The Party (2017)

The Party
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Timothy SpallKristin Scott ThomasPatricia ClarksonBruno GanzCherry JonesEmily MortimerCillian Murphy
Seen on: 1.8.2017
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Plot:
Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) was just appointed shadow minister of health, and she wants to celebrate. So she and her supportive husband Bill (Timothy Spall) have invited their closest friends. But despite the joyous occasion, things are tense. It’s not only the bickering of no-nonsense April (Patricia Clarkson) and her spiritual husband Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), or of butch Martha (Cherry Jones) and her pregnant partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer), or the appearance of the slimy and obviously distraught Tom (Cillian Murphy): Bill has been keeping a secret, and he can’t keep it any longer.

The Party is filled with dark and biting humor, delivered by a fantastic cast. It should be great, but somehow it doesn’t quite work out that way.

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13th (2016)

13th
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Spencer Averick, Ava DuVernay
Seen on: 25.7.2017
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“Plot”:
Ava DuVernay set out to make a film about the prison-industrial complex. 25% of the world’s prison population is USAmerican, although only 5% of the world’s population is. People of color are disproportionately imprisoned. And prisoners are used for cheap labor for which they barely see any money. But in her research, DuVernay discovered more and more, how tightly the USAmerican prison system is tied to the 13th amendment to the constitution: the amendment that abolished slavery, but left a backdoor open: as a punishment of crime, slavery and involuntary servitude are still permitted.

13th is a fascinating, well-structured and incendiary film. It’s pretty much a perfect documentary: delivering a slew of information in a way that never gets overbearing and connects different islands of knowledge to show the underlying structure of inequality.

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Embrace (2016)

Embrace
Director: Taryn Brumfitt
Writer: Taryn Brumfitt
Seen on: 21.7.2017
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“Plot”:
Taryn Brumfitt struggled with her body and the way it looked. She tried to keep in shape with body building, she considered surgery. But then in 2013, she posted a naked photo of herself online, showing her stretchmarks, her belly, her imperfections. The photo started something: not only were there many women who reacted strongly – and positively – to it, it sent Brumfitt on a journey of self-acceptance and activism that is chronicled in this documentary.

Much of what Embrace talks about is important and touching, but unfortunately it just doesn’t go far enough for me.

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Their Finest (2016)

Their Finest
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: Gaby Chiappe
Based on: Lissa Evans‘ novel Their Finest Hour and a Half
Cast: Gemma ArtertonSam ClaflinBill NighyRichard E. GrantHenry GoodmanRachael StirlingJack HustonAmanda RootEddie MarsanHelen McCroryJeremy Irons
Seen on: 19.7.2017
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Plot:
It’s the middle of World War II, times are tough and Catrin (Gemma Arterton) needs a job as her husband Ellis (Jack Huston), an artist, doesn’t make enough money to keep them afloat. She gets hired as a scriptwriter for propaganda films and quickly gets saddled with the task of writing the supposedly unimportant women’s dialogue. When she hears about a story about two young women who participated in the Dunkirk evacuation, she brings the idea for an entire film – which makes her co-author to Tom (Sam Claflin) and handler to the aging star Ambrose (Bill Nighy).

Their Finest is a beautiful, fantastic film that touches on many things, but most of all it pulls on heartstrings in the perfect way.

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Everything, Everything (2017)

Everything, Everything
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: J. Mills Goodloe
Based on: Nicola Yoon‘s novel
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi
Seen on: 4.7.2017
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Plot:
Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), meaning that her immune system is so weak that just being outside could literally kill her. So she grows up at home, cared for by her mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera), her social contacts pretty much limited to them, Carla’s daughter Rosa (Danube Hermosillo) and the internet. That is, until a new family moves in next door. Their teenage son Olly (Nick Robinson) catches a glimpse of Maddy, and they start a written correspondence that soon develops into something more.

There are many things that Everything, Everything gets right, but I’m not sure that they’re outweighed by the ableist fuckery the story devolves into.

[SPOILERS]

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The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Based on: Thomas P. Cullinan‘s novel
Remake of: the 1971 film
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard
Seen on: 3.7.2017
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Plot:
John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is an injured Union soldier on the run in the South during the US Civil War. He stumbles upon a girl’s school, led by Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) and finds pity in the women who don’t turn him in to the Confederate soldiers – at least not until he’s healed and stands a chance to survive. But they keep him under lock and key while they tend to him. The teacher Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and the girls – above all Carol (Elle Fanning) – are intrigued and excited by the soldier and soon vie for his affections. Not even Miss Martha finds herself unmoved as McBurney tries to turn the situation to his advantage.

The Beguiled is visually stunning, but other than that didn’t blow me away all that much. It’s not bad, but I still prefer the original film (although I didn’t love that one that much either).

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Grave [Raw] (2016)

Grave [literally: grave in the sense of severe, not in the sense of burial]
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau
Cast: Garance MarillierElla RumpfRabah Nait OufellaLaurent LucasJoana Preiss
Seen on: 1.7.2017
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Plot:
Justine (Garance Marillier) is excited: she finally gets to follow her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) to university to study veterinary medicine. But the Alexia Justine meets there is not the sister she remembers, and she’s definitely no help with the hazing rituals that mean that strict vegetarian Justine is forced to eat meat. Eating meat has unforeseen consequences for Justine and starts a transformation process for her.

Grave had me hooked from the get-go and I found it extremely engaging, even when not everything about it worked for me. But it’s a strong film, especially for a first feature, and definitely worth seeing.

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Before I Fall (2017)

Before I Fall
Director: Ry Russo-Young
Writer: Maria Maggenti
Based on: Lauren Oliver‘s novel
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Cynthy Wu, Medalion Rahimi, Erica Tremblay, Liv Hewson, Diego Boneta, Jennifer Beals, Nicholas Lea
Seen on: 22.6.2017
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Plot:
Sam (Zoey Deutch) is beautiful, a good student, she runs with the popular girls, Elody (Medalion Rahimi), Lindsay (Halston Sage) and Ally (Cynthy Wu), she has a boyfriend Rob (Kian Lawley) and, as it turns out, she even has a secret admirer. Or not so secret, as Sam suspects her childhood friend Kent (Logan Miller). Things are awesome. At least for Sam. Not so much for Juliet (Elena Kampouris) who is humiliated at a part, as she’s humiliated every day at school. But after the party, Sam and her friends crash their car. And when Sam wakes up, it’s the morning of the day of the party, over and over again.

I like time travel stories, so I figured I’d give this film a shot even though I didn’t expect much from it. Before I Fall, then, was much stranger than I expected in many ways, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s entertaining, but it’s not a must see.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Based on: William Moulton Marston‘s comics character
Cast: Gal GadotChris PineConnie NielsenRobin WrightDanny HustonDavid ThewlisSaïd TaghmaouiEwen BremnerEugene Brave RockLucy DavisElena AnayaJames Cosmo
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 20.6.2017
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Plot:
Diana (Gal Gadot) grew up on the isolated island Themyscira populated only by women. But not any women: Amazons, warriors with an amazing lifespan from a time where gods still walked the earth regularly. Taught by her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright), commander of the guard, Diana grows up with a strong sense of right and wrong. So when the world outside literally crashes into hers in the shape of World War II pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), Diana is sure she is meant to help to end the war, even if it means going against the wishes of her mother.

I maybe wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about Wonder Woman as I would have liked to be (as it’s a female superhero in a film directed by a woman), but I did enjoy it a lot. Definitely the best of the DC movies so far.

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Mãe Só Há Uma [Don’t Call Me Son] (2016)

Mãe Só Há Uma (literally: You Only Have One Mother)
Director: Anna Muylaert
Writer: Anna Muylaert
Cast: Naomi NeroDaniel BotelhoDani NefussiMatheus NachtergaeleLais DiasLuciana PaesHelena AlbergariaLuciano BortoluzziJune DantasRenan Tenca
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2017
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Plot:
Pierre (Naomi Nero) gets along well with his mom Aracy (Dani Nefussi) and his sister Jaqueline (Lais Dias). He spends most of his time with his band, taking advantage of the small bit of fame by having lots of sex with both boys and girls, while working out his (gender) identity. But then Pierre is informed that Aracy, the woman he has always known as his mother, actually stole him from Gloria (Dani Nefussi) and Matheus (Matheus Nachtergaele), and she stole his sister, too. As Gloria and Matheus try to reconnect with their son – who they insist on calling Felipe – Pierre can’t accept this new version of his family.

Mãe Só Há Uma tells a pretty incredible story with a lot of sensitivity and insight. It’s sometimes a little long and the ending felt a little frustrating, but it’s definitely worth it regardless.

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