Leading Ladies (2021)

Leading Ladies
Director: Ruth Caudeli
Cast: Diana Wiswell, Silvia Varón, Ana María Cuellar, Marcela Robledo, Ana María Otálora
Part of: Transition Film Festival
Seen on: 10.6.2021

Plot:
Five friends are coming together for dinner – Ana (Ana María Otálora) and Diana (Diana Wiswell) are hosting Silvia (Silvia Varón), Ana María (Ana María Cuellar) and Marce (Marcela Robledo). It’s the first time they are coming together in a while – after Marce abruptly left for two months to travel Europe. But as the evening gets underway, tensions and secrets start to appear.

Leading Ladies is a largely improvised film that starts off interesting enough, but then becomes ever more confusing and falls apart bit by bit.

The film poster showing the faces of the five women next to each other, but separated by stripes in yellow and green.
Continue reading

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Raya and the Last Dragon
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada
Writer: Qui Nguyen, Adele Lim
Cast: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Izaac Wang, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Lucille Soong, Alan Tudyk, Dichen Lachman, Sung Kang
Seen on: 2.6.2021

Plot:
There used to be one country called Kumandra. But after a terrible plague, the Druun, that turned everybody it touched to stone, and that could only be stopped with the dragons – who all turned to stone themselves – the country split into five realms: Fang, Tail, Talon, Heart and Spine. The last of the dragon powers in form of a stone is in Heart, guarded by King Benja (Daniel Dae Kim) and his daughter Raya (Kelly Marie Tran). Benja would like to bring the five realms together again, but his plans don’t come to fruition. Instead, the magic stone is broken and the Druun return. There is only one hope for Raya now: finding Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon who supposedly was just lost and not turned to stone.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a beautifully animated, emotionally touching film. It is pretty much what you hope for when you go to watch a Disney princess film – an absolutely satisfying experience.

The film poster showing Raya standing in the middle, with Sisu above her. The rest of the image is separated in five parts, four representing one of the film countries and the fifth showing Raya and Namaari charging each other.
Continue reading

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

The Mitchells vs the Machines
Director: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe
Writer: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe, Alex Hirsch
Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien
Seen on: 9.5.2021

Plot:
Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson) can’t wait to finally go to film school where she has found nerdy people like her. She will miss her little brother Aaron (Michael Rianda) and her mother Linda (Maya Rudolph), though things are a little more complicated with her father Rick (Danny McBride). When Katie and Rick get into a fight on Katie’s last night, Rick changes their plans to make up for it. To Katie’s horror, he arranges everything to drive the entire family across the country to drop Katie off at college himself. The road trip is tense, and things get even worse when a newly developed robot line gets out of hand and starts to capture all humans. As unlikely as it may seem to all of them, it’s up to the Mitchells to stop the robot apocalypse.

The Mitchells vs the Machines is an extremely well done animated film that had me laughing out loud. The story may be a little predictable, but it has more than enough charm to make up for that.

The film poster showing the Mitchell family in their car, flying through the air, their pug sitting outside on the hood.
Continue reading

Moxie (2021)

Moxie
Director: Amy Poehler
Writer: Tamara Chestna, Dylan Meyer
Based on: Jennifer Mathieu’s novel
Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sydney Park, Anjelika Washington, Emily Hopper, Josie Totah, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz, Marcia Gay Harden, Clark Gregg
Seen on: 8.3.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism, misogyny, rape culture, rape, racism

Plot:
Vivian (Hadley Robinson) and her best friend Claudia (Lauren Tsai) are not girls who cause a fuss. They are trying to get through school as well as possible. When a new and very outspoken girl, Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena), joins their class, Vivian is impressed by but also anxious about Lucy’s self-confidence. After Vivian witnesses yet another sexist incident in her school, she finds herself inspired to do something. Drawing on her mother Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) rebellious past, she decides to anonymously publish a zine, denouncing the school’s sexism. That zine – Moxie – causes quite a stir in the school and also in Vivian’s life.

Moxie is a cute film with an openly feminist agenda – I’m here for that all the way. Even if it doesn’t achieve everything it sets out to do, it achieves a lot. And it is simply fun to watch.

The film poster showing a black and white image of the main characters screaming.
Continue reading

To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

To All the Boys: Always and Forever
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Katie Lovejoy
Based on: Jenny Han’s novel
Sequel to: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You
Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, John Corbett, Trezzo Mahoro, Madeleine Arthur, Ross Butler, Emilija Baranac, Sarayu Blue, Henry Thomas
Seen on: 21.2.2021

Plot:
Everything is good for Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo), but as they are nearing the end of their final year of high school things are bound to change – and the question is whether they can actually change for the better. Lara Jean has a clear plan: she will attend college together with Peter at Stanford, so she can still be with him without having to worry about the long distance thing. But when she isn’t actually accepted at Stanford, Lara Jean has to figure out how to deal with her plans not coming through – and what she actually wants for herself.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever is a lovely end to a lovely trilogy that I enjoyed a lot – especially thanks to Lana Condor’s ever-present charm. This installment, being more about Lara Jean on her own than about Lara Jean and Peter, plays to that strength and is generally just wonderful.

The film poster showing Lara Jean (Lana Condor) walking through a drawn New York street.
Continue reading