I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. (2017)

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.
Director: Macon Blair
Writer: Macon Blair
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Devon Graye, David Yow, Jane Levy, Myron Natwick, Gary Anthony Williams, Lee Eddy, Macon Blair, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet
Seen on: 30.5.2021

Plot:
Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is a nursing assistant. Meek and quiet, she has a hard time standing up for herself. But when she finds her house robbed one day and the police absolutely unhelpful, she decides to embark on her own investigation. She asks the neighborhood weirdo Tony (Elijah Wood) for help, and they try to figure out who took Ruth’s things.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. is a quirky film that doesn’t forget that quirkiness isn’t a substitute for actual characterization. It could have profited from a little more tonal consistency, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

The film poster showing Tony (Elijah Wood) and Ruth (Melanie Linskey) standing with very serious looks in front of a garden fence.
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Gaby Baby Doll (2014)

Gaby Baby Doll
Director: Sophie Letourneur
Writer: Sophie Letourneur, Anne-Louise Trividic
Cast: Lolita Chammah, Benjamin Biolay, Félix Moati
Seen on: 29.5.2021

Content Note: attempted rape

Plot:
Gaby (Lolita Chammah) just moved into a big country house to get some rest. She is anxious, afraid of everything and can’t sleep alone. That’s why her boyfriend Vincent (Félix Moati) is supposed to stay with her. But Vincent feels used by Gabby, more like her handler than her boyfriend and soon takes off. Gaby desperately looks for anybody to stay with her overnight and finally latches herself onto Nico (Benjamin Biolay) who lives like a hermit in the garden shack of a grand estate nearby. Nico just wants to be alone, but despite himself, Gaby gets to him.

I have to admit that I struggled with Gaby Baby Doll, especially with Gaby. While I’m usually here for the portrayal of difficult women, the way she constantly blazed past any boundary really didn’t work for me. Especially since the story proved her right in the end.

The film poster showing Nico (Benjamin Biolay), Gaby (Lolita Chammah) and Nico's Dog sitting in the grass in the sun.
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Post Grad (2009)

Post Grad
Director: Vicky Jenson
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Alexis Bledel, Zach Gilford, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett, Rodrigo Santoro, Catherine Reitman, Mary Anne McGarry, J.K. Simmons, Craig Robinson, Fred Armisen
Seen on: 28.5.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Ryden (Alexis Bledel) is just about to graduate and she knows exactly how things are going to go from there. She will get her dream job at a big publishing house and live in an awesome apartment. She has both lined up already. Her best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) is less sure about what to do, but he knows that he would like to romance Ryden, but she is not interested. But after Ryden does not get the job, and she has to move back home with her eccentric family (Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch, Bobby Coleman, Carol Burnett), she needs to rethink her life entirely. Maybe with the help of her hot neighbor David (Rodrigo Santoro)?

Post Grad is not a great film, but it is cute and funny and light. There’s really nothing weighing it down, not even particular emotional depth. If you want to just float through 90 minutes, it’s the film you should choose.

The film poster showing Ryden (Alexis Bledel) wearing a graduation cap askew, looking worried.
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His House (2020)

His House
Director: Remi Weekes
Writer: Remi Weekes
Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba, Matt Smith
Seen on: 27.5.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) managed to come from Sudan to the UK, and finally their time in the detention center is up, at least on a probationary basis. They are given a rather ramshackle house with their case worker Mark (Matt Smith) insisting how lucky they are – not even his house is that big. But as if adjusting to their new life wasn’t difficult enough, Bol and Rial soon realize that there is something wrong with the house, just behind the walls.

I was really impressed with His House. It’s not often that horror movies actually scare me, but this one certainly did. But it’s not only scary, it’s also a thoughtful examination of the horrors that are part of fleeing a country and settling in another.

The film poster showing Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku)  having dinner in a piece of kitchen that is floating on water.
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Devi Aur Hero [The Goddess and the Hero] (2019)

Devi Aur Hero
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Chitrangada Chakraborty, Vinay Sharma, Arjun Ganesh, Vibhawari Deshpande
Seen on: 24.5.2021
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Kaali (Chitrangada Chakraborty) has spent years locked up in an apartment as a sex slave. When she has a chance to escape, she takes it. But she is far from doing well and seeks help with psychologist Vikrant (Vinay Sharma) who diagnoses her with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Vikrant tries to help, but he is struggling with sex addiction and feels drawn to Kaali which complicates matters, especially since Kaali is looking to connect with him outside the therapeutic setting.

Devi Aur Hero sounds a little sensationalistic at first glance, but it is actually a thoughtful examination of mental health/illness and how it may be connected to a patriarchal context.

The film poster showing a drawing of Kaali (Chitrangada Chakraborty) with many heads and many arms carrying weapons, surrounded by bearded heads without bodies
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Quebramar [Breakwater] (2019)

Quebramar
Director: Cris Lyra
Writer: Camila Gaglianone, Yakini Kalid, Lana Lopes, Raíssa Lopes, Cris Lyra, Nã Maranhão, Elis Menezes
Seen on: 24.5.2021

“Plot”:
A group of young lesbians go to spend some time at the beach and to celebrate the New Year.

Quebramar doesn’t so much tell a story than show a slice of queer utopia – but in a realistic way. In the casual intimacy between these women, their openness and vulnerability with each other and the sense of community they share, the troubles they do talk about seem far away. They have carved out a space for themselves. It’s a good space – and they are willing to share it with the audience. So, relax and take half an hour to enjoy their company.

The film poster showing a painting of bodies in different shades of skin color. it's watercolors and so abstracted, it's almost unrecognizable. The bodies are just along the edge of the image, in the center is a blank space.

Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud
Based on: Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical comic
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes Benites, François Jerosme, Tilly Mandelbrot
Seen on: 24.5.2021

Plot:
Marji (Gabrielle Lopes Benites) is precocious and rather wild girl. She grows up with her parents (Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian) and her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) in Tehran. Her family is political – a fact that has gotten her uncle Anoush (François Jerosme) into prison already. With the Islamic Revolution, things become even more difficult for them. Finally her parents decide to send Marji – now a teenager and called Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) – to Austria for her own safety. But being an Iranian girl in Austria isn’t much easier than being one in Iran.

Persepolis has been on my radar for a while now, and I’m not sure why I never watched it until now (probably a case of me wanting to read the comic this is based on first, but I never did). Anyhow, I watched it now and it really was very good.

The film poster showing Marjane, her chin in her hand. Behind her is a bubble that shows her family - mother, father, uncle and grandmother standing around a sofa on which she sits as a child.
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Kiss Me Before It Blows Up (2020)

Kiss Me Before It Blows Up
Director: Shirel Peleg
Writer: Shirel Peleg
Cast: Moran Rosenblatt, Luise Wolfram, Rivka Michaeli, Juliane Köhler, Bernhard Schütz, Irit Kaplan, Salim Dau, Eyal Shikratzi, Aviv Pinkas, John Carroll Lynch
Seen on: 23.5.2021

Plot:
Shira (Moran Rosenblatt) is just about to move in with her girlfriend Maria (Luise Wolfram). Shira having long been out and proud, her family doesn’t have an issue with Maria being a woman, but they struggle much more with the facts that a) Maria is not Jewish and b) she is German. Especially Shira’s revered grandmother Berta (Rivka Michaeli) doesn’t handle the news very well – much to Shira’s surprise because she was sure that Berta would understand as she is in love with a Palestinian man, Ibrahim (Salim Dau), herself. When Maria’s parents announce a visit, the chaos becomes even bigger.

More often than not, culture clash comedies are more cringeworthy than anything else, a regurgitation of stereotypes instead of their subversion. I found Kiss Me Before it Blows Up (unfortunately named Kiss Me Kosher in German) a welcome change from that. Now it might be that I saw it with rose-tinted glasses because it was the first cinema visit for me since November 1, 2020 (202 days without cinema, I cry), but I thought it was entertaining and very well observed.

The film poster showing Shira (Maron Rosenblatt) and Maria (Luise Wolfram) sitting on a couch, Maria's legs across Shira's lap and Shira stroking Maria's hair.
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The Duchess War (Courtney Milan)

The Duchess War is the first novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 23.5.2021
[Here’s my review of the prequel novella.]

Plot:
Minnie has perfected the art of going unnoticed. Afer a scandal forced her to change her name, she had no other choice. Now all she needs is a husband to find some security in her life. Impoverished and with her secret, she doesn’t have much choice. That is why she really can’t have it that none other than the Duke of Clermont, Robert Blaisdell, seems to actually notice her. His curiosity about her is a threat, and Minnie is determined to uncover his secrets first to protect herself. This decision leads both of them down unexpected paths.

The Duchess War is a really sweet book with wonderful protagonists and a good plot that makes good use of the period it is set in. More importantly, it’s easy to root for Millie and Robert and to enjoy their falling in love.

The book cover showing a woman from behind, in a red dress with a huge skirt. She has flowers in her hair.
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Re-Watch: Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) + Muthspiel / Rom / Eggner

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: F.W. Murnau, Robert J. Flaherty, Edgar G. Ulmer
Cast: Matahi, Anne Chevalier, Bill Bambridge, Hitu, Ah Fong, Jules, Mehao
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Wolfgang Muthspiel, played by him, Mario Rom and Florian Eggner
Seen on: 22.5.2021
[Here’s my first review of the film, without live music.]

Content Note: white gaze / racism

Plot:
On Bora Bora, a young boy, Matahi (Matahi), and a young girl, Reri (Anne Chevalier), fall in love. But when Reri is declared the Chosen Maid, the sacred virgin of the island by their leader, an old warrior (Hito), not even the thought of love is allowed anymore. But Marahi and Reri are not willing to accept that and decide to flee.

Since this year, the Film and Music Cycle was a little difficult – of the four performances, two were canceled and I couldn’t see one – I knew that I wanted to see this final film, even though they had to change the original program and swapped in Tabu – a film that I had seen before and hadn’t particularly liked. And while it was great to be out in a theater/concert hall again, a second viewing didn’t change my mind either, especially not with that musical accompaniment.

The film poster showing a drawing of Matahi (Matahi) as he spear-fishes.
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