Movie Club: First Reformed

I’ve seen this movie for the first time for Movie Club and I want to add a little trigger warning. The movie discusses topics of suicide and terrorism, and so will this review. As usual, it probably contains spoilers.

First Reformed is a movie about Reverend Toller who takes care of a small, miniscule church community and is suddenly confronted with Michael who has a lot of doubts about the world. I have to say that I am increasingly tired of watching movies about white men who have life problems, but that’s just me. Also, I might be a sensitive person because this movie made me dream about people killing themselves or other people in spartanic rooms. You might guess that this movie is not going to get the best of reviews.

Let me start with the things I liked. I liked the visuals and presentation of the movie. Already when it starts, it has the feeling of an old movie although I think it came out in 2017 or 2018. But with the credits in the beginning, white on black, and no picture or scene to distract you, it gave off this feeling of „old movie“ somehow. It also fits with the general very spartanic feel of the movie.

In general, it is an interesting character study on Reverend Toller. Neither Toller nor any of the other characters in this movie are very likeable. (I really wish we would watch a movie where I’d at least like one of the characters next. Could we make this happen?) It starts with Toller starting the experiment of keeping a journal. However it turns out he is not very good at it. He is both censoring himself by prohibiting to write down his actual thoughts and by tearing out pages that contain his actual thoughts. I think I have rarely seen such a repressed character on screen. The movie shows his repression extremely well: there is the house he lives in which is basically empty. The fact that he doesn’t eat at all, and only drinks alcohol. The fact that he suffers in silence from health issues and it takes him the whole movie to address those. How he shuts out everyone that seems to care about him. I’d say the movie does a good job at showing how Reverend Toller has never forgiven himself for the death of his son.

It was even interesting to see how Toller was confronted with Michael’s ideas about environmental justice and couldn’t ignore it even after Michael died. How he took over Michael’s cause and saw a lot of justice in it. Which even lead him to confront higher ups in the church and a business mogul. But in the end the movie somehow fell short. Because nothing ever came of it. Did the movie want to show how easy it is to fall into extremism and turn to terrorism? Well, I got the picture, but then nothing happened, so … ?

I am also unsure about what exactly was real in the movie. Both the scene were Toller and Mary (Michael’s wife/widow) have an intimate moment on Toller’s empty living room floor and the end scene were scenes where I wasn’t sure if they really happened or if Toller only hallucinated them? Anyhow, whether or not he hallucinated it or not, how is it that these troubled men always get the girl in the end? (This really bothered me.)

I don’t know if anyone else noticed the names in the movie. I think Toller is the only person who doesn’t have an explicit Christian name, therefore his role is not tied into Christian archetype or beliefs. I didn’t look it up so this is only my knowledge about Christian lore: Michael is usually tied to righteousness which ties in with Michael’s just cause for nature. Mary is always the innocent archetype and I’d say Mary is also presented as such in the movie (although I must say I highly question if Michael really committed suice or if Toller or Mary murdered him; wow, my mind is really sceptical about the characters in this movie). Not so sure about Esther and Joel, probably because they seem more important in Judaism, so I’ll skip them.

Actually, I didn’t dislike the movie until the end. I thought it was an interesting study of Toller’s suffering and character (I don’t have to like him to admit that). But since Toller asked Mary not to come to the reconsecration of the church – where he planned a suice attack – I got pretty annoyed with the movie because of the implied relationship between Toller and Mary and the abrupt and somewhat inconsequential end of the movie.

I give the movie two stars.

Other Movie Club reviews can be read as well:

Veetii

(Photo credit above: Killer Films)

Movie Club: Frost/Nixon

I feel a bit rusty writing publicly because I stopped a while ago. And then a review! Well, let’s get on with it.

I’ve seen this movie for the first time for Movie Club and I don’t know very much about the Watergate Scandal. (I’ve also seen The Post where it is referenced and have tried researching a bit, but then it’s a lot of US politics and I wasn’t particular interested in getting too deep into that so please bear that in mind when reading this review.) As always, this review may containt spoilers.

Frost/Nixon is a movie about a TV show host, David Frost, who seems clueless and only interested in money and/or fame at the beginning of the movie. Somehow he gets the idea of interviewing Nixon who just stepped down as President of the United States, supposedly to become more famous and earn more money in the process.

Things don’t go as planned – TV networks don’t want to pay for the interviews so Frost has to pay for them by himself – but finally the interviews can happen. Actually, maybe Frost does not only want fame/money because he seemed pretty dedicated in doing these interviews, even when he had to pay for everything. Mh. Need to think about that some more.

Anyhow, the interviews don’t go as planned either. Nixon is a master player on the political and TV show host field and just talks all over Frost who seems to know it’s going badly, but doesn’t want to admit to it. It’s quite painful watching Frost. I pitied him a lot because he was just so pity-worthy. Helpless and blinded.

I was irritated about the whole „this is now a documentary“ vibe where some of the other characters commented, seemingly from a later perspective, on the events of the movie. Although I don’t know much about the Watergate events, it still felt unnecessary. And my two cents about the casting (partly because we already discussed it in our group): Kevin Bacon was there, and he wasn’t evil. And then there was a pretty woman who didn’t have any purpose at all. Maybe except being a woman in a movie with and about men. The movie wouldn’t have been any worse without her, and she didn’t do much for representation either, so I really don’t know why she was there.

I did like the movie. Maybe because somehow I wanted Frost to take Nixon down. So although Frost wasn’t a very likeable character, I was still kind of rooting for him to wing these interviews because I decidedly didn’t like Nixon for all his scheming and corruption. Which made the greater part of the movie hard to watch because Frost was failing so badly. Until the end where he wasn’t failing anymore.

Weirdly enough, that wasn’t satisfying either because, as I’ve said, Frost wasn’t very likeable and seeing him succeed didn’t make anything better. Although I pitied Nixon in the end. And if the movie achieved one thing, it was to show that people are just people who make mistakes. Some, obviously, make bigger mistakes than others. Some seem unforgivable. And in the end they’re still people. I don’t know if that was what the movie wanted to do, especially because characters in the movie were very strict on the point that Nixon didn’t deserve forgiveness.

I give the movie 3/5 stars. It was enjoyable and left me, again, curious about this Watergate scandal.

Other reviews can be read here:

Veetii

Dolby

Brogan

(Photo credit above: Universal Pictures)

Veränderungen

Ich hatte eine Woche Urlaub, und wie schön es war! Ich hab zwar nicht allzu gut geschlafen, weil ich auf einer Isomatte geschlafen habe. Abgesehen davon war es toll. Ich hatte Zeit für nichts tun und für nur spaßige Sachen. Toll! Ich war schwimmen, in einem Freibad neben einem Fluß, und es war schön. Ich habe meinen neuen Bikini eingeweiht dafür, yes! Ich hatte mein Fahrrad dabei, am Ende habe ich es nur benutzt, um zum Freibad zu kommen. Immerhin! Sage ich dazu. Jetzt habe ich immer noch den Eindruck, ich könnte weiter Urlaub machen. Und gleichzeitig habe ich noch andere freie Wochen geplant in diesem Jahr, und ich will auch mit meiner Arbeit weiterkommen. Deswegen ist es schon okay, morgen wieder zu arbeiten. Ja!

Hier im Blog wird sich was ändern (siehe meinen ganz wundervoll deskriptiven Titel). Ich habe mir nach monatelangem Zögern endlich The Artist’s Way (Der Weg der Künsterin) von Julia Cameron gekauft. Noch dazu haben es mir mehrere Menschen empfohlen. Nun habe ich es also endlich, und in der letzten Woche habe ich die Zeit genutzt, die Einleitung zu lesen. The Artist’s Way ist ein zwölf-wöchiges Programm, um wieder in Kontakt mit der eigenen Kreativität zu kommen. Ich dachte, ich mache das mal. Heute habe ich dann ernsthaft angefangen, und Julia Cameron hat nicht gelogen: es ist eine Menge Arbeit. Sie warnt, dass es 10-12 Stunden pro Woche in Anspruch nehmen wird, und nach heute glaube ich das auch. Deswegen habe ich beschlossen, von meinem ziemlich regelmäßigen Rhythmus auf diesem Blog Abstand zu nehmen, denn ich weiß jetzt schon, dass ich nicht Arbeit, Kreatives Schreiben, The Artist’s Way UND das Blog wuppen kann. Das schaffe ich einfach nicht. (Nicht, dass ich jemals 12 Stunden die Woche an diesem Blog verbracht habe.) Vermutlich werde ich auch weniger schreiben können. (Oder weniger Serien/Youtube-Videos gucken und weniger lesen können. Das sieht allerdings eh niemand außer mir, von daher ist es schon okay.) Deswegen werde ich nur noch unregelmäßig und seltener schreiben und den Blog vor allem nutzen, um meine Movie Club Filmbesprechungen zu posten. (Auf Englisch, sorry.)

So viel zu den Veränderungen. Meine eigene Kreativität geht vor.

Dafür nun ein vor erst letztes Mal meine Lesetipps:

  • über Migration und Fachkräftemangel in Deutschland
  • über die Gefahr von privaten Gruppen am Beispiel von whatsapp [Englisch]
  • über Trauern im 21. Jahrhundert [Englisch]
  • wie wir mentale Gesundheit/Krankheit einteilen und was daran besser sein könnte [Englisch]
  • über Trump und das Internet [Englisch]
  • warum She-Ra ein Queerfest ist (spoilery) [Englisch]
  • über Kinder, die transgender sind [Englisch]
  • über die Berichterstattung über Kpop [Englisch]
  • über Familien und das Verheimlichen von wichtigen Ereignissen [Englisch]
  • über Ritter aus Leidenschaft [Englisch]
  • was Bildungsaufstieg mit Hierarchien in Familien macht
  • über Queen und Slim (definitiv voller Spoiler) [Englisch]
  • Gedanken zu Israel, Palästina und Deutschland (zweiteilig)
  • warum wir andere Menschen nicht dazu bewegen können, sich um andere Menschen zu sorgen [Englisch]
  • übers Schwarz-Sein als Muslim:a [Video]

So viel für heute. Einen guten Wochenstart an alle und bis zu unregelmäßigen Beiträgen!

Motiviert durch virtuelle Erfolge

Ich habe diese Woche The Farewell geguckt, und wollte eigentlich auch eine Review schreiben, aber bin noch nicht dazu gekommen. Vielleicht folgt das noch in der kommenden Woche, wenn ich Zeit finde. Ansonsten ist die kurze Review: guter Film, guckt ihn Euch an. ;)

Diese Woche habe ich endlich alle 120 Schreine in Zelda (BotW) gefunden und als Belohnung eine Waldausrüstung bekommen. Jetzt sieht Link so aus wie früher (aka in Ocarina of Time), was ich sehr entzückend finde. Ich betrachte das Spiel jetzt als durchgespielt, da ich ja auch den Endgegner besiegt habe und so. Ich könnte noch ein paar kleine Nebenaufgaben erfüllen und auch noch mal den Endgegner besiegen, aber darauf habe ich im Moment keine Lust. Vielleicht mache ich das mal zwischendurch, wenn mir langweilig ist.

Dafür habe ich mir gestern ein neues Spiel gekauft: Fire Emblem – Three Houses. Früher (als ich irgendwas zwischen 14 und 19 Jahre alt war) habe ich Fire Emblem auf dem Nintendo DS von meinem Bruder gespielt und es war ein Fest! Ich erinnere mich nicht mehr, ob ich das Spiel durchgespielt habe (eine sehr vage Erinnerung sagt ja). Da ich das Spiel gerne mochte, habe ich mich auf die Suche begeben, um es auch für die Switch zu finden. Das schwierigste an der Suche war allerdings, den Namen des Spiels rauszufinden. (Danke an dieser Stelle an meinen Bruder, der das wohl nicht lesen wird, dafür, dass er mein inkohärentes Geplapper zu dem Spiel verstanden hat.) Dann habe ich einen Artikel zu dem Spiel gelesen und damit war es beschlossene Sache. Seit heute Morgen besitze ich das Spiel und was soll ich sagen? Ich bin süchtig. Es ist ein gutes Spiel. Ich mag alles! So sehr, dass ich schon circa vier Stunden daran gespielt habe. Ähem.

Nun ja, dieses Blog entwickelt sich auf jeden Fall in eine Richtung, in der meine eigene Nerdigkeit nicht mehr so richtig zu verbergen ist. Das macht ja nichts. Ich stehe schließlich dazu.

Viel mehr gibt es nicht zu berichten. Ich arbeite (und arbeite und arbeite). Das Wetter war unerträglich warm und schwül, zum Glück ist es heute abgekühlt. Ab nächstem Wochenende habe ich eine Woche Urlaub, worauf ich mich sehr freue. Yessssss. Ich hatte auch thematisch was Anderes zu sagen, aber dann bin ich heute doch zu faul mein Gehirn dazu zu bewegen, über Klassenzugehörigkeit nachzudenken. Viel lieber will ich heute noch was schreiben und mein Spiel spielen. Schließlich erhöht das mein Selbstbewusstsein. (Habe ich in dem Artikel gelernt. Und meine Selbstwirksamkeit. Wichtige Fähigkeiten.)

Endlich (!) ein paar Links, mal wieder. Auch wenn ich den ganzen Artikeln, die mich interessieren überhaupt nicht hinterher komme. Ugh. Vielleicht mal im Urlaub.

Hier also erst mal alles, was im Entferntesten mit BLM zu tun hat:

  • Rassismus in der deutschen Polizei (gibt es ja angeblich nicht, haben wir ja alle in den Nachrichten gehört) [Englisch]
  • Wie Schwarze Kinder mit der Gewalt aufwachsen
  • Warum Rassismus das Problem ist, und nicht Schwarze Hautfarbe (dass das überhaupt erklärt werden muss…) [Englisch]
  • Lynching-Anspielungen in Kalifornien [Englisch]
  • Wie wir uns verhalten können, wenn wir Polizeigewalt beobachten
  • All Lives Matter – not [Englisch, Comic]

Hier alles Andere:

  • Passend zum letzten Link: Wir können anderen Menschen keine Empathie einreden [Englisch]
  • K-Pop Fans trollen Trump und weißes Twitter (K-Pop an sich kann für vieles kritisiert werden, und die Fans sind ziemlich geil und politisch) [Englisch]
  • Überlegungen zur Zukunft des Tourismus (die ich teilweise klassistisch finde, darüber könnt Ihr Euch dann beim Lesen selber ein Urteil bilden) [Englisch]
  • Über die politische Bedeutung von Ultra-Fans in Marokko [Englisch]
  • Falls Ihr noch nicht mitbekommen habt, dass J. K. Rowling transfeindliche Dinge tweetet [Englisch]
  • Ein Portrait über Werner Herzog, das ich irgendwie sympathisch fand [Englisch]
  • Über Menstruation und den Islam [Video]
  • Zum Konzept von compulsory heterosexuality [Video, Englisch]
  • Guerilla Open Access Manifesto [Englisch, aber auch auf Deutsch abrufbar]
  • Zum Tod von Sarah Hegazi und der queerfeindlichen Politik Ägyptens
  • Warum es nicht hilfreich ist, von „unvorstellbarer Gewalt“ zu sprechen

Habt einen guten Start in die Woche!

Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Something new is happening! This film wasn’t assigned for Movie Club, and yet here I am, still writing a review. I like this very subjective spoilery way of reviewing films, although I have no idea which reviewing conventions I break or not. Who cares! Beware, as this review contains, as always, spoilers.

I watched this film with a friend for the first time, and I realized afterwards that I had watched all the other here reviewed films alone. And it does make a difference. I have deeper feelings or a deeper connection to the film when I watch it alone. There is more of a community feeling when I watch it with friends. That being said I guess that the film would have made me more sad if I had watched it alone.

We watched the movie dubbed which I think took something away from it. The dubbing seemed sometimes out of place or inappropriate, and I assume that there is a different feel to the characters in French. In hindsight, we should have probably watched it subbed, but well.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is about Marianne, a painter who is hired to paint Héloïse for her future husband. A task not so easily accomplished because as Héloïse’s mother puts it, Héloïse doesn’t want this wedding (she used to be in a monastery) and refused to sit for the previous painter, making it impossible for him to paint her.

More than anything, this is a love story and a story about women. When the film was over, I realized that there are only a handful of scenes with men in them, and the men are completely irrelevant to the plot. Oh, the delight!

Where do I even start?

I am not sure where the film is set, I thought maybe Corsica? as Marianne is rowed to an island in the beginning of the film. Doesn’t matter where it is set, the visuals are amazing. If you for some reason don’t care about or don’t like the plot of the film, you would definitely still love the visuals. The scenery is gorgeous, both inside and outside of the house. The camera catches both the scenery and the relationships between the women perfectly.

I was confused at first when Marianne finished the first painting because this couldn’t have been the end?! Thankfully, it wasn’t. I enjoyed watching Marianne draw. It was quite beautiful and intimate to see her paint Héloïse (and herself, and Héloïse and Sophie). To be honest, everything about this film felt incredibly intimate. The looks between Marianne and Héloïse, all that gazing! The tension between them! There is no other way to put it but intimate. And sensual. It was a very sensual film, focused on the art and painting, and on the blooming love.

I feel so romantic writing all this, but it was a romantic film as well. There were so many things I liked. I think the first half of the film feels tense, and once Héloïse’s mother leaves, everything loosens. Not only between the three women in the film. You can so feel it as a viewer. The second half is so much different from the first.

I like how Sophie sits in the kitchen, doing handiwork while Héloïse and Marianne cook, how they subtly exchanged roles because they must see each other as equals. I liked how Sophie apparently knows all the locals, and takes Héloïse and Marianne with her. I liked the women singing by the fire (such beautiful voices!). I liked how Marianne and Héloïse supported Sophie during her abortion. And how the baby comforted Sophie. (That hurt a lot, in a sweet way.) I liked how they caught Sophie’s fate on paint because who else would ever paint the pain of women? There were so many little scenes that told something about solidarity and friendship between women which was incredibly comforting and beautiful.

There was also a lot of foreshadowing and pay-off. The whole part about Orpheus and Euridike, the Four Seasons, and page 28 were such beautiful (and painful) pay-offs for Marianne’s and Héloïse’s love. It was so well-made.

And as a women in a patriarchal society, it was hard to watch the lives of these women unfold, and to see and feel how little choice they had about living their lives. How Héloïse was happier in the monastery than in a marriage she didn’t want. How Marianne was supposedly more free, but still so constrained as a single women, overshadowed by her father’s name. How Sophie was constrained not only by womanhood, but also by class barriers that dissolved for some fleeting days with the other two women. And nevertheless, they owned their choices.

I think Héloïse also said something very true about the nature of romantic relationships when she confronted Marianne about wanting her for herself. How you stop being on the side of the other person when you feel like you possess them a little bit and they owe you something. They owe you happiness or fulfillment somehow, and you forget to empathise and support them with their problems.

So many aspects to love! So many possibilities to discuss! This is probably the most unhelpful review in any way, only to be understood by people who have seen this film already, but I don’t care. I’m putting it here anyway. It was a beautiful film, both visually and story-wise. Thank you, queer part of the internet, for shoving it into my face for the past couple of months so I felt obligated to finally watch it.

I give it 4/5 stars.

(Photo credit above: Pyramide Films)