Grandma (2015)

Grandma
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

Plot:
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.

grandma

[Slight Spoilers]

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh BrolinEva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher MeloniJeremy PivenChristopher Lloyd, Juno TempleStacy KeachMarton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia GarnerJaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis

Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.

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We Are What We Are (2013)

We Are What We Are
Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Remake of: Somos lo que hay
Cast: Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Jack Gore, Bill Sage, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Michael Parks
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Plot:
After the death of their mother, Rose (Julia Garner), Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rory (Jack Gore) are left behind with their father Frank (Bill Sage). They live a very reclusive and ultra-religious lifestyle that includes ritualistic cannibalism – something that Rose and Iris find facing themselves now that their mother is dead.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by the film. I really liked the original and I heard good things about Mickle’s take but in the end, despite several strengths, it felt overly long and I had the feeling like it didn’t actually know what story it told.

wearewhatweare

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writer: Stephen Chbosky
Based on: his novel
Cast: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Nina Dobrev, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Johnny Simmons, Nicholas Braun, Mae Whitman, Julia Garner, Paul Rudd, Melanie Lynskey, Joan Cusack

Plot:
Charlie (Logan Lerman) writes anonymous letters to somebody he doesn’t actually know. He writes about returning to high school after his best friend killed himself the year before. He writes about the books he reads and the special support he gets from his English teacher (Paul Rudd). He writes about his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) who died. He writes about his sister (Nina Dobrev) and her boyfriend (Nicholas Braun). And when he meets Sam (Emma Watson) and her step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller) he writes about them, their relationships and how through their friendship he slowly starts living his own life.

After I fell in love with the book so surprisingly but oh so deeply, I have to admit that the movie is not quite as good as that. But it is an excellent piece of work that I did enjoy a whole lot.

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Electrick Children (2012)

Electrick Children
Director: Rebecca Thomas
Writer: Rebecca Thomas
Cast: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Bill Sage, Cynthia Watros, Billy Zane
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
Rachel (Julia Garner) lives with her family in a religious, technology-abstaining community, headed by her father Paul (Billy Zane). One day, a tape recorder is introduced into their world and Rachel is fascinated by that technology. She sneaks out to listen to a music tape at night and is enraptured by that song. A short while later, Rachel appears to be pregnant. She believes that the voice of the tape recorder is the father and wants to find him, while her parents suspect her brother, Mr Will (Liam Aiken) instead. But Rachel decides that she has to find the guy the voice – and her child – belongs to and heads out into the real world.

Electrick Children was a really sweet film with an excellent cast and a nice soundtrack. The topic could have been easily turned into a very heavy thing, but instead Thomas keeps it light without shrinking from the hard questions.

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