Venom (2018)

Venom
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Based on: David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane‘s comics character
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson, Peggy Lu
Seen on: 5.10.2018
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Plot:
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a journalist and he loves to dig deep. When he gets the chance to interview Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who runs a huge tech company, he can’t resist asking some hard questions. But that choice leads for his entire life to explode around him – he loses his job and his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). A year later, he is still reeling – and still obsessed with Drake. So when he gets a chance to take another dig at him, he does – and that brings him in touch with one of Drake’s projects: Venom, an alien who hitches a ride in his body.

Venom was a lot more fun than I expected. It’s not necessarily a good film, but it is definitely entertaining and very enjoyable.

The film poster showing Tom Hardy's face, half of which is an Alien with a huge eye and a mouth with sharp teeth.
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Gatta Cenerentola [Cinderella the Cat] (2017)

Gatta Cenerentola
Director: Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Alessandro Rak, Dario Sansone
Writer: Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Alessandro Rak, Dario Sansone, Marianna Garofalo, Corrado Morra, Italo Scialdone
Based on: Cenerentola, Giambattista Basile‘s take on Cinderella
Cast: Mariacarla Norall, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Calzone, Alessandro Gassmann
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.9.2018
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Content Note: sexualized violence, sexism, homomisia and racism

Plot:
Mia’s father was an engineer and he designed and built the Megaride, a huge ship with the most novel of technologies that lies in the port of Naples. But he was killed, leaving Mia (Mariacarla Norall) to grow up with her evil stepmother (Maria Pia Calzone) and her daughters. Growing up mostly ignored by everybody but her father’s bodyguard (Alessandro Gassmann), now that Mia is a teenager, her stepmother’s lover and the boss of Megaride Salvatore (Massimiliano Gallo) starts to take more of an interest in her.

Cinderella the Cat is an animation film for adults. And it appears that to make it perfectly clear that this isn’t a film for children, despite being animated and based on a fairy tale, the filmmakers decided that it should definitely have sexualized violence, sexism, homomisia and racism. No, thank you.

The film poster showing a young woman in a ball gown with a gun in her hands and the much bigger image of a man in sunglasses with a cigarette in his mouth.
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Gräns [Border] (2018)

Gräns
Director: Ali Abbasi
Writer: Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, John Ajvide Lindqvist
Based on: Lindqvist‘s short story
Cast: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29.9.2018
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Plot:
Tina (Eva Melander) works for customs at the airport, a singular skill making her incredibly suited for the job: she can smell when somebody is trying to hide something. But when Vore (Eero Milonoff) passes through, his smell confuses her a lot. She feels drawn to him in a way she really can’t explain and that makes her question her entire life, especially her life with her boyfriend Roland (Jörgen Thorsson). As Tina gets roped in to help with a police investigation, she also has to figure out what it is about Vore that has thrown her for a loop.

For a long time, Gräns was interesting and engaging, but when it starts peeling back the layers of the mystery, it completely falls apart, leaving us with a gender(ed) mess that had me rolling my eyes.

The film poster showing two people swimming in a lake.

[SPOILERS]

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The Rider (2017)

The Rider
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Brady Jandreau, Mooney, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Leroy Pourier, Cat Clifford
Seen on: 29.9.2018
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Plot:
Brady (Brady Jandreau) is a rodeo rider who has recently had a fall that resulted in a severe head injury. Now he’s barred from riding, let alone participating in rodeos. But if he can’t do that, he really doesn’t know who he is at all. Drifting between family and friends and the odd job he can do, Brady has to try and figure out if rodeo is worth the risk now that it’s even higher.

I very much loved Zhao’s first film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, so I knew I had to see The Rider, even though it meant adding an extra film to my already full /slash Film Festival schedule. And that little trip away from the festival was an excellent choice on my part as The Rider is a beautiful, sad and touching film that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world.

The film poster showing a young man in a cowboy hat in profile, the horse he is sitting on just visible in the frame.
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Boar (2017)

Boar
Director: Chris Sun
Writer: Kirsty Dallas, Chris Sun
Cast: Nathan Jones, Bill Moseley, John Jarratt, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Hugh Sheridan, Chris Haywood, Ernie Dingo, Simone Buchanan, Christie-Lee Britten, Madeleine Kennedy, Chris Bridgewater, Melissa Tkautz
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29.9.2018
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Plot:
A small town in Australia has been having some trouble with wild animals. Fences torn down, livestock going missing. But they don’t know that they don’t actually have problems with animals, plural, but instead one big animal, one fucker of a boar. As the boar starts attacking anybody who dares come into its outback, people start dying in big numbers.

Boar is everything you could want in a creature feature: it has a good sense of humor, nice characters and a good creature design. I mostly enjoyed it, even though there were some pacing issues in the second half.

The film poster showing a boar head with an open mouth and massive fangs in profile.
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Nightmare Cinema (2018)

Nightmare Cinema
Framing: The Projectionist
Director: Mick Garris
Writer: Mick Garris
Cast: Mickey Rourke
Segment 1: The Thing in the Woods
Director: Alejandro Brugués
Writer: Alejandro Brugués
Cast: Sarah Elizabeth Withers, Eric Nelsen, Chris Warren, Kevin Fonteyne
Segment 2: Mirare
Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Richard Christian Matheson
Cast: Zarah Mahler, Mark Grossman, Richard Chamberlain
Segment 3: Mashit
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Writer: Sandra Becerril
Cast: Maurice Benard
Segment 4: This Way to Egress
Director: David Slade
Writer: David Slade, Lawrence C. Connolly
Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Adam Godley
Segment 5: Dead
Director: Mick Garris
Writer: Mick Garris
Cast: Faly Rakotohavana, Annabeth Gish, Daryl C. Brown, Orson Chaplin
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2018
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Nightmare Cinema is a nice, but not outstanding anthology. I enjoyed watching it, but most of the segments are a little too straightforward to really made me love them. That being said, if you’re looking for something along classic lines, Nightmare Cinema will satisfy your itch.

The film poster showing a demon with a film strip in its claws.

Read more about each of the segments after the jump.

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O Animal Cordial [Friendly Beast] (2017)

O Animal Cordial
Director: Gabriela Amaral
Writer: Gabriela Amaral, Luana Demange
Cast: Murilo Benício, Luciana Paes, Irandhir Santos, Camila Morgado, Jiddu Pinheiro, Ernani Moraes, Humberto Carrão, Ariclenes Barroso, Eduardo Gomes, Thais Aguiar, Diego Avelino
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2018
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Plot:
Things are slow in Inácio’s (Murilo Benício) restaurant, meaning that there is more room for his temper to flare up – as it does often, especially with his cook Djair (Irandhir Santos), but also with customer. The waitress Sara (Luciana Paes) tries to do right by them all, but especially Inácio whom she feels drawn to. But everybody’s night takes a turn for the worse when armed robbers storm the restaurant and rack up the tension.

O Animal Cordial started off pretty nicely, but then didn’t manage to retain the tension necessary to keep me invested in the film and the characters.

The film poster showing a man looking in a broken mirror.
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The Field Guide to Evil (2018)

The Field Guide to Evil
Segment 1: Die Trud [The Sinful Women of Höllfall]
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writer: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Cast: Marlene Hauser, Birgit Minichmayr, Karin Pauer, Luzia Oppermann
Segment 2: Al Karisi [Haunted by Al Karisi]
Director: Can Evrenol
Writer: Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol
Cast: Naz Sayiner, Sureyya Kucuk
Segment 3: Kindler i dziewica [The Kindler and the Virgin]
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Writer: Robert Bolesto
Cast: Andrzej Konopka, Kordian Kadziela
Segment 4: The Melon Heads
Director: Calvin Reeder
Writer: Calvin Reeder
Cast: Sarah Navratil, Jilon VanOver, Claude Duhamel, Paul Ford, Kannon Hicks
Segment 5: What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan?
Director: Yannis Veslemes
Writer: Yannis Veslemes
Cast: Vangelis Mourikis, Antonis Tsiotsiopoulos, Vasilis Kamitsis, Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Nikos Dallas
Segment 6: Palace of Horrors
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Writer: Ashim Ahluwalia
Cast: Niharika Singh
Segment 7: A Nocturnal Breath
Director: Katrin Gebbe
Writer: Katrin Gebbe, Silvia Wolkan
Cast: Thomas Schubert, Lili Epply
Segment 8: The Cobblers’ Lot
Director: Peter Strickland
Writer: Peter Strickland
Cast: Fatma Mohamed, Károly Hajduk, László Konter, Péter Jankovics
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2018
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The Field Guide to Evil collects eight different segments from eight different countries that all build from a local legend. As usual with anthology films, Field Guide to Evil is a mixed bag of beans. There are some very good segments, but also some that didn’t really work for me. But I would say, it’s worth seeing because the good parts are really very good.

The film poster showing a young woman lying on her back, her eyes rolled back, her mouth open with a man's hand at her chin.

[More about each of the segments after the jump.]

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Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

The film poster showing a group of people in business attire leaning on the word "office".
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St. Agatha (2018)

St. Agatha
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Andy Demetrio, Shaun Fletcher, Sara Sometti Michaels, Clint Sears
Cast: Sabrina Kern, Carolyn Hennesy, Courtney Halverson, Seth Michaels, Trin Miller, Lindsay Seim, Shaun Fletcher
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
It’s the 50s in Georgia and Agatha (Sabrina Kern) is pregnant but unmarried. There’s only one place she can go: the convent that has been taking in women like her for many, many years now. What seems like the perfect place to have her child in peace and then be able to return to her old life as if nothing has happened, quickly turns sour as Agatha starts to find out more about the convent and what happens inside its walls.

St. Agatha didn’t work for me at all. On the one hand, it handles a very sensitive topic very badly and on the other hand it doesn’t make much sense. Additionaly, it’s so full of clichés, it made the entire thing even more annoying.

The film poster showing two nuns with covered faces standing over a girl cowering on the floor.

[SPOILERS]

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