Eternals (2021)

Eternals
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo
Based on: Jack Kirby‘s comic
Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård, Harry Styles, Patton Oswalt
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 18.11.2021

Plot:
Three thousand years ago, a group of humanoid aliens were sent to Earth to protect it and its humans from the deviants – monsters that love to eat them. Led by Ajak (Salma Hayek), they are a fierce group of warriors, all with their special talents. 500 years ago, they got rid of the last deviant and dispersed, waiting to be called back to their home planet. Sersi (Gemma Chan) ended up in London where she is dating the human Dane (Kit Harington) after a break-up with her fellow Eternal Ikaris (Richard Madden). Sprite (Lia McHugh), another of the Eternals, lives with her. Things appear pretty settled – until they are unexpectedly attacked by a deviant that already drew Ikaris’ attention. It appears that the Eternals have to come back together as their mission isn’t over yet.

Eternals gets many things right, even if it doesn’t fit easily with the rest of the MCU. Be that as it may, I enjoyed a lot about it, but not without some reservations.

THe film poster, showing the ten Eternals standing on a river shore in their armor.
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Nomadland (2020)

Nomadland
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao
Based on: Jessica Bruder‘s book
Cast: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Tay Strathairn, Cat Clifford
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2020

Plot:
Fern (Frances McDormand) used to live in a factory town. But after the factory closed, the town disbanded and after her husband’s death, Fern decided to hid the road. She customized her van and is now traveling through the USAmerican west, from temporary job to temporary job, finding companionship with other nomads like her.

With Nomadland, Chloé Zhao is now at three of three beautiful, touching films that shed a light on some of society’s most vulnerable people, the hardships they face, but also the resilience they have. I absolutely loved it.

The film poster showing the word NOMADLAND made up from five different licence plates.
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The Rider (2017)

The Rider
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao
Cast: Brady Jandreau, Mooney, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Leroy Pourier, Cat Clifford
Seen on: 29.9.2018
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Plot:
Brady (Brady Jandreau) is a rodeo rider who has recently had a fall that resulted in a severe head injury. Now he’s barred from riding, let alone participating in rodeos. But if he can’t do that, he really doesn’t know who he is at all. Drifting between family and friends and the odd job he can do, Brady has to try and figure out if rodeo is worth the risk now that it’s even higher.

I very much loved Zhao’s first film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, so I knew I had to see The Rider, even though it meant adding an extra film to my already full /slash Film Festival schedule. And that little trip away from the festival was an excellent choice on my part as The Rider is a beautiful, sad and touching film that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world.

The film poster showing a young man in a cowboy hat in profile, the horse he is sitting on just visible in the frame.
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Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015)

Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao
Cast: John ReddyJashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2015

Plot:
Johnny (John Reddy) and Jashaun (Jashaun St. John) live in a Lakota reservation with their alcoholic mother Lisa (Irene Bedard). As their oldest brother is in jail, Johnny is trying to keep the family afloat by smuggling and selling alcohol on the reservation. But he’s also finishing high school and dreams of living for LA with his girlfriend Aurelia (Taysha Fuller). When their estranged father dies in an accident, Johnny and Jashaun connect with their half-siblings – their father had 25 children with 9 women. As Johnny spends more time with the alcohol business he expanded with the help of a newly acquired car, Jashaun explores the lives of her brothers.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me is above all interesting because of the setting in the Lakota reservation. But I also quite liked the characters and I really enjoyed the atmosphere Zhao created.

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