MUBI Weekly Digest | 23rd January 2020
James R | On 23, Jan 2021
MUBI is hopping across the Channel once again this week with its annual tradition of showcasing a selection of highlights from MyFrenchFilmFestival. The online festival, which kicked off last week, runs for a month and streams a host of new French films across a range of platforms, with MUBI bringing the final of its three picks from the line-up this week (see the full festival rundown here).
There’s also a chance to catch Dea Kulumbegashvili’s acclaimed debut feature – acquired exclusively by MUBI – an experimental documentary made during the coronavirus pandemic and a slice of Carl Theodor Dreyer for good measure.
And, of course, there’s MUBI Library to peruse. With more than 400 former releases now available to stream at any time, read our full guide to how it works here – or our list of recommended starting points for browsing.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
The Sunchaser – 23rd January
Successful oncologist Dr Michael Reynolds is taken hostage by one of his patients, a sixteen year-old half-Navajo boy called Brandon ‘Blue’ Monroe. Doctor and patient embark on a spiritual journey as the terminally ill youth is determined to find a mystical Navajo healing lake in the Arizona desert. Director Michael Cimino is one of American cinema’s singular talents, and his unique sense of landscape, colonial displacement, and male ennui is fully realised in his final feature.
In the Cut – 24th January
After the body of a young woman is found in her neighbourhood, New York literature professor Frannie becomes entwined in an erotic affair with the police detective leading the investigation. As her attraction to him grows, so does her suspicion that he may be in some way connected to the murder.
Citadel – 25th January
Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to COVID-19 are combined with views of the London skyline.
Vampyr – 26th January
MUBI begins a Carl Theodor Dreyer double-bill with this iconic silent horror. A traveller arrives at a countryside inn seemingly beckoned by haunted forces. His growing acquaintance with the family living there soon opens up a network of associations between the dead and the living, which pulls him into an unsettling mystery. At its core: the troubled, chaste daughter Gisèle.
MyFrenchFilmFestival: Josep – 28th January
February 1939. Spanish republicans are fleeing Franco’s dictatorship to France. The French government built concentration camps, confining the refugees, where they barely have access to hygiene, water and food. In one of these camps, separated by barbed wire, two men will become friends. One is a guard, the other is Josep Bartoli (Barcelona 1910 – NYC 1995), an illustrator who fights against Franco’s regime.
Beginning – 29th January
Dea Kulumbegashvili’s striking debut feature, which played at Cannes, San Sebastian and Toronto, is an unflinching drama about a Jehovah’s Witness who undergoes a dramatic crisis of faith. Georgia’s official submission for the 2021 Academy Awards.
Other new releases on MUBI
Claire is a famous pianist whose life is controlled by her husband Frederic, who also acts as her agent/coach/minder. For the sake of Claire’s career, both have decided not to have children; but Frederic changes his mind and tampers with her birth control pills so that she becomes pregnant. Sophie Letourneur’s comedy about couple dynamics and maternalism kicks off this year’s MUBI selection of films from the MyFrenchFilmFestival.
MyFrenchFilmFestival: Heroes Don’t Die
In a street in Paris, a stranger thinks he’s recognized in Joachim a soldier who died in Bosnia on 21st August 1983. Thing is, this is the very day Joachim was born: 21st August 1983! Thrown by the idea he might be the reincarnation of this man, he decides to go to Sarajevo to find out.
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?
Khorshid, a young blind boy from Tajikistan, earns rent money for his family by tuning rare instruments but becomes enraptured by the sonorous music he hears on his way to work each day.
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.
Michael Fassbender delivers an unflinching performance in Steve McQueen’s powerful debut about a hunger strike in a Northern Irish prison.
12-year-old James Gillespie lives on a Glasgow housing estate during the 1973 refuse collectors’ strike. After James’ friend falls into a canal and drowns, James becomes increasingly withdrawn. As bags of rubbish pile up and rats move in, James starts to spend time with Kenny and Margaret Anne.
Ham on Rye
A bizarre rite of passage at the local deli determines the fate of a generation of teenagers, leading some to escape their suburban town and dooming others to remain.
Fantastic Mr Fox
Combining the cast’s charisma with a fondness for his furry tale, Wes Anderson’s stop-motion take on Roald Dahl’s fox is a charming vulpes vulpes the whole family can love.
Under the Tree
Agnes throws Atli out and does not want him to see their daughter Ása anymore. He moves in with his parents, who are involved in a bitter dispute over their tree that casts a shadow on the neighbours’ deck. As Atli fights for the right to see his daughter, the clash with the neighbours intensifies.
This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
Amongst the mountains of Lesotho, an 80-year-old widow winds up her affairs and makes arrangements for her burial. But when her village is threatened with resettlement due to the construction of a reservoir, she finds a new will to live and ignites a spirit of resistance within her community.
Toshio’s ordinary life takes an ominous turn when Yasaka, an old acquaintance, is released from prison and in need of help. Toshio gives him a job and takes him in to live with his family. He soon regrets this decision, as Yasaka gradually disrupts the family before causing irreparable damage.
Roy Andersson’s supposed swan song is a greatest hits remix of absurd humanist melancholy.
A socialist trailblazer, Lina Wertmüller began her career as assistant to Fellini, whose influence permeates her neorealist debut. Scored by Ennio Morricone and shot by the DP of 8½ , this drama delves into the trials of small-town Italian life.
Whit Stillman burst onto the American cinema scene with this ferociously funny look at the “urban haute bourgeoisie” in New York.
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.
Starring the magnificent Terence Stamp, Ken Loach’s debut feature packs his recognizable political punch, but adds emotional fervour. An empathetic look at the life of a single mother, the film is also a singular portrait of working-class life far removed from Swinging London.
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.
It’s Only The End of the World
After 12 years of estrangement, a writer returns to his hometown, planning on announcing his impending death to his family in Xavier Dolan’s heated ensemble drama.
The Long Goodbye
Philip Marlowe is a private eye with an outmoded code of honour at odds with the mores of early 70s Los Angeles. A visit by an old friend in the night sets in train a series of events in which he’s hired to search for a missing novelist, and finds himself on the wrong side of vicious gangsters, in Robert Altman’s masterpiece.
All the Vermeers in New York
Anna, a French actress studying in New York, crosses paths with a successful stock-broker, Mark, standing before a Vermeer portrait at the Metropolitan. They engage in a peculiar romance of missed meanings and connections, as both are wrapped up in their blindered worlds.
You Only Live Once
Joan, the secretary to the public defender in a large city, is in love with a career criminal named Eddie. She believes that he is a basically good person who just had some tough breaks. After she uses her influence to get him released early, they get married and he attempts to go straight.
A gleefully dark satire on marriage, media and the stories that are told in each.
Rocco and his Brothers
Joining the exodus of millions from Italy’s impoverished south, a matriarch and her sons move to Milan in search of a better life in the industrial north. But, as they inch up the social ladder, family bonds are shredded, and saintly Rocco’s love for a sex worker drives his brutish brother to crime.
The Woman Who Ran
While her husband is on a business trip, Gamhee meets three of her friends. She visits the first two at their homes, and the third she encounters by chance at a theater. While they make friendly conversation, as always, several currents flow independently above and below the surface.
Un Film Dramatique
For four years Éric Baudelaire regularly met with students from the film group at Dora Maar middle school in Saint-Denis. Time for them to grow together, time to find the form of a film in which they would be the true subjects: its characters, its authors and its promise.
Stuffed with stars and surreal beats, Iñárritu’s satirical comedy is self-indulgent, amusing and enjoyably unpredictable.
On the distant planet Ygam, enslaved humans called Oms are the playthings of giant blue native inhabitants, the Draags. Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor and is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms, who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence.
The Big Feast
Four middle-aged friends who are tired of life retreat to a country mansion where they determine to eat themselves to death. They are soon joined by women and a local school teacher. The quartet engage in a nihilistic orgy of food and sex, all in the name of hedonistic self-destruction.
At a countryside manor a celebration is being organised for the revered family patriarch Helge’s 60th birthday. Everyone has been invited, and most importantly his wife and three grown-up children: Christian, Michael and Helene. Christian makes a speech nobody will ever forget.
The Wayward Girl
The illegitimate daughter of a bitter mother, Gerd attracts the attention of Anders, a student from a middle-class family. Defying his parents, Anders takes her on a trip to a cottage deep in woods. There, their relationship flowers until their idyll is interrupted by a passing vagrant.
Reunited after a 17 year separation, Walter, an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teenage daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one-bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help overcome the emotional distance between them.
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.
After the Carnation Revolution, the peasants in the Alentejo region occupied the huge properties where they were once submitted to the power of their masters. Resistants of this struggle tell their story to the youngsters of today, in their own words.
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.
Matt Dillon stars in Yorgos Lanthimos’ new short film, which follows an encounter between a professional cellist and family man with a stranger on the subway that has unexpected and far-reaching consequences on his life.
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Blanche and Lea meet and become friends in Éric Rohmer’s 1987 romantic comedy. Lea is thinking of leaving her boyfriend Fabien, and Blanche falls for Lea’s dashing, witty friend Alexandre, but is tongue-tied with him. Lea goes on holiday, and Blanche, still smitten with Alexandre, begins to get to know Fabien.
In the Philippines, women get deployed abroad to work as domestic workers or nannies. In one of the many training centers dedicated to domestic work, a group of trainees are getting ready to face both homesickness and the possible abuses lying ahead during a series of role-playing exercises.
After a devastating earthquake, Nga, an old elephant and probably the last of its species, and Sanra, his mahout, are about to embark on a journey to find the mythical elephant’s graveyard. The group of poachers following them will die one after the other under mysterious circumstances and spells.
Queen of Hearts
Successful lawyer Anne lives happily with her two daughters and her husband Peter. Yet when Gustav, Peter’s troubled teenage son from another relationship, comes to live with them, Anne forms an intimate bond with Gustav that jeopardises her perfect life, one that will have devastating consequences. Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance in 2019, this provocative domestic drama echoes the self-reflexive nature of a Douglas Sirk melodrama and the slow-burn tension of a Hitchcockian thriller.
1938. While Lithuania celebrates its Independence Day, war looms on the horizon. A young geographer pitches to the Prime Minister the idea of creating a backup state overseas, where the country’s inhabitants could move in case of danger. An odd yet heartfelt friendship arises between the two men.
Eames: The Architect and the Painter
The legendary and prolific Eames couple revolutionised the realms of design, architecture, and the arts with their wildly inventive pieces and jovial attitude towards life and work. Narrated by James Franco, this documentary gives insight into the spellbinding world of this wholly inspiring duo.
Almodóvar: I’m So Excited
Returning to the light, goofy, and salacious tone that characterizes his early career, Almodóvar changed gears and indulged in camp exuberance for this farcical in-flight comedy, a satirical metaphor for Spain’s state of crisis featuring some of Pedro’s regulars. Time to buckle up your seat belts!
Almodóvar: All About My Mother
Following the tragic death of her teenage son, Manuela travels from Madrid to Barcelona in an attempt to contact the long-estranged father the boy never knew. She reunites with an old friend, an outspoken transgender sex worker, and befriends a troubled actress and a pregnant, HIV-positive nun.
Almodóvar: Broken Embraces
Pedro and Penélope Cruz reunite as the man and his muse bring us a slow-burning, sensual tale of a director and an actress who fall in love. The news of powerful businessman Ernesto Martel’s death forces Harry Caine, a blind man who was once a film writer and director, to confront his tragic past. Magdalena was the star of Harry’s last film. Although she was Martel’s younger girlfriend at the time, the two fell ferociously in love.
In working-class Madrid, Raimunda needs to deal with her husband’s death, while struggling to support her family. But surrounded by three generations of women—her sister Sole, her daughter Paula, and friend Agustina—and haunted by her dead mother, Raimunda will do more than survive.
Almodóvar: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
Hot off the major success of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Almodóvar switched gears to take his melodramatic style into more dangerous territory – accompanied by by a score from the late, great Ennio Morricone.
Almodóvar: Live Flesh
Víctor falls hard for Elena, but she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. She does, however, have feelings for David, a policeman who arrives to break up an argument between her and Víctor. That encounter however takes an unexpected turn that leads these characters down a dark, twisty path in Almodóvar’s 1997 drama.
Almodóvar: Bad Education
Two boys, Ignacio and Enrique, know love, fear, and abuse in a Catholic boarding school in the 1960s. Father Manolo, the headmaster, is witness to and part of these discoveries. The three meet again many years later, and their past actions and new lives intertwine in creative and destructive ways.
Almodóvar: Talk to Her
Benigno is infatuated with Alicia, a dancer he watches from the anonymity of his apartment. After an accident, she is brought to the hospital where Benigno happens to be her caregiver. When wounded bullfighter Lydia is brought into the same ward, her companion, Marco, bonds with Benigno in the most unexpected, moving, disturbing ways.
Almodóvar: The Skin I Live In
The Skin I Live In is a sultry, unsettling masterpiece that sees Almodóvar at his most audacious.
The Other Lamb
The members of the Flock, all women and female children, live in a rural compound, being led by a man, Shepherd. Selah, a daughter, is given the great honor of participating in the sacred ritual of the birthing of the lambs where she has a shocking and otherworldly experience.
What We Do in the Shadows
Taiki Waititi’s vampire comedy is moving, clever and mercilessly quick, but most of all, it’s bleeding funny.
The Kindergarten Teacher
Lisa Spinelli, married and living with kids that mostly ignore her, plods through her days teaching kindergarten with growing numbness. But one day everything changes—Lisa discovers that a five-year-old boy in her class may be the poet she can only dream of being. She becomes fascinated.
The Hills Have Eyes
In Wes Craven’s cult horror hit, a family on vacation are attacked by mutant killers in the desert. After the success of Last House on the Left, Craven served up another terrifying tale of family survival with a still-relevant Vietnam-era moral question at its core: which family deserves to live? The normal American family? Or the inbred cannibals damaged by nuclear testing designed to keep “upstanding” families safe?
An ex-nun who writes adult short stories crosses paths with an amnesiac wandering the streets of New York City. When they set out to uncover his identity, they come face to face with his unsavory past, including a vengeful porno actress and ruthless corporate assassins hot on their trail.
A family’s peaceful existence is threatened when a busy highway is opened right next to their isolated property in Ursula Meier’s 2008 drama. As the sounds and fumes of the modern world begin to fill their home, the family becomes disorientated, and each of its member finds themselves pushed to dangerous extremes.
Set in Vienna, film charts a female writer’s passage to self-destruction as she is torn between two lovers, one of whom is her husband. Isabelle Huppert stars in Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of Ingeborg Bachmann’s novel, co-written by Elfriede Jelinek (The Piano Teacher).
Huppert: 8 Women
Eight women at a country estate suspect each of foul play after the house’s owner, Marcel, is found murdered in Francois Ozon’s 2002 comedy. The telephone line has been cut, the car won’t start and a heavy snowfall keeps the women confined to the grounds – including Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart and the inimitable Isabelle Huppert.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
The Straight Story
Available until: 23rd January
You Only Live Once
Available until: 27th January
The Long Goodbye
Available until: 29th January
Let the Sunshine In
Available until: 30th January
Available until: 30th January
Wonders in the Suburbs
Available until: 30th January
Knock Knock Knock
Available until: 30th January
Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha
Available until: 30th January
Available until: 3rd February
Available until: 3rd February