The Weekly MUBI Digest | 13th April 2019
Staff Reporter | On 13, Apr 2019Reading time: 9 mins
MUBI brings a double-bill of laughter to our screens this week, with the one-two punch of modern pastiche Black Dynamite and Luis Bunuel’s subversive satire, The Phantom of Liberty. But the heart of this week’s line-up is as serious as cinema gets, as MUBI begins the first-ever complete UK retrospective of the important husband and wife filmmaking partnership Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet – a duo that have carved their own path through cinema, making fiercely confrontational films against capitalism, oppression, fascism, and historical amnesia.
And, if you want something to watch on a bigger screen, you can also use MUBI Go (which offers a free cinema ticket every week to its subscribers), to see coming-of-age gem Mid90s 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
Black Dynamite – 13th April
Shot in 16mm, this faithful throwback to the politically-charged blaxploitation film impressively doubles as a tribute and a tonic: a comprehensive (and revisionist!) run-through of all this dubious genre’s tricks and tropes. An intelligent, hilarious pastiche no doubt destined to be a cult classic.
Straub + Huillet: Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach – 15th April
A chronicle of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life, using correspondences and texts written by the composer, and read by his wife, Anna Magdalena Bach. Eschewing drama to focus almost entirely on his music, it consists largely of expansive scenes of Bach conducting or playing his brilliant compositions.
Luis Buñuel: The Phantom of Liberty – 16th April
Following his Oscar win for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Buñuel landed his biggest production, which birthed one of his most incendiary films of subversive hilarity. Bourgeois convention is demolished in the surrealist gem, which features an elegant soirée with guests seated on toilet bowls, poker-playing monks using religious medals as chips, and police officers looking for a missing girl who is right under their noses…
MUBI Luminaries: Love Education – 19th April
MUBI’s new strand dedicated to works from the established masters of cinema begins with Sylvia Chang’s 2017 drama. A dying old lady reminisces about her happier moments. Her daughter decides to move her father’s grave from his hometown to beside her mother’s grave. However, his first wife, who has looked after the grave for years, doesn’t approve.
Other new releases on MUBI
On the Road
Director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) brings Jack Kerouac’s definitive Beat novel to the big screen. Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund star in the tale of aspiring writer Sal Paradise, who meets Dean Moriarty, a charming ex-con married to the liberated and seductive Marylou. Sal and Dean bond instantly, and the three take to the road. Travelling across the country, they encounter a mix of people who impact their journey indelibly.
Fifi Howls from Happiness
Bahman Mohassess was a celebrated artist at the time of the Shah in Iran. But audiences often took offence at the pronounced phalli on his sculptures and his work was regularly censored. Director Mitra Farahani discovers he is living in Rome and begins to craft a final biography, in his own words and on his terms. As Poetry in Motion, a season showcasing emerging voices in contemporary Iranian cinema through Persian poetry, kicks off at the Barbican, MUBI joins in with this portrait of an artist dubbed by some as the “Persian Picasso”.
MUBI Auteurs: Fugue
MUBI pays tribute to the distinct voice of emerging director Agnieszka Smoczynska with this 2018 drama about Alicja, who suffers from memory loss and has rebuilt her own free spirited way of life. Two years later, she returns to her former family to assume (against her will) her role as wife, mother and daughter.
Agnès Varda: Le Bonheur
Francois faces a dilemma when he finds himself falling in love with an attractive postal worker. He is married to the good-natured, beautiful Thérèse, who raises their children at home. What follows is a detailed study of adult fidelity and happiness, with major repercussions for all those involved.
Agnès Varda: Vagabond
A stark portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona. Found frozen at the beginning of the film, her story is stitched together through flashbacks told by those who she encountered before her death, producing a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman.
byNWR: She-Man: A Story of Fixation
“Evidence indicates that She-Man’s currently missing, original negative elements do survive, but more rocks have to be turned to find them. This high-definition version, remastered from the best 35mm print source, was digitally cleaned up, while keeping the fairly rough look of the ‘artifact.’”–NWR
MUBI Debuts: Drift
Two women spend a weekend in the North Sea. One of them will soon return home, whereas the other one will try to come a step closer to the ocean. The film then sets off with the traveler on her journey by bicycle, car, on foot and by boat, through fantastic landscapes and on endless bodies of water. German director Helena Wittman’s feature debut first premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2017.
A cinematic original opening a window to a nation in turmoil, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos scored an unexpected Oscar nom for his hyper-offbeat Dogtooth. His follow-up, Alps, has to be seen to be believed: an exquisite widescreen comedic vision of the world’s most unusual trauma therapy group, including a nurse, a gym coach, a gymnast and a paramedic.
The Beat That My Heart Skipped
Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) delves into Paris’ criminal underworld with this cool drama about a talented pianist (Romain Duris) who is set to follow in his thuggish father’s footsteps in the sleazy and sometimes violent world of real estate, neglecting his music career following the death of his mother. Then a chance encounter leads him to believe that he can become, like her, a concert pianist.
The Irish Connection: The Image You Missed
After travelling around festivals worldwide in 2018, Donal Foreman’s documentary essay film sees the director go in search of his estranged father’s life through his footage of the Northern Irish conflict. Foreman draws on three decades of unique, never-before-seen archive, deftly weaving together a history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland with his own search for the dad he barely knew, Irish-American political filmmaker Arthur MacCaig.
The Irish Connection: The Patriot Game
Arthur MacCaig’s 1978 partisan and radical documentary, tells the story of the Northern Irish conflict, covering Ireland’s history from British colonisation to the territory’s division in 1922. It then details the events of the decade beginning in 1968, witnessing street riots, police violence and firebomb attacks, while analysing the rebellion.
The Myth of the American Sleepover
Four years before It Follows, David Robert Mitchell broke into the American indie scene with this sweet yet unsentimental teen movie starring non-professional actors.
Todd Solondz: Palindromes
A fable of innocence: thirteen-year-old Aviva Victor wants to be a mom. Her sensible parents thwart her, but, undeterred, she runs away…
Todd Solondz: Life During Wartime
A decade on from the squeamishly unforgettable Happiness, divisive filmmaker Todd Solondz returns to the lives of the same neurotic, sexually perverted and crushingly lonely characters (all played by different actors) in modern day Miami.
Todd Solondz: Dark Horse
Abe, a fat, mid-30-something lives with his parents and works for his dad. Uncool and socially inept, he alternates between politeness and rage. Abe invents a reciprocal romance with the beautiful, overmedicated depressive Miranda. In his self-delusion, he proposes marriage. Shockingly, she accepts.
MUBI Shorts: I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead
MUBI’s spotlight for outstanding new shorts shines on two-time Rotterdam Tiger Award winner Beatrice Gibson. Reframing our current political moment in intimate terms, Gibson’s urgent snapshot of social calamities doubles as a document of practical resistance. Pauline Oliveros’ music and the words of poets CAConrad and Eileen Myles imbue images of street riots and refugee migration with graceful complexity.
Master of transgression Abel Ferrara scored a cult hit with this gritty, New York, Catholic-guilt crime saga, which stars an unforgettable Harvey Keitel at a manic, unhinged peak. His Lieutenant is a corrupt, exploitative and drug-addicted cop steeped in gambling debt. The mob gives him an ultimatum: pay off his debt or get killed. When he learns that a hefty reward is being offered to whoever catches a pair of thugs who raped a nun, he jumps at the opportunity.
A wealthy and emotionally remote investment banker receives a strange birthday present from his slacker younger brother: a voucher for a game that promises to change his life. However, things soon take a dangerous turn. With no one left to trust and his money gone, he must find answers for himself.
Luis Buñuel: Belle de Jour
Frigid, beautiful young housewife Séverine cannot reconcile her kinky, sadomasochistic imagination with her everyday life alongside dutiful husband Pierre. She starts an afternoon job in a local, high-class brothel under the name Belle de Jour while her husband is away at work. Luis Buñuel’s dark comedy about desire is one of his biggest successes.
Luis Buñuel: The Milky Way
On a pilgrimage of sorts, two tramps take a journey through time and space on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Jesus, the Holy Virgin, the Marquis de Sade, Death and bishops, nuns, priests, prostitutes, vagabonds, and 20th Century bourgeoisie debate all matter of Christian paradoxes.
Luis Buñuel: Tristana
One of the director’s landmark films, adapted from Benito Pérez Galdós’ novel and starring Catherine Deneuve. An idiosyncratic assault on bourgeois moralism, set in the conservative Spain of the 1930s, it follows the eponymous young woman, whose mother dies, leading her to be entrusted to the guardianship of the well-respected libertine aristocrat Don Lope, who seduces the woman, setting her on a path to bitterness and manipulation.
Luis Buñuel: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Six guests, endless possibilities! Luis Buñuel’s Oscar-winning classic is a fiendishly witty comedy bouncing through reality, dreams, faith, sex, and revolution with the lightest, cheekiest touch.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
Under the Silver Lake
Available until end of: 13th April
Los Angeles Plays Itself
Available until end of: 14th April
Available until end of: 15th April
The Missing Picture
Available until end of: 16th April
Belle de Jour
Available until end of: 17th April
Available until end of: 18th April
Available until end of: 19th April
Available until end of: 20th April