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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Relatos salvajes [Wild Tales] (2014)

Relatos salvajes
Director: Damián Szifron
Writer: Germán Servidio, Damián Szifron
Cast: Darío Grandinetti, María Marull, Mónica Villa, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Walter Donado, Ricardo Darín, Nancy Dupláa, Oscar Martínez, María Onetto, Erica Rivas, Diego Gentile
Seen on: 18.5.2021

Plot:
Six stories all about revenge. On a flight that seems to be just like any other, two passengers (Darío Grandinetti, María Marull) get to talking and realize something strange. In a remote restaurant, the waitress (Julieta Zylberberg) recognizes her family’s tormentor in her guest. Two men (Leonardo Sbaraglia, Walter Donado) become competitive as they drive past each other. An engineer (Ricardo Darín) feels exploited by his car being towed from an unmarked spot. Two parents (Oscar Martínez, María Onetto) will do anything to save their son from going to prison. Newlyweds (Erica Rivas, Diego Gentile) have to face a crisis when she finds out at the wedding that he cheated on her.

Relatos salvajes is supposed to be funny, but it just wasn’t my sense of humor for the most part. There were moments, but overall I felt that it was trying a little too hard for “gotchas” that only worked half of the time.

The film poster showing one protagonist from each segment (and from the second segment, two) standing in a V-formation.
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Inner Demon (2014)

Inner Demon
Director: Ursula Dabrowsky
Writer: Ursula Dabrowsky
Cast: Sarah Jeavons, Kerry Ann Reid, Andreas Sobik, Todd Telford
Seen on: 1.3.2021

Plot:
Sam (Sarah Jeavons) is babysitting her little sister Maddie when a woman (Kerry Ann Reid) knocks on their door, asking to use the phone. Sam is suspicious, but at this point, it is already too late. Sam wakes a short while later in the trunk of a car driven by Karl (Andreas Sobik). Fearing for herself and for her little sister, Sam starts to fight with everything she has.

Inner Demon does a lot with very little, but after a very strong beginning, it starts to run out of steam a little. Still, it’s not bad.

The film pster showing Sam (Sarah Jeavons) and a fishing hook, arranged as if Sam was the bait.
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Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014)

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely
Director: Josephine Decker
Writer: Josephine Decker, David Barker
Cast: Joe Swanberg, Sophie Traub, Robert Longstreet, Kristin Slaysman, Matt Orme, Geoff Marslett, Erica McClure, Shelley Delaney, Brooklyn Shuck, Raleigh Shuck, Bennett Alderdice
Seen on: 27.02.2021

Plot:
Akin (Joe Swanberg) comes to work on the farm of Jeremiah (Robert Longstreet) and his daughter Sarah (Sophie Traub). Jeremiah and Sarah are an odd pair. Jeremiah is always on the verge of insulting and ridiculing Akin, and Sarah seems to be only half in reality. Akin settles in awkwardly, especially since he is hiding that he is actually married. Sarah seems interested in Akin, and Akin starts to be drawn to her as well, but there is a touch of violence to everything.

Thou Wast Mild & Lovely is an unusual film that cultivates a sense of “everything being off” until things really escalate in a suprisingly bloody way in the end. It’s not the easiest thing you can watch, but it is worth thinking about.

the film poster showing a thick carpet of flowers with a pair of lips.
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Bride for Rent (2014)

Bride for Rent
Director: Mae Czarina Cruz
Writer: Charlene Grace Bernardo, Carmi Raymundo
Cast: Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Pilita Corrales, Empoy Marquez, Martin del Rosario, Tirso Cruz III, Dennis Padilla, Matt Evans, Lloyd Zaragoza, Zeppi Borromeo, Eda Nolan, Gerald Pesigan
Seen on: 02.02.2021

Content Note: a couple of transmisic and fatmisic jokes, but not central to the story

Plot:
Rocco (Xian Lim) can’t wait for the day he turns 25 and will finally get access to the trust fund his grandmother (Pilita Corrales) is taking care of for him. Rocco is living a life of leisure, parties and women and he intends to keep it that way with the money. But his Lala has other plans: she puts a stipulation into the contract that Rocco can only get to the money if he gets married. Rocco and his friends come up with the plan to hire an actress for the role of his wife and deceive his grandmother just long enough to get the money. Enter Rocky (Kim Chiu), a struggling actress from a poor family, hoping to make it big. Even though she feels slightly uncomfortable with the part, she can’t say no to the money. That she has a bit of a crush on Rocco is a bonus. But things quickly become more complicated.

Bride for Rent is a sweet RomCom with a couple of questionable jokes, but overall a fun watch with a nice emotional core.

The film poster showing Rocky (Kim Chiu) with a bridal veil and a big ring, and Rocco (Xian Lim) hugging her with a slightly uncomfortable facial expression.
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Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World (2014)

Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World
Director: Nabwana I.G.G.
Writer: Alan Hofmanis, Nabwana I.G.G.
Cast: Isaac Newton Kizito, Kirabo Beatrice, Nattembo Racheal Monica, Kayibaare Fausitah, Lubega Jojo, Kyazze Phillo, Alex, Mukiibi Alex, Kabuye John, Nakabiiri Tisha, Kasigwa Diana, Wephukulu Anthony, Nabaggala Phionah, Bisaso Dauda, Kagolo Francis, Farouk
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 29.5.2020

Plot:
Tiger Mafia have been kidnapping children at the behest of Mr. Big (Mukiibi Alex). When they kidnap the daughter Diana (Kirabo Beatrice) of the greatest commando (Bisaso Dauda) just as he returns home, it seems at first that they have bitten off more than they can chew. But in the end, Tiger Mafia succeeds and the commando turns crazy. But when another father (Wephukulu Anthony) stumbles upon him as he tries to chase after his son Kido (Isaac Newton Kizito) who has been kidnapped as well, the two fathers team up to save their children. Not that they need much saving, given that their kids are proficient martial artists themselves.

I haven’t seen many Wakaliwood movies so far (Who Killed Captain Alex? and Bad Black), but those I have seen have been utterly delightful in the anarchist way they pay hommage to action movies. Ani Mulalu? The Crazy World is another case in point. As long as you don’t expect the films to adhere to Western storytelling standards, you’ll have the time of your life.

The film poster showing a drawing of planet earth in a trench coat holding a gun to its head; and a bunch of kids in karate poses.
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The Other Woman (2014)

The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Seen on: 16.5.2020

Content Note: sexism, possible transmisogyny, racism

Plot:
Carly (Cameron Diaz) is usually all business and has no time for love. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) somehow made it into her life anyway – and she’s ready for him to meet her father Frank (Don Johnson). But when he cancels the meeting on short notice because of plumbing problems at his house, Carly decides to surprise him there – only to find Kate (Leslie Mann), Mark’s wife. When Kate realizes what’s happening, she finds that she only has Carly to talk to and to understand what it’s like to get cheated on by Mark. They start plotting their revenge together, especially when they find out that Mark has been seeing Amber (Kate Upton), too.

The Other Woman is a nice take where the cheating dude gets his due and the women don’t get the blame for once. But they could have made more of that premise, I thought, both with regard to the basically-feminist message and the comedy.

The film poster showing Carly (Cameron Diaz) standing stiffly as Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) cling to her.
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Glassland (2014)

Glassland
Director: Gerard Barrett
Writer: Gerard Barrett
Cast: Jack Reynor, Toni Collette, Will Poulter, Michael Smiley, Harry Nagle
Seen on: 2.4.2020

Plot:
John (Jack Reynor) is a taxi driver. He lives with his mother Jean (Toni Collette). Jean is an alcoholic and John doesn’t really know how to take care of her anymore. After he has to bring her to the hospital and the doctors inform him of how bad her state really is, he know that he will have to get her sober. But programs that could help require money, money he doesn’t really have.

Glassland is a small film in the best way: it doesn’t need much to tell its story and it tells it well. Unfortunately, the film steps out of its own perimeter and tries to go big in the end – and that just doesn’t really work. Still, up until that part, it’s very much worth seeing.

The film poster showing Jean (Toni Collette) leaning against John (Jack Reynor), Shane (Will Poulter) standing behind them.
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Muted (2014)

Muted
Director: Rachel Goldberg
Writer: Brandi Nicole Payne
Cast: Chandra Wilson, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Brandi Nicole Payne, Danièle Watts, Tara Tomicevic, Ross McCall, Jorge-Luis Pallo
Seen on: 15.6.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
The Gladwells – mother Lena (Chandra Wilson), father Curtis (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and their daughters Cara (Brandi Nicole Payne) and Crystal (Danièle Watts) – are living a normal life. Until Crystal suddenly disappears, and her family has to struggle to get even a shred of attention from the media and the police.

Muted carries quite a punch. Tackling racism, it makes not only a plain, strong and effective statement about the horrific state of things, it also lets you feel the emotional weight of that truth, especially thanks to Chandra Wilson and her performance. It’s a film that doesn’t let go of you easily and will probably make you shed a tear or two (I certainly did). Utterly recommended.

The film poster showing Lena (Chandra Wilson) peering out her window with tears in her eyes.

Veronica Mars (2014)

Veronica Mars
Director: Rob Thomas
Writer: Rob Thomas, Diane Ruggiero-Wright
Sequel to: the Veronica Mars TV show
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Krysten Ritter, Martin Starr, Gaby Hoffmann, Andrea Estella, Jerry O’Connell, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen
Seen on: 18.10.2018
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Plot:
Veronica (Kristen Bell) made it out of Neptune, California. She is now a lawyer in New York and in a relationship with Piz (Chris Lowell). But when her high school friend slash big love Logan (Jason Dohring) calls and asks for her help, Veronica returns. Logan’s girlfriend Bonnie (Andrea Estella) and Logan is being accused of the crime. Not wanting to get into deep, Veronica just agrees to help Logan find a good lawyer, but keeping the distance is easier said than done.

Veronica Mars (the movie) does offer some closure that was lacking in Veronica Mars (the TV show), but other than that, it doesn’t really have much to offer. For fans of the series, it will be a must see, for everybody else it’s definitely not.

The film poster showing Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) holding a huge camera.
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