How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: Philippa Goslett, John Cameron Mitchell
Based on: Neil Gaiman’s short story
Cast: Alex Sharp, Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Stephen Campbell Moore, Matt Lucas
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2017
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Plot:
Enn (Alex Sharp) loves nothing more than punk music. Having heard about a special concert, he stumbles into a party that seems a little stranger than the usual stuff. But there’s also the cute Zan (Elle Fanning) there and Alex hits it off with her. But as the two spend more time together, Enn realizes that Zan isn’t just a little strange: she’s actually an alien.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties was sweet and funny and colorful and loud and a whole lot of fun. It’s a film designed to make you smile and leave it with a bounce in your step.

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Au hasard Balthazar (1966)

Au hasard Balthazar
Director: Robert Bresson
Writer: Robert Bresson
Cast: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, François Lafarge, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Philippe Asselin, Pierre Klossowski, Nathalie Joyaut, Marie-Claire Fremont, Jean-Joël Barbier
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2017
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Plot:
When the donkey Balthazar is born, his life seems pretty good. He is loved by the kids in his family and by Marie, the neighbor’s girl. But when hard times fallon the family and the have to leave, things also take a turn for the worse for Balthazar. Even when he is reunited with the teenage Marie (Anne Wiazemsky), who is struggling herself, she can’t make things easier for him.

I watched Au hasard Balthazar mostly because it’s a classic and I had never seen it. But it just proved to me again that Nouvelle Vague really isn’t my thing. I found it mostly exhausting.

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Tesnota [Closeness] (2017)

Tesnota
Director: Kantemir Balagov
Writer: Kantemir Balagov, Anton Yarush
Cast: Atrem Cipin, Olga Dragunova, Veniamin Kac, Darya Zhovnar, Nazir Zhukov
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2017
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Plot:
1998 in Nalchik. David (Veniamin Kac) and Lea, both Jewish, just got engaged. What should be a joyous time for them and their families turns into a nightmare as the both of them are kidnapped. The demanded ransom is set so high that David’s family can’t possibly afford to pay it. His sister Ila (Darya Zhovnar), always the rebellious one, is the only one who might be able to help.

With the unusual setting and the obvious attempt to include social criticism in the film, Tesnota could have been an interesting film, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way for me.

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Estiu 1993 [Summer 1993] (2017)

Estiu 1993
Director: Carla Simón
Writer: Carla Simón
Cast: Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer, Fermí Reixach, Montse Sanz, Isabel Rocatti, Berta Pipó
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Frida (Laia Artigas) just lost her mother and has to movie in with her uncle (David Verdaguer) and his wife (Bruna Cusí). They also have a daughter who is a littler younger than Frida and are filled with the best of intentions to give Frida the stability and home she needs. Nevertheless Frida has trouble settling into the new place and life she has to face now.

Estiu 1993 takes a little time to get going, but once it finds its groove, it’s a sweet, sensitive film that tackles a very difficult topic with a lot of empathy and beautiful images.

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Sweet Country (2017)

Sweet Country
Director: Warwick Thornton
Writer: Steven McGregor, David Tranter
Cast: Hamilton Morris, Tremayne Doolan, Natassia Gorey Furber, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Ewen Leslie, Thomas M. Wright
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Aboriginee Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris) has been working as a farmhand for Fred Smith (Sam Neill) for a long time and Fred is kind to him, his wife and niece – or at least he’s a better master than the other white people around them. But when Fred travels and their new neighbor (Ewen Leslie), a drunk and cruel man, takes advantage of the situation and attacks them, Sam ends up shooting him. Even though it was self-defense, Sam knows that the white men will come for him – and he takes off into the desert.

Sweet Country chose an interesting topic and setting for its story, but it nevertheless didn’t really work for me. It felt too long and clichéd for that.

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Nelyubov [Loveless] (2017)

Nelyubov
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Writer: Oleg Negin, Andrey Zvyagintsev
Cast: Maryana Spivak, Aleksey Rozin, Matvey Novikov, Marina Vasileva, Andris Keiss, Aleksey Fateev
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Zhenya (Maryana Spivak)  and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are going through a hard divorce. They are so involved in their constant arguments, that they’re barely seeing their son Alyosha (Matvey Novikov). During one of their arguments, Alyosha leaves – and disappears. Zhenya and Boris have to try to put their differences aside to do everything they can to find Alyosha.

Nelyubov is a hard film, showing a cruel world very effectively. How much you can bare to watch this will vary, but I was as impressed as I was depressed by the film.

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Tragedy Girls (2017)

Tragedy Girls
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Writer: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre, Justin Olson
Cast: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack QuaidKevin DurandTimothy V. Murphy, Craig Robinson, Josh Hutcherson
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2017
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Plot:
Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are best friends and do pretty much everything together. Most notably, they run an online channel together where they discuss true crime cases with which they’re both fascinated. Trying to gain popularity for themselves and their show, they try to catch a serial killer in the area. But when they do catch up with him, a simple capture seems not enough anymore.

Tragedy Girls is a very entertaining film, even if it doesn’t revolutionize the “twist on the slasher-movie” counter-genre that is now its own genre. I had fun all the way through.

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Makala (2017)

Makala
Director: Emmanuel Gras
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2017
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“Plot”:
In the middle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kasongo has to walk the 30km to the next town to sell charcoal to secure his livelihood. But the walk is long and comes with different risks and dangers that make it much harder than it sounds.

Makala being the story of one guy making his way from one village to the next might not seem like much.The film certainly does move slowly, but it also manages to make a lot of the voyage.

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Faa yeung nin wa [In the Mood for Love] (2000)

Faa yeung nin wa
Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Writer: Kar-Wai Wong
Cast: Maggie Cheung, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Ping Lam Siu
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2017
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Plot:
Su Li-Zhen (Maggie Cheung) with her husband and Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) with his wife happen to move into the same apartment building on the same day. Their friendly neighborly relationship changes though, when they both realize that their respective spouses have an affair with each other. In trying to figure out how this happened, they start to become closer themselves.

In the Mood for Love is a beautiful, deeply sad film that absolutely made me fall in love with it and then broke my heart.

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The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Brooklynn Prince, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Malik, Josie Olivo, Valeria Cotto, Edward Pagan, Bria Vinaite, Patti Wiley, Jasineia Ramos, Willem Dafoe, Caleb Landry Jones
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 31.10.2017
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Plot:
Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) in a motel at the edge of Disney World. As Halley struggles to just get by, Moonee has a lot of room to roam the premises, always half-watched by the motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe). Together with her best friend Scooty (Christoph Rivera) and newcomer Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and some other kids, they spend the summer out in the world, discovering everything.

The Florida Project is a film that perfectly captures the children’s perspective and through their eyes, tries to figure out how much space children need and how much is too much. It’s pretty damn wonderful.

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