There’s genuinely something for everyone this week: an Oscar-winning drama, a highly-anticipated horror remake of a 1090s classic, a decent hit of allegorical sci-fi, an award-winning literary adaptation and what could charitably be called a “comedy”.
The first on that list is The Father, Florian Zeller’s adaptation of his own stage play, ‘Le Père’. It features a heart-wrenching, tour-de-force performance from Anthony Hopkins, who became the oldest recipient of the Best Actor Oscar this year. Fair word of warning: it’s an emotionally bracing drama that honestly and empathetically deals with dementia, with no easy answers on offer. It’s a stronger film for it, but has the capacity to leave you in stunned silence once the credits start rolling, especially for those who are going / have gone through similar circumstances with a loved one.
Next up is Candyman. This “spiritual successor” to the 1992 classic is a mixed bag, with significantly more hits than misses. Read our full review for more details, but safe to say that we can recommend you dare to go see this remake, even if, like us, you’re still too chickenshit to say his name the required number of times.
If that doesn’t sound like your bag, this week’s sci-fi entry, German director Tim Fehlbaum’s Tides, could be worth your time. It premiered at this year’s Berlinale and is an effective if familiar post-apocalyptic thriller that tips its hat to Waterworld, Children Of Men and Oblivion. It sees an astronaut shipwrecked on Earth, which has become uninhabitable due to pandemics, climate change and war. While it doesn’t bring much that’s new to the dystopian genre, Tides does score points thanks to Markus Förderer’s muted cinematography, some excellent set design which gives the drama a believably grimy tactility, and a strong performance from Nora Arnezeder – all of which more-or-less dispel a sense of déjà-vu and some moments of waning momentum.
The award-winning literary adaptation comes courtesy of Italian documentary director Pietro Marcello: Martin Eden. For his first narrative feature, he decided to adapt Jack London’s 1909 novel of the same name. By ingeniously transposing the action from the US to Italy in the 1960s and mixing drama with archive footage, the director offers up a transportive cautionary tale about the corrupting power of wealth and a poignant portrait of individual yearnings versus class struggle. The titular character is a wide-eyed proletarian with writing aspirations who gets a taste of fame and wealth as a polemist; his idealistic politics begin to jaundice into something altogether more dangerous. In many ways a classic rise-and-fall tragedy, Martin Eden goes that extra step with a distinctive look and a terrific lead performance from Luca Marinelli, who won Venice’s Coppa Volpi for Best Actor in 2019.
And if you’re a fan of convolutedly shite titles and you hate comedy, then rush to watch The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: the sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard is trash. The worst part is that there was some potential there, not least in the casting department: both Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas join Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson this time around, with Hayek playing a hopped-up, foul-mouthed conwoman and Banderas taking on the role of an insane Greek terrorist called Aristotle Papadopoulos. Sounds fun, but everyone’s talents are squandered and you’re left with a dismally executed sequel that feels like it’s been lazily tossed together with borderline contempt for fans of comedy-actioners.
For our events recommendation, we’re in a pickle because there’s just too damn much going on this Friday evening. We’ve whittled it down to the following choices, so take your pick:
First up is The Dark Side of the Rainbow at Revier Südost (the new Griessmühle location – 20:15), a synchronisation of the Judy Garland classic with Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 album. The legend goes that The Dark Side Of The Moon was recorded to perfectly synchronise with 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, creating thematic “coincidences” and a new, unique narrative experience. Whether you subscribe to the legend, think it’s absolute stoner nonsense (but also kind of genius), or that we all need to get over this myth and finally start synchronising Pink Floyd’s The Wall with Pixar’s WALL-E, this is a classic viewing experience that shouldn’t be missed.
The second option is to head to Babylon kino for the Summer Special Videoart at Midnight revival, in cooperation with BPA / Berlin program for artists. Rock up at 23:59 for a free evening of screenings that showcase Berlin-based artists’ experimental and boundary-pushing short films.
Our last pick is the German premiere, in cooperation with the Tel Aviv International Student Festival, of the Short Rides 21 programme of the SERET International Film Festival at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg (21:15). It’s an evening of engaging and uncompromising short films from Israel that aim to “expand our sense of individualism and collectivism”.
Good luck choosing – we don’t know where to go. What we do know is that we’re off to the Venice Film Festival next week (seamless transition, wasn’t it?), which means no This Week At The Kino column for the next two weeks. That doesn’t mean we’re taking a break, mind you: stay tuned for reviews and interviews on our Film Page, including our exclusive chat with director Václav Marhoul for The Painted Bird – as well as First Look Reviews for upcoming films premiering in Venice like Dune, Halloween Kills and Last Night In Soho, and a full rundown of our Venice days once we’ve recovered from the festival.
Happy screenings all!