Copwatch (2017)

Copwatch
Director: Camilla Hall
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 07.06.2020

“Plot”:
The documentary follows the copwatch group WeCopwatch, showing how they formed and how they operate: filming police officers at work in the hopes of mitigating excessive violence or to at least document it. It includes interviews with Ramsey Orta, Kevin Moore and David Whitt.

With the Black Lives Matter protests going on, Copwatch is, of course, very topical which is why it was included in the festival on short notice. And I’m glad that it was because it shows once more that these incidents of violence and murder by police are not isolated, singular cases but they happen a lot, all over the USA and have been going for about forever.

The film poster showing the hands of a Black person raised high.
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Volubilis (2017)

Volubilis
Director: Faouzi Bensaïdi
Writer: Faouzi Bensaïdi
Cast: Mouhcine Malzi, Nadia Kounda, Abdelhadi Talbi, Faouzi Bensaïdi, Nezha Rahile
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 06.06.2020

Plot:
Malika (Nadia Kounda) and Abdelkader (Mouhcine Malzi) have not been married long and are still in the process of building their life together. For now, they live with his family, which is uncomfortable in many ways, and work both – Malika as a house maid and Abdelkader as a security in a shopping center. Abdelkader takes his job very seriously. When he isn’t deferential, but outright aggressive to a shopper who is married to an important man, the consequences are dire for him. The resulting humiliation has him spiraling and threatens to bring down his life with Malika before it ever really began.

Volubilis packs a lot of social criticism – and while I usually love that, in this case, I just didn’t really connect emotionally with the film, making the criticism feel a lot weaker than it should have felt.

The film poster showing Malika (Nadia Kounda) and Abdelkader (Mouhcine Malzi) leaning close together.
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Katte ni furuetero [Tremble All You Want] (2017)

Katte ni furuetero
Director: Akiko Ohku
Writer: Akiko Ohku
Based on: Risa Wataya‘s novel
Cast: Mayu Matsuoka, Takumi Kitamura, Daichi Watanabe, Kanji Furutachi, Anna Ishibashi, Hairi Katagiri
Part of: We Are One Film Festival
Seen on: 05.06.2020

Plot:
Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) is an introverted accountant who spends most of her time dreaming of her high-school crush Ichi (One) although she hasn’t seen him in years. When a colleague at work, Ni (Two) (Daichi Watanabe) starts showing an interest in Yoshika, it completely throws her and she decides that she needs to reconnect with Ichi (Takumi Kitamura) to see if she can finally win his heart. So she organizes a class reunion even as she starts dating Ni.

Katte ni furuetero looks like a pretty standard RomCom but it bucks the trend a little with its complicated main character and its sometimes pretty ambiguous developments. Whether you will like that will probably depend on just how sweet you expect and want the film to be. I am a little undecided about it myself.

The film poster showing Yoshika (Mayu Matsuoka) surrounded by small cut-outs of the other characters in the film.
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Disobedience (2017)

Disobedience
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Writer: Sebastián Lelio, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Based on: Naomi Alderman‘s novel
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola, Anton Lesser, Allan Corduner, Nicholas Woodeson, David Fleeshman, Bernice Stegers
Seen on: 15.5.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Ronit (Rachel Weisz) left the Orthodox Jewish community where she grew up behind. But when her father (Anton Lesser) dies, she returns for the funeral. Reconnecting with her best friends Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), her father’s closest student, and Esti (Rachel McAdams), she learns that the two got married. This further complicates her return – because she left all those years ago because she and Esti were in love. And maybe they still are.

Disobedience is a film that finds its strength in the quiet moments and in the lead performances. But it’s also a film that left me with a sense of unease regarding its protrayal of both queerness and of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The film poster showing Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Ronit (Rachel Weisz) kissing.
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Gerald’s Game (2017)

Gerald’s Game
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Based on: Stephen King‘s novel
Cast: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Chiara Aurelia, Carel Struycken, Henry Thomas
Seen on: 21.4.2020

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her husband Gerald have an exciting weekend planned. In their remote vacation home during the off-season, they want to take the weekend to focus on themselves and their relationship – by spicing up their sex life. Gerald brought handcuffs and is eager to get going. Jessie is willing to give it a try but as the tying up quickly turns into a rape fantasy for Gerald, she doesn’t want to go along anymore. As he tries to convince her, Gerald has a heart attack though and suddenly Jessie finds herself all alone, chained to a bed. Or maybe she isn’t quite as alone as she thought.

Gerald’s Game is a tense, very well-made film with a fantastic Gugino. If you want to be creeped out, I can definitely recommend it.

The film poster showing Jessie (Carla Gugino) with her hands chained to the bed, her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) lying on top of her.
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Mudbound (2017)

Mudbound
Director: Dee Rees
Writer: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees
Based on: Hillary Jordan‘s novel
Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks
Seen on: 05.04.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, racial violence

Plot:
Henry McAllan (Jason Mitchell) buys a farm in the last corner of Mississippi without discussing it with his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) who is not thrilled. Nevertheless, they, their children and Henry’s cranky, racist father (Jonathan Banks) make their way there. The farm is being worked on by Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his family who have been tending the land without much hope of ownership for generations. The McAllans and the Jacksons not only have the land in common, though under completely different conditions, but als World War II. Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) is a soldier as is Hap’s son Roncel (Jason Mitchell). But the racial divide looms large in more than one way.

Mudbound is an excellent film that carries quite a punch and managed to not only not make me hate voice-over, but actually appreciate it. It’s definitely not easy to watch, but it is even more definitely really good.

The film poster with all of the main characters artfully arranged.
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A Christmas Prince (2017)

A Christmas Prince
Director: Alex Zamm
Writer: Karen Schaler, Nate Atkins
Cast: Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, Honor Kneafsey, Sarah Douglas, Emma Louise Saunders, Theo Devaney, Daniel Fathers, Tahirah Sharif, Amy Marston, Joel McVeagh, Tom Knight, Richard Ashton
Seen on: 28.12.2019

Plot:
Budding journalist Amber (Rose McIver) gets the opportunity to report on the succession of Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) who has so far shown no inclination to take on responsibility: if he doesn’t accept the throne within the next weeks, he will forfeit his right to it altogether. But instead of an enlightening press conference, Amber gets no info whatsoever. By coincidence, she is mistaken as the tutor for Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) and takes the opportunity to go undercover to find out more about the royal household. It soon turns out that Richard is quite different than Amber thought.

A Christmas Prince is probably the epitome of Christmas movies. As such it and its sequels are practically inescapable, but they also made me reach the point where I could finally get out of my Christmas movie stupor. Because it really is a bit much, especially watching all three

The film poster showing Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) and Amber (Rose McIver).
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Christmas Inheritance (2017)

Christmas Inheritance
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Dinah Eng
Cast: Eliza Taylor, Jake Lacy, Andie MacDowell, Neil Crone, Michael Xavier, Lori Hallier, Mag Ruffman, Bill Lake, Anthony Sherwood, Martin Roach, Lindsay Leese
Seen on: 27.12.2019

Plot:
Ellen (Eliza Taylor) is set to inherit her father’s (Neil Crone) company and wealth. But she doesn’t really understand what that means and after one too many embarrassing moments in public, her father intervenes and sends her to the small town his company originated in to deliver a letter to his friend and business partner. But there are some conditions for her to complete the task: she can tell nobody who she really is and can only use the 100 dollars in cash that he gives her. Ellen is ready to prove herself to her father, but this might be easier said than done, especially when a snow storm hits. Thankfully, the people in town are very helpful – especially Jake (Jake Lacy).

Christmas Inheritance was a little bit too much for me, even halfway through a Christmas movie binge. Everybody is so good here and the plot is so very contrived, it was hard to take.

The film poster showing Eliza Taylor in front of a snowy landscape.
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Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Christmas Wedding Planner
Director: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: Keith Cooper, Rebecca Lamarche
Based on: Stacy Connelly’s novel Once Upon a Wedding
Cast: Jocelyn Hudon, Stephen Huszar, Kelly Rutherford, Rebecca Dalton, Eric Hicks, Joey Fatone
Seen on: 21.12.2019

Plot:
Kelsey (Jocelyn Hudson) has dreamed of becoming a wedding planner. Now her cousin Emily (Rebecca Dalton) is getting married on Christmas and Kelsey is the one who gets to plan it – just the big break she needs! But she encounters a serius bump in her plans in the shape of Connor (Stephen Huszar). He is not only Emily’s ex, but also a private investigator who is determined to dig up any possible dirt on Emily’s fiancé Todd (Eric Hicks). Deciding that you should keep your enemies close, Kelsey agrees to help – which means she now has to juggle the wedding, the investigation and her attraction to Connor.

Christmas Wedding Planner feels a little painted by numbers (yes, even for a Christmas movie). It’s still watchable, but it is not a holiday movie highlight.

The flm poster showing a smiling couple in the upper half and three women in the lower.

[SPOILERS]

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Rip Tide (2017)

Rip Tide
Director: Rhiannon Bannenberg
Writer: Georgia Harrison
Cast: Debby Ryan, Genevieve Hegney, Andrew Creer, Naomi Sequeira, Valerie Bader, Aaron Jeffery, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Danielle Carter
Seen on: 5.12.2019

Plot:
Cora (Debby Ryan) is a successful model, but always in her mother Sofia’s (Danielle Carter) shadow as Sofia herself runs a modeling agency. When an embarassing video surfaces of Cora, she decides to leave New York and visit her aunt Margot (Genevieve Hegney) in Australia until things die down. Margot used to be a pro surfer, but now she runs a surf shop and school – and she’s struggling. With Cora’s arrival, things get shaken up – both for Margot and for Cora.

Rip Tide is nothing special. It tells a familiar tale and it doesn’t tell it particularly well. But there’s still some entertainment to be had and I’m pretty sure that pre-teens will gobble it up.

The film poster showing Cora (Debby Ryan) in fashionable clothes with a surfboard in her hand.
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