Plot: Jim (Mark Duplass) has returned to his hometown after his mother’s death to clean out her house. Amanda (Sarah Paulson), too, has returned home to visit her sister. When the two run into each other by chance, they carefully reconnect. When they were in high school, they were a couple, convinced that they would grow old together. But life happened differently for them. Seeing each other again, though, makes them wonder why and how.
Blue Jay is quite gripping, relying entirely on Paulson and Duplass who really are perfect. I was completely taken with it.
Plot: Lexi (Gemma Brockis) has left London in a hurry. After her mother’s death and with her marriage crumbling, she decided to go to Los Angeles to find her father. He left her mother and her when Lexi was just three years old and she hasn’t seen him since. But there are a couple of breadcrumbs that she can follow. She rents a room in a seedy motel and starts the search.
No Light and No Land Anywhere isn’t always easy to watch but that’s just because it is so effective in transporting Lexi’s emotions. So, even if it isn’t easy, it’s certainly worth to work for it.
Plot: Émile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) have known each other since they were children. But as they grew older, they grew apart from each other. But now Cézanne has come to visit Zola and both are excited to see each other again. Once they get to talking, though, tensions between the two become obvious: Zola wrote a novel that draws on their life and Cézanne is unhappy with how he was portrayed in it. As both reflect on their relationship with each other, their lives and their women, it is unclear whether they can move past that tension and the very different way their lives developed.
Oh boy, Cézanne et moi was an absolutely boring movie. It moves slowly and spends most of its time dwelling on the sexism and misogyny those two men exhibit, while still wanting us to like them. That equation doesn’t work, nor does the film.
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.