MUBI Library: 39 starting points to begin browsing
Ivan Radford | On 14, Feb 2021
Last spring saw MUBI open 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, it’s letting subscribers 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.
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.
As well as our weekly guides to what’s new and coming soon on MUBI UK, we’re rifling through to pick out weekly recommendations to help you find your way through (see our MUBI Mondays). Not sure where to begin? Here are some starting points for your MUBI browsing:
Roy Andersson’s supposed swan song is a greatest hits remix of absurd humanist melancholy.
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 Volver and All About My Mother.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ timely short film is an absurd, unsettling ride.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
This poetic, heartfelt biopic of Jean-Dominique Bauby is profound and transcendent cinema.
The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
Ray and Gilbert’s fishing trip takes a terrifying turn when the hitchhiker they pick up turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law – the premise not only of a classic thriller, but one directed by the legendary Ida Lupino, making it possibly the first major film noir helmed by a woman. Also check out Orson Welles’ The Stranger, another noir classic available to stream. Read our full review
The New Girlfriend
Romain Duris is superb in Francois Ozon’s witty, stylish exploration of gender and identity.
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
Argento’s stone-cold classic of pulpy psychedelic giallo, Suspiria is a dark Gothic horror told in exceptionally vivid color. As rich exercise in heightened style, disturbing and alienating, this is a meticulously designed production outstanding in all respects.
With its eerie and decaying gothic atmosphere, and Max Schreck’s unforgettable, otherworldly vampire, FW Murnau’s Expressionist horror masterpiece seems to get increasingly disturbing as time passes. Cloaked in light and shadow, it creates a symphony of dread.
1945, Leningrad. World War II has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women, Iya and Masha, search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins. An entrancing immersion into post-war turmoil and a towering ode to female resilience.
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.
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
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
From the moment she arrives in Freiberg, Germany, to attend the prestigious Tans Academy, American ballet-dancer Suzy Bannion senses that something horribly evil lurks within the walls of the age-old institution. A candy-colored danse macabre from Italian terror maestro Dario Argento.
Ema is a magnetic and impulsive dancer in a reggaeton troupe. Her toxic marriage to choreographer Gastón is beyond repair, following a decision to give up on their adopted child Polo. She sets out on a mission to get him back, not caring who she’ll need to fight, seduce or destroy to make it happen. Pablo Larrain’s study of sex, power and family is electric, with two fiery turns from Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal. Read our full review
Young Wadjda dreams of owning a green bicycle. But she’ll have to forget about racing a boy from the neighborhood: the law prohibits girls from riding bikes. After hearing about the prize money for a school contest in Koran recitation, Wadjda decides to earn the cash to fulfill her dream herself. Haifaa Al-Mansour became both the first woman director from Saudi Arabia, and the first filmmaker to shoot a film entirely there, with this inspiring tale of female dreams and ambition. Read our full review
Yves Saint Laurent: The Last Collections (2018)
As Yves Saint Laurent, one of the greatest Parisian haute couture designers, draws the sketches for his final collection, behind the scenes, Pierre Bergé manages a series of events to celebrate the fashion icon as a modern myth. This transfixing portrait of the iconic designer was banned for 20 years and is worth the wait. Read our full review
Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his bus, observing the city and overhearing fragments of conversation; he writes poetry; he walks his dog; he goes to the same bar to drink a beer; he goes home to his wife Laura. Jim Jarmusch finds poetry in the charm of the everyday – his vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive is also available to stream. Read our full review
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
Arabian Nights (2015)
In Portugal, over 600 shipyard workers are being laid off. An apiarist fights off an invasion of foreign bees. An African wizard creates an aerosol spray that cures impotence in world leaders and IMF financiers. A judge puts a cockerel on trial for crowing too early. Three volumes, three unidentified filmic objects of uncommon beauty, one vision of modern Portugal told with the inspiration of the timeless folk tales. All three parts are on MUBI UK. Read our interview with Miguel Gomes
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.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (2016)
Finland, 1962. Boxer Olli Mäki has a shot at the World Featherweight title. Immensely talented and equally modest, Olli’s small town life is transformed when he’s swept into national stardom and suddenly regarded as a symbol of his country. There’s only one problem: Olli has just fallen in love. A knock-out debut and the triumphant winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes, this 60s-set drama from Juho Kuosmanen is a charming knock-out.
National Gallery (2014)
Frederick Wiseman’s three-hour visit to the National Gallery is a portrait of a hugely complex world painted as simply as possible. Completely absorbing.
Toni Erdmann (2016)
Prankster Winfried doesn’t see much of his estranged, high-powered consultant daughter Ines, who lives in Bucharest. One day, he decides to surprise her with a visit, but this brings tension as Ines is working on an important project. To enter her corporate life, Winfried creates a fictional alias. Maren Ade’s comedy about fatherhood is a groundbreaking, hilariously unpredictable tale of self-discovery.
For Ellen (2012)
A quiet, moving film, For Ellen follows Joby’s (Paul Dano) attempt to connect with his daughter, Ellen (Shaylena Mandigo), before he loses her completely. So Yong Kim keeps things moving at a slow pace, giving her enough time to draw out a intensely delicate performance from Dano.
I Am Cuba (1964)
Originally commissioned as propaganda, I Am Cuba angered both its Soviet backers and its Cuban audience. All but forgotten until its rediscovery 30 years later, Mikhail Kalatozov’s film is now a fascinating chronicle of Cuba’s ascent from colonialist degradation and totalitarian rule of Batista’s regime to revolution.
The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010)
Amongst the mile roads, neighbourhood blocks, lakes and abandoned factories that make up metro Detroit, four youngsters search for love and adventure on the last night of summer. They cross paths as they rove the suburban wonderland chasing first kisses, elusive crushes, popularity and parties. 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.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Alongside Fellini’s 100th birthday celebration, 2020 also marked the 60th anniversary of his immortal work of art. Including one of cinema’s most unforgettable scenes, this pinnacle of elegance and virtuosity changed the course of film history forever.
The African Queen
After the death of her brother, Rose Sayer must flee German East Africa and finds the only safe conveyance left: a dilapidated river steamboat. The ship is run by the grumpy and usually drunk Charlie, who goes toe to toe with the imperious, straight-laced Rose throughout their perilous journey.
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.
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Blanche and Lea meet and become friends in Éric Rohmer’s 1987 romantic comedy. Lea is thinking of leaving her boyfriend Fabien, and Blanche falls for Lea’s dashing, witty friend Alexandre, but is tongue-tied with him. Lea goes on holiday, and Blanche, still smitten with Alexandre, begins to get to know Fabien. A delightful starting point to explore MUBI’s catalogue of Eric Rohmer classics.
Michael Fassbender delivers an unflinching performance in Steve McQueen’s powerful debut about a hunger strike in a Northern Irish prison.
David Oyelowo is unrecognisable in Ava DuVernay’s stirring, powerful biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.
Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. Michael Mann. Three icons of cinemas combine for his seminal crime drama, which sees a determine cop and an equally ruthless criminal in a cat-and-mouse game in a nocturnal Los Angeles caught with cool intensity by Mann’s deep-focused camera. A modern masterpiece.
Japanese auteur Takeshi Kitano pays homage to both The Wizard of Oz and Chaplin’s The Kid in this hypnotic, heart-warming drama. Also check out the director’s Fireworks and Kids Return.
David Fincher’s gleefully dark satire on marriage, media and the stories that are told in each.
Once Upon a Time in America
The final film by Sergio Leone finds the maestro audaciously and ambitiously going beyond his Spaghetti Western roots for a sprawling, multi-decade New York crime epic. Robert De Niro leads a production at once resplendent and gritty—a familiar setting given operatic majesty and force by Leone. De Niro. James Woods. Leone. What more do you need?