La folie Almayer [Almayer’s Folly] (2011)

La folie Almayer
Director: Chantal Akerman
Writer: Chantal Akerman, Henry Bean, Nicole Brenez
Based on: Joseph Conrad‘s novel
Cast: Stanislas Merhar, Marc Barbé, Aurora Marion, Zac Andianas, Sakhna Oum, Solida Chan, Yucheng Sun, Bunthang Khim
Seen on: 30.12.2021

Content note: (critical treatment of) colonialism, mention of rape

Plot:
Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) lives in the jungle in Malaysia, hoping to come to riches there, from trading or from finding gold. He is married to a Malaysian woman, Zahira (Sakhna Oum) whom he despises, much like he hates pretty much everything but their daughter Nina (Aurora Marion). When his patron Captain Lingard (Marc Barbé) comes to visit and insists that Nina needs an European education, to learn to be white, Almayer is reluctant to let Nina go, but gives in, even against Zahira’s protestations and attempts to run away with Nina. This decision further cements all of their desperation.

La folie Almayer is an interesting attempt to criticize colonialism that doesn’t always work as well as it should. But it does have many strengths that make it worth thinking about.

The film poster showing Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) sitting next to a record player, looking pensive.
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Shine 3D (2011)

Shine
Director: Jesse Blanchard
Writer: Jesse Blanchard
Part of: Secret Society Screening at the SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 3.10.2021
[Just a quick note: I saw the 2D version of this film.]

Plot:
A dark stage. A barber shop quartett. A cone of light. And outside that light, something is lurking.

Shine is the first “puppetcore” project by Blanchard: a gorey horror comedy made entirely with puppets. And I loved both the narrative concept and the idea behind puppetcore. The short is entirely charming and very funny, and was the perfect intro for seeing Blanchard’s first feature lenght puppetcore movie, Frank & Zed.

A puppet barber shop quartett performing. They are all holding hats in their hands, one of the hats has a bite taken out of it.

Stuck Between Stations (2011)

Stuck Between Stations
Director: Brady Kiernan
Writer: Nat Bennett, Sam Rosen
Cast: Sam Rosen, Zoe Lister-Jones, Michael Imperioli, Josh Hartnett, Nadia Dajani, Casey Greig
Seen on: 4.8.2021

Plot:
Casper (Sam Rosen) is back in his hometown Minneapolis for a short while only. Out one evening, he runs into Rebecca (Zoe Lister-Jones). They went to high school together and Casper had a big crush on her back then, while Rebecca barely remembers him. Nevertheless they start talking and find that they enjoy each other’s company. With neither having a clear plan for the night, they end up making their way through town together.

Stuck Between Stations is a typical indie / mumblecore film by rather young filmmakers and how much you enjoy it will probably depend on how much you like those films in general. In any case, I am pretty neutral-positive about Stuck Between Stations, maybe more positive than my general stance towards mumblecore.

The film poster showing Casper (Sam Rosen), Rebecca (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Paddy (Josh Hartnett), once in pasted together close-ups, and once on bikes.
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Slaying the Dragon (1988) + Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded (2011)

Slaying the Dragon
Director: Deborah Gee
Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded
Director: Elaine Kim
Seen on: 14.4.2021

“Plot”:
Slaying the Dragon looks at how stereotypes about Asians, especially Asian women, shaped their portrayal in Hollywood movies and vice versa. Trying to outline the major tropes, female and male actors are interviewed and films examined.
23 years later, Slaying the Dragon updates that documentary and looks at how films have – and have not – changed in the meantime.

Both documentaries are insightful, making clear statements about representation and how movies affect the world beyond the screen as well. They’re an excellent primer to recognize problematic characterizations and offer a succinct explanation of why they’re problematic.

The film poster of Slaying the Dragon Reloaded showing a drawn female figure holding a long reel of film that shows stills from various films, all with Asians.
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Wuthering Heights (2011)

Wuthering Heights
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed
Based on: Emily Brontë’s novel
Cast: James Howson, Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Kaya Scodelario, Paul Hilton, Simone Jackson, Steve Evets, Lee Shaw, James Northcote, Nichola Burley
Seen on: 27.3.2021

Plot:
When Mr Earnshaw (Paul Hilton) brings home an orphaned Black boy who he calls Heathcliff (Solomon Glave), his daughter Catherine (Shannon Beer) is at first taken aback. But then the two become inseperable. But in their harsh surroundings, their relationship also becomes one of harshness. When they grow up (James Howson, Kaya Scodelario), it turns to bitterness, especially when the rich neighbor Edgar (James Northcote) starts courting Catherine.

Wuthering Heights does not have an easy start with me. I absolutely hated the novel. But I was hoping that Arnold would still manage to turn the story into something I’d care for. Unfortunately, my hopes were disappointed in that regard.

The film poster showing Heathcliff (James Howson) in a close-up and Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) walking away in two separate images.
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Re-Watch: Something Borrowed (2011)

Something Borrowed
Director: Luke Greenfield
Writer: Jennie Snyder
Based on: Emily Giffin‘s book
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams
Seen on: 30.12.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Darcy (Kate Hudson) have been best friends since about forever. Darcy is an extroverted party girl, while Rachel is pretty comfortable in Darcy’s shadow. But after a drunken night Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield) who she’s been in love with since about forever. What starts as a single mistake soon ends up an affair that puts most of Rachel’s values in question.

It’s been almost ten years that I saw the film for the first time, and to be fair, when I decided to watch it again, I wasn’t even sure anymore if I had seen it. But I liked the film back then, and I liked it a lot again now.

The film poster showing the main characters of the film.
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Intruders (2011)

Intruders
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writer: Nicolás Casariego, Jaime Marques
Cast: Clive Owen, Ella Purnell, Carice van Houten, Daniel Brühl, Pilar López de Ayala, Izán Corchero, Kerry Fox
Seen on: 22.12.2019

Plot:
Juan (Izán Corchero) lives with his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) in Madrid. Juan starts seeing a shrouded, faceless figure who comes for him at night. Luisa grows increasingly frantic and asks Father Antonio (Daniel Brühl) for help. In London, Mia (Ella Purnell) finds a book with stories about Hollowface in a tree at her grandparents’ place. When she starts to see Hollowface herself, it’s only her father John (Clive Owen) who believes that there actually is an intruder.

I stumbled upon Intruders quite by chance and was surprised that I never actually heard about it. I assumed it disappeared because it sucked, despite the excellent cast, but wanted to see it anyway. Thankfully it turns out, it’s actually quite good.

The film poster showing a man without eyes or a mouth.

[SPOILERS]

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Scarlet Road (2011)

Scarlet Road
Director: Catherine Scott
Seen on: 8.6.2017

“Plot”:
Rachel Wotton is a sex worker who specialized in working with (physically) disabled clients. At this intersection of taboos – sex work and seeing disabled people as sexual beings – she became an activist who is fighting for the rights of sex workers and the rights of disabled people.

Scarlet Road is an interesting look at a topic that’s usually not talked about. It – rightly – centers the perspective of the people at the heart of the matter, that is: disabled people and sex workers and shows what the topic means to them, making it very insightful, especially when you’re neither a sex worker, nor disabled.

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Meine Schwester [My Sister] (2011)

Meine Schwester
Director: Sascha Bigler
Writer: Sascha Bigler, Axel Götz
Cast: Christiane Hörbiger, Maresa Hörbiger, August Zirner, Simon Schwarz, Cornelius Obonya, August Schmölzer, Edita Malovcic, Stella Butz
Seen on: 16.5.2017

Plot:
Katharina Wallner (Christiane Hörbiger) owns a small shop. Much to the chagrin of her landlord Heinz Ortner (August Schmölzer) she has a contract for life. He would rather have her gone, so he can rent out the shop on better conditions. It’s just when he starts to put increasingly more pressure on Katharina that Katharina’s long lost sister Hannah Laval (Maresa Hörbiger) returns to Vienna. And Hannah isn’t as nice as Katharina, not by a long shot.

I stumbled into the film and since the cast wasn’t bad, I stuck around. It’s a rather solid TV production, but it’s really not a must see film.

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Fucking Different XXX (2011)

Fucking Different XXX
Part of: Transition Festival
Seen on: 14.11.2016

Fucking Different XXX is a queer porn anthology where the lesbian directors tackle the gay sex and the gay directors the lesbian sex.

I liked the idea of this anthology, but unfortunately the result wasn’t really my thing. Apart from a few moments, I didn’t really enjoy it. Also, for an anthology that is all about switching and queering things up, it felt pretty tame. There was only one segment, Offing Jack, that features a nonbinary person and a fat guy, that really manages to break through the mold of usual, if mostly homosexual sex.

After the jump, I’ll talk about each segment separately.

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