German Spies and Hallucinogenic Cacti: This Week in Review

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This week I saw three movies in the theatre and finished one book. Here are my 5 sentence reviews. (What makes a 5 sentence review you ask? https://kaysyostrom.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/five-sentence-reviews/)

Movies in the theatre:

Two Lives (or “Zwe Leiben”)
Directed by George Maas

This German-Norwegian co-production tells the story of Katrine whose regular family life is about to be upended as the Berlin Wall has just come down and questions about her identity and her secret past begin to arise. I thought this movie was well enough filmed, scripted, and acted to be nominated for the foreign film Oscar this year, though I don’t know how that system works. Because it’s both a spy thriller as well a family drama  it never feels redundant or loses its power despite the predictability of some bits. German actress Juliane Köhler actually learned Norwegian for the film so that she could realistically play both the go-getter German spy and the regret-filled Norwegian wife, mother, and daughter and she is Ah-may-zing. Also, Norway is just freaking gorgeous and makes a beautiful backdrop for this powerful story. 4/5 stars.

Crystal Fairy
Directed by Sebestian Silva

An insensitive and assholey American tourist in Cuba (Michael Cera) drunkenly invites “Crystal Fairy”, a hippie-like, eccentric woman, to join him and his Cuban friends on their search to find and try the San Pedro, a legendary hallucinogenic cactus. I saw this with my mom and she cannot understand my strange obsession with it. Maybe I’m obsessed because we rarely see leading ladies in the movies who are unconventional, outright bizarre, HAIRY, and also absolutely captivating, like Crystal is. Maybe it’s because while the characters have their quirks they all seem natural, unforced, and just like those eccentrics we have all known and met. With crude humor as well as tender moments this movie took me on a journey that was both funny and enlightening. 5/5 stars.

Frances Ha
Directed by Noah Baumbach

Frances, a 27 year old dancer living in New York City, just can’t seem to figure her shit out when it comes to her career, love life, and friendships. The reason this movie works is because we have a character that we can root for, that we are willing to succeed. Her constant search for where she fits is something we can all relate to and, although she struggles, she remains optimistic and lovable. I left this movie both teary-eyed and dreamy. Frances is a lost 21st century girl and she has a lot to say for people who feel like they just can’t both be someone of great importance and also stay true to who they are. 4.5/5 stars

Books:

Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Aziraphale (angel) and Crowley (demon) have actually become good friends during their long stay on Earth but, despite this, Doomsday is fast approaching and they must get their opposing armies in order. This apocalyptic tale is chaotic, good fun, and filled to the brim with hilarious biblical as well as just silly humor. The only complaint that I have is that there were lots of tidbits towards the middle that just muddled the story for me. Though these little tangents were enjoyable they just distracted me from the root of the story, which I thought was funny and powerful enough to make a beautiful little book. Either way, it starts with a BANG (haha jk it’s starts with creation), ends strong ,and has some pretty wonderful stuff in the middle. 4/5 stars

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