Ostatnia rodzina [The Last Family] (2016)

Ostatnia rodzina
Director: Jan P. Matuszynski
Writer: Robert Bolesto
Cast: Andrzej Seweryn, Dawid Ogrodnik, Aleksandra Konieczna, Andrzej Chyra, Zofia Perczynska, Danuta Nagórna
Part of: Scope100 (the winning film in Austria)
Seen on: 20.12.2016

Plot:
Surrealist painter Zdzisław Beksiński (Andrzej Seweryn) loves to record his family life. Over a period of 28 years, he keeps extensive records of his interactions with his wife Zofia (Aleksandra Konieczna) and his son Tomasz (Dawid Ogrodnik), a radio DJ and movie dubber. Things between Zdzisław and Tomasz are difficult, both having rather eccentric personalities. Zofia does her best to keep their  family at peace and for the most part she succeeds.

I had never heard of Beksiński before the film, which is unfortunate, but also heightened the effect of the film for me. And the impression it left on me was certainly very strong.

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Baden Baden (2016)

Baden Baden
Director: Rachel Lang
Writer: Rachel Lang
Cast: Salomé Richard, Claude Gensac, Lazare Gousseau, Swann Arlaud, Olivier Chantreau, Jorijn Vriesendorp, Noémie RossetZabou Breitman, Kate Moran
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
After an aborted attempt to work abroad, Ana (Salomé Richard) returns home to Strasbourg with the summer stretched ahead of her. She starts to renovate her grandmother’s (Claude Gensac) bathroom just to have something to do, while trying to figure out her life. Which, as usual, is easier said than done. As she reconnects with old and new friends, things don’t necessarily become any clearer for her.

Baden Baden wasn’t great, but it was far from bad. But it’s not a film that touched me particularly deeply or will stay with me for a long time.

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Orpheline [Orphan] (2016)

Orpheline
Director: Arnaud des Pallières
Writer: Arnaud des Pallières, Christelle Berthevas
Cast: Adèle Haenel, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Solène Rigot, Vega Cuzytek, Jalil Lespert, Gemma Arterton, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Sergi López, Karim Leklou, Robert Hunger-Bühler
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 18.12.2016

Plot:
When Tara (Gemma Arterton) is released from prison, she goes to see Renée (Adèle Haenel). Renée works as a school teacher and is trying to have a baby with her boyfriend (Jalil Lespert), but it appears that her past was rather different: Tara demands money from her, money they stole together before she was arrested, at a time when Tara worked with Sandra (Adèle Exarchopoulos). But how does Renée’s life tie in with Sandra or teenager Karine (Solène Rigot) who behaves much more maturely than she is or the small Kiki (Vega Cuzytek) who loves to play outside, even at the dangerous junkyard.

Orphan really impressed me (and was the first of the Scope100 films that year that actually did). It’s a well-made film with fascinating female characters.

[SPOILERS]

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La prunelle de mes yeux [The Apple of My Eye] (2016)

La prunelle de mes yeux
Director: Axelle Ropert
Writer: Axelle Ropert
Cast: Mélanie Bernier, Bastien Bouillon, Antonin Fresson, Chloé Astor, Swann Arlaud, Laurent Mothe
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 17.12.2016

Plot:
When Théo (Bastien Bouillon) meets Élise (Mélanie Bernier) in the elevator of his new apartment building, he doesn’t realize that she’s blind and thinks she’s absolutely ignoring him. They take an immediate dislike to each other. Théo wants to teach Élise a lesson, so he pretends to have gone blind himself and asks for her help to find his way in this to him new world – to which Élise agrees. And maybe they’ll find out that they like each other after all.

La prunelle de mes yeux is one of the worst, most offensive films I have ever seen. It is an ableist, sexist pile of shit that should never have been made. Had I seen it at the cinema instead of at home where I could let my frustration out, I would have walked out of the film.

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Mimosas (2016)

Mimosas
Director: Oliver Laxe
Writer: Santiago Fillol, Oliver Laxe
Cast: Ahmed Hammoud, Shakib Ben Omar, Said Aagli, Ikram Anzouli, Ahmed El Othemani, Hamid Fardjad, Margarita Albores, Abdelatif Hwidar, Ilham Oujri
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 17.12.2016

Plot:
A dying Sheikh is making his way throught he Moroccan desert. He wants to die and be buried where he comes from, where his family is buried. But he doesn’t make it all the way there: he dies on the way. His company don’t want to travel with the body. Instead Ahmed (Ahmed Hammoud) and Said (Said Aagli), who traveled with them out fo convenience, agree to bring the body to its destination. Against a fee, of course. Meanwhile Shakib (Shakib Ben Omar) is sent to Ahmed and Said to inspire faith in them and make sure that they carry out their mission.

Mimosas is a pretty film, but other than that it didn’t work for me: it was boring and felt mystical for the sake of being mystical.

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Remainder (2015)

Remainder
Director: Omer Fast
Writer: Omer Fast
Based on: Tom McCarthy‘s novel
Cast: Tom SturridgeCush JumboEd SpeleersArsher AliShaun PrendergastLaurence Spellman
Part of: Scope100
Seen on: 8.12.2016

Plot:
Tom (Tom Sturridge) loses his memory after an accident. He is plagued by vague flashes of things half-remembered. Desperately trying to piece everything together, he starts to use the recompensation he got for the accident, he hires Naz (Arsher Ali) to help him build the pieces of his memory up again – literally.

Remainder works off an interesting idea, but the idea is not enough to carry the film – and it needed carrying. Despite a couple of good things, I ultimately didn’t care for it.

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Maryland [Disorder] (2015)

Maryland
Director: Alice Winocour
Writer: Alice Winocour, Jean-Stéphane Bron
Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy, Zaïd Errougui-Demonsant, Percy Kemp
Part of: Scope100 (last year, I participated in the Scope50 project)
Seen on: 6.1.2015

Plot:
Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a soldier who struggles with PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan. While he’s home, waiting to be cleared for service again, he makes his money working as private security together with his friend Denis (Paul Hamy). They get a job at a party for a Lebanese businessman and Vincent is immediately suspicious of everything. Things get worse when he is asked to look after the businessman’s wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and their son for a few days. Vincent feels drawn to Jessie but he can’t really trust his own perceptions: is he hallucinating or is there a real threat?

Maryland deeply impressed me. Not only does Winoncour manage to create an unbelievable amount of tension, Schoenaerts is absolutely hypnotic in his role. I was glued to the screen through the entirety of the film.

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Peur de rien [Parisienne] (2015)

Peur de rien
Director: Danielle Arbid
Writer: Danielle Arbid, Julie Peyr
Cast: Manal IssaPaul HamyDamien ChapelleVincent LacosteDominique BlancClara Ponsot
Part of: Scope100 (last year, I participated in the Scope50 project)
Seen on: 4.1.2016

Plot:
Lina (Manal Issa) comes to Paris from Lebanon to study. She is supposed to stay with her aunt and her husband but just before the semester actually starts, her uncle comes on to her. Lina runs away in shock. Without money, a place to stay or much idea about life in Paris, she sets out to build herself a life, with any means necessary.

Peur de Rien tells an interesting story and it tells it well, with one of the most fascinating and intriguing protagonists I’ve seen in a while. Every once in a while it strays a little too much and could have been more concise, but altogether, I really enjoyed it.

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Olmo & the Seagull (2015)

Olmo & the Seagull
Director: Petra Costa, Lea Glob
Writer: Petra Costa, Lea Glob
Cast: Olivia Corsini, Serge Nicolai
Part of: Scope100 (last year, I participated in the Scope50 project)
Seen on: 3.1.2016

Plot:
Olivia (Olivia Corsini) and Serge (Serge Nicolai) are expecting a baby. They are both actors/dancers and are currently preparing Chekhov’s Seagull. Olivia wants to finish the project and go on tour which should be just finished before the baby is due. But then complications arise and Olivia is forced to stay at home while Serge continues to work, leading to quite some tension.

Olmo and the Seagull tackles an interesting subject in an interesting way but ultimately despite its best attempts, it doesn’t really manage to get under the surface of things, outside of a few moments.

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