It’s a strong week for new releases, with two potential Oscar contenders from two celebrated filmmakers, as well as a much-awaited re-release.
Guillermo Del Toro returns to the big screen with his first film since 2017’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water. Nightmare Alley is a remake of Edmund Goulding’s 1947 carnival noir of the same name– itself based on the William Lindsay Gresham novel. Del Toro orchestrates a gorgeously disturbing morality tale that features Bradley Cooper delivering what could be his best performance to date. It’s not perfect, with some pacing issues, but good luck finding a better ending this year!
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread) makes his way back to the San Fernando Valley of his youth in Licorice Pizza. It follows 15-year-old budding actor as he navigates his complicated relationship with the 25-year-old woman of his dreams. Newcomers Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alana Haim (of the band HAIM) are both fantastic in this evocative period piece that may very well be the director’s sweetest (and funniest) film to date. Oh, and watch out for a cameoing Bradley Cooper, who steals the show and is having a great week!
Having celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is re-released on February 1 in German cinemas as part of the Best Of Cinema Series. Whether you think it’s a Sunset Boulevard-inspired exploration on the plight of stardom, a satire of the Hollywood studio system, or even a mise-en-abyme capsule reminding us that we share collective dreams and logic-defying hallucinations when watching movies, you’d do well to rush to see this audacious noodle-baker on the big screen once more and bask in its mysterious, macabre and erotic charge.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
Before Berlin goes Berlinale crazy next month, how about some perfectly curated horror thrills?
The 7th edition of Final Girls Berlin Film Fest is back at City Kino Wedding from February 3-6, after a successful Halloween edition last year. The festival has a fantastic new line-up of feature and short horror films made by women and non-binary filmmakers, with a special feature focus on the complex theme of motherhood. Don’t miss out on the German premiere of Hellbender, directed by filmmaking family Toby Poser, Zelda Adams and John Adams; shot during COVID, it’s a coming-of-age film that centers around a mother-daughter relationship and perfectly intertwines family dynamics with heavy-metal and the occult.
Also worth keeping an eye out for is the retrospective screening of the 1996 film Kissed, a Canadian erotic drama directed and co-written by Lynne Stopkewich, based on Barbara Gowdy’s short sotry ‘We So Seldom Look On Love’. It stars Molly Parker as a young woman who begins to study embalming at a mortuary school, and her nascent feelings of necrophilia. Beyond the nauseating premise, the topic is handled with such delicacy and avoids the shock-for-shocks-sake gruesomeness in order to explore addiction with a lyrical undercurrent that strikes a touching and mystical chord.
As always, book tickets for the festival’s expansive shorts programme – a consistently brilliant highlight of each edition – which this year is curated into several blocks, including ‘social ills’, ‘queer horror’, ‘medical horror’, ‘hauntings’ and an exploration of three of the seven deadly sins: ‘envy’, ‘gluttony’ and ‘wrath’.
As if that wasn’t enough to quell your bloodlusts, there’ll be a horror zine-making workshop with artists Eloise Neigh and Nessa Finnigan, as well as several horror panels which are not worth sleeping on – especially the Special Black Women* in Horror panel, featuring Adia Cullors (“Exploring Black Final Girls in Horror History”), Rhonda Jackson Joseph (“Mothers, Lovers, and Others: Black Female Characters in Horror Films”) and Tira Adams (“Vampire Witch Sistah”).
There we have it. Happy screenings, book your tickets and keep an eye out for our extensive Berlinale coverage at the beginning of February.