MUBI Weekly Digest | 29th August 2020
James R | On 30, Aug 2020
It’s all about the exclusive release of Xavier Dolan’s new film Matthias and Maxime this weekend, but MUBI is still dropping gems daily, with a new focus on Isabelle Huppert and an ongoing retrospective of Francois Ozon – not to mention another modern offering from Almodóvar.
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.
And finally, don’t miss your chance to catch Southland Tales – or a couple of title’s from MUBI’s impressive Locarno collection.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
Huppert: The Trout – 29th August
Have you ever dreamt of a film where Isabelle Huppert, in the guise of a youngster heroine, sweeps through bowling alleys and ritzy Japanese hotels? This late work from Joseph Losey is for you.
Ozon: Frantz – 30th August
In 1919 Quedlinburg, Germany, a young woman named Anna is still mourning the death of her fiance Frantz in the Great War, while living with his equally devastated parents. One day, a mysterious Frenchman, Adrien, comes to town to pay his respects to Frantz’s grave, and slowly enters Anna’s life. Read our review
Indian Cinema: 3 Idiots – 31st August
Farhan and Raju go on a quest to search for their long lost friend and classmate, Rancho. They encounter a forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes out of control. As they make their way through the perilous journey, Farhan and Raju recall the memories of their college days.
Brazil: The Blue Flower of Novalis – 1st September
Marcelo, a dandy of about 40 years, has a memory like no other. Monologuing between coffee and hookups, he holds court on a wide range of topics: his HIV status, his Catholic grandmother, and his unusual sexual fantasies. At times, he takes himself for Genghis Khan or poet-philosopher Novalis.
Isadora’s Children – 2nd September
American dancer Isadora Duncan is famous not just for her groundbreaking work, but also for the tragic death of her two children in 1913. She processed her grief in “Mother”, a choreography about loss and emptiness. A century later, a trio of women attempt to understand and bring this piece to life.
Almodóvar: Bad Education – 4th September
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.
Other new releases on MUBI
Exclusive: Matthias & Maxime
Xavier Dolan’s latest follows Matt and Max, two childhood best friends, are asked to share a kiss for the purposes of a student short film. Soon, a lingering doubt sets in, confronting both of them with their preferences, threatening the brotherhood of their social circle, and, eventually, changing their lives.
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.
The Mourning Forest
A triple bill of films by Naomi Kawase kicks off with this gentle yet wholly absorbing look at the passage through grief and the bonds that unite us.
This cinematographic portrait originates in 3,000 drawings made by the Waimiri-Atroari, a people native to the Brazilian Amazon. The drawings are animated onto landscapes and sights, serving as a visual memory of the violent attacks they were submitted to during Brazil’s military dictatorship.
The Brand New Testament
God lives in a dilapidated flat in Brussels with his wife and young daughter. One day his daughter decides to rebel against her vindictive father by hacking into his computer and leaking to everyone on earth the time of their death, before setting out to write her own gospel with her six disciples.
A big condominium promises thousands of Ethiopians a better life. Constructed on the farmland of 10-year-old Asalif and his mother, it leaves them just a tool shed with no water. While the city keeps growing, the young boy battles forces beyond his control thanks to his imagination and sharp wits.
A Couch in New York
A screwball rom-com from Belgian auteur Chantal Akerman featuring Juliette Binoche? Yes please.
The Hunt director Thomas Vinterberg turns to the 1970s in this drama about a commune in a larger house in Copenhagen. Erik and Anna set up the community, but their dream is shattered when a love affair puts it to the test. Read our full review
King Hu: A Touch of Zen
Hot on the heels of Dragon Inn comes King Hu’s 1971 martian arts flick, which follows Ku Shen Chai, an artist in his early 30s who still lives with his mother. But he is suddenly shaken by the arrival of Yang Hui-ching, a mysterious princess on the run. Yang brings Ku into her circle of protectors, including a nameless monk whose spiritual guidance transforms him into a valiant fighter.
Wonders in the Suburbs
Emmanuelle Joly, the new mayor of the underprivileged town of Montfermeil in the suburbs of Paris, starts working with her extravagant team to implement the wonders she promised during her campaign. But Joëlle and Kamel, two of the team members, are in the process of divorcing.
Wonders in the Suburbs
After playing in films by the likes of Assayas or Rivette, Jeanne Balibar makes her solo debut with an enchanting modern-day fairy tale.
A surreal musical comedy road trip from Portuguese auteur João Nicolau? Sign us up.
Working against the conventions of non-fiction cinema, this courtroom drama unveils the pros and cons of modern democracy. With Brazil’s past and present politics facing each other, The Trial offers an eye-opening ‘behind-the -scenes’ look at the double-edged nature of leadership.
After many years away, Silvestro returns from northern Italy to the Sicilian countryside of his childhood to visit his mother. On his journey, he has conversations with strangers in a port, fellow passengers on a train, his mother, and a knife-sharpener.
Humbert Humbert, a British professor coming to the US to teach, rents a room in Charlotte Haze’s house, but only after he sees her 14-year-old daughter, Dolores (Lolita), to whom he is immediately attracted.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
In this unprecedented look at Ai Weiwei, Klayman’s camera captures his forthrightness and unequivocal stance. She gives a larger picture of the artist as an individual, a symbol of China’s oppression, and a powerful voice against a country that still denies its citizens many basic freedoms.
Two Portuguese poets, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Jorge de Sena, exchanged letters during de Sena’s exile. Their correspondence is a testimony to their quest for freedom during Portugal’s fascist regime, but also offers an insight into the profound affinity between two human beings.
Brazil: Seducao da Carne
A tenacious writer, Siloé gave up on leaving her home after her husband’s death. While engaging in frequent conversations with a parrot, she’s always observed by a large portion of raw meat: her erotic relationship with it illustrates metaphorically the arduous realities of agriculture in Brazil.
Ozon: Swimming Pool (2003)
A British author seeks inspiration and solitude at her publisher’s holiday home in in the South of France. Her quietude is soon disrupted by the reckless, erotic lifestyle of his daughter. Their tumultuous interactions set off a series of disturbing events.
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: 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.
So Long, My Son
China’s one-child policy is the historical backdrop for this sweeping chronicle of family and loss, a journey at once intimate and epic between a tragic past and a resilient present. Read our full review
The We and the I
In The We and the I, visionary director Michel Gondry gets on a Bronx schoolbus and hits the road! The result is a vivid snapshot of the fears and ecstasy of being a teenager, as well as a sharp impression of race and identity in contemporary America.
Brazil: Once There Was Brasilia y
In 1959, disgraced intergalactic agent WA4 receives a mission: to come to the Earth and kill the president Juscelino Kubitschek on the day of Brasília’s inauguration. But his ship is lost in time and lands in 2016 in Ceilândia—a Black suburb of Brasília—on the verge of Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Based on true events, this film tells the story of wealthy magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who after a stroke is left almost entirely paralyzed. Unable to move or speak, he retreats into his mind, but after learning to communicate by blinking his left eye, he begins to tell his story. Read our full review
Again Once Again
Romina, on a break from her boyfriend, stays in Buenos Aires with her mother and her son. Trying to figure out who she is after three years of all-consuming love for her boy and a demanding relationship, she sees friends, discovers the possibilities of new love and reflects on her German heritage.
After feuding with his dad, a judge, Raj Raghunath leaves home and falls in with criminal Jagga. Once he realizes that his new friend is a key figure from his family’s past, Raj kills Jagga. As the crime happened in the elder Raghunath’s jurisdiction, Raj’s case is set to be heard by his father. Raj Kapoor’s watershed film belongs to the Golden Age of Hindi cinema.
Paul Verhoeven’s sleazy showbiz drama about a dancer trying to make it in Vegas is terrible or brilliant, depending on who you ask – or is it both?
Long-lasting affairs, doomed writers and intellectual repartee: welcome to Paris’ publishing world, as Olivier Assayas turns his satirical lens upon an impressive cast including Juliette Binoche.
The Portuguese Woman
The newly married wife of Lord von Ketten is determined to make her husband’s family abode, an inhospitable castle in Italy, into a home. When he sets off to battle, staying away for eleven long years, she carves out a life for herself—reading, singing, dancing, swimming, and riding in the forest.
In an occupied land belonging to a sugarcane processing plant, the Landless Workers Movement fights to press the government into making land reform and settling the families encamped. While conservative forces gain more space than ever in the country, encamped people dream of self-determination.
A schoolgirl travels with six of her classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky, remote country home, where supernatural events occur almost immediately. They come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat.
Fellini: Juliet of the Spirits
Giulietta is a somewhat frumpy, naive, timid and unfulfilled housewife. Suspecting her husband’s infidelity, she enters a surreal journey of self-discovery filled with wild dreams and enchanting fantasies, which involve her sexually liberated neighbour Suzy and her glamorous sixties lifestyle. MUBI’s Fellini retrospective continues.
Brazil: Good Manners
Set in São Paulo, the film follows Clara, a lonely nurse from the outskirts of the city who is hired by mysterious and wealthy Ana to be the nanny of her soon to be born child. Against all odds, the two women develop a strong bond. But a fateful night marked by a full moon changes their plans. MUBI’s focus on new Brazilian filmmaking continues with Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas’s excellent 2017 fantasy horror. Read our full review
Villa Empain was conceived by Belgian philanthropist Louis Empain as a private home. After its completion in 1934, he donated the property to the state. Since then, it has served as a Soviet embassy, a TV studio, etc. Only since 2008 does it fulfill its original destination: a haven for art.
David Oyelowo is unrecognisable in Ava DuVernay’s stirring, powerful biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cinema legend Fabienne is about to publish her memoirs. The version of her life in the book, however, is critiqued by her daughter Lumir, who visits Fabienne with her American husband and their daughter. Resentments eventually explode as Fabienne and Lumir confront the reality of their dynamic. Read our review
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
From 1967 to 1975, fuelled by curiosity and naïveté, Swedish journalists traversed the ocean to film the black power movement in America. The Black Power Mixtape mobilises a mosaic of images, music, and narration to chronicle the movement’s evolution. This eye-opening documentary was rediscovered 30 years later. Though told from an outsider perspective, this is a revelatory portrait of American systemic racism that remains of the utmost relevance today. Essential.
Brazil: Let It Burn
This tender portrait of drug users residing in a hostel-turned-social housing project is a tough yet hopeful act of cinematic communion. Deeply devoted to its subjects, but also providing space to bring them closer to each other, Let It Burn absorbs great emotion, culminating in musical release.
A group of friends from São Paulo go on a trip to a remote beach. While they wait for the new year’s eve, they build a safe and pleasant environment through music and friendship. They take care of themselves, they own their bodies, their sexuality, their memories and they feel free. MUBI continues its spotlight on new Brazilian cinema with this 2019 short documentary.
During the Ming dynasty, the emperor’s minister of defense is framed by a powerful court eunuch and executed, and his family is pursued by secret police. In the ensuing chase, a mysterious band of strangers begins to gather at the remote Dragon Gate Inn, where paths (and swords) will cross.
A Woman’s Revenge
MUBI continues to shine a spotlight on Portuguese auteur Rita Azevedo Gomes with this ghostly adaptation of the 19th-century classic Les diaboliques, featuring a thrilling performance by Rita Durão.
Through 56 vignettes, Echo draws a portrait of modern day Iceland at Christmas time. In open countryside, a farm is burning. In a school, a choir is singing carols. In a museum, a woman is arguing with her ex. Whether close or distant, these characters struggle at once with their past and present.
Locarno: The Tree House (2019)
A man living on Mars in 2045 thinks back to the Indigenous peoples he filmed in the jungles of Vietnam. He is working on a film which combines their memories with his own. But what about his own intentions? Did he have the right to put these people in front of his camera and take their stories?
An ethnologist in her late 30s arrives on an island in the south of Denmark to study its inhabitants and record their traditions. Their homes are set to be demolished to build a tunnel linking to Germany. Unexpectedly, she meets an attractive younger man, a laborer who’s been hired from Poland.
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