Plot: Psychiatrist Tom (Josh Charles) and his wife Lauren (Julia Stiles), an art teacher and artist, have arranged themselves with their different wishes for how their lives should be. So, Tom spends his time in a small town in New Jersey to enjoy the relative quiet and work on his newest book, while Lauren enjoys the art and culture of New York, but goes to New Jersey whenever she can. On one of her visits, the two go for a walk and see a young man (Avian Jogia) just about to commit suicide by drowning himself. Tom is quick to react, throwing himself into the water and pulling him out. The next day, Tom realizes that he knows the man – Danny used to be his patient when he was a child and Tom’s assessment led to him being incarcerated for murder when he was just eleven years old. Now, Danny obviously wants to reconnect with Tom, but Tom doubts his intentions.
The Drowning is a rather drab paint-by-numbers affair that never quite achieves the tension it would need to pull off its plot. Despite the cast, it remains a very average film.
Plot: Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a writer who decided to move to a remote area after a bad break-up to finish her book. She befriended her neighbor Sarah (Samantha Sloyan), but other than Sarah and her boyfriend, there is nobody around. Living that alone is made a little more complicated by the fact that Maddie lost both her hearing and her voice due to an infection many years earlier. It’s nothing she can’t cope with – until a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) shows up on her doorstep, obviously out to kill her. But Maddie is a fighter.
I didn’t do my homework when it comes to Hush – I was just in the mood for something horrory and it was already rather late, so I wanted it to be a short film, and this was the first likely candidate. Had I known that it was a film built on cripping up, I would have skipped it – and I wouldn’t have missed much.
Plot: Betty (Sophie Stockinger) lives in Vienna in 1941. As a Jewish girl, that is not the greatest place to be, so her father (Christian Dolezal) makes sure that Betty gets on a train with a group of children led by Helga (Nina Proll) and Georg (August Zirner). They hope to bring the children safely to Palestine. But the way there is dangerous and takes a lot of time.
Die Kinder der Villa Emma tells a good story, but it doesn’t tell it very well, I’m afraid. It doesn’t tell it badly, either, but there was something missing.
Plot: Tallulah (Elliot Page) has been driving around the country with her boyfriend Nico (Evan Jonigkeit) for a couple of years, stealing and grifting to get by. After a disagreement, Tallulah tells Nico to just fuck off – and he does. Desperate to find him again, she drives to New York where she knows his mother Margo (Allison Janney) lives in a fancy apartment complex in the middle of Manhattan. But Margo hasn’t seen Nico and is not interested in Tallulah’s story. Tallulah heads to a hotel, hoping to find some food and maybe more, in the room-service leftovers. Instead she gets mistaken as a hotel employee by Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard) who ropes her in to babysit her toddler. Carolyn is a mess and when she comes back drunk, Tallulah grabs the baby and just leaves. Her spur of the moment decision has big consequences for all of them.
Tallulah is a well-made, perfectly cast film that tells an interesting story in an affective way. I really loved it.
Plot: Seok-Woo (Yoo Gong) is busy with work and he doesn’t really have time for his daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim). After he gets her the wrong birthday present, she wants to go home to her mother who is divorced from Seok-Woo and lives in Busan. Seok-Woo is less than happy about that idea, but finally gives in and boards the train from Seoul to Busan with Soo-an the next day. But even as they make their way to the train station, something seems to be off. It’s only after the train has left, though, and the passengers find themselves trapped with zombies, that they realize how off things really are.
Train to Busan pretty much blew me away when I saw it the first time. So, I wanted to make sure to re-watch it before seeing the (quasi) sequel, on the one hand, to make sure I haven’t been making the film better in my head than it was and, on the other hand, to see an excellent movie again. Fortunately, Train to Busan absolutely holds up – it is still a fantastic film.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plot: Annie (Nichole Sakura) just moved to a new town and feels insecure. When she meets Jules (Fabianne Therese) in school, she is drawn to her strength and free spirit and the two girls quickly become friends and even fall in love. They dream of leaving their small town behind and starting a new life in New York. But those dreams need cash, and the easiest way to get cash for two young, pretty girls is to do some “modeling” online. That soon turns to more.
Teenage Cocktail is yet another film about two women falling in love that gets ruined by the male gaze. It’s a pity.