Work It (2020)

Work It
Director: Laura Terruso
Writer: Alison Peck
Cast: Sabrina Carpenter, Liza Koshy, Jordan Fisher, Keiynan Lonsdale, Briana Andrade-Gomes, Kalliane Brémault, Naomi Snieckus, Bianca Asilo, Neil Robles, Nathaniel Scarlette, Tyler Hutchings, Indiana Mehta, Drew Ray Tanner, Michelle Buteau
Seen on: 4.4.2021

Plot:
Quinn (Sabrina Carpenter) knows exactly what she wants: to go to the college her late father went to. She has been honing her CV just so, filling it with the right extracurricular activities and the right grades to get accepted. When she finally has her interview, though, the admissions officer (Michelle Buteau) is looking for something more unusual, though. Seeing her dreams float away, Quinn fibs that she is part of her high school’s award-winning dance team the Thunderbirds – she did their lighting after all. This seems to be the ticket, but now Quinn has to actually dance at the competition. Asking her best friend and Thunderbird Jasmine (Liza Koshy) for help, she starts training, but even so, the Thunderbirds don’t want her. So Quinn decides that she has to form a dance crew of her own.

Ah, dance movies… I will always fall into their trap and then shake my head at their ridiculousness while mostly enjoying them. Work It is a decent member of that particular genre, maybe slightly more on the ridiculous side than on the enjoyable one, but overall it delivers what you want and expect from a dance movie.

The film poster showing all the main characters in fierce poses as a dance crew.
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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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Gruber geht [Gruber Is Leaving] (2015)

Gruber geht
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Writer: Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Doris Knecht’s novel
Cast: Manuel Rubey, Bernadette Heerwagen, Doris Schretzmayer, Ulrike Beimpold, Fabian Krüger, Pia Hierzegger
Seen on: 16.3.2021

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
John Gruber (Manuel Rubey) loves the expensive things in life, and little else. His sister Kathi (Doris Schretzmayer) who moved to the country with her family certainly doesn’t get much more from him than contempt. Just as Gruber has trouble with a big account in his firm and fears that he might have cancer, he meets DJ Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). Sarah happens to be there when Gruber gets the confirmation of his cancer diagnosis, turning their fling into something more. Both Sarah and his illness make him reconsider the priorities in his life – but that is not an easy process.

Writing this review feels a bit like saying goodbye after a lackluster first date. There just was no spark between the film and me. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. We had a nice time, but there won’t be a second date. In short, Gruber geht is a good film that I just didn’t find very interesting.

The film poster showing Gruber (Manuel Rubey) in bed with Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). She is handing him a cigarette.
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Die Deutschmeister [A March for the Emperor] (1955)

Die Deutschmeister
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Remake of: Frühjahrsparade (to which Marischka also wrote the script)
Cast: Romy Schneider, Magda Schneider, Siegfried Breuer Jr., Josef Meinrad, Gretl Schörg, Susi Nicoletti, Adrienne Gessner, Hans Moser, Paul Hörbiger, Gunther Philipp, Wolfgang Lukschy, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Plot:
After having her fortune told by a parrot, Stanzi (Romy Schneider) knows that she has to come to Vienna to visit her aunt Therese (Magda Schneider) who runs a bakery there. Right when she arrives, Stanzi gets caught up in a ball where she utterly confuses Baron Zorndorf (Gunther Philipp) who thinks her a countess. But the Baron is quickly forgotten when Stanzi meets the young drummer Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.) whose head is filled with music. When Stanzi sees an opportunity to help Willy by contacting the Kaiser (Paul Hörbiger) on his behalf, she takes it, even if that spells embarrassment for her aunt and the court counselor Hofwirth (Josef Meinrad) who is trying to court Therese.

Die Deutschmeister is a film that basically consists entirely of kitsch and is seasoned with a couple of charming characters. If you’re looking for Monarchy nostalgia and an intense dose of sugar, this is the film to turn to.

The film poster showing Stanzi (Romy Schneider) in the Prater with her date Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.).
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Ying and Yang (2013)

Ying and Yang
Director: Kevin Darnell Walker
Writer: Devere Rogers
Cast: Derrick L. Middleton, Calvin M. Thompson, Chivonne Michelle, Amelia Workman
Seen on: 26.2.2021

Plot:
Devin (Derrick L. Middleton) is dating Jasmine (Chivonne Michelle) but he realizes more and more that he is drawn to his best friend Tyrone (Calvin M. Thompson). This attraction makes him question everything.

Ying and Yang is a short film set to a spoken word poem. The poem is beautiful (although I didn’t love the use of Yin and Yang to represent men and women in a piece that question the binarity of gender and sexual orientation) and was wonderfully spoken (I’m not sure who spoke it – Rogers himself, maybe?). I felt like the film couldn’t quite keep up with the poem, but it was well done nevertheless, capturing Devin’s confusion and insecurity very nicely. It is certainly worth watching.

Katharina, die Letzte [Catherine the Last] (1936)


Katharina, die Letzte
Director: Henry Koster
Writer: Felix Jackson, Károly Nóti
Based on: Sándor Hunyady‘s novel
Cast: Franciska Gaal, Hans Holt, Hans Olden, Otto Wallburg, Dorothy Poole, Eduard Linkers, Ernö Verebes, Adrienne Gessner, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 23.2.2021

Plot:
Hans (Hans Holt) is in love with Sybill (Dorothy Poole) and would like to marry her. But Sybill’s father Sixtus Braun (Otto Wallburg) believes Hans to be an unsteady lothario and he wants nothing to do with him, much less see him marry his daughter. After Braun kicks out Hans and forbids his staff from ever letting him into the house again, Hans concocts a different plan. He realizes that the most menial of maids, Katharina (Franciska Gaal) was not present at the staff instruction, so he poses as a chauffeur and asks her out on a date, hoping to gain access to the house through her. What he doesn’t factor into his plans is that Katharina actually takes his advances seriously.

Katharina, die Letzte is such an infuriating film with such a wonderful Franciska Gaal that it left me a bit of a mess. The story sucks, but she is so perfect that I almost didn’t care.

The film poster showing Katharina (Franciska Gaal) wearing a headscarf.
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To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

To All the Boys: Always and Forever
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Katie Lovejoy
Based on: Jenny Han’s novel
Sequel to: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Ross Butler, Emilija Baranac, Sarayu Blue, Henry Thomas
Seen on: 21.2.2021

Plot:
Everything is good for Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo), but as they are nearing the end of their final year of high school things are bound to change – and the question is whether they can actually change for the better. Lara Jean has a clear plan: she will attend college together with Peter at Stanford, so she can still be with him without having to worry about the long distance thing. But when she isn’t actually accepted at Stanford, Lara Jean has to figure out how to deal with her plans not coming through – and what she actually wants for herself.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is a lovely end to a lovely trilogy that I enjoyed a lot – especially thanks to Lana Condor’s ever-present charm. This installment, being more about Lara Jean on her own than about Lara Jean and Peter, plays to that strength and is generally just wonderful.

The film poster showing Lara Jean (Lana Condor) walking through a drawn New York street.
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Doris (2018)

Doris
Director: Albert Jan van Rees
Writer: Roos Ouwehand
Cast: Tjitske Reidinga, Guy Clemens, Hendrikje Nieuwerf, Tarik Moree, Roos Ouwehand, Monique van de Ven, Bracha van Doesburgh
Seen on: 17.2.2021

Plot:
Doris (Tjitske Reidinga) was recently divorced and now has to face a fresh start with her two teenaged children (Hendrikje Nieuwerf, Tarik Moree). That she has spent her marriage as a houswife, makes that new start even harder. As if that wasn’t enough, Doris starts to have romantic dreams about her best friend Tim (Guy Clemens). But Tim just seems to have started dating a co-worker, Lynn (Bracha van Doesburgh), and Doris may not have a chance to tell him how she feels.

Doris may not reinvent the genre and didn’t leave me overcome by emotion, but it is a very well executed, enjoyable genre addition that gives older women something to enjoy instead of pretending that if you didn’t find the right person by age 25, everything is over. That message is needed and appreciated.

The film poster showing Doris (Tjitske Reidinga) on a bicycle with a bunch of flowers.
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Tagebuch der Geliebten [Affairs of Maupassant] (1935)

Tagebuch der Geliebten
Director: Henry Koster
Writer: Henry Koster, Corrado Alvaro
Based on: Marie Bashkirtseff‘s journal
Cast: Lili Darvas, Hans Jaray, S.Z. Sakall, Attila Hörbiger, Anna Kallina, Etha von Storm
Seen on: 16.2.2021

Plot:
Marie Bashkirtseff (Lili Darvas) is a promising and ambitious painter. Under the tutelage of her friend and mentor Bassieux (Attila Hörbiger) she has grown better still, but when Bassieux asks her to marry him, she declines – she’d rather focus on her career. Taking Bassieux’s advice to visit the poorer quarters of the city to make her paintings more naturalistic, Marie ditches her companion Doctor Walitzky (S.Z. Sakall) and is off for an adventure. But adventure also spells a little bit of trouble for her – fortunately a charming young gentleman (Hans Jaray) comes to her aid. Marie doesn’t realize it’s the famous Guy de Maupassant (who also happens to be Bassieux’s nemesis), but it doesn’t keep either of them from falling for each other hard.

Tagebuch der Geliebten is fun enough to watch as long as it doesn’t try to be romantic. Unfortunately, it tries to be romantic a lot.

The film poster showing Marie (Lili Darvas) talking to Guy (Hans Jaray).
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Allotria [Hokum] (1936)

Allotria
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Renate Müller, Jenny Jugo, Anton Walbrook, Heinz Rühmann, Hilde Hildebrand, Heinz Salfner, Will Dohm
Seen on: 14.2.2021

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Philip (Anton Walbrook) met Viola (Renate Müller) on a cruise ship and he fell for her hard. Just not quite enough to overcome his joy at and freedom of many years as a bachelor and actually propose to her. Maybe also because he knows that Aimée (Hilde Hildebrand) is waiting for him at home, however uncommitted their relationship actually is. Meanwhile Aimée has found herself a new lover in racecar driver David (Heinz Rühmann), not knowing that Philip and David are best friends – not that she would care very much. But David is trying to find a way to break things off with Aimée because he is about to get officially engaged to Gaby (Jenny Jugo). When Philip and David catch up with each other, their women also collide.

Allotria is a comedy of errors, basically, and definitely falls on the very silly side. It does have rather interesting characters, but the rest of it didn’t really work for me.

The film poster showing a pencil portrait of the four main characters.
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