Titane [Titanium] (2021)

Titane
Director: Julia Ducournau
Writer: Julia Ducournau, Jacques Akchoti, Jean-Christophe Bouzy
Cast: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon, Garance Marillier, Laïs Salameh, Mara Cisse, Marin Judas, Diong-Kéba Tacu, Myriem Akheddiou, Bertrand Bonello
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2021
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Content Note: sexualized violence

Plot:
Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) is a dancer, working at car shows and the like. She is tough, tattooed and shows off a big scar she has on her skull from a car accident. Her roughness is not just exterior. When she is assaulted by a fan, she doesn’t hesitate to stab him. But when her colleague Justine (Garance Marillier) also tries to get closer to her, Alexia has the same reaction though. And it’s neither her first, nor her last killing – and she desperately needs an exit strategy. That presents itself in an unusual option.

Titane is not an easy film, and I had to sleep over it to really get to an opinion about it – but ultimately, I really liked it. It is a wild, refractory, aesthetic film that is certainly worth watching and then discussing a lot.

The film poster showing Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) pushing back her hair to reveal a large, snail-shaped scar behind her ear.
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Buddies (1985)

Buddies
Director: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
Writer: Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
Cast: Geoff Edholm, David Schachter, Billy Lux
Seen on: 21.9.2021

Plot:
David (David Schachter) is a typesetter. Inspired by the book about the AIDS crisis that he is currently laying out, and as a gay man, he decided to volunteer as an AIDS buddy – a visitor for one of the many gay men who are dying alone and abandoned in a hospital. He is assigned to visit Robert (Geoff Edholm). Taken aback at first by Robert’s attempts to be humorous and have high spirits in his desperate situation, the two men quickly become close regardless.

Buddies was maybe the first film shot about the AIDS crisis. Shot while it was still raging pretty much unchecked, there is an urgency to this low-budget production that is hard to escape and that reminds us of how long this period lasted and how many people died. But there is also a strength there, a celebration of gay love that is absolutely beautiful.

The film poster showing David (David Schachter) with an arm around Robert (Geoff Edholm).
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Una mujer fantástica [A Fantastic Woman] (2017)

Una mujer fantástica
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Sebastián Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Saavedra, Amparo Noguera, Trinidad González, Néstor Cantillana
Seen on: 20.9.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Marina (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes) have been dating for a while, and despite their considerable age difference, they are very happy. In fact, Marina is just moving in with Orlando. When Orlando suddenly dies, Marina’s world suddenly shatters. On top of her lover dying, she has to also deal with Orlando’s family who can’t accept Marina and the fact that she is trans.

Una mujer fantástica is an intense film about transmisia and the resilience that trans people have to develop in the face of it. Except survival, it has not much space for positivity though.

The film poster showing Marina (Daniela Vega) in a prism of colorful light.
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Die Mitte der Welt [Center of My World] (2016)

Die Mitte der Welt
Director: Jakob M. Erwa
Writer: Jakob M. Erwa
Based on: Andreas Steinhöfel‘s novel
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Sabine Timoteo, Ada Philine Stappenbeck, Inka Friedrich, Svenja Jung, Jannik Schümann, Nina Proll, Clemens Rehbein, Sascha Alexander Gersak
Seen on: 29.8.2021

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
Phil (Louis Hofmann) lives with his mother Glass (Sabine Timoteo) and his sister Dianne (Ada Philine Stappenbeck) in an old mansion at the edge of town, but he just spent the summer abroad. Returning home, he finds that things between Glass and Dianne are tense and Dianne is barely talking to him. Fortunately, there is still his best friend Kat (Svenja Jung) with whom he can still have fun. When school starts, it brings a new student to their class, Nicholas (Jannik Schümann). Phil is convinced that he met Nicholas once already, but in any case, he feels very drawn to him. And Nicholas seems to return his interest. Between family, friends and first love, Phil has to figure out where he stands.

Die Mitte der Welt felt a little bit more like wish fulfilment and fantasy than I would have liked, but other than that, and the usual bimisic trope of the bisexual just not being able to be content with one person, it was nice enough.

The film poster showing Phil (Louis Hofmann) lying between Nicholas (Jannik Schümann) and Kat (Svenja Jung), but they are upside down. Below them, the rest of the central cast can be seen much smaller, standing in a group.
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Fear Street: 1666 (2021)

Fear Street: 1666
Director: Leigh Janiak
Writer: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak, Kate Trefry
Based on: R.L. Stine‘s series
Sequel to: Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978
Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jordyn DiNatale, Elizabeth Scopel, Gillian Jacobs, Emily Rudd, Sadie Sink, McCabe Slye, Ryan Simpkins, Ted Sutherland, Sam Brooks, Jordana Spiro
Seen on: 12.8.2021

Plot:
Deena (Kiana Madeira) has a vision of how everything started with Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) in 1666, seeing events through her eyes to learn how Sarah’s curse started, and how Deena can hopefully finally end it. It appears that Sarah used to be a normal teenager, trying her best to take care of her brother Henry (Benjamin Flores Jr.) and her father (Randy Havens), and even the unfortunate widower Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman). But after a visit to The Widow (Jordana Spiro) everything changes.

Fear Street: 1666 was a really nice finale to a very satisfying trilogy – one that doesn’t only deliver emotionally, but also gives us some surprises that completely paid off for me.

The film poster showing Hannah/Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) tinted in green above a tree, a hooded figure carrying a torch and Solomon Goode (Ashley Zukerman).
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Fear Street: 1994 (2021)

Fear Street: 1994
Director: Leigh Janiak
Writer: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak
Based on: R.L. Stine‘s series
Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jordyn DiNatale, Elizabeth Scopel, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Hawke
Seen on: 6.8.2021

Plot:
Shadyside is a difficult place to live, as Deena (Kiana Madeira) and her brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.) well know. Poverty, crime and a whole lot of murder has plagued the city since about forever – quite to the contrary to the neighboring town Sunnyvale. Rumors are that is the curse of the witch Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) who was hung 300 years ago and is taking her vengeance still. But Deena has no time to believe fairy tales like that – she dreams of getting out, as do her best friends Kate (Julia Rehwald) and Simon (Fred Hechinger). At the same time, she feels very betrayed by the fact that her big love Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) moved to Sunnyvale. When Deena has to meet her at a school event, things get out of hand – and Deena has to realize that there may be more to the Sarah Fier story than she thought at first.

Fear Street: 1994 is a really satisfying watch with great characters that should satisfy horror fans. Especially if they lived through the 90s themselves (like me). I had an excellent time with it.

The film poster showing Deena (Kiana Madeira) lit by purple neon light, above a school hallway with an axe murderer and two masked killers next to that image.
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Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [Postcards from Sicily] (2020)

Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [literally: Tomorrow is another day, if you want]
Director: David Gräber
Writer: Andreas Neu
Cast: Hannah Zieziula, Christina Völz, Bo Anderl
Part of: Transition Queer Filmfestival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Plot:
Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Marcus (Bo Anderl) have been dating for a while, but their relationship isn’t at its best anymore. Marcus feels that Claudia is distant, so he seeks to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Jana (Christina Völz). What he doesn’t know is that Claudia is distant because she, too, met Jana and fell in love with her – and vice versa. Marcus, living out of his van, takes turn staying with the two women, but he can’t stop them both from turning away from him.

Postcards from Sicily didn’t work for me. I found it very tiring and couldn’t get into the story or the characters.

The film poster showing Marcus' van from above. Marcus (Bo Anderl) is lying on the roof, smoking, while Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Jana (Christina Völz) are standing in the open doors looking up at the sky.
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Kapana (2020)

Kapana
Director: Philippe Talavera
Writer: Senga Brockerhoff, Mikiros Garoes
Cast: Adriano Visagie, Simon Hanga, Mikiros Garoes, Dawie Engelbrecht, Foreversun Haiduwah, Albertina Hainane, Felicity Celento, Elize de Wee, Jeremiah Jeremiah, Lukas Paulus
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
George (Adriano Visagie) and Simeon (Simon Hanga) meet in a bar. They flirt, they have sex. They don’t really expect more, especially not in Namibia where homosexuality is criminalized. But then they run into each other again when George comes to buy Kapana for his lunch break, and finds that Simeon is the one who is selling it. Simeon panics, he isn’t out to anyone in his life, but George finds a way and they start dating. Only, George has a secret, and this could threaten to end things between them before they ever really started.

Kapana is a very sweet film that tries to deal with a lot of stuff in its short runtime, but also keeps its emotional side in sight. I really liked it.

The film poster showing Simeon (Simon Hanga) selling Kapana, grilled meat.
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Shiva Baby (2020)

Shiva Baby
Director: Emma Seligman
Writer: Emma Seligman
Cast: Rachel Sennott, Danny Deferrari, Fred Melamed, Polly Draper, Molly Gordon, Glynis Bell, Rita Gardner, Cilda Shaur, Jackie Hoffman, Dianna Agron
Seen on: 9.7.2021

Plot:
Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is a student, just trying to figure out what she wants to do after college. Meanwhile, she has a rather comfortabel arrangement with Max (Danny Deferrari), her sugar daddy. When Danielle’s parents Joel (Fred Melamed) and Debbie (Polly Draper) insist that she come to a shiva with them, Danielle things she is dealing with the worst when her parents keep trying to finde her a job and she runs into her ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) there. But then Max shows up as well – with his wife (Dianna Agron) and baby.

Shiva Baby is billed as a comedy, but the parts that stood out to me the most were the uncomfortable ones, and not the funny ones. In any case, for a debut feature by a very young director, it shows a lot of promise.

The film poster showing Danielle (Rachel Sennott)in a dress made of cream cheese and bagels, holding up a bagel.
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Ammonite (2020)

Ammonite
Director: Francis Lee
Writer: Francis Lee
Cast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, Fiona Shaw, Alec Secareanu, James McArdle, Claire Rushbrook
Part of: Queertactics Festival
Seen on: 23.6.2021

Plot:
Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) lives in a small town at the sea with her mother (Gemma Jones). Every day, Mary goes down to the beach to look for fossils, having made many important finds already – not that the scientific establishment cares much about her. Nevertheless, one day a geologist, Roderick Murchinson (James McArdle) comes to her shop and hopes to accompany Mary to the beach to learn from her. He is willing to pay for it, and Mary is poor, so she agrees. A little while later, Murchinson leaves on a trip to the continent, but leaves behind his sickly wife Charlotte (Saorise Ronan). Mary finds herself suddenly responsible for Charlotte, a charge she resents at first. But slowly the two of them warm to each other.

Ammonite is a really nice film with excellent performances and good characters. It could have done with a little more happiness, but I did like it a lot.

The film poster showing Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) looking to the right and Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) to the left. Their inages are pale apart from where their two faces intersect.
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