Endzeit [Ever After] (2018)

Endzeit
Director: Carolina Hellsgård
Writer: Olivia Vieweg
Based on: her own graphic novel
Cast: Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Maja Lehrer, Trine Dyrholm, Barbara Philipp, Yûho Yamashita, Marco Albrecht
Part of: Toronto International Film Fesitval
Seen on: 7.9.2018

Plot:
Germany has been infected by a virus that turned most of its population into zombies. There are only small pockets of humanity left in Weimar and in Jena. Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer) are both in Weimar. They don’t really know each other and couldn’t be more different: Vivi seems barely equipped to survive a zombie world, she is so sensitive, while Eva is all toughness. But they both have the same goal: make it to Jena where they are working on a cure and find a better life there.

Endzeit sounds like exactly my kind of thing: a (German) zombie movie by and about women. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work for me, despite some very interesting takes and ideas.

The film poster showing Gro Swantje Kohlhof running away from a zombie horde.
Continue reading

Rafiki (2018)

Rafiki (literally: friend)
Director: Wanuri Kahiu
Writer: Wanuri Kahiu
Based on: Monica Arac de Nyeko‘s short story Jambula Tree
Cast: Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva, Neville Misati, Nice Githinji, Muthoni Gathecha, Vitalis Waweru, Jimmy Gathu, Dennis Musyoka
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 6.9.2018

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) spends most of her time hanging out with her friend Blacksta (Neville Misati) or working in her father’s (Jimmy Gathu) shop. Her father is currently running for a council seat, as is Ziki’s (Sheila Munyiva) father (Dennis Musyoka). But Kena finds Ziki very intriguing and the two women become close very quickly. As love grows between them, they have to face the fact that society around them doesn’t accept homosexuality.

Rafiki is a sweet and powerful film with a very interesting setting. The political situation around the film adds another layer and makes it even more worth seeing.

The film poster shwoing Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva.
Continue reading

Lost and Delirious (2001)

Lost and Delirious
Director: Léa Pool
Writer: Judith Thompson
Based on: Susan Swan‘s novel The Wives of Bath
Cast: Piper Perabo, Jessica Paré, Mischa Barton, Jackie Burroughs, Mimi Kuzyk, Graham Greene, Emily VanCamp, Amy Stewart, Caroline Dhavernas
Seen on: 7.9.2018

Plot:
14-year-old Mary (Mischa Barton) just arrived at a presitigous boarding school. She is shy and adjusting to her new surroundings isn’t easy. Fortunately she has two roommates, seniors Paulie (Piper Perabo) and Tori (Jessica Paré). The two take Mary under their wings. Mary soon realizes that Paulie and Tori aren’t just best friends, they are actually lovers. But when the knowledge spreads around school, all of their lives get knocked off-balance.

Lost and Delirious works hard but that doesn’t always translate to success, unfortunately. It does have some good moments, but overall it doesn’t really come together.

The film poster showing Mischa Barton, Jessica Paré and Piper Perabo lounging on a bed.
Continue reading

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Lewis Pullman
Seen on: 26.8.2018

Plot:
Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is a successful tennis player, fed up with the sexism in the industry that keeps female players down. Fellow player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is adamant that female players are paid less because they are less entertaining and also less good at tennis. Finally the beack and forth leads to a tennis match between the two that becomes emblematic for the entire fight for women’s rights.

Battle of the Sexes was nice, but it remains flatter than it should have been and doesn’t dare to rock the boat too much, which is disappointing.

The film poster showing Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
Continue reading

Ravenous (1999)

Ravenous
Director: Antonia Bird
Writer: Ted Griffin
Cast: Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, David Arquette, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, John Spencer, Stephen Spinella, Neal McDonough, Joseph Runningfox, Bill Brochtrup, Sheila Tousey
Seen on: 17.8.2018

Plot:
After a promotion that his superior feels was actually unearned, Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is reassigned to Fort Spencer, middle of nowhere. The fort is small and there are only a handful of soldiers posted there. Soon after his arrival, a man (Robert Carlyle) shows up at the fort. He is in bad condition and once he finds a little strength, he starts telling them of his party who turned to cannibalism to survive. The soldiers in the fort know they have to do something about them.

Ravenous had been on my watchlist for a very long time and while I didn’t love it, it was really good. I’m glad I finally got around to it.

The film poster showing an opened mouth.
Continue reading

The Darkest Minds (2018)

The Darkest Minds
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Writer: Chad Hodge
Based on: Alexandra Bracken‘s novel
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Miya Cech, Mandy Moore, Patrick Gibson, Bradley Whitford, Gwendoline Christie, Wade Williams
Seen on: 16.8.2018

Plot:
A disease killed 98% of all children. The remaining children are kept under lock and key by the adults around. Not because of fear for them, but of them. They have developed superpowers that are strictly classified into dangerous and harmless. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is considered dangerous. Or she would be, if people knew her real designation. So far, she managed to keep it hidden. But that doesn’t make life in the internment camps any good. So Ruby escapes the first chance she gets – and manages to find other children who are free, too. They throw their lot together, but they will have to decide soon whether they want any more out of life.

The Darkest Minds is pretty standard young adult postapocalypse fare. It’s nice to watch, but isn’t particularly outstanding – with the exception of Stenberg and Dickinson who are above average.

The film poster showing Skylan Brooks, Amandla Stenberg, Miya Cech and Harris Dickinson in the film.
Continue reading

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Writer: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele
Based on: Emily M. Danforth‘s novel
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, Emily Skeggs, Owen Campbell, Steven Hauck, Quinn Shephard, Kerry Butler, Dalton Harrod, McCabe Slye, Dale Soules, Melanie Ehrlich, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle
Seen on: 15.8.2018

Content Note: homomisia, conversion “therapy”

Plot:
Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a teenager in love and things could be just fine if she wasn’t in love with a girl, Coley (Quinn Shephard). Because when her Aunt Ruth (Kerry Butler) finds out, she reacts quickly and Cameron finds herself in a conversion camp, led by Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle). They set to work immediately on her. Work that has already shown a lot of effect on Cameron’s roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs). But maybe Cameron will find a bit of resistance at the camp or inside herself.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a wonderful film and a wonderful sophomore feature for Akhavan that was absolutely worth waiting for.

The film poster showing Chloe Grace Moretz' face in close-up, shaded in yellows and greens.
Continue reading

Leave No Trace (2018)

Leave No Trace
Director: Debra Granik
Writer: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Based on: Peter Rock‘s novel My Abandonment
Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster, Dana Millican, Jeff Kober, Isaiah Stone, Dale Dickey
Seen on: 4.8.2018

Content note: PTSD

Plot:
Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) and her father Will (Ben Foster) live in the great forest of a state park. Their life isn’t exactly easy, but they are happy with the way things are, surviving mostly of the land. It’s just that it is actually isn’t legal to live in a state park. And Tom should probably be in school. So when they get spotted, their lives are quickly turned upside down.

Leave No Trace is a quiet, touching film that tells its actually devastating, realistic story with such a calm attitude that you’re able to breathe and work through the trauma along with the characters.

Film poster showing sunlight slanting through a redwood forest, with Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie very small in the corner walking through the forest.
Continue reading

Bao (2018)

Bao
Director: Domee Shi
Writer: Domee Shi
Cast: Sindy Lau, Sharmaine Yeoh, Tim Zhang
Seen on: 3.8.2018

Plot:
She (Sindy Lau) has always hoped for children, but never had them. When one of the dumplings she made comes to life, she is therefore overjoyed. But parenting isn’t easy.

Bao is a wonderfully sweet and touching short film with beautiful animation. It uses a great metaphor extremely well, managing to be both seriously heartfelt and funny at the same time. There is so much crammed into those 8 minutes, it’s really amazing – and a testament to Shi’s narrative skills. Just lovely.

Brown Girl Begins (2017)

Brown Girl Begins
Director: Sharon Lewis
Writer: Sharon Lewis
Cast: Mouna Traoré, Nigel Shawn Williams, Shakura S’Aida, Emmanuel Kabongo, Measha Brueggergosman, Hannah Chantée, Alli Chung, Rachael Crawford
Seen on: 17.7.2018

Plot:
Toronto 2049: The rich have barricaded themselves in the city, exiling the poor to an island called The Burn. Ti-Jeanne (Mouna Traoré) is one of the inhabitants of the island, set to follow her grandmother Mami (Shakura S’Aida) as the priestess who leads the island people. But that succession includes a possession ritual – and that very ritual killed Ti-Jeanne’s mother. So it doesn’t seem suprising that she would rather run away with Tony (Emmanuel Kabongo). But one can’t really run away from one’s legacy – especially when it takes the form of Papa Legba (Nigel Shawn Williams).

It probably can’t get more low-budget than Brown Girl Begins and that’s pretty visible. But it’s also entirely irrelevant because the film tells a good story and it tells it well. You don’t need more than that. It’s innovative and traditional at the same time – and definitely creative.

The film poster showing Mouna Traoré in front of a blue background witjy sjy and a city skyline.
Continue reading