Moonfall (2022)

Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, Spenser Cohen
Cast: Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson, John Bradley, Charlie Plummer, Michael Peña, Carolina Bartczak, Chris Sandiford, Jonathan Maxwell Silver, Eme Ikwuakor, Donald Sutherland
Seen on: 14.2.2022

A few years ago, Brian (Patrick Wilson) and Jo (Halle Berry) were a team – in space, no less. But after a terrible accident after which Brian claims to have seen something inexplicable, unbelievable, he was discredited, while she went on to rise in the ranks at NASA. Now something is wrong with the moon though, and megastructuralist KC Houseman (John Bradley) who is convinced that the moon is a built mega structure is the first to figure it out: the moon is off its orbit. And it will collide with the earth if it isn’t stopped. But nobody wants to listen to KC, not NASA and not even Brian who KC tries to get to help. Who will be able to save the world?

Moonfall is one hell of a film. It is so completely out there, it’s basically its own megastructure orbiting the earth. And that makes it a whole lot of fun – at least as long as you don’t take it seriously for even a second.

The film poster showing a giant moon next to a small earth. There is a hole in the moon that hints at a built structure.
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Death on the Nile (2022)

Death on the Nile
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Sequel to: Murder on the Orient Express
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, Letitia Wright, Sophie Okonedo, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Ali Fazal, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Russell Brand
Seen on: 14.2.2022

Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is in Egypt on holiday when he runs into his old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) who is traveling with his mohter (Annette Bening). They are in the country for the wedding of Simon (Armie Hammer) and Linette (Gal Gadot) who have invited their wedding party to Egypt. But not only their guests have come to the Nile, but also Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) who used to be Simon’s fiancée until she introduced him to Linette. When Linette is killed shortly afterwards, Poirot has to untangle the net of personal relationships that surround them all to find the murderer.

Death on the Nile really isn’t good, despite a fantastic cast. But with a bad script, a weird look and some very questionable choices by Branagh in his role as director of the film, not even a good cast can save this film.

The film poster showing the large cast of characters on a staemer on the Nile, behind them the pyramids and the sphynx.
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The Suffragette Scandal (Courtney Milan)

The Suffragette Scandal is the fourth novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 12.2.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: torture

Edward Clark had meant to stay away from England, but when he hears that one of his oldest friends, Stephen, is in trouble and it’s the fault of Edward’s own brother James, he comes to help. Stephen works at the Women’s Free Press, a paper run by Frederica – Free – Marshall who is also in James’ crosshairs. Edward offers Free his support, but warns her that he is a scoundrel himself and she should not trust him. Running a paper devoted to women’s liberation, Free is no stranger to untrustworthy men and knows how to deal with them. But it appears that with their partnership, they both got more than they thought and maybe more than they can handle.

The Suffragette Scandal is the final novel in the Brothers Sinister series (there is still a novella left, though) and a really wonderful finish. Not all of the novels in the series worked equally for me, but The Suffragette Scandal is one of my favorites of the series.

The book cover showing a red-headed woman wearing a blue ballgown, looking over her shoulder.
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Court of Venom (Kristin Burchell)

Court of Venom is a novel by Kristin Burchell.
Finished on: 9.2.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: sexual assault

Badriya came to the desert city of Aran with her mother, but now her mother is dead and Badriya is stuck in Aran until she can free her mother’s soul from the witch who keeps it prisoner. To earn enough money for that, she uses her knowledge of plants to make magical cosmetics and drugs for the women of the court in Aran. But Queen Solena also has a different use for her: Badriya is her poisoner, and she makes free use of her as she looks for a suitable husband.

Court of Venom is a nice read with interesting world-building that doesn’t get the pacing quite right, I thought. Still, I enjoyed reading it.

The book cover showing a night sky and a stylized star chart.
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Finlandia (2021)

Director: Horacio Alcala
Writer: Horacio Alcala, Jesús Caballero
Cast: Noé Hernández, Cuauhtli Jiménez, Andrea Guasch, Graciela Orozco, Érick Israel Consuelo, Leonardo Alonso, Raquel Menor Rodriguez
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 6.2.2022

Delirio (Noé Hernández) is something like the matriarch of muxe in his town. She dreams of a married man she met many years ago and who now lives in Finland, yet still writes postcards to her. She makes artfully embroidered clothing together with Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) and others. The intricate, colorful designs have caught the eye of a fashion company all the way in Spain. They send Marta (Andrea Guasch) to Mexico to scope out the designs – and steal them. But Marta is unsure about her assignment, especially after she gets to know Amaranta a little better.

Finlandia is a gorgeous film that is less interested in its story than in exploring the world of the muxe. I am unsure, though, whether any of the actors actually are muxe themselves which is a pity to say the least.

The film poster showing Amaranta (Cuauhtli Jiménez) in an elaborate headdress, tears in her eyes.
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Al Berto (2017)

Al Berto
Director: Vicente Alves do Ó
Writer: Vicente Alves do Ó
Cast: Ricardo Teixeira, José Pimentão, Raquel Rocha Vieira, José Leite, Joana Almeida, João Villas-Boas, Gabriela Barros, Ana Vilela da Costa, Duarte Grilo
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 5.2.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira) left Portugal some time ago, but after the Carnation Revolution, he dares to return to Sines, where he takes up residence in his family’s now empty estate and utterly commits to the Bohemian lifestyle, surrounded by artists, partying a lot and falling in love with João Maria (José Pimentão). But with or without the revolution, Portugal may not be quite ready for Al Berto’s way of doing things and resentment starts growing.

Al Berto is an interesting biopic that captures the spirit of the time, at least as I imagine it. It does get distracted a little too much by the sex and romance things, though.

The film poster showing a large close-up of Al Berto (Ricardo Teixeira). Below that we see him partying with João Maria (José Pimentão), at the beach with friends and João Maria holding Sara (Raquel Rocha Vieira) naked.
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Bilmemek [Not Knowing] (2019)

Director: Leyla Yilmaz
Writer: Leyla Yilmaz
Cast: Emir Ozden, Senan Kara, Yurdaer Okur, Levent Üzümcü, Çetin Sarikartal, Ulascan Kutlu, Arda Aranat, Berke Bük, Sanem Öge, Özgür Daniel Foster
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 4.2.2022

Content Note: suicidal thoughts, (critical treatment of) homomisia, bullying

Selma (Senan Kara) and Sinan (Yurdaer Okur) have been married for a long time, but there is a distance between them now that becomes harder and harder to bridge. Their son Umut (Emir Ozden) will soon leave for college – and who knows what will become of them then. But first they’re hoping that Umut will win a water polo scholarship and be able to go to college in the USA. When rumors abound within Umut’s team that Umut might be gay, his team mates start pressuring him, though, because he neither confrims nor denies it.

Bilmemek is a well-made film, but I did have my issues with the ending, I have to admit. Still, a lot of it was very engaging and interesting to me.

The film poster showing Umut (Eir Ozden) looking into the distance.


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Mía y Moi [Mía and Moi] (2021)

Mía y Moi
Director: Borja de la Vega
Writer: Borja de la Vega
Cast: Bruna Cusí, Ricardo Gómez, Eneko Sagardoy, Joe Manjón
Part of: Transition Internation Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 3.2.2022

Content Note: ableism/saneism, partner abuse

Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) just lost their mother and meet in the remote family home to say their good-bye. Moi brings his boyfriend Biel (Eneko Sagardoy). It quickly becomes obvious that Moi is struggling beyond grief, he seems barely able to function without Biel’s help. But the three make things work, better and better step by step. But then Mía’s ex-boyfriend Mikel (Joe Manjón) shows up uninvited and throws things into disarray again.

Mía and Moi is an engaging film with really excellent performances that got a little derailed with the story for me.

The film poster showing Mía (Bruna Cusí) and Moi (Ricardo Gómez) huddled closely together,


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Sanguen Daemonis (Anna Zabini)

Sanguen Daemonis is the first novel by Anna Zabini. [There is no English translation, afaik.]
Finished on: 2.2.2022

Content Note: the book contains extensive content notes for each chapter, so let me just point out that this is not a happy book and loads of warnings apply

Sivan and Shanna are twins. They are very close, but also very different. While Shanna follows in their parents political footsteps and is about to become head of the Chosen in Vienna, the people possessed by but in control of a demon, Sivan is the black sheep of the family and has enough to do with his mental health than to be particularly ambitious. Right around the same time, both of them meet people they didn’t expect. Sivan meets Nikola, an Untouchable (who can’t be possessed but draw demons in) from Bratislava recruited to Vienna rather against his will. And Shanna meets Nesrin, a Mortal (meaning she can be possessed by a demon, but would succumb to its control) independent journalist. The fates of all four of them become intertwined with the politics of the Chosen and the resistance who grapple for control.

Sanguen Daemonis was a really good read that I devoured in only a few days. While there were a few moments here and there that reminded me of the fact that it is a debut novel, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the world-building is innovative, the characters are awesome and the story is dark, but not hopeless. In short, I really liked it.

The book cover showing a person with eyes that glow golden holding up an umbrella in the rain. There are tentacles under the umbrella.
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Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan
Based on: William Lindsay Gresham‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Mark Povinelli, Peter MacNeill, Holt McCallany, Jim Beaver, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, David Hewlett
Seen on: 1.2.2022

After hiding a body under the floor and burning down the house around it, Stanton (Bradley Cooper) is leaving town. He ends up with a traveling carneval troupe, and he seems made for that career, learning the tricks of the business from Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette) and her husband Pete (David Strathairn). Stanton is ambitious, he definitely has plans to make his own way and he hopes to bring Molly (Rooney Mara), beauty of the carneval along for them. After they do make their own start, psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) shows up at one of their performances – and Stanton believes that they can build a business together.

Nightmare Alley was quite a disappointment with strange casting choices and pacing issues that completely hobble the film. I was expecting more form a del Toro film.

The film poster showing Stanton (Bradley Cooper) and below him Zeena (Toni Collette), Dr. Ritter (Cate Blanchett) and Molly (Rooney Mara).
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