A Pure Place (2021)

A Pure Place
Director: Nikias Chryssos
Writer: Nikias Chryssos, Lars Henning Jung
Cast: Sam Louwyck, Greta Bohacek, Claude Heinrich, Daniel Sträßer, Daniel Fripan, Wolfgang Czeczor, Lena Lauzemis, Mariella Josephine Aumann
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Content Note: (critical treatment of) white supremacy, fascism and cults

Plot:
When they were very small, Irina (Greta Bohacek) and her brother Paul (Claude Heinrich) came into the care of soap producer Fust (Sam Louwyck). That means, they started working in his factory and learned to revere him like a god, always hoping to be pretty and clean enough to make it from below (the factory) to above (his mansion). And it seems that Irina finally gets her chance at a turn in the light when Fust grows tired of one of his followers. Only that this means that Irina has to leave Paul behind.

A Pure Place starts off well enough, with building up the whole setting as a thinly veiled allegory for white supremacy. But then it gets lost in its own story, seems to turn in circles and never reaches a satisfying conclusion. Plus, there were some really problematic elements with regards to Irina and the male gaze that ruined the film for me a little.

The film poster, drawn comic-style, showing Irina (Greta Bohacek) as a greek statue with a snake and a goblet. Behind her we can see Fust (Sam Louwyck), his arms spread wide and his congregation with soap around their necks, some wearing hooded robes. In front of Irina we can see Siegfried (Daniel Sträßer) self-flagellating.
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In the Earth (2021)

In the Earth
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2021
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Plot:
In the middle of a global pandemic, Martin (Joel Fry) arrives in a nature reserve to join his colleague Olivia (Hayley Squires) in research. Park ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia) is supposed to lead him to the scientist’s camp in the woods. As they walk, Alma realizes, though, that Martin has a bit more than a professional connection to Olivia. Before they arrive at the camp, Martin and Olivia get attacked, though. There is generally something strange going on in this forest.

I have written it before, I will write it again: Ben Wheatley and me is a combination that just doesn’t work. That’s also true for In the Earth that I found a little muddled at best, and boring at worst.

The film poster showing an obelisk-like boulder with a round hole at the top in the forest under a starry sky.
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2551.01 (2021)

2551.01
Director: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Writer: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Cast: Stefan Erber, David Ionescu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Plot:
In an underground world of tunnels and masked people, a man with the head of a monkey finds a little child with a sack over their head in trouble. He helps the kid – and after that, the kid doesn’t let go of him anymore, no matter how much he tries to shake them off.

I was really quite taken with 2551.01, an experimental SciFi with a comedic touch that has its very own style. It’s really not something you get to see everyday.

The film poster showing a yellow-tinted image of a table set for a feast, but one in rather destitute shape surrpunded by strange people. Below it is a purple-tinted image of a child wearing a sack over their head, cradling a doll.
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Lapsis (2020)

Lapsis
Director: Noah Hutton
Writer: Noah Hutton
Cast: Dean Imperial, Madeline Wise, Babe Howard, Ivory Aquino, Dora Madison, James McDaniel, Frank Wood, Arliss Howard
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2021
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Plot:
Ray (Dean Imperial) tries to take care of his brother Jamie (Babe Howard) who suffers from a mysterious illness. Treatments for this illness are expensive and experimental, but Ray is determined to get his brother help. Even if that means having to go cabling – that is, laying miles and miles of cables through the forest on foot, a requirement for the new quantum technology that is taking over the world. Ray is suspicious of the technology and he needs to take an illegal short-cut to start working soon, but in his desperation, he will do anything.

Lapsis is a unique and very entertaining film. I really enjoyed it and its off the beaten path thinking and style.

The film poster showing a big golden cube with various cables potruding from it.
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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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Dune (2021)

Dune
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
Based on: Frank Herbert‘s novel
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chen Chang, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, Benjamin Clémentine
Seen on: 18.9.2021

Content Note: fatmisia, colonialism, racism

Plot:
Paul (Timothée Chalamet) is the son and heir of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Issac) and Bene Gesserit Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). By decree of the Emperor, the Atreides clan just received stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, home to the valuable spice that keeps interstellar travel going. That means relieving the Harkonnens, led by their Baron (Stellan Skarsgård), of their post there – and the resulting wealth. If the Harkonnens hadn’t already been the Atreides’ mortal enemies, they would be now. Just before the Atreides family is moving to Arrakis, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit (Charlotte Rampling) comes to test Paul, seeing great potential in him, whose fate seems to be intertwined not only with Arrakis, but the entire universe.

Dune is pretty much the epitome of an epic hero’s journey – with all the advantages and disadvantages of that. It’s a faithful adaptation with only few modernizations in the story and characters – and that, too, comes with its own problems. I guess, how much you like this film will strongly depend on how much you like the source material and how much you like the colors grey, brown and beige.

The film poster showing a moon, science fiction machinery, sand and a sandworm as a background. In the foreground, Leto (Oscar Isaac), Paul (Timothée Chalamet), Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Chani (Zendaya), Kynes (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) and Gurney (Josh Brolin) as floating heads in different sizes.
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Reminiscence (2021)

Reminiscence
Director: Lisa Joy
Writer: Lisa Joy
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan
Seen on: 31.8.2021

Plot:
In a Miami almost entirely drowned Nick (Hugh Jackman) and his employee Watts (Thandiwe Newton) run a small reminiscence business. Their clients come to relive their memories in the most realistic way possible with them. Everything changes for Nick the day that Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) comes in, hoping to find her lost keys. Nick and Mae become very close – until Mae disappears, leaving Nick scrambling to understand what happened with her, with them. Unable to let go, he digs into her past and uncovers more than he bargained for.

I had not realized going into the film that it was a noir set in the future. If I had, I may have liked it a little better, but fact is, I usually don’t like noirs and Reminiscence reminded me again why that is.

The film poster showing Nick (Hugh Jackman) standing with a gun in his hand, pointed at the floor. Behind him is a half-submerged street with boats and the other main characters are superimposed over the setting orange sun.
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Free Guy (2021)

Free Guy
Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Matt Lieberman, Zak Penn
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Taika Waititi
Seen on: 16.8.2021

Plot:
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller and his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) is a security guard in the bank. Everyday they go into work and everyday the bank gets robbed. More than once, mostly. Guy is a cheery person, though, but he does wonder whether life holds more for him than bank robberies. He dreams of the girl he saw once, though Buddy doesn’t believe she exists. Until Guy really does see her, decides to break his routine and talk to her – Millie (Jodie Comer), as he learns. What he doesn’t know, though, is that his world is actually a game and Millie is a player, while Guy is an NPC, a non-player character, who shouldn’t be able to make the decisions he makes. Also, Millie is playing for a particular reason.

Free Guy looked fun, but I didn’t expect it to be as much fun as it was. It’s a film that I think will satisfy gamers, as well as people like me who only have a rudimentary knowledge of the kind of computer games that it plays with. I’d say it’s a full success.

The film poster showing Guy (Ryan Reynolds) from behind, standing on a rooftop overlooking a city skyline full of plans, rockets, hot air balloons, parachutes and an explosion. He has a goldfish bowl with a goldfish in one hand and a disposable coffee cup in the other.
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Proxima (2019)

Proxima
Director: Alice Winocour
Writer: Alice Winocour, Jean-Stéphane Bron
Cast: Eva Green, Zélie Boulant, Matt Dillon, Aleksey Fateev, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Hüller
Seen on: 10.8.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism

Plot:
Sarah (Eva Green) is an astronaut at ESA. Or she hopes to become one – so far, she has been preparing while taking care of her daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant) mostly on her own as she is separated from Stella’s father, astrophycisist Thomas (Lars Eidinger). When Sarah finally gets the call she’s been waiting for, when she is finally assigned a mission, things change quickly and drastically for Sarah and Stella. Sarah has to go to Russia for her mission training, Stella has to move in with Thomas. Both knew this was coming, but living it brings more challenges than expected.

Proxima is a quiet film, focusing on the trivialities of space travel in a way that feels entirely revolutionary and gives it a new, feminine-coded take we very much needed.

The film poster showing Sarah (Eva Green) in her astronaut suit holding her daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant), behind them a rocket getting ready to lift off.
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The Suicide Squad (2021)

The Suicide Squad
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Based on: various comic characters
Sequel to: Suicide Squad
Cast: Idris Elba, Margot Robbie, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Daniela Melchior, David Dastmalchian, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Peter Capaldi, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, Jai Courtney, Flula Borg, Mayling Ng, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, Storm Reid, Alice Braga, Taika Waititi, Pom Klementieff
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 9.8.2021

Plot:
The Suicide Squad has some new recruits and a new mission on Corto Maltese. Instructed by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), they are dropped off on the island that recently saw a regime change. And so, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), RIck Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) find themselves on different paths to the island capital to gain control of a secret weapon in a stronghold in the city.

I was debating with myself whether I actually wanted to go see The Suicide Squad, given that Suicide Squad wasn’t good (to put it mildly), but ultimately my love for the cast won out. And I’m glad it did – The Suicide Squad is a whole lot of fun.

The film poster showing Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), RIck Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) in a star-like formation, surrounded by explosions.
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