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This week at the kino: Eternals, Saints, and Ingmar Bergman

It's a chockablock week for new releases, with the new Marvel film and some indie gems. There's also plenty to be getting on with on the film festival front - our film editor gives you the lowdown.

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Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, out this week. (Photo: Disney – Marvel)

It’s another busy week of new releases, with the biggest one – in hype, budget and scope – is the new Marvel film, Eternals.

Directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao, this latest Marvel instalment is a definite change of pace for the never-ending superhero franchise and will doubtlessly divide audiences. It has already become the lowest rated MCU film on Rotten Tomatoes, bafflingly ranking below proper duds like Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2 and Captain Marvel. Granted, it’s far from perfect, but this is just plain silly. Read my full review for a more in-depth take on this fascinating hot mess of a film.

When all’s said and done, and for all of its many flaws, Eternals is well worth checking out. No such thing can be said for The Many Saints of Newark, the underpowered prequel to the HBO series The Sopranos. Originally slated for a mid-September release in cinemas, the film was pushed back and it’s almost a shame they didn’t just drop it online. It’s a narrative appendage that only caters to the diehard fans of the show, and even they will have a hard time denying that the movie plays out like a bottom-tier episode.

Thankfully, the next three of this week’s releases fare far better.

The first is Bergman Island, Mia Hansen-Løve’s recent drama which premiered in Cannes earlier this year. Starring Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth, it’s a complex and beautiful piece that takes some inventive turns to buttress its central theme of female artistic emancipation. It’s my top pick of the week.

Hot on its tail is A Perfect Enemy, a devilishly tense thriller by Spanish director Kike Maíllo, based on Amélie Nothomb’s novel ‘Cosmétique de l’ennemi’. It isn’t without its problems, but the film ultimately grips you throughout its 90-minute runtime and does justice to its themes of obsession, guilt, and the tortured search for perfection.

Rounding off a strong week is Ammonite, the eternally-delayed-on-German-screens sophomore feature from British director Francis Lee, who wowed with his sumptuous gay romance God’s Own Country. Starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan – both on top form – Ammonite is a beautifully sensorial film that still suffers from some of its emotional restraint. Still, if you’re in the right mood, there’s plenty to admire here.

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Sisters With Transistors screens at the Soundwatch festival. (Photo: Soundwatch)

Three upcoming festivals are celebrating their fifth birthday, so go say hi, book tickets and celebrate their excellent programmes.

The first is the Berlin Sci-Fi Filmfest, which goes hybrid this year with on-site screenings on Nov 5 and 6 at Babylon Kino, and online streams from Nov 5-14. Dedicated to science fiction and its subgenres, the programme includes 80 films – shorts and features – from 23 different countries. It opens on the 5th at 16:00 on with the Session 1 of short films. 

Soundwatch is also back for their 5th edition from Nov 10-19 with a stellar line-up of music docs and features that explore the relationship between music and cinema. The opening film is the German premiere of Marcus Werner Hed and Dan Fox’s Other, Like Me – A Film About COUM and Throbbing Gristle, taking place at SO36. Head to Lichtblick Kino for the rest of the line-up, which includes our two (German premiering) stand-out picks. Find out which ones in my full festival preview.

The final birthday fest is Visionär, which also kicks off on Nov 10 (until 14th) at ACUDkino. The festival champions new filmmakers from around the world and all of their Berlin or German premieres are well worth your time. They’re also treating us to an Homage event celebrating Pedro Almodóvar and an opening night live film concert that we’re getting giddy about. Keep an eye out for the full festival preview, out on Monday.

If none of these don’t strike your fancy – you picky buggers – then book tickets for the Italian Film Fest, which takes place from Nov 10-14 at Kino in der KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg. IFFB brings the very best of recent Italian cinema, all with those precious English subs. Their line-up includes Francesco Bruni’s Cosa Sarà (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright) on opening night at 18:00, recent Venice Competition entry Qui Rido Io (The King of Laughter) the next day at 20:00, and our top pick of this year’s programme, Pietro Castellitto’s excellent debut film I Predatori, screening on Friday 12th at 18:00. Check out the full programme here.

That’s it for this week. Happy screenings!