MUBI continues its new season dedicated to Chinese director Lou Ye this week. In a country which regularly censors its most defiant artists, he is one of the foremost cinematic iconoclasts, resisting the nation’s moral and political criteria in the name of giving voice to the oppressed, and those who choose to boldly defy the state.
His work joins handpicked highlights from last year’s Locarno Festival, a spotlight on new Canadian filmmakers and more curated favourites from Paul Schrader (to mark the release of First Reformed).
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
Summer Palace – 11th August
After his memory-clouded Purple Butterfly, Lou Ye opted for greater directness in his next romance, set among Beijing students during the 1980s. Featuring both Chinese film’s first full nudity and overt reference to the Tiananmen Square police action, he was banned from filmmaking for 5 years. It is 1989, and country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure.
Paul Schrader Picks: My Man Godfrey – 12th August
Irene, an eccentric, wealthy Manhattanite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding a “forgotten man”—an apparent down-and-out drifter—at a dump. She hires him as the family butler and soon falls for him, driving her to to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the household’s dysfunction.
A Cambodian Spring – 13th August
A Cambodian Spring charts the chaotic and violent wave of change shaping modern-day Cambodia, and follows three activists over six years as they speak out against the injustices taking place all around them in the name of progress, development and democracy.
Cape Fear (1962) – 14th August
Fourteen years ago Sam was a public defender assigned to Max Cady’s rape trial, and he made a serious error: he hid a document that could have gotten him acquitted. Now, the cagey, bibliophile Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss.
New Canadian Cinema: Historytelling – 15th August
MUBI continues its exploration of Canadian cinema with a documentary short that offers its voice to a classroom of children of varying milieu to bravely beckon us to listen to future generations regarding history and the future. Shot on the First Nations reserve of Pessamu, Québec.
New Canadian Cinema: The Art of Speech – 16th August
One of Québec’s most inventive cinematic poets, Olivier Godin crafted his sophomore film on a shoe-string budget with an expressionist use of digital video and boundless imagination. The result: The Art of Speech is a densely layered, Godardian comedy laced with an evocative mystery and romance.
Djon Africa – 17th August
A chance meeting sets 25-year-old Portuguese Rastafarian Djon África on the track of his roots in Cape Verde. He hopes to finally find his father, an adventurer whom he doesn’t know. But things never go as planned in life – and particularly in this charming search for Djon’s identity.
Other new releases on MUBI
Paul Schrader Picks: I Am Cuba
Four episodes chronicle Cuba’s ascent from colonialist degradation and totalitarian rule of Batista’s regime to a revolution that spreads across the country’s classes and regional lines. Read our full review
The Swedish Johannes Nyholm took everyone by surprise with this original debut feature, a recent festival standout where he fuses social realism with fantasy, adding a renovated Dogme spirit to the mix. The result is welcomingly strange, a rare fable of infectious optimism, likely to win you over.
Cronenberg: Naked Lunch
How do you film an “unfilmable” novel? If you’re mad scientist David Cronenberg, you throw out all the rules! This Burroughs adaptation is a hilarious, macabre, and unforgettable trip into a writer’s imagination. Talking beetles, insect-typewriters, smoking viscous creatures… Welcome to Interzone.
In a bid to boost ratings, a programmer for a trashy cable channel broadcasts a hyper-violent torture show called Videodrome. Whilst trying to uncover its origins, he goes on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of conspiracy, sadomasochism and bodily transformation.
Lou Ye: Purple Butterfly
Ding Hui (Zhang Ziyi) is a member of Purple Butterfly, a powerful resistance group in Japanese occupied Shanghai. An unexpected encounter reunites her with Itami, an ex-lover and officer with a secret police unit tasked with dismantling Purple Butterfly. MUBI begins its retrospective of the great, subversive Chinese director Lou Ye.
The Last Emperor
MUBI marks the UK release of Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda with a string of films scored by the composer. Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning biopic traces the life of Pu Yi, the last of the great emperors of China, from his ascent to the throne at age three, in 1908, to the time he was imprisoned in the Forbidden City, witnessing decades of cultural and political upheaval.
The Sheltering Sky
MUBI marks the UK release of Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda with a string of films scored by the composer. Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky is a scenic adaptation of Paul Bowles’ existential novel about an American couple (Debra Winger and John Malkovich), traveling through North Africa in hopes of rekindling their long-strained marriage, only to find further alienation in their post-colonial dalliances.
Direct from Locarno: Meteors
MUBI continues its highlights from last year’s Locarno Festival is Gürcan Keltek’s textured and evocative documentary. Unexpectedly connecting cosmic chaos—a gobsmacking meteor shower—and the armed conflict between Turks and Kurds, Keltek finds resonances both political and poetic.
Direct from Locarno: Cocote
Cocote is a bewitching revenge thriller, as enigmatic as it is exhilarating, that subverts dominant paradigms of representation to ultimately reinvent the genre.
Direct from Locarno: Le Fort Des Fous
As the 71st Locarno Film Festival unveils the best of bold, fearless world cinema, we’re excited to bring you some of last year’s essential highlights. Madmen’s Fort is a defiant, haunting look at History with capital H—an overwhelming examination of the politics of power versus the power of utopia.
Ang Lee Triple: Lust, Caution
Ang Lee adapts revered Chinese writer Eileen Chang’s novel into a powerful thriller-drama of desire and commitment in the tormented China of the 1940s, under Japanese occupation. A young woman finds herself swept up in a radical plot to assassinate a ruthless intelligence agent.
Ang Lee Triple: The Wedding Banquet
Gay couple Wai-Tung and Simon are happily living in New York. However, Wai-Tung’s nagging parents want to see their son marry and have children. The couple have a plan: Wai-Tung will marry Wei-Wei, an acquaintance in need of a green card–but his parents arrive to visit and things get out of hand.
Ang Lee Triple: Eat Drink Man Woman
A senior chef lives with his three grown daughters in Taiwan. When the middle one finds her future plans affected by unexpected events, it impacts the life of the other household members. Ang Lee’s family fable is the best movie ever made about how food can connect generations.
New Canadian Cinema: Still Night, Still Light
In Québec, Mexico and Asia, three woken dreamers answer to the pressing call from the images and melodies that inhabit them, by day and by night. Haunted by an absence, a departure, or an urging need to go towards the other, Éliane, Romes and his father Pablo choose to act before it’s too late.
New Canadian Cinema: The Stairs
Three people use their experiences surviving decades of drug use and sex work to help their community. Told over five years, their surprising stories reveal a world often misunderstood.
New Canadian Cinema: Boundaries
Three women find themselves on the opposite ends of a political negotiation, yet unify under the shared experience of sexism in the workplace. Chloé Robichaud gracefully explores this theme with an arresting conversational structure, a sophisticated play with tone, and a strong sense of landscape.
New Canadian Cinema: How Heavy This Summer
A married father of two nearing middle age, Erwin is not quite an outcast, but as his life slowly begins to unravel we begin to understand just how far outside the social order he truly is.
The link between cinema and magic has been there from the start. Joining forces with Edward Norton (terrific, of course) and the lovely Jessica Biel, Neil Burger scored a transporting sleeper hit, part mystery, part thriller, part romance, a classical tale that hooks our fascination for tricks.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
With Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, in theatres, we dedicate a series to the cinematic soundtracks of the Japanese master composer, starting with a film in which he also stars—alongside Bowie! Merry Christmas is fuelled by charged, unforgettable performances and punctuated by a triumph of melodic genius.
Blue Black Permanent
Film poet Margaret Tait is one of the avant-garde’s best-kept secrets. Together with Cinema Rediscovered, MUBI unveils her only feature-length work, a palimpsest of dreams and memories, weaving her beloved Scottish landscapes and three generations of women through an audacious “Russian doll” structure.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company
Available until end of: 11th August
Available until end of: 12th August
Rust and Bone
Available until end of: 13th August
Erase and Forget
Available until end of: 14th August
Minnie and Moskowitz
Available until end of: 15th August
Available until end of: 16th August
Available until end of: 17th August
Available until end of: 18th August
Available until end of: 19th August
The Wedding Banquet
Available until end of: 20th August