Una mujer fantástica [A Fantastic Woman] (2017)

Una mujer fantástica
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Sebastián Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Saavedra, Amparo Noguera, Trinidad González, Néstor Cantillana
Seen on: 20.9.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) transmisia

Plot:
Marina (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes) have been dating for a while, and despite their considerable age difference, they are very happy. In fact, Marina is just moving in with Orlando. When Orlando suddenly dies, Marina’s world suddenly shatters. On top of her lover dying, she has to also deal with Orlando’s family who can’t accept Marina and the fact that she is trans.

Una mujer fantástica is an intense film about transmisia and the resilience that trans people have to develop in the face of it. Except survival, it has not much space for positivity though.

The film poster showing Marina (Daniela Vega) in a prism of colorful light.
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Little Evil (2017)

Little Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Writer: Eli Craig
Cast: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Owen Atlas, Bridget Everett, Clancy Brown, Chris D’Elia, Kyle Bornheimer, Donald Faison, Tyler Labine, Brad Williams
Seen on: 27.8.2021

Plot:
Gary (Adam Scott) and Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) just got married and are ready to move in together – and with Samantha’s son Lucas (Owen Atlas), of course. Gary is excited about becoming a stepdad, but Lucas isn’t easily charmed. In fact, the more time Gary spends with him, the more he is convinced that there might be something actually evil about Lucas. Not in some figure-of-speech way, but in a literal antichrist way. But what can Gary do about that?

Little Evil is fine. It’s not awesomely great, but it has some decent laughs and was entertaining enough.

The film poster showing Gary (Adam Scott) and Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) with Lucas (Owen Atlas) standing behind them. Lucas looks creepy, Samantha smiles up at him and Gary looks uncomfortable.
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I Am Not a Witch (2017)

I Am Not a Witch
Director: Rungano Nyoni
Writer: Rungano Nyoni
Cast: Maggie Mulubwa, Henry B.J. Phiri, Nancy Murilo, Margaret Spinella, Nellie Munamonga
Seen on: 20.7.2021

Plot:
Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is only 8 years old when she is accused of witchcraft. Without any family to stand up for her, it doesn’t take long for her to be found guilty. She is sent to a camp where witches are held as laborers and as tourist attractions. But even as the other witches show her the ropes, local politician Mr Banda (Henry B.J. Phiri) sees potential in a child witch and finds ways to use her outside of the camp as well.

I Am Not a Witch draws a striking pucture of the way (the accusation of) witchcraft is used to control women in an almost documentarian fashion. With a great performance by Mulubwa, it is a fascinating glimpse into a subculture that intrigues.

The film poster showing Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) in front of a colorful, collage-like background.
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Tigermilch [Tiger Milk] (2017)

Tigermilch
Director: Ute Wieland
Writer: Ute Wieland
Based on: Stefanie de Velasco‘s novel
Cast: Flora Thiemann, Emily Kusche, David Ali Rashed, Narges Rashidi, Emil Belton, August Carter, Eva Löbau, Thorsten Merten
Seen on: 14.7.2021

Content Note: racism

Plot:
14-year-old Jameelah (Emily Kusche) and Nini (Flora Thiemann) are best friends, spending every available minute with each other. Now the summer holidays are looming and they both decided to lose their virginity. Jameelah is hoping for Lukas (August Carter) and Nini for Nico (Emil Belton). But another thing is looming over both of them: Jameelah and her mother Noura (Narges Rashidi) are immigrants from Iraq, desperately waiting for their German citizenship. When the two girls become witnesses to a crime, it throws them and their friendship off balance, though.

Tigermilch gets a lot of things right, but it also tries to take on a little too much and doesn’t do everything justice.

The film poster showing Jameelah (Emily Kusche) and Nini (Flora Thiemann) with their arms around each other. Nini is showing her middle finger.
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To the Bone (2017)

To the Bone
Director: Marti Noxon
Writer: Marti Noxon
Cast: Lily Collins, Alex Sharp, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Liana Liberato, Retta, Leslie Bibb, Lili Taylor
Seen on: 7.7.2021

Content Note: eating disorders, ableism

Plot:
Ellen (Lily Collins) has been struggling with anorexia for a while now, but she hasn’t made much headway. Only her sister Kelly (Liana Liberato) and her stepmother Susan (Carrie Preston) seem to have some hope left that Ellen might make it after all. When Susan drags her to yet another doctor, Ellen isn’t particularly interested. But Dr Beckham (Keanu Reeves) takes a more unusual approach and Ellen agrees to another rehab. One last attempt to get her weight up and her eating under control.

To the Bone gets some things very right, others not so much. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it doesn’t develop enough power to really work.

The film poster showing Ellen (Lily Collins) in profile. Her face is a photo, but the rest of her is a pencil sketch.
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I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. (2017)

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.
Director: Macon Blair
Writer: Macon Blair
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Devon Graye, David Yow, Jane Levy, Myron Natwick, Gary Anthony Williams, Lee Eddy, Macon Blair, Christine Woods, Robert Longstreet
Seen on: 30.5.2021

Plot:
Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is a nursing assistant. Meek and quiet, she has a hard time standing up for herself. But when she finds her house robbed one day and the police absolutely unhelpful, she decides to embark on her own investigation. She asks the neighborhood weirdo Tony (Elijah Wood) for help, and they try to figure out who took Ruth’s things.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. is a quirky film that doesn’t forget that quirkiness isn’t a substitute for actual characterization. It could have profited from a little more tonal consistency, but I did enjoy it for the most part.

The film poster showing Tony (Elijah Wood) and Ruth (Melanie Linskey) standing with very serious looks in front of a garden fence.
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Sun Dogs (2017)


Sun Dogs
Director: Jennifer Morrison
Writer: Raoul McFarland
Cast: Michael Angarano, Melissa Benoist, Allison Janney, Ed O’Neill, Eric Christian Olsen, J.R. Ramirez, Alexander Wraith, Xzibit, Jennifer Morrison
Seen on: 21.3.2021

Content Note: ableism, suicide

Plot:
Ned (Michael Angarano) has one goal, and one goal only: he wants to join the Marines to fight against the terrorists who caused 9/11. He has been trying every year for three years since 2001, not realizing that he will never make it because of his disability. When he makes yet another attempt, the recruiter Master Sgt. Jenkins (Xzibit) tries to let him down easy by sending Ned on a mission at home, not anticipating that Ned takes this mission absolutely seriously. So seriously, in fact, that he even convices Tally (Melissa Benoist), a rather lost, young woman, that the mission is very real and that she can help.

Sun Dogs is sweet and warm, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it, I have to admit. Despite that, I’d say that the good outweighs the bad here.

The film poster showing the film's main characters. Front and center Ned (Michael Angarano), saluting while clutching a mascot head.
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Thoroughbreds (2017)

Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) used to be friends when they were children, but they haven’t seen each other in a long time. Now Amanda’s mother has asked Lily to hang out with her again since Amanda got quite a reputation after an incident with her horse. And Amanda is weird, no doubt about it. But despite initial awkwardness, they bond over their mutual dislike for Lily’s stepdad Mark (Paul Sparks) – which leads to a plan that could solve their problem.

Thoroughbreds has excellent performances and a good sense of style, but also an ending that ruined the film for me, unfortunately.

The film poster showing Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) sitting as far away from each other as possible on a white couch in a white room wearing white and gray.
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Je fais où tu me dis [Dressed for Pleasure] (2017)

Je fais où tu me dis
Director: Marie de Maricourt
Writer: Marie de Maricourt
Cast: Angélique Bridoux, Naëlle Dariya, Nathalie Cuenet, Vincent Chaumont
Seen on: 9.3.2021

Plot:
Sarah (Angélique Bridoux) is a wheelchair user and lives with her parents (Nathalie Cuenet, Vincent Chaumont). She is 20 years old and would like to explore her sexuality, but her options are limited, though not for a lack of trying on Sarah’s part. She is particularly interested in BDSM. When her mother hires a new cleaner and assistant, Victoria (Naëlle Dariya), Sarah finally finds somebody in her who can help her.

Je fais où tu me dis is a film that sets out to not just subvert but utterly obliterate the image of disabled people as asexual, as our society so often likes to think of them. And it does so with its tongue firmly in its cheek and a great protagonist (with a wonderful performance by Bridoux, who is actually disabled herself). I really have no complaints – I enjoyed this immensely.

The film poster showing Sarah (Angélique Bridoux) drinking from a glass of milk. She is in pink monochrome on a blue background.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train
Director: Sydney Freeland
Writer: Shelby Farrell
Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Lance Gray, Danielle Nicolet, Arturo Castro, Gage Bradley, Nick Moceri, Sasheer Zamata, Missi Pyle, David Sullivan, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 7.3.2021

Plot:
Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) would like to worry about her college applications and how she can possibly afford to college in the first place. But instead her mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) is arrested and Deidra has to worry about paying bills, and taking care of her younger siblings Laney (Rachel Crow) and Jet (Lance Gray). Her dad, railway worker Chet (David Sullivan), is of no help, but when he mentions how easy it is to rob trains and how nobody gets hurt by it because everything is insured, Deidra starts making plans. But she needs Laney’s help for it to work.

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train is a fun, entertaining film that moves along at such a brisk pace, you almost miss the very serious and critical core that lies beneath all those entertaining bits.

The film poster showing Laney (Rachel Crow) and Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) standing back to back with their arms crossed.
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