Love Hard (2021)

Love Hard
Director: Hernan Jimenez
Writer: Daniel Mackey, Rebecca Ewing
Cast: Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O. Yang, Darren Barnet, James Saito,Rebecca Staab, Harry Shum Jr., Althea Kaye, Mikaela Hoover
Seen on: 13.5.2022

Content Note: ableism/lookism/fatmisia – don’t exactly know how to classify it

Plot:
Natalie (Nina Dobrev) writes a column about her dating experiences. Usually it’s about how aweful they are. But when she starts chatting with Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) online, it seems that she has finally been lucky. Except for the fact that he lives on the other side of the country. As Christmas comes nearer and their relationship deepens, Natalie decides to throw caution overboard. She simply books a flight to surprise Josh. But when she gets to Josh’s family home, she discovers that Josh has catfished her: he used photos of Tag (Darren Barnet) to lure her in. She is mortified, but the two strike a deal: she will pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays, and he will help her meet the actual Tag.

I don’t usually watch Christmas movies in May, but I honestly overlooked that this was a Christmas movie in the first place. Anyhow, maybe it was the time mismatch, but Love Hard didn’t quite give me the fuzzy feelings I was looking for.

The film poster showing Natalie (Nina Dobrev) holding a cell phone. Below her we can see two drawn cell phones, one showing Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) smiling awkwardly, and the other Tag (Darren Barnet) looking ruggedly handsome.
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Barbaque [Some Like It Rare] (2021)

Barbaque
Director: Fabrice Eboué
Writer: Fabrice Eboué, Vincent Solignac
Cast: Fabrice Eboué, Marina Foïs, Jean-François Cayrey, Lisa Do Couto Texeira, Virginie Hocq, Victor Meutelet, Stéphane Soo Mongo
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

Content Note: fatmisia

Plot:
Vincent (Fabrice Eboué) and Sophie (Marina Foïs) run a small butcher shop together, and things have been slow. It seems inevitable that they will have to close soon and bow to the pressures of bigger stores. Their marriage seems equally doomed to fail. And then their store is attacked by vegan activists to boot. When they just happen to pass one of the activists as he cycles along the road, Vincent loses it – and kills him. Next thing you know, the two are selling the vegan’s meat. And this might just be the thing to safe the store and the marriage, both. If only it wasn’t so hard to get.

Some Like It Rare is a funny film, although not every joke works equally and sometimes, it kicks down a little. Overall, I did have fun with it, though.

The film poster showing Vincent (Fabrice Eboué) and Sophie (Marina Foïs) posed over a fat body like hunters with their trophy. Vincent is holding a gun.
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Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writer: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tallie Medel, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr.
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2022

Plot:
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) run a laundromat together, a business that has made it possible for them to raise their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) but that hasn’t been going that well and that is currently being audited by IRS. A fact that Evelyn’s father Gong Gong (James Hong) isn’t allowed to know. But Evelyn and Waymond have to take him with them to the appointment with their auditor Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis). On the way there, Waymond starts behaving strangely though, giving weird instructions to Evelyn and finally telling her that he is from a parallel universe and the multiverse needs Evelyn to save it. Evelyn would rather not, but there is no escaping Jobu Tupaki.

I had extremely high expectations for this film. Not just because everything about it looked great, but also because I loved Swiss Army Man so very much. That, of course, also made me worried, because we all know how hard sophomore works have it when the first one is simply magical. In any case, I need not have worried. Everything Everywhere All at Once is an absolute delight.

The very colorful filmposter showing drawings of characters, various symbols and a whole lot of googly eyes arranged in a psychedelic circle.
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The Lost City (2022)

The Lost City
Director: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee
Writer: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee, Aaron Nee
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Brad Pitt, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison, Bowen Yang
Seen on: 24.4.2022

Plot:
Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a very successful romance novelist whose heroine Angela is an archaeologist – like Loretta herself. But since the death of her husband, Loretta has been unable to write. And so her latest novel ends in an awkward place for Angela and her love interest Dash. The planned book tour is off to a bad start then, especially since Loretta’s agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) invited cover model Alan (Channing Tatum) along. At least on a visual level, he is the embodiment of Dash. But Loretta absolutely loathes him. A feeling that is not reciprocated. And when Loretta gets taken by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) for her archaeological expertise, it is Alan who sets out to rescue her, however inept his efforts are.

The Lost City is excellent fun, a great fusion of romance and adventure that pays hommage to both genres but not without some humorous irreverence. I had a great time with it.

The film psoter showing the main characters of the film in a collage in front of a volcano and jungle and an explosion.
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Red Rocket (2021)

Red Rocket
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss, Suzanna Son, Ethan Darbone, Judy Hill, Brittney Rodriguez, Shih-Ching Tsou
Seen on: 19.4.2022

Content Note: grooming

Plot:
Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) used to be a rather successful porn actor, but the tides have turned for him recently. Not knowing where to turn, he ends up in his Texas hometown, on the steps of the house where his (ex-)wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) and her mother Lil (Brenda Deiss) live. Despite knowing better, the two allow him to stay, at least for a while. Mikey immediately tries to find his footing again, but only really comes to life when he meets 17-year-old Raylee, called Strawberry (Suzanna Son). In her, Mikey sees the possibility of a new start.

Red Rocket may not have won me over quite as much as Baker’s earlier films, but it is astonishing in how it manages to show all of Mikey’s despicable qualities and not excusing his actions, but still keeping him kind of likeable. It’s a difficult balance to pull off, and Red Rocket does so exquisitely.

The film poster showing a naked Mikey (Simon Rex), his hands covering his dick, stuck in a giant pink donut around his midriff.
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Shortbus (2006)

Shortbus
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: John Cameron Mitchell (together with the cast)
Cast: Paul Dawson, Sook-Yin Lee, PJ DeBoy, Lindsay Beamish, Jay Brannan, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Mx Justin Vivian Bond
Seen on: 18.4.2022

Content Note: stalking

Plot:
Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee) is a couples’ counselor. She herself is happily married to Rob (Raphael Barker). But in her first session with James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ DeBoy), she has a bit of a breakdown and finally confides in them that she has never had an orgasm herself. James and Jamie, who actually wanted help with the growing distance between them, in part due to James’ depression, and were thinking of opening up their relationship, invite Sofia to Shortbus, a club run by Justin Bond (Mx Justin Vivian Bond) filled with queerness, art and sex. That invitatione sets all of them on new paths.

Shortbus is a movie made for queer people, extending a kind of safe space for the audience where everybody is welcome and free to explore. A part of that is also sexual exploration, but that’s only one part of a grander vision of queer community.

The film poster showing about 20 (clothed) people lying together in a pile.
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Afterlife of the Party (2021)

Afterlife of the Party
Director: Stephen Herek
Writer: Carrie Freedle
Cast: Victoria Justice, Midori Francis, Robyn Scott, Adam Garcia, Timothy Renouf, Gloria Garcia
Seen on: 24.3.2022

Plot:
Cassie (Victoria Justice) loves to party and to not take things seriously. This puts her at odds with her best friend since forever, Lisa (Midori Francis) who maybe takes things too seriously. On the occasion of Cassie’s birthday, they go out together with some of Cassie’s friends. When Lisa wants to head home, Cassie is upset and the two of them fight. The thing is: this is Cassie’s last night on Earth. Next thing she knows, it’s a year later and Cassie has to fix things with the most important people in her life – Lisa, her father (Adam Garcia) and her mother (Gloria Garcia) or she will have to spend her afterlife in hell instead of heaven. Fixing things is easier said than done, though.

Afterlife of the Party is okay. It’s not exactly great cinema but it is fun enough. I was a little disappointed, though, how the film interpreted “fixing things” with Lisa.

The film poster showing Cassie (Victoria Justice) in a sparkling dress raising a martini glass. Behind her are neon wings and a halo.
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Dramarama (2020)

Dramarama
Director: Jonathan Wysocki
Writer: Jonathan Wysocki
Cast: Nick Pugliese, Anna Grace Barlow, Nico Greetham, Megan Suri, Danielle Kay, Zak Henri
Part of: Transition International Queer Minorities Film Festival
Seen on: 30.1.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
It’s 1994. Gene (Nick Pugliese) has been friends with Ally (Danielle Kay), Oscar (Nico Greetham), Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) and Claire (Megan Suri) for pretty much all of high school, brought together by their love for all things dramatic, though all in different ways. Now high school is over and everyone but Gene is preparing to leave town for college. Rose has invited them all for a Victorian Murder Mystery / farewell party and Gene is dreading it a little bit as he hopes to finally come out to the group, and is very doubtful that his Christian friends will accept it easily. But when the final clue to the mystery goes missing and pizza is delivered by older, and way cooler high school drop-out JD (Zak Henri) who stirs up some resentments within the group, things become a little more dramatic than anticipated.

Dramarama is a funny and extremely sweet film that doesn’t work like your usual coming out film – and I loved that. As I loved the entire film.

The film poster showing Oscar (Nico Greetham) dressed up as Sherlock Holmes, Claire (Megan Suri) dressed up as Alice, Rose (Anna Grace Barlow) dressed up as Miss Havisham, Ally (Danielle Kay) dressed up as Mina Harker and Gene (Nick Pugliese) dressed up as Doctor Jekyll.
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The Royal Treatment (2022)

The Royal Treatment
Director: Rick Jacobson
Writer: Holly Hester
Cast: Laura Marano, Mena Massoud, Cameron Rhodes, Amanda Billing, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Grace Bentley-Tsibuah, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Sonia Gray
Seen on: 26.1.2022

Plot:
Izzy (Laura Marano) runs a salon in New York together with her mother (Amanda Billing) and her grandmother (Elizabeth Hawthorne). She practically knows everyone in the neighborhood and is happiest when she can help, although money is always tight. One day, Izzy gets called to cut Prince Thomas’ (Mena Massoud) hair who is in New York for his engagement party. It was a mix-up regarding hair salons, but Izzy will not let the chance pass. When she meets Thomas, things are quite electric. And just maybe they can offer each other what they need and have been lacking so far.

The Royal Treatment is one hell of a confused film that doesn’t really satisfy the romantic itch for me. It just doesn’t come together.

The film psoter showing Prince Thomas (Mena Massoud) and Izzy (Laura Marano) smiling, each in front of their home backgrounds: a castle for Thomas, New York for Izzy.
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Red Notice (2021)

Red Notice
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos, Ivan Mbakop
Seen on: 4.1.2022

Plot:
John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is an FBI profiler, working together with Interpol, specifically Inspector Das (Rity Arya) to finally catch renowned art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds). Operating off a tip from the mysterious Bishop (Gal Gadot), herself an art thief, things go sideways for Hartley after he catches Booth: it looks like The Bishop set him up, too – and Hartley ends up not only in the same prison as Booth, but also in the same cell. Despite their antagonistic relationship, Hartley and Booth agree to work together to get The Bishop. But that’s easier said than done.

Red Notice is a heist movie with an Indiana Jones touch and a nice cast – so I really don’t understand why it is so very lukewarm.

The film poster showing Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), The Bishop (Gal Gadot) and Booth (Ryan Reynolds) in evening wear.
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