The King and I (1956)

White abolitionist woman writes well-meaning but condescending and stereotypical book against American slavery. A fictional play based on this book is created by an equally fictional Burmese girl in a musical, starring a Russian-born actor exaggerating his already impressive Swiss-German-Mongol origins and French-Chinese upbringings by claiming Roma descent as well. The musical is made by two US jews of German and British origins, and adapted from a book about a (probably) Anglo-Indian woman teaching »scientific« western virtues at the court of 19th century Siam. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera – and so forth!

I am confused, overwhelmed, and thrilled by the massive amounts of cultural appropriation at work here. Exotic, prejudiced, lavish, and immensely fascinating on so many levels – but still not in my book of Cinemascope extravaganzas.

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Hard candy (2005)

A very harsh moral lesson, spiced up with some inventive torture. An unbelievably clever trap. Vengeance and punishment with almost mythical overtones. Emotionally strong, intellectually not always that impressive. Ellen Page was much lauded for her part, but I found her a bit contrived.

Interesting and memorable enough, though probably not in my book of low-budget use and abuse.

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Blade runner 2049 (2017)

Birth considered the ultimate definition of humanity. Impossible to engineer – or? This quest for a miracle hinges on one single plot twist so big and obvious you’re almost prone to fall for it.

Visually impressive of course, but far too long and slow. Plus, the strange and unnecessary sexism bothers me. Not in my book of sequels.

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The stoning of Soraya M (2008)

It starts out like a western under the stern gaze of the Ayatollah. By circumstance, a stranger is forced to stop in a remote, guilt-ridden village with secrets that has to be kept. A woman – crazy, dangerous, or both? – knows too much for her own good.

After the slow build-up the movie turns into something much more angry, real, and feminist than most westerns, depicting a patriarchal world of corrupt power where terrible crime – in God’s name – does pay and truth isn’t worth much.

God-forsaken in many ways. Strong, unsubtle, probably not in my book of outrage.

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Brush – a fox tale (2018)

Foxes, art, cookies – and love.

Nothing very special, but quite an enjoyable bagatelle.

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A Joy Story (2018)

Helping a heron? Really? Well…

Not in my book despite extreme leves of cuteness.

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Jacob (2018)

This simple, short, and somewhat strange elegy travels much too far into uncanny desert.

Still strangely mesmerizing, though – but ultimately not in my book.

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