Doch Rybaka [Tzarevna Scaling] (2020)

Doch Rybaka [literally: Fisherman’s Daughter]
Director: Uldus Bakhtiozina
Writer: Uldus Bakhtiozina
Cast: Alina Korol, Viktoria Assovskaya, Valentina Yasen, Aleksandra Kysotskaya, Albina Berens, Serafima Solovyova, Xenia Popova-Pendereckaya, Uldus Bakhtiozina, Adelia Severinova, Mária Pavlová
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
1-gif-review

Plot:
Polina’s (Alina Korol) life is far from fancy. She lives in a tiny apartment and works as a fishmonger in a small truck. One day, a strange woman comes to her truck to buy fish heads for her cats. She gives Polina a special tea that is supposed to make her dreams come true. Poline gives it a try and ends up in a strange, but rigorous testing program to see if she is a princess, a tsar’s daughter.

I adored Tzarevna Scaling. If there is one thing I didn’t like it’s that it’s only 70 minutes long – I really wanted to spend more time in this world. It’s a visually stunning take on fairy tales that will stay with me for a long time.

The film poster showing two women wearing elaborate swan hats sitting at a table next to a swimming pool where they armwrestle.
Continue reading

Gaia (2021)

Gaia
Director: Jaco Bouwer
Writer: Tertius Kapp
Cast: Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk, Anthony Oseyemi
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
1-gif-review

Plot:
Gabi (Monique Rockman) and Winston (Anthony Oseyemi) are forest rangers, sent out to check on wildlife cameras. What should be a routine mission starts to go sideways when Gabi walks into a trap and is injured. The trap was set by Barend (Carel Nel) and his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk), but it is unclear what or who they were hunting with it. In any case, Gabi finds herself at their mercy – but it may very well be that they are not a threat. There is something dangerous in the forest, though.

Gaia worked pretty well for me – for the most part. I did have a couple of issues with it, but overall I liked it.

The film poster showing Gabi (Monique Rockman) from her shoulders up, her head dissolving into mushrooms.
Continue reading

Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

Prisoners of the Ghostland
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi, Young Dais, Charles Glover, Cici Zhou, Louis Kurihara, Tetsu Watanabe, Takato Yonemoto, Shin Shimizu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
1-gif-review

Content Note: child sexual abuse (alluded to), misogyny

Plot:
After his granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) disappears, the Governor (Bill Moseley) turns to desperate measures to find her. He frees a notorious criminal and turns him Hero (Nicolas Cage), though not without precautions to ensure his compliance. Thus the Hero makes his way to the Ghostland where Bernice is suspected to be. The Ghostland is a dangerous place, and the Hero has his work cut out for himself.

Prisoners of the Ghostland didn’t work in the slightest for me. Way too shrill and loud, way too little sense. If I hadn’t been sitting right in the middle of my row, I probably would have left early. As is, I napped here and there but I should have just stayed away entirely.

The film poster showing the Hero (Nicolas Cage) standing atop a giant warrior helmet with skulls, other people and a huge clock that seem almost part of the helmet.
Continue reading

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Based on: Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin‘s character
Cast: Simu Liu, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Wah Yuen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Benedict Wong, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 6.9.2021

Plot:
Shaun (Simu Liu) tried to built a life for himself, away from his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) and Wenwu’s private army, the Ten Rings – including actual ten rings that give Wenwu awesome powers. And for the last decade, Shaun has been pretty successful in his endeavor. Not even his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) suspects that there is more to him than a party-loving valet. Until a group of fighters led by Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) attack Shaun and he has to finally confront his past, his family, and his future. Not without Katy, though.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a thoroughly enjoyable film with a good mix of fighting, emotions and humor. I had a very good time with it.

The film poster showing Shaun (Simu Liu), his father Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) looming large behind him, wearing the ten rings. The two can be seen fighting as smaller figures in the front. Other important characters are arranged around them.
Continue reading

Minotaur (2006)

Minotaur
Director: Jonathan English
Writer: Nick Green, Stephen McDool
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Van Der Water, Tony Todd, Lex Shrapnel, Jonathan Readwin, Rutger Hauer, Maimie McCoy, Lucy Brown, James Bradshaw, Fiona Maclaine, Claire Murphy, Ingrid Pitt, Ciaran Murtagh
Seen on: 2.9.2021

Content Note: racism, sexualized violence, sexism, ableism

Plot:
Every year, Theo’s (Tom Hardy) village gets raided and some young people taken to the great palace to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The only one who has always been protected is Theo as he is supposed to become the next leader of the village. But when The Leper (Ingrid Pitt) tells him that his big love, abducted a couple of years ago, may still be alive in the Minotaur’s labyrinth, Theo is determined to go. He gets himself on the ship with the sacrifices and sails to Deucalion’s (Tony Todd) and his sister Raphaella’s (Michelle Van Der Water) court to confront them and, more importantly, the Minotaur.

Phew, you can file this film under “Things I Have Watched for Tom Hardy” and “Things I Have Watched So You Don’t Have To”. Trust me, Minotaur is not some kind of underrated fantasy gem, it is just a collection of pretty offensive and very bad fantasy stereotypes.

The film poster showing Theo (Tom Hardy) in the center and Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water) to the left of him and Deucalion (Tony Tood) to the right.
Continue reading

Little Evil (2017)

Little Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Writer: Eli Craig
Cast: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Owen Atlas, Bridget Everett, Clancy Brown, Chris D’Elia, Kyle Bornheimer, Donald Faison, Tyler Labine, Brad Williams
Seen on: 27.8.2021

Plot:
Gary (Adam Scott) and Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) just got married and are ready to move in together – and with Samantha’s son Lucas (Owen Atlas), of course. Gary is excited about becoming a stepdad, but Lucas isn’t easily charmed. In fact, the more time Gary spends with him, the more he is convinced that there might be something actually evil about Lucas. Not in some figure-of-speech way, but in a literal antichrist way. But what can Gary do about that?

Little Evil is fine. It’s not awesomely great, but it has some decent laughs and was entertaining enough.

The film poster showing Gary (Adam Scott) and Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) with Lucas (Owen Atlas) standing behind them. Lucas looks creepy, Samantha smiles up at him and Gary looks uncomfortable.
Continue reading

The Green Knight (2021)

The Green Knight
Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery
Based on: the legend of Gawain
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Erin Kellyman, Joel Edgerton
Seen on: 26.8.2021

Content Note: mention of rape

Plot:
Gawain (Dev Patel) likes to drink and sleep with Essel (Alicia Vikander), a sex worker in the local brothel. He does not like to take things seriously or to take on responsibility. His uncle the King (Sean Harris) and his Queen (Kate Dickie) see something more in him though, and his mother (Sarita Choudhury) also has plans for him. But on Christmas, Gawain’s reckless fashion leads him to accept a game from the Green Knight (Ralph Ineson) in probably the worst way – with long-reaching consequences.

The Green Knight is an intense film with absolutely stunning images that did get a little exhausting for me at times. But I’d still recommend it, especially on the big screen.

The poster showing Gawain (Dev Patel) wearing a golden crown, a dark look on his face.
Continue reading

The Craft (1996)

The Craft
Director: Andrew Fleming
Writer: Peter Filardi, Andrew Fleming
Cast: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor, Breckin Meyer, Nathaniel Marston, Cliff De Young, Assumpta Serna
Seen on: 10.7.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Sarah (Robin Tunney) and her family just moved to a new town, and her first day at her new Catholic private school is an anxious thing. It seems to be going well, when football star Chris (Skeet Ulrich) flirts with her in her lunch break. But at the same time, she also catches the eye of Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), and Rochelle (Rachel True) who practice witchcraft and are sure that Sarah is the fourth that they have been missing to cast the really powerful spells. At least, Bonnie is sure about it, while Nancy is more doubtful. Nevertheless, they approach Sarah – a decision that changes all of their lives.

The Craft is far from a good film, but it has garnered a bit of a cult following, which made me want to see it anyway. I’m not sure if I get the cult, but there is something about The Craft for sure.

The film poster showing Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Sarah (Robin Tunney) and Rochelle (Rachel True) walking through a thunderstorm with a lot of lightning.
Continue reading

L.A. Story (1991)


L.A. Story
Director: Mick Jackson
Writer: Steve Martin
Cast: Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Richard E. Grant, Marilu Henner, Susan Forristal, Kevin Pollak, Sam McMurray, Patrick Stewart
Seen on: 29.6.2021

Content Note: misogyny

Plot:
Harris (Steve Martin) is the wacky weekend weatherman for a local L.A. TV station. He is dating Trudi (Marilu Henner), but he is not particularly happy. When he meets Sara (Victoria Tennant) at a brunch party through their mutual friend Roland (Richard E. Grant), Harris is instantly smitten. But not so smitten that he doesn’t also find saleswoman SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker) very attractive. After a magical incident where an electronic billboard starts to give Harris advice, he has to decide between the women in his life.

L.A. Story is a whimsical film, more interested in a ribbing love letter to L.A. itself rather than the characters in it. There are some nice laughs here, but also some stuff that hasn’t aged particularly well. I suspect that people who have a direct connection to L.A. will be particularly fond of it.

The film poster showing the silhouette of a person doing a handstand on a railing in front of a sunset over the ocean.
Continue reading

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat
Director: Simon McQuoid
Writer: Greg Russo, Dave Callaham
Based on: the video game
Cast: Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, Joe Taslim, Mehcad Brooks, Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Chin Han, Ludi Lin, Max Huang, Sisi Stringer, Mel Jarnson
Seen on: 22.6.2021

Plot:
Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is a MMA fighter and has gotten his fair share of beatings – as long as he can earn some money for his family (Matilda Kimber, Laura Brent), he’s happy to do it. What Cole doesn’t know, though, is that he is actually the descendant of a legendary fighter, a champion of the Mortal Kombat, which in turn makes Cole eligible to fight in the next Mortal Kombat, too. Since Earth lost the last nine tournaments against Outworld, another loss would mean that Earth goes to Outworld. Permanently. That’s why Shang Tsun (Chin Han), leader of the Outworld fighters, won’t take any chances and has sent Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) to kill all possible champions before the tournament starts. Next on the list: Cole, who finds himself on the run with Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), trying to figure out his powers.

I was overjoyed to see that Mortal Kombat still got a cinema start after all, but I seriously misjudged the film. I really didn’t expect it to be as bad as it is.

The film poster showing a face in a mask that shows only the eyes, the left side is Scorpion, glowing with fire. The right side is Sub-Zero frosted over with ice.
Continue reading