Plot: The Stone Bar is the gay bar in Taipei, and its newest waiter is Josh. Josh (Golden Elephant) is pretty and fresh, so he has his pick of men, but he would like to win florist Lin’s (Aric Chen) heart. Only Lin is still reeling from losing his last boyfriend to Aids and really can’t fathom having a new relationship. In his frustration, Josh turns to Sean (J.R. Chien) who is more than happy to have him. But amidst promiscuity and drugs, drama is pre-programmed.
The Story of the Stone did not work for me at all. I tried very hard to get into the film, but it was completely confusing and about halfway through I just gave up following anything that happened on screen.
Plot: Hotel Artemis is a safe haven in the middle of Los Angeles, a LA in full crisis mode. All the criminals can come here in case of medical emergency, knowing they will be cared for by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) and Everest (Dave Bautista) without having to fear the police – or each other. Only called by their room names, Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) brings in his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) after he got shot during a robbery. But some serious shit is about to hit the fan at the usually peaceful Hotel Artemis.
Hotel Artemis, unfortunately, sounds way cooler than it is. Despite the great cast and some very nice ideas, it just never finds its feet.
Plot: Stan (Robin L’Houmeau) is struggling with his mother’s cancer diagnosis that leaves her in need of care, which he mostly provides. Most of all he struggles with the fact that he feels disgusted with her. He hopes to combat this by joining a self-help group for disfigured people led by Vanessa (Debbie Lynch-White). Where but there can he learn to be less shallow? So he decides to pretend to be disfigured himself. That plan, though, doesn’t work like he intended at all.
I was intrigued by the concept behind Happy Face and the fact that they cast a lot of actually disfigured people in the film. And it certainly tackles a difficult topic with care. Ultimately, though, it all revolves too much about Stan and what he can learn in this situation.
Plot: Clare (Aisling Franciosi) was convicted in Ireland and shipped to Tasmania where she works as a maid for the army stationed there, under the command of Hawkins (Sam Claflin). She was supposed to go free years ago, but Hawkins isn’t ready to let her go. Things escalate and Clare finds herself devastated and bent on revenge against Hawkins. Hawkins is traveling through the forest to the next big city, so Clare resolves to follow. She hires the Indigenous Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) as a guide and moved by her desparation, Billy agrees against his better judgment. Making their way through the forest comes with its challenges quite apart from a hard treck – especially for a white woman only accompanied by a Black man.
The Nightingale is a rape-revenge film without exploitation and a feminist look at colonialism that, unfortunately, fails a little when it comes to considering intersectionalities. In any case, it’s a demanding and harsh film that is worthy of attention.
Plot: Elpida (Stella Fyrogeni) has just been told that she is menopausal. This irrefutable proof that she is growing older lets her look at her life anew, especially her suffocating marriage to Costas (Andreas Vasileiou). Elpida starts to allow herself fantasies and make plans, but whether reality can conform to that is another question.
Pause is an interesting film that gives us a complex portrayal of an older woman. With menopause, it tackles a topic that is usually not mentioned at all and Fyrogeni’s excellent performance does its part as well. It’s really good.
Plot: Miguel (Benny Emmanuel) lives a quiet life with his alcoholic mother (Marcela Ruiz Esparza) whom he takes care off. He works as a clerk to write letters for analphabetic people and always looks forward to Carmela (Renée Sabina) who often comes to send letters to her boyfriend. When Miguel finds his mother dead at home, clutching a letter with his father’s name and address, Miguel packs everything and leaves to find the father he never knew, determined to kill him. But things don’t quite go the way he plans.
Detrás de la Montaña isn’t bad for a debut feature, but unfortunately, it really doesn’t treat its women very well and that took my appreciation for the film away pretty quickly.
Plot: Olivia (Lucy Hale) lets herself get dragged along on spring break to Mexico by Markie (Violett Beane), her best friend, who insists that they have one last bash together with their friends before university is over. Olivia had other plans, but she finds that she does enjoy herself, especially when she meets Carter (Landon Liboiron). Looking for a new thrill, Carter suggests to the group that they could all head to a special place: ruins of a monastery. Once there, they start to play Truth or Dare. But even when they leave and say that they want to quit playing, the game has other ideas – and the stakes grow ever higher.
I didn’t expect much of Truth or Dare (I mostly watched for Lucy Hale), but even so what I got was pretty underwhelming. It’s just generally a meh kind of film.
Plot: Earth is quickly nearing the point of no return in the energy crisis. Aboard the Cloverfield Space Station, Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is working with her colleagues on a particle accelerator, hoping that they can make it work which would mean a near-endless energy supply. But so far, they have not been successful and they are running out of possibilities to try. But when thing finally seem to go right, the consequeces of their experiments are definitely not what they expected.
The Cloverfield Paradox is a decent space station thriller/horror film. It wouldn’t have necessarily needed the connection to the other two Cloverfield films, but that it can be watched independently is one of its strength, I’d say. As is the awesome cast.
Plot: Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) meet by chance at a night club and have a great evening/night together. As they talk, they come up with the idea to fast-forward through their relationship to see if it is meant to be by spending 24hours together without sleep – but with sex every hour. Naima hesitates at first and says she can’t because she has to work as an actress, but when she gets fired, she returns to Sergio and the two actually do give it a try.
Duck Butter is very much an American independent movie – how much that is or isn’t up you alley is probably a matter of taste. I did enjoy it for the most part, but the ending rubbed me the wrong way.
Plot: Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) are best friends who have a booming business together where they handle the break-ups for people who can’t go through with the break-up themselves, for whatever reason. And they make sure that the break-ups stick – whether that means pretending to cheat with their clients, or pretending that they are dead or missing doesn’t really matter to them. But when Mel starts to second-guess the ethics of their job, not only does their business suffer, but also their friendship.
The Breaker Upperers is a fun film that continuously approaches the line into cringe territory but never really crosses it (for me at least). Still, there is a relentlessness to their humor that just isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. I did enjoy the film, but I didn’t love it.