Mayak [The Lighthouse] (2006)

Mayak
Director: Mariya Saakyan
Writer: Givi Shavgulidze
Cast: Anna Kapaleva, Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargsyan, Sofiko Chiaureli, Ruzana Avetisyan, Mikhail Bogdasarov, Sergei Daniyelyan, Anastasiya Grebennikova, Albina Matveyeva, Mikhail Silantev
Seen on: 15.9.2021

Plot:
It’s the 90s and Lena (Anna Kapaleva) is returning to her home village in Armenia for the first timme in a long time. She is visiting her grandparents (Olga Yakovleva, Sos Sargysan) who have stayed behind in the village despite it being in the middle of a warzone. Lena tries desperately to convince them to go away to safety with her. Instead, Lena stays longer and longer than she anticipated.

Mayak is a melancholic piece if cinema that shows us the daily routine of war for the people who aren’t really involved in it. It isn’t always easy to watch, but it is very interesting.

The film poster showing a childish drawing of a house and a figure walking towards it over a red path through a wave of water.
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Minotaur (2006)

Minotaur
Director: Jonathan English
Writer: Nick Green, Stephen McDool
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Van Der Water, Tony Todd, Lex Shrapnel, Jonathan Readwin, Rutger Hauer, Maimie McCoy, Lucy Brown, James Bradshaw, Fiona Maclaine, Claire Murphy, Ingrid Pitt, Ciaran Murtagh
Seen on: 2.9.2021

Content Note: racism, sexualized violence, sexism, ableism

Plot:
Every year, Theo’s (Tom Hardy) village gets raided and some young people taken to the great palace to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The only one who has always been protected is Theo as he is supposed to become the next leader of the village. But when The Leper (Ingrid Pitt) tells him that his big love, abducted a couple of years ago, may still be alive in the Minotaur’s labyrinth, Theo is determined to go. He gets himself on the ship with the sacrifices and sails to Deucalion’s (Tony Todd) and his sister Raphaella’s (Michelle Van Der Water) court to confront them and, more importantly, the Minotaur.

Phew, you can file this film under “Things I Have Watched for Tom Hardy” and “Things I Have Watched So You Don’t Have To”. Trust me, Minotaur is not some kind of underrated fantasy gem, it is just a collection of pretty offensive and very bad fantasy stereotypes.

The film poster showing Theo (Tom Hardy) in the center and Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water) to the left of him and Deucalion (Tony Tood) to the right.
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Re-Watch: Love and Other Disasters (2006)

Love and Other Disasters
Director: Alek Keshishian
Writer: Alek Keshishian
Cast: Brittany Murphy, Matthew Rhys, Catherine Tate, Santiago Cabrera, Elliot Cowan, Stephanie Beacham, Jamie Sives, Will Keen, Michael Lerner, Dawn French, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom
Seen on: 20.5.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Jacks (Brittany Murphy) works at Vogue, lives with her best friend Peter (Matthew Rhys) and is kinda dating James (Elliot Cowan) who she broke up with – but the break-up didn’t stick. Jacks is always rooting for her friends to find love, though, above all Peter – who just ran into the guy of his dreams but didn’t manage to talk to him. So maybe the photographer’s new assistant Paolo (Santiago Cabrera) may be a good match for Peter. Jacks certainly thinks he’s great.

It’s been a long time that I saw Love and Other Disasters, but I had a very fond memory of it – and fortunately, my memory isn’t wrong: this is a sweet and funny film that has a smart message.

The film poster showing Jacks (Brittany Murphy) sitting huddled together with crossed legs.
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The Covenant (2006)

The Covenant
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: J.S. Cardone
Cast: Steven Strait, Laura Ramsey, Sebastian Stan, Taylor Kitsch, Chace Crawford, Toby Hemingway, Jessica Lucas, Kyle Schmid, Wendy Crewson, Stephen McHattie
Seen on: 14.5.2021

Plot:
Caleb (Steven Strait), Pogue (Taylor Kitsch), Tyler (Chase Crawford) and Reid (Toby Hemingway) are known as the Sons of Ipswich, direct descendants of the witches persecuted in Salem. What the people around them don’t know is that they actually do have magic powers. A new year at their school brings the promise to come into their full powers when they turn 18, and it also brings new people – like Sarah (Laura Ramsey), who Caleb feels immediately drawn to, and Chase (Sebastian Stan) who may be more than it seems at first.

I had heard of The Covenant mostly from people who like Sebastian Stan a lot and I got the distinct impression that this film was pretty good. Well, reader, it was not, on really any level.

The film poster showing the Sons of Ipswich - Caleb (Steven Strait), Pogue (Taylor Kitsch), Tyler (Chase Crawford) and Reid (Toby Hemingway) - standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down. Below them is another image of Caleb and Chase (Sebastian Stan) in a magic battle.
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We Go Way Back (2006)

We Go Way Back
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Maggie Brown, Amber Hubert, Lynn Shelton, Robert Hamilton Wright, Aaron Blakely, Alycia Delmore, Matthew M. Bianchi, Basil Harris
Seen on: 10.4.2021

Plot:
Kate (Amber Hubert) is an actress, hoping to finally get her break, but so far mostly just running errands for her theater. On her 23rd birthday, she opens a letter that she wrote to herself when she was 13 (Maggie Brown). The hopeful words of the letter stand in stark contrast to the feeling of being stuck that Kate has at the moment. Even when the theater director (Robert Hamilton Wright) finally offers Kate a leading role, it doesn’t feel quite as satisfying as Kate had hoped. And so her 13-year-old self keeps haunting her.

We Go Way Back is a captivating mix of sad and funny that gives us a thoughtful portrayal of an unhappy young woman without descending completely into doom and gloom. I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Kate-at-23 (Amber Hubert) and Kate-at-13 (Maggie Brown).
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Fallen [Falling] (2006)

Fallen
Director: Barbara Albert
Writer: Barbara Albert
Cast: Nina Proll, Birgit Minichmayr, Kathrin Resetarits, Ursula Strauss, Gabriela Hegedüs, Ina Strnad, Georg Friedrich, Darina Dujmic, Angelika Niedetzky
Seen on: 19.1.2021

Plot:
At the funeral of their former high school teacher, Alex (Ursula Strauss), Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr), Nina (Nina Proll), Nicole (Gabriela Hegedüs) and Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits) meet each other again for the first time in years. Apart from Brigitte, they all moved away from their home town and haven’t been back in a long time. Caught in a wave of reminiscence, they are loath to part after the funeral is over and instead take to exploring the area again, accompanied by Nicole’s daughter Daphne (Ina Strnad). But the trip to the past isn’t always pleasant and their relationships aren’t without tension.

Fallen is a fantastic film that explores the complex relationships of these women, brought together by circumstances in the past and in the present, but no less meaningful for that. I really loved it.

The film poster showing Alex (Ursula Strauss), Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr), Nina (Nina Proll), Nicole (Gabriela Hegedüs) and Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits), all dressed in black with their arms spread wide, their hair blowing in the wind, at the edge of a hill.
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Skinwalkers (2006)

Skinwalkers
Director: James Isaac
Writer: James DeMonaco, Todd Harthan, James Roday Rodriguez
Cast: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Natassia Malthe, Kim Coates, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson, Matthew Knight, Barbara Gordon, Shawn Roberts, Lyriq Bent
Seen on: 20.12.2020

Content Note: cultural appropriation, racism

Plot:
Some werewolves see their condition as a curse, but some werewolves revel in the chaos and the blood that surrounds them every month. Prophecies have predicted that a boy will be the answer – he will cure werewolves. If he lives past his 13th birthday that is. While some werwolves have sworn to protect the boy, others mean to kill him before he can cure them. The boy in question is Timothy (Matthew Knight) who doesn’t even know that werewolves exist. Neither does his mother Rachel (Rhona Mitra). But when Varek (Jason Behr) come for them, they have to learn quickly. Fortunately Timothy’s uncle Jonas (Elias Koteas) and the rest of the family are werwolves themselves and know how to protect him. Nevertheless, it is not an easy job.

Skinwalkers is the kind of film you find in the bargain bin and you know it’s there for a reason, but still, it’s a werewolf film, so you go for it and then the film does exactly nothing to surpass your expectations. To say that is disappointing is a lie, but it would have been nice if it had been one of the forgotten/hidden treasures. It is not.

The film poster showing a woman's mouth filled with sharp teeth, her face is splattered with blood.
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Re-Watch: The Holiday (2006)

The Holiday
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Eli Wallach, Edward Burns, Rufus Sewell, Kathryn Hahn, John Krasinski, Shannyn Sossamon, Bill Macy
Seen on: 10.10.2020

Plot:
English Iris (Kate Winslet) is apparently the last to know that her long-time crush and colleague Jasper (Rufus Sewell) is getting married to somebody else. Frustrated, she decides to leave on short notice for the Christmas holidays and puts her house online for a house swap. Almost immediately she gets a reply from USAmerican Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a movie trailer editor who just kicked out her unfaithful boyfriend Ethan (Edward Burns) and could use a break herself. They make the change and Amanda finds herself in Iris’ quaint little cottage in the middle of nowhere, when Iris’ brother Graham (Jude Law) knocks on her door, while Iris takes up residence in Amanda’s LA mansion and meets her neighbor Arthur (Eli Wallach), an ageing script writer, as well as composer Miles (Jack Black) who comes to pick up Ethan’s stuff. The change of scenery and the new acquaintances impact both women a lot.

I have seen The Holiday many years ago – too many to remember many details, so it struck me as a good opportunity to re-watch it. And it absolutely is a wonderful RomCom, albeit not reaching its full potential. Nevertheless it was exactly the kind of fluff content I was looking for.

The film poster showing Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Graham (Jude Law) above the film title and Iris (Kate Winslet) and Miles (Jack Black) below it.
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John Tucker Must Die (2006)

John Tucker Must Die
Director: Betty Thomas
Writer: Jeff Lowell
Cast: Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel, Jesse Metcalfe, Penn Badgley, Jenny McCarthy, Terrell J. Ramsey, Kevin McNulty, Taylor Kitsch,
Seen on: 1.12.2019

Plot:
Kate (Brittany Snow) is the new girl in school, but just like in her old school, she remains largely invisible to everyone. Things change, though, when she and the girls in question realize that John (Jesse Metcalfe), the most popular guy in school, is dating three girls at the same time. Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) is a driven overachiever, Beth (Sophia Bush) a passionate activist and Heather (Ashanti) is the popular head cheerleader. The three girls don’t usually talk to each other and so John has been able to play them all. Instead of fighting each other for John, though, Kate makes sure that all four of them work together to make John’s life a living hell. But that is easier said than done.

John Tucker Must Die is a fun film with a couple of feminist ideas, but some jokes are more miss than hit and the film ends a little disappointingly.

The film poster showing Carrie (Arielle Kebbel), Kate (Brittany Snow), Beth (Sophia Bush) and Heather (Ashanti) in black and white and a smaller image of John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) in color.
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Something New (2006)

Something New
Director: Sanaa Hamri
Writer: Kriss Turner
Cast: Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Golden Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Mike Epps, Donald Faison, Alfre Woodard, Earl BillingsBlair Underwood
Seen on: 23.1.2016

Plot:
Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) knows exactly what she wants and what she wants her life to be. At the moment this means that she is focused on her career while dreaming of the perfect black guy to marry. But after spending yet another Valentine’s Day working long hours, she agrees to a blind date. Much to her surprise Brian (Simon Baker) turns out to be white, but also damn charming. Still Kenya doesn’t want to deviate from her plans, so all she does is hire Brian as her landscape architect. But will she be able to keep her distance?

Something New is a charming little film that strengthens its romance with a discussion of racism and racial relations. It’s not particularly subtle about that, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

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