Beast (2022)

Beast
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Ryan Engle, Jaime Primak Sullivan
Cast: Idris Elba, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley, Sharlto Copley
Seen on: 2.9.2022

Plot:
After the death of his ex-wife, Nate (Idris Elba) takes their two teenage daughters Norah (Leah Jeffries) and Mer (Iyana Halley) to South Africa where their mother came from originally. Meeting up with their old friend Martin (Sharlto Copley), the trip is supposed to reconnect and heal all of them a little. Things are off to a good start when Martin takes them out into the local national park where he works as a vet. But poachers have also been to the park, hunting, hurting and killing lions. Martin, Nate and the kids stumble upon evidence that one lion has started to fight back – and then they find themselves in its crosshair, prompting a desperate fight for survival.

Beast promises us a fight between Idris Elba and a lion, and it does give us that (not like The Grey that promises us Liam Neeson fighting a wolf and then cuts out just before that happens). If you would like more from a movie – like a plot that makes sense or characters that behave believably – you’ll be disappointed. But if that is all you want, go for it.

The film poster showing Nate, bloodied and scratched, holding a big knife.
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Blood Red Sky (2021)

Blood Red Sky
Director: Peter Thorwarth
Writer: Peter Thorwarth, Stefan Holtz
Cast: Peri Baumeister, Carl Anton Koch, Alexander Scheer, Kais Setti, Gordon Brown, Dominic Purcell, Graham McTavish
Seen on: 5.8.2022

Content Note: (critical treatmen of) racism against muslims

Plot:
Elias (Carl Anton Koch) and his mother Nadja (Peri Baumeister) are flying to the USA. Nadja is sick, and a doctor there has promised to be able to heal her. Everything seems to be going well until their plan is hijacked. As things turn more and more tense and outright bloody on board and Muslim passengers like Farid (Kais Setti) get singled out by the hijackers for some reason, Elias tries to hide. As the hijackers turn their attention to him and Nadja, it becomes apparent that there is more to Nadja’s illness than appeared at first.

My expectations for Blood Red Sky weren’t particularly high, but they were disappointed anyway as it is a vampire movie that is just no fun, despite the nice idea.

The film poster showing Nadja (Peri Baumeister) holding Elias (Carl Anton Koch) in an airplane seat. Her reflection in the plane window shows a creature with a bloody mouth.
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Taking Lives (2004)

Taking Lives
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Jon Bokenkamp
Based on: Michael Pye’s novel
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Olivier Martinez, Tchéky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Paul Dano, Justin Chatwin
Seen on: 24.5.2022

Plot:
When French police uncover a case that point to a serial killer, they ask FBI profiler Illeana (Angelina Jolie) for support, much to the annoyance of leading detective Paquette (Olivier Martinez). By chance, they find a new lead. Artist Costa (Ethan Hawke) was witness to an attack by the killer and can give a description. But this also puts him in the crosshairs. As the investigation intensifies, Illeana finds herself drawn to Costa. But will this attraction compromise her abilities?

Taking Lives is okay. The idea isn’t bad and the cast good, but the movie tries to surprise where its obvious and Illeana is filtered through the male gaze a whole lot which makes it a little tedious.

The film poster showing Illeana (Angelina Jolie) with a hand wrapped around her wrist, close to her neck.
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Inexorable (2021)

Inexorable
Director: Fabrice du Welz
Writer: Joséphine Darcy Hopkins, Aurélien Molas, Fabrice du Welz
Cast: Benoît Poelvoorde, Mélanie Doutey, Alba Gaïa Bellugi, Janaina Halloy, Anaël Snoek, Jackie Berroyer, Sam Louwyck
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 6.5.2022

Content Note: misogyny, animal death/cruelty, incest

Plot:
Marcel (Benoît Poelvoorde) is an author, supposed to be working on his next book that has been a long time coming. Together with his publisher and wife Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey) and their daughter Lucie (Janaina Halloy), they decide to withdraw to Jeanne’s family estate in the country for a bit of calm. Shortly after their arrival, Gloria (Alba Gaïa Bellugi) turns up, bringing back the family dog that ran off. Quickly, Gloria finds a place in their home as a housekeeper and friend to Lucie. But her presence has an unsettling effect on the family.

Inexorable had me rolling my eyes so much because it is, on the one hand, boringly familiar, and on the other hand, enragingly misogynistic.

The film poster showing Gloria (Alba Gaïa Bellugi) and Marcel (Benoît Poelvoorde) grabbing each other by the throat in a sexy way. He is turning around in suspicion. Behind them we see Jeanne (Mélanie Doutey) on the staircase in the distance.
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Oranges sanguines [Bloody Oranges] (2021)

Oranges sanguines
Director: Jean-Christophe Meurisse
Writer: Yohann Gloaguen, Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Amélie Philippe
Cast: Alexandre Steiger, Christophe Paou, Lilith Grasmug, Olivier Saladin, Lorella Cravotta, Fred Blin, Denis Podalydès, Blanche Gardin, Patrice Laffont, Vincent Dedienne
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 3.10.2021
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Content Note: rape

Plot:
Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) is an attorney working for a minister (Christophe Paou), his job turning ever more into keeping the minister from being embroiled in scandal. What Alexandre doesn’t know is that his parents (Lorella Cravotta, Olivier Saladin) are in trouble, too, financially. But they are convinced they can solve everything by winning a dance competition despite their age. Meanwhile teenager Louise (Lilith Grasmug) is preparing for sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time.

Bloody Oranges starts well enough with a very critical, biting sense of humor. But after setting up its characters, the film changes pace and that change didn’t work for me at all. In fact, I was considering just getting up and leaving for a while. In the end, I did leave a few minutes early to catch my train back home in a less stressful way, but I wish I would have caught an even earlier train and skipped this film.

The film poster showing a politician with an orange in his face as if it was a clown's nose.
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Violation (2020)

Violation
Director: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Writer: Dusty Mancinelli, Madeleine Sims-Fewer
Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili, Jasmin Geljo, Cynthia Ashperger
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 1.10.2021
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Content Note: rape

Plot:
A while ago, Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) and her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) spent some time with Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and Greta’s husband Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) whom Miriam has known since they were kids. The relationship between the sisters hasn’t always been easy and the meeting between them is supposed to be a fresh start. Since things between Miriam and Caleb have been icy for a while, Miriam also hopes for a fresh start with him as well. But things turn out quite differently for Miriam, leaving her shaken to her core and desperate.

Violation is not an easy film. It’s not easily digested and it works better on an intellectual level than on an entertainment level. But that’s kind of the point as it questions how rape-revenge movies usually work.

The film poster showing Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) screaming in the rain.
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Coming Home in the Dark (2021)

Coming Home in the Dark
Director: James Ashcroft
Writer: James Ashcroft, Eli Kent
Based on: Owen Marshall‘s short story
Cast: Erik Thomson, Daniel Gillies, Matthias Luafutu, Miriama McDowell, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 29.9.2021
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Plot:
Hoaggie (Erik Thomson), his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell) and their children Maika (Billy Paratene) and Jordan (Frankie Paratene) are taking a little road trip together. Their fun and bickering, though, is interrupted when Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and Tubs (Matthias Luafutu) show up as the family picnics. The two men are armed and dangerous and nothing will be the same after the encounter.

Coming Home in the Dark finished off the trilogy of hopelessness that was the SLASH program this evening (the other two films in this unofficial trilogy were Hunter Hunter and Teddy). Of the three films, it was the weakest. It simply gave us nothing to hold on to.

The film poster showing Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) holding a shotgun in front of a red-tinted sky and a car standing in a field.
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Hunter Hunter (2020)

Hunter Hunter
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Cast: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Plot:
Joseph (Devon Sawa), Anne (Camille Sullivan) and their daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) live off the grid, in the middle of the forest, getting by as trappers, selling the furs of the animals they catch. When they realize that a wolf is in the area, they are highly alerted, though. Anne is worried for Renee in particular, as they believe it’s a rogue wolf who is likely to attack them and who, at the very least, is a danger to their already slim livelihood. So Joseph sets out to catch the wolf.

I have rarely watched a film that left me with such a strong urge to drink something like this movie. And I actually do mean that as a compliment. It’s depressing and tense and highly effective.

The film poster showing a howling wolf, painted with white color on a black background. in front of it the silhouette of a man, and in front of that Anne (Camille Sullivan), rifle in hand.
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Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss
Seen on: 1.9.2021

Plot:
Erin (Nicole Kidman) is a police officer, only barely holding herself together. When a body turns up with markings that connect it to an undercover case from the very beginning of Erin’s career, she re-opens the investigation, she knows that her past has finally caught up with her – and that she may finally set things right.

Destroyer very cleverly cast Nicole Kidman against type, but I often felt that it relies to hard on that cleverness, on Kidman’s sallow looks. It is a decent crime movie, but it could have been a little more.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Erin's (Nicole Kidman) face with deep shadows under her eyes in blue and red light.
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Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Young Woman
Director: Emerald Fennell
Writer: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Molly Shannon, Alfred Molina
Seen on: 23.8.2021

Content Note: rape, rape culture

Plot:
Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) has a hobby: she goes out a lot, pretends to be drunk and waits until a man tries to pick her up and fuck, or rather rape her. Then she confronts him about his actions. Other than that, her life is pretty uneventful. She lives with her parents (Clancy Brown, Jennifer Cooldige) and works in a coffeeshop. When Ryan (Bo Burnham) comes into the coffeeshop one day, he recognizes her from college and asks Cassie out. This reconnection to her own past has unforeseen consequences for both of them.

Promising Young Woman is a strong film that is definitely worth seeing, even though it doesn’t come without flaws. It certainly leaves an impression and opens up a discussion.

The film poster showing the film title as if written with lipstick, inlcuding a lip print. behind this we can see Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) unfocused, lipstick in hand.
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