The Weekly MUBI Digest | 31st March 2018
James R | On 31, Mar 2018
MUBI marks the start of a new month with a new season dedicated to legendary filmmaker Douglas Sirk. An influence on everyone from Todd Haynes to John Waters, Sirk’s films present a bold, haunting glimpse at the troubled underbelly of middle class America, and MUBI pays tribute to him with a string of subversive melodramas from the 1950s.
Sirk’s work joins an unbeatable selection of films from female directors, from honorary Oscar winner Agnès Varda and Ildikó Enyedi to Kathryn Bigelow – and a hand-picked trio of titles from Lynne Ramsay. Speaking of which, don’t miss your chance to stream Morvern Callar, or MUBI’s exclusives On Body and Soul and The Son of Joseph.
What’s new, coming soon and leaving soon on the subscription service? This is your weekly MUBI Digest:
This week on MUBI
Directed by Women: Ishtar – 31st March
Famous for ending the career of its director, Elaine May’s screwball bromance was a flop when released, but it’s time for the comedy to be reevaluated. It sars Warrenn Beatty and Dustin Hoffman astTwo terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.
All I Desire – 2nd April
In 1900, Naomi Murdoch deserted her small-town family to go on the stage. Some ten years later, daughter Lily invites Naomi back to see her in the Riverdale high school play.
Other new releases on MUBI
Directed by Women: Strange Days
Before The Hurt Locker and the realism period that followed, Kathryn Bigelow was known for darkly stylized efforts in genre, of which Strange Days stands at the fore. Uncanny political predictions, a timely original soundtrack, and perfect aesthetics altogether form a zenith of 90s American culture.
Directed by Women: Documenteur
Made during Agnès Varda’s brief stay in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, this small-scale fiction traces the alienation of a recent divorceé newly arrived in L.A. with her young son (played by Varda’s own son). This meditative portrait of urban isolation overflows with subtle visual poetry.
Directed by Women: Wasteland No. 1: Ardent, Verdant
MUBI showcases American experimental animator Jodie Mack with this structuralist short, a fluttering celluloid juxtaposition of silicon landscapes and printed flowers, organic technology and artificial nature.
Directed by Women: Diary for My Children
Ildikó Enyedi is not the first outstanding female cinematic voice to come out of Hungary. We’re proud to present the pioneering, legendary Márta Mészáros with this autobiographical coming-of-age story in the Stalinist era—a superb reflection on the crossover between the personal and the historical.
Directed by Women: Battles
A rigorously shaped essayistic journey into the iconography and culture of war, Battles bravely carves an observational argument from various countries propagandistic efforts to form a worthy challenge to André Bazin’s famed thesis that there’s perhaps no such thing as an anti-war film.
Directed by Women: Caramel
Lebanese director Nadine Labaki made quite a splash with her sensual, funny debut film, winning acclaim that began with its premiere at Cannes and only gathered more force. Labaki is one to watch: a triple threat, she wrote, directed and starred in this charming ode to female friendship.
Directed by Women: No Man’s Land
Last summer, MUBI featured the far-flung second film by Salomé Lamas (Eldorado XXI) and are now thrilled to introduce her confrontational debut. A documentary encounter with the presence, history, and memories of an itinerant mercenary, it is an intimate experience at once absorbing and terrifying.
Lynne Ramsay Recommends: The Battle of Algiers
Lynne Ramsay handpicks this 1966 war classic, which shows the Algerian revolution from both sides: “It’s amazing how contemporary and relevant this looks and feels. Like it was made last week, not in 1965. The style might seem familiar now, but this was the first, and way ahead of its time. It doesn’t judge and the ideas are complex. To call its style ‘reportage’ is a simplification. Not a frame of it feels inauthentic but there’s very sophisticated craft in the cinematography, editing, sound design, music, casting, and locations. The sound in particular is incredible. It’s a cinematic masterpiece.”
Lynne Ramsay Recommends: The Last Picture Show
Lynne Ramsay handpicks this 1971 drama from Peter Bogdanovich: “That feeling of burgeoning awkward teenage sexuality and being stuck in a dead end town is brilliant. Cybill Shepherd undressing on the diving board. Cloris Leachman’s sex scene with Timothy Bottoms, to the sound of the creaking bed, and her emotional explosion at the end really affected me.”
Lynne Ramsay Recommends: Meshes of the Afternoon
Lynne Ramsay handpicks Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid’s fantasy short from 1943: “The strange, disturbing atmosphere, the impossible time and space, the hooded figure with mirror face, the dreaming woman at the window who becomes three! I felt like I was in a house of ghosts. As a photographer, I was blown away by its imagination and inspired me to go to film school”.
Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group: Wind from the East
MUBI continues its Dziga Vertov Group series with this oddball Marxist western playfully set against a pastoral backdrop and featuring Anne Wiazemsky and Gian Maria Volonté. With a propagandist voice-over and characters breaking the fourth wall, Godard and Gorin dismantle the idea of cinema as entertainment.
Godard and the Dziga Vertov Group: Vladimir and Rosa
MUBI concludes its Godard season with this 1970 interpretation of the Chicago Eight trial, where Judge Hoffman becomes Judge Himmler (who doodles notes on Playboy centerfolds), the defendants become a microcosms of the French Revolution, and Godard and Gorin play Lenin and Karl Rosa, respectively, discussing politics and cinema.
The Night I Swam
Joining the pantheon of great childhood films, Manivel and Igarashi’s Japan-set miniature is a disarmingly tender (and funny!) tale of adventures that plays with the perception of time and space, putting us in the shoes (snow boots!) of a six-year-old. An ode to solitude, without the need of words.
Ruben Ostlund: Involuntary
It’s almost summer in Sweden and minor indiscretions and misbehaviour abound. Leffe likes to show off for his friends and play salacious pranks, especially when he’s drinking. Ruben Östlund’s 2008 comedy continues the director’s satire centered around group behaviour observation.
Ruben Ostlund: Play
In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of black boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children on about 70 occasions between 2006-2008. The thieves used an elaborate scheme called the ‘brother trick’, involving advanced role-play and gang rhetoric. MUBI’s Ruben Ostlund double-bill kicks off with this 2011 drama.
By the Time It Gets Dark
The interwoven stories of several characters; a film director and her muse who was a student activist in 1970s, a waitress who keeps changing jobs, an actor, and an actress. Their lives are loosely connected by almost invisible threads.
Struggle in Italy
Struggle in Italy reveals how and why a supposedly revolutionary Italian girl has in fact fallen prey to bourgeois ideology. A discursive reflection on her shift from political “theory” to political “practice” and, at the same time, a self-questioning of its own practice and theories.
Directed by Mati Diop (35 Rhums), Atlantiques recounts the odyssey of Senegalese friends who attempt a life-threatening boat crossing. Melancholic and mysterious, the film urgently and elegantly addresses the perils of illegal migration.
February in the French Alps. Vanina likes to hear the chalet’s parquet floor squeaking beneath her bare feet. Vanina likes to coat herself in sunscreen cream in front of the fireplace. Vanina likes the tawny fur of her rabbit. But above all, what Vanina likes is her American babysitter, Mary Jane…
Best-known for B-movie thriller Cat People, the Technicolor Canyon Passage reminds us that Jacques Tourneur was a master of the western as well. It follows businessman Logan Stuart – Dana Andrews in one of the best performances of his career — who is torn between his love of two very different women in 1850s Oregon, and his loyalty to a greedy banker and compulsive gambler friend who goes over the line.
Scottish supermarket shelf-filler Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton) uses her boyfriend’s inheritance after his suicide to escape from her boring life. Emotionally intense road movie by the director of the prize-winning Ratcatcher.
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Last chance to stream: Titles leaving MUBI soon
Available until end of: 31st March
The King’s Speech
Available until end of: 1st April
On Body and Soul
Available until end of: 2nd April
The Son of Joseph
Available until end of: 3rd April
Available until end of: 4th April
Available until end of: 5th April
Available until end of: 6th April
Meshes of the Afternoon
Available until end of: 7th April
My Friend from the Park
Available until end of: 8th April