Frances Ha (USA 2012)
4.5 out of 5
Just when you think enough films have been made about young white people struggling in New York, along comes Frances Ha. Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a highly intelligent and very irresponsible modern dancer working as an apprentice for a dance company. The bulk of her days are spent with her best friend/flatmate Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Frances falls on some hard times, but she never loses her great wit and belief that she will reach her goals. Gerwig is utterly charming and disarming in her role. Director Noah Baumbach chose to make a lighter feature, which does not make it any less complex than The Squid and the Whale, for example. With its black and white aesthetic and younger protagonists it is a different Baumbach, but an exceptional one nonetheless. Frances finds it difficult to acclimate to the adult world; at one point she says that she is “not a person yet” and people coin her “undateable” throughout the film, because she is, essentially, too great for people to handle. Frances IS a person - a vibrant and loving being who, though somewhat annoying and cloying, is a joy to watch.
Lovelace (USA 2013)
2.5 out of 5
Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) is a timid young woman in her early 20’s when she meets Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard); a meeting that will seal her fate. Over the course of six months, Linda goes from a quasi-virginal being to being featured in Deep Throat, the most known pornographic film of all time. How this drastic internal transformation occurred remains unclear and that is emblematic of Lovelace’s biggest issue: it deals with surfaces alone. Linda Lovelace has a fascinating and traumatic biography, but Lovelace the film renders her life generic, a tale much in the vein of made-for-tv movies dealing with weak women in peril and the abusive men they live with. It does not seem to respect its subject as the film orients itself towards the external viewer by questioning, judging, and mocking the protagonist. One question that practically demands to be asked is: why was this film made?
Hayatboyu (aka Lifelong Turkey/Holland/Germany 2013)
2.5 out of 5
An affluent couple own a beautiful house and are both successful at their jobs. Hayatboyu is filled with middle-aged navel-gazing behavior: nothing much happens and nothing much changes. Its cinematography is its strong point, but a film cannot only rely on imagery alone, especially when said images do not seem to carry much meaning at all.
Paradies: Hoffnung (aka Paradise: Hope Austria/Germany/France 2013)
4 out of 5
The thirteen year old Melanie (Melanie Lenz) is sent to diet camp over the summer. She meets new friends and gets confronted with some difficult adult behavior. The acting and credible, squirm-inducing interactions found in Paradies: Hoffnung feel like a documentary at times. Melanie enjoys her time with her newly made friends, it is only when she goes outside that safe circle that trouble comes. There is a fine line between showing bodies that do not conform to the Hollywood ideal in a non-exploitative matter and ridiculing the people involved, and Paradies: Hoffnung runs dangerously close to laughing at its subjects at times, especially during its many fitness montages. Still, the array of thoughtful teenage emotions on display makes the film more than worthwhile.