What Keeps You Alive (2018)

What Keeps You Alive
Director: Colin Minihan
Writer: Colin Minihan
Cast: Hannah Emily Anderson, Brittany Allen, Martha MacIsaac, Joey Klein
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2018
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Plot:
Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) are happy, in love and on their way to celebrate their first wedding anniversary at the cabin where Jackie grew up. They are planning a weekend all for themselves, but when Jackie’s childhood friend and neighbor Sarah (Martha MacIsaac) shows up with her husband Daniel (Joey Klein), things start to change. Jackie starts behaving weirdly, leaving Jules bewildered and desperate to find out what is going on.

What Keeps You Alive builds from a familiar set-up, but given that it features a queer couple, it could have done some interesting things. Unfortunately, the script is just not up for the task, leaving too many things incomprehensible to make the film work.

The film poster showing a black and white forest with a woman's face superimposed over it and another woman running through the forest, all under a pink sky.
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BuyBust (2018)

BuyBust
Director: Erik Matti
Writer: Anton C. Santamaria, Erik Matti
Cast: Anne Curtis, Brandon Vera, Victor Neri, Arjo Atayde, Levi Ignacio, Alex Calleja, Lao Rodriguez
Part of: surprise movie at the /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2018
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Plot:
Nina (Anne Curtis) is a police officer trying to do right. But ever since her entire squad was murdered in a sting against the drug cartels in Manila, she is itching for an opportunity to hit back against them. When a new mission is announced, it appears that she will finally get that chance. She and her new squad make their way into the slums. But things don’t go as planned, and they soon find themselves in a very dire situation.

When it was revealed that BuyBust was the surprise film at the /slash, I was very excited. I had been looking forward to seeing this film, hoping basically for The Raid with a female protagonist. Unfortunately, the film didn’t fulfill my expectations for it, despite a suckerpunch of an ending.

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Our House (2018)

Our House
Director: Anthony Scott Burns
Writer: Nathan Parker
Based on: Phasma Ex Machina (2010)
Cast: John Ralston, Thomas Mann, Percy Hynes White, Lucius Hoyos, Allison Hossack, Kate Moyer, Nicola Peltz, Marcia Bennett, Robert B. Kennedy
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2018
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Plot:
Ethan (Thomas Mann) is a college student with a passion project: ELI is supposed to bring wireless electricity to the world. Focusing on this project, together with his girlfriend Hannah (Nicola Peltz), is the most important thing for him. That is until his parents (John Ralston, Allison Hossack) are both killed in a car accident. Ethan moves back home to take care of his siblings Matt (Percy Hynes White) and Becca (Kate Moyer). When he can, he still works on his machine. He soon notices that ELI may not bring wireless electricity, but it’s certainly bringing something to their house. Or someone. Ehtan is convinced that he has found a way to communicate with his parents and he throws himself even more deeply into the project.

Our House doesn’t reinvent the genre, but it’s a well-executed genre film that delivers exactly what you expect from it. It’s very enjoyable, albeit not great.

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Puen Tee Raluek [The Promise] (2017)

Puen Tee Raluek
Director: Sophon Sakdaphisit
Writer: Sopana Chaowwiwatkul, Supalerk Ningsanond, Sophon Sakdaphisit
Cast: Bee Namthip, Apichaya Thongkham, Panisara Rikulsurakan, Deuntem Salitul, Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen, Benjamin Joseph Varney, Teerapop Songwaja
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2018
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Plot:
In 1997, Ib (Panisara Rikulsurakan) and Boum (Thunyaphat Pattarateerachaicharoen) are best friends. The two girls both come from rich real estate families, but when the financial crisis hits, their lives are forever changed. 20 years later, Boum (Bee Namthip) has risen from the ashes of the crisis and is working hard to restore her family’s company to its former glory, despite another financial crisis looming on the horizon. She agrees to a plan to finish building the high-rise started in 1997 but never finished. But as the project starts to get off the ground, Boum’s daughter Bell (Apichaya Thongkham), now the same age as Boum and Ib were back then, starts exhibiting worrisome behavior.

The Promise starts off strong, setting up its characters and the story nicely and creating good tension. But unfortunately, it completely spiralled out of control in the second half, making me wish that it had done a little less.

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Summer of 84 (2018)

Summer of 84
Director: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell
Writer: Matt Leslie, Stephen J. Smith
Cast: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Tiera Skovbye, Rich Sommer
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2018
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Plot:
A serial killer has been active in Cape May, leaving the area in a constant state of vigilance. This includes Davey (Graham Verchere), though to be fair, he doesn’t need much prompting to see mysteries and conspiracies everywhere. That’s why not even his friends Woody (Caleb Emery), Curtis (Cory Grüter-Andrew) and Eats (Judah Lewis) believe him, when Davey starts to suspect that his neighbor, police officer Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer. Nevertheless, after yet another suspicious disappearance, the four start to investigate Mackey.

Summer of 84 starts as an hommage to the 80s adventure film, perfectly evoking the look and feel of them. But it isn’t content with “just” paying hommage, and takes quite a turn in the end that both makes and breaks the film.

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Brothers’ Nest (2018)

Brothers’ Nest
Director: Clayton Jacobson
Writer: Jaime Browne, Chris Pahlow
Cast: Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson, Kim Gyngell, Lynette Curran, Sarah Snook
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2018
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Plot:
Brothers Terry (Shane Jacobson) and Jeff (Clayton Jacobson) have it all planned. To be fair, Jeff has done the lion’s share in planning, but Terry is there and they are ready to set their plan into motion. They start to meticulously prepare for a murder, but working with family is never easy.

Brothers’ Nest is a tense film with good characters that I absolutely enjoyed. It’s fantastically entertaining and both funny and sad at the same time. It was a wonderful discovery and may have been one of my favorites of the /slash Filmfestival this year.

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Khook [The Pig] (2018)

Khook
Director: Mani Haghighi
Writer: Mani Haghighi
Cast: Hasan Majuni, Leila Hatami, Leili Rashidi, Parinaz Izadyar, Saber Abar, Mahnaz Afshar, Siamak Ansari, Vishka Asayesh, Payman Maadi, Biuk Mirzaei, Ali Mosaffa
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2018
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Plot:
Hasan (Hasan Majuni) has really been struggling since he was banned from making movies. Not knowing what to do with himself, things at home aren’t good and he is even more frustrated that his muse, his star Shiva (Leila Hatami) is working with other directors now. But most galling of all: a serial killer has been murdering Iranian directors left and right, but Hasan appears to be perfectly save from the killer. And that really is unacceptable since Hasan knows that he is the greatest director of them all. He is determined to find out what is going on.

Khook is one of those films where the movie marathon that the /slash Filmfestival is for me came to bite me in the ass: I was just too damn tired and kept falling asleep, regretting every second I missed of the film, because the parts I did see were absolutely fantastic.

The film poster showing Hasan Majuni in a colorful outfit standing in a dark corridor.
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Piercing (2018)

Piercing
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Writer: Nicolas Pesce
Based on: Ryû Murakami‘s novel
Cast: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Reed (Christopher Abbott) has a wife (Laia Costa), a baby and a pretty good life. Unable to shake the urge to kill, though, one night, he has to leave them: he wants to hire an escort and plans to kill her. He finds Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) who is taken in by his good looks and charm, so his plan is off to a good start. But things do take a different turn than he anticipated.

Piercing is a strange film. It’s fucked up, but it’s also very romantic in a way. Whatever it is, I was completely engrossed in it.

The film poster showing Mia Wasikowska and Christopher Abbott.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

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