MUBI begins a 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 a celebration of composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, handpicked highlights from last year’s Locarno Festival, a spotlight on new Canadian filmmakers, curated favourites from Paul Schrader (to mark the release of First Reformed), Cronenberg flashbacks and a recent triple-bill of Ang Lee classics.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
Lou Ye: Purple Butterfly – 4th August
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 – 5th August
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 – 6th August
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 – 7th August
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 – 8th August
Cocote is a bewitching revenge thriller, as enigmatic as it is exhilarating, that subverts dominant paradigms of representation to ultimately reinvent the genre.
New Canadian Cinema: The Stairs – 9th August
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.
Other new releases on MUBI
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.
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.
“The first time I saw this film I was in shock, it was everything I had heard about and more. The madness of these Russian filmmakers—they had a totally free hand and created these extravagant shots, the film has 3-4 set pieces which every director knows. It’s absolute film history.” — Paul Schrader
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: 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.
New Canadian Cinema: Werewolf
Blaise and Nessa are outcast methadone users in their small Canadian town. Each day they push a rusty lawnmower door-to-door begging to cut grass. Nessa plots an escape, while Blaise lingers closer to collapse. Tethered to one another, their getaway dreams are kept on a suffocatingly short leash.
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.
Erase and Forget
Bo Gritz is one of America’s highest decorated Vietnam veterans and the real life inspiration behind Rambo. Filmed over 10 years using impressive visual material, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s portrait of Bo embodies contemporary American society in all its dizzying complexity and contradictions.
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.
Lars von Trier controversially returned to Cannes with The House that Jack Built this year, inspiring MUBI to revive the provocateur’s early triumph. Winner of three festival prizes at the event, it’s a feverish film noir, an unhinged thriller, and a visually mind-blowing odyssey into a nightmare of our past.
Minnie and Moskowitz
Led by Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel, American director John Cassavetes’ underrated romantic comedy is by turns charming and irascible.
The insecurities and pent-up emotions of an immigrant in the USA give way to political ruminations and critical commentaries on the colonisation of the mind by the American Dream in Miko Revereza’s short. A montage of home movies from the title’s years presents an anatomy of family ties and a reliving of one’s own identity.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
So Long Enthusiasm
Available until end of: 4th August
Available until end of: 5th August
Available until end of: 6th August
A Brance of a Pine Is Tied Up
Available until end of: 7th August
Harry Smith at the Breslin Hotel
Available until end of: 8th August
Ruined Heart: Another Lovestory Between A Criminal & a Whore
Available until end of: 9th August
Alipato: The Very Brief Life on an Ember
Available until end of: 10th August
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