together to be trained for the Vietnam war. Their reasons for being there differ greatly, but only a select few of them chose to join the military. Jim Paxton (Matthew Davis) is one of them, hoping the experience will give him fodder for a book. Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell), on the other hand, was drafted and uses every opportunity he can find to subvert the training. Bozz tries to keep his distance from everybody else, but Paxton is too intrigued by him to stay away. And he is not the only one paying close attention to everything Bozz does as the military machine tries its best to whittle him down to size.

Tigerland is an unusual war movie in that we never ever make it to the war. Instead the film is entirely focused on dismantling both the army itself and, a little less successfully, hero narratives. I was really impressed by it and especially Farrell in it.

The film poster showing Bozz (Colin Farrell) in military garb, behind him other soldiers in a splash of ink.
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Dune (2021)

Dune
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
Based on: Frank Herbert‘s novel
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chen Chang, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clémentine
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism

Plot:
Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and Bene Gesserit Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice that keeps interstellar travel going. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit (Charlotte Rampling) comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

Dune is pretty much the epitome of an epic hero’s journey – with all the advantages and disadvantages of that. It’s a faithful adaptation with only few modernizations in the story and characters – and that, too, comes with its own problems. I guess, how much you like this film will strongly depend on how much you like the source material and how much you like the colors grey, brown and beige.

The film poster showing a moon, science fiction machinery, sand and a sandworm as a background. In the foreground, Leto (Oscar Isaac), Paul (Timothée Chalamet), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Chani (Zendaya), Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and Gurney (Josh Brolin) as floating heads in different sizes.
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Mayak [The Lighthouse] (2006)

Mayak
Director: Mariya Saakyan
Writer: Givi Shavgulidze
Cast: Anna Kapaleva, Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargsyan, Sofiko Chiaureli, Ruzana Avetisyan, Mikhail Bogdasarov, Sergei Daniyelyan, Anastasiya Grebennikova, Albina Matveyeva, Mikhail Silantev
Seen on: 15.9.2021

Plot:
It’s the 90s and Lena (Anna Kapaleva) is returning to her home village in Armenia for the first timme in a long time. She is visiting her grandparents (Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargysan) who have stayed behind in the village despite it being in the middle of a warzone. Lena tries desperately to convince them to go away to safety with her. Instead, Lena stays longer and longer than she anticipated.

Mayak is a melancholic piece if cinema that shows us the daily routine of war for the people who aren’t really involved in it. It isn’t always easy to watch, but it is very interesting.

The film poster showing a childish drawing of a house and a figure walking towards it over a red path through a wave of water.
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