Bride for Rent (2014)

Bride for Rent
Director: Mae Czarina Cruz
Writer: Charlene Grace Bernardo, Carmi Raymundo
Cast: Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Pilita Corrales, Empoy Marquez, Martin del Rosario, Tirso Cruz III, Dennis Padilla, Matt Evans, Lloyd Zaragoza, Zeppi Borromeo, Eda Nolan, Gerald Pesigan
Seen on: 02.02.2021

Content Note: a couple of transmisic and fatmisic jokes, but not central to the story

Plot:
Rocco (Xian Lim) can’t wait for the day he turns 25 and will finally get access to the trust fund his grandmother (Pilita Corrales) is taking care of for him. Rocco is living a life of leisure, parties and women and he intends to keep it that way with the money. But his Lala has other plans: she puts a stipulation into the contract that Rocco can only get to the money if he gets married. Rocco and his friends come up with the plan to hire an actress for the role of his wife and deceive his grandmother just long enough to get the money. Enter Rocky (Kim Chiu), a struggling actress from a poor family, hoping to make it big. Even though she feels slightly uncomfortable with the part, she can’t say no to the money. That she has a bit of a crush on Rocco is a bonus. But things quickly become more complicated.

Bride for Rent is a sweet RomCom with a couple of questionable jokes, but overall a fun watch with a nice emotional core.

The film poster showing Rocky (Kim Chiu) with a bridal veil and a big ring, and Rocco (Xian Lim) hugging her with a slightly uncomfortable facial expression.
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Thirteen (2003)

Thirteen
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed
Cast: Nikki Reed, Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Brady Corbet, Sarah Clarke, Vanessa Hudgens, Jeremy Sisto, Deborah Kara Unger
Seen on: 31.1.2021

Plot:
Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) just started 7th grade and is desperate to fit in. She sets her sight on Evie (Nikki Reed), widely known as the prettiest girl in school. Evie is a wild child who basks in Tracy’s attention and also takes to Tracy’s mother Mel (Holly Hunter). The two girls become inseparable, Tracy quickly discovering drugs and sex through Evie and both egging each other on, as things spiral out of control.

Thirteen is an excellent debut feature for both Hardwicke and Reed that feels like a debut in every frame – but in the best sense, filled with an energy and wildness that mirrors the central characters.

The film poster showing Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Evie (Nikki Reed) sticking out their tongues to show off their tongue piercings.
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Die Kinder der Villa Emma [The Children of Villa Emma] (2016)

Die Kinder der Villa Emma
Director: Nikolaus Leytner
Writer: Agnes Pluch
Cast: Sophie Stockinger, Ludwig Trepte, Nina Proll, Muriel Wimmer, Laurence Rupp, August Zirner, Christian Dolezal, Maximilian Paier, Juri Zanger, Haris Begic, Justus Schlingensiepen, Enzo Gaier, Leon Orlandianyi
Seen on: 20.1.2021

Plot:
Betty (Sophie Stockinger) lives in Vienna in 1941. As a Jewish girl, that is not the greatest place to be, so her father (Christian Dolezal) makes sure that Betty gets on a train with a group of children led by Helga (Nina Proll) and Georg (August Zirner). They hope to bring the children safely to Palestine. But the way there is dangerous and takes a lot of time.

Die Kinder der Villa Emma tells a good story, but it doesn’t tell it very well, I’m afraid. It doesn’t tell it badly, either, but there was something missing.

The film poster showing a group of children running towards a big mansion as well as several characters from the film.
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Fallen [Falling] (2006)

Fallen
Director: Barbara Albert
Writer: Barbara Albert
Cast: Nina Proll, Birgit Minichmayr, Kathrin Resetarits, Ursula Strauss, Gabriela Hegedüs, Ina Strnad, Georg Friedrich, Darina Dujmic, Angelika Niedetzky
Seen on: 19.1.2021

Plot:
At the funeral of their former high school teacher, Alex (Ursula Strauss), Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr), Nina (Nina Proll), Nicole (Gabriela Hegedüs) and Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits) meet each other again for the first time in years. Apart from Brigitte, they all moved away from their home town and haven’t been back in a long time. Caught in a wave of reminiscence, they are loath to part after the funeral is over and instead take to exploring the area again, accompanied by Nicole’s daughter Daphne (Ina Strnad). But the trip to the past isn’t always pleasant and their relationships aren’t without tension.

Fallen is a fantastic film that explores the complex relationships of these women, brought together by circumstances in the past and in the present, but no less meaningful for that. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Alex (Ursula Strauss), Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr), Nina (Nina Proll), Nicole (Gabriela Hegedüs) and Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits), all dressed in black with their arms spread wide, their hair blowing in the wind, at the edge of a hill.
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Tallulah (2016)

Tallulah
Director: Sian Heder
Writer: Sian Heder
Cast: Elliot Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Felix Solis, David Zayas, Uzo Aduba, John Benjamin Hickey, Zachary Quinto
Seen on: 10.1.2021

Plot:
Tallulah (Elliot Page) has been driving around the country with her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) for a couple of years, stealing and grifting to get by. After a disagreement, Tallulah tells Nico to just fuck off – and he does. Desperate to find him again, she drives to New York where she knows his mother Margo (Allison Janney) lives in a fancy apartment complex in the middle of Manhattan. But Margo hasn’t seen Nico and is not interested in Tallulah’s story. Tallulah heads to a hotel, hoping to find some food and maybe more, in the room-service leftovers. Instead she gets mistaken as a hotel employee by Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard) who ropes her in to babysit her toddler. Carolyn is a mess and when she comes back drunk, Tallulah grabs the baby and just leaves. Her spur of the moment decision has big consequences for all of them.

Tallulah is a well-made, perfectly cast film that tells an interesting story in an affective way. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Tallulah (Elliot Page) cradling a toddler and talking to Margo (Allison Janney). They are placed inside the shape of Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard) smoking a cigarette.
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Re-Watch: Casper (1995)

Casper
Director: Brad Silberling
Writer: Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver
Based on: Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo‘s character Casper the Friendly Ghost
Cast: Malachi Pearson, Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey, Brad Garrett, Amy Brenneman, Devon Sawa, Dan Aykroyd, Rodney Dangerfield, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson
Seen on: 5.1.2021

Plot:
Casper (Malachi Pearson) is a ghost who lives with his three uncles Stretch (Joe Nipote), Stinkie (Joe Alaskey) and Fatso (Brad Garrett) in a mansion. Contrary to his uncles, Casper is not interested in haunting humans, though. He would rather make friends. When the mansion gets inherited by Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) who is sure that there is a treasure in the house, the uncles dial up their haunting, leaving Carrigan desperate to get into the house by any means necessary. When Casper learns of Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) who travel the country trying to help ghosts, he sees a chance to fulfill his wish and Carrigan sees a chance to fulfill hers. But things turn out differently from what they all anticipated.

Casper is one of the films that was in constant circulation at home when I was a kid. But I probably haven’t seen it in over twenty years. Looking at it as an adult, it’s still a very sweet and funny kids’ film, although things, of course, strike me differently now.

The film poster showing Casper glimpsing over the letters of his name above the manor. His three ghost uncles' heads can be seen coming out of the manor. In front of it are Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and Kat (Christina Ricci).
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Was wir wollten [What We Wanted] (2020)

Was wir wollten
Director: Ulrike Kofler
Writer: Sandra Bohle, Ulrike Kofler, Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Peter Stamm‘s short story Der Lauf der Dinge
Cast: Lavinia Wilson, Elyas M’Barek, Anna Unterberger, Lukas Spisser, Iva Höpperger, Fedor Teyml, Marta Manduca, Maria Hofstätter
Seen on: 3.1.2021

Content Note: (attempted) suicide, abortion

Plot:
After several rounds of IVF and no success, Alice (Lavinia Wilson) and Niklas (Elyas M’Barek) may have to face the fact that they probably will never have a child of their own. Their gynecologist (Maria Hofstätter) suggest that they take a holiday to take some of the pressure off. They decide to return to Sardinia – the place where they already spent a beautiful holiday earlier in their relationship. Everything would be okay, if not for the family next door to their bungalow. The parents Christl and Romed (Anna Unterberger, Lukas Spisser) are not only loud and seeking conversation, but they also have two children, a sullen teenager David (Fedor Teyml) and a boundary disrespecting girl Denise (Iva Höpperger). Instantly Alice and Niklas’ vacation turns into a field filled with landmines.

Was wir wollten is an excellent character drama that is a little heavy-handed at times and that goes for a plot twist at the end that I didn’t love. But with excellent performances and Kofler’s eye for tension, it is still worth a watch.

The film poster showing Alice (Lavinia Wilson) and Niklas (Elyas M'Barek) cuddled together and swimming in the sea.
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Coded Bias (2020)

Coded Bias
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Writer: Shalini Kantayya
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

“Plot”:
When MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started working with facial recognition software for a class, she didn’t expect to discover that the AI is absolutely biased. She dug into the matter, uncovering more and more problems. Meanwhile facial recognition is used more all the time, for surveillance and police work, regardless of the problems that still aren’t solved.

Coded Bias takes on a very timely topic, considering the racist and also sexist bias in apparently neutral software and algorithms and its implications for police work, amont other things. It’s interesting, well-argued and so well-structured that time flies by and yet you never feel overwhelmed by the topic. It was the perfect choice of final film for the this human world Film Festival.

The film poster showing a white mask in front of a black background. Around the eyes you can see that a Black person is wearing the mask.
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Glory to the Queen (2020)

Glory to the Queen
Director: Tatia Skhirtladze, Anna Khazaradze
Writer: Ina Ivanceanu, Tatia Skhirtladze
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are all world-class Georgian chess players. Their careers changed chess forever, and all four of them are still active teaching and playing chess. But even outside of that, they became feminist icons in Georgia and beyond.

Glory to the Queen tells the story of four very different women who happened to have the same knack for chess. Combining historical footage and current images, it tries to show what their achievements in chess meant to them, to the world, to women, especially the women of Georgia. Unfortunately it isn’t always as clear in its storytelling as it should have been.

The film poster showing drawings of the four women walking over a chess board.
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Meu Nome é Bagdá [My Name Is Baghdad] (2020)

Meu Nome é Bagdá
Director: Caru Alves de Souza
Writer: Caru Alves de Souza, Josefina Trotta
Cast: Grace Orsato, Karina Buhr, Marie Maymone, Helena Luz, Gilda Nomacce, Paulette Pink, Emílio Serrano, William Costa, João Paulo Bienermann, Nick Batista
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 12.12.2020

Content Note: sexualized violence, police brutality

Plot:
Baghdad (Grace Orsato) cruises the streets of Sao Paulo with her skateboarding crew. When she isn’t out and about she hangs with her single mother (Karina Buhr) and little sister (Marie Maymone), and her mothers friends. Baghdad is little interested in school or anything but improving her skating abilities. But her group of friends is mostly boys, except for her and Vanessa (Nick Batista). Until they meet another group of female skaters.

My Name Is Baghdad is a wonderful film that takes a sharp look at how a girl really can’t ever be one of the boys – but she can be lucky to be one of the girls. It’s sweet and touching and has great energy.

The film poster showing Bagdá (Grace Orsato) hugging her skateboard.
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