Shut In (2016)

Shut In
Director: Farren Blackburn
Writer: Christina Hodson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay, Clémentine Poidatz, Alex Braunstein, David Cubitt, Crystal Balint
Seen on: 19.12.2016

Plot:
Mary (Naomi Watts) lives a rather lonely existence. A few months ago, her husband Richard (Peter Outerbridge) and her teenaged son Stephen (Charlie Heaton) got into a car accident. Richard died, Stephen was left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak, becoming totally dependent on her. Now she spends all her time taking care of Stephen and working as a child psychologist from home. Just before a snow storm hits the area, one of the children she works with, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), first hides in her house, then runs into the woods. But finding Tom isn’t the only thing that becomes a pressing matter for Mary.

Shut In starts strong enough as long as it builds tension but when they start resolving the story, it pretty much falls apart, leaving a decidedly meh impression.

Continue reading

Baden Baden (2016)

Baden Baden
Director: Rachel Lang
Writer: Rachel Lang
Cast: Salomé Richard, Claude Gensac, Lazare Gousseau, Swann Arlaud, Olivier Chantreau, Jorijn Vriesendorp, Noémie RossetZabou Breitman, Kate Moran
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
After an aborted attempt to work abroad, Ana (Salomé Richard) returns home to Strasbourg with the summer stretched ahead of her. She starts to renovate her grandmother’s (Claude Gensac) bathroom just to have something to do, while trying to figure out her life. Which, as usual, is easier said than done. As she reconnects with old and new friends, things don’t necessarily become any clearer for her.

Baden Baden wasn’t great, but it was far from bad. But it’s not a film that touched me particularly deeply or will stay with me for a long time.

Continue reading

Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones, Daniel Mays, Geraldine James, Warwick Davis, Michael Smiley
Part of/Sidequel/Prequel to: Star Wars
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
There are rumors that the Empire is building a great new weapon, called the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance has caught wind of that and hatches a plan to steal the plans for that weapon as they heard that there was a structural weakness that they may use to destroy it. They believe that Jyn (Felicity Jones) may be the key to success as her father (Mads Mikkelsen) seems to be involved with the planning. But Jyn hasn’t seen her father in 15 years and she’s also not all that interested in helping the Alliance. But they do reach a deal and Jyn finds herself accompanying pilot Cassian (Diego Luna) on the mission.

I will probably never be super excited about Star Wars – it’s just not my franchise. But I did enjoy Rogue One a whole lot, despite a couple of lengths it suffered from.

Continue reading

Orpheline [Orphan] (2016)

Orpheline
Director: Arnaud des Pallières
Writer: Arnaud des Pallières, Christelle Berthevas
Cast: Adèle Haenel, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Solène Rigot, Vega Cuzytek, Jalil Lespert, Gemma Arterton, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Sergi López, Karim Leklou, Robert Hunger-Bühler
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
When Tara (Gemma Arterton) is released from prison, she goes to see Renée (Adèle Haenel). Renée works as a school teacher and is trying to have a baby with her boyfriend (Jalil Lespert), but it appears that her past was rather different: Tara demands money from her, money they stole together before she was arrested, at a time when Tara worked with Sandra (Adèle Exarchopoulos). But how does Renée’s life tie in with Sandra or teenager Karine (Solène Rigot) who behaves much more maturely than she is or the small Kiki (Vega Cuzytek) who loves to play outside, even at the dangerous junkyard.

Orphan really impressed me (and was the first of the Scope100 films that year that actually did). It’s a well-made film with fascinating female characters.

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

La prunelle de mes yeux [The Apple of My Eye] (2016)

La prunelle de mes yeux
Director: Axelle Ropert
Writer: Axelle Ropert
Cast: Mélanie Bernier, Bastien Bouillon, Antonin Fresson, Chloé Astor, Swann Arlaud, Laurent Mothe
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 17.12.2016

Plot:
When Théo (Bastien Bouillon) meets Élise (Mélanie Bernier) in the elevator of his new apartment building, he doesn’t realize that she’s blind and thinks she’s absolutely ignoring him. They take an immediate dislike to each other. Théo wants to teach Élise a lesson, so he pretends to have gone blind himself and asks for her help to find his way in this to him new world – to which Élise agrees. And maybe they’ll find out that they like each other after all.

La prunelle de mes yeux is one of the worst, most offensive films I have ever seen. It is an ableist, sexist pile of shit that should never have been made. Had I seen it at the cinema instead of at home where I could let my frustration out, I would have walked out of the film.

Continue reading

Mimosas (2016)

Mimosas
Director: Oliver Laxe
Writer: Santiago Fillol, Oliver Laxe
Cast: Ahmed Hammoud, Shakib Ben Omar, Said Aagli, Ikram Anzouli, Ahmed El Othemani, Hamid Fardjad, Margarita Albores, Abdelatif Hwidar, Ilham Oujri
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 17.12.2016

Plot:
A dying Sheikh is making his way throught he Moroccan desert. He wants to die and be buried where he comes from, where his family is buried. But he doesn’t make it all the way there: he dies on the way. His company don’t want to travel with the body. Instead Ahmed (Ahmed Hammoud) and Said (Said Aagli), who traveled with them out fo convenience, agree to bring the body to its destination. Against a fee, of course. Meanwhile Shakib (Shakib Ben Omar) is sent to Ahmed and Said to inspire faith in them and make sure that they carry out their mission.

Mimosas is a pretty film, but other than that it didn’t work for me: it was boring and felt mystical for the sake of being mystical.

Continue reading

You Better Watch Out (1980)

You Better Watch Out aka Christmas Evil
Director: Lewis Jackson
Writer: Lewis Jackson
Cast: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Brian Neville, Joe Jamrog, Wally Moran, Gus Salud, Ellen McElduff, Brian Hartigan
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Christmas Special
Seen on: 15.12.2016

Plot:
When Harry (Brandon Maggart) was a child, Santa was demystified for him rather abruptly. Now Harry works as a toy maker and tries to get the Christmas spirit back. This has become a rather big obsession for him, with Harry slowly turning himself into Santa Claus. But after a couple of incidents at work, Harry snaps and starts believing he really is Santa – and most people around him are rotten and need to be punished.

Christmas Evil starts off strong but couldn’t keep my attention for the entirety of its duration. There’s a lot to like, but some things simply didn’t work in its favor.

Continue reading

Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out aka Safe Neighborhood
Director: Chris Peckover
Writer: Chris Peckover, Zack Kahn
Cast: Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton, Dacre Montgomery
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Christmas special
Seen on: 15.12.2016

Plot:
Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) has been Luke’s (Levi Miller) babysitter for a while, and she knows that the two of the m usually have a good time. She doesn’t really realize that Luke has fallen in love with her, but he wants to do something about that – and he’s worked out a plan with his best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). But all plans cease when the house comes under attack and Ashley has to fight off home invaders. Except there is something about the invaders that is a little weird.

Better Watch Out (I still saw it as Safe Neighborhood) is an entertaining and very well-made film that I really enjoyed a lot. I didn’t have many expectations, having heard practically nothing about the film beforehand, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Continue reading

Marie Curie [Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge] (2016)

Marie Curie
Director: Marie Noelle
Writer: Marie Noelle, Andrea Stoll
Cast: Karolina Gruszka, Arieh Worthalter, Charles Berling, Izabela Kuna, Malik Zidi, André Wilms, Daniel Olbrychski, Marie Denarnaud, Samuel Finzi, Piotr Glowacki, Jan Frycz, Sabin Tambrea
Seen on: 14.12.2016

Plot:
Marie Curie (Karolina Gruszka) is a researcher who is working on isolating radium together with her husband Pierre (Charles Berling). Things are going pretty well until Pierre dies in an accident. Suddenly Marie – who keeps working despite her grief – has to defend herself and her capability to do the job, with people around her doubting that she would be able to do anything without Pierre. With researcher Paul Langevin (Arieh Worthalter) at her side, she persists regardless. Even when their very relationship becomes cause to doubt Curie’s morality.

Marie Curie is an interesting take on an interesting woman. It does have a couple of lengths and I would have appreciated it if it hadn’t focused almost entirely on her relationships with men, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Continue reading