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.
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.
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.
K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant who works as a blade runner – a section of the police tasked with hunting down rogue replicants and killing them. During one of those hunts, K finds evidence that there was a replicant who managed to reproduce sexually: she became pregnant and had a child which was believed to be impossible. K’s superior officer Joshi (Robin Wright) fears the repercussions if that fact became wide knowledge and tells K to find the child and kill it. This leads K to question his own past as well.
Blade Runner 2049 was so incredibly boring that I could barely stand it. Since it’s also racist and sexist, it probably would have been better if it hadn’t been made at all.
As Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) celebrates the 50th year of her reign, two Muslim Indians are chosen to present her with a commemorative coin. One of them is Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Abdul is excited at the chance to visit England and see the Queen, and in his excitement he forgets the most important rule and makes eye-contact with her. Instead of catastrophe, this leads to Victoria striking up a friendship with Abdul who teaches her about India and much more.
Victoria & Abdul left me deeply uncomfortable and its blatant ignorance of colonialism and the power structures involved – despite the topic at hand. That overshadowed everything else for me.
Mifti (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) lives with her brother (Julius Feldmeier) and sister (Laura Tonke), their rich father (Bernhard Schütz) having other ideas of how to spend his time than with his children. Mifti drifts through Berlin, barely going to school. But when she does, she meets Ophelia (Mavie Hörbiger), an actress who has been sentenced to community hours in the school kitchen. The two start drifting through Berlin’s club scene together. It’s around that time that Mifti also meets the intriguing, much older Alice (Arly Jover) in the supermarket who sparks her fantasies.
Axolotl Overkill is a fascinating, well-made film that is a little marred by its author/director. But that shouldn’t keep you from seeing it.
After her mother is admitted to the hospital, Eve (Fantine Harduin) moves in with her father Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his new wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). They all live in Eve’s grandfather Georges’s (Jean-Louis Trintignant) house. Georges is starting to show symptoms of dementia and is desperately trying to keep control of his life. His business has already been taken over by his daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) who struggles with problems at work. In this difficult constellation, it comes as no surprise that secrets start coming to light everywhere.
Happy End, unfortunately, is a weak film, at least for a Haneke film. There was a lot of potential and some very good stuff, but it just doesn’t really come together.
Clemens (Franz Rogowski) just started working at a spa hotel. He is allowed to stay in a small storage room there and starts learning. But when the meek Clemens meets the rebellious Lara (Lana Cooper) who works in the kitchen, sparks start flying. As the two get more and more wrapped into each other, that spark between them starts to cause chaos in the entire hotel.
Love Steaks wasn’t my cup of tea. Difficult people in broken relationships is an interesting topic but if you try to sell it to me as romance, I’m out. And that’s what happened here.
Jehuda (Oscar Beregi Sr.) impresses the young Lea (Anny Hornik) and Lea’s devout father Esra (Albert Heine) agrees to their engagement. But before they can actually get married, Jehuda falls for Rahel (Ria Jászonyi) and not caring much for Lea, leaves her. Heartbroken Lea commits suicide. Esra confronts Jehuda and curses him, but Jehuda is unwilling to contemplate his part in the tragedy for many years.
Der Fluch didn’t really work for me. While it was interesting to get an authentic look at a Jewish settlement from a pre-World War 2 time, nothing else about the film really managed to convince me.
Justin (Justin Benson) and Aaron (Aaron Moorhead) are brothers who managed to get out of a cult and have slowly been adjusting to life outside of it. But when they get a video from another member of the cult, it re-opens that chapter of their lives and the two decide to head back there to figure things out and find closure. However, once they arrive, the cult starts to make more sense than they ever thought before.
If The Endless hadn’t been a surprise screening, I probably would have avoided it – that’s how much I hated Benson and Moorhead’s first film, Spring. But I have to admit that Endless wasn’t bad, even though I didn’t fall head over heels for it.