MUBI kicks off the new year by revisiting the remarkable debuts of some great directors. A week of beginnings to start the new year with panache and promise, featuring the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Todd Haynes and Kathryn Bigelow – followed by a dose of Jeunet and Caro, Johnson and Coppola. Need an excuse to get out of the house this Christmas? MUBI Go (which offers a cinema ticket every week to its subscribers) is offering free tickets to see Holmes and Watson at participating cinemas.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
The City of Lost Children – 29th December
The pinnacle of Jeunet and Caro’s grunge fantasias of the 1990s, The City of Lost Children follows a boy wandering the streets of a foggy harbour city populated by freaks and carnies terrorized by Krank, a deranged scientist who kidnaps orphan children to steal their dream in an attempt to slow down the ageing process.
Looper – 30th December
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller, which combines brains, heart and time travel with exhilarating ambition.
The Cotton Club – 31st December
Francis Ford Coppola’s crime drama sees the lives of various characters intersect in 1920s Harlem, at the renowned jazz venue the Cotton Club. Handsome horn player Dixie Dwyer falls for Vera, the stunning girlfriend of famous gangster Dutch Schultz. But Dixie aspires to a career in Hollywood, imitating Schultz on-screen.
Directors’ Debuts: Crisis – 3rd January
MUBI kicks off its new run of directorial debuts with the first film from Ingmar Bergman. Ingeborg is a small-town piano teacher who raises her foster daughter, Nelly, into young adulthood. When Nelly is eighteen, she is shocked by the arrival of Jenny, her mother, whom she calls “Auntie.” Jenny wants to take her to the big city and teach her to be a beautician in her salon.
Directors’ Debuts: Poison – 4th January
Inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, Poison sees Todd Haynes explores sexuality by deftly interweaving a trio of provocative tales—”Hero,” “Horror,” and “Homo”—with different cinematic styles in color and black and white.
Other new releases on MUBI
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
Zhang Yimou takes an unexpected turn with this surprising remake of the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple in 2009. A visit by a Persian gun salesman sets off a series of fatal double-crosses involving a police deputy, the owner of a Chinese noodles shop scheme, his adulterous wife, and a pair of inept employees. The result is familiar but entirely different, full of colourful style and comic action.
In a French bourgeois province in 1977, Suzanne is the submissive housewife of wealthy industrialist Robert Pujol, the tyrannical manager of an umbrella factory. When workers go on strike and take Robert hostage, Suzanne steps in to replace him, proving to be an assertive woman of action.
The Ice Storm
It’s November 1973 in New Canaan, Connecticut and the lives of a wealthy family are quietly falling into peril. As the teenagers surreptitiously experiment with drugs and alcohol and the adults drift into mate-swapping, a dangerous blanket of freezing rain begins to cover the town.
This adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel about a young Iranian woman, whose life is torn apart by the uprising against the oppression of the Shah, is a universal coming-of-age tale told from a truly unique perspective.
When the Manzioni family enter the Witness Protection Program, they are relocated to a French town. Despite the best efforts of their handler to keep them in line, they resort to doing things the “family way”. However, their dependence on such habits places everyone in danger from vengeful mobsters.
Steamboat Bill Jr.
Set on the Mississippi River in the old sidewheeler days, Steamboat Bill Jr. follows the adventures of a spoiled young man who is forced by his crusty father to learn the ropes of river-boating. Soon, his attempts expand into disaster.
Lost in Translation
Bill Murray went serious for Sofia Coppola’s 2003 drama about a former movie star, who finds himself crossing paths with a fellow tourist (Scarlett Johansson) in Tokyo. As their unspoken bond develops over a stunning alien landscape, this funny tale of loneliness emerges as something beautifully bittersweet.
The owner of a seedy small-town Texas bar discovers that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife. A chaotic chain of misunderstandings, lies and mischief ensues after he devises a plot to have them murdered. The Coen brothers’ debut is an instant classic, one that paves the way for a noir-steeped career of dark crime, gripping tension and nuanced characters.
Bartas is—besides Jonas Mekas—Lithuania’s most renowned auteur. Part philosophical war film, part existential road movie, Frost navigates the Ukrainian conflict through intriguing close-ups, ambiguous psychologies and utterly absorbing conversations. Bonus: the enigmatic presence of Vanessa Paradis.
Italian cinema’s luminary of melodrama, Luchino Visconti, directs this sublime treatment of Bavarian King Ludwig’s life on a baroque canvas. Without a minute wasted, Ludwig is a lovingly decadent submergence into a complicated life torn between the beauty of art and the power of rule.
La Vie en Rose
Arguably the film that introduced Marion Cotillard to the world, this biopic celebrates and expresses the bountiful yet tragic life of French musician Édith Piaf. An immersive non-chronological structure guided by the razor sharp—Oscar-winning!—central performance make for staggering cinema.
Between more ambitious and sprawling dramas (Che, Contagion), Steven Soderbergh tends to go on a cinema cleanse by making brilliantly well-crafted genre films with intelligence to spare. One of his best is this fleet actioner propelled by a stacked cast and a star-turn from MMA star Gina Carano.
Carnival of Souls
An influence on David Lynch, George A. Romero, and Lucrecia Martel (!) this lone feature film from Herk Harvey is a bona fide cult classic of both independent filmmaking and psychological horror. An atmospheric and unsettling, haunting ghost story, innovatively shot—on a shoestring budget.
The Little Match Girl
After spotlighting Moguillanski in our New Argentine Cinema focus last year, we’re excited to premiere online his latest UFO. A modern day revision of Andersen’s fairy tale, this tragicomedy of manners mixes politics, opera, family and cinema—at once touchingly unassuming and delightfully excessive.
Ozu: Tokyo Story
A masterpiece in radical subtlety, Ozu’s Tokyo Story is less concerned with plot than it is with feeling. Crafted in his compassionate, contemplative style, this sensitive, quiet miracle of a film patiently reveals universal truths: about families, and moreover, the cycles and rhythms of time.
Ozu: Good Morning
Boasting a gorgeously pastel colour palette, Good Morning blends Ozu’s signature themes with disarming humour making for one of the greatest childhood films of all time.
One part Brechtian experiment, and one part send up of America, the Danish provocateur imported English language stars and staged a 30s gangsters’ tale in a studio stripped of all realism but blistered with turmoil.
Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, a boxer – not a great one, but a good one. He’s the younger brother of Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale). Dicky’s a boxer too. He once knocked down Sugar Ray. Now he spends his days smoking crack and talking to a documentary crew. The pair’s family drama, mixed with underdog sports thrills, makes for a conventional movie, but the performances (including an excellent Amy Adams) give it a massive wallop of compassion.
In 2014, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was imprisoned for 20 years by the Russian government on false accusations of terrorism. As protest, MUBI releases his 2012 documentary about a young Ukrainian guy who spends most of his time playing video games. He is great at shooting enemies in Quake but not so successful in his real life, from which he tries but fails to escape.
Godard: The Image Book
After screening in cinemas on Sunday 2nd December, MUBI exclusively releases The Image Book online. Jean-Luc Godard returns with a bracing, beautiful and confrontational essay film. Splicing together classic film clips and newsreel footage, often stretched, saturated and distorted almost beyond recognition, The Image Book interrogates our relationship with film, culture and global politics. Read our full review
Before The Image Book arrives, go back to Godard’s most iconic work, which follows petty thug Michel, who panics and impulsively kills a policeman while driving a stolen car. On the lam, he turns to his aspiring journalist girlfriend Patricia, hiding out in her Paris apartment. When Patricia learns that Michel is being investigated for murder, she begins to question her loyalties.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
Available until end of: 29th December
House of Bare Mountain
Available until end of: 30th December
Available until end of: 31st December
The Image Book
Available until end of: 1st January
Available until end of: 2nd January
This Time Tomorrow
Available until end of: 3rd January
Available until end of: 4th January
Available until end of: 5th January
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Available until end of: 6th January