Tikli and Laxmi Bomb (2017)

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Vibhawari DeshpandeChitrangada ChakrabortySuchitra PillaiSaharsh Kumar ShuklaMia MaelzerDivya UnnyKritika PandeUday AtroliaUpendra LimayeMayur MoreVikas Shukla
Seen on: 3.3.2018
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[Screener review.]

Plot:
Laxmi (Vibhawari Deshpande) has been a sex worker for quite a while, always under the protection of Mhatre (Upendra Limaye). When he brings her a new girl, Putul (Chitrangada Chakraborty), she knows she has to show her the ropes, even though she doesn’t much care for it – or for the bubbly and mouthy Putul. When Putul’s defiance leads her to talk about revolution – working for themselves rather than Mhatre – Laxmi is reluctant at first, but knows that Putul – nicknamed Tikli – makes good points.

Tikli and Laxmi Bomb is a smart and engaging film. It tells an emotional story with great characters while thoroughly examining an unfair and oppressive system.

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Un beau soleil intérieur [Let the Sun Shine In] (2017)

Un beau soleil intérieur
Director: Claire Denis
Writer: Christine Angot, Claire Denis
Based on: Roland Barthes‘s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Xavier Beauvois, Philippe Katerine, Josiane Balasko, Sandrine Dumas, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex DescasLaurent GrévillBruno PodalydèsPaul Blain, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Gérard Depardieu
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2017
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Plot:
Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) is a rather successful artist, but she’s less successful when it comes to love. She has an affair with the married Vincent (Xavier Beauvois), but that isn’t enough for her. So she goes on various dates and meets quite a few men. But none of it lasts and Isabelle keeps on searching.

I found Un beau soleil intérieur pretty disappointing. There wasn’t a single character I liked in the film – and yes, that includes Isabelle. That made the film rather trying to sit through.

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Hannah (2017)

Hannah
Director: Andrea Pallaoro
Writer: Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, André Wilms, Stéphanie Van Vyve, Simon Bisschop
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2017
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Plot:
Hannah (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband (André Wilms) of many years eat dinner. He changes a lightbulb. She packs a bag for him. They drive to prison and he stays there, while Hannah has to navigate the life they used to share on her own from now on. Their son (Julien Vargas) isn’t of much help, Hannah remains at a distance in her theater group and the only human contact she has is with Nicholas (Simon Bisschop), a young disabled boy she takes care of.

Hannah isn’t an easy film, but for me, it was a film well worth the effort I had to put in watching it (funnily enough, I said pretty much the same thing about Pallaoro’s first film, Medeas). Crafted carefully in every frame, it’s an exercise in what isn’t said or shown

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L’atelier [The Workshop] (2017)

L’atelier
Director: Laurent Cantet
Writer: Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Cast: Marina Foïs, Matthieu Lucci, Florian Beaujean, Mamadou Doumbia, Mélissa Guilbert, Warda Rammach, Julien Souve, Issam Talbi
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2018
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Plot:
Olivia (Marina Foïs) is a respected novelist who is participating as a teacher in a summer class for underprivileged kids. The seven participants are supposed to write a story together but one of them, Antoine (Matthieu Lucci) won’t play along. His writing is filled with violence and empathy for the perpetrators of it. His behavior in class is antagonistic, racist and shows him sympathizing with neo-nazis and fascism. Olivia struggles with the situation in a class where most of her students aren’t white. But she’s also intrigued by Antoine’s obvious intelligence and tries to find out more about him.

L’atelier could have been interesting if it had been the film I was hoping to see and not yet another story that asks us to please empathize with the neonazi. Maybe if the film hadn’t been made by white people, it would have been good.

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Patti Cake$ (2017)

Patti Cake$
Director: Geremy Jasper
Writer: Geremy Jasper
Cast: Danielle MacdonaldSiddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Bridget EverettCathy Moriarty, Patrick Brana, Sahr NgaujahMC Lyte, Anthony Ramos
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2017
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Plot:
Patti (Danielle Macdonald) lives with her alcoholic mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and her sick grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) and works a thankless job. But she really comes to live when she starts rapping. Always supported by her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), both morally and with beats, she’s constantly rhyming. But New Jersey isn’t necessarily a rapping hotbed, especially not for fat white women. But when Patti and Jheri stumble on punk artist Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), Patti is convinced that they have found the missing ingredient for their music to really take off. Plus, he’s intriguing and she’s curious.

Patti Cake$ had me leaving the cinema with a huge grin on my face, despite the fact that I did have some squabbles with it. It’s sweet and funny and the music is pretty great.

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The White Girl (2017)

The White Girl
Director: Jenny Suen, Christopher Doyle
Writer: Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen
Cast: Angela Yuen, Jeff Yiu, Tony Tsz-Tung Wu, Joe Odagiri
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2017
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Plot:
The White Girl (Angela Yuen) is allergic to sunlight. She lives with her father in a very sheltered home but her reclusive existence, so far only interrupted by her friend Ho Zai (Jeff Yiu), is opened a little with the arrival of Sakamoto (Joe Odagiri), a mysterious stranger who fasincates The White Girl – and vice versa.

The White Girl has a fantastic soundtrack and some very strong moments, but it didn’t take off quite as much as I would have liked.

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Avant la fin de l’été [Before Summer Ends] (2017)

Avant la fin de l’été
Director: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Writer: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Cast: Arash, Ashkan, Hossein
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2017
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Plot:
Arash (Arash) has been studying in France for the last few years, but he didn’t really get into life in France, so he wants to return to Iran. His two best friends, also originally from Iran, Ashkan (Ashkan) and Hossein (Hossein) don’t want to see him go, so they propose to go on a road trip together, hoping that they could change his mind in the course of it.

Avant la fin de l’été was a short film butit felt surprisingly long and was a little too aimless for my taste, making it a little tedious.

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120 battements par minute [BPM (Beats Per Minute)] (2017)

120 battements par minute
Director: Robin Campillo
Writer: Robin Campillo, Philippe Mangeot
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel , Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud, Ariel Borenstein, Aloïse Sauvage
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2017
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Plot:
It’s the early 1990s and HIV/AIDS has already claimed many lives, but little is done to combat it. Advocacy Group ACT UP is trying to change that, planning several different interventions. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) has just joined the group and is swept up in their relentless energy. Or is he more swept off his feet by Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who seems to live for the activism?

120 BPM is not perfect, but it is a strong film, a love letter to activism and an emotional journey that will leave you breathless.

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Félicité (2017)

Félicité
Director: Alain Gomis
Writer: Alain Gomis, Olivier Loustau, Delphine Zingg
Cast: Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, Gaetan Claudia, Papi Mpaka, Nadine Ndebo, Elbas Manuana, Diplome Amekindra
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2017
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Plot:
Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) earns her living as a bar singer. It’s there that she meets Tabu (Papi Mpaka), a flirt who drinks too much but also has a sweet side. When Félicité’s 14-year-old son has a motorcycle accident, she desperately needs to find a way to get some money to pay for his hospital bills. The search for money also makes her confront her past.

Félicité has a fascinating relationship with music and I did enjoy revisiting Kinshasa, but after the set-up the story veers off into a direction that left me a little cold.

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Helle Nächte [Bright Nights] (2017)

Helle Nächte
Director: Thomas Arslan
Writer: Thomas Arslan
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tristan Göbel, Marie Leuenberger, Hanna Karlberg
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2017
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Plot:
Michael’s (Georg Friedrich) estranged father recently died in Norway. Michael has to go there to take care of things and decides to take his own son Luis (Tristan Göbel) with him. Luis lives with his mother and he and Michael don’t get along all that well, either. For Michael, this trip and the ensuing drive across Norway is supposed to be a chance for the two of them to connect. For Luis, it’s less clear what he wants from his father and this trip.

Helle Nächte doesn’t tell a very new story, but it tells it well. It wasn’t the film I was most emotionally invested in, but I enjoyed it.

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