This Little Love of Mine (2021)

This Little Love of Mine
Director: Christine Luby
Writer: Georgia Harrison
Cast: Saskia Hampele, Liam McIntyre, Lynn Gilmartin, Craig Horner, Lawrence Ola, Rajan Velu, Monette Lee, Martin Portus
Seen on: 22.7.2022

Content Note: colonialism

Plot:
Laura (Saskia Hampele) is an up and coming lawyer, hoping to finally become a partner in her lawfirm. When billionaire Graham (Martin Portus) wants to hire her, it looks like she can finally can get everything she ever dreamed off. She grew up with Graham’s grandson Chip (Liam McIntyre) on a beautiful island. Graham needs Chip to take over the company, but Chip won’t sign the necessary paperwork. So Laura flies back home to her island to convince Chip. Once there, she realizes how much she missed home – and Chip.

This Little Love of Mine is a cute RomCom that does exactly what you think it will do. To enjoy it, you have to stomach though that on this tropical island, we can barely see a person of color which is superweird.

The movie poster showing Laura (Saskia Hampele) leaning against a palm tree on the beach and Chip (Liam McIntyre) leaning against her.
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Baptism of Fire (Andrzej Sapkowski)

Baptism of Fire is the third novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by David French (not the playwright).
Finished on: 21.7.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: rape, sexualized violence, abortion, ableism

Plot:
After what happened in Thanedd, Geralt is recovering in Brokilon. As soon as he has been nursed back to health (more or less) by the dryads, he wants to set out again to find Ciri. He keeps having strange dreams about her. Accompanied by Dandelion and guided by the archer Milva, they make their way south towards Nilfgaard where Ciri is supposedly held. The problem is that they are heading directly towards war.

Baptism of Fire feels very much like an in-between-book that treads narrative water as it positions its players. Hopefully that means that we get a bit more action in the next one. Feministically speaking, I can only say that these books constantly find new ways to annoy me.

The book cover showing the silhouette of a wolf in a ring of fire.
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Men (2022)

Men
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin
Seen on: 19.7.2022

Content Note: domestic violence, (questionable) suicide, (critical treatment of) misogyny

Plot:
Harper (Jessie Buckley) has had a bad time with her husband James (Paapa Essiedu), and that’s putting it mildly. As they are no longer together, Harper decides that a break is in order. She rents a landhouse, a small estate in a tiny village, from jovial Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) and hopes to just have a calm two weeks away from everything. But it doesn’t work out that way.

Men is quite a film. I found it utterly engaging and deeply weird in the most interesting of ways. It is definitely the kind of film you will want to spend some time discussing with many people.

The film poster showing Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) smiling, the word Men stamped across his eyes.

[SPOILERS]

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Hive (2021)

Hive
Director: Blerta Basholli
Writer: Blerta Basholli
Cast: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha, Adriana Matoshi, Molikë Maxhuni, Blerta Ismaili, Kaona Sylejmani, Mal Noah Safqiu, Xhejlane Terbunja
Seen on: 18.7.2022

Content Note: sexualized violence/attempted rape, (critical treatment of) misogyny

Plot:
Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) shares the same fate as most of the women in her village in Kosovo: her husband went missing in the war, and he has yet to be found. Every now and then new remains are uncovered, and it is unclear what would be worse: finding traces of him, or continuing not to. But Fahrije doesn’t really have time to consider these questions. She has two children, Zana (Kaona Sylejmani) and Edon (Mal Noah Safqiu), and a disabled father-in-law, Haxhi (Çun Lajçi) to take care of. Their only source of income is the sale of honey, but the bees don’t give as much honey as they used to. So Fahrije decides to get a driver’s license with the help of the Women’s Association, even though she knows what this will mean for her reputation in the village. And that’s not enough: she also kickstarts a business for the women in the village to sell their home-made ajvar in the city. But the remaining men around her don’t make things easier.

Hive is based on a true story. It brings the lasting effects of the war in Kosovo very close, while also managing to be a feminist story full of hope. It’s an excellent film, especially given that it’s Basholli’s debut feature.

The film poster showing Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) wearing a beekeeper's hat.
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Dog (2022)

Dog
Director: Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum
Writer: Reid Carolin, Brett Rodriguez
Cast: Channing Tatum, Luke Forbes, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Junes Zahdi, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Seen on: 18.7.2022

Content Note: suicide, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) had to leave the army after a head injury. Ever since his return home from Iraq, he has been struggling, but he is hoping to get back on his feet with a new job. They need the clearance of his commanding officer though, and not just a clean bill of health. When a fellow Army Ranger passes, Jackson gets the chance to talk to Ranger Jones (Luke Forbes), hoping to get his recommendation. But Jones gives him a task instead: he has to drive Lulu, a canine Army Ranger who belonged to the deceased, to his funeral and then to an army station where the severely traumatized dog will probably be put down. Seeing no other way to get the recommendation, Jackson agrees. But driving with Lulu brings its own challenges.

Dog is a bit of tear-jerker, and I do mean that in a neutral way. It sometimes gets to genuine emotion, sometimes it is stuck a little too much in stereotypes. But it is pretty watchable throughout.

The film poster showing a scratched up Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) leaning against a car. Lulu the dog is looking out from it.
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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Based on: Stan Lee‘s, Larry Lieber‘s and Jack Kirby‘s comic character
Sequel to: Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Kieron L. Dyer, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Simon Russell Beale, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 15.7.2022

Plot:
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hasn’t been doing too well after recent events, although he doesn’t look it. Traveling around with the Guardians of the Galaxy to help people, he finds some fulfillment in fighting for the weak. When he hears a cry for help from his old friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who tells him about the God Butcher Gorr (Christian Bale) who has been hunting gods all over the galaxy, Thor returns to New Asgard, where King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) leads the rest of the Asgardian refugees. And just in time to find not only Gorr attacking Asgard, but also his ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) who has taken up Mjolnir and has also become Thor. Together, they go after Gorr while also trying to figure out where they stand with each other.

Thor: Love and Thunder is a really fun film that surreptitiously tackles some hard topics, ending with a positive message that is a breath of fresh air in the age of movie cynicism.

The film poster showing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a meditative pose wearing a mumu in front of a colorful galactical background. Behind him we can see Jane as Thor (Natalie Portman), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Taika Waititi), as well as a ship drawn by two giant goats. Gorr (Christian Bale) is smiling as a floating head above it all.
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Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on: the video game series
Cast: Milla Jovovich, James Purefoy, Eric Mabius, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Salmon, Martin Crewes, Pasquale Aleardi, Heike Makatsch, Jaymes Butler, Jason Isaacs
Seen on: 14.7.2022

Plot:
The Umbrella Corporation runs a sophisticated laboratory where they do secret experiments. But something goes wrong. Alice (Milla Jovovich) finds herself just outside of the laboratory without her memories, but with a man, Spence (James Purefoy). Both are quickly picked up by a military unit who are trying to get into the research facility to stop whatever is happening there that seems to have to do with a supercomputer going rogue. Whether Alice and Spence want to or not, they are along for the ride.

I have never seen anything in the Resident Evil franchise, and I decided to give it a go. If I am correctly informed, the films get better after the first. It is hard to imagine that they can get worse in any case.

The film poster showing Alice (Milla Jovovich) with a giant gun and Rain (Michell Rodriguez) in a fighting pose.
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Michael Kiwanuka (Support: Lou Asril)

Michael Kiwanuka played a show at the MetaStadt Open Air, preceded by Lou Asril. (There was third act before Asril as well, but I didn’t see it.)
Seen on: 11.7.2022

I got concert tickets for Michael Kiwanuka’s show a while ago (sometime in 2020, I think). Then the concert was pushed back, and it was announced that Kiwanuka would open for Lauryn Hill. Then Lauryn Hill canceled, and it was announced that Lou Asril would open for Kiwanuka. Since I had tickets for another Asril show that I couldn’t attend after it, too, was moved, this seemed like a particular stroke of luck for me. And I can say that it really was worth the wait for both of them.

Michael Kiwanuka looking straight at the camera with a small smile.
Michael Kiwanuka
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Turning Red (2022)

Turning Red
Director: Domee Shi
Writer: Domee Shi, Julia Cho, Sarah Streicher
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, Lori Tan Chinn, Mia Tagano, Sherry Cola, Lillian Lim, James Hong, Jordan Fisher
Seen on: 10.7.2022

Plot:
Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) is a good girl, dividing her time between school – where she geeks out with her friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park) and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) over the boyband 4*Town – and the temple her mother (Sandra Oh) and father (Orion Lee) run. Things are good, even though her mother finds some rather embarassing doodles of a cute boy and embarasses Mei even further. But then Mei wakes up and has turned into a giant red panda. Everything is about to be different.

Turning Red is an adorable, fun, wonderful romp that fills a gap in kids’ movies in more than one way. I adored it.

The film poster showing Meilin as the Red Panda, surrounded by her friends Miriam, Priya and Abby.
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Re-Read: Bitterblue (Kristin Cashore)

Bitterblue is the third Graceling Realm novel by Kristin Cashore.
Finished on: 9.7.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: gaslighting, abuse, rape, torture

Plot:
It’s been 8 years since the events in Graceling and that Bitterblue has become Queen of Monsea. But Monsea is still struggling with what Leck did to it and Bitterblue doesn’t have much idea of what is actually happening in her country. That is, until she decides one night to just slip outside the castle and head into town. The more she discovers, though, and the more questions she asks, the more secrets she seems to uncover.

When I first read Bitterblue, I was a bit disappointed by it. In the time since I had forgotten my initial disappointment and was able to approach Bitterblue with a fresh eye. And that fresh eye is much kinder. I liked the novel a lot on re-reading.

The book cover showing a keychain with three keys, gold, silver and copper respectively.
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