Girl Asleep (2015)

Girl Asleep
Director: Rosemary Myers
Writer: Matthew Whittet
Based on: his own play
Cast: Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Amber McMahon, Matthew Whittet, Eamon Farren, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Catanzariti
Seen on: 6.4.2017

Plot:
Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is almost 15 and just started at a new school where she is befriended by Elliott (Harrison Feldman). When her well-meaning mother (Amber McMahon) wants to help her find her social footing by throwing a birthday party for Greta and inviting everyone, Greta is mortified. Feeling the pressure of the situation and of growing up in general, it’s no surprise that some of Greta’s fantasies my run away from her a little bit.

Girl Asleep is a funny and sweet film that shines when it works with fantasies but loses a bit of its glow when it turns to more mundane moments. Nevertheless, it’s a coming-of-age film that is worth checking out even in a well-saturated genre.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Wives on Strike (2016)

Wives on Strike
Director: Omoni Oboli
Writer: Omoni Oboli
Cast: Omoni Oboli, Uche Jombo, Chioma Akpotha, Ufuoma Mcdermott, Kehinde Bankole, Kalu Ikeagwu, Julius Agwu, Kenneth Okonkwo
Seen on: 5.4.2017

Plot:
Mama Ngozi (Omoni Oboli), Madame 12:30 (Uche Jombo), Mama Amina (Ufuoma McDermott) and another woman (Chioma Akpotha) are market women, wives and friends. Their lives move in rather set ways, but when Amina’s husband decides to marry off their 13-year-old daughter, they are not prepared to let him get away with it. Together they hatch a plan: they will go on strike and stop fulfilling what’s expected of them as wives to make their husbands see their true value and act accordingly.

I stumbled on Wives on Strike by chance (it was one of the films the airline I flew with offered) and when I read the description, I knew I had to watch it even though there was a risk that it would be rather horrible – often especially the films that attempt to be feminist are particularly awful. But it turns out that Wives on Strike is an entertaining, proto-feminist comedy that I rather enjoyed.

Continue reading

A United Kingdom (2016)

A United Kingdom
Director: Amma Asante
Writer: Guy Hibbert
Based on:  Susan Williams’ book Colour Bar
Cast: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Jessica Oyelowo, Vusi Kunene, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Arnold Oceng, Abena Ayivor
Seen on: 3.4.2017

Plot:
Ruth (Rosamund Pike) works as a clerk and would mostly have a boring life if her sister (Laura Carmichael) didn’t drag her out every once in a while. On one of those outings, Ruth meets Seretse (David Oyelowo). He is charming, good-looking and taken by Ruth. But as Ruth discovers he is not just a student, but also the prince and future ruler of Bechuanaland. Despite the difficulties by their difference in status, the two want to get married, not anticipating that the real (diplomatic) scandal for both Bechuanaland and Great Britain is the fact that their relationship is an interracial one.

A United Kingdom covers a bit of history that is virtually unknown here (Austria or most likely Europe or the global North in general) and Asanta packs this fascinating story into an easily understood and emotionally engaging film with a great cast.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Somersault (2004)

Somersault
Director: Cate Shortland
Writer: Cate Shortland
Cast: Abbie CornishSam Worthington, Anne-Louise LambertErik ThomsonLeah Purcell, Lynette CurranOlivia Pigeot
Part of: 7.1.2017

Plot:
16-year-old Heidi (Abbie Cornish) runs away from home after being caught when her mother’s boyfriend kisses her. She ends up in a small town in the mountains where she tries to connect with people. With men, that mostly means sex, though that doesn’t really end well. She finds a motherly friend in Irene (Lynette Curran) who offers her a place to stay; and she finds a job. And then she finds Joe (Sam Worthington) and kind of falls in love with him. But Joe is withdrawn and rough and is still trying to figuring out his own sexuality.

I hadn’t heard much about Somersault before seeing it, I basically bought it because Abbie Cornish is in it. What I got was an emotional, engaging and beautiful film with a wonderful ending.

Continue reading

Jenseits des Krieges [East of War] (1996)

Jenseits des Krieges
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Writer: Ruth Beckermann
Seen on: 2.1.2017

“Plot”:
In the 90s, the Wehrmachtsausstellung reached Vienna. It detailed the war crimes committed by the Wehrmacht during World War II and created a lot of controversy, as the Wehrmacht thus far had been thought to have a relatively clean record (after an extensive review of the exhibition and its materials after the criticism, they found certain inaccuracies and a few generalizations that were too big, but the core argument still stands).
Beckermann visited the exhibition with her camera and interviewed the visitors to the exhibition, most of whom were Wehrmacht soldiers themselves.

Jenseits des Krieges is an incredibly important cinematic document and one that should be much older than it actually is. It proves that we had and still have a long way too go when it comes to our confrontation with World War II.

Continue reading

Vamps (2012)

Vamps
Director: Amy Heckerling
Writer: Amy Heckerling
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Krysten RitterSigourney WeaverDan StevensRichard Lewis, Larry Wilmore, Zak Orth, Wallace Shawn, Kristen JohnstonMalcolm McDowell, Gael García Bernal
Seen on: 1.1.2017

Plot:
Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter) are best friends, flatmates, vampires and single women in New York. They try to navigate all of this best as they can. They drink only animal blood that they get from their exterminator job and go to Sanguines Anonymous meetings. They have practically no secrets from each other (except Goody can’t really bring herself to tell the recently turned Stacy how old she truly is). They share their dislike of their maker Ciccerus (Sigourney Weaver). But when Goody meets her old flame Danny (Richard Lewis) again and Stacy falls in love with her classmate Joey (Dan Stevens), things will have to be re-evaluated.

Vamps may not be quite up to Clueless standards (Heckerling’s previous film starring Silverstone), but it’s an amusing film that entertains.

Continue reading

3 Generations (2015)

3 Generations aka About Ray
Director: Gaby Dellal
Writer: Nikole Beckwith, Gaby Dellal
Cast: Elle FanningNaomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, Linda Emond, Tate Donovan, Sam Trammell
Seen on: 22.12.2016

Plot:
Ray (Elle Fanning) is fighting to get the hormones he needs to transition. His mother Maggie (Naomi Watts) supports him as best she can, even when she does struggle herself sometimes with his being trans. They live together with Ray’s lesbian grandmother Dolly (Susan Sarandon) who tries to help, too, but doesn’t really understand what Ray is going through. They do not live with Ray’s father Craig (Tate Donovan) who has a new family and not much interest in Ray. But Craig needs to agree to Ray’s treatment, so Maggie and Ray have to convince him.

I knew going in that About Ray – retitled 3 Generations – wouldn’t be an unproblematic film about being trans, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. What I got was okay, but definitely not great.

Continue reading