Gruber geht [Gruber Is Leaving] (2015)

Gruber geht
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Writer: Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Doris Knecht’s novel
Cast: Manuel Rubey, Bernadette Heerwagen, Doris Schretzmayer, Ulrike Beimpold, Fabian Krüger, Pia Hierzegger
Seen on: 16.3.2021

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
John Gruber (Manuel Rubey) loves the expensive things in life, and little else. His sister Kathi (Doris Schretzmayer) who moved to the country with her family certainly doesn’t get much more from him than contempt. Just as Gruber has trouble with a big account in his firm and fears that he might have cancer, he meets DJ Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). Sarah happens to be there when Gruber gets the confirmation of his cancer diagnosis, turning their fling into something more. Both Sarah and his illness make him reconsider the priorities in his life – but that is not an easy process.

Writing this review feels a bit like saying goodbye after a lackluster first date. There just was no spark between the film and me. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. We had a nice time, but there won’t be a second date. In short, Gruber geht is a good film that I just didn’t find very interesting.

The film poster showing Gruber (Manuel Rubey) in bed with Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). She is handing him a cigarette.
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Final Girl (2015)

Final Girl
Director: Tyler Shields
Writer: Adam Prince
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Alexander Ludwig, Logan Huffman, Cameron Bright, Reece Thompson, Francesca Eastwood, Wes Bentley
Seen on: 5.3.2021

Plot:
When Veronica (Abigail Breslin) was just a little child, William (Wes Bentley) recruited her after her parents were killed. William’s wife was murderd, too, and he is now looking to train Veronica to take on the murderers of the world. After years of grueling training, Veronica’s time has finally come: she is supposed to take on Jameson (Alexander Ludwig) and his friends who love to hunt young girls for sport.

Final Girl is a very stylized film. That mode could have worked if the story it tells had been a little more primal. Without that appeal, the film falls flat – and the audience with it.

The film poster showing Veronica (Abigail Breslin) in black and white, a red light over her.
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Self/less (2015)

Self/less
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writer: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Natalie Martinez, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley, Victor Garber, Derek Luke, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Melora Hardin, Michelle Dockery
Seen on: 14.5.2020

Plot:
Damian (Ben Kingsley) has led a hugely successful life, regretting only that he is estranged from his daughter Claire (Michelle Dockery). Now he is old, rich and dying. But he doesn’t feel ready to die just yet, so he is happy when he discovers Albright (Matthew Goode), a scientist who promises that he can have a new, freshly grown body and start all over again. Damian agrees to the procedure. When he wakes up, his body (Ryan Reynolds) lives up to all of his dreams. As he gets used to it, though, he also keeps getting haunted by dreams and nightmares that appear to him more real than they have any right to be.

Self/less is a decent film. Nothing here says greatness, but it isn’t bad either. It is like a case study for solid entertainment of a kind that has gotten rarer in recent years as budgets have grown and shrunk, leaving few players in the middle of the field.

The film poster showing older Damian (Ben Kingsley) and younger Damian (Ryan Reynolds) lying on slabs in front of medical machinery.
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Hua li shang ban zu [Office] (2015)

Hua li shang ban zu
Director: Johnnie To
Writer: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Sylvia Chang, Yun-Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Ziyi Wang, Yueting Lang, Siu-Fai Cheung, Tien-Hsin, Stephanie Che, Timmy Hung, Kin-Kwan Chu, Adrian Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Ho Chung Ping (Yun-Fat Chow) runs a very successful company with Winnie Chang (Sylvia Chang) and they are about to take the company public. But with that move comes a lot of office politics, rivalry and interpersonal tensions. Caught up in it are two new assistants on their first day: Lee Xiang (Ziyi Wang) and Kat Ho (Yueting Lang). Lee is all optimism about his new job, while Kat desperately tries to hide the fact that she is Ho Chung Ping’s daughter.

Office is a musical that is generally underwhelming but has one of the greatest sets I have ever seen, making up for a lot, albeit not everything.

The film poster showing a group of people in business attire leaning on the word "office".
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Thee Wreckers Tetralogy (2009-2018)

Thee Wreckers Tetralogy consists of four animated short films made between 2009 and 2018, starting life as music videos for Thee Wreckers. They are supplemented by a documentary about the films and the band.
The four short films are: No Place Like Home (2009), Lonely Bones (2013), Splintertime (2015), Reruns (2018)
Director: Rosto
Writer: Rosto
The documentary is: Everything’s Different, Nothing Has Changed (2017)
Director: Joao MB Costa, Rob Gradisen
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018
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I hadn’t heard of Thee Wreckers and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into with these films, but I admit that I found the films, the animation, the music of the short films pretty mind-blowing. The animation’s aesthetics, the music and the dreamlike narrative style caught me just right and I really managed to lose myself in them. Even though each installment of the tetralogy is very different, they go together very well and make for an all around beautiful body of work.

Poster for the tetralogy showing the animated version of the band.

Read a little more about each of the short films after the jump.

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Manifesto (2015)

Manifesto
Director: Julian Rosefeldt
Writer: Julian Rosefeldt
Cast: Cate Blanchett
Seen on: 8.2.2018
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“Plot”:
In 13 segments and with 13 different protagonists (Cate Blanchett), the film digs into artists’ manifestos, combining and contrasting them to meditate on art, artists and their role in society.

Manifesto is an experimental and highly demanding film. At times I was very lost and would have liked somebody to take my hand and walk me through it. But even when I didn’t understand everything about it and could categorize it perfectly, it affected me.

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Into the Forest (2015)

Into the Forest
Director: Patricia Rozema
Writer: Patricia Rozema
Based on: Jean Hegland’s novel
Cast: Ellen PageEvan Rachel WoodMax MinghellaCallum Keith RennieMichael EklundWendy Crewson
Seen on: 2.9.2017
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Plot:
Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) grow up with their father (Callum Keith Rennie) just outside of a small town in the Redwood Forest. But then something happens and slowly the infrastructure around them falls apart. First there is no more electricity, then no more gas and then they are entirely isolated in their forest home. When they realize that power, infrastructure and life as it was won’t be reinstated any time soon, Nell and Eva have to try and manage their lives on their own.

Into the Forest is not only a great adaptation of the novel I utterly loved, but simply a beautiful film in its own right.

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Downriver (2015)

Downriver
Director: Grant Scicluna
Writer: Grant Scicluna
Cast: Reef IrelandKerry FoxRobert TaylorHelen Morse, Thom GreenCharles GroundsSteve MouzakisLester Ellis Jr.
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 15.6.2017
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Plot:
James (Reef Ireland) was just released from prison on parole, after having served time for drowning a little boy when he was a child himself. As he returns to his hometown, he has to face his past, both in the shape of the boy’s still grieving mother (Helen Morse) and his former best friend Anthony (Thom Green) who has a decidedly cruel streak. Haunted by the events, James is determined to find the boy’s body that’s still missing and to give closure to everybody involved.

Downriver was an exhausting bit of cinema. Watching it felt like wading through muck: possible, but way more work than walking on hard ground would be. And is that extra work really necessary when the road is right there?

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Barash [Blush] (2015)

Barash
Director: Michal Vinik
Writer: Michal Vinik
Cast: Sivan Noam ShimonHadas Jade SakoriDvir BenedekAmit MuchtarIrit PashtanBar Ben Vakil
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 10.6.2017
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Plot:
Naama Barash (Sivan Noam Shimon) doesn’t have it easy. Her parents are constantly fighting, her sister, who is in the army, disappears and the only thing that gives her respite is to hang out with her friends, getting drunk and high. But then there’s a new girl in school: Dana (Hadas Jade Sakori). Dana is exciting and new and seems invulnerable and Naama finds herself falling in love quickly and confusingly.

Barash is a sweet coming-of-age film that doesn’t quite work as well as it could and should have. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

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Girl Asleep (2015)

Girl Asleep
Director: Rosemary Myers
Writer: Matthew Whittet
Based on: his own play
Cast: Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Amber McMahon, Matthew Whittet, Eamon Farren, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Catanzariti
Seen on: 6.4.2017

Plot:
Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is almost 15 and just started at a new school where she is befriended by Elliott (Harrison Feldman). When her well-meaning mother (Amber McMahon) wants to help her find her social footing by throwing a birthday party for Greta and inviting everyone, Greta is mortified. Feeling the pressure of the situation and of growing up in general, it’s no surprise that some of Greta’s fantasies my run away from her a little bit.

Girl Asleep is a funny and sweet film that shines when it works with fantasies but loses a bit of its glow when it turns to more mundane moments. Nevertheless, it’s a coming-of-age film that is worth checking out even in a well-saturated genre.

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