The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Content Note: sexism, possible transmisogyny, racism

Plot:
Carly (Cameron Diaz) is usually all business and has no time for love. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) somehow made it into her life anyway – and she’s ready for him to meet her father Frank (Don Johnson). But when he cancels the meeting on short notice because of plumbing problems at his house, Carly decides to surprise him there – only to find Kate (Leslie Mann), Mark’s wife. When Kate realizes what’s happening, she finds that she only has Carly to talk to and to understand what it’s like to get cheated on by Mark. They start plotting their revenge together, especially when they find out that Mark has been seeing Amber (Kate Upton), too.

The Other Woman is a nice take where the cheating dude gets his due and the women don’t get the blame for once. But they could have made more of that premise, I thought, both with regard to the basically-feminist message and the comedy.

The film poster showing Carly (Cameron Diaz) standing stiffly as Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) cling to her.
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See You Yesterday (2019)

See You Yesterday
Director: Stefon Bristol
Writer: Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol
Cast: Eden Duncan-Smith, Dante Crichlow, Astro, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Johnathan Nieves, Michael J. Fox
Seen on: 9.5.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, police violence

Plot:
CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) are working hard for a science fair where they hope to present nothing less than time travel to secure a scholarship for the universities of their choice. But when yet another police shooting hits close to home, CJ is less interested in scholarship than in changing the past and preventing tragedy. But changes can have unforeseen outcomes and getting things right really isn’t easy.

See You Yesterday combines the fun antics of time travel movies (including a Michael J. Fox cameo) with the seriousness of racism, police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a combination that could have gone very wrong – and doesn’t at all. The ending was a bit difficult for me, but I absolutely loved the rest.

The film poster showing CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) with goggles and gadgets, running in front of a giant clock.
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The Half of It (2020)

The Half of It
Director: Alice Wu
Writer: Alice Wu
Cast: Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, Daniel Diemer, Enrique Murciano, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin, Collin Chou, Wolfgang Novogratz
Seen on: 5.5.2020

Content Note: reference to/critical treatment of homomisia and racism

Plot:
Ellie (Leah Lewis) is an excellent student who has a profitable side business in writing papers for her classmates. When Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches her to ask whether she would write a love letter to Aster (Alexxis Lemire) for him, Ellie declines at first. Not only because she finds it unethical per se, but also because she is in love with Aster herself. But she finally agrees anyway because she and her father (Collin Chou) really need the money. As Paul and Ellie work on the letter together, they develop a real friendship – and Ellie falls ever more for Aster.

The Half of It is a supercute film that sagely mentions at the beginning that it doesn’t tell a love story. Because all signs point to romance here and the film just doesn’t deliver that. That is definitely disappointing, but at least we have been warned. While I did hope for more romance, I enjoyed the film I got.

The film poster showing Paul (Daniel Diemer) and Ellie (Leah Lewis) both looking at Aster (Alexxis Lemire) who is out of focus.
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Re-Watch: Big Business (1988)

Big Business
Director: Jim Abrahams
Writer: Dori Pierson, Marc Reid Rubel
Cast: Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Fred Ward, Edward Herrmann, Michele Placido, Daniel Gerroll, Barry Primus, Michael Gross
Seen on: 24.4.2020

Plot:
One night in a small town hospital in Jupiter Hollow, two very different pairs of parents each have a set of twin girls. In the confusion, two babies get switched. 40 years later, Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Shelton (Bette Midler) have taken over the family company in New York that still owns a company in Jupiter Hollow. But they want to sell it. Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Ratcliff (Bette Midler) who grew up in a poor family in Jupiter Hollow and know that the entire town depends on the local company not being sold, decide to go to New York to confront the Sheltons and stop the sale. But given the circumstances around their birth, things are bound to get very confusing.

Big Business is one of my total-flashback-to-my-childhood movies. I think we had a VHS tape with Big Business and Ruthless People (for the Bette Midler double whammy) and it feels like we watched it once a week. We probably didn’t because TV time was very limited, but I’m sure I’ve seen the film a lot, although I haven’t seen it in 20 years, if not more. I definitely never saw it as an adult or in English. So, even though everything was very familiar about the film, it was also a very different experience. I might not love it as much anymore as I did as a child, but it is still very entertaining.

The film poster showing Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Shelton (Bette Midler) on one side and Rose (Lily Tomlin) and Sadie Ratcliff (Bette Midler) on the other side.
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Duck Butter (2018)

Duck Butter
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Miguel Arteta, Alia Shawkat
Cast: Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Mae Whitman, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjiani, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Lindsay Burdge
Seen on: 20.4.2020

Plot:
Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) meet by chance at a night club and have a great evening/night together. As they talk, they come up with the idea to fast-forward through their relationship to see if it is meant to be by spending 24hours together without sleep – but with sex every hour. Naima hesitates at first and says she can’t because she has to work as an actress, but when she gets fired, she returns to Sergio and the two actually do give it a try.

Duck Butter is very much an American independent movie – how much that is or isn’t up you alley is probably a matter of taste. I did enjoy it for the most part, but the ending rubbed me the wrong way.

The film poster showing a drawing of almost just the eyes of Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa).

[SPOILERS]

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The Breaker Upperers (2018)

The Breaker Upperers
Director: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Writer: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Cast: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, Celia Pacquola, Ana Scotney, Rima Te Wiata, Carl Bland, Brett O’Gorman, Cohen Holloway, Jemaine Clement
Seen on: 15.4.2020

Plot:
Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) are best friends who have a booming business together where they handle the break-ups for people who can’t go through with the break-up themselves, for whatever reason. And they make sure that the break-ups stick – whether that means pretending to cheat with their clients, or pretending that they are dead or missing doesn’t really matter to them. But when Mel starts to second-guess the ethics of their job, not only does their business suffer, but also their friendship.

The Breaker Upperers is a fun film that continuously approaches the line into cringe territory but never really crosses it (for me at least). Still, there is a relentlessness to their humor that just isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. I did enjoy the film, but I didn’t love it.

The film poster showing Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) sittingat a desk with champagne and cash. Behind them Jordan (James Rolleston) and Sepa (Ana Scotney) look in through a window.
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Freaky Friday (2003)

Freaky Friday
Director: Mark Waters
Writer: Heather Hach, Leslie Dixon
Based on: Mary Rodgers‘s book
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini, Haley Hudson, Rosalind Chao, Lucille Soong, Willie Garson, Julie Gonzalo
Seen on: 13.4.2020
[Here’s my review of the 1976 version.]

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and her mother Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) don’t get along very well. While Tess is preparing for her wedding to Ryan (Mark Harmon), juggling a demanding career and just published a book, Anna is less goal-oriented. In fact, her interests only lie in her band – together with her friends Peg (Haley Hudson) and Maddie (Christina Vidal) – and Jake (Chad Michael Murray), the boy she’s been crushing on from afar. When things come to a head at a family dinner in a Chinese restaurant, the restaurant owner (Lucille Soong) decides to take matters into her own hands and hands Anna and Tess two fortune cookies that the crack open. When they wake up the next morning, they have swapped bodies – and both have to learn that things aren’t easy for either of them.

Before I watched the film, I could have sworn that I had seen it, even if that was many years ago. But now that I did watch it, I’m pretty sure that all I saw of it were gifsets. In any case, Freaky Friday is fun enough, despite the racist twist on the “curse”, and there are definitely some interesting points to make when you compare it to the version that came almost 30 years before.

The film poster showing Anna (Lindsay Lohan) dressed all business-like and Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) in a rock get-up, both with shocked facial expressions.
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To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Sofia Alvarez, J. Mills Goodloe,
Based on: Jenny Han’s novel
Sequel to: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Ross Butler, Emilija Baranac, Holland Taylor, Sarayu Blue
Seen on: 13.4.2020

Plot:
Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) are finally dating for real and things are good. That’s when Lara Jean receives a reply to one of her love letters that were sent out, a reply from John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). The letter stirs up Lara Jean’s old feelings. And when John Ambrose shows up by chance as a volunteer at the senior home Lara Jean volunteers at, while things with Peter start to get more complicated, Lara Jean finds herself in an awkward position.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You hits all the right cuteness buttons that I’ve come to expect from both the books and the first film. If you’re looking from something nice and sweet and light, this is the way to go.

The film poster showing Lara Jean (Lana Condor) standing in front of a huge envelope with Peter (Noah Centineo) and John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) sticking out of it.
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Les goûts et les couleurs [To Each, Her Own] (2018)

Les goûts et les couleurs
Director: Myriam Aziza
Writer: Myriam Aziza, Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé
Cast: Sarah Stern, Jean-Christophe Folly, Julia Piaton, Catherine Jacob, Richard Berry, Arié Elmaleh, Clémentine Poidatz, Stéphane Deba, David Houri, Lionel Lingelser
Seen on: 11.4.2020

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
Simone (Sarah Stern) and Claire (Julia Piaton) have been dating for three years now. They are very serious, nevertheless Simone has trouble coming out to her religious Jewish parents (Catherine Jacob, Richard Berry), especially since her brother Matt (David Houri) already came out as gay and was never allowed to bring his husband Nathaniel (Lionel Lingelser) to family events. But with her other brother David’s (Arié Elmaleh) wedding coming up, Simone really wants to officially bring Claire. As Simone struggles to figure things out, she finds herself drawn to Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly) with whom she shares a passion for food. That Wali is a man doesn’t make things any easier either.

To Each, Her Own is a story with a bi protagonist filmed by a woman, so I figured I’d give the whole love triangle thing a pass (not a fan of the trope) and give the film a shot. And it was alright, but didn’t blow me away, especially because of the bimisia that permeates the entire film.

The film poster showing Simone (Sarah Stern), Wali (Jean-Christophe Folly) and Claire (Julia Piaton).

[SPOILERS]

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Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound
Director: Dee Rees
Writer: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees
Based on: Hillary Jordan‘s novel
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks
Seen on: 05.04.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, racial violence

Plot:
Henry McAllan (Jason Mitchell) buys a farm in the last corner of Mississippi without discussing it with his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) who is not thrilled. Nevertheless, they, their children and Henry’s cranky, racist father (Jonathan Banks) make their way there. The farm is being worked on by Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his family who have been tending the land without much hope of ownership for generations. The McAllans and the Jacksons not only have the land in common, though under completely different conditions, but als World War II. Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) is a soldier as is Hap’s son Roncel (Jason Mitchell). But the racial divide looms large in more than one way.

Mudbound is an excellent film that carries quite a punch and managed to not only not make me hate voice-over, but actually appreciate it. It’s definitely not easy to watch, but it is even more definitely really good.

The film poster with all of the main characters artfully arranged.
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