Lion (2016)

Lion
Director: Garth Davis
Writer: Luke Davies
Based on: the autobiography A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose
Cast: Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek BharatePriyanka BoseDavid WenhamRooney Mara
Seen on: 10.3.2017

Plot:
Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his family in Khandwa. He adores his big brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and when Guddu leaves to take a job for a day, Saroo tags along, the start of an oddyssey that leads him to Calcutta without any means to contact his family, or any clear idea where they are. Finally Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman, David Wenham). Many years later, the by now grown Saroo (Dev Patel) tries desperately to find out about his origins and what happened to his biological family.

Lion is practically the epitome of a tear-jerker and it worked very well for me. Meaning I was emotionally invested the entire time and sobbing a lot.

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Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler
Director: Ivo van Hove
Writer: Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Patrick Marber
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Rafe Spall, Kyle Soller, Kate Duchêne, Sinead Matthews, Chukwudi Iwuji, Éva Magyar
Seen on: 9.3.2017

Plot:
Hedda (Ruth Wilson) and her husband George (Kyle Soller) have just returned from their honeymoon. But instead of excitement about their new life together, Hedda feels nothing but bored. When George reveals that – despite his best attempts – his promotion may be at risk and that they will have to cut their spendings as well, Hedda is less than happy. The appearance of her husband’s rival Lovborg (Chukwudi Iwuji), his lover Thea (Sinead Matthews) and her husband’s friend and colleague Brack (Rafe Spall) comes just at the right time to provide her with a bit of entertainment, then.

This production of Hedda Gabler is a thing of beauty. Wonderfully acted, emotionally devastating and great stage design – there’s really nothing more you could ask for.

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Logan (2017)

Logan
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Based on: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s comic series Old Man Logan, which is in turn based on the character Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and the Marvel Comics X-Men series
Sequel to: the X-Men movies
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse
Seen on: 8.3.2017

Plot:
Mutants have been practically eradicated. There are only a few left – those who manage to hide very well. One of them is Logan (Hugh Jackman), whose age is starting to show in the decreased tempo of his healing. He takes care of Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose age is in turn showing in the dementia he developed. They are constantly at risk of being discovered. When Logan is asked to drive the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to Canada, he smells trouble and tries to refuse. But Laura won’t let herself be refused. She is like Logan in many ways and definitely a mutant. And she is pursued by an organization that means her harm. Laura forces Logan to face the world and his place in it.

Logan is probably the most emotionally mature superhero film, at least of recent years. Nevertheless, I’m not quite as taken with it as many other people were.

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Porno (Irvine Welsh)

Porno is a novel by Irvine Welsh; the sequel to Trainspotting.
Finished on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Ten years after the events of Trainspotting, Sick Boy inherits a pub in Leith from his aunt, so he leaves London behind where things haven’t been going that well for him anyway, hoping to be on the winning side of gentrification for once. But before things take off in that direction, Sick Boy finds himself hosting an amateur porn shoot in his pub. But Sick Boy isn’t the only one returning to Leith: Begbie is being released from prison and even Renton returns from his exile in Amsterdam, hoping to avoid pretty much everybody he knows from back then, except maybe for Spud who is desperately trying to stay clean.

Porno was an excellent continuation of Trainspotting, but also different in many ways. It’s a strong book, looking at some of humanity’s worst traits without losing all hope entirely.

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Les innocentes [Agnus Dei] (2016)

Les innocentes
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Sabrina B. KarineAlice Vial, Anne Fontaine, Pascal Bonitzer
Cast: Lou de LaâgeAgata BuzekAgata KuleszaVincent MacaigneJoanna KuligEliza RycembelKatarzyna DabrowskaAnna PróchniakHelena SujeckaMira MaluszinskaDorota KudukKlara Bielawka
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) works at a doctor for the red cross just after World War 2. She finds herself dispatched to Poland to take care of the concentration camp survivors and the French soldiers stationed there. It is in the hospital there that a young nun, Maria (Agata Buzek) from a near-by convent finds Mathilde and begs her to help them at the convent as well: they were raped by Russian soldiers and many of them are pregnant as a result. And not only do these pregnancies come with the usual dangers, but should anybody find out about their state, they would risk losing the convent, their home, entirely.

Les innocentes tackels a hard topic and it does so with a lot of sensitivity, but also a couple of lenghts. But I did enjoy it and the push it makes for solidarity among women.

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Ya umeyu vyazat [I Know How to Knit] (2016)

Ya umeyu vyazat
Director: Nadezhda StepanovaSergey Ivanov
Writer: Tatyana Bogatyreva
Cast: Alina KhodzhevanovaVladimir SvirskiyIrina Gorbacheva
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Tanya (Alina Khodhzevanova) realizes one day that nothing about her life really makes sense to her. Her father is an alcoholic, her boyfriend brings other women home – while she’s there -, her mother is distant. She really has no joy in her life. Her conclusion is to attempt suicide. But it doesn’t work out that way and she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital where she starts to knit – both literally and figuratively.

I Know How to Knit was described as a dark comedy, a heartwarming tale in dire circumstances. Unfortunately, all I found were dire circumstances and depression, and very little humor.

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The Eagle Huntress (2016)

The Eagle Huntress
Director: Otto Bell
“Cast”: Aisholpan NurgaivRys NurgaivDaisy Ridley (narrator)
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Aisholpan dreams of one thing and one thing only: she wants to become an Eagle Huntress and prove her skills in the big annual competition where all of Mongolia flocks together. The only problem is: girls don’t become Eagle Hunters. But Aisholpan’s father Rys doesn’t care too much about these traditions and he wants to see his daughter succeed as well. So together they embark on the training mission.

The Eagle Huntress tells a good story that I enjoyed watching, even through its more manipulative moments.

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Margarita with a Straw (2014)

Margarita with a Straw
Director: Shonali BoseNilesh Maniyar
Writer: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar, Atika Chohan
Cast: Kalki KoechlinRevathySayani GuptaHussain DalalTenzing DalhaKuljeet SinghMalhar KhushuWilliam Moseley
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Laila (Kalki Koechlin) has cerebral palsy but the much bigger issue is that she has to share her room with her brother (Malhar Khushu). Despite difficulties and worried parents (Revathy, Kuljeet Singh), she gets the opportunity to move from India to New York for her studies and that’s just what she does. Being on her own in a foreign country prompts a journey of self-discovery that leads Laila to co-student Jared (William Moseley) and Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a young blind activist from Pakistan who lives in New York.

There should be more films in the world like Margarita with a Straw: films that feature a queer, disabled women of color as their protagonists and tell a touching, funny story about them.

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History of Now (2015)

History of Now
Director: Nadiv Molcho
Writer: Nadiv Molcho
Cast: Nadiv Molcho, Aya BeldiKai HillebrandLea Wolfram
Seen on: 1.3.2017

Plot:
Eli (Nadiv Molcho) and Maya (Aya Beldi) were in love until about a year ago when their relationship went down in flames. By chance, they meet again at a party and take the opportunity to reflect on their relationship. As they walk through Vienna and talk things through, maybe they’ll be able to shed new light on past events.

History of Now is obviously Molcho’s passion project and it shows in every minute of the film that he is a very young man – with emphasis on both the young and the man part. The result is okay, but not really my cup of tea. Maybe because I never was a young man.

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A Cure for Wellness (2016)

A Cure for Wellness
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Justin Haythe
Cast: Dane DeHaanJason IsaacsMia GothIvo NandiAdrian SchillerCelia ImrieHarry Groener, Tomas NorströmJohannes KrischSusanne Wuest
Seen on: 28.2.2017

Plot:
Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) works for a company in trouble. They need their CEO Pembroke (Harry Groener), but he has been unreachable in a retreat in the Swiss mountains for a long time, so they send Lockhart there to get him. Once Lockhart arrives there, he is involved in an accident even before he gets to see Pembroke. His broken leg traps him at the retreat and he realizes that something strange is going there. The director Volmer (Jason Isaacs) may be hiding something. And what’s the deal with Hannah (Mia Goth), the only young person there who has spent basically her entire life at the retreat?

A Cure for Wellness is a clusterfuck of epic proportions. It’s overly long, makes no sense and is incredibly sexist, racist and ableist to boot. It’s pretty but that’s all it has going for it.

[SPOILERS]

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