Re-Watch: Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Moulin Rouge!
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet, Kerry Walker, David Wenham, Kylie Minogue
Seen on: 22.12.2019

Plot:
Young, promising artist Christian (Ewan McGregor) finds his way to Paris where he hopes to be part of the bohemian revolution. He is quickly adopted by a theater group who hope he can help persuade the Moulin Rouge to put on their play by convincing its most important star Satine (Nicole Kidman) of his talents. Satine is quickly convinced, but the Moulin needs the help of the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) to finance the play – and the Duke wants Satine. That Christian and Satine fall in love, then, is the most inconvenient thing.

Moulin Rouge! came out when I was a teenager and it hit me in just the right way in pretty much everything. I still listen to the soundtrack regularly, but it had been years that I have actually seen the film. Now that I have, what can I say but that it’s still one of my faves despite the many (many) problems I can see.

The film poster showing a woman and a man kissing in front of the Moulin Rouge windmill.
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Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner
Director: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: Keith Cooper, Rebecca Lamarche
Based on: Stacy Connelly’s novel Once Upon a Wedding
Cast: Jocelyn Hudon, Stephen Huszar, Kelly Rutherford, Rebecca Dalton, Eric Hicks, Joey Fatone
Seen on: 21.12.2019

Plot:
Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudson) has dreamed of becoming a wedding planner. Now her cousin Emily (Rebecca Dalton) is getting married on Christmas and Kelsey is the one who gets to plan it – just the big break she needs! But she encounters a serius bump in her plans in the shape of Connor (Stephen Huszar). He is not only Emily’s ex, but also a private investigator who is determined to dig up any possible dirt on Emily’s fiancé Todd (Eric Hicks). Deciding that you should keep your enemies close, Kelsey agrees to help – which means she now has to juggle the wedding, the investigation and her attraction to Connor.

Christmas Wedding Planner feels a little painted by numbers (yes, even for a Christmas movie). It’s still watchable, but it is not a holiday movie highlight.

The flm poster showing a smiling couple in the upper half and three women in the lower.

[SPOILERS]

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Let It Snow (2019)

Let It Snow
Director: Luke Snellin
Writer: Laura Solon, Victoria Strouse, Kay Cannon
Based on: Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle‘s novel
Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Joan Cusack, Anna Akana
Seen on: 21.12.2019

Plot:
Laurel, Illinois, is in the middle of nowhere and nothing much happens there. But with Christmas and a snowstorm both approaching, people come together that may not have otherwise. There’s young singer Stuart (Shameik Moore) who follows Julie (Isabela Merced) off a train when it gets stuck in the snow, so she can show him the sights of Laurel – or rather the sight: The Waffle House. Dorrie (Liv Hewson) works at the Waffle House together with Keon (Jacob Batalon), but she’s mostly busy with trying to help her best friend Addie (Odeya Rush) who has trouble with her boyfriend, and figuring out why Kerry (Anna Akana), whom she had an amazing connection with at a party, is showing her the cold shoulder now. Keon meanwhile wants to pull off the party of the century, but all his plans fall flat, so he ropes in Tobin (Mitchell Hope) to help. Tobin is preoccupied, though, because he wants to tell his best friend Duke (Kiernan Shipka) that he really likes her – which is not that easy.

Let It Snow was the kick-off film for my sappy Christmas movie binge that had me firmly in its grasp this holiday season, and it really was a nice start. A talented young cast, Joan Cusack and everything ending well is a good mix that gave me exactly what I was looking for.

The film poster showing 8 teenagers lying in the snow on their backs in a circle.
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Deathcember (2019)

Deathcember (I saw the version split into two films)
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Christmas screening
Seen on: 19.12.2019

Deathcember is an advent calendar in movie form, giving us 24 (plus some extra) Christmas-themed films to count down until Christmas. The films vary in style and tone, but they are all filled with (a) holiday spirit.

As with most anthologies, Deathcember has some clear winners and a few that were not for me (with the former being more present in the first volume and the latter more in the second volume), but I assume that the favorites and unfavorites will vary from person to person. It was definitely nice that they included more than the usual token female director (although there could have been more people of color involved). I was a little worried that so many short films in less than three hours would get a little too much, but it was surprisingly not-exhausting (I was glad that they showed the version split into two volumes). In short, it was a very fun evening. There are definitely worse ways to pass time during the holiday season.

After the jump, I talk about each of the segments individually. If you prefer to be surprised what’s behind those doors, you probably shouldn’t continue. But I won’t give away spoilers.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (aka Episode IX)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams
Sequel to: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Greg Grunberg, Shirley Henderson, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Warwick Davis, Jodie Comer, Billy Howle
Seen on: 19.12.2019

Plot:
Rey (Daisy Ridley) finishes her training as a Jedi just in time as the war of the First Order against the galaxy reaches its full height. Together with the resistance, especially Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac), it’s time to prepare for the last and biggest battle to decide the fate of the galaxy. It turns out to be a battle filled with unsuspected allies and opponents.

I’m not much of a Star Wars person, but I enjoyed this new wave of the franchise so far. Unfortunately, The Rise of Skywalker was a disappointing mess.

The film poster showing an assortment of characters from the film.

[SPOILERS]

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Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Motherless Brooklyn
Director: Edward Norton
Writer: Edward Norton
Based on: Jonathan Lethem’s novel
Cast: Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Willem Dafoe, Robert Wisdom, Michael Kenneth Williams, Bruce Willis, Ethan Suplee, Cherry Jones, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Leslie Mann
Seen on: 18.12.2019

Plot:
Lionel (Edward Norton) is a private investigator, even though his Tourette’s can make covert observation a little difficult sometimes. He works for Frank (Bruce Willis) until Frank is killed. Lionel really needs to figure out what case he worked on that turned out to be deadly. Retracing Frank’s steps, picking up where he left off, Lionel finds himself investigating some very powerful people and making a connection with Laura (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is somehow involved.

Motherless Brooklyn has been a long time coming, but sometimes things are not worth the wait. It’s not an outright bad film, but it’s not very good, either.

The film poster showing a man in a trenchcoat and hat on a bridge.
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Pirmdzimtais [Firstborn] (2017)

Pirmdzimtais
Director: Aik Karapetian
Writer: Aik Karapetian
Cast: Maija Doveika, Kaspars Znotins, Dainis Grube, Kaspars Zale
Seen on: 28.6.2019
[Screener Review.]

Plot:
Katrina (Maija Doveika) and Francis (Kaspars Znotins) have been a couple for a while and things can be a little tense between them. When they are assaulted by a biker (Kaspars Zale), they are both pretty shellshocked. Katrina turns to a police officer for help, leaving Francis feeling inadequate: he couldn’t stop the assault in the first place and now he isn’t even good enough to help afterwards. Determined to prove his worth, he seeks out the biker himself, but their confrontation goes differently than planned.

Firstborn has a strong first half, but then lost me in the second half, unfortunately, when it becomes muddled, confusing and a little boring. But there’s a lot of material for thought about masculinity in the film, so that’s something.

The film poster showing Maija Doveika and Kaspars Znotins.
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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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Hozier (Support: Saint Sister)

Hozier played a show in the Gasometer in Vienna. As a supporting band he brought Saint Sister.
Seen on: 21.11.2018

I saw Hozier a couple of years ago and loved his show then, so my expectations for this one were pretty high again.Fortunately I was not disappointed and I’m looking forward to his new album even more – it promises to be great.

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