MUBI Weekly Digest | 8th August 2020
James R | On 08, Aug 2020
MUBI’s Almodóvar retrospective hits peak this week with his definitive All About My Mother, but there’s enough room for more than one auteur, as MUBI also begins a new series looking back at Francois Ozon’s work. They join the continuing spotlight on Portuguese director Rita Azevedo Gomes, more treats from last year’s Locarno Film Festival and a portrait of an artist of another kind: Ai Weiwei.
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.
Meanwhile, MUBI’s daily drops of new titles continues apace – don’t miss your chance to catch Girlhood before it’s removed this week.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – 8th August
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.
All About My Mother – 9th August
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.
Correspondences – 10th August
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 – 11th August
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.
Locarno: The Tree House (2019) – 13th August
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?
Ozon: Swimming Pool (2003) – 14th August
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.
Other new releases on MUBI
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
Fragile as the World
Rita Azevedo Gomes’s impeccably crafted drama follows Vera and João, who are young and in love. Their desire forces them to run away from their friends and home. Isolated in a forest, they promise to never leave each other’s side. But one day, Vera falls ill and João must go and ask for help. The unshakable faith in their amorous bond is about to break.
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?
Something in the Air
In the early 1970s, Gilles is a high school student in Paris, swept up in the political fever of the time. Yet his real dream is to paint and make films, something that his friends and even his girlfriend cannot understand. Olivier Assayas revisits his own autobiography for this look at adolescence in the aftermath of May 68 and coming-of-age in the face of failed revolution.
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.
The Good Girls
Sofia, the spoiled queen bee of her group of friends, faces the unimaginable: her social decay. The year is 1982 and an economic crisis is hitting Mexico. Cracks appear in Sofia and her husband’s manicured lives, as the social and economic order shifts around them.
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.
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.
Not far from Timbuktu, now ruled by religious fundamentalists, Kidane lives peacefully with his wife and children. In town, people suffer from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists. But the family’s life changes abruptly after an accident — now Kidane’s fate is in the hands of the Jihadists. Abderrahmane Sissako’s superb Oscar-nominated drama is an eye-opening portrait of life under Jihadist rule.
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
A pioneering voice of New Indian Cinema, director Mani Kaul devoted the third entry in his filmography (and his first movie in colour!) to tackling a folk story on screen. Marriage, rural life, and the fragility of oneself are just some of the key themes dissected in this haunting piece of cinema.
Herzog: Rescue Dawn
In this dramatic telling of a tremendous true story, Werner Herzog turns the subject of his doc Little Dieter Needs to Fly into a human fight for survival in the jungle’s surreal depths. Christian Bale stars as pilot Dieter Dengler, who is shot down in the Vietnam War and held in a POW camp.
Herzog: Wheel of Time
A Tibetan Buddhist initiation rite, which took place in 2002 in India, in the Dalai Lama’s presence. For six weeks, hundreds of thousands of Buddhists came en masse to absorb themselves in prayer and meditation, represented by the Mandala, which then dissolves into the wind. MUBI begins a Werner Herzog double-bill with this 2003 documentary.
Herzog: The Wild Blue Yonder
Herzog’s unclassifiable found-footage “science fiction fantasy” uses NASA materials and underwater photography to examine life on an unliveable planet.
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.
Woman at War (2018)
Behind the scenes of her quiet routine, fifty-year-old Halla leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. She declares a one-woman-war on the local aluminium industry, and is prepared to risk everything to protect the landscapes she love – until an orphan unexpectedly enters her life. If you missed this in the cinema recently, don’t miss it this time.
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.
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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