Festivals: Berlin / EFM Reviews

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Berlinale 2016 Review: WE ARE NEVER ALONE Delivers A Powerful, Harrowing And Way Too Vivid Parable

Petr Václav, the Czech filmmaker living and working in France, returns to the theme of racial discrimination already addressed in his feature debut Marian (1996). Prejudice based on race persists as a hot topic in the Czech Republic, attracting ever...

Berlinale 2016 Review: GENIUS Proves That Not All Talent Translates

Elvis Costello famously quipped, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture", and while I hardly agree with the overall sentiment -- if I did, I wouldn't exactly be doing this -- his point is well taken. Success in...

Berlinale 2016 Review: YOU'LL NEVER BE ALONE, A Smart Chilean Debut

There perhaps hasn't been that many films to blow your socks off at Berlinale so far this year, but Alex Anwandter's You'll Never Be Alone could well be the first. Definitely proving to be yet another example of how great contemporary South...

Berlinale 2016 Review: First, SOY NERO Dazzles, Then It Disappoints

How important is a single shot? Not a sequence, nor an edit. Can a solitary, unbroken shot make or break a film? Can it upend one's total reception of a work? Because there is a shot at the very beginning...

Berlinale 2016 Review: ALOYS Exhalts In Glorious Madness

Tobias Nölle's engrossing tale of a highly distinctive Swiss private eye called Aloys is perhaps the first film of 2016 which has truly made me get excited and want to start bouncing off the walls like an excessively caffeinated critic....

Berlinale 2016 Review: CROSSCURRENT Channels The Poetry Of Confusion

Yang Chao's tale of two lovers woven into the meandering course of the epic Yangtze river is sadly the only Chinese-language film to feature in Berlinale's main competition this year, seeing it follow in the footsteps of Black Coal, Thin...

Berlinale 2016 Review: BADEN BADEN, A Promising Yet Frustrating Debut

An amiably aimless jaunt set in the French city of Strasbourg (and not the German spa town of its title) Baden Baden has much in common with its main character, an amiably aimless misfit just coasting through life. Both main...

Berlinale 2016 Review: THINGS TO COME Artfully Tells A Tale As Old As Time

Everything new is old again (or is it the other way around?) in Mia Hansen-Love's elegant and understated take on the cycles of life, Things To Come. With an astute eye and a sensitive-if-hardly-mushy script, Hansen-Love lets us know...

Berlinale 2016 Review: MIDNIGHT SPECIAL Produces A Bewitching Sci-Fi Oddity

If there's one thing you've got to give to the American film and TV industry, it's that they're damn good at opening sequences, and Jeff Nichols' latest sci-fi thriller Midnight Special is no exception. Reuniting once again with frequent collaborator Michael Shannon, this...

Berlinale 2016 Review: FUOCOAMMARE Breaks The Wave Of Migration Documentaries

Given how long it takes to finance and make a film, you could argue that the film industry's collective consciousness has responded pretty quickly to the migration crisis which has unfolded in recent years, and Gianfranco Rosi's Fuocoammare is a moving example...

Berlinale 2016 Review: THE BACCHUS LADY Gracefully Explores Bounty of Taboo Subjects

Veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung, star of such classics as Kim Ki-young's Woman on Fire (1971) and The Insect Woman (1972), takes on perhaps her boldest role yet in The Bacchus Lady. Directed by E J-yong, appearing in the Berlinale program...

Berlinale 2016 Review: THE WORLD OF US, A Complex And Compelling Children's Tale

Following the enormous promise shown in her terrific shorts Guest (2011) and Sprout (2013), director Yoon Ga-eun delivers in spades with her feature-length debut The World of Us, a beautiful look at the undulating friendships and rivalries between a trio...

Berlinale 2015 Review: IEC LONG, A Haunting Exploration Of Macau's Lost Firecracker Industry

Chinese rockets explode in front of our curious eyes, and disappear in the black clouds of a nocturnal sky. The past haunts our ruins, overlapping times consisting of moving photographs and still film images. An old man has worked in...

Berlinale 2015 Review: FISH TAIL, Political And Personal Poetry Of Poverty

Fish Tail by Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel is an essayistic scream for freedom beyond globalization. Set in the village of Rabo de Peixe (translates "fish tail") on the Azores, this follow-up to Pinto's acclaimed What Now? Remind Me is...

Berlinale 2015 Review: 45 YEARS, A Heart-Wrenching Look At Late Marriage

How much can, or should we, let the past affect the present? If our lives went one way instead of another, can we mourn too much what we didn't have? If you think you were not your spouse's only great...

Berlinale 2015 Review: AFERIM!, A Gorgeous And Angry Road Trip Through Romania's Past

For over a decade Romanian Cinema has produced many breathtakingly great films and directors like Cristi Puiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Cristian Mungiu or Călin Peter Netzer have gained international recognition and are household names in world cinema. The usual term of...

Berlinale 2015 Review: FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, Not That Terrible

Not wanting to be a snob, I attempted to read Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestseller inspired by the Twilight books (which I also haven't read). It's quite badly written, but hey, it was popular, so maybe I was missing...

Berlinale 2015 Review: KNIGHT OF CUPS Sees Malick Repurposed

Rejoice ye fans of Malick - your wily transcendentalist has emerged again! And though the film doesn't equal (ahem... transcend) his previous highs, Knight Of Cups at least finds the idiosyncratic auteur trying something new. Malick's style remains the same;...

Berlinale 2015 Review: AS WE WERE DREAMING Dreams About Lost Emotions But Never Really Touches

Andreas Dresen's As We Were Dreaming, an adaptation of a German bestselling novel by Clemens Meyer, tries to change our perception of what happened in East Germany in the time after the collapse of the Berlin wall. Instead of presenting...

Berlinale 2015 Review: MR. HOLMES, A Fine Engagement With Age And Atonement

According to Guiness World Records, Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed fictional character, by more than 70 actors in over 200 films, plays and television shows. I haven't seen all of those, but Ian McKellen can certainly put his performance...