The Souvenir (2019)

The Souvenir
Director: Joanna Hogg
Writer: Joanna Hogg
Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade
Seen on: 3.7.2020

Plot:
Film student Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) meets Anthony (Tom Burke), a government employee. They go on a date and she is quickly charmed by him. After her roommate moves out, Anthony asks if he can stay with her for a while and their budding romance soon turns into an intense relationship. But the more Julie hears about Anthony, the more doubts start creeping in if Anthony really is the man she thinks he is.

The Souvenir is a beautifully acted and shot film that stays engaging throughout. I enjoyed it, but I did not completely love it.

The film poster showing Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) and Anthony (Tom Burke) dressed up and reflected in a dark surface
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Suspiria (2018)

Suspiria
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: David Kajganich
Remake of: Suspiria (1977)
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick, Malgorzata Bela, Angela Winkler, Vanda Capriolo, Alek Wek, Jessica Batut, Elena Fokina, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper
Seen on: 20.11.2018
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Plot:
Susie (Dakota Johnson) comes to Berlin to study at the Markos Tanz Akademie, a ballet school, where she is accepted since a dancer, Pat (Chloë Grace Moretz), just left. As Susie soon finds out, Pat didn’t simply leave. Something more is going on in the mysterious academy and with the help of her fellow student Sara (Mia Goth), Susie starts to investigate.

Suspiria is a visually strong, affective film that proves that watching a film is a very physical experience. It’s captivating in an hypnotic way.

The film poster showing eyes in a splatter of blood.
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Okja (2017)

Okja
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writer: Joon-ho Bong, Jon Ronson
Cast: Seo-Hyun AhnHee-Bong ByunTilda SwintonGiancarlo EspositoJake GyllenhaalShirley HendersonSteven YeunPaul DanoLily CollinsJeong-eun Lee
Seen on: 12.7.2017
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Plot:
Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) lives with her grandfather Hee Bong (Hee-Bong Byun) and with Okja. Okja is a genetically modified breed of superpigs. To see how the animals fare, twelve of them have been placed in various situations worldwide to see what environment suits them best. It turns out that Okja is the winner. That means that they find themselves confronted with nature filmer Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has been sent by the corporation Okja actually belongs to to publicize the result of the contest. But even though Wilcox is not the most charming individual, he quickly becomes the least of Mija’s problems as she has to fight for Okja and their life together.

Okja is sweet and it has a great cast. It has a political message that it puts front and center, but unfortunately that message is muddled at the best of times and incomprehensible at other times. When you make a film that so obviously has something to say, when that something remains that unclear, the entire experience is frustrating and nothing else.

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Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on: the comic character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Cast: Benedict CumberbatchChiwetel EjioforRachel McAdamsBenedict WongMads MikkelsenTilda SwintonMichael StuhlbargBenjamin BrattScott Adkins, Stan Lee
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 8.11.2016

Plot:
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a great neurosurgeon, and he knows it. But after a car accident that leaves him severely injured, Strange loses control of his hands – a skill absolutely necessary for his delicate job. He tries everything he can to get back to his former abilities. He is so desperate that when he hears of Jonathan Pangborn’s (Benjamin Bratt) apparently miraculous recovery, he asks him for the secret to it. Pangborn tells him of an temple in Nepal where they know about magic. Strange makes his way there, hoping to regain what he lost – and more.

If you manage to disregard the blatant racism in the film and its casting (and I can understand if you can’t manage this), Doctor Strange is an entertaining film that offers a lot of fun.

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A Bigger Splash (2015)

A Bigger Splash
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: Alain Page, David Kajganich
Based on: La Piscine
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
Seem on: 16.5.2016

Plot:
Rockstar Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is on holidays, recovering from throat surgery that affected her vocal chords. She is spending her time in Italy together with her boyfriend, photographer Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) in companionable calm and silence. Until her ex-husband and ex-producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes) shows up with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), a daughter he only just recently met himself. Harry and Penelope both bring their own special kind of trouble to the formerly so idyllic stay.

A Bigger Splash starts off strong. While the cast manages to keep up the strength throughout, the plot does not. But with that much chemistry between everybody involved, I can certainly live without much of a plot.

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Dreams Rewired (2015)

Dreams Rewired [aka Die Mobilisierung der Träume]
Director: Manu Luksch, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode
Writer: Manu Luksch, Mukul Patel, Martin Reinhart, Thomas Tode
Cast: Tilda Swinton
Seen on: 24.3.2016

Plot:
Edited together from clips from over 200 films, most of which are around a hundred years old or older [here’s the full list], and narrated by Tilda Swinton, Dreams Rewired examines our relationship with technology and technological change.

Dreams Rewired doesn’t cover new ground. Sometimes it feels like half of the essays out there, cinematic and otherwise, is about our relationship with media and technology. More often than not there’s a distinctly anxious undertone of modern estrangement, losing touch with the world and not being able to connect with the humanity around us anymore (bleargh). Now, Dreams Rewired isn’t absolutely technophobic, but that anxiety is certainly there and they never do anything with or about it which quickly becomes pretty annoying.

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar!
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Jack Huston, Michael Gambon
Seen on: 21.2.2016

Plot:
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) fixes problems for a big movie studio. And boy, are there ever problems: Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the biggest star they currently have, is missing, possibly abducted. Star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant und unmarried. Director Laurnce Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) needs a new star for his film and the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), talented stunt cowboy but acting is a whole other story. And the twin journalists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are snooping around for a story, each in her own way and for her own column. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Eddie has an attractive job offer on the table he needs to decide on soon.

After the recent rather serious outings of the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is a return to comedy, and a very successful one at that. The film is a romp through the studio cinema of the 50s, with the only drawback that they’re reproducing the white-maleness of those films as well. Other than that, though, it is simply fun.

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Behind Jim Jarmusch (2010) + Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch (2014)

Behind Jim Jarmusch + Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch
Director: Léa Rinaldi
Writer: Léa Rinaldi
“Cast”: Jim JarmuschIsaach De BankoléJohn Hurt, Bill MurrayTilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2015

“Plot”:
Both Behind Jim Jarmusch and Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch are documentaries about the creative process of director Jim Jarmusch. Rinaldi followed Jarmusch during the shot of The Limits of Control and then again a couple of years later during the work on Only Lovers Left Alive, trying to grasp how Jarmusch gets to work.

Behind Jim Jarmusch was Rinaldi’s first documentary and you can see how much she learned, so that Travelling at Night with Jim Jarmusch becomes the much better film. But both are interesting to see, especially if you like Jim Jarmusch’s films as they give you a look into the creation of something special.

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Trainwreck (2015)

Trainwreck
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Amy Schumer
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie LarsonLeBron James, John CenaVanessa Bayer, Randall ParkMike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Tilda Swinton, Daniel RadcliffeMarisa Tomei, Method Man, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, Chris Evert
Seen on: 18.8.2015

Plot:
Amy (Amy Schumer) doesn’t believe in relationships. She’d rather have sex with random guys while dating Steven (John Cena) who is nice to look at but not exactly a rocket in bed. But then Amy has to do a story on sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader) for the magazine she works at. Amy has as little interest in sports as she has in monogamy, but Aaron is actually a nice guy. And he likes Amy. He even asks her out, forcing Amy to take a long hard look at her life and to decide whether it’s really the life she wants to lead.

I’m not a huge fan of Apatow (though I did love Freaks and Geeks), so I usually give his movies a wide pass. But I had heard good things about Amy Schumer, and since Trainwreck is also written by her, I decided to give it a try. And I have to admit that the movie worked pretty well for me.

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The Zero Theorem (2013)

The Zero Theorem
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Pat Rushin
Cast: Christoph Waltz, Lucas HedgesDavid ThewlisMélanie ThierryMatt DamonGwendoline ChristieRupert FriendRay CooperLily ColeSanjeev BhaskarPeter StormareBen WhishawTilda Swinton

Plot:
Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) works as an entity cruncher for a huge corporation. The hours away from home are torture for Qohen as he is waiting for a call, so he has been trying to convince the corporation that he could work from home. When his supervisor Joby (David Thewlis) tells him that Management (Matt Damon) will be at his party, Qohen decides that he has to go there and talk to him. And he actually succeeds in that plan and a little while later, he starts working on the Zero Theorem from home.

Gilliam knows how to make a world look cool and a film look pretty. The cast is wonderful, too. Other than that though, the film is a boring, sexist mess.

the-zero-theorem

 

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