The Earth Is Blue as an Orange (2020)

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange
Director: Iryna Tsilyk
Writer: Iryna Tsilyk
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 4.12.2020

Ganna and her four children live in the Ukraine, in the middle of the war zone. They are working on a small film together that is supposed to capture the lives of the people around them. And it is supposed to help the oldest daughter, Myroslava, to get into film school – she wants to become a cinematographer. But capturing what it is like to live in a war zone while still living in a war zone is not easily done.

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange is a beautiful documentary about growing up in a war zone, about creating art there, but above all about family.

The film poster showing the drawing of a long ladder. At the bottom is a trapdoor through with a young woman with a camera is emerging. At the top, the legs of the woman can be seen under another trapdoor.
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Robin’s Hood (2020)

Robin’s Hood
Director: Jasmin Baumgartner
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 4.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Robin is an ex-convict who found his passion running an amateur soccer club in Vienna. His team is very diverse, mostly made up of migrants from various countries. Bringing them together isn’t always easy and in addition to the usual difficulties of forming a team of rather unruly men, Robin and his team are confronted over and over again with racism in many ways during their games.

Robin’s Hood is not so much a movie about soccer (which is a good thing for me), but about racism and the question of whether it is possible to keep a team together under these circumstances – that is, under constant attack.

The film poster showing Robin from behind as he gives the finger to someone on a soccer field.
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Find Me (André Aciman)

Find Me is a kind-of-sequel to Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman.
Finished on: 27.11.2020

Sami Perlman is on his way to Rome. On the train, he meets Miranda, who is much younger than him, but somehow the two strike up a conversation that doesn’t want to end. Miranda invites Sami home to meet her father, just so that they can spend more time together.
Sami’s son Elio meets an older man, Michel, with whom he too finds an instant connection. But Elio’s heart still somehow belongs to his first love, Oliver.
Oliver, too, finds himself reaching for Elio a lot, thinking about a reunion, even though they haven’t seen each other in decades.

Find Me was the worst book experience I had in 2020. Generally, it was one of the worst book experiences I think I ever had. To say it was disappointing is to put it too mildly. It’s only due to its structure that I finished it at all – because it saved the bit that is actually interesting for the last 15 pages or so. I still want to scream just thinking about it.

The book cover showing a red and a yellow house next to each other, possibly in Italy.


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The Story of the Stone (2018)

The Story of the Stone
Director: Starr Wu
Writer: Starr Wu
Based on: Cao Xueqin‘s novel Dream of the Red Chamber
Cast: Aric Chen, Etsen Chen, J.R. Chien, Golden Elephant, Adam Lin, Sky Qing Tian Li, Daniel Thai, Joe Liu, Stephen Rong, Dean Tang, Lear Chen, Ryan Hsieh
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 21.11.2020

Content Note: suicide, fat hate

The Stone Bar is the gay bar in Taipei, and its newest waiter is Josh. Josh (Golden Elephant) is pretty and fresh, so he has his pick of men, but he would like to win florist Lin’s (Aric Chen) heart. Only Lin is still reeling from losing his last boyfriend to Aids and really can’t fathom having a new relationship. In his frustration, Josh turns to Sean (J.R. Chien) who is more than happy to have him. But amidst promiscuity and drugs, drama is pre-programmed.

The Story of the Stone did not work for me at all. I tried very hard to get into the film, but it was completely confusing and about halfway through I just gave up following anything that happened on screen.

The film poster showing Josh (Golden Elephant) standing half-naked in a bar filled with half-naked men. Everything is bathed in pink light.
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The Garden Left Behind (2019)

The Garden Left Behind
Director: Flavio Alves
Writer: Flavio Alves, John Rotondo
Cast: Carlie Guevara, Miriam Cruz, Anthony Abdo, Alex Kruz, Tamara M. Williams, Ivana Black, Michael Madsen, Edward Asner
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 21.11.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisogyny; murder of a trans woman; stalking; mention of suicide (in the review)

Tina (Carlie Guevara) lives with her grandmother Eliana (Miriam Cruz) in a small apartment. They are both undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Tina works as a driver and all the money she makes there that she can spare goes into her transition fund. She is waiting for her therapist (Edward Asner) to clear her for transition, and hopes she will have the necessary funds together by then. But even apart from transition, being a trans woman in New York isn’t easy. Her boyfriend Jason (Alex Kruz) seems uncomfortable with her transition, the guy in the corner store (Anthony Abdo) keeps eyeing her weirdly, and danger is always lurking.

The Garden Left Behind is an insightful look at the many struggles trans people have to face in the USA, including the unrelenting violence against them. It is with said violence that the film stumbles a little, but the effectiveness of the ending and the entire film still stands.

The film poster showing a close-up of Tina (Carlie Guevara).


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Comets (2019)

Director: Tamar Shavgulidze
Writer: Tamar Shavgulidze
Cast: Nino Kasradze, Ketevan Gegeshidze, Nina Mazodier, Mariam Iremashvili, Ekaterine Kalatozishvili
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 20.11.2020

Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze) enjoys a summer day with her daughter Irina (Ekaterine Kalatozishvili). When Irina goes to the shop, Nana is suprised by the visit of another Irina (Nino Kasradze): this Irina she hasn’t seen in decades, but when they were teenagers, Nana (Mariam Iremashvili) and Irina (Nina Mazodier) spent all their time together, carefully in love until Irina had to leave the country. The two women get to talking, reflecting on their youth and their lives since.

Comets has a way of catapulting you right into the feeling of a languid summer’s day that lends itself beautifully to reminisce about young, lost love. But for the last part of the film, it inexplicably changed pace by taking us to a SciFi movie-within-the-movie that I didn’t really know what to do with. Nevertheless, it’s a beauty of a film.

Adult Nana (Ketevan Gegeshidze) and Irina (Nino Kasradze) looking at each other.
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Breaking Fast (2020)

Breaking Fast
Director: Mike Mosallam
Writer: Mike Mosallam
Cast: Haaz Sleiman, Michael Cassidy, Amin El Gamal, Patrick Sabongui, Christopher J. Hanke, Rula Gardenier
Part of: Transition Queer Film Fesitval
Seen on: 19.11.2020

Last year during Ramadan, Mo (Haaz Sleiman) and his boyfriend Hassan (Patrick Sabongui) broke up because Hassan wanted to get married to please his family. A year later and Mo is still dreading Ramadan, and especially having to break fast alone. At his best friend Sam’s (Amin El Gamal) birthday party, Mo meets Kal (Michael Cassidy) and they hit it off. Before Mo really knows what’s happening, Kal offers to break fast with him, despite the fact that Kal is not muslim.

Breaking Fast is a delightful, sweet RomCom that offers us a glimpse of what it can mean to be a gay muslim in Hollywood. I really, really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Mo (Haaz Sleiman) and Kal (Michael Cassidy) holding each other.
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Pólvora en el corazón [Gunpowder Heart] (2019)

Pólvora en el corazón
Director: Camila Urrutia
Writer: Camila Urrutia
Cast: Andrea Henry, Vanessa Hernández, Mauricio González
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 19.11.2020

Content Note: sexualized assault

Claudia (Andrea Henry) and María (Vanessa Hernández) are best friends, always sticking together. One night when they are out, Claudia finds out that María has a gun. Scared for her friend, she takes it from María without her knowledge and hides it. Later that night, the two find themselves cornered and assaulted by a group of men, and María reaches for the gun that isn’t there anymore. They both only barely escape before the men rape them. Deeply traumatized, both need to find a way to cope – but their ways of coping are very different indeed.

Pólvora en el corazón is an interesting film about a difficult topic that shows a little too much that it is a debut for Urrutia. But it is definitely good enough to give it a go.

The film poster showing a human figure with firework coming out its chest.
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Someone Like Me (M.R. Carey)

Someone Like Me is a novel by M.R. Carey.
Finished on: 17.11.2020

Content Note: domestic violence, stalking

Liz tries really hard to bring up her two children and keep her abusive ex-husband in check. But one night when he brings them back to her and she confronts him with the fact that he is late, he almost kills – until something takes over her and almost kills Marc right back. Liz is understandably shaken and worried about psychiatric issues, especially since what took over her – or rather who – doesn’t seem to want to leave. Meanwhile Fran, a school mate of Liz’ son Zak, also struggles with her own trauma. She was abducted when she was a child and ever since, she has had Jinx, an imaginary fox, accompany her. She knows that Jinx isn’t real, but she is a comfort. When her issues flare up again and she arranges an appointment with her psychiatrist, seeing Liz there. Only she sees something strange about Liz, something that isn’t right. When Fran and Zak get closer and Fran is actually introduced to Liz, things keep getting stranger still.

Someone Like Me is a rather slow book, but not in the sense that it gets boring. I’d say it sits more on the thriller side of things than on the horror side, which is not that much my cup of tea, but it still worked for me, albeit not as well as The Girl with All the Gifts.

The book cover showing a woman or girl in a red hoodie standing in front of a pale green background. Her reflection as if in a lake can be seen below her, only that the reflection is looking in the other direction than her.
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Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Writer: Jack Thorne
Based on: Nancy Springer‘s novels
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Louis Partridge, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Hattie Morahan, David Bamber, Frances de la Tour, Fiona Shaw
Seen on: 13.11.2020

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) grows up alone with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), her older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) long moved out to pursue their own lives. Enola loves the unconventional, wild lifestyle she has with her mother that includes fight trainings and bedroom tennis. But one day, Enola wakes and finds her mother gone. Her brothers try to take charge of her, but Enola has to figure out where her mother has disappeared to. So she runs away from home to London to find her.

Enola Holmes is sweet fun that tries maybe a tad too hard at times at had me raising my eyebrows a little at the solution at the end. But it is still fun overall.

The film poster showing Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) in a red dress. Behind her is a magnifying glass and in that glass are the other main characters of the film.
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