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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Post Grad (2009)

Post Grad
Director: Vicky Jenson
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, Catherine Reitman, Mary Anne McGarry, J.K. Simmons, Craig Robinson, Fred Armisen
Seen on: 28.5.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Ryden (Alexis Bledel) is just about to graduate and she knows exactly how things are going to go from there. She will get her dream job at a big publishing house and live in an awesome apartment. She has both lined up already. Her best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) is less sure about what to do, but he knows that he would like to romance Ryden, but she is not interested. But after Ryden does not get the job, and she has to move back home with her eccentric family (Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett), she needs to rethink her life entirely. Maybe with the help of her hot neighbor David (Rodrigo Santoro)?

Post Grad is not a great film, but it is cute and funny and light. There’s really nothing weighing it down, not even particular emotional depth. If you want to just float through 90 minutes, it’s the film you should choose.

The film poster showing Ryden (Alexis Bledel) wearing a graduation cap askew, looking worried.
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Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud
Based on: Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical comic
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes Benites, François Jerosme, Tilly Mandelbrot
Seen on: 24.5.2021

Plot:
Marji (Gabrielle Lopes Benites) is precocious and rather wild girl. She grows up with her parents (Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian) and her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) in Tehran. Her family is political – a fact that has gotten her uncle Anoush (François Jerosme) into prison already. With the Islamic Revolution, things become even more difficult for them. Finally her parents decide to send Marji – now a teenager and called Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) – to Austria for her own safety. But being an Iranian girl in Austria isn’t much easier than being one in Iran.

Persepolis has been on my radar for a while now, and I’m not sure why I never watched it until now (probably a case of me wanting to read the comic this is based on first, but I never did). Anyhow, I watched it now and it really was very good.

The film poster showing Marjane, her chin in her hand. Behind her is a bubble that shows her family - mother, father, uncle and grandmother standing around a sofa on which she sits as a child.
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It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Based on: Ned Vizzini‘s novel
Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Dana DeVestern, Lauren Graham, Jim Gaffigan, Aasif Mandvi, Zoë Kravitz, Thomas Mann, Viola Davis, Bernard White
Seen on: 16.5.2021

Content Note: (attempted) suicide, suicidal ideation

Plot:
Craig (Keir Gilchrist) has been thinking about suicide a lot. So much so that he has scared himself into getting committed. To his horror he realizes that the psychiatric ward for teens is closed at the moment, though, and he finds himself in the adult station. There the charismatic Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) takes him under his wing as Craig tries to figure out whether he actually belongs in the hospital, and what he feels for fellow patient Noelle (Emma Roberts).

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a rather realistic look at what a psychiatric ward looks like, with a problematic take on mental health regardless and a slightly too sweet ending that doesn’t fit the setting of the film.

The film poster showing close-ups of Craig (Keir Gilchrist), Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts) above an image of Craig and Noelle hugging on the hospital roof.
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It Felt Like Love (2013)

It Felt Like Love
Director: Eliza Hittman
Writer: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Gina Piersanti, Ronen Rubinstein, Giovanna Salimeni, Nyck Caution, Kevin Anthony Ryan, Case Prime
Seen on: 4.5.2021

Content Note: sexualized abuse

Plot:
Lila (Gina Piersanti) is spending her summer with her best friend Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and Chiara’s boyfriend Patrick (Nyck Caution). While Chiara has already dated a lot and talks openly about sex, Lila hasn’t gone as far. But being the perpetual third wheel isn’t very fun either, and there is a certain pressure for Lila to find a boyfriend of her own. When she hears about Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), who is older and supposedly sleeps with everyone, she decides to pursue him.

It Felt Like Love is a quiet film that takes an unflinching look at the humiliation and degradations that so often are a part of growing up, especially when a young girl tries to take charge of her own sexuality. It’s uncomfortable – and that’s the point.

The film poster showing Lila (Gina Piersanti) walking, Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein) behind her, out of focus.
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Naissance des pieuvres [Water Lilies] (2007)

Naissance des pieuvres
Director: Céline Sciamma
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, Adèle Haenel, Warren Jacquin
Seen on: 18.4.2021

Plot:
Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Anne (Louise Blachère) are best friends, united in being not terribly popular. Anne is in the synchronized swimming team, as is Floriane (Adèle Haenel) with whom Marie is very much in love, while Anne has her eye on François (Warren Jacquin) who happens to be dating Floriane. When both Marie and Anne go after their crushes without telling the other, things become very complicated, though.

Water Lilies is a beautiful coming-of-age film, at once kind and emotionally raw, it will probably remind you of many moments when you were young yourself – mostly in a good way. Absolutely fantastic.

The film poster showing Marie (Pauline Acquart) and Floriane (Adèle Haenel), their faces close together. Floriane is looking straight at the camera, Marie is looking at Floriane.
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Ham on Rye (2019)

Ham on Rye
Director: Tyler Taormina
Writer: Tyler Taormina, Eric Berger
Cast: Haley Bodell, Audrey Boos, Gabriella Herrera, Adam Torres, Luke Darga, Sam Hernandez, Blake Borders, Cole Devine, Timothy Taylor, Gregory Falatek
Seen on: 6.4.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) ableism

Plot:
Haley (Haley Bodell), Gwen (Audrey Boos) and Trish (Gabriella Herrera) are preparing for a ritual in the town’s diner. They, and every other kid their age, are donning the clothes of their grandparents and walk to the diner. Something big is going to happen, something that will change the course of their lives forever. At least, if they are chosen.

Ham on Rye builds on an interesting idea, but lacks a bit of focus and narrative clarity. Still, it’s definitely unusual.

The film poster showing 11 the fists of 11 teens, holding their thumbs in up or down positions.
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Re-Watch: Never Been Kissed (1999)

Never Been Kissed
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Garry Marshall, Sean Whalen, Cress Williams, Octavia Spencer, Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton, Jordan Ladd, Katie Lansdale, Branden Williams, James Franco
Seen on: 1.4.2021

Plot:
Josie (Drew Barrymore) is a copyeditor at the Sun-Times, but she would like to be a reporter. Her chance comes quite surprisingly when her unpredictable boss (Garry Marshall) tells her to go undercover at a high school to figure out what kids these days are up to. Josie is so excited about the opportunity, she doesn’t remember that she was bullied in high school. But once she is back, all her old memories flood back again. Maybe this time, though, Josie has a chance to do better.

It has been many years that I watched Never Been Kissed, but I remembered it very fondly. I’m happy to report that it is still an utterly charming film with a cute love story.

The film poster showing Josie (Drew Barrymore) sitting on the floor, one of her knees pulled to her chest.
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Moxie (2021)

Moxie
Director: Amy Poehler
Writer: Tamara Chestna, Dylan Meyer
Based on: Jennifer Mathieu’s novel
Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Emily Hopper, Josie Totah, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Marcia Gay Harden, Clark Gregg
Seen on: 8.3.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism, misogyny, rape culture, rape, racism

Plot:
Vivian (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) are not girls who cause a fuss. They are trying to get through school as well as possible. When a new and very outspoken girl, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena), joins their class, Vivian is impressed by but also anxious about Lucy’s self-confidence. After Vivian witnesses yet another sexist incident in her school, she finds herself inspired to do something. Drawing on her mother Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past, she decides to anonymously publish a zine, denouncing the school’s sexism. That zine – Moxie – causes quite a stir in the school and also in Vivian’s life.

Moxie is a cute film with an openly feminist agenda – I’m here for that all the way. Even if it doesn’t achieve everything it sets out to do, it achieves a lot. And it is simply fun to watch.

The film poster showing a black and white image of the main characters screaming.
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Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train
Director: Sydney Freeland
Writer: Shelby Farrell
Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Lance Gray, Danielle Nicolet, Arturo Castro, Gage Bradley, Nick Moceri, Sasheer Zamata, Missi Pyle, David Sullivan, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 7.3.2021

Plot:
Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) would like to worry about her college applications and how she can possibly afford to college in the first place. But instead her mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) is arrested and Deidra has to worry about paying bills, and taking care of her younger siblings Laney (Rachel Crow) and Jet (Lance Gray). Her dad, railway worker Chet (David Sullivan), is of no help, but when he mentions how easy it is to rob trains and how nobody gets hurt by it because everything is insured, Deidra starts making plans. But she needs Laney’s help for it to work.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train is a fun, entertaining film that moves along at such a brisk pace, you almost miss the very serious and critical core that lies beneath all those entertaining bits.

The film poster showing Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) standing back to back with their arms crossed.
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