MUBI recommendations: 13 starting points for browsing the library
Ivan Radford | On 04, Jan 2022
Last year, MUBI opened up its digital archive for the first time with a new section called Library. The subscription streaming service previously placed an emphasis on curation and collection, bringing together a rolling carousel of films from the around the world available for 30 days at a time. Now, subscribers can revisit and discover films that were previously hand-picked, with more than 400 archive titles available to subscribers as part of MUBI’s standard £9.99 monthly subscription. (A £14.99 subscription – titled MUBI Go – will give you a free cinema ticket per week to a chosen film at participating cinemas.)
The good news? You now have 400+ films to stream on-demand, creating a catalogue of arthouse and world cinema – new and old – that provides a striking counterpart to more conventional streaming catalogues on offer elsewhere. The bad news? You have 400+ films all competing for your attention that can make for a rather daunting maze of bookcases.
The even better news? Ever weekend, we publish a guide to what’s new and coming soon on MUBI UK. Not sure where to start? here are some entry points for your MUBI browsing:
Roy Andersson’s supposed swan song is a greatest hits remix of absurd humanist melancholy.
It’s one of a number film festival favourites, ranging from Notturno, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth and The Killing of a Sacred Deer to Personal Shopper and KTakeshi Kitano’s ikujiro, not to mention a trio of Paolo Sorrentino hits, including Il Divo and The Consequences of Love.
Pain and Glory
Antonio Banderas is powerfully understated in Pedro Almodóvar’s beautifully personal meditation on film and memory. Once you’ve seen that, take on a host of Pedro classics, including Talk to Her, Broken Embraces and The Skin I Live In.
The Human Voice
Almodóvar’s stunning short, starring Tilda Swinton, heads up a vast collection of impressive and intriguing short films, from Yorgos Lanthimos’ Nimic to Black Panthers, The Bones and Atlantics, which went on to become the feature-length Atlantiques.)
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
Other horror titles on offer range from Censor, The Babadook and Zombi Child to Night Tide and The Love Witch.
High Life (2018)
Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to deep space. The crew—death-row inmates led by a doctor with sinister motives—has vanished. As the mystery of what happened onboard the ship is unraveled, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive. A bizarre, stunning sci-fi from Claire Denis starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche.
Other titles film female directors include Wadjda, Faces Places, Red Road, Queen of Hearts, Toni Erdmann, So Yong Kim’s For Ellen and Celine Sciamma’s Tomboy (Sciamma’s Petite Maman is also on the way in February 2022).
Bacurau, a settlement in rural Brazil, is shaken by its matriarch’s death. But something strange is happening, the water supply has been cut off, and the village has disappeared from satellite maps completely. Under threat from an unknown enemy, Bacurau braces itself for a brutal fight for survival. From Kleber Mendonça Filho (Aquarius) and Juliano Dornelles comes this unpredictable neo-Western that’s as political as it is pulp thriller. Read our full review
Bacurau is one of a number of high-profile exclusives released by MUBI in the UK, including Farewell Amor, Beanpole, State Funeral, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki and On Body and Soul.
Under the Silver Lake (2019)
When aimless slacker Sam wakes up one morning to find his beautiful neighbour Sarah has vanished without a trace, he embarks on a quest across the city to find her. A delirious neo-noir mystery about the murkiest depths of scandal and conspiracy in the Hollywood Hills. From the dazzling imagination that brought you It Follows comes a feverish neo-noir starring Andrew Garfield. Read our full review
More cult favourites and hidden gems ripe for discovery include Undine, Anne at 13,000Ft, Black Bear, Apples and Sweat.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
An appetising documentary in every sense, Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows 85-year-old master sushi chef Jiro Ono, paying lushly photographed homage to the process of preparing the artisan sushi that earned Ono’s esteemed Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant three Michelin stars. David Gelb’s modern foodie gem inspired Netflix’s Chef’s Table.
Just one of a number of impressive documentaries, including A Cambodian Spring, Finding Vivian Maier, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery and Yves Saint Laurent: The Last Collections.
Félicité, free and proud, is a singer in the evenings in a bar in Kinshasa. Her life changes when her 14-year-old son is the victim of a motorcycle accident. To save him, she begins a frantic race through the streets of an electric Kinshasa, a world of music and dreams. Read our full review
This is just the tip of the iceberg in MUBI’s wide-ranging showcase of Black cinema talent, with titles including Babylon, The Watermelon Woman, Farewell Amor, Mandabi, IWOW: I Walk on Water and The Black Power Mixtapes.
The fates of an unlucky pig farmer, a feisty home-owner defending her property, a lovestruck busboy, a disenchanted rich girl, and an American expat pursuing the Chinese Dream converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs are found floating down the Huangpu River, towards a modernizing Shanghai. Don’t miss the rare chance to catch this Sundance-winning debut from Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan.
Other memorable debuts from notable directors include Chloe Zhao’s Songs My Brother Taught Me and David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of the American Sleepover.
This low-key coming-of-age drama is a gorgeous, generous showcase for two contrasting, complex women.
Other recommended LGBTQ+ films streaming include A Single Man, Tangerine and Knife+Heart.
Anxiety and comedy collide in Emma Seligman’s funny, surprising and remarkable feature. Read our full review
It’s just one of many of 2021’s best films available exclusively on MUBI UK, including Limbo, First Cow and Azor.
Speaking of 2021’s best films, don’t miss your chance to watch the surreal, striking musical gem that is Annette – and once you’ve done that, enjoy a Leos Carax retrospective – including Holy Motors – or another Adam Driver gem, Paterson.