Sunset (2018)

Sunset
Director: Jamison M. LoCascio
Writer: Adam Ambrosio, Jamison M. LoCascio
Cast: Liam MitchellBarbara Bleier, Austin Pendleton, Suzette Gunn, Juri Henley-Cohn, David Johnson
Seen on: 2.6.2018
[Screener Review.]

Plot:
Things look normal: Henry (Liam Mitchell) and Patricia (Barbara Bleier) are celebrating Patricia’s birthday with their friends – Patricia’s ex Julian (Austin Pendleton), Chris (David Johnson) and Ayden (Juri Henley-Cohn) who both have found surrogate parents in Henry and Patricia, and Ayden’s partner Breyanna (Suzette Gunn). As their talking turns to politics, it becomes clear, though, that tensions are high and ouright nuclear war seems just around the corner.

Usually nuclear war is used in films to conjure up a post-apocalyptic scenario, or it is used as a threat that the (action) heroes of the story have something to prevent. In Sunset’s case, it’s the backdrop for a thorough and thoughtful character study that stumbles sometimes, but remains engaging throughout.

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29 to Life (2018)

29 to Life
Director: Alex Magaña
Writer: Alex Magaña
Cast: Murphy Patrick Martin, Diana Cristina (aka Diana Solis), Hayley Ambriz, Kaden Cole, Sherry Driggs, Rocky Hart
Seen on: 29.5.2018
[Screener Review.]

Plot:
Barnaby (Murphy Patrick Martin) is 29, but so far he successfully avoided growing up. But it’s time to face life when his girlfriend Elaina (Hayley Ambriz) breaks up with him and his parents (Sherry Driggs, Rocky Hart) kick him out of their house the very same day to try and force him to get a job. Barnaby finds himself living in his car and still trying to avoid any kind of responsibility. When hunger motivates him to go to his high school reunion (in the hope of finding a buffet there), he runs into Madison (Diana Cristina) and the two re-connect. And maybe Madison can give Barnaby the final push he needs.

29 to Life is very obviously a film by a young man made without a budget who hasn’t made a feature before. How forgiving you are about the drawbacks that come with that will vary. Personally, I struggled a little with Barnaby and the male perspective that permeates the script. That being said, it does have its sweet touches.

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Wayward Sisters – An Anthology of Monstrous Women (Ed. by Allison O’Toole)

Wayward Sisters is a comic anthology edited by Allison O’Toole.
Finished on: 31.3.2018
[I got a review copy of this anthology. You can get it here.]

After the beautiful cover by Alise Gluškova and a nice, short foreword by Faith Erin Hicks, Wayward Sisters gives us a collection of wonderful short comics, created exclusively by female and gender non-conforming artists and featuring almost exclusively female monsters. As usual with anthologies, not every story will hit you hard, but I found that Wayward Sisters was one of the most consistently strong anthologies I’ve ever read. It features stories as different in tone as in art style and there should be something there for everyone. For me, there were several somethings that hit me in various sweet spots.

After the jump, there’s more about each of the stories separately.

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Tikli and Laxmi Bomb (2017)

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Vibhawari DeshpandeChitrangada ChakrabortySuchitra PillaiSaharsh Kumar ShuklaMia MaelzerDivya UnnyKritika PandeUday AtroliaUpendra LimayeMayur MoreVikas Shukla
Seen on: 3.3.2018
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[Screener review.]

Plot:
Laxmi (Vibhawari Deshpande) has been a sex worker for quite a while, always under the protection of Mhatre (Upendra Limaye). When he brings her a new girl, Putul (Chitrangada Chakraborty), she knows she has to show her the ropes, even though she doesn’t much care for it – or for the bubbly and mouthy Putul. When Putul’s defiance leads her to talk about revolution – working for themselves rather than Mhatre – Laxmi is reluctant at first, but knows that Putul – nicknamed Tikli – makes good points.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb is a smart and engaging film. It tells an emotional story with great characters while thoroughly examining an unfair and oppressive system.

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Die Strecke (1927) + Wien Diesel

Die Strecke [probably best translated as The Tracks]
Director: Max Neufeld
Writer: Jacques Bachrach, Oskar Bendiener, Max Neufeld
Cast: Maly Delschaft, Anton Edthofer, Hans Unterkircher, Eugen Neufeld, Hans Thimig, Hans Marr, Carmen Cartellieri
Part of: Viennale
With music by: Wien Diesel
Seen on: 28.10.2017
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Plot:
Marie (Maly Delschaft) is stuck in a small-town train station where her husband works. She dreams of the big city, a dream that is fueled by her husband’s new boss. But he has ulterior motives and Marie finds herself under a lot of pressure by him as her husband grows suspicious of her own loyalties.

Die Strecke is not a great film, but thanks to accompanying band Wien Diesel, it was an experience to watch it – an experience I enjoyed a whole lot.

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Un beau soleil intérieur [Let the Sun Shine In] (2017)

Un beau soleil intérieur
Director: Claire Denis
Writer: Christine Angot, Claire Denis
Based on: Roland Barthes‘s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Josiane Balasko, Sandrine Dumas, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex DescasLaurent GrévillBruno PodalydèsPaul Blain, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Gérard Depardieu
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2017
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Plot:
Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is a rather successful artist, but she’s less successful when it comes to love. She has an affair with the married Vincent (Xavier Beauvois), but that isn’t enough for her. So she goes on various dates and meets quite a few men. But none of it lasts and Isabelle keeps on searching.

I found Un beau soleil intérieur pretty disappointing. There wasn’t a single character I liked in the film – and yes, that includes Isabelle. That made the film rather trying to sit through.

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Song of Susannah (Stephen King)

Song of Susannah is the sixth novel in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 27.10.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]

Plot:
The ka-tet make their way to our world, but they are split up. Susannah, sharing her body with Mia and her baby, heads for New York, and Jake, Father Callahan and Oy follow them, hoping to catch up before the birth. Meanwhile, Eddie and Roland go to Maine to make sure that they get ownership of the lot where the rose grows to keep it safe. But things don’t quite work out the way as planned.

I am not a huge fan of mystical pregnancies, so Song of Susannah was a bit of a drag in that department, but there was also a lot of pretty awesome meta stuff that I absolutely loved.

[SPOILERS]

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Hannah (2017)

Hannah
Director: Andrea Pallaoro
Writer: Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, André Wilms, Stéphanie Van Vyve, Simon Bisschop
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2017
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Plot:
Hannah (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband (André Wilms) of many years eat dinner. He changes a lightbulb. She packs a bag for him. They drive to prison and he stays there, while Hannah has to navigate the life they used to share on her own from now on. Their son (Julien Vargas) isn’t of much help, Hannah remains at a distance in her theater group and the only human contact she has is with Nicholas (Simon Bisschop), a young disabled boy she takes care of.

Hannah isn’t an easy film, but for me, it was a film well worth the effort I had to put in watching it (funnily enough, I said pretty much the same thing about Pallaoro’s first film, Medeas). Crafted carefully in every frame, it’s an exercise in what isn’t said or shown

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L’atelier [The Workshop] (2017)

L’atelier
Director: Laurent Cantet
Writer: Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Cast: Marina Foïs, Matthieu Lucci, Florian Beaujean, Mamadou Doumbia, Mélissa Guilbert, Warda Rammach, Julien Souve, Issam Talbi
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2018
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Plot:
Olivia (Marina Foïs) is a respected novelist who is participating as a teacher in a summer class for underprivileged kids. The seven participants are supposed to write a story together but one of them, Antoine (Matthieu Lucci) won’t play along. His writing is filled with violence and empathy for the perpetrators of it. His behavior in class is antagonistic, racist and shows him sympathizing with neo-nazis and fascism. Olivia struggles with the situation in a class where most of her students aren’t white. But she’s also intrigued by Antoine’s obvious intelligence and tries to find out more about him.

L’atelier could have been interesting if it had been the film I was hoping to see and not yet another story that asks us to please empathize with the neonazi. Maybe if the film hadn’t been made by white people, it would have been good.

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Patti Cake$ (2017)

Patti Cake$
Director: Geremy Jasper
Writer: Geremy Jasper
Cast: Danielle MacdonaldSiddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Bridget EverettCathy Moriarty, Patrick Brana, Sahr NgaujahMC Lyte, Anthony Ramos
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2017
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Plot:
Patti (Danielle Macdonald) lives with her alcoholic mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and her sick grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) and works a thankless job. But she really comes to live when she starts rapping. Always supported by her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), both morally and with beats, she’s constantly rhyming. But New Jersey isn’t necessarily a rapping hotbed, especially not for fat white women. But when Patti and Jheri stumble on punk artist Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), Patti is convinced that they have found the missing ingredient for their music to really take off. Plus, he’s intriguing and she’s curious.

Patti Cake$ had me leaving the cinema with a huge grin on my face, despite the fact that I did have some squabbles with it. It’s sweet and funny and the music is pretty great.

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