Lovecut (2020)

Lovecut
Director: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Writer: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Cast: Kerem Abdelhamed, Sara Toth, Valentin Gruber, Melissa Irowa, Max Kuess, Lou von Schrader, Raphaela Gasper, Marcel Mohab, Doris Schretzmayer
Seen on: 7.9.2020

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Jakob (Kerem Abdelhamed) and Anna (Sara Toth) have been a couple for a while and enjoy a rather adventurous sex life. Anna desperately wants to move out from home, but she needs to make money for that. So the two decide to try amateur porn. Meanwhile Jakob’s brother Alex (Valentin Gruber) is dating Momo (Melissa Irowa) – online, because he doesn’t dare telling Momo that he uses a wheelchair. Momo’s friend Luka (Lou von Schrader) also uses online dating sites and meets Ben (Max Kuess). Ben is very much into her, but Luka doesn’t want anything to do with feelings.

Lovecut is an interesting look at sex (and a little bit love) for teenagers in times of online dating and easily available (opportunities for) sex work. It manages to be non-judgmental for the most part, which is nice, but it does suffer a little from the inexperience of both the cast and the writing-directing team.

The film poster with three film stills: Ben (Max Kuess) floating in the danube; Anna (Sara Toth) posing for the camera; and Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).
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Follow Me (2020)

Follow Me (aka No Escape)
Director: Will Wernick
Writer: Will Wernick
Cast: Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, Denzel Whitaker, Siya, George Janko, Ronen Rubinstein, Emilia Ares, Pasha D. Lychnikoff
Seen on: 31.8.2020

Plot:
Cole (Keegan Allen) has built a large social media following with his thrill-seeking stunts. Now that he is celebrating ten years of this, a certain tiredness has settled in and he doubts that he can still find things that really thrill him. That’s why his girlfriend Erin (Holland Roden) and his friends Thomas (Denzel Whitaker), Dam (Siya) and Dash (George Janko) have promised him the experience of a lifetime: a secret escape room in Russia. Cole is underwhelmed at first – but it soon turns out that the escape room might give him more than he bargained for.

I didn’t expect much from Follow Me and it didn’t deliver much, so I guess that’s alright. The ending does carry a little more punch than I expected, but that’s about it.

The film poster showing Erin (Holland Roden) in a water tank filled with water banging against the glass. There's a bloody handprint.
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Tenet (2020)

Tenet
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Clémence Poésy, Fiona Dourif, Michael Caine, Himesh Patel, Dimple Kapadia
Seen on: 31.8.2020

Plot:
A special operative (John David Washington) is captured in a mission that goes very wrong. He manages to swallow a suicide pill – only to wake up recruited for a very special program. A program he knows nothing about except that there is something weird going on with time and he has one code word to find information: Tenet. Things soon point him to arms dealer Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and his wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) – but that’s only the beginning.

Nolan has made some good movies, but Tenet isn’t one of them. It’s pretty much incomprehensible drivel that’s much too preoccupied with its own coolness. If you’re looking for an example of style over substance: this is it.

The film poster showing the Protagonist (John David Washington) twice, mirrored along a diagonal line, once facing forward, once backward, once wearing a suit, once a uniform. Both times he is aiming a gun.
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The Roads Not Taken (2020)

The Roads Not Taken
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter
Cast: Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Branka Katic, Salma Hayek, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney
Seen on: 13.8.2020

Plot:
Molly (Elle Fanning) has a big day planned with her father Leo (Javier Bardem). They have two doctor’s appointments, which is quite a challenge for and with Leo as he has early onset dementia. Molly does her best, but not everything works well – neither with Leo nor with her job that she is neglecting for her father. Meanwhile Leo is living alternative lives that make him re-examine the biggest life choices he made.

The Roads Not Taken is a beautifully acted, interesting film that focused too much on Leo for me – and not enough on Molly.

The film poster showing Leo's (Javier Bardem) head dissolving into photos.
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Body Cam (2020)

Body Cam
Director: Malik Vitthal
Writer: Nicholas McCarthy, Richmond Riedel
Cast: Mary J. Blige, Nat Wolff, David Zayas, Anika Noni Rose, David Warshofsky, Ian Casselberry, Philip Fornah, Lara Grice, Demetrius Grosse
Seen on: 6.8.2020

Content Note: police brutality, racism

Plot:
Renee (Mary J. Blige) just returned to duty as a police officer. After the death of ther son in an accident, she lost control on a suspect and needed some time away. But she feels ready to dive in, even if she isn’t happy that she is settled with rookie cop Danny (Nat Wolff) as a partner. On their first night on duty together, they get called to an abandoned cop car. They find blood, and finally their colleague’s body. Renee checks the footage of his body cam and sees a suspect and something inexplicable, but then the footage disappears. She realizes can’t help but investigate, even if she isn’t actually sanctioned to do so.

Body Cam is rather topical and has a couple of okay horror scenes, but overall the film is a mess – and I’ve rarely seen a film with acting this bad.

The film poster showing Renee (Mary J. Blige) and Danny (Nat Wolff) in police uniforms.
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Into the Beat – Dein Herz tanzt (2020)

Into the Beat – Dein Herz tanzt
Director: Stefan Westerwelle
Writer: Hannah Schweier, Stefan Westerwelle
Cast: Alexandra Pfeifer, Yalany Marschner, Trystan Pütter, Helen Schneider, Ina Geraldine Guy,
Seen on: 5.8.2020

Plot:
Katya (Alexandra Pfeifer) is training as a ballet dancer and she’s just about to have the biggest audition of her life: an opportunity for a scholarship at the New York Ballet Academy. Since she comes from a ballet family, with her father (Trystan Pütter) a big star, it was always clear that she would go down that route. But when Katya stumbles into a dance club filled with hip-hop dancers, she suddenly finds that ballet may not be her passion after all. When Marlon (Yalany Marschner) offers to train with her, she gladly accepts – but having two dance careers at once simply isn’t possible.

I love dance movies, I am very aware of the tropey nature of most of them and I can even appreciate it. I felt like the people who made Into the Beat don’t, which makes the film a soulless affair.

The film poster showing Katya (Alexandra Pfeifer) and Marlon (Yalany Marschner) dancing with each other.
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Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears
Director: Tony Tilse
Writer: Deb Cox
Sequel to: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Cast: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Rupert Penry-Jones, Miriam Margolyes, Daniel Lapaine, Jacqueline McKenzie, Izabella Yena, Kal Naga, John Waters, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Ashleigh Cummings, Travis McMahon
Seen on: 21.7.2020

Plot:
As usual, Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) is on a mission. This time, her path brought her to Jerusalem where she frees Shirin (Izabella Yena) from prison. Shirin had been locked up because she claims that the British murdered her family and her entire village when she was a child. But things go a little badly and Phryne is claimed to be dead. The news even reaches Australia, where Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) leaves everything to say his goodbye to Phryne in the UK. When Phryne crashes her own funeral, obviously alive, and ready to solve the mystery around Shirin, Jack is both relieved and angry, and lets himself get roped in with the case.

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is, basically, the series finale for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a fantastic TV show that was cut off too soon and with a not very satisfying ending. This would have been their chance to bring things to a round close, but unfortunately, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is not up to snuff and simply not worthy of the show it is supposed to finish.

The film poster showing Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) holding a gun.
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Gretel & Hansel (2020)

Gretel & Hansel
Director: Oz Perkins
Writer: Rob Hayes
Based on: the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel as collected by the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Donncha Crowley, Charles Babalola
Seen on: 18.7.2020

Plot:
Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and her brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey) are in a dire spot. Their mother (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) doesn’t have the resources to feed them, so she sends them away, hoping that Gretel may have better luck away from home – to find employment and take care of her brother. But that’s easier said than done and Gretel’s hunt for work finally leads the two siblings to the mysterious cottage in the woods where an old lady (Alice Krige) may have everything they need.

Gretel & Hansel really did not work for me. The interesting visuals were completely marred by the incessant semi-spiritual voiceover that was just annoying for me. I would have preferred a silent film.

The film poster showing Gretel (Sophie Lillis) walking through the woods with an oil lamp. Shoes are hanging from the trees and a cabin can be seen in the back.
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Undine (2020)

Undine
Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz,
Seen on: 16.7.2020

Plot:
Undine (Paula Beer) is happy with her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) – or so she thought. When he breaks up with her, she is surprised and devastated. She knows that having her heart broken means that she has to take revenge on Johannes – because she is a water sprite and that’s what mythology demands of her. By chance she immediately meets diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski). Their meeting is elemental, and so is there love. Undine hopes that she might have tricked fate that way, but she doesn’t know.

Undine is a beautiful, understated film with perfect performances. It may not be my movie of the year, but it’s definitely a good one.

The film poster showing Undine (Paula Beer) in Christoph's (Franz Rogowski) arms, looking back over his shoulder.
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The High Note (2020)

The High Note
Director: Nisha Ganatra
Writer: Flora Greeson
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ice Cube, Bill Pullman, Zoe Chao, June Diane Raphael, Eugene Cordero, Marc Evan Jackson, Eddie Izzard
Seen on: 8.7.2020

Plot:
Maggie (Dakota Johnson) works as the personal assistant for superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). She is a huge fan of Grace and likes her job, but Maggie’s dream is to become a music producer, so she’s been mixing Grace’s live album in her downtime. When she meets singer David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), she hopes that she can sign him as her first artist and become his producer. But her dreams and her obligations quickly clash and Maggie has to make decisions.

The High Note is an entertaining film that is comfortable in the familiar story it tells. Apart from the fact that it focuses on music production – and not singing or playing instruments – there really isn’t much new to the story. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed.

The film poster showing Maggie (Dakota Johnson), Grace (Tracee Ellis Ross), Jack (Ice Cube) and David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) with palm trees and a big apartment building or hotel.
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