In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

In the Shadow of the Moon
Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Gregory Weidman, Geoffrey Tock
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Rudi Dharmalingam, Al Maini, Quincy Kirkwood, Sarah Dugdale
Seen on: 10.4.2022

Plot:
Locke (Boys Holbrook) is a police officer hoping for a big career move. When a mysterious killing spree hits Philadelphia, he connects the dots and traces the bodies and their unusual way of dying to a mysterious woman in a hoodie (Cleopatra Coleman). This realization is only the start of decades of obsession for Locke – and the end of his life as he knew it.

In the Shadow of the Moon has a couple of interesting ideas, but it didn’t quite win me over. I think that’s because it chose the – to me – wrong angle to tell its story.

The film poster showing half of Locke's (Boyd Holbrook) face. Superimposed over his shoulder is a street at night, a giant moon in the background, and Rya (Cleopatra Coleman) wearing a hoodie and holding a strang weapon in the front.
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The Batman (2022)

The Batman
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, Barry Keoghan, Jayme Lawson, Gil Perez-Abraham
Seen on: 9.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of other Batman things.]

Plot:
For the past two years, Batman (Robert Pattinson) has been a vigilante in Gotham City, one who divides opinions. On Halloween, he is called to a crime scene be Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright): the mayor was brutally murdered, and a riddle was left for Batman. When he takes up the trail, it leads him to a nightclub run by Oz (Colin Farrell) with ties to Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). And it leads him to Selina (Zoë Kravitz) who works as a waitress there and has her own investigation. As more people are murdered and more clues left, it becomes a race against time.

I really did not expect much of The Batman. Everything about it screamed that it would not be a good experience. But it is a Batman film, so I couldn’t resist. Anyhow, turns out that I was mistaken: The Batman is even worse than I thought it would be.

The film poster showing The Batman (Robert Pattinson) standing in a fog of red lighting.
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Death on the Nile (2022)

Death on the Nile
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Based on: Agatha Christie‘s novel
Sequel to: Murder on the Orient Express
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, Letitia Wright, Sophie Okonedo, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Ali Fazal, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Russell Brand
Seen on: 14.2.2022

Plot:
Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is in Egypt on holiday when he runs into his old friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) who is traveling with his mohter (Annette Bening). They are in the country for the wedding of Simon (Armie Hammer) and Linette (Gal Gadot) who have invited their wedding party to Egypt. But not only their guests have come to the Nile, but also Jacqueline (Emma Mackey) who used to be Simon’s fiancée until she introduced him to Linette. When Linette is killed shortly afterwards, Poirot has to untangle the net of personal relationships that surround them all to find the murderer.

Death on the Nile really isn’t good, despite a fantastic cast. But with a bad script, a weird look and some very questionable choices by Branagh in his role as director of the film, not even a good cast can save this film.

The film poster showing the large cast of characters on a staemer on the Nile, behind them the pyramids and the sphynx.
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Nightmare Alley (2021)

Nightmare Alley
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan
Based on: William Lindsay Gresham‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Mark Povinelli, Peter MacNeill, Holt McCallany, Jim Beaver, Clifton Collins Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, David Hewlett
Seen on: 1.2.2022

Plot:
After hiding a body under the floor and burning down the house around it, Stanton (Bradley Cooper) is leaving town. He ends up with a traveling carneval troupe, and he seems made for that career, learning the tricks of the business from Zeena the Seer (Toni Collette) and her husband Pete (David Strathairn). Stanton is ambitious, he definitely has plans to make his own way and he hopes to bring Molly (Rooney Mara), beauty of the carneval along for them. After they do make their own start, psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) shows up at one of their performances – and Stanton believes that they can build a business together.

Nightmare Alley was quite a disappointment with strange casting choices and pacing issues that completely hobble the film. I was expecting more form a del Toro film.

The film poster showing Stanton (Bradley Cooper) and below him Zeena (Toni Collette), Dr. Ritter (Cate Blanchett) and Molly (Rooney Mara).
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Night Teeth (2021)

Night Teeth
Director: Adam Randall
Writer: Brent Dillon
Cast: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Debby Ryan, Lucy Fry, Raúl Castillo, Alfie Allen, Marlene Forte, Ash Santos, Nandy Martin, Jaren Mitchell, Megan Fox, Alexander Ludwig
Seen on: 20.11.2021

Plot:
Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is in college where he isn’t exactly popular. At home, too, he kind of falls behind his older brother Jay (Raúl Castillo) who runs a limousine service. What Benny doesn’t know is that Jay also doubles as a vampire hunter, although there has been a truce with the vampires for a while. When Benny gets the opportunity to help Jay out and be a driver for a night, he thinks at first that he won the lottery when Zoe (Lucy Fry) and Blaire (Debby Ryan) get in the car. But he soon finds himself deeply entangled in their vampire business for the night. And who knows if he will get out of it alive.

Night Teeth is okay. It’s pretty much your standard fare of vampire politics with a dash of male wish fulfillment. It profits from Lendeborg Jr.’s and Ryan’s charm, but ultimately it doesn’t surpass fine.

The film poster in black, white and red, showing Zoe's (Lucy Fry) and Blaire's (Debby Ryan) bloodied fangs. Below those, Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) is standing in front of a car and the city skyline.
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Kaviar [Caviar] (2019)

Kaviar
Director: Elena Tikhonova
Writer: Robert Buchschwenter, Elena Tikhonova
Cast: Margarita Breitkreiz, Darya Nosik, Sabrina Reiter, Georg Friedrich, Simon Schwarz, Mikhail Evlanov, Joseph Lorenz, Robert Finster
Seen on: 20.10.2021 (somehow missed to review this one)

Plot:
Nadja (Margarita Breitkreiz) works as the personal translator and all around organizer for Igor (Mikhail Evlanov), giving her in-depth knowledge of his dealings, little of which is actually legal. Nadja doesn’t really like it, but she has two kids and not that many options. When Igor hatches a new plan though – buying the Schwedenbrücke in Vienna (a bridge in the city center) to build an estate on – this is easier said than done, even in Vienna where people are willing to be very flexible for profit. Enter Klaus (Georg Friedrich), the husband of Nadja’s best friend Vera (Darya Nosik). Klaus has been waiting for an opportunity to make a deal or two with Igor and is sure that he can provide the necessary connections. The money that needs to change hands does give Nadja, Vera and Nadja’s nanny Teresa (Sabrina Reiter) an idea, though. Maybe this time it is them who get to be rich.

Kaviar is an entertaining film that makes fun of both Russian and (and even more so) Austrian business men. With its feminist undertones and its perfect political timing, it’s certainly a film to see.

The film poster showing Nadja (Margarita Breitkreiz) biting her lip, with Vera (Darya Nosik) and Teresa (Sabrina Reiter) behind her. Below them are Ferdinand (Simon Schwarz), Igor (Mikhail Evlanov) and Klaus (Georg Friedrich) toasting with champagne and a suitcase full of cash.
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Piligrimai [Pilgrims] (2021)

Piligrimai
Director: Laurynas Bareisa
Writer: Laurynas Bareisa
Cast: Gabija Bargailaite, Giedrius Kiela, Jolanta Dapkunaite, Zygimante Jakstaite, Paulius Markevicius, Indre Patkauskaite, Julius Zalakevicius
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2021

Plot:
Indre (Gabija Bargailaite) and Paulius (Giedrius Kiela) haven’t seen each other for years. Not since Paulius’ brother who was also Indre’s boyfriend was murdered a few years ago. The murderer was caught and there is detailed documentation about what happened. Now Indre and Paulius have decided to retrace what happened that night. But whether that brings the necessary clarity or closure is unclear.

Pilgrims is an interesting film that often left me a little puzzled about the reactions of its characters. I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, or something else, but it reinforced the effect of the film for me. It doesn’t quite manage to keep the tension all the way through, but it works for the most part.

The film poster showing Indre (Gabija Bargailaite) and Paulius (Giedrius Kiela) standing next to a car in the rain. The ground is covered in water and there are mirror images of them in it, but switched around, Indre mirroring Paulius and vice versa.
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Hunter Hunter (2020)

Hunter Hunter
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Cast: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Plot:
Joseph (Devon Sawa), Anne (Camille Sullivan) and their daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) live off the grid, in the middle of the forest, getting by as trappers, selling the furs of the animals they catch. When they realize that a wolf is in the area, they are highly alerted, though. Anne is worried for Renee in particular, as they believe it’s a rogue wolf who is likely to attack them and who, at the very least, is a danger to their already slim livelihood. So Joseph sets out to catch the wolf.

I have rarely watched a film that left me with such a strong urge to drink something like this movie. And I actually do mean that as a compliment. It’s depressing and tense and highly effective.

The film poster showing a howling wolf, painted with white color on a black background. in front of it the silhouette of a man, and in front of that Anne (Camille Sullivan), rifle in hand.
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First Date (2021)

First Date
Director: Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp
Writer: Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp
Cast: Tyson Brown, Shelby Duclos, Jesse Janzen, Nicole Berry, Samuel Ademola, Ryan Quinn Adams, Angela Barber, Dave Reimer, Scott E. Noble
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
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Plot:
Mike (Tyson Brown) has had a crush on Kelsey (Shelby Duclos) approximately forever, but he never dared to ask her out. With a llittle pressure from his best friend, he finally calls her at least – and Kelsey actually asks him out. Mike’s joy quickly deflates when he realizes that he can’t have his parents’ car, and how can he take her out without a car? Enter Plan B: Mike needs to buy a car, quickly and very cheaply. The internet provides and Mike finds Dennis (Scott E. Noble) who sells him an old car in rather bad shape. And with the car, Mike buys a whole lot of problems that turns this date night into a night to remember indeed.

First Date is a fun, entertaining film that works mostly because Mike and Kelsey work so very well. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing a rose, a car and a gun with plus signs between them, adding up to a kissing couple. Everything looks like its a neon light in different colors.
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Madeo [Mother] (2009)

Madeo
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writer: Eun-kyo Park, Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Hye-ja Kim, Won Bin, Jin Goo, Je-mun Yun, Mi-seon Jeon, Sae-byeok Song, Hee-ra Mun, Woo-hee Chun
Seen on: 19.9.2021

Content Note: cripping up, (partly critical treatment of) ableism and whoremisia

Plot:
Do-joon (Won Bin) is everything for his mother (Hye-ja Kim) who has a fiercely protective streak, despite him being grown up. But he also has a learning disability, and tends to get in trouble together with his best friend Jin-tae (Jin Goo), so she has good reasons not to let go. When a neighborhood girl turns up dead, and a golf ball with Do-joon’s name is found next to her, he is arrested. His mother is certain that Do-joon is being framed and is determined to get to the bottom of things.

Mother is an unusual crime movie. Unusual in the way it is told, but also unusual in the story it tells. This unusualness makes it enjoyable for crime fans and those (like me) who aren’t that much into crime as a genre.

The film poster showing Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) huddling behind his mother (Hye-ja Kim).
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