Patti Cake$ (2017)

Patti Cake$
Director: Geremy Jasper
Writer: Geremy Jasper
Cast: Danielle MacdonaldSiddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Bridget EverettCathy Moriarty, Patrick Brana, Sahr NgaujahMC Lyte, Anthony Ramos
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2017
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Plot:
Patti (Danielle Macdonald) lives with her alcoholic mother Barb (Bridget Everett) and her sick grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) and works a thankless job. But she really comes to live when she starts rapping. Always supported by her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay), both morally and with beats, she’s constantly rhyming. But New Jersey isn’t necessarily a rapping hotbed, especially not for fat white women. But when Patti and Jheri stumble on punk artist Basterd (Mamoudou Athie), Patti is convinced that they have found the missing ingredient for their music to really take off. Plus, he’s intriguing and she’s curious.

Patti Cake$ had me leaving the cinema with a huge grin on my face, despite the fact that I did have some squabbles with it. It’s sweet and funny and the music is pretty great.

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The White Girl (2017)

The White Girl
Director: Jenny Suen, Christopher Doyle
Writer: Christopher Doyle, Jenny Suen
Cast: Angela Yuen, Jeff Yiu, Tony Tsz-Tung Wu, Joe Odagiri
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2017
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Plot:
The White Girl (Angela Yuen) is allergic to sunlight. She lives with her father in a very sheltered home but her reclusive existence, so far only interrupted by her friend Ho Zai (Jeff Yiu), is opened a little with the arrival of Sakamoto (Joe Odagiri), a mysterious stranger who fasincates The White Girl – and vice versa.

The White Girl has a fantastic soundtrack and some very strong moments, but it didn’t take off quite as much as I would have liked.

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Was ist Liebe…? [What Is Love…?] (1924) + Battle-ax

Was ist Liebe…?
Director: Leopold Niernberger
Writer: Carla Karman, Leopold Niernberger
Cast: Dora Kaiser, Alice Hetsey, Carmen Cartellieri, Theo Shall, Rudolf Kaiser
Part of: Viennale
With music by: Battle-ax
Seen on: 24.10.2017
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Plot:
Doris (Dora Kaiser) and her sister Carmen (Carmen Cartellieri) are very different people. Where Doris is all innocence and kindness, Carmen is much more selfish and calculating. But after their mother’s death, the two of them find work at the Variété together. Doris’ star keeps rising there and Carmen wants to capitalize on it any way she can.

I enjoyed large parts of the film, but in this case, the live music did the movie a disservice. That being said, there was still much to like about it.

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Avant la fin de l’été [Before Summer Ends] (2017)

Avant la fin de l’été
Director: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Writer: Maryam Goormaghtigh
Cast: Arash, Ashkan, Hossein
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 24.10.2017
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Plot:
Arash (Arash) has been studying in France for the last few years, but he didn’t really get into life in France, so he wants to return to Iran. His two best friends, also originally from Iran, Ashkan (Ashkan) and Hossein (Hossein) don’t want to see him go, so they propose to go on a road trip together, hoping that they could change his mind in the course of it.

Avant la fin de l’été was a short film butit felt surprisingly long and was a little too aimless for my taste, making it a little tedious.

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120 battements par minute [BPM (Beats Per Minute)] (2017)

120 battements par minute
Director: Robin Campillo
Writer: Robin Campillo, Philippe Mangeot
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel , Antoine Reinartz, Félix Maritaud, Ariel Borenstein, Aloïse Sauvage
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2017
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Plot:
It’s the early 1990s and HIV/AIDS has already claimed many lives, but little is done to combat it. Advocacy Group ACT UP is trying to change that, planning several different interventions. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) has just joined the group and is swept up in their relentless energy. Or is he more swept off his feet by Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who seems to live for the activism?

120 BPM is not perfect, but it is a strong film, a love letter to activism and an emotional journey that will leave you breathless.

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Félicité (2017)

Félicité
Director: Alain Gomis
Writer: Alain Gomis, Olivier Loustau, Delphine Zingg
Cast: Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu, Gaetan Claudia, Papi Mpaka, Nadine Ndebo, Elbas Manuana, Diplome Amekindra
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 23.10.2017
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Plot:
Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) earns her living as a bar singer. It’s there that she meets Tabu (Papi Mpaka), a flirt who drinks too much but also has a sweet side. When Félicité’s 14-year-old son has a motorcycle accident, she desperately needs to find a way to get some money to pay for his hospital bills. The search for money also makes her confront her past.

Félicité has a fascinating relationship with music and I did enjoy revisiting Kinshasa, but after the set-up the story veers off into a direction that left me a little cold.

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Helle Nächte [Bright Nights] (2017)

Helle Nächte
Director: Thomas Arslan
Writer: Thomas Arslan
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Tristan Göbel, Marie Leuenberger, Hanna Karlberg
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2017
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Plot:
Michael’s (Georg Friedrich) estranged father recently died in Norway. Michael has to go there to take care of things and decides to take his own son Luis (Tristan Göbel) with him. Luis lives with his mother and he and Michael don’t get along all that well, either. For Michael, this trip and the ensuing drive across Norway is supposed to be a chance for the two of them to connect. For Luis, it’s less clear what he wants from his father and this trip.

Helle Nächte doesn’t tell a very new story, but it tells it well. It wasn’t the film I was most emotionally invested in, but I enjoyed it.

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Beach Rats (2017)

Beach Rats
Director: Eliza Hittman
Writer: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate HodgeNeal Huff
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2017
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Plot:
Summer is hot and long. Getting away from his oppressive family environment, Frankie (Harris Dickinson) spends it hanging around with his rough group of friends and flirting with Simone (Madeline Weinstein). When he’s alone, he uses the internet to meet and sleep with older men. These two parts of his life are strictly separated as Frankie tries to figure out who he is and where he belongs.

Beach Rats is not a bad film, but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would. It stays a little too much on well-established grounds for its own good.

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Casting (2017)

Casting
Director: Nicolas Wackerbarth
Writer: Nicolas Wackerbarth, Hannes Held
Cast: Andreas LustJudith EngelMilena DreißigStephan GrossmannCorinna KirchhoffUrsina LardiAndrea SawatzkiMarie-Lou SellemVictoria TrauttmansdorffNicole MarischkaMarkus von LingenTim KalkhofToby Ashraf
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2017
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Plot:
Vera (Judith Engel) is preparing to direct her first television film, a remake of Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant. Everything is pretty much set to go and things are about to start. All that is missing is the lead actress. Vera has a day of casting lined up with the available candidates and Gerwin (Andreas Lust) as a stand-in to read the lines with the actresses. But things don’t really go the way Vera, or anybody else, planned.

Casting may not be a laugh out loud comedy, but it is funny, emotional, smart and full of biting, feminist commentary that I didn’t expect, but very much appreciated.

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Milla (2017)

Milla
Director: Valérie Massadian
Writer: Valérie Massadian
Cast: Severine JonckeereLuc ChesselEthan Jonckeere
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 20.10.2017
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Plot:
Milla (Severine Jonckeere) and her boyfriend Leo (Luc Chessel) find shelter in an abandoned house. They are both very young and Milla is pregnant. While Milla looks at the world with a certain carefree outlook, Leo struggles to find a job to support them. But somehow they make it work, at least for a while.

Massadian’s first film Nana was an almost magical experience, so I knew I had to see Milla, while at the same time worrying if it could ever possibly live up to Nana. But I need not have worried – Milla is a beautiful, emotional film and a worthy sophomore film.

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