Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau [Paris 05:59] (2016)

Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau
Director: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau
Writer: Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau
Cast: Geoffrey Couët, François Nambot
Part of: identities Festival (special screening)
Seen on: 7.10.2016

Théo (Geoffrey Couët) sees Hugo (François Nambot) in a sex club for the first time and is immediately drawn to him. Their eyes meet and without actually speaking to each other, they fuck. Afterwards they both feel like something special has happened, so they leave the club together and start talking to each other. Their budding romance is interrupted though when Hugo realizes that Théo did not use a condom like he assumed. Hugo is horrified, especially because he is HIV positive – and Théo risks having been infected himself.

Théo and Hugo is practically built to be a dramatic, shocking and sad film and it somehow ends up being one of the sweetest and romantic couples I have seen in a while. It left me grinning from ear to ear.

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Grandma (2015)

Director: Paul Weitz
Writer: Paul Weitz
Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Judy Greer, John Cho, Nat Wolff, Laverne Cox, Elizabeth Peña, Sam Elliott, Marcia Gay Harden
Part of: identities Festival special screening
Seen on: 10.6.2016

Elle (Lily Tomlin) is not necessarily in the best of places. She has no money. She just broke up with her girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer). And then her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) stands at her door and lets her know that she’s pregnant and needs an abortion. Sage and Elle are in complete agreement that Sage’s mother (Marcia Gay Harden) can never find out. So what is a penniless grandmother to do? She grabs Sage, starts the car and goes in search of money to fulfill her granddaughter’s needs. Even if it costs her whatever remains of her dignity.

Grandma is a different kind of road movie with a great concept that lives off grumpy Lily Tomlin and her sharp comic delivery. I enjoyed it immensely.


[Slight Spoilers]

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La dune [The Dune] (2013)

La dune
Director: Yossi Aviram
Writer: Yossi Aviram
Cast: Niels Arestrup, Lior Ashkenazi, Guy Marchand, Emma de Caunes, Moni Moshonov, Mathieu Amalric
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2015

After breaking up with his girlfriend because he can’t see himself having children and thus tells her to get an abortion, Hanoch (Lior Ashkenazi) goes on a trip from Israel to France where he starts to basically stalk police officer Reuven (Niels Arestrup). Reuven works in Missing Persons and is ready for retirement after the catastrophic end to a case he worked. But then Hanoch is found, without any ID and refusing to talk, wandering in the dunes near a beach and Reuven is tasked with figuring out who he is.

Unfortunately, La dune proved to be the bland ending to this year’s identities Festival. It didn’t start off badly, but it never manages to build up any tension or make me care for any of the characters.


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Respire [Breathe] (2014)

Director: Mélanie Laurent
Writer: Mélanie Laurent, Julien Lambroschini
Based on: Anne-Sophie Brasme‘s novel
Cast: Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim, Radivoje Bukvic, Roxane Duran
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2015

Charlie (Joséphine Japy) is a calm, studious teenager. But then she meets Sarah (Lou de Laâge) who was just transferred to her school. Sarah is incredible and adventurous and so far has led a life full of travels and exciting men. Charlie feels immediately drawn to her and the two of them become fast friends. But as Charlie becomes more inextricably connected to Sarah with every passing day, there is something that starts to shimmer through Sarah’s wonderful facade.

Respire was very impressive, not only since it’s only Laurent’s second film: it was fantastically told and acted and drew me in completely.

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Alex & Ali (2014)

Alex & Ali
Director: Malachi Leopold
Writer: Malachi Leopold
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2015

Leopold’s uncle Alex was a Peace Corp volunteer and 10 years from the late 60s on in Iran. There, he fell in love with Ali and vice versa. But with the political developments, Alex had to leave Iran and return to the USA. Ever since, he hasn’t seen Ali, who stayed in Iran, anymore, although they are still in contact by phone and letter. Now after 35 years of separation, they want to meet again and prepare everything for a trip to Turkey. Leopold decided to document all of that.

The story of Alex and Ali touches on many difficulties, but most of all it hammers home how incredibly unfair the world can be. I was very touched by its story, though the outcome wasn’t necessarily unexpected.


[SPOILERS – if you can talk about spoilers when it comes to a documentary]

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MURDER and murder (1996)

MURDER and murder
Director: Yvonne Rainer
Writer: Yvonne Rainer
Cast: Joanna Merlin, Kathleen Chalfant, Catherine Kellner, Isa Thomas, Yvonne Rainer
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 16.6.2015

Doris (Joanna Merlin) and Mildred (Kathleen Chalfant) are both older when they fall in love, though that doesn’t mean that they can’t be happy with each other. Although it does make things a little more difficult since they are already set in their ways and sometimes that makes communicating with each other a little difficult. When Doris is diagnosed with breast cancer, director Yvonne Rainer (herself) steps in to provide information.

Rainer is an experimental filmmaker and MURDER and murder certainly doesn’t play by the usual cinematic rules. But for such an idiosyncratic film, it is surprisingly accessible and highly entertaining.

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Love Is Strange (2014)

Love Is Strange
Director: Ira Sachs
Writer: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Darren E. Burrows, Charlie Tahan, Harriet Sansom Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 15.6.2015

Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have been together forever and now, finally, gay marriage has been made legal, so they go for it and celebrate. But their celebration is of short duration since George is fired from his teaching job because of the wedding and Ben’s income isn’t enough to keep the two of them in their apartment. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Ben moves in with his nephew (Darren E. Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei) and their son (Charlie Tahan), while George finds refuge with their neighbors (Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez). But the situation is less than ideal for everybody involved.

Love Is Strange is a nice film with important social commentary, but some pacing issues and an ending at the wrong time.

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Tom à la ferme [Tom at the Farm] (2013)

Tom à la ferme
Director: Xavier Dolan
Writer: Xavier Dolan, Michel Marc Bouchard
Based on: Michel Marc Bouchard‘s play
Cast: Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lise Roy, Evelyne Brochu
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 15.6.2015

Tom (Xavier Dolan) goes to the countryside to go to his recently deceased partner’s funeral – only that his family doesn’t know that he and Tom had been an item, or that he was gay at all. When Tom arrives at the farm, the mother Agathe (Lise Roy) is overjoyed that at least one of her son’s big city friends made it to the funeral, but her other son Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) is antagonistic and aggressive. He makes it quite clear to Tom that he better do everything to keep Agathe in the dark and very happy. Soon Tom finds himself completely in Francis’ thrall.

Tom à la ferme is a drama, maybe a psychological thriller, and it’s so incredibly tense and scary that I’m unsure whether I would survive watching an actual horror film by Dolan. But it is so good that I would definitely try to watch it.

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Concussion (2013)

Director: Stacie Passon
Writer: Stacie Passon
Cast: Robin Weigert, Julie Fain LawrenceMaggie SiffJohnathan Tchaikovsky, Emily Kinney, Janel Moloney, Funda Duval, Claudine Ohayon, Janel Moloney
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2015

Abby (Robin Weigert) leads the perfect suburban life with her wife Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) and their two children. But that perfection is on the surface only and when Abby gets hit in the head with a baseball, it serves as a wake up call. She starts looking into fulfillment outside of her home. At first that only means renovating an apartment to resell it, then to sex work: first as a customer, but then also as a sex worker herself.

Concussion didn’t win me over entirely, but it did have more than enough qualities to leave me leaning decidedly towards the positive side.

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Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Kill Your Darlings
Director: John Krokidas
Writer: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2014

Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) gets a place of university and isn’t unhappy to get away from home, where his mentally ill mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes his life difficult, the relationship with his father (David Cross) is strained. At university, Allen meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and is immediately fascinated by him and his reckless lifestyle. Lucien introduces him to David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Jack’s wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). Allen realizes that something strange is going on between Lucien and David, but is swept up in the anarchistic energy that envelops Lucien, William, Jack and him. But the harmonious and fun beginnings soon give way to difficulties and tensions.

I am still a little undecided about this film. The cast is really good, the story is interesting and it’s all packaged into a film that is mostly fine but lacks something I can’t put my finger on.

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