Daughters of the Dust (1991)

Daughters of the Dust
Director: Julie Dash
Writer: Julie Dash
Cast: Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbarao, Trula Hoosier, Umar Abdurrahamn, Adisa Anderson, Kaycee Moore, Bahni Turpin, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Tommy Redmond Hicks, Cornell Royal, M. Cochise Anderson
Seen on: 28.11.2017
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Plot:
It is the beginning of the 20th century and the still rather new abolishment of slavery tempts the Peazant family to leave the islands they have been living on and to attempt their luck on the USAmerican mainland. The islands and their isolation gave them the possibility to preserve some of their African ancestral traditions – the Gullah culture. So not everybody is willing to actually leave, while others can hardly wait. In any case, it’s time to make decisions.

Daughters of the Dust is an in the best sense unusual film in many ways. It is absolutely stunning in so many ways. It’s a film you should definitely watch – and then re-watch.

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Licht [Mademoiselle Paradis] (2017)

Licht [literally: Light]
Director: Barbara Albert
Writer: Kathrin Resetarits, Barbara Albert
Based on: Alissa Walser‘s novel Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik
Cast: Maria Dragus, Devid Striesow, Lukas Miko, Katja Kolm, Maresi Riegner, Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Stefanie Reinsperger, Christoph Luser, Susanne Wuest, Theresa Martini, Julia Pointner
Seen on: 23.11.2017
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Plot:
Maria-Theresia Paradis (Maria Dragus) is a gifted musician who lost her eyesight at a young age for no apparent reason. Now her parents have heard about the revolutionary methods of physician Franz Mesmer (Devid Striesow) and they are hoping that he will be able to restore her eyesight. So Maria-Theresia is brought to his castle where Mesmer sets to work. Soon their relationship becomes very intense and there seems to be improvement in her condition.

I was hoping I would like Licht more than I actually did. Unfortunately I was unhappy with the way the film dealt with disability and I felt that it had considerable lengths.

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Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle [Top Girl or La déformation professionnelle] (2014)

Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle
Director: Tatjana Turanskyj
Writer: Tatjana Turanskyj
Cast: Julia Hummer, Rolf Peter Kahl, Susanne Bredehöft, Karim Cherif, Samia Dauenhauer, Sarah Grether, Stefan Mehren, Mario Pokatzky, Janina Rudenska, Anna Schmidt, Susanne Strach
Seen on: 18.11.2017
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Plot:
Helena (Julia Hummer) is an actress and a sex worker. She has a daughter, a strained relationship with her mother (Susanne Bredehöft) and is always looking for new possibilities. When she is approached to organize a special event with some of her colleagues, Helena takes the chance. But the event is not your usual escort gig.

Top Girl is a complex approach to sex work that I don’t necessarily agree with, but it gives the topic more thought than a lot of other films and it knows how to work emotions.

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Maudie (2016)

Maudie
Director: Aisling Walsh
Writer: Sherry White
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Billy MacLellan
Seen on: 18.11.2017
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Plot:
Maud (Sally Hawkins) needs to get out from under her family’s wing. She sees her opportunity when she learns that grumpy Everett (Ethan Hawke) is looking for a housekeeper. Even though he is hesitant to take her on because of her disability, he doesn’t exactly have much choice and Maud is persistent, so they give it a try. In her off time, Maud starts to paint and polishes her personal style, while also finding a home in the community and with Everett.

Althoughe Maudie is a sweet film, I’m not entirely happy with it. Some things I knew going in would bother me, other things crept up on me during the film. Nevertheless I found it entertaining.

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Eine Flexible Frau [The Drifters] (2010)

Eine Flexible Frau
Director: Tatjana Turanskyj
Writer: Tatjana Turanskyj
Cast: Mira Partecke, Laura Tonke, Franziska Dick, Angelika Sauter, Katharina Bellena, Sven Seeger, Torsten Haase, Fabio Pink
Seen on: 12.11.2017
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Plot:
Greta (Mira Partecke) is an architect and has a son she’s estranged from. When she unexpectedly loses her job, she desperately tries to get back on her feet. Or drink enough that she forgets that she has lost her footing. She doesn’t seem built to participate in the neoliberal gig culture in the city around her, but is there a place that isn’t within that culture?

Eine flexible Frau is somewhere between art film, narration and sociological cinema – and it’s a really good mix at that. It’s challenging cinema, but if you’re willing to let yourself be challenged, you can get a lot out of it.

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Estiu 1993 [Summer 1993] (2017)

Estiu 1993
Director: Carla Simón
Writer: Carla Simón
Cast: Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer, Fermí Reixach, Montse Sanz, Isabel Rocatti, Berta Pipó
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Frida (Laia Artigas) just lost her mother and has to movie in with her uncle (David Verdaguer) and his wife (Bruna Cusí). They also have a daughter who is a littler younger than Frida and are filled with the best of intentions to give Frida the stability and home she needs. Nevertheless Frida has trouble settling into the new place and life she has to face now.

Estiu 1993 takes a little time to get going, but once it finds its groove, it’s a sweet, sensitive film that tackles a very difficult topic with a lot of empathy and beautiful images.

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Marvin ou la belle éducation [Reinventing Marvin] (2017)

Marvin ou la belle éducation
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Pierre Trividic, Anne Fontaine
Based on: Édouard Louis‘ autobiographical novel En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (translated as The End of Eddy)
Cast: Finnegan Oldfield, Grégory Gadebois, Vincent Macaigne, Catherine Salée, Jules Porier, Catherine Mouchet, Charles Berling, Isabelle Huppert
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2017
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Plot:
Marvin (Jules Porier) doesn’t have an easy childhood: always the target of homophobic abuse, he sticks out like a sore thumb in his neighborhood. It’s only in the theater class that he really finds relief. So as soon as he is grown (Finnegan Oldfield), he makes his way to the big city to follow his calling to the stage and to maybe make peace with his past.

Marvin, unfortunately, loses itself in clichés which left me at a distance to the characters and frustrated by the lengthy narration.

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Western (2017)

Western
Director: Valeska Grisebach
Writer: Valeska Grisebach
Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov, Veneta Fragnova, Viara Borisova
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2017
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Plot:
Meinhard (Meinhard Neumann) is part of a group of German construction workers who come to Bulgaria to work on a project. They soon get in touch with the local population, but language barriers make communication difficult. But Meinhard is intrigued and finds ways to get closer to the locals.

While I liked the general idea of Western that transplants the usual settler storyline into a very modern setting, the resulting film is unfortunately exhaustingly long and not much else.

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Jeune femme [Montparnasse Bienvenüe] (2017)

Jeune femme
Director: Léonor Serraille
Writer: Léonor Serraille, Clémence Carré, Bastien Daret
Cast: Laetitia Dosch, Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Grégoire Monsaingeon, Jean-Christophe Folly, Nathalie Richard
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2017
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Plot:
Paula (Laetitia Dosch) just broke up with her much older boyfriend Joachim (Grégoire Monsaingeon). Or rather, he left her for an even younger woman. Now all she has to show for the last few years is the cat she took from her ex. But Paula is willing to start over – at any price. First, she finds a place to stay by starting to work as a nanny – a job she only gets by lying. But with that as a starting point, Paula is ready to figure things out.

At the beginning of Jeune femme, I thought that the film would be rather exhausting because I found Paula so exhausting. But as Paula is allowed to grow as a person, she and the film both grew on me.

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Un beau soleil intérieur [Let the Sun Shine In] (2017)

Un beau soleil intérieur
Director: Claire Denis
Writer: Christine Angot, Claire Denis
Based on: Roland Barthes‘s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Josiane Balasko, Sandrine Dumas, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex DescasLaurent GrévillBruno PodalydèsPaul Blain, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Gérard Depardieu
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2017
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Plot:
Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is a rather successful artist, but she’s less successful when it comes to love. She has an affair with the married Vincent (Xavier Beauvois), but that isn’t enough for her. So she goes on various dates and meets quite a few men. But none of it lasts and Isabelle keeps on searching.

I found Un beau soleil intérieur pretty disappointing. There wasn’t a single character I liked in the film – and yes, that includes Isabelle. That made the film rather trying to sit through.

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