Touch Me Not (2018)

Touch Me Not
Director: Adina Pintilie
Writer: Adina Pintilie
Cast: Laura Benson, Tómas Lemarquis, Christian Bayerlein, Grit Uhlemann, Hanna Hofmann, Seani Love, Adina Pintilie
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 6.11.2018
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Plot:
In this mix of fiction and documentary, Laura (Laura Benson), Tómas (Tómas Lemarquis) and Christian (Christian Bayerlein) share their journey of (re-)discovering intimacy, looking for connections and overcoming their fears by finding them.

Touch Me Not is a fantastic film. It’s touching, interesting, smart and full of insights. It’s not only a film about intimacy, it is a film that’s intimate itself, sharing something very valuable.

The film poster showing the upper body of a naked woman, throwing her head back mid-orgasm.
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Diane (2018)

Diane
Director: Kent Jones
Writer: Kent Jones
Cast: Mary Kay Place, Jake Lacy, Estelle Parsons, Andrea Martin, Deirdre O’Connell, Glynnis O’Connor, Joyce Van Patten, Kerry Flanagan, Phyllis Somerville, Celia Keenan-Bolger
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 6.11.2018
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Plot:
Diane (Mary Kay Place) spends most of her time taking care of others, at least when she isn’t trying to connect to her son Brian (Jake Lacy) who has been addicted to drugs for a long time. But she can’t convince him to seek professional help. As she fills her days delivering food here, visiting her cousin Dottie (Deirdre O’Connell) in the hospital, and meeting up with her neighbors, her past keeps catching up with her, though.

Diane starts off well enough, but once we delve a little deeper into Diane’s motivation, the movie did start to annoy me – despite some excellent things about it.

The film poster showing Mary Kay Place lighting a candle.
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Cassandro, the Exotico! (2018)

Cassandro, the Exotico!
Director: Marie Losier
Writer: Antoine Barraud, Marie Losier
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2018
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“Plot”:
Saúl Armendáriz has spent over 25 years as the luchador Cassandro el exotico! and he has the body to show for it: aches and metal pins keep him both together and from continuing his career. But it’s not the only reason he finds himself in a difficult position: he is also gay and in the macho world of lucha libre, this is yet another fight – but one that Cassandro seems to have won. Nevertheless, facing the rest of his life, he has to figure out how to deal.

Cassandro the Exotico! is a mediocre documentary about a very interesting subject. Thanks to Cassandro and his charisma, it’s easy to look past the film’s weaknesses and enjoy it.

The film poster showing Cassandro in full Lucha Libre gear.
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Learning How to Drown (Cat Hellisen)

Learning How to Drown is a short story collection by Cat Hellisen.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away.]
Finished on: 5.11.2018

Learning How to drown collects short stories spanning about 10 years of Hellisen’s writing. Each story is shortly commented on by the author. It’s a very nice collection that does make me curious about her novels, too, though I didn’t love it so much that I’m running out to get them right this second. The comments to the stories explained too much and gave too little context for my taste, but the context we did get was interesting. In short, a collection worth reading and I’ll keep my eye out for her novels.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Las hijas del fuego [The Daughters of Fire] (2018)

Las hijas del fuego
Director: Albertina Carri
Writer: Albertina Carri, Analía Couceyro
Cast: Disturbia Rocío, Violeta Valiente, Rana Rzonscinsky, Ivanna Colona Olsen, Carla Morales Ríos, Erica Rivas, Sofía Gala, Cristina Banegas
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2018
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Plot:
Two women on a road trip: one wants to shoot a porn film, the other wants to see her family. They used to be lovers once, now they are again. They pick up a third woman and as they drive through Souther Argentina, they meet more women, discovering themselves and each other through sex, talking and traveling together.

Las hijas del fuego is basically high concept porn. Some parts of it worked for me, others didn’t so much. But it’s an interesting attempt in any case.

The film poster showing a clam in front of a black background, looking like a vulva.
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Wildlife (2018)

Wildlife
Director: Paul Dano
Writer: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
Based on: Richard Ford‘s novel
Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Travis W Bruyer, Zoe Margaret Colletti
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2018
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Plot:
Joe (Ed Oxenbould) lives with his parents Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) in what could and should be the standard family of the 1950s. But when Jerry loses his job, things start to fall apart. He finally decides to leave town to find employment, effectively leaving Jeanette and Joe as well. Now Joe has to watch his mother trying to cope with the situation by flirting which puts him in a very difficult situation.

I’m afraid that my expectations for Wildlife were a little too high. It’s not bad, but it just isn’t as great as the cast would suggest.

The film poster showing Carey Mulligan and Jack Gyllenhaal sitting apart in front of a canvas showing the sky, looking at each other.
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Island of the Hungry Ghosts (2018)

Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Director: Gabrielle Brady
Writer: Gabrielle Brady
“Cast”: Arthur Floret, Poh Lin Lee
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 4.11.2018
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“Plot”:
Poh Lin Lee is a trauma therapist working with asylum seekers on Christmas Island, part of Australia. They are held in a detention center at the heart of the island that seeems otherwise like an idyllic tourist spot, especially in the season of crab migration that is quite a spectacle. Poh Lin has her work cut out for her with the desperate people she is supposed to councel without being able to offer much in the way of hope. As the crabs migrate and the Chinese islanders perform their yearly ritual for the hungry ghosts – people who died on the island without a proper burial – Poh Lin has to figure out how she can deal with everything.

That Island of Hungry Ghosts wouldn’t be exactly easy watching was clear from the get-go but I nevertheless didn’t expect it to hit me quite as hard as it did. Feeling more like a feature film than a documentary, Brady gets to the truth of the matter, and it really isn’t a pretty one. But it is a great film, even if it left me wanting a drink.

The film poster showing the sea hitting rocks.
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Kona fer í stríð [Woman at War] (2018)

Kona fer í stríð
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
Writer: Benedikt Erlingsson, Ólafur Egilsson
Cast: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Jóhann Sigurðarson, Juan Camillo Roman Estrada, Jörundur Ragnarsson
Part of: surprise movie at the Viennale
Seen on: 4.11.2018
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Plot:
Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) spends her free time as an environmental activist, waging war against an aluminium plant in her area. Of course, nobody can know about her activities and nobody would suspect the quiet choir director anyway. But then Halla hears that the adoption application she made many years ago was finally approved and there is a little Ukranian girl waiting for her. With authorities steadily closing in on her, Halla has to make some decisions as getting caught would mean having to give up the adoption.

Woman at War has its funny moments, but some of the jokes were uncomfortable (and not in a good way) and it was a little too predictable to really take off for me.

The film poster showing a woman shooting an arrow at an electric line.
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The Favourite (2018)

The Favourite
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writer: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Mark Gatiss, Nicholas Hoult
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 4.11.2018
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Plot:
Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), a distant relative of the queen and her new servant. But Anne is frail and it’s her confidante Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who actually holds the reins to the country. Struggling for a place at court and a share of her power, Abigail tries to insinuate herself into Anne’s close circle, leading to a power struggle with Sarah.

The Favourite is an extremely funny film with an ending that doesn’t quite fit the rest in tone. I’m still undecided whether I liked that or not. But either way, the film is really entertaining.

The film poster showing Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz standing in the back and Emma Stone sitting in the front with a sullen expression.
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Nervous Translation (2017)

Nervous Translation
Director: Shireen Seno
Writer: Shireen Seno
Cast: Jana Agoncillo, Angge Santos, Sid Lucero, Nafa Hilario-Cruz
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 3.11.2018
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Plot:
Shy Yael (Jana Agoncillo) is only 8 years old, and yet she spends most of her time on her own at home. Her father works abroad, but she has letters he speaks on tape that she listens to a lot. Her mother (Angge Santos) works closer to home, but when she finally comes home in the evening, she has no energy left for Yael. When Yael sees the advertisement for a pen that is supposed to be able to translate thoughts and feelings into writing, she is transfixed – maybe this will be the way for her to communicate.

There was a lot I liked about Nervous Translation, but the film didn’t really click for me. Maybe it just was too quiet a film programmed too late in the evening, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t connect with it as much as I would have liked.

The film poster showing a girl, a man, a woman, a cassette player and a cassette as cutouts over a beige background.
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