Blood & Donuts (1995)

Blood & Donuts
Director: Holly Dale
Writer: Andrew Rai Berzins
Cast: Gordon Currie, Louis Ferreira, Helene Clarkson, Fiona Reid, Frank Moore, Hadley Kay, David Cronenberg
Seen on: 24.10.2021

When a wayward golf ball hits Boya’s (Gordon Currie) sleeping place, the vampire awakes from his 25 year slumber and decides to see what humanity has been up to. He hails a cab, driven by Earl (Louis Ferreira) who has a habit of getting into trouble. As Boya gets settled into the present day, Rita (Fiona Reid) who he used to see 25 years ago, feels their connection re-awakening. Meanwhile, Boya saves Earl from local thugs, and as a thank you, Earl brings him to the donut shop he frequents. There, Boya meets Molly (Helene Clarkson) and sparks fly. But fitting into this world as a vampire is not that easily done.

Blood & Donuts is not great, but it does have a kind of low budget and a little dusty charm that makes it rather endearing, even if not everything about it works.

The film poster showing Boya (Gordon Currie) sitting in a bathtub, a razor in hand.
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Heat (1995)

Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Susan Traylor, Kim Staunton, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins
Seen on: 2.8.2021

Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is a professional bank robber and he is very good at running things. But at his latest job, one of his men lost control, turning the job into a bloodbath that puts Lt Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) on the scene. And Vincent is just as good at his job as Neil. When he actually picks up Neil’s trail, Neil has to decide if he can walk away from the heat – or if he needs to take his chances with it.

Heat is the kind of film that regularly shows up on The Best Movies lists, so I decided to give it a try despite the fact I knew that it sounded like a whole lot of “not my cup of tea”. Well, I guess it wasn’t even enough of my tea for me to see why it comes so highly recommended. It just didn’t work for me.

The film poster showing Vincent (Al Pacino), Neil (Robert De Niro) and Chris (Val Kilmer) in black and blue, above an image of a train at night.
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Re-Watch: Casper (1995)

Director: Brad Silberling
Writer: Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver
Based on: Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo‘s character Casper the Friendly Ghost
Cast: Malachi Pearson, Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey, Brad Garrett, Amy Brenneman, Devon Sawa, Dan Aykroyd, Rodney Dangerfield, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson
Seen on: 5.1.2021

Casper (Malachi Pearson) is a ghost who lives with his three uncles Stretch (Joe Nipote), Stinkie (Joe Alaskey) and Fatso (Brad Garrett) in a mansion. Contrary to his uncles, Casper is not interested in haunting humans, though. He would rather make friends. When the mansion gets inherited by Carrigan (Cathy Moriarty) who is sure that there is a treasure in the house, the uncles dial up their haunting, leaving Carrigan desperate to get into the house by any means necessary. When Casper learns of Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) who travel the country trying to help ghosts, he sees a chance to fulfill his wish and Carrigan sees a chance to fulfill hers. But things turn out differently from what they all anticipated.

Casper is one of the films that was in constant circulation at home when I was a kid. But I probably haven’t seen it in over twenty years. Looking at it as an adult, it’s still a very sweet and funny kids’ film, although things, of course, strike me differently now.

The film poster showing Casper glimpsing over the letters of his name above the manor. His three ghost uncles' heads can be seen coming out of the manor. In front of it are Dr. Harvey (Bill Pullman) and Kat (Christina Ricci).
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Das Glück meiner Schwester [My Sister’s Good Fortune] (1995)

Das Glück meiner Schwester
Director: Angela Schanelec
Writer: Angela Schanelec
Cast: Anna Bolk, Angela Schanelec, Wolfgang Michael, Katharina Linder, Michael Maertens
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2019

Ariane (Anna Bolk) and Christian (Wolfgang Michael) have been dating for a while. She is a gardener, he is a photographer and they have found into an easy life with each other. That is, until Christian falls in love with Isabel (Angela Schanelec), Ariane’s half-sister, and Isabel returns his feelings. Things become complicated quickly.

Das Glück meiner Schwester was a nice beginning to my Viennale program this year. An interesting mix of naturalistic and artful, it doesn’t always work, but when it does, it is really good.

The film poster showing Christian (Wolfgang Michael) and Ariane (Anna Bolk) standing under a tree, looking away from each other.
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Re-Watch: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Sense and Sensibility
Director: Ang Lee
Writer: Emma Thompson [here’s my review of her screenplay and production diaries]
Based on: Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Gemma Jones, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Emilie François, James Fleet, Tom Wilkinson, Harriet Walter, Imelda Staunton, Imogen Stubbs, Hugh Laurie, Robert Hardy, Elizabeth Spriggs
Seen on: 20.7.2019

Sisters Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet) couldn’t be any more different. Elinor is always calm, collected and responsible, while Marianne is passionate and impulsive. It is no surprise that they find very different men to like as well – Elinor falling for Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and Marianne for Willoughby (Greg Wise). But whether they will be lucky with their loves is another question entirely.

I am honestly surprised that I never reviewed this film here on this blog so far – I am sure I have watched it several times since I started this blog. Be that as it may, it is one of my favorite films and I don’t know how many times I saw it already. But I love it every time I watch it again and this time is no different.

The film poster showing Marianne (Kate Winslet) in one image as she laughs, and Elinor (Emma Thompson) in another image, smiling softly.
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Multi-Facial (1995)

Director: Vin Diesel
Writer: Vin Diesel
Cast: Vin Diesel, Lewis Steidl, Cara Gaffen, Phillip Jones, Ivan Jordain, F. Valentino Morales
Seen on: 2.2.2019
[You can watch it here.]

Mike (Vin Diesel) tries to make it as an actor, but he struggles. Not just because it is hard making at as an actor in general, but also because he looks like he belongs to several racial categories – or none at all in particular.

Multi-Facial is not only an astutely observed short film about the difficulties of navigating racial issues and identity as an actor (and outside of acting as well), but also proves how talented Vin Diesel is, both as an actor and as a filmmaker (something that gets easily overlooked with the kind of roles he gets nowadays). I was very impressed by the film.

The film poster showing Mike (Vin Diesel) with writing across his face. You can see the words "variety" and "diversity",

Persuasion (1995)

Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Nick Dear
Based on: Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: Amanda Root, Ciarán Hinds, Susan Fleetwood, Corin Redgrave, Fiona Shaw, John Woodvine, Phoebe Nicholls, Samuel West, Sophie Thompson, Judy Cornwell, Simon Russell Beale
Seen on: 27.6.2015

Many years ago, Anne Elliot (Amanda Root) was engaged to Frederick Wentworth (Ciarán Hinds), but took the advice of her motherly friend Lady Russell (Susan Fleetwood), as well as listened to the opinions of her father Sir Walter (Corin Redgrave) and her sister Elizabeth (Phoebe Nicholls) and dissolved the engagement since Wentworth didn’t have much standing. Quite by coincidence Frederick is back in her life after years in the Navy and has made a name for himself as well as a fortune. Anne is convinced, though, that he will never forgive her for her past actions. And when her cousin William Elliot (Samuel West) starts courting her, she might be getting another chance, despite being alread 27 years old and still unmarried.

Persuasion was so incredibly nice, I almost burned the cake that I was baking while watching it because I couldn’t bear to leave Anne and Frederick.

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Land and Freedom (1995)

Land and Freedom
Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Jim Allen
Cast: Ian Hart, Rosana Pastor, Icíar Bollaín, Tom Gilroy, Marc Martínez, Frédéric Pierrot
Seen on: 17.03.2015

After the death of her grandfather, Kim (Suzanne Maddock) finds a box with letters and a red handkerchief filled with earth. Kim starts to piece together the years just before the Second World War started in the life of her grandfather: David (Ian Hart) is unemployed and very political. Since he feels that he can’t further the communist cause in the UK, he decides to leave Liverpool and head to Spain to fight the fascists. He joins one of the paramilitary groups, the POUM and starts fighting after a very short training. But his idealism and the idealism of his co-fighters is tested in many ways.

Land and Freedom was not so much a great film, as a great political discussion caught on camera. I really enjoyed it, especially since I’m being pushed further on further left with every day that passes. (You’d think that I’d be getting mellower with age, but screw that. You’d also think that you’d grow more cynical and less idealistic with age, but screw that even harder.)

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Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Director: John McTiernan
Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh
Sequel to: Die Hard, Die Hard 2
Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene

A bomb goes off in New York, and a little bit later the police get a call from Simon (Jeremy Irons) who says that he’ll set off another if they don’t get John McClane (Bruce Willis) to do as he says. And the first exercise is that he has to go to Harlem with a sign with a racial slur on it. In Harlem, Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) saves his ass and from then on, Simon tells both Zeus and John what to do. They only have a limited amount of time to figure out Simon’s plan before he blows the next bit up.

Now, Die Hard: With a Vengeance I enjoyed a whole lot. Where I had problems getting into the first two films, everything came together in this one. And it’s fun.


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Strange Days (1995)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Strange Days is a film by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner.

1999: Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) is a former cop who now makes his money by selling discs that can be inserted into the so-called SQUIDs: machines that can record everything a person experiences and can play it back to somebody else so that they experience it themselves. These recordings are illegal, and often record illegal things happening. Lenny’s life is pretty pathetic, he barely makes enough money to survive and he still dreams of his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis). The only constants in his life are his friends Max (Tom Sizemore) and Mace (Angela Bassett). In the middle of the world preparing for the new millenium, Lenny stumbles upon a conspiracy somehow involving Faith.

Strange Days is a pretty fantastic movie. The cast is great, the ideas interesting and even though the camera moves practically all the time, it never gets too shaky. The weakest point is the script, though – the big twist at the end is way too obvious, most of the characters are a little flimsy and the dialogue hurts a bit sometimes.

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