MUBI Weekly Digest | 1st May 2021
James R | On 01, May 2021
MUBI begins a new month by kicking off a dystopian season, but there’s much to be optimistic about, with the themed collection including not only Under the Skin but also a restoration of Lizzie Borden’s Afrofuturist, feminist classic Born in Flames. There’s also a retrospective celebrating Francis Ford Coppola’s experimental efforts to break new cinematic ground, plus a showcase for David Osit’s festival favourite Mayor.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon? Read on for your weekly MUBI Digest. For our guide to the best films in MUBI Library, click here.
This week on MUBI
One from the Heart – 1st May
Following Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola revived the working methods of Hollywood’s golden age with this modernist rebirth of the musical.
Personal Shopper – 2nd May
Olivier Assayas captures the uncertainty of the digital age in a haunting drama of isolation.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno – 3rd May
Clouzot’s legendary unfinished film. Uncovered by film archivist Serge Bromberg, the result is a treasure trove of images from what would have been called L’enfer, starring Romy Schneider – except for the fact that it sadly never got made.
Atlantis – 4th May
A winner at Venice Film Festival, and Ukraine’s official Oscar® submission for Best International Feature Film, Atlantis is a post-apocalyptic drama with an unexpectedly sweet love story at its core and dark humor around the edges.
The Two of Them – 5th May
Mari has a narrow-minded man for a husband, and Juli is fleeing her passionate marriage with an uncontrollable alcoholic. Both passing through a marital crisis, the two women turn to each other for comfort, and each of them gains necessary insights into her own life in seeing the other’s struggles.
Mayor – 6th May
This unique documentary follows the daily duties of the mayor of Ramallah in the midst of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Warm and full of humour, but with a strong political stance.
Other new releases on MUBI
Film noir gets the colour treatment in Curtis Hanson’s thrilling depiction of a city of corrupt angels. Read our full review
An escalating feat of jaw-dropping survival. For better and for worse, The Revenant is the greatest video game movie ever made.
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi
Max and Riton are two ageing gangsters who manage to pull off their final heist, a spectacular robbery at Orly airport. All is well until Max’s former girlfriend Josy tips off a rival gangster, Angelo. The latter kidnaps Ritton and threatens him unless Max hands over the spoils from his robbery.
Labyrinth of Cinema
The only movie theater on the Onomichi seafront is about to close its doors. Its last night of screenings will be an all-night marathon of Japanese war films. When lightning strikes the theater, three young men in the audience find themselves thrown back in time into the world inside the screen.
Artist Anna Odell conducts a social experiment in which she aims to challenge gender roles in our society. In a purpose-built set, she confronts herself with the actor and masculine icon Mikael Persbrandt, and invites seven other actors to live with them and act as alter egos of herself and Mikael. Also available is Odell’s The Reunion.
A dark portrayal of human failings and brilliant performances mark Trey Edward Shults’ striking debut out from typical US indie fare.
In Istanbul, a day on the verge of a country-wide power surge unfolds with four characters—a mother whose son is in prison, a young woman committed to dancing, a female activist-artist, and a cunning middle man—all in a neighbourhood undergoing a process of gentrification for the “New Turkey”. Azra Deniz Okyay’s electrifying Venice prize-winner is a politically charged snapshot that reveals the rebellious rhythms of Istanbul’s ghettos with a focus on gender and social politics.
This Boy’s Life
All Caroline wants is to be able to settle down in one place and find a man who will treat both she and her son Toby right. She moves to Seattle and finds the seemingly respectable Dwight. However, Toby feels differently about him, as Dwight’s methods are emotionally and physically abusive.
You’ll hate every second – but you won’t stop watching this horribly gripping thriller. Read our full review
Red Moon Tide
Time seems to stand still in a village in the Galician coast. Everybody there is paralyzed although we can still hear their voices: they talk about ghosts, about witches, about monsters. Three women arrive in the village to find Rubio, a sailor that has recently disappeared in the sea.
Cruel Story of Youth
In 1960 Japan, restless university student Kyoshi seduces teenager Makoto and quickly convinces her to take part in a dark, cruel scheme, both to get easy money and to keep their boredom at bay. They begin preying on middle-aged men, who easily succumb to Makoto’s charms, only to be blackmailed.
Terry Gilliam’s darkly funny dystopian fantasy about a low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is eerily, brilliantly prescient.
IWOW: I Walk on Water
Returning to the intersection of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem, Khalik Allah centres his new film on his long-time friendship with Frenchie, a homeless Haitian man, while also documenting his recent life: his relationships with his former girlfriend and an inner circle of friends.
Set in a detention camp in the U.S.A. of the near-future, Punishment Park’s pseudo-documentary style places a British film crew amongst a group of dissidents who, faced with lengthy jail time, have opted to spend three days in the ‘Bear Mountain Punishment Park’ in the searing heat of the desert.
Karla arrives in Tijuana, Mexico to stay at her estranged aunt’s house a year after her father’s death. In this moment of solitude and calm, she looks up, down, inward and outward through the transpositional alchemy of text and is reminded that speaking to oneself feels like a vital human practice.
Death in the Garden
Amid a revolution in a South American mining outpost, a band of fugitives – a roguish adventurer, a local prostitute, a priest, an aging diamond miner, and his deaf-mute daughter – are forced to flee for their lives into the jungle in Luis Buñuel’s 1956 drama.
Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Beautifully photographed in the badlands of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, Chloé Zhao’s debut is a wistful and delicately observed tale of loss and familial bonds, featuring a wonderful cast of non-professional actors.
Rules Don’t Apply
Hollywood, 1958. Devout Baptist Marla, under contract to Howard Hughes, arrives in Los Angeles. There, she meets her driver Frank, who is engaged and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes’ no. 1 rule.
Richard Kelly’s enigmatic, mind-bending fusion of teen movie, horror flick and sci-fi thriller is an instant cult classic.
Black Pond (2018)
A double from documentarian Jessica Sarah Rinland begins with an odyssey across a common land in the south of England, told through the hands of the members of the Natural History Society who currently occupy it. After two years of filming, the rushes were shown to the society — their memories and responses were recorded and used as the film’s narration.
Among the guests who come to the mansion of aristocratic landowner Nikolai over Christmas are a politician, a young countess, and a general with his wife. They dine and discuss topics such as progress and morality. As the debate becomes more heated, cultural differences become increasingly apparent. The Berlinale-winning latest from Cristi Puiu.
Those That, At A Distance, Resemble Another (2019)
A museum-quality replica of a historic elephant tusk is painstakingly created. The hands and tools of conservators in a number of different museums and laboratories embark on a creative process. The second of two documentaries from Jessica Sarah Rinland.
Don’t Cry, Pretty Girls!
A gang of Beat music fans attend concerts and parties after spending tedious days in the factory in Márta Mészáros’s 1970 musical drama. Juli, the fiancée of one of the gang’s boys, falls in love with a musician and travels with him for a gig. The jealous fiancé and his friends go after them and the whole affair comes close to violence.
A doctor’s endless search for a cure to his wife’s cancer spans centuries in Darren Aronofsky’s ambitious, divisive sci-fi, as she writes the tale of a 16th Century conquistador looking for eternal life.
Widower Shigeharu seeks advice on how to find a new wife from a colleague. Taking advantage of their position as a film company, they stage an audition. Interviewing a series of women, Shigeharu is enchanted by the quiet Asami. But soon things take a twisted turn as Asami isn’t what she seems to be in Takashi Miike’s controversial thriller.
Edit lives a wealthy life until she becomes a widow and has to face her past. Her son István blames her intention to give up her luxurious life on hysteria. He has his mother watched by Kati, his fiancée. Although Edit is too weak to change, Kati is astonished by István’s limitless brutality. MUBI’s Márta Mészáros spotlight continues with this 1969 drama.
This biopic of Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch focuses on the influences that shaped his art, his devastating affair with a married woman that will haunt him for the rest of his life, and his time in Berlin, where he fled to after being viciously attacked by critics and public alike.
As a heroin dealer in Copenhagen, Frank is far from the top but earns good money pushing with a friend. When he decides to up the ante, Frank goes to Milo, a drug lord—except he doesn’t have enough money for the heroin. Instead, Milo fronts him the goods upon the condition of immediate repayment. Kim Bodnia and Mads Mikkelsen star in Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 thriller.
With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II
Following his memorable supporting turn in the first Pusher film, Mads Mikkelsen moves centre stage for this adrenalised sequel. Tonny, just released from prison, tries to bring order to his life and gain the respect of his father, the Duke, a notorious gangster who despises his son. Trying to repay a debt held over from prison, he makes misstep after misstep. What’s more, Tonny must contribute to the upbringing of a child.
I’m the Angel of Death: Pusher III
As drug lord Milo struggles to prepare his daughter’s 25th birthday party, his business proves equally challenging when a shipment of ecstasy arrives instead of heroin. Forced to work with a new drug he knows little about, he must find a way to maintain his dominance atop the Copenhagen underworld.
1971. A nation is divided over the Vietnam war. Thousands of young Americans lie dead on foreign soil. The spectre of combat hangs over the men of A-Company, who train for the battlefield. Each man looks at the prospect in his own way. One man’s defiance, however, stirs every member of the platoon. Colin Farrell makes his first lead performance in Joel Schumacher’s 2000 drama, inspired by co-writer Ross Klavan’s experiences in Vietnam.
Jacques Audiard: Dheepan
Jacques Audiard’s study of immigration and identity is a movingly unpredictable drama.
A lonely working-class girl has grown up in a Hungarian state orphanage. On receipt of a letter from her mother, the girl decides to embark on a trip to visit her, only to find out the woman has married and wishes to pass her daughter off as her niece.
Oleg, a young Latvian butcher, arrives in Brussels in the hope of getting a better salary in a meat factory. His experience turns short after being betrayed by a colleague. Alone in a country where he doesn’t belong, he quickly falls under the yoke of Andrzej, a Polish criminal.
High-school students Yasuko, Yôichi, Kôichi and Bill join together to liberate themselves from a corrupt adult society.
What kind of power is accessible through the discovery of a voice? Morgan Quaintance’s 2020 short interlinks two anti-racist and anti-authoritarian liberation movements in South London and Chicago’s South Side with his own biography to explore what happens when speech is ignored, and the voice fades.
That Cold Day in the Park
Robert Altman’s suspenseful 1969 drama sees a young, wealthy spinster Frances Austen invite a mute teenager into her apartment after finding him freezing in the park next to where she lives. Despite her best efforts, their lack of communication only increases her sense of loneliness, as her possessiveness spirals into frightening new realms.
Andrew Bujalski black-and-white oddity is a hilarious, profound and eccentric tribute to social awkwardness.
Xavier Dolan’s hugely emotional drama is a stunning tale of troubled youth, motherly love and the music of Oasis.
Introverted teenager Mylia feels lost between the uncertainty in her family life, the superficial atmosphere at her new school, and her first experiences at house parties. But one day Mylia meets Jimmy. The boy from the nearby Abenaki reserve is different and he encourages her to break free.
The Legend of the Stardust Brothers
A shady music mogul brings together two wannabe stars—punk rock rebel Kan and new-wave crooner Shingo—and transforms them into the Stardust Brothers, a girl-friendly, silver-jumpsuited, synth-pop sensation. Along with their #1 fan, who herself dreams of a music career, the duo rockets to stardom.
Sonita is a talented teenage rapper and an indomitable force in spite of her conservative family. She is, however, an undocumented Afghan refugee in Iran, and her family has other plans for her. Her dream of living abroad is about to come true just as her family wants to send her back home to marry.
Gianfranco Rosi: Notturno
Shot in Iran, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon over the course of three turbulent years, it is an intimate and devastating depiction of the civilian populations who have no choice but to live on the frontlines. Told with compassion, grace and humanism, this is a breathtaking cinematic journey.
Gianfranco Rosi: El Sicario, Room 164
In room 164 of a grubby hotel near the Mexican-American border, a man with a black cloth over his head starts talking about the life he has lived. He provides full details on his 20 years of work for a Mexican drugs baron, shading light on how thoroughly corrupt the local authorities are.
Gianfranco Rosi: Fire at Sea
A daring and virtuosic exploration of a modern humanitarian crisis. Read our full review
Gianfranco Rosi: Sacro Gra
Gianfranco Rosi’s snapshot of life in Rome drifts round ring road GRA to capture lives that have come to a halt on the fringes of a society that races on.
Gianfranco Rosi: Below Sea Level
During a five year period, Gianfranco Rosi documents the world of down-on-their-luck individuals who live in a Californian desert, about 200 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 20 feet below sea level. They have turned their backs on society, and want to be left alone.
Three years after his iconic Blade Runner, prolific British filmmaker Ridley Scott directed this high-budget, special-effects extravaganza starring Tom Cruise – but it’s Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness who’s really worth tuning in for.
Charlie Shackleton’s essay dissecting high school movies is a smart, entertaining ode to the teen movie legacy. Read our full review
The King of Comedy
Robert De Niro is disturbingly cheerful in Scorsese’s twisted satire of celebrity culture. Read our full review
A beguiling new short film from Peter Strickland, shot on black and white Super8 and 16mm film. Originally commissioned by the London Short Film Festival to wriggle inside the ASMR phenomenon, it follows the repeated rituals of an online performer and the transfixing, hypnotising effects she has on her viewers.
The Sky Is on Fire
A hypothetical digital ruin of a virtual Miami street is the backdrop for the monologue of a Miami resident who reflects on the desire for immortality that drives our need to capture everything in an image.
Alex Ross Perry: Queen of Earth
Elisabeth Moss is incredible in this absorbing study of a toxic friendship.
Alex Ross Perry: Listen Up Philipy
Jason Schwartzman is impeccable in Alex Ross Perry’s obnoxious, awkward and highly, highly amusing comedy about a self-important writer.
Alex Ross Perry: The Color Wheel
JR, an aspiring news-anchor, forces her younger brother Colin to embark on a road trip to move her belongings out of her professor-turned-lover’s place. Traveling through New England, they uncomfortably run into old school-mates or revisit familial history from which they have long since diverged.
A Family Tour
After directing the film The Mother of One Recluse, director Yang Shu has been forced to live in exile in Hong Kong. But when her mother has to undergo a serious operation, the two women plan to meet in Taiwan where Yang will be attending a film festival with her husband and son.
Berlinale: Bad Tales
The summer heat beats down on a residential estate in the suburbs of Rome. There is a sense of unease that can explode at any moment. Parents are frustrated because they are not from a better suburb, but their children are the protagonists of the shock wave that propels the estate towards collapse.
Berlinale: The Twentieth Century
Toronto, 1899. Mackenzie King dreams of becoming Canada’s Prime Minister. In his quest for power he faces his Mother, a war-mongering Governor-General. When the run for leadership leads to a battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment is the only way to survive the 20th century.
When Jonny visits his father Nikitas in his cabin in the woods after 20 years, the hermit ignores him. But to prevent the muddy ground from being pulled out from under their feet for reasons of profit, father and son must dig deep into it.
Berlinale: Uppercase Print
The story of Mugur Calinescu, a Romanian teenager who wrote graffiti messages of protest against the regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and was subsequently apprehended, interrogated, and ultimately crushed by the secret police.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien: Cute Girl
Wenwen, a young woman from a well-to-do family, has been promised to a man currently studying in France. While waiting upon his return, Wenwen’s parents prepare the wedding, but Wenwen starts to have doubts. She decides to go visit her aunt in the countryside, where she falls for a land surveyor.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien: The Green, Green Grass of Home
A substitute teacher from Taipei arrives in a country village where he meets his mischievous students. There, he begins a romance with a fellow teacher, and gradually begins to enjoy his life in the countryside. But his city girlfriend comes to drag him back.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien: The Boys From Fengkuei
A trio of young men, bored of living in the middle of nowhere, move from their small island of Fengkuei to the port of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan to look for work. There they wander aimlessly without a clear sense of purpose, and face some harsh realities about growing up.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien: Daughter of the Nile
Lin Hsiao-yang tries to keep her family together while working as a waitress at Kentucky Fried Chicken and going to night school. With no mother and her father currently working out of town, it is up to Lin Hsiao-yang to take care of her younger siblings, who are slipping into a life of crime.
David Fincher’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel is a thriller about masculinity and nihilism, as a depressed man (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets a strange soap salesman named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and soon finds himself setting up an underground movement.
Song Without a Name
Peru, at the height of the political crisis of the 1980s. Georgina is an indigenous woman from the Andes whose newborn daughter is stolen at a fake health clinic. Her desperate search for the child leads her to the headquarters of a major newspaper, where she meets Pedro Campos, a lonely journalist.
The fates of an unlucky pig farmer, a feisty home-owner defending her property, a lovestruck busboy, a disenchanted rich girl, and an American expat pursuing the Chinese Dream converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs are found floating down the Huangpu River, towards a modernizing Shanghai. Don’t miss the rare chance to catch this Sundance-winning debut from Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan. Read our full review
Stump the Guesser
He works at the fairground as “Stump the Guesser”, who can guess anything for a fee. But suddenly his tricks stop working. Then, he falls in love with his sister whom he believed to be lost. He sets out to scientifically disprove the theory of heredity and marry his beloved as soon as possible.
If It Were Love
1990s rave culture was a chance to let go of oneself. If It Were Love explores such dimension through the eyes of artist Gisèle Vienne: young dancers dissolve into a community on stage, where their bodies move in graceful slow motion. Performance and reality flow together into an artistic whole.
Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. Michael Mann. Three icons of cinemas combine for his seminal crime drama, which sees a determine cop and an equally ruthless criminal in a cat-and-mouse game in a nocturnal Los Angeles caught with cool intensity by Mann’s deep-focused camera. A modern classic.
Once Upon a Time in America
The final film by Sergio Leone finds the maestro audaciously and ambitiously going beyond his Spaghetti Western roots for a sprawling, multi-decade New York crime epic. Robert De Niro leads a production at once resplendent and gritty—a familiar setting given operatic majesty and force by Leone. De Niro. James Woods. Leone. What more do you need?
The Painted Bird
A young boy journeys through a Second World War landscape in Václav Marhoul’s harrowing odyssey.
About Some Meaningless Events
In Casablanca, a group of filmmakers conduct discussions with people about their expectations of, and aspirations for, the emerging Moroccan national cinema. When a disgruntled worker kills his superior accidentally, their inquest shifts focus, and they begin to probe the motives of the killing.
After playing at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2019, Sebastián Silva’s latest (currently available with Amazon Prime) gets a wider showcase. It follows Tyler, who joins a friend on a birthday weekend away with several people he doesn’t know. As soon as he gets there, it’s clear that he’s the only Black guy. Although welcomed, Tyler can’t help but feel uneasy. As the testosterone and alcohol gets out of hand, his precarious situation becomes nightmarish.
Whit Stillman burst onto the American cinema scene with this ferociously funny look at the “urban haute bourgeoisie” in New York.
Roy Andersson’s supposed swan song is a greatest hits remix of absurd humanist melancholy.
The Small Town
This stunning exploration of the life of a rural family marks Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s highly personal debut feature. Shot in poignant black-and-white cinematography, and starring members of his own family, The Small Town is a low-budget, minimalist ode to the slow rhythms of life in the countryside.
My Sister’s Good Fortune
With her I Was at Home, But… helmed as one of last year’s best arthouse movies, we look back at German auteur Angela Schanelec’s first leap into feature filmmaking. An unusual take on desire and its ambiguous nature, this ethereal drama is filled with powerful, skilfully-crafted observation.
August 32nd on Earth
Prior to making some of the biggest sci-fi blockbusters of the 21st century, Denis Villeneuve directed this French New Wave-influenced drama.
All is Forgiven
Debuting at the Quinzaine in 2007, Mia Hansen-Løve’s debut announces what we have come to appreciate in her cathartic cinema. All is Forgiven ambitiously embeds in its structure (and in this way, successfully grasps) all that is lost, gained, and transmitted through the persistent passage of time.
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