Tigermilch [Tiger Milk] (2017)

Tigermilch
Director: Ute Wieland
Writer: Ute Wieland
Based on: Stefanie de Velasco‘s novel
Cast: Flora Thiemann, Emily Kusche, David Ali Rashed, Narges Rashidi, Emil Belton, August Carter, Eva Löbau, Thorsten Merten
Seen on: 14.7.2021

Content Note: racism

Plot:
14-year-old Jameelah (Emily Kusche) and Nini (Flora Thiemann) are best friends, spending every available minute with each other. Now the summer holidays are looming and they both decided to lose their virginity. Jameelah is hoping for Lukas (August Carter) and Nini for Nico (Emil Belton). But another thing is looming over both of them: Jameelah and her mother Noura (Narges Rashidi) are immigrants from Iraq, desperately waiting for their German citizenship. When the two girls become witnesses to a crime, it throws them and their friendship off balance, though.

Tigermilch gets a lot of things right, but it also tries to take on a little too much and doesn’t do everything justice.

The film poster showing Jameelah (Emily Kusche) and Nini (Flora Thiemann) with their arms around each other. Nini is showing her middle finger.
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The Kindergarten Teacher (2018)

The Kindergarten Teacher
Director: Sara Colangelo
Writer: Sara Colangelo
Remake of: Haganenet
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Gael García Bernal, Ato Blankson-Wood, Libya Pugh, Michael Chernus, Carter Kojima, Jillian Panlilio, Anna Baryshnikov, Noah Rhodes, Rosa Salazar, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ajay Naidu
Seen on: 13.7.2021

Plot:
Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a kindergarten teacher. Her own kids are growing up fast, things with her husband (Michael Chernus) are comfortable, and Lisa takes a poetry classe with Simon (Gael García Bernal) to do something for herself. One day, she hears one of her kindergarteners, Jimmy (Parker Sevak), making up a poem – a poem that speaks of great talent. Lisa starts doing everything in her power to foster his talent.

The Kindergarten Teacher is a strong film with a fantastic Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I do have issues with the ending it gives us. Still, the way to that ending is really good.

The film poster showing Lisa (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Jimmy (Parker Sevak) sitting dressed up on plastic chairs on a ferry.
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Kapana (2020)

Kapana
Director: Philippe Talavera
Writer: Senga Brockerhoff, Mikiros Garoes
Cast: Adriano Visagie, Simon Hanga, Mikiros Garoes, Dawie Engelbrecht, Foreversun Haiduwah, Albertina Hainane, Felicity Celento, Elize de Wee, Jeremiah Jeremiah, Lukas Paulus
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
George (Adriano Visagie) and Simeon (Simon Hanga) meet in a bar. They flirt, they have sex. They don’t really expect more, especially not in Namibia where homosexuality is criminalized. But then they run into each other again when George comes to buy Kapana for his lunch break, and finds that Simeon is the one who is selling it. Simeon panics, he isn’t out to anyone in his life, but George finds a way and they start dating. Only, George has a secret, and this could threaten to end things between them before they ever really started.

Kapana is a very sweet film that tries to deal with a lot of stuff in its short runtime, but also keeps its emotional side in sight. I really liked it.

The film poster showing Simeon (Simon Hanga) selling Kapana, grilled meat.
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Shiva Baby (2020)

Shiva Baby
Director: Emma Seligman
Writer: Emma Seligman
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari, Fred Melamed, Polly Draper, Molly Gordon, Glynis Bell, Rita Gardner, Cilda Shaur, Jackie Hoffman, Dianna Agron
Seen on: 9.7.2021

Plot:
Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is a student, just trying to figure out what she wants to do after college. Meanwhile, she has a rather comfortabel arrangement with Max (Danny Deferrari), her sugar daddy. When Danielle’s parents Joel (Fred Melamed) and Debbie (Polly Draper) insist that she come to a shiva with them, Danielle things she is dealing with the worst when her parents keep trying to finde her a job and she runs into her ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) there. But then Max shows up as well – with his wife (Dianna Agron) and baby.

Shiva Baby is billed as a comedy, but the parts that stood out to me the most were the uncomfortable ones, and not the funny ones. In any case, for a debut feature by a very young director, it shows a lot of promise.

The film poster showing Danielle (Rachel Sennott)in a dress made of cream cheese and bagels, holding up a bagel.
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To the Bone (2017)

To the Bone
Director: Marti Noxon
Writer: Marti Noxon
Cast: Lily Collins, Alex Sharp, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Liana Liberato, Retta, Leslie Bibb, Lili Taylor
Seen on: 7.7.2021

Content Note: eating disorders, ableism

Plot:
Ellen (Lily Collins) has been struggling with anorexia for a while now, but she hasn’t made much headway. Only her sister Kelly (Liana Liberato) and her stepmother Susan (Carrie Preston) seem to have some hope left that Ellen might make it after all. When Susan drags her to yet another doctor, Ellen isn’t particularly interested. But Dr Beckham (Keanu Reeves) takes a more unusual approach and Ellen agrees to another rehab. One last attempt to get her weight up and her eating under control.

To the Bone gets some things very right, others not so much. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it doesn’t develop enough power to really work.

The film poster showing Ellen (Lily Collins) in profile. Her face is a photo, but the rest of her is a pencil sketch.
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Things Heard & Seen (2021)

Things Heard & Seen
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Writer: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Based on: Elizabeth Brundage’s novel All Things Cease to Appear
Cast: James Norton, Amanda Seyfried, Rhea Seehorn, Natalia Dyer, Ana Sophia Heger, Karen Allen, F. Murray Abraham, Alex Neustaedter, Jack Gore, James Urbaniak
Seen on: 6.7.2021

Content Note: domestic violence, abuse, eating disorder

Plot:
George (James Norton), Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and their daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger) move from New York City to a small town where George was offered a teaching position at a small art college. Catherine, an artist herself, is reluctant about the move, but feels that she owes it to George to try. And Franny will probably enjoy living in a house with a garden. But after their arrival, Catherine gets the feeling that something is going on at their house, and with George.

Things Heard & Seen is a haunted house story in a double sense: it’s literally haunted by spirits, and figuratively haunted by the violence that occurs in it. This works surprisingly well together, though I didn’t like the ending all that much.

The film poster showing Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) superimposed over a house in the distance. Much smaller next to her face is George (James Norton) carrying their daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger).
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American Mary (2012)

American Mary
Director: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Writer: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Cast: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, David Lovgren, Paula Lindberg, Clay St. Thomas, John Emmet Tracy, Twan Holliday, Nelson Wong, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Russ Foxx
Seen on: 4.7.2021

Content Note: rape, whoremisia

Plot:
Mary (Katharine Isabelle) is a promising medical student but she struggles to make her student loan payments. Hoping for some quick cash, she decides to apply for a job as a stripper in Billy’s (Antonio Cupo) club. Instead he asks her for an impromptu backroom surgery. At least the compensation is enough to keep Mary over water for a while. When Mary is contacted by Beatriss (Tristan Risk), one of Billy’s employees, for another kind of surgery, she isn’t willing to participate at first, but she can hardly afford to say no to the money Beatriss offers. Soon Mary is deeply involved in the body mod scene.

American Mary has been on my watchlist since about forever, and I finally got around to it, and I’m glad I did, even though I didn’t like everything about it.

The film poster showing Mary (Katharine Isabelle) surgery tools in hand, wearing a mask and an apron over a business outfit.

[SPOILERS]

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Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] (2021)

Ich bin dein Mensch
Director: Maria Schrader
Writer: Jan Schomburg, Maria Schrader
Based on: Emma Braslavsky‘s short story
Cast: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Falilou Seck, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriette Richter-Röhl
Seen on: 25.6.2021

Plot:
Alma (Maren Eggert) is a scientist specialized in cuneiform. To secure funding for her research, she has agreed to participate in another experiment, despite her doubts about it: she is one of several scientists testing humanoid robots by living with them and seeing whether they can become actual romantic partners for humans. Her robot is Tom (Dan Stevens). Specifically designed for her, he is supposed to stay with her for three weeks. But with Alma’s resistance against the idea, Tom has his work cut out for himself.

Ich bin dein Mensch is an entertaining film with fantastic performances that discusses a topic that may not be entirely new, but still gets a fresh and thought-provoking spin here.

The film poster showing Alma (Maren Eggert) and Tom (Dan Stevens) lying next to each other. Tom is repeated,  into infinity.
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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham
Sequel to: Wonder Woman
Based on: William Moulton Marston‘s comics character
Cast: Gal GadotChris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro PascalConnie NielsenRobin Wright, Lilly Aspell, Amr Waked, Kristoffer Polaha
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 21.6.2021

Content Note: rape (dubious consent at the very least), racism, white saviorism

Plot:
Diana (Gal Gadot) has been living among the humans for decades now, occasionally making an appearance as Wonder Woman, but trying to keep those anonymous. For her day job, she works as an anthropologist in the museum where she meets her new, rather eager colleague Barbara (Kristen Wiig), as well as TV personality slash investor Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). While Diana does take a liking to Barbara, she distrusts Lord immediately. And with good reason – as an artifact that supposedly grants wishes goes missing. But not after fulfilling Diana’s biggest wish and bringing back Steve (Chris Pine).

Given it’s late cinema start, the cat was out of the bag regarding Wonder Woman 1984 and its quality, or rather lack thereof. With my expectatons approriately lowered, the film was ultimately okay, apart from the things that were categorically not okay.

The film poster showing Diana (Gal Gadot) as Wonder Woman in a golden, winged suit with the glowing lasso of truth.
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Host (2020)

Host
Director: Rob Savage
Writer: Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, Jed Shepherd
Cast: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, Radina Drandova, Caroline Ward, Edward Linard, Seylan Baxter
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 19.6.2021
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Plot:
Haley (Haley Bishop) has asked her friends Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Caroline (Caroline Ward), Jemma (Jemma Moore), Radina (Radina Drandova) and Teddy (Edward Linard) to join her in a zoom seance led by Seylan (Seylan Baxter). Not all of them are taking it seriously, but then strange things start happening.

It was probably inevitable that the Corona pandemic would produce some kind of homebrewed zoom horror. But what definitely couldn’t be expected is that it is a freaking fantastic and absolutely terrifying homebrewed zoom horror. And yet, here Host is, everything you could hope for.

The film poster showing Haley's (Haley Bishop) eyes brimming with tears at the top and Emma (Emma Louise Webb) hiding under a bedsheet at the bottom.
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