The Craft: Legacy (2020)

The Craft: Legacy
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Writer: Zoe Lister-Jones
Sequel to/Reboot of: The Craft
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny, Michelle Monaghan, Nicholas Galitzine, Julian Grey, Charles Vandervaart, Donald MacLean Jr., Fairuza Balk
Seen on: 11.9.2022

Plot:
Lily (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) have always been a team. Now that Helen has met Adam (David Duchovny) and fallen in love, they are moving to a new town together so Helen can be with him. For Lily, it may be a chance to start over socially. Instead she has a rather mortifying start at school and is immediately teased by Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine). But her classmates Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon) and Tabby (Lovie Simone) show her some kindness. What Lily doesn’t know yet: the three girls are witches looking for a fourth to complete their coven. And they may just have found that in Lily.

The Craft: Legacy is more an update of the original Craft film than a sequel, and I have to say that it is an update that I appreciated a lot since it rectifies some of the (narrative) mistakes that the first movie made. I really enjoyed it.

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Men (2022)

Men
Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin
Seen on: 19.7.2022

Content Note: domestic violence, (questionable) suicide, (critical treatment of) misogyny

Plot:
Harper (Jessie Buckley) has had a bad time with her husband James (Paapa Essiedu), and that’s putting it mildly. As they are no longer together, Harper decides that a break is in order. She rents a landhouse, a small estate in a tiny village, from jovial Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) and hopes to just have a calm two weeks away from everything. But it doesn’t work out that way.

Men is quite a film. I found it utterly engaging and deeply weird in the most interesting of ways. It is definitely the kind of film you will want to spend some time discussing with many people.

The film poster showing Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear) smiling, the word Men stamped across his eyes.

[SPOILERS]

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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Based on: Stan Lee‘s, Larry Lieber‘s and Jack Kirby‘s comic character
Sequel to: Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Kieron L. Dyer, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Simon Russell Beale, Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 15.7.2022

Plot:
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hasn’t been doing too well after recent events, although he doesn’t look it. Traveling around with the Guardians of the Galaxy to help people, he finds some fulfillment in fighting for the weak. When he hears a cry for help from his old friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who tells him about the God Butcher Gorr (Christian Bale) who has been hunting gods all over the galaxy, Thor returns to New Asgard, where King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) leads the rest of the Asgardian refugees. And just in time to find not only Gorr attacking Asgard, but also his ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) who has taken up Mjolnir and has also become Thor. Together, they go after Gorr while also trying to figure out where they stand with each other.

Thor: Love and Thunder is a really fun film that surreptitiously tackles some hard topics, ending with a positive message that is a breath of fresh air in the age of movie cynicism.

The film poster showing Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in a meditative pose wearing a mumu in front of a colorful galactical background. Behind him we can see Jane as Thor (Natalie Portman), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (Taika Waititi), as well as a ship drawn by two giant goats. Gorr (Christian Bale) is smiling as a floating head above it all.
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Turning Red (2022)

Turning Red
Director: Domee Shi
Writer: Domee Shi, Julia Cho, Sarah Streicher
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, Lori Tan Chinn, Mia Tagano, Sherry Cola, Lillian Lim, James Hong, Jordan Fisher
Seen on: 10.7.2022

Plot:
Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) is a good girl, dividing her time between school – where she geeks out with her friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Abby (Hyein Park) and Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) over the boyband 4*Town – and the temple her mother (Sandra Oh) and father (Orion Lee) run. Things are good, even though her mother finds some rather embarassing doodles of a cute boy and embarasses Mei even further. But then Mei wakes up and has turned into a giant red panda. Everything is about to be different.

Turning Red is an adorable, fun, wonderful romp that fills a gap in kids’ movies in more than one way. I adored it.

The film poster showing Meilin as the Red Panda, surrounded by her friends Miriam, Priya and Abby.
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The Black Phone (2021)

The Black Phone
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on: Joe Hill‘s short story
Cast: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Rebecca Clarke, J. Gaven Wilde, Spencer Fitzgerald, Jordan Isaiah White, Brady M. Ryan, Tristan Pravong, Jacob Moran, Brady Hepner, Banks Repeta
Seen on: 27.6.2022

Plot:
Finney (Mason Thames) and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) live in a small town with their alcoholic father (Jeremy Davies). Boys have been going missing from the town for a while, and there are persistent rumors of The Grabber who nabs them. Finney finds that The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) is very real indeed when he himself is taken and locked into a sound-proof cellar. Desperate, Finney sees no way to escape. But then the disconnected phone on the wall starts ringing, and The Grabber’s previous victims start to give Finney advice. Meanwhile, Gwen tries everything to find Finney, and since she sometimes sees things in her dreams, she might actually be able to help.

The Black Phone is an atmospheric and very scary film that you shouldn’t look at too closely when it comes to plot.

The film poster showing The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) wearing his mask, his hands dissolving into a red liquid.
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Freaks Out (2021)

Freaks Out
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Writer: Nicola Guaglianone, Gabriele Mainetti
Cast: Claudio Santamaria, Aurora Giovinazzo, Pietro Castellitto, Giancarlo Martini, Giorgio Tirabassi, Max Mazzotta, Franz Rogowski
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

Content Note: sexual assault, sexism, (critical treatment of) ableism, medical experiments

Plot:
1943 in Italy. Israel (Giorgio Tirabassi) runs a circus with his four artists Cencio (Pietro Castellitto), Matilde (Aurora Giovinazzo), Fulvio (Claudio Santamaria) and Mario (Giancarlo Martini) – who actually all have supernatural powers that fuel their performances. The five try their best to stay out of the Nazis’ way, though there is the Circus Berlin stationed in Rome – supposedly the best circus in the world, headed by Franz (Franz Rogowski), a pianist with 12 fingers. Franz has superpowers of his own: he has seen the future and knows that it doesn’t look good for the Nazis. He is convinced that he has to find four superpowered people to prevent the Nazis from losing and he will do anything to find them.

I enjoyed Freaks Out for the most part. It is marred by the male gaze, but it’s entertaining and manages to combine comedy and Nazi horrors in a good way.

The film poster showing the four "freaks" in their performance poses, as well as Franz (Franz Rogowski) wearing a Nazi robe.
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Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon (2021)

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Jeon Jong-seo, Evan Whitten, Kate Hudson, Ed Skrein, Craig Robinson
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 6.5.2022

Plot:
Mona (Jeon Jong-seo) has been locked away in a psychiatric facility because she has special powers – she can control others with her mind. But now she is finally able to escape and makes her way to the next city, New Orleans. Unused to dealing with the world, she stands out. When she meets stripper Bonnie (Kate Hudson) and Bonnie realizes what she is capable of, she takes her under her wing and together, they start a more or less new life.

So far, I didn’t really like Amirpour’s movies, but I’m happy to say that I very much enjoyed Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon that is a film that is a) not as obsessed with style as her other features and b) doesn’t take itself all that seriously. That means, it’s a film that has room for heart – and that’s just what I like to see.

Mona Lisa (Jeon Jong-seo) pressing against the window of a diner.
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De uskyldige [The Innocents] (2021)

De uskyldige
Director: Eskil Vogt
Writer: Eskil Vogt
Cast: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Morten Svartveit, Kadra Yusuf, Lisa Tønne
Seen on: 14.4.2022

Content Note: ableism, racism, animal abuse and death

Plot:
Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), her autistic sister Anna (Alba Brynsmo Ramstad) and their parents (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Morten Svartveit) just moved into a giant apartment complex. Ida is not particularly happy about it, or the attention her parents pay her sister who she likes to hurt, convinced that Anna doesn’t feel pain because she can’t express it. When Ida sets out to explore her new home, she meets Ben (Sam Ashraf) with whom she shares her cruel streak. Ben also appears to have special powers, able to move a bottle cap by thought alone. And Ben isn’t the only one there with powers, it seems. There is also Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim) who has a telepathic connection with Anna. The four set out to explore their abilities, but things start to spiral out of control.

De uskyldige is a tense and atmospheric film with excellent performances by the children, but also a couple of pretty problematic tropes and an ending that was a bit of a let-down.

The film poster showing Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) lying on a tire swing looking up, only that the swing rack and the ground are above her.
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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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The King’s Man (2021)

The King’s Man
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Karl Gajdusek
Based on: Mark Millar’s and Dave Gibbons’ comic
Prequel to: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Alexandra Maria Lara, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Brühl, August Diehl, Tom Hollander, Stanley Tucci, David Kross
Seen on: 14.1.2022

Plot:
Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) is an important advisor to King George (Tom Hollander). When his wife Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara) is killed while they are inspecting whether rumors of concentration camps in South Africa were real, he promises her that he would keep their son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) away from violence. In the years since Emily’s death, Orlando has worked to establish a spy network with Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton), trying their best to avoid violence with their work. But now Conrad is grown, and war is coming to Europe – a war Conrad is desperate to join and Orlando is desperate to keep him from.

Oh boy, The King’s Man is one hell of a mess, constantly standing in its own way. It really doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing or what story it’s telling and squanders any potential of finding back to the good roots of the Kingsman franchise.

The film poster showing the main characters of the movie, most with some weapon.
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