Queen of Katwe (2016)

Queen of Katwe
Director: Mira Nair
Writer: William Wheeler
Based on: Tim Crothers‘ non-fiction book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster
Cast: Madina NalwangaDavid OyelowoLupita Nyong’oMartin KabanzaTaryn KyazeIvan JacoboNicolas Levesque, Ethan Nazario Lubega
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) lives with her mother Nakku Harriett (Lupita Nyong’o) in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. Life is tough and Phiona and her brother Benjamin (Ethan Nazario Lubega) have to work to try and get a bit of money for the family, especially since Phiona’s older sister Night (Taryn Kyaze) went her own ways. That’s when Phiona stumbles on Robert Katende’s chess club. He offers not only to teach chess, but also food. Drawn in by the latter, Phiona gets more and more interested in chess. And it turns out that she’s really good at it.

Queen of Katwe is a supercute film about an intersting girl and story. The film itself is not particularly revolutionary, but it’s well-made and has a great cast.

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Amelia (2009)

Amelia is the story of Amelia Earhart. It was directed by Mira Nair and stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Joe Anderson and Mia Wasikowska.

Amelia (Hilary Swank) wants to be a pilot, and not just any pilot. With the help of publisher George Putnam (Richard Gere) she manages to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic (even if “only” as a passenger). From then on, she continues to challenge herself and set new records, while trying to encourage women everywhere to become pilots themselves.

After the abysmal reviews Amelia has been getting (and it didn’t even saw a cinematic release in Austria), I didn’t expect much from this film. [But how could I not watch a movie that featured both Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston?] But I was really pleasantly surprised. It’s actually a really nice film.

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New York, I Love You (2009)

New York, I Love You is a collection of short films, bundled together because they are all set in New York. The segments were directed by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman and Brett Ratner, the transitions between the segments by Randall Balsmeyer. And in the various segments there were Justin Bartha, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, James Caan, Hayden Christensen, Julie Christie, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Cloris Leachman, Blake Lively, Drea de Matteo, Natalie Portman, Maggie Q, Christina Ricci, Eli Wallach, Robin Wright and Anton Yelchin.
I’ll spare you and me the writers, but they are interesting, too. [Also, do not ask how long this paragraph has taken me to write and link. It is better not known for it shows my obsessive-compulsive qualities.]

A young woman (Emilie Ohana) drives around New York with her video camera, capturing various stories and moments around her.

The single segments deserve their own reviews (mostly) [which I’ll do after the jump] but overall, I have to admit that I was mostly bored during this movie. The stories weren’t connected enough – I expected a more unifying theme – nor were they representative of New York (unless New York barely has any black, hispanic or Asian people and no none-cis gendered, none-hetero persons either). I think most of the segments would have worked beautifully as short films, but bundling them together to one feature film didn’t work out.

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