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

Die Geträumten [The Dreamed Ones] (2016)

Die Geträumten
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Writer: Ina Hartwig, Ruth Beckermann
Based on: Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan‘s letter exchange
Cast: Anja Plaschg, Laurence Rupp
Seen on: 20.12.2016

Plot:
Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan were both writers who met in Vienna just after World War II. Celan was a Romanian Jew, Bachmann an Austrian whose father was an active Nazi. But they connected and kept up a correspondence over many years, before and after having an affair, a correspondence filles with longings and what-ifs. Now singer and actress Anja Plaschg and actor Laurence Rupp are in a recording studio, reading those letters. As they uncover the depths of the relationship between Bachmann and Celan, they also learn more about each other.

I loved the idea of Die Geträumten, but I feared that it wouldn’t work for me because I’m simply bad at taking in stuff that is being read to me. And while I unfortunately was right with my fear, I still feel that Die Geträumten is a very worthwhile film.

Continue reading

Shut In (2016)

Shut In
Director: Farren Blackburn
Writer: Christina Hodson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, Clémentine Poidatz, Alex Braunstein, David Cubitt, Crystal Balint
Seen on: 19.12.2016

Plot:
Mary (Naomi Watts) lives a rather lonely existence. A few months ago, her husband Richard (Peter Outerbridge) and her teenaged son Stephen (Charlie Heaton) got into a car accident. Richard died, Stephen was left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak, becoming totally dependent on her. Now she spends all her time taking care of Stephen and working as a child psychologist from home. Just before a snow storm hits the area, one of the children she works with, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), first hides in her house, then runs into the woods. But finding Tom isn’t the only thing that becomes a pressing matter for Mary.

Shut In starts strong enough as long as it builds tension but when they start resolving the story, it pretty much falls apart, leaving a decidedly meh impression.

Continue reading

Baden Baden (2016)

Baden Baden
Director: Rachel Lang
Writer: Rachel Lang
Cast: Salomé Richard, Claude Gensac, Lazare Gousseau, Swann Arlaud, Olivier Chantreau, Jorijn Vriesendorp, Noémie RossetZabou Breitman, Kate Moran
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
After an aborted attempt to work abroad, Ana (Salomé Richard) returns home to Strasbourg with the summer stretched ahead of her. She starts to renovate her grandmother’s (Claude Gensac) bathroom just to have something to do, while trying to figure out her life. Which, as usual, is easier said than done. As she reconnects with old and new friends, things don’t necessarily become any clearer for her.

Baden Baden wasn’t great, but it was far from bad. But it’s not a film that touched me particularly deeply or will stay with me for a long time.

Continue reading

Orpheline [Orphan] (2016)

Orpheline
Director: Arnaud des Pallières
Writer: Arnaud des Pallières, Christelle Berthevas
Cast: Adèle Haenel, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Solène Rigot, Vega Cuzytek, Jalil Lespert, Gemma Arterton, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Sergi López, Karim Leklou, Robert Hunger-Bühler
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
When Tara (Gemma Arterton) is released from prison, she goes to see Renée (Adèle Haenel). Renée works as a school teacher and is trying to have a baby with her boyfriend (Jalil Lespert), but it appears that her past was rather different: Tara demands money from her, money they stole together before she was arrested, at a time when Tara worked with Sandra (Adèle Exarchopoulos). But how does Renée’s life tie in with Sandra or teenager Karine (Solène Rigot) who behaves much more maturely than she is or the small Kiki (Vega Cuzytek) who loves to play outside, even at the dangerous junkyard.

Orphan really impressed me (and was the first of the Scope100 films that year that actually did). It’s a well-made film with fascinating female characters.

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

La prunelle de mes yeux [The Apple of My Eye] (2016)

La prunelle de mes yeux
Director: Axelle Ropert
Writer: Axelle Ropert
Cast: Mélanie Bernier, Bastien Bouillon, Antonin Fresson, Chloé Astor, Swann Arlaud, Laurent Mothe
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 17.12.2016

Plot:
When Théo (Bastien Bouillon) meets Élise (Mélanie Bernier) in the elevator of his new apartment building, he doesn’t realize that she’s blind and thinks she’s absolutely ignoring him. They take an immediate dislike to each other. Théo wants to teach Élise a lesson, so he pretends to have gone blind himself and asks for her help to find his way in this to him new world – to which Élise agrees. And maybe they’ll find out that they like each other after all.

La prunelle de mes yeux is one of the worst, most offensive films I have ever seen. It is an ableist, sexist pile of shit that should never have been made. Had I seen it at the cinema instead of at home where I could let my frustration out, I would have walked out of the film.

Continue reading

Marie Curie [Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge] (2016)

Marie Curie
Director: Marie Noelle
Writer: Marie Noelle, Andrea Stoll
Cast: Karolina Gruszka, Arieh Worthalter, Charles Berling, Izabela Kuna, Malik Zidi, André Wilms, Daniel Olbrychski, Marie Denarnaud, Samuel Finzi, Piotr Glowacki, Jan Frycz, Sabin Tambrea
Seen on: 14.12.2016

Plot:
Marie Curie (Karolina Gruszka) is a researcher who is working on isolating radium together with her husband Pierre (Charles Berling). Things are going pretty well until Pierre dies in an accident. Suddenly Marie – who keeps working despite her grief – has to defend herself and her capability to do the job, with people around her doubting that she would be able to do anything without Pierre. With researcher Paul Langevin (Arieh Worthalter) at her side, she persists regardless. Even when their very relationship becomes cause to doubt Curie’s morality.

Marie Curie is an interesting take on an interesting woman. It does have a couple of lengths and I would have appreciated it if it hadn’t focused almost entirely on her relationships with men, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Continue reading

Fucking Different XXX (2011)

Fucking Different XXX
Part of: Transition Festival
Seen on: 14.11.2016

Fucking Different XXX is a queer porn anthology where the lesbian directors tackle the gay sex and the gay directors the lesbian sex.

I liked the idea of this anthology, but unfortunately the result wasn’t really my thing. Apart from a few moments, I didn’t really enjoy it. Also, for an anthology that is all about switching and queering things up, it felt pretty tame. There was only one segment, Offing Jack, that features a nonbinary person and a fat guy, that really manages to break through the mold of usual, if mostly homosexual sex.

After the jump, I’ll talk about each segment separately.

Continue reading

Women Who Kill (2016)

Women Who Kill
Director: Ingrid Jungermann
Writer: Ingrid Jungermann
Cast: Ingrid Jungermann, Sheila VandAnn Carr
Part of: Transition Festival
Seen on: 14.11.2016

Plot:
Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann) and her ex-girlfriend Jean (Ann Carr) may not be together anymore, but they still do everything together. That includes their podcast on the topic of female serial killers and working at the local food co-op. It is there that Morgan meets Simone (Sheila Vand) and falls in love with her head over heels. Despite warnings about Simone being a total stranger, Morgan throws herself into the new love. But things about Simone are weird – and maybe she’s hiding something.

Women Who Kill is an unusual film with strange characters who have the potential to be very unlikeable. It could have gone very wrong, but thanks to its dry sense of humor, it goes very right. I liked it a lot.

Continue reading

A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015)

A Tale of Love and Darkness
Director: Natalie Portman
Writer: Natalie Portman
Based on: Amos Ozautobiographical novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Gilad KahanaAmir TesslerMoni MoshonovOhad KnollerMakram KhouryAlexander Peleg
Seen on: 13.11.2016

Plot:
Amos (Amir Tessler) lives with his parents Fania (Natalie Portman) and Arieh (Gilad Kahana) in Jerusalem. They are a happy family, although Fania misses her family in Tel Aviv, with whom communication is difficult due to the political circumstances. Amos grows up close to his mother who loves to tell him stories. At least until she becomes more and more depressed.

A Tale of Love and Darkness is not a bad film for a first feature from Portman as director. It does have a few weaknesses, but it certainly shows a lot of promise for her as both writer and director.

Continue reading