Sonne [Sun] (2022)

Director: Kurdwin Ayub
Writer: Kurdwin Ayub
Cast: Melina Benli, Law Wallner, Maya Wopienka, Thomas Momcinovic, Marlene Hauser, Lia Wilfing, Margarete Tiesel
Seen on: 13.9.2022

Yesmin (Melina Benli), Bella (Law Wallner) and Nati (Maya Wopienka) are best friends. On a bored afternoon, they shoot a music video to Losing My Religion using the hijabs of Yesmin’s mother. The video goes a bit viral, and the three girls rise to celebrity in the local muslim community, asked to perform at various events. But Yesmin – the only one of them who actually wears a hijab – grows increasingly uncomfortable with the situation and her friends’ behavior.

Sonne is Ayub’s fictional debut and proves her great talent. The film is creative and funny, but also serious and insightful about the situation of diasporic Kurds, especially young women. I was really impressed by it.

The film poster showing Yesmin (Melina Benli), Bella (Law Wallner) and Nati (Maya Wopienka) singing.
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How Do You Know (2010)

How Do You Know
Director: James L. Brooks
Writer: James L. Brooks
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Tony Shalhoub, Dean Norris, Teyonah Parris
Seen on: 6.9.2022

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a softball player who lives for the game. But when she is cut from the team, she has to reconfigure her entire life. That also includes deciding about her relationship with Matty (Owen Wilson), a baseball player with certain commitment issues. Her teammate (Teyonah Parris) tries to set her up with George (Paul Rudd), but George is going through a rather tumultuous life phase himself, to put it mildly: under investigation for fraud, he lost his job at his father’s (Jack Nicholson) company. Despite everything, Lisa and George meet for a friendly dinner, and actually have a connection. Now they both have to figure out where their life should be heading.

How Do You Know is okay overall, but it only gets really good at certain points. It’s watchable, but it is not particularly exciting or memorable.

The movie poster showing separate headshots of Lisa (Reese Witherspoon), Matty (Owen Wilson), George (Paul Rudd) and Charles (Jack NIcholson).
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I and the Stupid Boy (2021)

I and the Stupid Boy
Director: Kaouther Ben Hania
Writer: Kaouther Ben Hania
Cast: Oulaya Amamra, Sandor Funtek
Seen on: 4.9.2022

Content Note: intimate partner violence

Nora (Oulaya Amamra) is preparing for a date, but as she heads out, she meets her ex-boyfriend Kevin (Sandor Funtek). What starts as innocous small talk quickly becomes a power struggle between the two.

I and the Stupid Boy is a sharp look at gender dynamics in relationships, and how men can quickly exert power about women in them. But while Nora’s desperation and helplessness are palpable, the film doesn’t stop there, but manages to turn things around, giving her her power back in a very satisfying way. It’s a really lovely short film that manages to say a lot in its short runtime.

Nora (Oulaya Amamra) walking in a dark, empty warehouse.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022)

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Director: Sophie Hyde
Writer: Katy Brand
Cast: Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack, Isabella Laughland
Seen on: 2.9.2022

Nancy (Emma Thompson) is a retired teacher and a widow who has never had an orgasm in her life. Generally, she feels incredibly inexperienced sexually. But she is about to change that. She has hired sex worker Leo (Daryl McCormack) to expand her sexual horizons. Even with that decision, though, this is easier said than done.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is a rather revolutionary character study that centers the sexuality of older women and the emotional entanglements that come with sex. It’s beautiful, insightful and touching and blows the boundaries of what we usually get to see on screen wide open.

The film poster showing Leo (Daryl McCormack) and Nancy (Emma Thompson) sitting half-undressed on the floor at the foot of the bed.
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Fucking with Nobody (2020)

Fucking with Nobody
Director: Hannaleena Hauru
Writer: Hannaleena Hauru, Lasse Poser
Cast: Hannaleena Hauru, Lasse Poser, Tanja Heinänen, Samuel Kujala, Anna Kuusamo, Jussi Lankoski, Sara Melleri, Hanna-Kaisa Tianen, Pietu Wikström
Seen on: 30.8.2022

Content note: sexual assault

Hannaleena (Hannaleena Hauru) is a filmmaker who just lost a project to her male colleague Kristian (Jussi Lankoski). Deeply upset by that loss, and pissed off at the cheesy social media presence Kristian cultivates with his girlfriend Shirley (Anna Kuusamo), who just happens to be the star of the stolen project, Hannaleena bets her friends that she can take an equally romantic and sappy instagram picture with her friend Ekku (Samuel Kujala) in minutes. What starts as a joke becomes a big parody project when the image of Hannaleena and Ekku takes off on insta and Hannaleena gets comments congratulating her on the new relationship. Pretty soon all of Hannaleena’s friends, including camera man Lasse (Lasse Poser) and her sister Viima (Sara Melleri) are working on creating the perfect couple online. But the project goes into very unforeseen directions.

Fucking with Nobody is a delightful piece of autofiction/metafiction, a feminist movie that wonders about the difficulties of making a feminist film, and it is funny to boot. I absolutely loved it.

The film poster showing Hannaleena and Ekku wearing identical make-up, pulling each other's hair and grabbing at each other.
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Burn Burn Burn (2015)

Burn Burn Burn
Director: Chanya Button
Writer: Charlie Covell
Cast: Chloe Pirrie, Laura Carmichael, Joe Dempsie, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, Jack Farthing, Alison Steadman, Jane Asher, Eleanor Matsuura, Alice Lowe
Seen on: 14.8.2022

Seph (Laura Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie) have just lost their best friend, Dan (Jack Farthing), to cancer. Still reeling from the loss, Dan’s parents let them know that Dan left videos for them: he wants them to spread his ashes at very specific places all over the UK, with a video message for each of the stops. Dan hopes that it will give the two of them some time to think about their lives. Seph and Alex are little taken by Dan’s idea. But when Alex finds her girlfriend (Eleanor Matsuura) cheating, and Seph quits her job and finds her boyfriend James (Joe Dempsie) more and more clingy, the two decide to go on the road trip after all.

Burn Burn Burn is a debut feature and it feels very young at times, charming, but also a little naive. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I caught myself rather smiling at its ideas than being touched by them.

The film poster showing Seph (Laura Carmichael) standing on a car, trying to get cell reception) while Alex (Chloe Pirrie) is studying a paper map.
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Nope (2022)

Director: Jordan Peele
Writer: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Steven Yeun, Wrenn Schmidt, Keith David
Seen on: 12.8.2022

Since his father (Keith David) died in a freak accident, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) has been trying to keep their horse farm – with horses trained for movie making – afloat more or less on his own. His sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) taking over the more people-oriented tasks when she can. But OJ has had to sell some horses to their neighbor, Jupe Park (Steven Yeun), former child actor, who now runs a Western village for tourists. When Emerald comes to the farm for a few days, they realize that there is something floating above them, something obviously alien. They are determined to catch it on camera.

With Nope, Peele continues his line of unusual and very political horror movies. Nope is his least scary film, I’d say, and maybe his most messy, but that messiness, and the film in general are always interesting and meaningful.

The film poster showing a cloud trailing a line of little flags, over an illuminated Western village in the middle of nowhere.
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Bullet Train (2022)

Bullet Train
Director: David Leitch
Writer: Zak Olkewicz
Based on: Kōtarō Isaka‘s novel
Cast: Brad Pitt, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Bad Bunny, Logan Lerman, Zazie Beetz, Masi Oka, Karen Fukuhara, Channing Tatum, Ryan Reynolds
Seen on: 12.8.2022

Content Note: whitewashing

Ladybug (Brad Pitt) is an assassin who as recently taken some time off after a bit of an existential crisis because he is so unlucky. But after some therapy, he is ready to get back into the game. His first job seems simple enough: just snatch a suitcase from the high-speed bullet train and get off the next station. But it turns out that he is not the only assassin on the train. Duo Lemon (Brian Tyree Henry) and Tangerine (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) also have a mission to fulfill on the train. And there is The Prince (Joey King) who lured Kimura (Andrew Koji) on the train for her own plans. As all of their plans collide, things become chaotic. Ladybug may yet regret his return to work.

Bullet Train is a fast-paced, entertaining film despite some problems. If you like action comedies with a touch of gore, you’ll have a good time with this one.

The film poster showing the main characters arranged along a Japanese dragon.
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Wedding Season (2022)

Wedding Season
Director: Tom Dey
Writer: Shiwani Srivastava
Cast: Pallavi Sharda, Suraj Sharma, Arianna Afsar, Sean Kleier, Veena Sood, Rizwan Manji, Ruth Goodwin, Damian Thompson, Manoj Sood, Subhash Santosh, Julius Cho
Seen on: 11.8.2022

After a broken off engagement some years ago, Asha (Pallavi Sharda) would rather concentrate on her career than on romance. But her mother Suneeta (Veena Sood) is having none of that. As frustrating as her constant attempts to set up Asha are, every once in a while, Asha has to agree to go on a date. And that’s how she ends up on a rather catastrophic date with Ravi (Suraj Sharma) who is in a rather similar situation with his parents. With one wedding after the other coming up in the next few weeks, and neither of their parents showing any sign of relenting in their coupling attempts, Ravi and Asha strike a deal: they will be each other’s date for the wedding season, keeping their parents from their backs and themselves free of romantic entanglements. But it’s not so easy to date without a little romance creeping in.

Wedding Season is a really cute romance that profits from the Indian-American setting and a very likeable central couple with good chemistry. It sticks to the rules of the genre, giving you exactly what you expect and hope for.

The film poster showing Ravi (Suraj Sharma) with his arm around Asha (Pallavi Sharda) in front of a city skyline.
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I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
Director: Patricia Rozema
Writer: Patricia Rozema
Cast: Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Richard Monette, John Evans
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Polly (Sheila McCarthy) is a slightly chaotic temp worker with a passion for photography. When she gets assigned as an assistant in the Church Gallery, owned and curated by Gabrielle (Paule Baillargeon), Polly is awed by Gabrielle’s artistic eye as much as her sophisitication and beauty. When she gets the chance to turn the job from temporary to permanent, she jumps at it. Then Gabrielle’s ex Mary (Ann-Marie MacDonald) turns up, and the balance between Polly and Gabrielle shifts.

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing is a wonderful film. Funny, sweet and warm, it is also a insightful examination of the central characters. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Polly's (Sheila McCarthy) head floating over the ocean, a slight smile on her lips.
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