The Father (2020)

The Father
Director: Florian Zeller
Writer: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
Based on: Florian Zeller’s play Le père
Cast: Olivia Colman, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Ayesha Dharker
Seen on: 13.9.2021

Plot:
Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) is getting older. But that doesn’t mean that he wants any help. After managing to scare off yet another caretaker, his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) gets more desperate. She tries to convince him to try with another nurse, Laura (Imogen Poots), but Anthony doesn’t trust Anne. And he realizes that he can’t trust what he sees, either.

The Father is not the first movie about a character with dementia, but it is one of the most effective ones in taking on the perspective of someone who isn’t sure about their reality anymore (without ever resorting to fantasy). It’s touching, unsettling and beautifully made.

The film poster showing Anne (Olivia Colman) and Anthony (Anthony Hopkins).
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Sul più bello [Out of My League] (2020)

Sul più bello
Director: Alice Filippi
Writer: Roberto Proia, Michela Straniero
Cast: Ludovica Francesconi, Giuseppe Maggio, Gaja Masciale, Jozef Gjura, Eleonora Gaggero
Seen on: 12.9.2021

Content Note: stalking, ableism

Plot:
Marta (Ludovica Francesconi) has always had one dream: getting married to the love of her life. Unfortunately she does not have the best cards in life. Orphaned at a young age, not the prettiest and chronically ill (Mucoviscidosis) with the outlook of dying early, finding a partner has been difficult for her. Until she sees Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio) and knows that he is the one for her. Only, he doesn’t know it – yet.

Sul più bello looked like a sweet RomCom without too much substance. And that is not entirely wrong, but it has so little substance, and a couple of issues, that it doesn’t satisfy.

The film poster showing Arturo (Giuseppe Maggio) holding Marta (Ludovica Francesconi).
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Isi & Ossi (2020)

Isi & Ossi
Director: Oliver Kienle
Writer: Oliver Kienle
Cast: Lisa Vicari, Dennis Mojen, Ernst Stötzner, Walid Al-Atiyat, Zoe Straub, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Christina Hecke, Lisa Hagmeister, André Eisermann
Seen on: 5.9.2021

Content Note: ableism, classism, racism

Plot:
Isi (Lisa Vicari) grew up very rich indeed and her parents (Hans-Jochen Wagner, Christina Hecke) have a very clear idea of where she should go next once she finally gets through school – a bit of a struggle for Isi: getting a finance degree and then going into the family business. But Isi has other ideas: she would love nothing more than become a cook and is looking to go to a prestigious culinary arts class in New York. But she needs money for that, and her parents are unwilling to give it. When she meets Ossi (Dennis Mojen) by chance, she thinks she may have found a way to force her parents’ hands. Because Ossi is everything she is not: he grew up rough and poor. Most importantly, he is in need of money to secure a fight that could finally get his boxing career going. So the two strike a deal: Isi will give Ossi the money he needs, while they pretend to date until Isi’s parents give in. Easier said than done, though.

I love fake dating stories, so I definitely wanted to check out Isi & Ossi, but unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with this iteration of that trope. I found much of the film offensive and I just didn’t buy it.

The film poster showing polaroids of Isi (Lisa Vicari) and Ossi (Dennis Mojen)  that are stuck together with a piece of tape.
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Promising Young Woman (2020)

Promising Young Woman
Director: Emerald Fennell
Writer: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Adam Brody, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell, Molly Shannon, Alfred Molina
Seen on: 23.8.2021

Content Note: rape, rape culture

Plot:
Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) has a hobby: she goes out a lot, pretends to be drunk and waits until a man tries to pick her up and fuck, or rather rape her. Then she confronts him about his actions. Other than that, her life is pretty uneventful. She lives with her parents (Clancy Brown, Jennifer Cooldige) and works in a coffeeshop. When Ryan (Bo Burnham) comes into the coffeeshop one day, he recognizes her from college and asks Cassie out. This reconnection to her own past has unforeseen consequences for both of them.

Promising Young Woman is a strong film that is definitely worth seeing, even though it doesn’t come without flaws. It certainly leaves an impression and opens up a discussion.

The film poster showing the film title as if written with lipstick, inlcuding a lip print. behind this we can see Cassandra (Carey Mulligan) unfocused, lipstick in hand.
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Minari (2020)

Minari
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Writer: Lee Isaac Chung
Cast: Alan S. Kim, Yeri Han, Noel Cho, Steven Yeun, Yuh-Jung Youn, Will Patton
Seen on: 10.8.2021

Content Note: child abuse, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Jacob (Steven Yeun) has always dreamed of owning a farm, and finally he and his wife Monica (Yeri Han) have saved up enough to buy a plot of land. Much to Monica’s surprise, the land is much bigger and much more rural than she expected, their house nothing more but a trailer. But what’s done is done, and they and their children David (Alan S. Kim) and Anne (Noel Cho) move in. While Jacob throws himself into farming, Monica is not convinced about the success of his endeavor.

Minari is a beautiful, intimate and very soft film that is sure to find a way into your heart. I really adored it.

The film poster showing David (Alan S. Kim) walking over a field with a stick in his hand. A mural of the US-American flag can be seen on the background.
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Dream Horse (2020)

Dream Horse
Director: Euros Lyn
Writer: Neil McKay
Cast: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale, Alan David, Lynda Baron, Karl Johnson, Steffan Rhodri, Rhys ap William, Carwyn Glyn, Siân Phillips, Joanna Page, Peter Davison, Katherine Jenkins, Clare Balding
Seen on: 27.7.2021

Plot:
Jan (Toni Collette) works two jobs – as a supermarket cashier and as a bartender – and barely keeps herself and her husband Brian (Owen Teale), a former vet who can’t work anymore, afloat. Her life seems nothing but work with no perspective of that changing. When she hears a bar patron, bookkeeper Howard (Damian Lewis), talking about being part of a syndicate – a group of people who owned a race horse together – she gets an idea. She will raise a race horse herself – with the help of the people in the village.

Dream Horse proves that movie formulas have evolved for a reason – and that if you follow them well enough, the resulting film will deliver exactly what is expected of it. Will anything come as a suprise here? No. But you will be entertained by every expected turn nonetheless.

The film poster showing a race horse, with Jan (Toni Collette), Brian (Owen Teale) and Howard (Damian Lewis) and the rest of the people from the village cheering in the background.
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Project Power (2020)

Project Power
Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: Mattson Tomlin
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback, Rodrigo Santoro, Courtney B. Vance, Amy Landecker, Machine Gun Kelly
Seen on: 23.7.2021

Plot:
There’s a new drug making the rounds – a drug that give you extraordinary powers for exactly five minutes, although you won’t know which powers you’ll get until you try. Robin (Dominique Fishback) is trying to safe some money by selling some of it. One of her customers is police officer Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is afraid that the police is outmatched if they don’t use the drug themselves, but who is very interested in finding the people behind the drug. Equally interested, but for very different reasons, is Art (Jamie Foxx), an ex-soldier. By chance, Robin brings Frank and Art together – and they start to investigate.

Project Power is okay. It’s neither particularly good, nor particularly bad, although it has moments of both.

The film poster showing Robin (Dominique Fishback), Art (Jamie Foxx) and Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) standing in a vague V-formation with Art at the center-front, holding up a glowing pill.

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Concrete Cowboy (2020)

Concrete Cowboy
Director: Ricky Staub
Writer: Ricky Staub, Dan Walser
Based on: G. Neri‘s novel Ghetto Cowboy
Cast: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Lorraine Toussaint, Jharrel Jerome, Ivannah-Mercedes, Jamil Prattis, Method Man, Byron Bowers, Liz Priestley, Michael Ta’Bon, Devenie Young
Seen on: 16.7.2021

Plot:
After one more time getting into trouble, Cole’s (Caleb McLaughlin) mother has had enough and just drops him off with his father Harp (Idris Elba) in Philadelphia. Harp is part of tight-knit community of city cowboys who are keeping their horses in the middle of the town, a thorn in the side of city development, and he has little space for Cole. He literally shares his home with a horse instead. Nevertheless, Cole tries to find a space – if not with the cowboys, then with his old friend Smush (Jharrel Jerome) who has turned to dealing.

Concrete Cowboy is set in a fascinating environment, but I didn’t connect with the story as much as I would have liked. It almost wished, despite the excellent performances, that this was a documentary.

The film poster showing a collage of Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) on a horse, and his father Harp (Idris Elba) wearing a cowboy hat. They are surrounded by flowers, an appartment building and a car.
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Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [Postcards from Sicily] (2020)

Morgen ist auch noch ein Tag, wenn du willst [literally: Tomorrow is another day, if you want]
Director: David Gräber
Writer: Andreas Neu
Cast: Hannah Zieziula, Christina Völz, Bo Anderl
Part of: Transition Queer Filmfestival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Plot:
Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Marcus (Bo Anderl) have been dating for a while, but their relationship isn’t at its best anymore. Marcus feels that Claudia is distant, so he seeks to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Jana (Christina Völz). What he doesn’t know is that Claudia is distant because she, too, met Jana and fell in love with her – and vice versa. Marcus, living out of his van, takes turn staying with the two women, but he can’t stop them both from turning away from him.

Postcards from Sicily didn’t work for me. I found it very tiring and couldn’t get into the story or the characters.

The film poster showing Marcus' van from above. Marcus (Bo Anderl) is lying on the roof, smoking, while Claudia (Hannah Zieziula) and Jana (Christina Völz) are standing in the open doors looking up at the sky.
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Kapana (2020)

Kapana
Director: Philippe Talavera
Writer: Senga Brockerhoff, Mikiros Garoes
Cast: Adriano Visagie, Simon Hanga, Mikiros Garoes, Dawie Engelbrecht, Foreversun Haiduwah, Albertina Hainane, Felicity Celento, Elize de Wee, Jeremiah Jeremiah, Lukas Paulus
Part of: Transition Queer Film Festival
Seen on: 11.7.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
George (Adriano Visagie) and Simeon (Simon Hanga) meet in a bar. They flirt, they have sex. They don’t really expect more, especially not in Namibia where homosexuality is criminalized. But then they run into each other again when George comes to buy Kapana for his lunch break, and finds that Simeon is the one who is selling it. Simeon panics, he isn’t out to anyone in his life, but George finds a way and they start dating. Only, George has a secret, and this could threaten to end things between them before they ever really started.

Kapana is a very sweet film that tries to deal with a lot of stuff in its short runtime, but also keeps its emotional side in sight. I really liked it.

The film poster showing Simeon (Simon Hanga) selling Kapana, grilled meat.
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