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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Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Bad Times at the El Royale
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Drew Goddard
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Xavier Dolan, Shea Whigham, Mark O’Brien, Charles Halford, Jim O’Heir
Seen on: 22.10.2018
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Plot:
The El Royale is a run-down motel literally straddling the state line between Nevada and California. Most of the time, it’s empty now, with a single night clerk, Miles (Lewis Pullman) enough to handle all the guests. But on this particular night, there are more guests than usual – and they are all here for their own unstated purposes: Father Daniel (Jeff Bridges) is looking for something. Darlene (Cynthia Erivo) wants to make her career as a singer. Laramie (Jon Hamm) is a vaccuum salesman on the road. Emily (Dakota Johnson) is running from something. As the guests bring their own story to the motel, things get more and more complicated.

Bad Times at the El Royale obviously tries to be a film in the vein of Tarantino’s best, but while a lot of the right ingredients are there for that, the film doesn’t really come together and starts to fall apart more and more the longer it lasts.

The film poster showing a montage of the main characters atop an image of the motel El Royale.
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Cops (2018)

Cops
Director: Stefan Lukacs aka Istvan
Writer: Stefan Lukacs
Cast: Laurence Rupp, Anton Noori, Maria Hofstätter, Roland Düringer, Anna Suk, Michael Fuith
Seen on: 17.10.2018
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Plot:
Christoph (Laurence Rupp), called Burschi (“little boy”), has finally achieved what he has always dreamed of: he is training with the WEGA, Austria’s police special forces unit, under Konstantin Blago (Anton Noori), his big idol. His father Heinz (Roland Düringer) who is also a cop, but turned away from his career towards a more social role in the force sees Christoph’s dream with a critical eye. On a seemingly routine call Christoph ends up shooting a mentally ill man (Michael Fuith) who attacked. Celebrated as a hero by his squad and criticized by the public, Christoph starts to struggle with the events and his role in them.

I was pretty impressed by Cops as it takes a deep dive into police culture – which also means looking very sharply at masculinity. It’s sociological analysis in movie form and one I had yet to see from an Austrian perspective. Istvan handles it very well.

The film poster shwoing a police officer in riot gear with police tape running across his mouth.
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A Star Is Born (2018)

A Star Is Born
Director: Bradley Cooper
Writer: Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters
Remake of: A Star Is Born (1937) (and 1954 and 1976)
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin, Marlon Williams, Brandi Carlile, Ron Rifkin, Barry Shabaka Henley
Seen on: 12.10.2018
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Content note: suicide

Plot:
Jack (Bradley Cooper) has seen his heyday as a musician and has made his home in a slump, saturated with a lot of alcohol. That’s when he meets Ally (Lady Gaga), talented, but unknown musician. Almost convinced that she has to give up on her dreams, Ally is convinced that she is not a singer, not made for the spotlight, but rather that she is a songwriter. But Jack gives her the leg up she needs to start her career as they fall in love with each other. But as Ally’s star rises, Jack’s keeps falling.

I admit, I was doubtful regarding A Star Is Born and whether I should see it at all. But then the critics kept falling over themselves with praise and I thought, I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. Having seen it, I am not convinced that I should have let myself be swayed. I mean, I have definitely seen worse films but that doesn’t mean it’s all that good either.

The film poster showing a black and white image of Jack (Bradley Cooper) playying the guitar and Ally (Lady Gaga) sitting in front of him, leaning in for a kiss.
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Waldheims Walzer [The Waldheim Waltz] (2018)

Waldheims Walzer
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Writer: Ruth Beckermann
Seen on: 12.10.2018
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“Plot”:
Kurt Waldheim was president of Austria from 1986 to 1992, after being the Secretary General of the UN. During his election campaign, it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht and he was implicated in Nazi mass killings – a fact that did not keep him from getting elected, despite many discussions about it. Beckermann was involved in the protests against Waldheim at the time and filmed a lot of material – material she thought lost, but found again and now uses to look back at how things unfolded.

Waldheims Walzer is an excellent documentary. It’s informative, concise and brings home the flabbergasting outrageousness of it all, proving yet again how little Austria has done to reckon with its own past.

The film poster showing Waldheim's face with the title of the film over it in large white letters.
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Ballon [Balloon] (2018)

Ballon
Director: Michael Herbig
Writer: Kit Hopkins, Thilo Röscheisen, Michael Herbig
Cast: Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross, Alicia von Rittberg, Thomas Kretschmann, Jonas Holdenrieder, Tilman Döbler
Seen on: 6.10.2018
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Plot:
Peter (Friedrich Mücke) and Doris Strelzyk (Karoline Schuch) live in the GDR with their family, as do Günter (David Kross) and Petra Wenzel (Alicia von Rittberg). They would all like to leave the GDR, but exit is severely limited and they don’t have the right connections to get an exit visa. When they have the idea to fly across the border to West Germany in a home-made hot air balloon, they start the work. But their activities are noted by Seidel (Thomas Kretschmann) whose job it is to hunt down people who try to flee. And he is very good at it.

Ballon is an exciting, tense film that makes the repression in the GDR very tangible. I was surprised to get a film like this from Herbig who I only know as a comedy director – but it was in no way a bad surprise.

The film poster showing balloon silk burning.
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Venom (2018)

Venom
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Based on: David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane‘s comics character
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Woody Harrelson, Peggy Lu
Seen on: 5.10.2018
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Plot:
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a journalist and he loves to dig deep. When he gets the chance to interview Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) who runs a huge tech company, he can’t resist asking some hard questions. But that choice leads for his entire life to explode around him – he loses his job and his girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). A year later, he is still reeling – and still obsessed with Drake. So when he gets a chance to take another dig at him, he does – and that brings him in touch with one of Drake’s projects: Venom, an alien who hitches a ride in his body.

Venom was a lot more fun than I expected. It’s not necessarily a good film, but it is definitely entertaining and very enjoyable.

The film poster showing Tom Hardy's face, half of which is an Alien with a huge eye and a mouth with sharp teeth.
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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Cast: Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Joana Ribeiro, Jordi Mollà, Olga Kurylenko, Stellan Skarsgård, Jason Watkins, Paloma Bloyd, Óscar Jaenada, Will Keen
Seen on: 5.10.2018
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Plot:
Toby (Adam Driver) is a director who is trying to shoot Don Quixote in the Spanish countryside. He actually attempted this before when he was a film student – and when he stumbles upon a copy of the film he made back then. He is inspired to track down the two key actors of the film, the shoemaker who played Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce) as well as his Dulcinea, played by Angelica (Joana Ribeiro). But when he discovers that the shoemaker is still convinced that he really is Don Quixote and that Toby is Sancho Panza, Toby is roped into quite an adventure.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was 25 years in the making and Gilliam fought hard to have it made. Having seen it now, I wonder whether it was worth the fight. It has its moments, but those really aren’t enough to make the film work.

The film poster showing a giant hand on which a couple of figures are standing in front of a windmill. Above it is a collage of the main characters of the film.
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The Nun (2018)

The Nun
Director: Corin Hardy
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Prequel to/Spin-Off from: The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2
Cast: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Ingrid Bisu, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor
Seen on: 4.10.2018
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Plot:
After the suicide of a nun there, Father Burke (Demián Bichir), an exorcist weighed down by his past, is sent to Romania to investigate her suicide and to figure out if something more is going on. By his side is the novitiate Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) who had visions that might relate to the incident. As they arrive at the convent in the middle of nowhere, they find that there is more to the suicide and to the convent itself than they had anticipated.

As a fan of the Insidious and Conjuring movies, I wanted to see The Nun, but I have to admit that it can’t quite keep up with this films. It’s an okay horror film, but I just expected a little more.

The film poster showing a young nun in white, but the image is torn across her face, revealing the creepy face of a nun in black behind her.
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