It’s a slow week for new releases, with plenty to avoid and only one standout. The best of a mediocre bunch is Haifaa al-Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate. Fresh from its screening at the Berlin Feminist Film Week, it’s an uplifting fable about a young Muslim doctor who campaigns to win a local election and become the first woman to hold a seat on her town’s municipal council. The rest consists of Like A Boss, an aggressively naff comedy focusing on the cosmetic industry that squanders the comic potential of the Rose Byrne-Tiffany Haddish pairing, and the lightweight spy spoof My Spy, which sees Dave Bautista star as a tough CIA agent who finds himself at the mercy of a precocious nine-year-old girl. It’s exactly as it sounds.
Choose to bypass the multiplexes and head to Babylon Kino tonight at 20:00 for the screening of Indonesian director Djenar Maesa Ayu’s multi-award-winning third film, Nay (free admission, screened with English subs). It’s an 80-minute drama that occurs almost entirely in a car, driven by an aspiring actress who learns she’s expecting a child. She talks to her boyfriend about their options and their future, knowing she’s just been offered a major film role. The confined vehicular setting is strongly reminiscent of Steven Knight’s Tom Hardy-starring film Locke; here, Djenar Maesa Ayu utilises it to underline the realities faced by Indonesian women, who are still considered second-class citizens in a patriarchal society. The conversations she has on the phone propel the narrative into an exploration of childhood trauma and the heavy expectations that society imposes on women. It’s well worth seeing. Plus, it’s a freebie. Bonus.
Elsewhere, Arsenal are celebrating the Berlinale Forum section’s 50th year by screening all the films that were shown in the 1971 edition. We recommend you make the most of the programme, which we recently discussed in an interview with the new section head of Forum, Cristina Nord. Luis Buñuel’s L’Age d’Or – screening tomorrow at 19:30 – is our top pick. Arsenal also have their Black Light Retrospective this month, a series focusing on films from the US that explore the black experience, as well as delve into issues of racism and representation. The programme includes Spencer Williams’ 1942 film The Blood of Jesus (screening tonight at 19:00), Cauleen Smith’s 16mm 1998 debut Drylongso (tonight at 20:30), Spike Lee’s first feature film She’s Gotta Have It (on March 14th at 19:00) and Jamaican director Perry Henzell’s excellent The Harder They Come (March 14th at 21:00).
If that’s not enough and you have a hankering for some scares, you can always head to Rollberg Kino for this Saturday’s Creepy Crypt (22:30). 8: A South African Horror Story tells the story of a man who is fated to collect souls for eternity in order to save the life of his daughter. Harold Hölscher’s film, released last year, embraces African folklore and offers a possession story whose unpredictable twists are a delight.
Lastly, for all you filthy heathens who’ve missed the chance to catch Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-storming Parasite on the big screen, Mobile Kino’s got your back. They’ve added it to their Alte Münze programme (Molkenmarkt 2), with those hard-to-find English subs. Redemption is at hand and there are no more excuses – you have both Friday, March 13th, and Saturday, March 14th, to catch up, both days at 20:30.
Happy screenings all!
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