American Honey (2016)

American Honey
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, Will Patton
Seen on: 19.7.2020

Content Note: sexualized abuse

Plot:
Star (Sasha Lane) takes care of her siblings and has to fend off her stepfather’s abuse, if she can at all, so when she meets Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and he offers her a way out – joining him and a whole bus full of kids to drive around the country selling magazine subscriptions – Star jumps at the chance. Probably would have also jumped if there hadn’t been an instant connection between her and Jake, but that certainly helped her decision. But once they are on the road, things become a little more complicated than Star anticipated.

American Honey is a beautiful coming-of-age road movie with great lead performances, looking at a part of America that rarely gets much attention. I was absolutely captivated by it.

The film poster showing Star (Sasha Lane) from behind, raising her hand to the sky.
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Gwat mooi [Sisterhood] (2016)

Gwat mooi
Director: Tracy Choi
Writer: Kin-Yee Au, Yee Lam Wong
Cast: Gigi Leung, Fish Liew, Jennifer Yu, Lee-zen Lee, Kevin Kam-Yin Chu, Panther Chan, Stephanie Che, Eliz Lao, Teresa Mak
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 3.6.2020

Plot:
Many years ago, Sei (Gigi Leung) fled Macau and went to Taiwan, trying to forget her past. But when the news of Ling’s death reaches her, she has to return and confront it. When they were both barely adults, Sei (Fish Liew) and Ling (Jennifer Yu) met working in a massage parlor and they quickly became best friends. Their relationship was everything to them – until it wasn’t anymore. But looking back at it now, Sei may discover some things she hadn’t previously seen.

If you’re looking for a good cry, Sisterhood is ready and here for you. It’s such a nicely told film with such charming leads, I almost didn’t mind that it was another sad queer story.

The film poster showing two girls in uniform holding hands. Both are wearing bracelets with numbers - 18 and 19 respectively.
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Carrie Pilby (2016)

Carrie Pilby
Director: Susan Johnson
Writer: Kara Holden
Based on: Caren Lissner‘s novel
Cast: Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges
Seen on: 19.3.2020

Plot:
Carrie (Bel Powley) was a child prodigy. Having graduated Harvard at 18, she is now in New York and pretty much at a loss. She resents her father (Gabriel Byrne) for having sent her away when she was so young and doesn’t really know how to adjust to life outside of education. Her therapist (Nathan Lane) tries to get her to live a little instead of just reading books. When he gives her a list of tasks to fulfill – like going on a date or doing something she liked doing as a child – and at the same time, her father gets her a job as a copyeditor for a law firm, Carrie starts to make new experiences.

Carrie Pilby is a sweet, fun film with a complex female character at its center. It balances humor and serious issues nicely, making it absolutely enjoyable.

The film poster showing a drawing of Carrie's face, looking widely upwards.
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A Wish For Christmas (2016)

A Wish For Christmas
Director: Christie Will Wolf
Writer: Helen Frost, Don MacLeod
Cast: Lacey Chabert, Paul Greene, Andrea Brooks, Colleen Wheeler, Kendall Cross, Michael Ryan, Mark Brandon, Donna Benedicto, Howard Storey, Jason McKinnon
Seen on: 27.12.2019

Plot:
Sara (Lacey Chabert) works hard, but she has the tendency to let everybody walk over her, even her best friend Molly (Andrea Brooks). When her boss (Jason McKinnon) outright steals her idea for a Christmas marketing campaign and presents it as his own to the CEO Peter (Paul Greene) at the office Christmas party, Sara needs a break. As she withdraws, she makes a wish to Santa (Howard Storey) to finally be able to stand up for herself. He grants her the wish – but only for a little while. Sara thinks it’s a joke, but when she returns to the party, everything bursts out of her and Peter takes notice. That’s how Sara finds herself on a business trip with her boss’s boss to present her idea to maybe the richest and scariest man in the business.

A Wish For Christmas didn’t convince me, despite some (more or less) feminist attempts which is rare enough in the Christmas movie world. It is okay to watch, but not more.

The film poster showing Peter (Paul Greene) and Sara (Lacy Chabert) standing in front of a Christmas tree.
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The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)

The Alchemist Cookbook
Director: Joel Potrykus
Writer: Joel Potrykus
Cast: Ty Hickson, Amari Cheatom
Seen on: 8.9.2018

Plot:
Sean (Ty Hickson) lives alone in the woods with only his cat for company. He is working on a project that takes his entire attention and time. His only visitor is his friend Cortez (Amari Cheatom) who brings him his groceries and supplies. The longer Sean stays on his own, the deeper he gets into his project, tackling an ancient, occult mystery with modern means.

The Alchemist’s Cookbook doesn’t take on the most novel idea and would have probably worked better as a short film, but other than that it’s very well made and especially profits off its charismatic protagonist.

The film poster showing Ty Hickson draped in a blanket and some occult symbols.
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Kosmonautensehnsucht (2016)

Kosmonautensehnsucht [literally: Cosmonaut Longing]
Director: Catharina Göldner
Writer: Catharina Göldner
Cast: Katharina Behrens, Jan Jaroszek, Nadja Stübinger, Moritz Vierboom, Ina Tempel, Alexander Höchst, Ruth Bickelhaupt, Annekatrin Grimm
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2018
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Plot:
Miriam (Katharina Behrens) works as a stage manager in the theater. When it closes over the summer, Miriam has nothing to do but wait that her big love, a cosmonaut, returns to earth. But she’s keeping her waiting and summer becomes really long. And when an astrologist tells her that the cosmonaut isn’t the person for, instead she has to find somebody who was born January 19, 1985 at 3.30am. So Miriam starts looking.

Kosmonautensehnsucht is only 60 minutes long and has absolutely no budget to speak of and yet it manages to be one of the most charming, strong films I’ve seen in a long time. A wonderful little film.

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The Wedding Party (2016)

The Wedding Party
Director: Kemi Adetiba
Writer: Kemi Adetiba, Tosin Otudeko
Cast: Alibaba Akporobome, Zainab Balogun, Stephen Damian, Daniella Down, Iretiola Doyle, Emmanuel Edunjobi, Adesua Etomi, Kunle Idowu, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Beverly Naya, Enyinna Nwigwe, Ikechukwu Onunaku, Sola Sobowale, Banky Wellington
Seen on: 18.2.2018
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Plot:
Dunni (Adesua Etomi) is about to marry Dozie (Banky Wellington) despite their differences: Dunni has been saving herself for marriage, while Dozie is looking back on a past as a major player. Also, Dunni doesn’t have much in the way of money, while Dozie comes from a very wealthy family. But families are part of weddings, too, and Dozie’s family really isn’t happy with the match.

The Wedding Party is a Nigerian film by a woman, which is pretty awesome. But everything else about it is utterly derivative and pretty boring. I felt like I forgot it as I was watching it.

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Handsome Devil (2016)

Handsome Devil
Director: John Butler
Writer: John Butler
Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Ardal O’Hanlon, Amy Huberman,
Ruairi O’Connor, Dick O’Leary, Mark Doherty, Michael McElhatton
Seen on: 4.1.2018
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Plot:
Ned (Fionn O’Shea) and Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) attend the same boarding school and are forced to share a room. But other than that they really have nothing in common. Ned is a shy social outcast who can’t even be bothered to pretend to like rugby, while Conor is a star rugby player at their rugby-centered school. Against all odds, they start bonding though. But their friendship doesn’t go uncommented

Handsome Devil is a sweet film that takes on a different direction from what I thought it would. It’s not a fantastic film, but it is an all-around good watch.

[Slight SPOILERS follow]

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The Bad Batch (2016)

The Bad Batch
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Jayda Fink, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Yolonda Ross, Aye Hasegawa, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna
Seen on: 28.12.2017
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Plot:
Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is released into the Texan desert, a wasteland where all of the undesirables are sent to and have to weather not only the harsh climate but also each other to survive. It doesn’t take long and Arlen is captured by cannibals led by Miami Man (Jason Momoa). But even though she doesn’t escape unharmed, Arlen does manage to escape and find her way in this cruel world.

I wasn’t a big fan of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Amirpour’s first film. But The Bad Batch, her second film, was really bad: racist, ableist and boring.

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Aloys (2016)

Aloys
Director: Tobias Nölle
Writer: Tobias Nölle
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tilde von Overbeck, Kamil Krejcí, Yufei Li, Koi Lee, Karl Friedrich
Seen on: 14.12.2017
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Plot:
Aloys (Georg Friedrich) is a private detective. He works with his father (Karl Friedrich). Or rather he used to as his father suddenly dies. Aloys having already been a withdrawn person who spends his time recording and watching surveillance tapes, his father’s death severs the last real human connection he has. After getting drunk one night, he wakes up on a public bus with his camera and tapes stolen. Shortly after he gets a call from a woman who blackmails him. She has his things, but she will only give them back if he tries “telephone walking” with her: she guides him on a fantasy walk with her voice over the phone.

Aloys was not uninteresting but it didn’t manage to really win me over, I’m afraid. It is too slow in the beginning and I’m not sure that it realizes just how creepy Aloys actually is.

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