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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Tanna (2015)

Tanna
Director: Martin Butler, Bentley Dean
Writer: Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, John Collee
Cast: Mungau Dain, Marie Wawa, Marceline Rofit, Charlie Kahla, Albi Nangia, Lingai Kowia, Dadwa Mungau, Linette Yowayin, Kapan Cook, Mungau Yokay, Mikum Tainakou
Seen on: 4.4.2017

Plot:
On a small pacific island ruled by a volcano and the patriarchal structure of the tribes that live on it, Wawa (Marie Wawa) and Dain (Mungau Dain) are in love. But after altercations with another tribe, Dain – the Chief’s grandson – is supposed to marry a woman from that other tribe to cement their peaceful relationship. But Wawa and Dain can’t accept their separation easily.

Tanna is an unusual film that deserves to be seen, although it also has a few lengths that kept me at a bit of a distance from the film.

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History of Now (2015)

History of Now
Director: Nadiv Molcho
Writer: Nadiv Molcho
Cast: Nadiv Molcho, Aya BeldiKai HillebrandLea Wolfram
Seen on: 1.3.2017

Plot:
Eli (Nadiv Molcho) and Maya (Aya Beldi) were in love until about a year ago when their relationship went down in flames. By chance, they meet again at a party and take the opportunity to reflect on their relationship. As they walk through Vienna and talk things through, maybe they’ll be able to shed new light on past events.

History of Now is obviously Molcho’s passion project and it shows in every minute of the film that he is a very young man – with emphasis on both the young and the man part. The result is okay, but not really my cup of tea. Maybe because I never was a young man.

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3 Generations (2015)

3 Generations aka About Ray
Director: Gaby Dellal
Writer: Nikole Beckwith, Gaby Dellal
Cast: Elle FanningNaomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, Linda Emond, Tate Donovan, Sam Trammell
Seen on: 22.12.2016

Plot:
Ray (Elle Fanning) is fighting to get the hormones he needs to transition. His mother Maggie (Naomi Watts) supports him as best she can, even when she does struggle herself sometimes with his being trans. They live together with Ray’s lesbian grandmother Dolly (Susan Sarandon) who tries to help, too, but doesn’t really understand what Ray is going through. They do not live with Ray’s father Craig (Tate Donovan) who has a new family and not much interest in Ray. But Craig needs to agree to Ray’s treatment, so Maggie and Ray have to convince him.

I knew going in that About Ray – retitled 3 Generations – wouldn’t be an unproblematic film about being trans, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. What I got was okay, but definitely not great.

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Remainder (2015)

Remainder
Director: Omer Fast
Writer: Omer Fast
Based on: Tom McCarthy‘s novel
Cast: Tom SturridgeCush JumboEd SpeleersArsher AliShaun PrendergastLaurence Spellman
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 8.12.2016

Plot:
Tom (Tom Sturridge) loses his memory after an accident. He is plagued by vague flashes of things half-remembered. Desperately trying to piece everything together, he starts to use the recompensation he got for the accident, he hires Naz (Arsher Ali) to help him build the pieces of his memory up again – literally.

Remainder works off an interesting idea, but the idea is not enough to carry the film – and it needed carrying. Despite a couple of good things, I ultimately didn’t care for it.

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Alimuom ng kahapon [Shadows of Yesterday] (2015)

Alimuom ng kahapon
Director: Rosswil Hilario
Writer: Rosswil Hilario, Rolando InocencioJulius Lumiqued
Cast: Angelo IlaganD.M. SevillaJong CuencoMailes KanapiManuel ChuaSebastian CastroJubail Andres
Part of: Transition Festival
Seen on: 16.11.2017

Plot:
Emman (Angelo Ilagan) is a student who devotes most of his time to activism, protesting school fees and trying to create a more equal world for everybody. Nathan (D.M. Sevilla) is sent to one of the demonstrations to take photos for his newspaper. When he sees Emman, he feels immediately drawn to him and continues to go to demos. When violence erupts at one of those, Nathan pulls Emman to safety, kicking off a relationship that has to deal with more than its fair share of problems.

Shadows of Yesterday is a film that tries a lot and fails a lot. But at least they tried, I have to give them props for that.

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A Tale of Love and Darkness (2015)

A Tale of Love and Darkness
Director: Natalie Portman
Writer: Natalie Portman
Based on: Amos Ozautobiographical novel
Cast: Natalie Portman, Gilad KahanaAmir TesslerMoni MoshonovOhad KnollerMakram KhouryAlexander Peleg
Seen on: 13.11.2016

Plot:
Amos (Amir Tessler) lives with his parents Fania (Natalie Portman) and Arieh (Gilad Kahana) in Jerusalem. They are a happy family, although Fania misses her family in Tel Aviv, with whom communication is difficult due to the political circumstances. Amos grows up close to his mother who loves to tell him stories. At least until she becomes more and more depressed.

A Tale of Love and Darkness is not a bad film for a first feature from Portman as director. It does have a few weaknesses, but it certainly shows a lot of promise for her as both writer and director.

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Schau mich nicht so an [Don’t Look at Me That Way] (2015)

Schau mich nicht so an
Director: Uisenma Borchu
Writer: Uisenma Borchu
Cast: Uisenma Borchu, Catrina StemmerAnne-Marie WeiszJosef Bierbichler
Part of: Transition Festival
Seen on: 11.11.2016

Plot:
Hedi (Uisenma Borchu) moves in next doo to Iva (Catrina Stemmer) and her daughter Sofia (Anne-Marie Weisz). Sofia is curious about Hedi and Iva a single parent who needs help, so Hedi finds herself quickly involved in their lives, even beginning a romantic relationship with Iva. When Iva’s father (Josef Bierbichler) turns up, Hedi is intrigued. While Iva desperately tries to keep her distance from him, Hedi seeks him out.

Schau mich nicht so an is a weird film with weird characters. At the beginning I found this weirdness interesting, but it lost more of its charm with every passing minute.

[SPOILERS]

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