The Alchemist Cookbook (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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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Lady Macbeth (2016)

Lady Macbeth
Director: William Oldroyd
Writer: Alice Birch
Based on: Nikolai Leskov‘s novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Rosheuvel
Seen on: 1.12.2017

Katherine (Florence Pugh) was married off to an older man, Alexander (Paul Hilton) who leaves her alone at his father Boris’ (Christopher Fairbank) country estate pretty soon. Boris has to travel as well, leaving Katherine with nothing to do and nobody for company except her servants, above all her maid Anna (Naomi Ackie). This at least gives the frustrated Katherine the chance to explore the countryside on walks. One day she crosses paths with groomsman Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) and soon, they start to have a passionate affair.

Lady Macbeth is an engrossing film with a pretty amazing protagonist. I was entirely caught up in the events and the emotions of the story.

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Terror – Ihr Urteil [The Verdict] (2016)

Terror – Ihr Urteil
Director: Lars Kraume
Writer: Oliver Berben, Lars Kraume
Based on: Ferdinand von Schirach‘s play
Cast: Burghart Klaußner, Martina Gedeck, Florian David Fitz, Lars Eidinger, Jördis Triebel, Rainer Bock
Seen on: 22.11.2017

Soldier Lars Koch (Florian David Fitz) is on trial. He shot down a civilian plane that was abducted by terrorists who threatened to fly it into the next city which would have raised the death toll considerably. So Koch didn’t wait for orders, he decided on his own to shoot down the plane. Now the judge (Burghart Klaußner) and his jury have to decide whether Koch’s actions were justified. As Koch’s defendant (Lars Eidinger) and the district attorney (Martina Gedeck) make their cases, big philosophical questions arise.

Terror – Ihr Urteil was made for an audience that gets to play the part of the jury. So the people watching the film get to vote in the end whether Koch should be found guilty or innocent. Two endings were shot for the film and depending on the voting results, one of them is screened. I saw the film as part of a scientific conference that couched the film in a lot of interesting discussions (and was able to screen both endings). That conference also made it even clearer that Terror – Ihr Urteil is expertly made bullshit.

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Maudie (2016)

Director: Aisling Walsh
Writer: Sherry White
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Kari Matchett, Gabrielle Rose, Zachary Bennett, Billy MacLellan
Seen on: 18.11.2017

Maud (Sally Hawkins) needs to get out from under her family’s wing. She sees her opportunity when she learns that grumpy Everett (Ethan Hawke) is looking for a housekeeper. Even though he is hesitant to take her on because of her disability, he doesn’t exactly have much choice and Maud is persistent, so they give it a try. In her off time, Maud starts to paint and polishes her personal style, while also finding a home in the community and with Everett.

Althoughe Maudie is a sweet film, I’m not entirely happy with it. Some things I knew going in would bother me, other things crept up on me during the film. Nevertheless I found it entertaining.

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Anchiporuno [Antiporno] (2016)

Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Sion Sono
Cast: Ami TomiteMariko TsutsuiAsamiFujikoAmi FukudaHonoka IshibashiYûya Takayama
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 1.10.2017

Kyoko (Ami Tomite) is a young artist who takes great pleasure in humiliating her assistant Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui). But as their sexually charged relationship unfolds, things keep shifting.

I saw the trailer of the film and I was very doubtful that I would like it. But I didn’t think I’d actively hate it. It took me about five minutes to arrive at that point though, and even though I tried to give it more of a chance, I didn’t succeed.

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