Ticket to Paradise (2022)

Ticket to Paradise
Director: Ol Parker
Writer: Ol Parker, Daniel Pipski
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Kaitlyn Dever, Maxime Bouttier, Billie Lourd, Lucas Bravo
Seen on: 19.9.2022

Content Note: orientalism

Georgia (Julia Roberts) and David (George Clooney) got divorced many years ago, but their relationship is still strained. They only see each other when it concerns their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). Lily just graduated law school and went on a holiday with her best friend Wren (Billie Lourd) before starting her job at a prestigious law firm. Only that she falls in love in Bali and has decided to stay there and marry Gede (Maxime Bouttier). This shocks her parents. As they travel to the planned wedding together, they hatch a plan: to keep their daughter from making a mistake, they will have to work together to sabotage her wedding without her noticing. This common goal unites them, at least for a while.

Ticket to Paradise lives off the star quality from Roberts and Clooney, and it is a comfortable income. You probably won’t be surprised by much here, but you will be entertained in a light-hearted and sweet way.

The film poster showing Georgia (Julia Roberts) and David (George Clooney) standing close to each other surrounded by tropical flowers.
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Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022)

Three Thousand Years of Longing
Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Augusta Gore
Based on: A. S. Byatt‘s short story The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba
Seen on: 13.9.2022

Content Note: orientalism, fatmisia, ableism

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a narratologist, studying the meaning and function of stories. She travels to Istanbul for a convention where she finds an old bottle at the market. She buys it as a souvenir. When she tries to clean it, she can’t believe it when an actual Djinn (Idris Elba) comes out of the bottle. He needs her to make three wishes. She knows how the stories about wishing end up, that they’re all cautionary tales. So the Djinn tries to convince her by sharing his life story.

Three Thousand Years of Longing is a beautiful, romantic fairy tale that I found honestly engaging and incredibly lovely despite its orientalism and a sequence of fetishizing fatness.

The film poster showing the Djinn (Idris Elba) standing behind Alithea (Tilda swinton), surrounded by carious characters from the film.
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How Do You Know (2010)

How Do You Know
Director: James L. Brooks
Writer: James L. Brooks
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, Kathryn Hahn, Tony Shalhoub, Dean Norris, Teyonah Parris
Seen on: 6.9.2022

Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) is a softball player who lives for the game. But when she is cut from the team, she has to reconfigure her entire life. That also includes deciding about her relationship with Matty (Owen Wilson), a baseball player with certain commitment issues. Her teammate (Teyonah Parris) tries to set her up with George (Paul Rudd), but George is going through a rather tumultuous life phase himself, to put it mildly: under investigation for fraud, he lost his job at his father’s (Jack Nicholson) company. Despite everything, Lisa and George meet for a friendly dinner, and actually have a connection. Now they both have to figure out where their life should be heading.

How Do You Know is okay overall, but it only gets really good at certain points. It’s watchable, but it is not particularly exciting or memorable.

The movie poster showing separate headshots of Lisa (Reese Witherspoon), Matty (Owen Wilson), George (Paul Rudd) and Charles (Jack NIcholson).
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Les liaisons dangereuses [Dangerous Liaisons] (2022)

Les liaisons dangereuses
Director: Rachel Suissa
Writer: Rachel Suissa, Slimane-Baptiste Berhoun
Based on: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s novel
Cast: Paola Locatelli, Simon Rérolle, Ella Pellegrini, Héloïse Janjaud, Jin Xuan Mao, Oscar Lesage
Seen on: 4.9.2022
[Here are my reviews of other adaptations of the novel.]

Content Note: misogyny

Célène (Paola Locatelli) just moved to Biarritz from Paris, leaving behind her fiancé Pierre (Aymeric Fougeron). Just after her arrival, she meets surf champion Tristan (Simon Rérolle), more or less local celebrity and one half of the power couple of their school. The other half is Vanessa (Ella Pellegrini), child actor and star. What the people around them don’t know, though, is that they’re not actually together, but rather pretend for social media fame. They spend their time by making bets and manipulating the people around them. Tristan is intrigued by Célène, especially her promise to Pierre to marry him and stay a virgin until then. Vanessa uses that to make a bet with him, daring him to seduce her. But things become really complicated when Tristan and Célène find themselves drawn to each other for real.

The novel Les liaisons dangereuses is one of my favorites (despite some issues I do have with it), so I was really excited to get this new adaptation – the first one by a woman, if I’m not mistaken. But unfortunately, the modernization here didn’t work for me at all.

The film poster showing the central characters, with Célène (Paola Locatelli) front and center.
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Beloved (2022)

Director: Bishrel Mashbat
Writer: Bishrel Mashbat
Cast: Iveel Mashbat, Jana Miley, Roy Oraschin, Charletta Rozzell, Erdenemunkh Tumursukh
Seen on: 1.9.2022
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Anar (Iveel Mashbat) and Kassy (Jana Miley) have been married for a while. Things have turned a little stale, unfortunately. When Kassy, an actress, gets invited on a date with a director (Roy Oraschin), she accepts, hoping to be cast in his movie. Meanwhile Anar, a bartender, gets a visit from Olivia (Charlette Rozzell) at his bar. She obviously has something to tell him. Both these events may push Anar and Kassy’s marriage over the brink.

Beloved is a melancholic look at a marriage falling apart that could have been a little more political, but definitely captures the sadness of a long drawn-out good-bye.

The movie poster showing two stylized figures embracing in the corner. The rest is simply blue.
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Who Are We? (2022)

Who Are We?
Director: Jirka Cerny
Writer: Jirka Cerny, Stefan Radakovic
Cast: Felix Maria Berger, Patrick Isopp, Victor Ramos, Alexander Diwiak, Saskia Norman
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 26.8.2022

David (Felix Maria Berger) and Chris (Patrick Isopp) have just returned from their holiday together. But even in that relaxed mode, a certain spark seems to be missing from their relationship. Chris wants to try having a threesome, hoping that it will bring some excitement back for them. David is a bit more hesitant, but agrees in the end. With the help of a dating app, they find Lukas (Victor Ramos), but inviting him into their relationship may have unexpected ramifications.

Who Are We? is an indpendent, queer, Austrian film by young filmmakers. For that alone I wanted to love it. But they did make things a little difficult for me.

The film poster showing Chris (Patrick Isopp) and Lukas (Victor Ramos) leaning in for a kiss.
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Wedding Season (2022)

Wedding Season
Director: Tom Dey
Writer: Shiwani Srivastava
Cast: Pallavi Sharda, Suraj Sharma, Arianna Afsar, Sean Kleier, Veena Sood, Rizwan Manji, Ruth Goodwin, Damian Thompson, Manoj Sood, Subhash Santosh, Julius Cho
Seen on: 11.8.2022

After a broken off engagement some years ago, Asha (Pallavi Sharda) would rather concentrate on her career than on romance. But her mother Suneeta (Veena Sood) is having none of that. As frustrating as her constant attempts to set up Asha are, every once in a while, Asha has to agree to go on a date. And that’s how she ends up on a rather catastrophic date with Ravi (Suraj Sharma) who is in a rather similar situation with his parents. With one wedding after the other coming up in the next few weeks, and neither of their parents showing any sign of relenting in their coupling attempts, Ravi and Asha strike a deal: they will be each other’s date for the wedding season, keeping their parents from their backs and themselves free of romantic entanglements. But it’s not so easy to date without a little romance creeping in.

Wedding Season is a really cute romance that profits from the Indian-American setting and a very likeable central couple with good chemistry. It sticks to the rules of the genre, giving you exactly what you expect and hope for.

The film poster showing Ravi (Suraj Sharma) with his arm around Asha (Pallavi Sharda) in front of a city skyline.
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Happiest Season (2020)

Happiest Season
Director: Clea DuVall
Writer: Clea DuVall, Mary Holland
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Dan Levy, Burl Moseley, Aubrey Plaza
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) have been dating for a while and are still very much in love. In an unguarded moment, Harper invites Abby back home to her family for Christmas. Abby, who doesn’t have a family anymore, happily accepts. When they’re on the road already, Harper comes clean: she hasn’t acutally come out to her parents yet and she would like Abby to pretend that they are just roommates. Abby reluctantly agrees, but this secret and the emotional toll it takes aren’t easy to stomach.

Happiest Season is a typical holiday movie except for the fact that it’s about a sapphic couple. It is exceptional in the way it just refuses to be anything more than that: family chaos, a bit of drama and a happy end. While I do like it when films have something to say, I do think that there is a lack of queer films that aren’t “issue films”, so this was a really good thing in this case.

The film poster with the main characters arranged as if in a family portrait that hangs crookedly over a fire place with Christmas decorations.
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Failure to Launch (2006)

Failure to Launch
Director: Tom Dey
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates, Katheryn Winnick, Patton Oswalt
Seen on: 2.8.2022

Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is in his 30s, but still living comfortably at home with his parents Al and Sue (Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates). His parents aren’t as comfortable with the arrangement, though. Since they are not the only people in their circle of friends with that issue, they hear about Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who has specialized in dating guys who still live at home, boosting their self-confidence until they’re ready to head out into the world. Al and Sue decide to hire Paula to get Tripp out of their house. But things with Tripp develop differently than Paula expected.

Failure to Launch does not work at all. Not in the ill-advised animal comedy that is peppered throughout the film, not in the romance, not even in the general idea of how things are supposed to work here. And it’s definitely not entertaining enough to make you forget about its failings.

The film poster showing Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) leaning back against Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) who is pushing him forward.
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This Little Love of Mine (2021)

This Little Love of Mine
Director: Christine Luby
Writer: Georgia Harrison
Cast: Saskia Hampele, Liam McIntyre, Lynn Gilmartin, Craig Horner, Lawrence Ola, Rajan Velu, Monette Lee, Martin Portus
Seen on: 22.7.2022

Content Note: colonialism

Laura (Saskia Hampele) is an up and coming lawyer, hoping to finally become a partner in her lawfirm. When billionaire Graham (Martin Portus) wants to hire her, it looks like she can finally can get everything she ever dreamed off. She grew up with Graham’s grandson Chip (Liam McIntyre) on a beautiful island. Graham needs Chip to take over the company, but Chip won’t sign the necessary paperwork. So Laura flies back home to her island to convince Chip. Once there, she realizes how much she missed home – and Chip.

This Little Love of Mine is a cute RomCom that does exactly what you think it will do. To enjoy it, you have to stomach though that on this tropical island, we can barely see a person of color which is superweird.

The movie poster showing Laura (Saskia Hampele) leaning against a palm tree on the beach and Chip (Liam McIntyre) leaning against her.
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