MUBI continues to look back as well as forward, as the new year sparks a retrospective series of debut films from great directors. Following on from Ingmar Bergman, Todd Haynes and Kathryn Bigelow as Cassavetes, Wenders and more. Looking for a bigger screen? Don’t miss the chance to use MUBI Go (which offers a free cinema ticket every week to its subscribers) to see The Favourite 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
Directors’ Debuts: The Loveless – 5th January
Kathryn Bigelow made her directorial debut with this atmospheric dive into the rebellious, leather-clad world of motorcycle gangs. In 1959, a group of bikers en route to the races at Daytona get waylaid in a rural Georgia town in this homage to The Wild One. The film studiously examines Americana, personified by the loitering youths, languidly revealing a simmering tension that culminates in stylised chaos.
Directors’ Debuts: Shadows – 6th January
Set in New York City, circa 1960, a passionate interracial romance between a fair African-American woman, Lelia, and a white man, Tony, erupts when he meets Lelia’s darker-skinned jazz singer brother, and discovers that her racial heritage is not what he thought it was.
Directors’ Debuts: The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – 7th January
The goalkeeper Josef Bloch is sent off after committing a foul during an away game. This causes him to completely lose his bearings. He wanders aimlessly through the city streets and spends the night with the box-office attendant of a movie theatre.
Occidental – 9th January
The mood is heated. Demonstrations are taking place across France, also in front of the Paris hotel where an Italian named Giorgio is booking the bridal suite for him and his boyfriend Antonio. Hotel manager Diana doesn’t trust them and calls the police to get rid of the odd couple.
Renzo Piano, the Architect of Light – 10th January
Award-winning filmmaker Carlos Saura follows Renzo Piano in the construction of one of his most iconic projects – the Centro Botín art gallery, located in Santander. A rigorous interrogation of the relationship between architecture and cinema, as both artists delve into the creative process behind this remarkable structure that altered the landscape and artistry of the city.
Other new releases on MUBI
The City of Lost Children
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.
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
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: Funny Ha Ha
When you graduate college you easily sashay into the world of adulthood, start a career, and get serious, right? Wrong. Marnie has left college, but not her drinking habits and her bad taste in bad men. It would be sad if it weren’t so funny a tone ably struck by mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski in his first feature film.
Directors’ Debuts: Crisis
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
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.
Directors’ Debuts: My Twentieth Century
Born on the day Edison invents the light bulb, Dora and Lili are separated in childhood after their mother’s death, and follow different paths. They meet again on the Orient Express in 1899, one a con woman, scamming money from men, the other a member of a group of feminist revolutionaries. Ildikó Enyedi (On Body And Soul) took home the Cannes Camera d’Or in 1989 with this hall-of-mirrors comedy, infused with a fierce originality and the unfading charm of silent cinema.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
Available until end of: 5th January
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Available until end of: 6th January
Available until end of: 7th January
Available until end of: 8th January
Available until end of: 9th January
Available until end of: 10th January
Available until end of: 11th January
Available until end of: 12th January
Carnival of Souls
Available until end of: 13th January