Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.
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Camp Death III in 2D! (2018)

Camp Death III in 2D!
Director: Matt Frame
Writer: Matt Frame
Cast: Dave Peniuk, Angela Galanopoulos, Darren Andrichuk, Emma Docker, Chris Allen, Starlise Waschuk, Terry mullett, Cynthia Chalmers, Gerald Gerald Geraldson, Hans Potter, Katherine Alpen, Jason Asuncion, Andrea Bang
Seen on: 6.1.2019
[Screener review.]

Plot:
Camp Crystal Meph was the scene of a horrific bloodbath by the killer Johann Van Damme (Terry mullett). But a few years later, Todd (Dave Peniuk) is ready to give it another try. His uncle Mel (Darren Andrichuk) owns the camp ground and Todd has set up a new camp concept. Together with his camp counselors Rachel (Angela Galanopoulos) and Barry (Chris Allen), they are ready to welcome their group. But soon after their arrival, people start dying – again -, murderous squirrels run wild and nobody has any clue what is actually happening

Camp Death III in 2D! is a parody of Friday the 13th Part III in 3D that has some nicely silly ideas, but unfortunately overdoes it a lot of the times. Plus, it is just so ableist that I really wanted to scream.

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Vita & Virginia (2018)

Vita & Virginia
Director: Chanya Button
Writer: Eileen Atkins, Chanya Button
Based on: Vita Sackville-West‘s and Virginia Woolf‘s letters
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones, Peter Ferdinando, Emerald Fennell, Gethin Anthony, Rory Fleck Byrne, Karla Crome
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
Vita (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) move in similar social circles, but have yet to meet personally. Vita has admired Virginia from afar and she is determined to become friends with her. Virginia is taken aback by Vita’s adamant attempts at first, but she has to admit that she is also drawn to Vita. It doesn’t take long and they become friends, then lovers, inspiring each other in their writing. Despite their progressive surroundings, not everybody can deal equally well with their relationship though.

With Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf being who they were and having led the lives they led, it is hard to imagine a film about them that wouldn’t be at least interesting. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film would have been well-made. In this case, luckily, the film is not only interesting, it is very well-made indeed.

Film poster showing Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki leaning against each other.
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A Million Little Pieces (2018)

A Million Little Pieces
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Writer: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson
Based on: James Frey‘s memoir/novel
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Odessa Young, Charlie Hunnam, Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Bob Thornton, David Dastmalchian, Dash Mihok, Ryan Hurst
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
After falling from a balcony because he is so high, James (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is finally admitted into a rehab center in Minnesota by his brother (Charlie Hunnam). As James slowly starts to work through is own issues and becoming clean, he gets to know his rehab colleagues, above all Lilly (Odessa Young) whom he feels very drawn to, his roommate (Giovanni Ribisi) and Leonard (Billy Bob Thornton) who becomes something like a guide for him.

A Million Little Pieces is a strong film that interestingly enough puts the body front and center, drawing on dance as a form of expression and is much more serious and less sensationalistic than I expected after the book’s history. I was much more impressed by it than I thought it would be.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the film.
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Tell It to the Bees (2018)

Tell It to the Bees
Director: Annabel Jankel
Writer: Henrietta Ashworth, Jessica Ashworth
Based on: Fiona Shaw‘s novel
Cast: Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Gregor Selkirk, Lauren Lyle, Kate Dickie, Joanne Gallagher, Emun Elliott, Billy Boyd
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 10.9.2018

Plot:
Jean (Anna Paquin) is a doctor who returns to her small hometown. She is slowly settling into her new role, when Lydia (Holliday Grainger) brings in her son Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) who was bullied. The two women instantly like each other. When Lydia, whose husband left her, can’t make rent anymore, she turns to Jean for help and Jean offers her and Charlie to stay with her, quickly deepening their friendship and turning it into something else.

Tell It to the Bees is a wonderful film with one big flaw: it shies away from the happy ending for its two protagonists. But other than that, it is simply lovely.

The film poster showing Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger embracing in front of a honeycomb background.
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Where Hands Touch (2018)

Where Hands Touch
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Amma Asante
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Eccleston, Tom Goodman-Hill, Alec Newman, Will Attenborough
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 9.9.2018

Plot:
Leyna (Amandla Stenberg) is a German bi-racial teenager. When Hitler rises to power in Germany, she gets caught between the lines: her German-ness is disputed because of the color of her skin, no matter how hard Leyna fights for her place. Lutz (George MacKay), on the other hand, is just what the nazis like: blond, German, member of the Hitler youth and son of a high-ranking SS officer (Christopher Eccleston). When the two of them meet, they are drawn to each other, but they are in the worst position to live their love.

Where Hands Touch tackles a really interesting topic that hasn’t been looked at a lot (at least in popular media): what happened with and to black Germans in World War Two? Unfortunately, the way it goes about it, is a little clumsy.

The film poster showing Amandla Stenberg in front of a building with nazi flags and airplanes flying over it.
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The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)

The Alchemist Cookbook
Director: Joel Potrykus
Writer: Joel Potrykus
Cast: Ty Hickson, Amari Cheatom
Seen on: 8.9.2018

Plot:
Sean (Ty Hickson) lives alone in the woods with only his cat for company. He is working on a project that takes his entire attention and time. His only visitor is his friend Cortez (Amari Cheatom) who brings him his groceries and supplies. The longer Sean stays on his own, the deeper he gets into his project, tackling an ancient, occult mystery with modern means.

The Alchemist’s Cookbook doesn’t take on the most novel idea and would have probably worked better as a short film, but other than that it’s very well made and especially profits off its charismatic protagonist.

The film poster showing Ty Hickson draped in a blanket and some occult symbols.
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Out of Tune (Ed. by Jonathan Maberry)

Out of Tune is a short story collection edited by John Maberry.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on 8.9.2018

Content Note: sexualized abuse, rape

All of the stories in Out of Tune are based on old ballads. To make the connections between the retellings and the originals, each story is commented on by Nancy Keim Comley. I really appreciated those comments. In fact, I would have liked a more extensive commentary and more info on the folklore behind the stories.

Overall I found the collection rather middling, with a couple of highlights that literally stood out from the rest of the stories.

More about each of the stories separately after the jump.

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Endzeit [Ever After] (2018)

Endzeit
Director: Carolina Hellsgård
Writer: Olivia Vieweg
Based on: her own graphic novel
Cast: Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Maja Lehrer, Trine Dyrholm, Barbara Philipp, Yûho Yamashita, Marco Albrecht
Part of: Toronto International Film Fesitval
Seen on: 7.9.2018

Plot:
Germany has been infected by a virus that turned most of its population into zombies. There are only small pockets of humanity left in Weimar and in Jena. Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer) are both in Weimar. They don’t really know each other and couldn’t be more different: Vivi seems barely equipped to survive a zombie world, she is so sensitive, while Eva is all toughness. But they both have the same goal: make it to Jena where they are working on a cure and find a better life there.

Endzeit sounds like exactly my kind of thing: a (German) zombie movie by and about women. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me, despite some very interesting takes and ideas.

The film poster showing Gro Swantje Kohlhof running away from a zombie horde.
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Rafiki (2018)

Rafiki (literally: friend)
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Writer: Wanuri Kahiu
Based on: Monica Arac de Nyeko‘s short story Jambula Tree
Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati, Nice Githinji, Muthoni Gathecha, Vitalis Waweru, Jimmy Gathu, Dennis Musyoka
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 6.9.2018

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) spends most of her time hanging out with her friend Blacksta (Neville Misati) or working in her father’s (Jimmy Gathu) shop. Her father is currently running for a council seat, as is Ziki’s (Sheila Munyiva) father (Dennis Musyoka). But Kena finds Ziki very intriguing and the two women become close very quickly. As love grows between them, they have to face the fact that society around them doesn’t accept homosexuality.

Rafiki is a sweet and powerful film with a very interesting setting. The political situation around the film adds another layer and makes it even more worth seeing.

The film poster shwoing Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva.
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