Kinos are back and so is our This week at the kino weekly column. As per pre-Corona times (remember those?), we’ll be bringing you reviews of new releases (yes, there are some, believe it or not), as well as kino tips and events you shouldn’t miss.
Despite reopening, cinemas are still facing an unprecedented crisis, operating at 20 – 30 percent capacity in some cases, with reduced seating and hygiene compliance measures. Certain kinos, including Wolf in Neukölln, have decided to postpone their reopening, citing single-digit admissions in other countries and the fact people are craving outdoor events as reasons that lead to this difficult decision. Make sure to read our column on why it’s so important to support indie kinos and keep an eye out for our upcoming rundown on which of our favourite cinemas screening OV titles are open and what safety measures are in play.
That said, let’s get on with it. This week marks the release of two major competition titles from this year’s Berlinale: Christian Petzold’s Undine and Abel Ferrara’s Siberia. The first is an underwhelming cross between a fantasy thriller and a romantic melodrama, one that feels like a step down from the director’s recent outings (Phoenix, Transit), despite an excellent turn from Paula Beer. The second is a polarizing and existential headtrip that will either be 4-star work of cinematic boldness or a 1-star exercise in untamed indulgence – your pick. Also worth noting is the release of Carolina Hellsgård’s Sunburned, the follow-up to her brilliant feminist zombie thriller Endzeit. It was supposed to screen at this year’s postponed Achtung Film Festival and is out this week. There’s also Alejandro Landes’ Monos, a stunningly textured Columbian / Argentinian co-production that can feel like less than the sum of its excellent parts, but will leave a lasting impression nonetheless.
There are a batch of re-releases this week, considering the March openings of a lot of films were cut short: there’s Wadjda director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s gently empowering The Perfect Candidate, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s The Truth (La Vérité), the Japanese auteur’s disappointing follow-up to Shoplifters, Clint Eastwood’s underwhelming Richard Jewell, as well as the unmissable documentary For Sama by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Lastly, we recommend you stay well away from Guns Akimbo, featuring firearm-wielding Daniel Radcliffe trapped in a real-life death game – it’s promising gonzo tone never materialises into anything worth your time.
General releases aside, there’s plenty going on. Arsenal is reopening with a total of 70 seats and is resuming its fantastic Black Light retrospective, a series focusing on US films made between the 1920s and 1990s that explore the black experience, as well as delve into issues of racism and representation. The programme started early March and was unceremoniously nixed as soon as cinemas closed down. In light of recent events, it has become all the more prescient, and now that Arsenal is operating once more, this is the time to head to Potsdamer Platz.
The programme (which lasts until August 24) is accompanied by video introductions by Greg de Cuir Jr., who will be present on the first two evenings of the programme. It kicks off on Friday at 7.30pm with Spike Lee’s 1986 debut She’s Gotta Have It (screened in 35mm, OV, with a repeat on the 10th at 7.30pm), a film which marked the beginning of a new era for African-American cinema. Later that same evening, at 21:30, is Jamaican director Perry Henzell’s excellent The Harder They Come (OV with German subs, with a repeat on the 25th at 9.30pm). It sees reggae star Jimmy Cliff playing a young man (based on real-life outlaw Rhyging) who comes to the slums of Kingston looking for work, and features a superb soundtrack from Jimmy Cliff, The Maytals and The Melodians. On Saturday, there’s Marcel Camus’ Orfeu Negro (8pm) and don’t miss out on Julie Dash’s 1991 debut film Daughters of the Dust on Wednesday 7th at 8pm, a portrait of the African-American community in Oakland, California, seen through the eyes of a young art student.
Elsewhere, City Kino Wedding have stated that part of crisis cinema is the necessary flip-flop between laughter and shivers; their Krisen Kino series starts soon, with a screening of Jim Jarmusch’s 2019 Cannes opener The Dead Don’t Die (July 8 at 9.30pm in OmU), followed on the 15th by Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (9.15pm), which we included in our list of musts-see pandemic films.
On their side, Rollberg Kino are bringing back their consistently terrific Creepy Crypt, series with the advance screening on Saturday of Gretel & Hansel (10.30pm), which comes out (and will be reviewed) next week.
On the freiluftkino side, the Creepy Crypt series goes outdoors with the Sommerkino Kulturforum screening of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning on Friday at 9.45pm. Sommerkino are also hosting the Monday screening of Celine Sciamma’s emotional hurricane of a film Portrait of a Lady on Fire (6 July), as part of the French Film Week programme.
Finally, don’t miss out on Freilutkino Kreuzberg’s upcoming outdoor programme. “Shut the fuck up, Donny” may have become relevant again due to the racist bowl of flan currently occupying the White House, but it’s still worth heading to screening of The Big Lebowski on Saturday at 21:45. Jojo Rabbit follows on Sunday (which is also showing at Freiluftkino Casseopiea on Monday (make sure to catch up on our interview with director Taika Waititi) and Olivia Wilde’s fresh and hilarious update on the coming-of-age comedy Booksmart is showing on Tuesday (read our interview with lead actress Kaitlyn Dever).
Happy indoor and outdoor screenings! Book your tickets online, wear your mask and make sure to support your favourite indie kinos.