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This Week At The Kino: Fast cars and American dreams

It's a mixed bag of fresh releases this week, with one clear standout. Our film editor guides you through what’s on offer.

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Lee Isaac Chung’s Oscar-winning Minari is out this week in cinemas. (Photo: Plan B Entertainment)

Following the releases of A Quiet Place Part II and Black Widow, blockbuster season continues this week with Fast & Furious 9 aka: F9. We’d advise you to stay away from one of the worst instalments in the seemingly unkillable franchise, but we know you’ll go anyway, so leave your standards at the door and enjoy the newest vroom-vroom fuckstravaganza.

To our great shame, we can’t tell you to go see Space Jam 2 instead, as we missed the press screening. Still, Vin Diesel’s monotoned grumblings about family versus LeBron James shooting hoops with the Loony Tunes in a cynical IP lovefest deigned to sell shedloads of merch? We know on whose team we’re on.

Blockbusters aside, our top recommendation of this week’s releases is Minari, the Oscar-winning family drama from Lee Isaac Chung, which addresses the broken promises of the American Dream through the story of a Korean-American family relocating from California to rural Arkansas in search of a fresh start. It is possibly the most tender-hearted and compassionate film you’ll see all year.

Lastly, it’s with no great pleasure that we advise you skip Nebenan (Next Door), Daniel Brühl’s valiant first-time effort behind the camera. It premiered at this year’s Berlinale and stood out as one of the Competition’s weakest entries. Despite initial promise and solid acting, it is let down by a disappointing script that never allows the film to transcend its crippling theatrical set-up. You’re better off seeking out still-showing Berlinale releases like the Golden Bear-winning Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, I’m Your Man and the wonderfully eerie The Trouble With Being Born. In case you missed them, we interviewed the directors of all three films: Radu Jude, Maria Schrader and Sandra Wollner.

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Bong Joon-ho’s fantastic second feature, Memories Of Murder, screens at Creepy Crypt this Saturday. (Photo: MFA+Filmdistribution)

The African Book Festival takes place on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 at Freiluftkino Rehberge and while not cinema per se, you’d do well to book tickets for one or several of their many events. Every year, the festival gathers influential artists and authors from the African continent and its diaspora for a series of readings, discussions and spoken word performances. Curated this year by Angola-born and Berlin-based author and musician Kalaf Epalanga around the theme “Telling the Origin Stories”, the promising programme will greatly benefit from the Freiluftkino setting and is our top recommendation this week.

Elsewhere on the outdoor front, check out Mobile Kino’s upcoming line-up of screenings, specifically tonight’s Kusama Infinity at Kiezkino Charlottenburg (in the inner courtyard at the S-Bahn station at 21:45). Tickets for the Japanese artist’s blockbuster retrospective exhibition at Gropius Bau have been selling like hotcakes and if you haven’t been able to nab a slot, Kusama Infinity guides you through the installation, chronicling the radical artistic vision of the top-selling female artist in the world. Mobile Kino are also hosting a 30th anniversary screening of John Singleton’s debut film Boyz N The Hood at Alte Münze on 19th – don’t miss out.

Also showing tonight is the aforementioned Minari at Neues Off with a digital live Q&A with director Lee Isaac Chung, as well as The Man Who Sold His Skin at Freiluftkino Rehberge (21:30), presented by ALFILM. The Arab Film Festival showcased several excellent titles during their 12th ALFILM Home Edition and are bringing audience favourites to the open-air scene this month. The Man Who Sold His Skin is Kaouther Ben Hania’s audacious take on migration and the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and was nominated for Best International Feature at the Oscars following a critically-acclaimed premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

If that sounds a bit too intense and you’re dying inside at how long it’s been since you went to a gig, tomorrow evening brings musical treats: there’s the Cinematic Concert of Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man at Freiluftkino Pompeji (21:45) and Open Air Kino des Filmrauschpalast’s screening of the 2018 music doc Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. (22:00). Director Steve Loveridge condensed around 700 hours of personal footage belonging to pop provocateur M.I.A. into this brisk feature, which chronicles the early years of her career, her background as a Sri Lankan refugee in London and the media establishment’s hounding of a controversial musician. If you’re not sold on it from that skinny, read our interview with M.I.A., which took place at the Berlinale for the film’s European premiere.

Two events on Saturday have caught our eye: German actress Franka Potente’s directorial debut Home is previewing at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg at 21:30 (with repeat screenings taking place on both the 23rd and 26th at Freiluftkino Freidrichshain and Freiluftkino Rehberge respectively), and Creepy Crypt are showing Bong Joon-ho’s fantastic second feature, Memories Of Murder (Rollberg, 22:30). For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, this South Korean crime thriller is loosely based on the true story of Korea’s first confirmed serial murders, a killing spree that became known as the Hwaseong Serial Murders. Since winning the Best Picture Oscar for Parasite, director Bong’s formative work has been inspected and reappraised, and this 2003 thriller is a terrific place to start if you’re looking to fill in the gaps in his impressive filmography and if David Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac are near and dear.

Finally, make a note of Queeres B: Xposed Berlin Special on the 21st at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg (21:30): the Xposed Queer Film Festival has curated an evening of highlights from its 15 years of programming, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us.

That’s it for us this week. Happy screenings, stay safe, and see you next week for reviews of the Oscar-winning Another Round, the divisive Berlinale title Glück, and the infectiously joyful, Lin-Manuel Miranda-scored musical In The Heights.