Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle [Top Girl or La déformation professionnelle] (2014)

Top Girl oder La déformation professionnelle
Director: Tatjana Turanskyj
Writer: Tatjana Turanskyj
Cast: Julia Hummer, Rolf Peter Kahl, Susanne Bredehöft, Karim Cherif, Samia Dauenhauer, Sarah Grether, Stefan Mehren, Mario Pokatzky, Janina Rudenska, Anna Schmidt, Susanne Strach
Seen on: 18.11.2017
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Plot:
Helena (Julia Hummer) is an actress and a sex worker. She has a daughter, a strained relationship with her mother (Susanne Bredehöft) and is always looking for new possibilities. When she is approached to organize a special event with some of her colleagues, Helena takes the chance. But the event is not your usual escort gig.

Top Girl is a complex approach to sex work that I don’t necessarily agree with, but it gives the topic more thought than a lot of other films and it knows how to work emotions.

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Dohee-ya [A Girl at My Door] (2014)

Dohee-ya
Director: July Jung
Writer: July Jung
Cast: Doona BaeSae-ron KimSae-byeok SongHie-jin JangMin-jae KimSeong-kun Mun
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 12.6.2017
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Plot:
Young-Nam (Doona Bae) is a police officer who was just transferred to a small seaside town. It was a punitive measure, but what her misconduct actually entailed is unclear to her new colleagues. And since Young-Nam is stand-offish, they’re not bound to find out anytime soon. One night Young-Nam finds Do-Hee (Sae-ron Kim) at her door, a young girl from the village who seems taken with Young-Nam. Do-Hee’s family is difficult and Young-Nam gives her more and more space in her own life.

Dohee-ya may have bitten off a little more than it can chew, making the film feel a little crammed and too long. That being said, it still has many strengths and is definitely worth seeing.

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She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014)

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
Director: Mary Dore
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 9.6.2017
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“Plot”:
Tracing the feminist movement in the USA in the late 60s, the documentary looks at the history of the modern feminist movement through interviews with some of the major players from that time.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry has interesting insights into the history of the feminist movement and tries very hard to not just include white feminism, but reproduces the lack of trans feminism in Second Wave Feminism and only touches on lesbian activism, which I found a pity. Nevertheless, it was a good watch.

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Margarita with a Straw (2014)

Margarita with a Straw
Director: Shonali BoseNilesh Maniyar
Writer: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar, Atika Chohan
Cast: Kalki KoechlinRevathySayani GuptaHussain DalalTenzing DalhaKuljeet SinghMalhar KhushuWilliam Moseley
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Laila (Kalki Koechlin) has cerebral palsy but the much bigger issue is that she has to share her room with her brother (Malhar Khushu). Despite difficulties and worried parents (Revathy, Kuljeet Singh), she gets the opportunity to move from India to New York for her studies and that’s just what she does. Being on her own in a foreign country prompts a journey of self-discovery that leads Laila to co-student Jared (William Moseley) and Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a young blind activist from Pakistan who lives in New York.

There should be more films in the world like Margarita with a Straw: films that feature a queer, disabled women of color as their protagonists and tell a touching, funny story about them.

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Re-Watch: John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 21.2.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

Before seeing the sequel, I knew I had to re-watch John Wick. And also on re-watching it’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful action movie that I simply adore.

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XConfessions (2014)

XConfessions
Director: Erika Lust
Writer: Erika Lust
Seen on: 10.10.2016

XConfessions collects 9 porn short films (I’ll write about each below) that are based on stories people sent to Lust.She has several of these collections, I think I saw Number 6.

I wasn’t quite as taken with this collection as I was with (S)he Comes for two reasons: one, I found the editing weird in some parts, and two I didn’t think that Erika Lust managed to capture the female gaze/get away from the male gaze as much as Petra Joy. But it’s not my intention to pit Lust against Joy (pun intended) – and both collections have their great moments.

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(S)he Comes (2014)

(S)he Comes
Director: Petra Joy
Writer: Petra Joy
Seen on: 8.10.2016

“Plot”:
(S)he Comes is an anthology of six short porn films, no plot to be found. The pairings are different, but all heterosexual and sometimes it’s “just” masturbation scenes.

(S)he Comes it’s a successful example of feminist porn in various ways. Personally I wouldn’t have minded if it had been a bit queerer, but it’s rare enough that we get hetero porn aimed at female spectators, so I won’t complain at all. In fact, I very much enjoyed the collection.

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Fantastic Shorts Competition at the /slash Filmfestival 2016

A short note on all the short films at the /slash Filmfestival 2016 that were part of the Fantastic Shorts Competition. The winner was Ariane Louis-Seize Plouffe for her short Wild Skin.
Seen on: 25.9.2016
[Reviews by cornholio.]

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Dear White People (2014)

Dear White People
Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P Bell, Brittany Curran, Dennis Haysbert,
Seen on: 15.9.2016

Plot:
Biracial Samantha (Tessa Thompson) hosts a popular radio show on her campus where she tackles racial issues, “Dear White People”. After she wins the election for head of her House, the black only residence on campus, beating out her ex Try (Brandon P Bell), Sam gets a bigger platform for her outspoken activism and things get considerably more heated. The white students, in particular the frat led by Kurt (Kyle Gallner), want to push back by hosting a blackface party and asking Lionel (Tylor James Williams) to investigate undercover in Sam’s House. Meanwhile, Coco (Teyonah Parris) is trying to land a spot on a reality TV show, but they seem more interested in Sam and the tensions surrounding her.

Dear White People started off a bit weird for me, but once the film and I found our groove together and the story really starts, it is an enjoyable, funny film with a very serious core, presenting a perspective that is much too rare in mainstream entertainment.

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Hai-hil [Man on High Heels] (2014)

Hai-hil
Director: Jin Jang
Writer: Jin Jang
Cast: Seung-won Cha, Jeong-se Oh, Som E.
Seen on: 14.9.2016

Plot:
It’s hard to imagine a tougher man than Ji-wook Yoon (Seung-won Cha): a police officer whose preferred work method is to simply beat everybody up, preferably heroically on his own. But Yoon is not only at war with the criminals around him – a gang in particular has sworn revenge after he all but decimated them – he is also at war with himself. Because what he would really like to do is to live as a woman. He even tries to quit his job to start tranisitioning, but his plans don’t work out the way he wants it.

It’s weird writing this plot description/the review calling Yoon “he” throughout, but it’s also rather emblematic of the film that doesn’t really get into the gender politics of the premise but uses it as a gimmick. Thus, calling Yoon “she” would feel completely off, legitimating a very problematic approach. For the rest of this review I shall resort to “they”, even if that doesn’t sit right with me either.

Nevertheless, Hai-hil doesn’t only have strong (and pretty gory) fight scenes, but it’s engaging exactly because of the ambivalence it shows towards (trans*)gender issues. Though that engagement doesn’t come without pain about the often bad representation (at least judging from my pov as a European, cis woman and – hopefully – ally to trans* people).

highheels[SPOILERS]

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