La Soledad (2016)

La Soledad
Director: Jorge Thielen Armand
Writer: Rodrigo Michelangeli, Jorge Thielen Armand
Cast: José Dolores López, Adrializ López, Marley Alvillares, Jorge Thielen Hedderich, María Agamez Palomino
Seen on: 13.9.2016

Plot:
José (José Dolores López) lives with his family in a dilapitated house in Caracas, called La Soledad. They inherited that house – unofficially – from the family his grandmother Rosina (María Agamez Palomino) worked as a maid for. José barely gets by, but he does his best, trying to take care of his daughter, his grandmother and the rest of the family. But the family is threatened with eviction from the remaining family. All that can maybe safe them is the rumored treasure in the house itself.

La Soledad straddles the line between documentary and feature film. The house was actually the house of director Amand’s family, José really his childhood friend and Armand seems to capture the images of a Venezuela in crisis very naturalistically (as far as I can tell, having never been there). And yet I didn’t get all that warm with the film.

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Nerve (2016)

Nerve
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Jessica Sharzer
Based on: Jeanne Ryan’s novel
Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles HeizerKimiko GlennMarc John Jefferies, Machine Gun Kelly, Juliette LewisSamira Wiley
Seen on: 10.9.2016

Plot:
When Vee (Emma Roberts) is accused by her best friend Sydney (Emily Meade) that she always plays it safe, Vee impulsively decides to get active in Nerve, an online game of Dare that is making the rounds among the teenagers of the city. Her first dares are innocent enough and bring her in touch with another participant, Ian (Dave Franco). They decide to team up. But the longer they play, the higher the stakes. And soon Vee finds that she can’t get out of the game anymore and she doesn’t even know if she can actually trust Ian.

I didn’t expect much from Nerve, but it turns out it’s an absolutely entertaining film. It’s not a masterpiece in any sense of the word, but it’s enjoyable popcorn cinema.

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Dark Night (2016)

Dark Night
Director: Tim Sutton
Writer: Tim Sutton
Cast: Anna Rose Hopkins, Robert Jumper, Karina Macias, Conor A. Murphy, Aaron Purvis, Rosie Rodriguez, Kirk S. Wildasin III
Seen on: 10.9.2016

Plot:
6 strangers in a city, leading very different lives, but all heading towards the same point that night – one where violence erupts. But traces of that violence are everywhere, fragments of the very real shooting at The Dark Knight Rises premiere in Colorado.

Dark Night is not a documentary of the Aurora shooting, nor is it a dramatization of the events. While it does use details from and media coverage of the shooting, it doesn’t so much attempt to reconstruct what happened but to show a caleidoscope of details, rearranging everything until there’s very little left that even has the possibility to make sense at all.

It’s an ambitious project and an interesting cinematic attempt, but ultimately, it’s a film that I wanted to like much more than I actually did.

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016)

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Writer: Jennifer Saunders
Based on/sequel to: the series
Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Jane Horrocks, Julia Sawalha, Robert WebbCelia ImrieMark Gatiss, Chris ColferKate Moss, Graham NortonGwendoline ChristieSuki WaterhouseLily ColeAlexa ChungStella McCartneyJerry HallEmma BuntonJon HammKathy LetteJeremy PaxmanDawn FrenchRebel WilsonBarry HumphriesJoan Collins
Seen on: 8.9.2016

Plot:
Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) have been best friends since about forever, spending most of their time battling the idea that growing older also means growing up. Instead they party in the world of high fashion all of the time. But they’re also struggling with keeping up their standard of living, Edina dreaming of finding a big client she can represent, and Patsy of finding a rich husband. When they hear that Kate Moss (as herself) is looking for new representation, they do everything to get close to her. But it ends in catastrophe: Kate is knocked into the Thames and disappears, and Edina and Patsy have to flee the country.

I’ve never seen the TV show this is based on/a sequel to, but I decided to see the film anyway because it’s rare enough to get such a female-centric film (both in front of and behind the camera). But honestly, I’m a little unsure what to do with this film – and I probably wouldn’t have if I had been familiar with the show before.

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Una hermana [One Sister] (2016)

Una hermana
Director: Sofía BrockenshireVerena Kuri
Writer: Sofía Brockenshire, Verena Kuri
Cast: Sofia Palomino
Seen on: 5.9.2016

Plot:
Argentina, in the middle of nowhere. A young woman (Sofia Palomino) is looking for her sister who disappeared. She is determined to leave no stone unturned, no path and possibility unexamined to find her. But she seems to be getting nowhere with her search – all she achieves is becoming more and more lost herself.

Una hermana is a slow film that keeps turning in circles. Even if that was its intention, it made it hard to watch and often simply boring. While I could get into it for stretches at a time, it didn’t quite come together for me.

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King of the Belgians (2016)

King of the Belgians
Director: Peter BrosensJessica Woodworth
Writer: Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth
Cast: Peter Van den BeginLucie DebayTitus De VoogdtBruno GeorisGoran RadakovicPieter van der Houwen
Seen on: 3.9.2016

Plot:
King Nicolas III of Belgium (Peter Van den Begin) is on state visit in Turkey, together with his chief of protocol Ludovic Moreau (Bruno Georis), valet Carlos De Vos (Titus De Voogdt) press liaison Louise Vancraeyenest (Lucie Debay) and documentary filmmaker Duncan Lloyd (Pieter van der Houwen). The latter is supposed to chronicle the life and responsibilities of a King. But their visit turns sour when news reaches them that Wallonia seceded from Belgium. Nicolas knows he has to return home quickly, but due to cosmic storms and international protocol, he can neither communicate with home, nor leave officially. So instead he and his small band of faithfuls decide to travel home through the Balkans, incognito.

I liked the idea behind King of the Belgians and it starts off rather funny, but it never really gathered enough momentum to win me over entirely.

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Home (2016)

Home
Director: Fien Troch
Writer: Nico Leunen, Fien Troch
Cast: Sebastian Van DunLena Suijkerbuijk, Mistral Guidotti, Loïc BellemansKarlijn SileghemRobbie CleirenEls Deceukelier
Seen on: 3.9.2016

Plot:
When Kevin (Sebastian Van Dun) is released from juvenile prison, his mother (Els Dottermans) finds that having him return into the old family situation really isn’t the best thing to do. So she asks her sister Sonja (Karlijn Sileghem) to take him instead. Sonja reluctantly agrees. They find work for Kevin with Sonja’s husband Willem (Robbie Cleiren) and Kevin finds social connections with Sonja’s son Sammy (Loïc Bellemans), his girlfriend Lina (Lena Suijkerbuijk) and his best friend John (Mistral Guidotti). But despite good intentions, things don’t really work out all that smoothly.

Home realistically portrays its protagonists and its story. That is sometimes very hard to bear, but most of the time, it’s worth to fight through it. I only found the ending a little disappointing.

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Hotel Rock’n’Roll (2016)

Hotel Rock’n’Roll
Director: Helmut Köpping, Michael Ostrowski
Writer: Michael Glawogger, Michael Ostrowski
Sequel to: Nacktschnecken, Contact High
Cast: Michael Ostrowski, Pia Hierzegger, Gerald Votava, Georg Friedrich, Detlev Buck, Hilde Dalik, Johannes Zeiler, Jayney Klimek, Helmut Köpping
Seen on: 3.9.2016

Plot:
Mao (Pia Hierzegger) inherited an old hotel from her uncle and decides to run it together with her friends and band mates Max (Michael Ostrowski) and Jerry (Gerald Votava). They want to make it a hotel with a rock theme and lifestyle. Meanwhile Schorsch (Georg Friedrich) just happens to crash into the hotel pond after robbing a bank, which brings Schorsch’s business partner Harry (Detlev Buck) to the hotel. Since Harry owns a big hotel in the area, he would like nothing more than to take over the hotel from Mao, but she won’t give up that easily, despite everything.

Hotel Rock’n’Roll was entertaining and fun. Although it didn’t manage to blow me away, it definitely had its moments.

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Wiener-Dog (2016)

Wiener-Dog
Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Cast: Keaton Nigel Cooke, Tracy Letts, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Zosia Mamet, Ari Graynor
Seen on: 2.9.2016

Plot:
Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) can’t believe his luck when his dad Danny (Tracy Letty) brings home a dog. Remi’s mother Dina (Julie Delpy) is less taken by Danny’s gift, fearing that she will be the one having to care for it. Pretty soon it becomes clear that it’s not going to work out for the dog in this family. And so begins a oddyssee for the little guy, from one weird owner to the next.

Wiener-Dog wasn’t great, but it was a decent film that was often very funny and sometimes a little too cruel. There are many things to like about it, but also a few things I didn’t like.

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The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Cast: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada
Seen on: 1.9.2016

Plot:
Nancy (Blake Lively) has been looking for a beach in Mexico where her mother surfed when she was pregnant with her. Since Nancy neither knows the exact location of the beach, nor its name, this has proved to be difficult, but she was finally successful. Leaving her best friend in the hotel, a local (Óscar Jaenada) drives Nancy to the beach so she can get in a good day’s surfing. There is practically no one there and Nancy enjoys the water – until she’s actually all alone and attacked by a shark who cuts off her way back to shore.

There is not a boring minute in The Shallows, although the film does have a few other issues. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it for the most part.

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[SPOILERS]

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