Dude (2018)

Dude
Director: Olivia Milch
Writer: Olivia Milch, Kendall McKinnon
Cast: Lucy Hale, Kathryn Prescott, Alexandra Shipp, Awkwafina, Alex Wolff, Brooke Smith, Jerry MacKinnon, Ronen Rubinstein, Satya Bhabha, Austin Butler, Jack McBrayer
Seen on: 2.4.2020

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale), Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) are best friends and have been all throughout high school. They spend most of their time just hanging out and smoking weed, but with the end of high school approaching, they also have to face the fact that things will change. Lily does everything she can to first organize the perfect prom and secondly, that all changes after that go according to her plans. But life has a way of going differently than you think and that’s not really easy.

Dude is a coming-of-age stoner comedy which is already in itself an unusual combination, made more unusual still by the fact that it’s about young women. It is entertaining and well made, but I didn’t completely love it.

The film poster showing Chloe (Kathryn Prescott), Lily (Lucy Hale),  Amelia (Alexandra Shipp) and Rebecca (Awkwafina) hugging each other.
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Freaky Friday (1976)

Freaky Friday
Director: Gary Nelson
Writer: Mary Rodgers
Based on: her own book
Cast: Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin, Patsy Kelly, Dick Van Patten, Vicki Schreck, Sorrell Booke, Alan Oppenheimer, Ruth Buzzi, Kaye Ballard, Marc McClure, Marie Windsor
Seen on: 31.3.2020

Plot:
Annabel (Jodie Foster) and her mother Ellen (Barbara Harris) really don’t get along at the moment. Both believe that the other has it so much easier, making them wish that they could just trade places for a day so that the other sees how difficult their life really is. And then their wish comes true. Annabel finds herself facing the way of full-time housewife, mother and wishfulfiller for the entire family, while her mother has to brave the various social and academic demands at school as well as the sports Annabel usually excels at.

I had never seen the original Freaky Friday, only the 2003 version (and that many years ago) and I have to say, while I’d say the idea is a whole lot of fun, the execution hasn’t really aged well.

The film poster showing a drawing of Mrs Andrews and her daughter Annabel merging into each other.
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Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You
Director: Stephanie Laing
Writer: Bess Wohl
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Steve Coogan, Kate McKinnon, Jacki Weaver, Timothy Simons, Merritt Wever
Seen on: 24.3.2020

Content Note: cancer (death)

Plot:
Sam (Michiel Huisman) and Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have been a couple since they were children and now that Abbie is pregnant, its time to get married. But when Abbie’s pregnancy turns out to be cancer and not a baby, their life is turned upside down. As Abbie has to confront the very real possibility that she will die, all she wants is to make sure that Sam will be okay after her death.

Irreplaceable You is just the right thing if you want to look at beautiful people while having a good cry. It certainly made me bawl, in a nice, cathartic way.

The film poster showing Sam (Michiel Huisman) piggybacking Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
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Carrie Pilby (2016)

Carrie Pilby
Director: Susan Johnson
Writer: Kara Holden
Based on: Caren Lissner‘s novel
Cast: Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges
Seen on: 19.3.2020

Plot:
Carrie (Bel Powley) was a child prodigy. Having graduated Harvard at 18, she is now in New York and pretty much at a loss. She resents her father (Gabriel Byrne) for having sent her away when she was so young and doesn’t really know how to adjust to life outside of education. Her therapist (Nathan Lane) tries to get her to live a little instead of just reading books. When he gives her a list of tasks to fulfill – like going on a date or doing something she liked doing as a child – and at the same time, her father gets her a job as a copyeditor for a law firm, Carrie starts to make new experiences.

Carrie Pilby is a sweet, fun film with a complex female character at its center. It balances humor and serious issues nicely, making it absolutely enjoyable.

The film poster showing a drawing of Carrie's face, looking widely upwards.
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Emma. (2020)

Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Writer: Eleanor Catton
Based on: Jane Austen‘s novel
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart, Tanya Reynolds, Connor Swindells, Oliver Chris
Seen on: 11.3.2020
[Here are my reviews of other Emma adaptations.]

Content Note: antiziganism

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Gemma Whelan) and Mr Weston (Rupert Graves) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Josh O’Connor). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

Emma. was absolutely delightful. It has one of the best comedy ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, wonderfully lush production design and really captures the spirit of the book. I was very taken by it.

The film poster showing Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy), Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) and Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
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All the Bright Places (2020)

All the Bright Places
Director: Brett Haley
Writer: Liz Hannah, Jennifer Niven
Based on: Jennifer Niven‘s novel
Cast: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O’Hara, Luke Wilson, Keegan-Michael Key
Seen on: 6.3.2020

Content Note: suicide, mental illness, domestic violence

Plot:
Finch (Justice Smith) is going for a run one night when he finds Violet (Elle Fanning) standing on the ledge of a bridge. He talks her down, but from then on, he can’t help wanting to help her. When their geography teacher gives them the assignment to explore Indiana’s sights in pairs, Finch sees the opportunity to partner up with Violet. She reluctantly agrees and they start their tours. But Finch, labelled a freak at school, has some problems of his own.

All the Bright Places looks like a “normal” teen romance film, but it goes pretty dark – darker than you expect from the look of it. Which is probably my biggest criticism of it, because other than that, it treats a difficult topic with a lot of care, albeit not always perfectly.

The film poster showing Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith) leaning in for a kiss.

[SPOILERS]

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Fantasy Island (2020)

Fantasy Island
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Remake of: the Fantasy Island TV show
Cast: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Mike Vogel, Kim Coates, Robbie Jones, Jeriya Benn
Seen on: 5.3.2020

Plot:
Patrick (Austin Stowell), Melanie (Lucy Hale), Gwen (Maggie Q), J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) won a stay on fantasy island where Mr Roarke (Michael Peña) supposedly makes all dreams come true. They have each submitted their descriptions of their fantasies and like magic, everything is prepared for them to make them into a reality. But soon things start to feel off and the fantasies turn dark and twisted.

I didn’t expect much from Fantasy Island. In fact, I was pretty much braced for something really bad (but the cast still drew me in). Turns out, the film isn’t very good, but it’s not as bad as I feared it would be.

The film poster showing the island, creating the shape of a skull from afar.
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Die Dohnal [Johanna Dohnal – Visionary of Feminism] (2020)

Die Dohnal
Director: Sabine Derflinger
Writer: Sabine Derflinger
Seen on: 27.2.2020

“Plot”:
Johanna Dohnal was Austria’s first minister for women and the first (outspoken) feminist to be part of the government in Austria (maybe even Europe). She fought for women’s rights and achieved a lot. The documentary looks at her achievements, her career and the influence she still has.

I have to say that until this documentary came out, Dohnal was not a name I really knew. She was a minister when I was a child and I was not a child overly involved in politics. And as is so often the case, women and their achievements are more quickly forgotten than you’d ever think possible. I don’t think I ever heard about Dohnal in school. So it is fantastic to get this documentary that memorializes her and makes sure we don’t forget what she made possible.

The film poster showing Johanna Dohnal smoking.
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Modo Avião [Airplane Mode] (2020)

Modo Avião
Director: César Rodrigues
Writer: Alice Name Bomtempo, Renato Fagundes
Based on: Alberto Bremer and Jonathan Davis‘s script
Cast: Larissa Manoela, Erasmo Carlos, André Luiz Frambach, Nayobe Nzainab, Katiuscia Canoro, Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço, Mariana Amâncio, Dani Ornellas, Phellyx Moura, Eike Duarte, Amanda Orestes
Seen on: 22.2.2020

Plot:
Ana (Larissa Manoela) is a huge influencer working for Carola (Katiuscia Canoro) and her fashion company. When her influencer boyfriend Gil (Eike Duarte) breaks up with her during a livestream and Ana has yet another car accident because she was on her phone, her parents (Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço) have had it. They pretend that Ana has been ordered by court to hand over her cell phone and go on a digital detox at her grandfather’s (Erasmo Carlos) place in the middle of nowhere and without cell reception. Ana is appalled. The only bright spot there is João (André Luiz Frambach), the cute grocer’s son. But even as Ana settles into her new life, she still looks for any opportunity to get her hands on a smartphone.

The biggest draw for me to watch this film was the fact that its Brazilian and it’s been a while that I practiced my Portuguese. If that is not a good reason for you, you might want to skip this film because it really doesn’t have that much to offer, though it’s not un-entertaining.

The film poster showing Ana (Larissa Manoela) with a cell phone in her hand.
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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018)

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
Director: Ian Samuels
Writer: Lindsey Beer
Cast: Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo, Loretta Devine, Lea Thompson, Alan Ruck, Mary Pat Gleason
Seen on: 9.2.2020

Content Note: ableism, transmisia, sexualized violence

Plot:
Sierra (Shannon Purser) is far from a popular girl. Not like Veronica (Kristine Froseth) who hates Sierra and has boys flocking to her. Boys like Jamey (Noah Centineo) who gets up his courage to ask for her number. But Veronica isn’t interested in someone she sees as a loser – and instead gives Jamey Sierra’s phone number. Jamey and Sierra start texting and get along great, but Sierra doesn’t dare tell Jamey who she really is – and isn’t. But Veronica, too, has boy trouble: she really wants to impress the college guy she dates with her knowledge – and for that, she needs Sierra’s help.

When Sierra Burgess came out, I remember there being a lot of criticism of it, but that memory had – unfortunately – faded to a point where I thought, I’d give the film a chance. I shouldn’t have. The criticism was right, this film is a very hot mess.

The film poster showing the four main characters of the film.

[SPOILERS]

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