Titane [Titanium] (2021)

Titane
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau, Jacques Akchoti, Jean-Christophe Bouzy
Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Mara Cisse, Marin Judas, Diong-Kéba Tacu, Myriem Akheddiou, Bertrand Bonello
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2021

Content Note: sexualized violence

Plot:
Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is a dancer, working at car shows and the like. She is tough, tattooed and shows off a big scar she has on her skull from a car accident. Her roughness is not just exterior. When she is assaulted by a fan, she doesn’t hesitate to stab him. But when her colleague Justine (Garance Marillier) also tries to get closer to her, Alexia has the same reaction though. And it’s neither her first, nor her last killing – and she desperately needs an exit strategy. That presents itself in an unusual option.

Titane is not an easy film, and I had to sleep over it to really get to an opinion about it – but ultimately, I really liked it. It is a wild, refractory, aesthetic film that is certainly worth watching and then discussing a lot.

The film poster showing Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) pushing back her hair to reveal a large, snail-shaped scar behind her ear.
Continue reading

Mayak [The Lighthouse] (2006)

Mayak
Director: Mariya Saakyan
Writer: Givi Shavgulidze
Cast: Anna Kapaleva, Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargsyan, Sofiko Chiaureli, Ruzana Avetisyan, Mikhail Bogdasarov, Sergei Daniyelyan, Anastasiya Grebennikova, Albina Matveyeva, Mikhail Silantev
Seen on: 15.9.2021

Plot:
It’s the 90s and Lena (Anna Kapaleva) is returning to her home village in Armenia for the first timme in a long time. She is visiting her grandparents (Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargysan) who have stayed behind in the village despite it being in the middle of a warzone. Lena tries desperately to convince them to go away to safety with her. Instead, Lena stays longer and longer than she anticipated.

Mayak is a melancholic piece if cinema that shows us the daily routine of war for the people who aren’t really involved in it. It isn’t always easy to watch, but it is very interesting.

The film poster showing a childish drawing of a house and a figure walking towards it over a red path through a wave of water.
Continue reading

Sul più bello [Out of My League] (2020)

Sul più bello
Director: Alice Filippi
Writer: Roberto Proia, Michela Straniero
Cast: Ludovica Francesconi, Giuseppe Maggio, Gaja Masciale, Jozef Gjura, Eleonora Gaggero
Seen on: 12.9.2021

Content Note: stalking, ableism

Plot:
Marta (Ludovica Francesconi) has always had one dream: getting married to the love of her life. Unfortunately she does not have the best cards in life. Orphaned at a young age, not the prettiest and chronically ill (Mucoviscidosis) with the outlook of dying early, finding a partner has been difficult for her. Until she sees Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio) and knows that he is the one for her. Only, he doesn’t know it – yet.

Sul più bello looked like a sweet RomCom without too much substance. And that is not entirely wrong, but it has so little substance, and a couple of issues, that it doesn’t satisfy.

The film poster showing Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio) holding Marta (Ludovica Francesconi).
Continue reading

Buster’s Mal Heart (2016)

Buster’s Mal Heart
Director: Sarah Adina Smith
Writer: Sarah Adina Smith
Cast: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil, Sukha Belle Potter, Toby Huss, Lin Shaye, Lily Gladstone
Seen on: 9.9.2021

Plot:
Buster (Rami Malek) has made a name for himself by taking over summer holiday homes during winter. He’s been at it for years and has managed to evade capture so far. But it wasn’t always like this. Before that, he used to be Jonah. Jonah worked as a night receptionist in a hotel, trying to care for his wife Marty (Kate Lyn Sheil) and daughter Roxy (Sukha Belle Potter). But the constant night-shifts and the lack of sleep were starting to get to him. To get through the dreary nights, he starts talking to a guest who simply refers to himself as The Last Free Man (DJ Qualls) and believes that The Inversion is coming.

I saw Sarah Adina Smith’s first film The Midnight Swim many years ago, but it’s really one of those films that absolutely stayed with me. So, when I realized that her second film – Buster’s Mal Heart – was available on Netflix, I had to watch it immediately. And while it wasn’t quite as captivating as The Midnight Swim for me, it was absolutely captivating enough.

The film poster showing Buster (Rami Malek), his face distorted as if caught on a crappy videotape.
Continue reading

Good on Paper (2021)

Good on Paper
Director: Kimmy Gatewood
Writer: Iliza Shlesinger
Cast: Iliza Shlesinger, Margaret Cho, Ryan Hansen, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Matt McGorry, Rebecca Delgado Smith, Beth Dover, Kimia Behpoornia
Seen on: 4.9.2021

Content Note: fatmisia, abusive relationship, (critical treatment of) misogyny

Plot:
Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) is a stand-up comedian who has been making good progress with her career, although the big break-through is still missing and she would like to get an acting role to hit it big, finally. With working on her career, her romantic life has taken a back-seat. And this doesn’t change when she meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen) on a plane, although they immediately get to talking. Dennis is a great guy, though, and they start hanging out a lot – as friends. After a while, though, things do take a turn for the romantic. At the same time, Andrea starts to question what Dennis told her about himself.

Good on Paper has some funny moments, but it didn’t really draw me in. It was entertaining enough, but it just wasn’t great.

The film poster showing Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) looking sceptical as Dennis (Ryan Hansen) holds on to her, smiling widely.
Continue reading

Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss
Seen on: 1.9.2021

Plot:
Erin (Nicole Kidman) is a police officer, only barely holding herself together. When a body turns up with markings that connect it to an undercover case from the very beginning of Erin’s career, she re-opens the investigation, she knows that her past has finally caught up with her – and that she may finally set things right.

Destroyer very cleverly cast Nicole Kidman against type, but I often felt that it relies to hard on that cleverness, on Kidman’s sallow looks. It is a decent crime movie, but it could have been a little more.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Erin's (Nicole Kidman) face with deep shadows under her eyes in blue and red light.
Continue reading

Une colonie [A Colony] (2018)

Une colonie
Director: Geneviève Dulude-De Celles
Writer: Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne, Geneviève Dulude-De Celles
Cast: Emilie Bierre, Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie, Irlande Côté, Cassandra Gosselin-Pelletier, Leia Scott
Seen on: 31.8.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Mylia (Emilie Bierre) is a quiet teenager, spending most of her time with her sister Camille (Irlande Côté) and her chaotic family. Starting a new school means that Mylia has to figure out where she belongs – with popular Jacinthe (Cassandra Gosselin-Pelletier) or with Jimmy (Jacob Whiteduck-Lavoie) who is Abenaki, which makes him an outsider in his own community.

Une colonie is a nice coming-of-age film though I was hoping for a little more engagement with racism from the title and the fact that Jimmy is Indigenous. Still, I really liked it.

The film poster showing a close-up of Mylia (Emilie Bierre) looking into the distance.
Continue reading

Reminiscence (2021)

Reminiscence
Director: Lisa Joy
Writer: Lisa Joy
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan
Seen on: 31.8.2021

Plot:
In a Miami almost entirely drowned Nick (Hugh Jackman) and his employee Watts (Thandiwe Newton) run a small reminiscence business. Their clients come to relive their memories in the most realistic way possible with them. Everything changes for Nick the day that Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) comes in, hoping to find her lost keys. Nick and Mae become very close – until Mae disappears, leaving Nick scrambling to understand what happened with her, with them. Unable to let go, he digs into her past and uncovers more than he bargained for.

I had not realized going into the film that it was a noir set in the future. If I had, I may have liked it a little better, but fact is, I usually don’t like noirs and Reminiscence reminded me again why that is.

The film poster showing Nick (Hugh Jackman) standing with a gun in his hand, pointed at the floor. Behind him is a half-submerged street with boats and the other main characters are superimposed over the setting orange sun.
Continue reading

Hemel (2012)

Hemel
Director: Sacha Polak
Writer: Helena van der Meulen
Cast: Hannah Hoekstra, Hans Dagelet, Rifka Lodeizen, Mark Rietman, Eva Duijvestein, Barbara Sarafian
Seen on: 29.8.2021

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Hemel (Hannha Hoekstra) is young and beautiful and drifts from man to man, hook-up to hook-up. Never anything serious. The only man she has emotional space for in her life is her father Gijs (Hans Dagelet) who has never settled down himself – until now. Gijs seems to have finally found a partner in Sophie (Rifka Lodeizen) with whom he is willing to get serious – and that completely throws Hemel.

Hemel is yet another film about a beautiful, young and fucked up woman who struggles with relationships with men in her life. I have to admit that I expected a little more from it – a little more insight, a little more feminism – but it couldn’t deliver.

The film poster showing Hemel (Hannah Hoekstra) making out with a guy while wrapped in a string of lights.
Continue reading

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Young Woman
Director: Emerald Fennell
Writer: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Molly Shannon, Alfred Molina
Seen on: 23.8.2021

Content Note: rape, rape culture

Plot:
Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) has a hobby: she goes out a lot, pretends to be drunk and waits until a man tries to pick her up and fuck, or rather rape her. Then she confronts him about his actions. Other than that, her life is pretty uneventful. She lives with her parents (Clancy Brown, Jennifer Cooldige) and works in a coffeeshop. When Ryan (Bo Burnham) comes into the coffeeshop one day, he recognizes her from college and asks Cassie out. This reconnection to her own past has unforeseen consequences for both of them.

Promising Young Woman is a strong film that is definitely worth seeing, even though it doesn’t come without flaws. It certainly leaves an impression and opens up a discussion.

The film poster showing the film title as if written with lipstick, inlcuding a lip print. behind this we can see Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) unfocused, lipstick in hand.
Continue reading