Love Hard (2021)

Love Hard
Director: Hernan Jimenez
Writer: Daniel Mackey, Rebecca Ewing
Cast: Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang, Darren Barnet, James Saito,Rebecca Staab, Harry Shum Jr., Althea Kaye, Mikaela Hoover
Seen on: 13.5.2022

Content Note: ableism/lookism/fatmisia – don’t exactly know how to classify it

Plot:
Natalie (Nina Dobrev) writes a column about her dating experiences. Usually it’s about how aweful they are. But when she starts chatting with Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) online, it seems that she has finally been lucky. Except for the fact that he lives on the other side of the country. As Christmas comes nearer and their relationship deepens, Natalie decides to throw caution overboard. She simply books a flight to surprise Josh. But when she gets to Josh’s family home, she discovers that Josh has catfished her: he used photos of Tag (Darren Barnet) to lure her in. She is mortified, but the two strike a deal: she will pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays, and he will help her meet the actual Tag.

I don’t usually watch Christmas movies in May, but I honestly overlooked that this was a Christmas movie in the first place. Anyhow, maybe it was the time mismatch, but Love Hard didn’t quite give me the fuzzy feelings I was looking for.

The film poster showing Natalie (Nina Dobrev) holding a cell phone. Below her we can see two drawn cell phones, one showing Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) smiling awkwardly, and the other Tag (Darren Barnet) looking ruggedly handsome.
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The Adam Project (2022)

The Adam Project
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana, Catherine Keener
Seen on: 11.5.2022

Plot:
Adam (Walker Scobell) is twelve years old and a bit of a nerd. Since his father (Mark Ruffalo) recently died, he lives alone with his mother (Jennifer Garner) on a remote bit of land, dreaming of becoming cool. Or at least not bullied anymore. That’s when a space craft crashlands close to his home. And out of that spacecraft steps nobody else but himself – only 30 years older (Ryan Reynolds). Older Adam is on a very important mission. And he needs Young Adam’s help to finish it.

The Adam Project is fun enough. I like time travel stories in general, and this one is very sweet, albeit not terribly creative or ground-breaking. But it comes with a solid emotional core that makes it quite touching.

The film poster showing close-ups of the main characters in front of a space background.
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Re-Watch: The Tunnel (2011)

The Tunnel
Director: Carlo Ledesma
Writer: Enzo Tedeschi, Julian Harvey
Cast: Bel Deliá, Andy Rodoreda, Steve Davis, Luke Arnold
Seen on: 10.5.2022
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: misogyny

Plot:
Something is going on in the tunnels below Sydney, and ambitious reporter Natasha (Bel Deliá) is sure that the government is covering something up. She convinces her colleagues Peter (Andy Rodoreda), Steve (Steve Davis) and Tangles (Luke Arnold) to go investigating with her. But even with their suspicions, they never could have guessed what is actually happening.

The Tunnel is a mockumentary/found footage movie which is generally not so much my thing. But it was rather well-made and definitely shot in interesting locations, making it easier to forgive the often rather simple story. But then again, I realized only after having written this review that I had already seen the film, so obviously it’s not one to burn itself into your memory.

The film poster showing a close-up of Natasha (Bel Deliá) as she screams, the image made up of finely printed names.
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The Raven (2012)

The Raven
Director: James McTeigue
Writer: Hannah Shakespeare, Ben Livingston
Cast: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Sam Hazeldine
Seen on: 9.5.2022

Plot:
Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) is not what one would consider a successful writer. Barely making enough money, poverty exacerbated by a drinking problem, he has really nothing but a bit of infamy. He would like to marry Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), and she him, but her father Captain Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) disapproves. When a mother and daughter turn up murdered just like in one of of Poe’s stories, the suspicion of the police fall on him at first. Especially when another body turns up. But Poe can convince Detective Fields (Luke Evans) that he is not to blame. Instead, they team up to find the killer before he can use another of Poe’s stories.

Although the film is loosely inspired by some circumstances of Poe’s life, you should not make the mistake of thinking it is any way, shape, or form realistic. It’s the fever dream version of Poe’s last weeks of life. Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly interesting fever dream.

The film poster showing Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) walking fiercely, gun in hand. In the background behind him stretch a pair of red wings in which we can see a crying woman, a dead body and men looking fiercely.
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Pahanhautoja [Hatching] (2022)

Pahanhautoja
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Writer: Hanna Bergholm, Ilja Rautsi
Cast: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila, Ida Määttänen
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7./8.5.2022

Plot:
Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) grows up in what seems to be the perfect family. Her mother (Sophia Heikkilä) is an influencer who very carefully curates the family’s image to keep up this image of perfection. Her father (Jani Volanen) is not that present, but plays along. And her little brother Matias (Oiva Ollila) always tries to get the better of Tinja. When Tinja finds an egg in the forst, she decides to hatch it. Only it keeps growing. And when Tinja, an aspiring gymnast, fails to meet her mother’s expectations, trouble seems inevitable.

Hatching gives us a great set-up and a really interesting central metaphor, but it doesn’t quite come togethere. With the idea, I feel like we could have dug a little deeper and discovered a little more. Maybe even a sense of humor. As is, it feels a little like it’s missing the final oomph.

The film poster showing Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) in silhouette against a floral background. She is cradling a large egg that glows red.
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X (2022)

X
Director: Ti West
Writer: Ti West
Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Martin Henderson, Owen Campbell, Stephen Ure, James Gaylyn, Simon Prast
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

Plot:
Wayne (Martin Henderson) has rented a guest house on a remote farm and gathered his girlfriend Maxine (Mia Goth), stripper Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), vet Jackson (Kid Cudi) camera man RJ (Owen Campbell) and RJ’s girlfriend Lorraine (Jenny Ortega). Together they plan on shooting a farm-themed porno. Of course, the old farmer (Stephen Ure) can’t know about that part. But his frail wife Pearl gets wind of it. And that turns out to be much more dangerous for them than they could ever anticipate.

X was okay, but not exactly great. I liked the first part, but the second part left me pretty cold. There is a bit of nice meta commentary, but I was hoping for a little more.

The film poster showing Maxine (Mia Goth) holding an axe, behind a big wooden X.
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Adrift in Starlight (Mindi Briar)

Adrift in Starlight is the first novel in the Halcyon Universe series by Mindi Briar.
Finished on: 18.6.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give away.]

Content Note: (for this review) misgendering, acemisia, eugenics; for the novel you can find CNs in the book.

Plot:
Tai is a courtesan, and they are very good at their job. That’s why they get hired by actor Xander Bose. Only he doesn’t want to hire them for himself, but for his fiancé Aisha who he feels needs a bit of loosening up. With the money Xander offers, Tai just can’t afford to say no. But they soon realize that Aisha – a career-focused historian with a touch aversion – may not be easily seduced. When Tai comes to the museum opening of the exhibition on insectoid aliens that Aisha curated, things take a very unexpected turn for both of them, though.

I really enjoyed Adrift in Starlight. It’s a quick, sweet queer romance in space that gives us a nice ending for Aisha and Tai, while hinting that there is more to come in this world. Absolutely lovely.

The book cover showing a femme blond person reaching for a Black woman in front of a pink planet.
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Barbaque [Some Like It Rare] (2021)

Barbaque
Director: Fabrice Eboué
Writer: Fabrice Eboué, Vincent Solignac
Cast: Fabrice Eboué, Marina Foïs, Jean-François Cayrey, Lisa Do Couto Texeira, Virginie Hocq, Victor Meutelet, Stéphane Soo Mongo
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

Content Note: fatmisia

Plot:
Vincent (Fabrice Eboué) and Sophie (Marina Foïs) run a small butcher shop together, and things have been slow. It seems inevitable that they will have to close soon and bow to the pressures of bigger stores. Their marriage seems equally doomed to fail. And then their store is attacked by vegan activists to boot. When they just happen to pass one of the activists as he cycles along the road, Vincent loses it – and kills him. Next thing you know, the two are selling the vegan’s meat. And this might just be the thing to safe the store and the marriage, both. If only it wasn’t so hard to get.

Some Like It Rare is a funny film, although not every joke works equally and sometimes, it kicks down a little. Overall, I did have fun with it, though.

The film poster showing Vincent (Fabrice Eboué) and Sophie (Marina Foïs) posed over a fat body like hunters with their trophy. Vincent is holding a gun.
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