Dude (2018)

Dude
Director: Olivia Milch
Writer: Olivia Milch, Kendall McKinnon
Cast: Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Brooke Smith, Jerry MacKinnon, Ronen Rubinstein, Satya Bhabha, Austin Butler, Jack McBrayer
Seen on: 2.4.2020

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale), Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) are best friends and have been all throughout high school. They spend most of their time just hanging out and smoking weed, but with the end of high school approaching, they also have to face the fact that things will change. Lily does everything she can to first organize the perfect prom and secondly, that all changes after that go according to her plans. But life has a way of going differently than you think and that’s not really easy.

Dude is a coming-of-age stoner comedy which is already in itself an unusual combination, made more unusual still by the fact that it’s about young women. It is entertaining and well made, but I didn’t completely love it.

The film poster showing Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale),  Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) hugging each other.
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Freaky Friday (1976)

Freaky Friday
Director: Gary Nelson
Writer: Mary Rodgers
Based on: her own book
Cast: Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin, Patsy Kelly, Dick Van Patten, Vicki Schreck, Sorrell Booke, Alan Oppenheimer, Ruth Buzzi, Kaye Ballard, Marc McClure, Marie Windsor
Seen on: 31.3.2020

Plot:
Annabel (Jodie Foster) and her mother Ellen (Barbara Harris) really don’t get along at the moment. Both believe that the other has it so much easier, making them wish that they could just trade places for a day so that the other sees how difficult their life really is. And then their wish comes true. Annabel finds herself facing the way of full-time housewife, mother and wishfulfiller for the entire family, while her mother has to brave the various social and academic demands at school as well as the sports Annabel usually excels at.

I had never seen the original Freaky Friday, only the 2003 version (and that many years ago) and I have to say, while I’d say the idea is a whole lot of fun, the execution hasn’t really aged well.

The film poster showing a drawing of Mrs Andrews and her daughter Annabel merging into each other.
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Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You
Director: Stephanie Laing
Writer: Bess Wohl
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Steve Coogan, Kate McKinnon, Jacki Weaver, Timothy Simons, Merritt Wever
Seen on: 24.3.2020

Content Note: cancer (death)

Plot:
Sam (Michiel Huisman) and Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have been a couple since they were children and now that Abbie is pregnant, its time to get married. But when Abbie’s pregnancy turns out to be cancer and not a baby, their life is turned upside down. As Abbie has to confront the very real possibility that she will die, all she wants is to make sure that Sam will be okay after her death.

Irreplaceable You is just the right thing if you want to look at beautiful people while having a good cry. It certainly made me bawl, in a nice, cathartic way.

The film poster showing Sam (Michiel Huisman) piggybacking Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
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Carrie Pilby (2016)

Carrie Pilby
Director: Susan Johnson
Writer: Kara Holden
Based on: Caren Lissner‘s novel
Cast: Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges
Seen on: 19.3.2020

Plot:
Carrie (Bel Powley) was a child prodigy. Having graduated Harvard at 18, she is now in New York and pretty much at a loss. She resents her father (Gabriel Byrne) for having sent her away when she was so young and doesn’t really know how to adjust to life outside of education. Her therapist (Nathan Lane) tries to get her to live a little instead of just reading books. When he gives her a list of tasks to fulfill – like going on a date or doing something she liked doing as a child – and at the same time, her father gets her a job as a copyeditor for a law firm, Carrie starts to make new experiences.

Carrie Pilby is a sweet, fun film with a complex female character at its center. It balances humor and serious issues nicely, making it absolutely enjoyable.

The film poster showing a drawing of Carrie's face, looking widely upwards.
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This Changes Everything (2018)

This Changes Everything
Director: Tom Donahue
Seen on: 15.3.2020

“Plot”:
The documentary looks at gender imbalance and discrimination in the film industry, especially the huge shift in awareness that has occurred in recent years over how the representation of women and also people of color in front and behind the camera is seriously wonky.

This Changes Everything is a good primer for people for people who haven’t yet really thought about the issues it touches on. It gives a good overview for the situation in Hollywood and while it may be a little too optimistic in the end, this is actually pretty nice.

The film poster showing a film role that is extended into a venus sign.
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Sorry We Missed You (2019)

Sorry We Missed You
Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Paul Laverty
Cast: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor, Ross Brewster, Charlie Richmond
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Plot:
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) has been struggling job-wise for a while, so he is very excited when he gets the opportunity to start as a subcontractor for a delivery company. It does mean selling his wife Abby’s (Debbie Honeywood) car to buy a truck, complicating her own work day as a carer, going from home visit to home visit. Both are out all day for six days a week to barely get enough money to get by – which is also difficult for their two children, Seb (Rhys Stone) who is in full puberty mode and Liza Jae (Katie Proctor) who is anxious all the time. What looked to be a great possibility for the whole family soon turns out more curse than blessing.

You can always rely on Ken Loach to put the finger where it hurts, to point out exactly the ways in which (neoliberal, capitalist) society is fundamentally broken. Sorry We Missed You is another effective and affective political/sociological analysis in movie form.

The film poster showing the central family standing in front of a brown wall.
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Just Mercy (2019)

Just Mercy
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham,
Based on: Bryan Stevenson‘s memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Harding, Hayes Mercure
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Content Note: (criticism of) racism

Plot:
In 1987, Walter McMillian, called Johnny D. (Jamie Foxx), is arrested for the murder of a young, white woman. Despite his protestations of innocence, he is sentenced to death. In 1989, young Harvard graduate Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) opens the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, determined to help prisoners on death row who are often black and have often had only insufficient legal representation. He meets Johnny D. and, convinced of his innocence, takes up the fight to prove it.

Just Mercy is definitely an emotional film and one with an important political point to make, but it does feel a little like it’s trying too hard to stay too clean.

The film poster showing Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) in front of an orange background with various film stills.
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Emma. (2020)

Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Writer: Eleanor Catton
Based on: Jane Austen‘s novel
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart, Tanya Reynolds, Connor Swindells, Oliver Chris
Seen on: 11.3.2020
[Here are my reviews of other Emma adaptations.]

Content Note: antiziganism

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Gemma Whelan) and Mr Weston (Rupert Graves) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Josh O’Connor). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

Emma. was absolutely delightful. It has one of the best comedy ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, wonderfully lush production design and really captures the spirit of the book. I was very taken by it.

The film poster showing Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy), Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) and Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
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Bloodshot (2020)

Bloodshot
Director: Dave Wilson
Writer: Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer
Based on: Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin and Bob Layton‘s comic
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Lamorne Morris, Sam Heughan, Talulah Riley, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Siddharth Dhananjay, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Alex Hernandez
Seen on: 10.3.2020

Plot:
Ray (Vin Diesel) is a soldier. Returning home from yet another dangerous mission, he is happy to relax with his wife Gina (Talulah Riley). Until they are both kidnapped by Axe (Toby Kebbell) – and killed. But Ray rises from the dead with the help of Dr. Harting (Guy Pearce) and his nanotechnology that gives him superhuman powers. Ray uses those powers to hunt down Axe and avenge his wife’s death. But he soon discovers that things aren’t quite as they seem.

Bloodshot is not a great film, but it is entertaining and could have been actually pretty good if it hadn’t been abandoned entirely by its own soundtrack.

The film poster showing Ray/Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) walking towards the camera, a smoking gun in each hand, his chest glowing and pierced by bullet holes.
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All the Bright Places (2020)

All the Bright Places
Director: Brett Haley
Writer: Liz Hannah, Jennifer Niven
Based on: Jennifer Niven‘s novel
Cast: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O’Hara, Luke Wilson, Keegan-Michael Key
Seen on: 6.3.2020

Content Note: suicide, mental illness, domestic violence

Plot:
Finch (Justice Smith) is going for a run one night when he finds Violet (Elle Fanning) standing on the ledge of a bridge. He talks her down, but from then on, he can’t help wanting to help her. When their geography teacher gives them the assignment to explore Indiana’s sights in pairs, Finch sees the opportunity to partner up with Violet. She reluctantly agrees and they start their tours. But Finch, labelled a freak at school, has some problems of his own.

All the Bright Places looks like a “normal” teen romance film, but it goes pretty dark – darker than you expect from the look of it. Which is probably my biggest criticism of it, because other than that, it treats a difficult topic with a lot of care, albeit not always perfectly.

The film poster showing Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith) leaning in for a kiss.

[SPOILERS]

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