“Plot”: Kurt Waldheim was president of Austria from 1986 to 1992, after being the Secretary General of the UN. During his election campaign, it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht and he was implicated in Nazi mass killings – a fact that did not keep him from getting elected, despite many discussions about it. Beckermann was involved in the protests against Waldheim at the time and filmed a lot of material – material she thought lost, but found again and now uses to look back at how things unfolded.
Waldheims Walzer is an excellent documentary. It’s informative, concise and brings home the flabbergasting outrageousness of it all, proving yet again how little Austria has done to reckon with its own past.
Plot: Brady (Brady Jandreau) is a rodeo rider who has recently had a fall that resulted in a severe head injury. Now he’s barred from riding, let alone participating in rodeos. But if he can’t do that, he really doesn’t know who he is at all. Drifting between family and friends and the odd job he can do, Brady has to try and figure out if rodeo is worth the risk now that it’s even higher.
I very much loved Zhao’s first film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, so I knew I had to see The Rider, even though it meant adding an extra film to my already full /slash Film Festival schedule. And that little trip away from the festival was an excellent choice on my part as The Rider is a beautiful, sad and touching film that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world.
Plot: Things are slow in Inácio’s (Murilo Benício) restaurant, meaning that there is more room for his temper to flare up – as it does often, especially with his cook Djair (Irandhir Santos), but also with customer. The waitress Sara (Luciana Paes) tries to do right by them all, but especially Inácio whom she feels drawn to. But everybody’s night takes a turn for the worse when armed robbers storm the restaurant and rack up the tension.
O Animal Cordial started off pretty nicely, but then didn’t manage to retain the tension necessary to keep me invested in the film and the characters.
The Field Guide to Evil collects eight different segments from eight different countries that all build from a local legend. As usual with anthology films, Field Guide to Evil is a mixed bag of beans. There are some very good segments, but also some that didn’t really work for me. But I would say, it’s worth seeing because the good parts are really very good.
Plot: A serial killer has been active in Cape May, leaving the area in a constant state of vigilance. This includes Davey (Graham Verchere), though to be fair, he doesn’t need much prompting to see mysteries and conspiracies everywhere. That’s why not even his friends Woody (Caleb Emery), Curtis (Cory Grüter-Andrew) and Eats (Judah Lewis) believe him, when Davey starts to suspect that his neighbor, police officer Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer. Nevertheless, after yet another suspicious disappearance, the four start to investigate Mackey.
Summer of 84 starts as an hommage to the 80s adventure film, perfectly evoking the look and feel of them. But it isn’t content with “just” paying hommage, and takes quite a turn in the end that both makes and breaks the film.
Plot: Chelsea (Chloë Levine), Garth (Granit Lahu), Abe (Bubba Weiler), Jerk (Jeremy Pope) and Amber (Amanda Grace Benitez) are all at the same punk club when it gets raided by the police. The five of them make their escape together, but not before Garth actually stabs a police man to avoid getting caught with drugs on his person. Hoping to find refuge in the hunting cabin of Chelsea’s family, they set out for the woods. Once there, a Park Ranger (Jeremy Holm) gets on their case.
The Ranger was a bit underwhelming, I have to admit. It just didn’t really come together for me, although I did like the idea.
Plot: Mia (Luna Wedler) just moved to a new place with her parents. Trying to find her place at her new school, she finds the popular Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) and her friends who spend most of her time partying with alcohol and drugs. Mia starts to hang out with them and pushing her own limits. But it’s not only her behavior that changes: Mia’s body is starting to become very different as well.
Blue My Mind is a queer coming of age monster film – what’s not to love about that? I was very impressed by the film, especially considering that it’s the film school graduation piece by writer and director Brühlmann.
Plot: In a dystopian world constantly patrolled by drones, Jessica (Aomi Muyock) is the leader / mother figure for a group of young men. They are the drone’s prime targets and Jessica does her best to keep them all alive, but at the same time tries to retain some sense of normality and civility for them. The newest boy to join them is Michael (Sebastian Urzendowsky) who still has much to learn until he can fit in with them.
Jessica Forever was a film that alternately bored me and made me angry. It makes little to nothing of its setting and it confuses a female character wearing a uniform with an actually strong female character. It’s pretty frustrating.
Plot: Vita (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) move in similar social circles, but have yet to meet personally. Vita has admired Virginia from afar and she is determined to become friends with her. Virginia is taken aback by Vita’s adamant attempts at first, but she has to admit that she is also drawn to Vita. It doesn’t take long and they become friends, then lovers, inspiring each other in their writing. Despite their progressive surroundings, not everybody can deal equally well with their relationship though.
With Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf being who they were and having led the lives they led, it is hard to imagine a film about them that wouldn’t be at least interesting. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film would have been well-made. In this case, luckily, the film is not only interesting, it is very well-made indeed.
Plot: After falling from a balcony because he is so high, James (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is finally admitted into a rehab center in Minnesota by his brother (Charlie Hunnam). As James slowly starts to work through is own issues and becoming clean, he gets to know his rehab colleagues, above all Lilly (Odessa Young) whom he feels very drawn to, his roommate (Giovanni Ribisi) and Leonard (Billy Bob Thornton) who becomes something like a guide for him.
A Million Little Pieces is a strong film that interestingly enough puts the body front and center, drawing on dance as a form of expression and is much more serious and less sensationalistic than I expected after the book’s history. I was much more impressed by it than I thought it would be.