Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Plot:
Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.
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Camp Death III in 2D! (2018)

Camp Death III in 2D!
Director: Matt Frame
Writer: Matt Frame
Cast: Dave Peniuk, Angela Galanopoulos, Darren Andrichuk, Emma Docker, Chris Allen, Starlise Waschuk, Terry mullett, Cynthia Chalmers, Gerald Gerald Geraldson, Hans Potter, Katherine Alpen, Jason Asuncion, Andrea Bang
Seen on: 6.1.2019
[Screener review.]

Plot:
Camp Crystal Meph was the scene of a horrific bloodbath by the killer Johann Van Damme (Terry mullett). But a few years later, Todd (Dave Peniuk) is ready to give it another try. His uncle Mel (Darren Andrichuk) owns the camp ground and Todd has set up a new camp concept. Together with his camp counselors Rachel (Angela Galanopoulos) and Barry (Chris Allen), they are ready to welcome their group. But soon after their arrival, people start dying – again -, murderous squirrels run wild and nobody has any clue what is actually happening

Camp Death III in 2D! is a parody of Friday the 13th Part III in 3D that has some nicely silly ideas, but unfortunately overdoes it a lot of the times. Plus, it is just so ableist that I really wanted to scream.

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Christopher Robin (2018)

Christopher Robin
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder, Greg Brooker, Mark Steven Johnson
Based on: A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard‘s characters
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Oliver Ford Davies, Ronke Adekoluejo, Adrian Scarborough, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Ken Nwosu, John Dagleish, Amanda Lawrence, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, Toby Jones
Seen on: 5.9.2018

Plot:
Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is all grown up. He has a wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), and a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). But above all, he has a job that keeps him very, very busy. Right now, the company he works for needs to lay people off and Christopher has one weekend to figure out who to fire. So when his childhood friend and teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh (Jim Cummings) suddenly appears and asks him to come back to the 100-acre-wood, it couldn’t come at a worse time. It’s time for Christopher to get his priorities straight.

Christopher Robin is a film on a mission and with a message, everything else takes a backseat to that. But in the end it gets tied up so much in its message that it manages to completely undermine it.

The film poster showing Ewan McGregor with Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore.
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Kin (2018)

Kin
Director: Jonathan Baker, Josh Baker
Writer: Daniel Casey
Based on: the Bakers’ short film Bag Man
Cast: Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor, Dennis Quaid, Zoë Kravitz, James Franco, Carrie Coon, Ian Matthews, Gavin Fox, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Lukas Penar, Carleigh Beverly
Seen on: 5.9.2018

Plot:
Jimmy (Jack Reynor) was just released from prison and comes home to his father Hal (Dennis Quaid) and his adoptive brother Eli (Myles Truitt). Things are tense between Jimmy and Hal. Meanwhile Eli sticks to his routine of scavenging in abandoned buildings, looking for copper. Instead he finds dead bodies and a mysterious weapon. That weapon might be just the thing that could help Jimmy settle old debts with his former employer. But Eli isn’t the only one who knows that it exists.

Kin is a confused film that doesn’t really know what it wants to say. Despite a couple of good things, it ultimately doesn’t convince.

The film poster showing Zoe Kravitz, Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor and James Franco over a weapon and two masked people.
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Searching (2018)

Searching
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writer: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Sara Sohn, Alex Jayne Go, Megan Liu, Kya Dawn Lau, Michelle La, Joseph Lee, Dominic Hoffman
Seen on: 1.9.2018

Plot:
Single dad David (John Cho) doesn’t know much about his daughter Margot’s (Michelle La) life. That becomes absolutely clear to him when she goes missing and he starts to look for her by going through everything on her laptop that could point him in any direction, while police detective Vick (Debra Messing) does everything on the official side. But with every hour that passes, the chances of finding Margot alive dwindle more.

Searching has two things going for it: the gimmick that it tells its story entirely via computer screens and everything that can be seen there and John Cho. The former works for some, but not all of the film, the latter is simply amazing.

The film poster showing John Cho looking at a smart phone.
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Eighth Grade (2018)

Eighth Grade
Director: Bo Burnham
Writer: Bo Burnham
Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger, Imani Lewis, Luke Prael, Catherine Oliviere
Seen on: 31.8.2018

Plot:
Eight-grader Kayla (Elsie Fisher) spends most of her time making YouTube videos where she dispenses advice on pretty much everything to pretty much no-one. In her videos, she talks about being confident, whereas in school she is so shy and speaks so little, she wins the award for being the most quiet student – much to her mortification. Middle school nears its end and Kayla is determined that things shall be different in high school. When she meets high schooler Olivia (Emily Robinson) and hits it off with her, she feels like she almost made it. But the transition isn’t so easy. Growing up isn’t so easy.

Eighth Grade is a thoroughly charming film and one of the most accurate portrayals of (early) puberty and its struggles that I have seen. Far removed from the glossy 25-year-olds who play teens and constantly talk about sex, Eighth Grade is much closer to reality – and that’s pretty lovely, even when it isn’t lovely at all.

The film poster showing Elsie Fisher as she takes a selfie.
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The Meg (2018)

The Meg
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Dean Georgaris, Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber
Based on: Steve Alten‘s novel Meg
Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Cliff Curtis, Winston Chao, Shuya Sophia Cai, Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, Robert Taylor, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jessica McNamee, Masi Oka
Seen on: 24.8.2018

Plot:
Five years ago, deep sea captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) lost his job, his wife Lori (Jessica McNamee), his reputation after a mission that ended in failure and death – and his explanation that it was all caused by a Megalodon – a long extinct mega shark. Now his expertise as a rescue diver is needed as a submarine was stranded at the bottom of the Mariana trench – a submarine that happens to carry Lori and two other scientists. Called in by oceanographers Zhang (Winston Chao) and Suyin (Bingbing Li) to help, Jonas soon discovers that he faces the same threat he faced back then.

I was looking forward to The Meg so much. I assumed it was going to be the perfect film to get drunk to and enjoy its badness. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that I honestly, unironically, wonderfully just loved the film.

The film poster showing a bird's view of a shark with its mouth wide open swimming towards the surface where a woman is floating on an inflatable ring.
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BlacKkKlansman (2018)

BlacKkKlansman
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Based on: Ron Stallworth‘s memoir Black Klansman
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Alec Baldwin, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Robert John Burke, Brian Tarantina, Arthur J. Nascarella, Ken Garito, Frederick Weller, Michael Buscemi, Harry Belafonte, Gina Belafonte
Seen on: 21.8.2018

Plot:
Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) fought his way into the police force – and managed to become the first black police man in Colorado Springs. That doesn’t mean that his skills are particularly valued. But as Ron keeps pushing, he is assigned to go undercover to black power events like the talk by Kwame Ture. But Ron knows where the real threat lies: with the Ku Klux Klan. Making a couple of bold choices and forcing some hands, he ends up infiltrating the Klan via phone, sending his Jewish colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to go to the meetings in person.

BlacKkKlansman is a strong film that makes its political point eloquently and forcefully. And it’s an important point to make – made by a good story.

The film poster showing a black man in a Ku Klux Klan mask, making a black power fist and holding up a comb.
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Blindspotting (2018)

Blindspotting
Director: Carlos López Estrada
Writer: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs
Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar
Seen on: 21.8.2018

Plot:
Collin (Daveed Diggs) has only a few days of probabtion left and he is doing everything to keep his head down. That isn’t always as easy as he’d like it to be, especially since his best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) tends to not think about consequences too much. As they both move through their home turf of Bay Area, Oakland, circumstances force them to face some hard truths about where they belong and what race and class have to do with their standing in life.

Blindspotting is a fantastic film: well-made, political and emotional, it brings home quite a few truths about many issues at the intersection of race and class – and even manages to be funny while it does so.

The film poster showing Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs leaning against a wall.
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Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Crazy Rich Asians
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim
Based on: Kevin Kwan‘s novel
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronny Chieng, Remy Hii, Nico Santos
Seen on: 19.8.2018

Plot:
Rachel (Constance Wu) has been dating Nick (Henry Golding) for a while now and they are really happy. While Rachel is from New York, where they’re both living, Nick is from Singapore – and he has been invited to his best friend’s wedding there. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce Rachel to his family. Only Nick failed to mention to Rachel that his family is so rich, he is basically considered Asia’s most eligible bachelor. This just adds to Rachel’s generel nervousness about meeting his family and leaving a good impression. Given that she is an outsider among the rich elite, her worries are absolutely justified.

Crazy Rich Asians is the perfect summer RomCom. It has a great cast, charming characters and a sense of humor that make it the perfect light summer fare.

The film poster showing Henry Golding and Constance Wu.
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