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This Week at the Kino: Drinking Danes and dancing Dominicans

There are two standout releases this week, including this year's Best International Feature Oscar winner. Our film editor gives you the lowdown, as well as his recommendations on upcoming film events.

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The Oscar-winning Another Round is out this week. Photo: Weltkino Filmverleih

Two new releases this week are worth your time and pennies. The first is Another Round, this year’s Best International Feature Oscar winner from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt). He teams up once more with Mads Mikkelsen to tell the story of a group of four high school teachers who embark upon a booze-based pseudo-scientific experiment, and the film fully delivers on the premise’s brazen and tragi-comic potential. The second is In The Heights, a vibrant movie musical that’s a textbook example of how stylish and emotionally-resonant the genre can be when it’s in the right hands (and based on solid source material).

On the other end of the spectrum are Blithe Spirit and Glück, both of which you can ignore. Blithe Spirit is the uninspired, star-studded adaptation of the Noel Coward’s 1941 stage play. It wastes the screwball silliness of the source material and squanders the comedic chops of Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann, Dame Judi Dench and Dan Stevens, who proved to what extent he could deliver the hahas in the excellent I’m Your Man (still showing in kinos). As for the initially promising and 2021 Berlinale-premiering Glück, it’s a lesbian love story that benefits from its authentic depiction of Berlin brothels but that stumbles when it comes to character development and emotional investment.

Oh, and as a cheeky call-back to last week’s This Week At The Kino column , we’ve finally seen Space Jam 2 and if you’re still thinking of buying a ticket in hopes of wholesome escapist fun, please don’t. It was already the sequel no one asked for and all you’ll get is the soulless sight of Warner Bros shamelessly sucking its own di…stinctive label by cynically cashing-in on its synergised IPs. It’s sinister and downright shit. There was us thinking that F9 was the worst blockbuster you could catch right now… How naive we were.

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The Lawyer (Cinemien) screens tonight at Freiluftkino Pompeji (21:30) as part of Litauisches Kino Goes Berlin’s summer edition.

On the events front, our main recommendation this week is the start of Lichtblick’s Frances McDormand retrospective, which arrives just in time to celebrate the fact that Nomadland has recently become – according to Yorck Kinogruppe – the most popular film in Yorck Kinos since March 2020, beating Christopher Nolan’s Tenet with more than 25,000 admissions in just its first three weeks of release. We here at Exberliner applaud you, fine arbiters of cinematic taste, for choosing wisely. Lichtblick’s retrospective kicks off tonight with the Coen Brothers’ 1984 debut feature Blood Simple (with repeat screenings on 26th and 28th), followed by the three films that have earned the celebrated actress her trio of Oscars: the new 25th-anniversary restored version of the Coens’ masterful black comedy Fargo (a restored version only screening in two cinemas in the whole of Germany, on July 29 & 31 and August 1 & 3), Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (August 5, 9 & 11) and finally, Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-sweeping lyrical road movie Nomadland, which will be screening daily from August 12. All films in the retrospective are in OV and it’s off to the woodchipper with you if you even think about missing out. You betcha.

Also tonight is the German premiere of Francis Lee’s eternally delayed Ammonite (Sommerkino Kulturforum, 21:30), starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. It’s hard to count how many times the film has been pushed back, and it’s still only slated to open in German cinemas in November. So you’d do well to seize the opportunity to catch it “early”. Ammonite sees Lee follow his sumptuously tender gay romance God’s Own Country with a period lesbian story that is at a disadvantage because of the flames stroked by Céline Sciamma’s sumptuous Portrait Of A Lady On Fire. Set in 1840s England, Ammonite chronicles the intense relationship between real-life reclusive fossil hunter Mary Anning (Winslet) and a young woman, Charlotte (Ronan) who is sent to convalesce by the sea. It’s not without its many merits and the acting alone is worth the price of admission; it’s just a shame the film, despite all the components being there, keeps audiences at a distance and just doesn’t linger in the mind as much as it could have.

If you’re not in the mood for Frances or Francis, tonight’s screening of Advokatas (The Lawyer), as part of Litauisches Kino Goes Berlin’s summer edition could be just the ticket (Freiluftkino Pompeji at 21:30). It is Lithuanian director and LGBTQ* activist Romas Zabarauskas’ third feature, and has the distinction of being Lithuania’s first mainstream feature to focus on male same-sex romantic relationships. The Lawyer revolves around Lithuanian corporate lawyer Marius; the death of his estranged father leads him to strike up an unexpected connection with sex-cam worker Ali, a bisexual Syrian refugee stuck in the Krnjaca camp in Belgrade. The two leads – Eimutis Kvoščiauskas and Doğaç Yildiz – are perfectly cast and deliver believable performances, which are bolstered by the superb decision to portray moments of intimacy with minimal sound and dialogue, imbuing certain scenes with a potently poetic dimension. Zabarauskas will be in attendance, and we strongly recommend you don’t miss out.

This weekend, we recommend Creepy Crypt’s showing of 2012’s Excision on Saturday evening (Rollberg, 22:30). It follows antisocial high school student Pauline (Anna Lynne McCord) who aspires to be a surgeon and who has vivid (and orgasm-inducing) dreams about bloody mutilation. The cast includes Traci Lords as an overbearing ultra-religious mother and John Waters as a priest, which should clue you in as to the archly satirical tone the film seeks to strike. The end result is a visually arresting, overripe bodyhorror hodgepodge that merges Carrie, The Heathers and Napoleon Dynamite. And yes, it’s as bizarre, grand guignol and fun as that sounds, so get booking your tickets.

The last event on our radar is the Mongay preview of Xavier Dolan’s Matthias & Maxime on July 26 at 22:00 (Kino International). The film gets a wide theatrical release next week, so look out for our full review then. Safe to say in advance that the Canadian wunderkind’s eighth feature is possibly his best film since his breakthrough feature Mommy. He keeps his trademark rapid-fire dialogue and killer needle-drops but dials down the high-wire melodrama to better tell a story of ambiguous desire and unspoken feelings between two friends.

That’s all for this week. Stay safe, enjoy your trips to indoor and outdoor screens, and keep your eyes peeled for our full preview of the upcoming British Shorts Film Festival and our interview with Prano Bailey-Bond, the director of the fantastic Censor, which debuted at this year’s Berlinale and comes out in cinemas next week.

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