The Half of It (2020)

The Half of It
Director: Alice Wu
Writer: Alice Wu
Cast: Leah Lewis, Alexxis Lemire, Daniel Diemer, Enrique Murciano, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin, Collin Chou, Wolfgang Novogratz
Seen on: 5.5.2020

Content Note: reference to/critical treatment of homomisia and racism

Plot:
Ellie (Leah Lewis) is an excellent student who has a profitable side business in writing papers for her classmates. When Paul (Daniel Diemer) approaches her to ask whether she would write a love letter to Aster (Alexxis Lemire) for him, Ellie declines at first. Not only because she finds it unethical per se, but also because she is in love with Aster herself. But she finally agrees anyway because she and her father (Collin Chou) really need the money. As Paul and Ellie work on the letter together, they develop a real friendship – and Ellie falls ever more for Aster.

The Half of It is a supercute film that sagely mentions at the beginning that it doesn’t tell a love story. Because all signs point to romance here and the film just doesn’t deliver that. That is definitely disappointing, but at least we have been warned. While I did hope for more romance, I enjoyed the film I got.

The film poster showing Paul (Daniel Diemer) and Ellie (Leah Lewis) both looking at Aster (Alexxis Lemire) who is out of focus.
Continue reading

Love Wedding Repeat (2020)

Love Wedding Repeat
Director: Dean Craig
Writer: Dean Craig
Remake of: Plan de table
Cast: Sam Claflin, Olivia Munn, Freida Pinto, Eleanor Tomlinson, Joel Fry, Jack Farthing, Tim Key, Allan Mustafa, Aisling Bea, Paolo Mazzarelli
Seen on: 18.4.2020

Plot:
Jack (Sam Claflin) and Dina (Olivia Munn) had a moment years ago, but nothing more ever came of it. Now Jack is back in Italy for his sister Hayley’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) wedding and not only is Dina there, too, but so is Jack’s still angry ex Amanda (Freida Pinto) with her new boyfriend Chaz (Allan Mustafa) and Marc (Jack Farthing) has crashed the wedding to tell Hayley that they should be together. It’s up to Jack to make sure that things don’t go wrong. But sometimes small things like seating arrangements can make all the difference – and so there are a couple of versions to the story.

Love Wedding Repeat is a complete disappointment, unfortunately. There’s simultaneously too much going on and too little. Neither the comedy works, nor the multiple versions.

The film poster showing the main characters standing in a group. The image is cut off at their calves, with the feet positioned on top as if the image was revolving.
Continue reading

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020)

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Sofia Alvarez, J. Mills Goodloe,
Based on: Jenny Han’s novel
Sequel to: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Jordan Fisher, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Ross Butler, Emilija Baranac, Holland Taylor, Sarayu Blue
Seen on: 13.4.2020

Plot:
Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) are finally dating for real and things are good. That’s when Lara Jean receives a reply to one of her love letters that were sent out, a reply from John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). The letter stirs up Lara Jean’s old feelings. And when John Ambrose shows up by chance as a volunteer at the senior home Lara Jean volunteers at, while things with Peter start to get more complicated, Lara Jean finds herself in an awkward position.

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You hits all the right cuteness buttons that I’ve come to expect from both the books and the first film. If you’re looking from something nice and sweet and light, this is the way to go.

The film poster showing Lara Jean (Lana Condor) standing in front of a huge envelope with Peter (Noah Centineo) and John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) sticking out of it.
Continue reading

Emma. (2020)

Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Writer: Eleanor Catton
Based on: Jane Austen‘s novel
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart, Tanya Reynolds, Connor Swindells, Oliver Chris
Seen on: 11.3.2020
[Here are my reviews of other Emma adaptations.]

Content Note: antiziganism

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Gemma Whelan) and Mr Weston (Rupert Graves) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Josh O’Connor). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

Emma. was absolutely delightful. It has one of the best comedy ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, wonderfully lush production design and really captures the spirit of the book. I was very taken by it.

The film poster showing Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy), Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) and Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
Continue reading

Bloodshot (2020)

Bloodshot
Director: Dave Wilson
Writer: Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer
Based on: Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin and Bob Layton‘s comic
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Lamorne Morris, Sam Heughan, Talulah Riley, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Siddharth Dhananjay, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Alex Hernandez
Seen on: 10.3.2020

Plot:
Ray (Vin Diesel) is a soldier. Returning home from yet another dangerous mission, he is happy to relax with his wife Gina (Talulah Riley). Until they are both kidnapped by Axe (Toby Kebbell) – and killed. But Ray rises from the dead with the help of Dr. Harting (Guy Pearce) and his nanotechnology that gives him superhuman powers. Ray uses those powers to hunt down Axe and avenge his wife’s death. But he soon discovers that things aren’t quite as they seem.

Bloodshot is not a great film, but it is entertaining and could have been actually pretty good if it hadn’t been abandoned entirely by its own soundtrack.

The film poster showing Ray/Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) walking towards the camera, a smoking gun in each hand, his chest glowing and pierced by bullet holes.
Continue reading

All the Bright Places (2020)

All the Bright Places
Director: Brett Haley
Writer: Liz Hannah, Jennifer Niven
Based on: Jennifer Niven‘s novel
Cast: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O’Hara, Luke Wilson, Keegan-Michael Key
Seen on: 6.3.2020

Content Note: suicide, mental illness, domestic violence

Plot:
Finch (Justice Smith) is going for a run one night when he finds Violet (Elle Fanning) standing on the ledge of a bridge. He talks her down, but from then on, he can’t help wanting to help her. When their geography teacher gives them the assignment to explore Indiana’s sights in pairs, Finch sees the opportunity to partner up with Violet. She reluctantly agrees and they start their tours. But Finch, labelled a freak at school, has some problems of his own.

All the Bright Places looks like a “normal” teen romance film, but it goes pretty dark – darker than you expect from the look of it. Which is probably my biggest criticism of it, because other than that, it treats a difficult topic with a lot of care, albeit not always perfectly.

The film poster showing Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith) leaning in for a kiss.

[SPOILERS]

Read more

Fantasy Island (2020)

Fantasy Island
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Remake of: the Fantasy Island TV show
Cast: Michael Peña, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Austin Stowell, Jimmy O. Yang, Portia Doubleday, Ryan Hansen, Michael Rooker, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Mike Vogel, Kim Coates, Robbie Jones, Jeriya Benn
Seen on: 5.3.2020

Plot:
Patrick (Austin Stowell), Melanie (Lucy Hale), Gwen (Maggie Q), J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) won a stay on fantasy island where Mr Roarke (Michael Peña) supposedly makes all dreams come true. They have each submitted their descriptions of their fantasies and like magic, everything is prepared for them to make them into a reality. But soon things start to feel off and the fantasies turn dark and twisted.

I didn’t expect much from Fantasy Island. In fact, I was pretty much braced for something really bad (but the cast still drew me in). Turns out, the film isn’t very good, but it’s not as bad as I feared it would be.

The film poster showing the island, creating the shape of a skull from afar.
Continue reading

The Invisible Man (2020)

The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Based on: H. G. Wellsnovel
Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman
Seen on: 5.3.2020

Content Note: domestic violence, psychological abuse, stalking

Plot:
Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) finally manages to leave her abusive partner Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) in the middle of the night with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer). Now she’s staying with her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), but she’s still terrified that Adrian will find her. That’s when the news reaches her that Adrian killed himself and left her some money. Relieved at first, Cecilia soon notices strange things going on around her and is certain that Adrian is back in her life even if she can’t see him.

The Invisible Man is a really strong film that effectively uses its central and by now much-explored idea to make something completely new of it. I was very impressed and creeped out.

The film poster showing Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) looking at something behind her where there is only darkness.
Continue reading

Die Dohnal [Johanna Dohnal – Visionary of Feminism] (2020)

Die Dohnal
Director: Sabine Derflinger
Writer: Sabine Derflinger
Seen on: 27.2.2020

“Plot”:
Johanna Dohnal was Austria’s first minister for women and the first (outspoken) feminist to be part of the government in Austria (maybe even Europe). She fought for women’s rights and achieved a lot. The documentary looks at her achievements, her career and the influence she still has.

I have to say that until this documentary came out, Dohnal was not a name I really knew. She was a minister when I was a child and I was not a child overly involved in politics. And as is so often the case, women and their achievements are more quickly forgotten than you’d ever think possible. I don’t think I ever heard about Dohnal in school. So it is fantastic to get this documentary that memorializes her and makes sure we don’t forget what she made possible.

The film poster showing Johanna Dohnal smoking.
Continue reading

Modo Avião [Airplane Mode] (2020)

Modo Avião
Director: César Rodrigues
Writer: Alice Name Bomtempo, Renato Fagundes
Based on: Alberto Bremer and Jonathan Davis‘s script
Cast: Larissa Manoela, Erasmo Carlos, André Luiz Frambach, Nayobe Nzainab, Katiuscia Canoro, Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço, Mariana Amâncio, Dani Ornellas, Phellyx Moura, Eike Duarte, Amanda Orestes
Seen on: 22.2.2020

Plot:
Ana (Larissa Manoela) is a huge influencer working for Carola (Katiuscia Canoro) and her fashion company. When her influencer boyfriend Gil (Eike Duarte) breaks up with her during a livestream and Ana has yet another car accident because she was on her phone, her parents (Michel Bercovitch, Sílvia Lourenço) have had it. They pretend that Ana has been ordered by court to hand over her cell phone and go on a digital detox at her grandfather’s (Erasmo Carlos) place in the middle of nowhere and without cell reception. Ana is appalled. The only bright spot there is João (André Luiz Frambach), the cute grocer’s son. But even as Ana settles into her new life, she still looks for any opportunity to get her hands on a smartphone.

The biggest draw for me to watch this film was the fact that its Brazilian and it’s been a while that I practiced my Portuguese. If that is not a good reason for you, you might want to skip this film because it really doesn’t have that much to offer, though it’s not un-entertaining.

The film poster showing Ana (Larissa Manoela) with a cell phone in her hand.
Continue reading