The Limits of Control

Berlinale’s Plot summary:

Ronah works as a sexual surrogate, teaching inhibited men what they fear most: intimacy. Her clients are referred to her by a psychotherapist. She and one of their number casually make the bed where they will sleep together; later on she lets him show her his new business idea on his laptop as if they were best friends. Such scenes are interspersed with hotel hallways, claustrophobic shots of Manhattan’s urban canyons, hassles with workmen, cries for help from Ronah’s brother she chooses to ignore, even as he tells her that their mother has disappeared. It is impossible to identify when exactly she loses control. She’s clearly not been able to get a handle on her new, auto-aggressive client Johnny with his soft voice, his intelligence, his occasional mocking remarks. She starts to fall in love with him instead. Without any trace of voyeurism, Anja Marquardt’s impressively complex, stylistically precocious directorial debut observes how the line between professional and private intimacy becomes gradually blurred.

 

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That Demon Within (?)

Countless flashbacks, uneven pace that changes every 20 minutes (or often), all heated with a CGI-fire. If all this will not unleash that demon within you, you will probably make it through the movie.

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Dante Lam’s  almost 120 minutes long ‘Mo Jing’  has it’s good moments (for instance the film opening with the masks that reminded me of the ‘Five Deadly Venoms’), the problem is they will be outbalanced by the frustration that the rest of the film will cause. 4/10.

Kumiko’s Road to Fargo: How an urban legend got converted into a surreal road movie

As the Zellner Bros. said during the Q&A after the screening, the movie has been trigger by an ‘Urban legend‘.

The well ‘Sundance’ acclaimed film ‘Kumiko the treasure  hunter’ is really a piece of a story. [Shot in Japan and US, played by Japanese and American cast] The character of Kumiko is really well tailored, you gonna like her from the beginning.(…)The fable like charm of the movie spiced with surreal elements (like finding the ‘Fargo’ VHS-tape in a cave), that poke the ‘found-footage’ genre a bit (probably [not] on purpose), gives a great viewer experience. (I wonder if a re-watch will also be as enjoyable.)

There are many ‘road movies’ but not many like this one. 8/10

’71

Yann Demange’s new movie is ‘Training Day’ and ‘Casualties of War’ in one and even much more

It is really hard to make an interesting and thrilling  (anti-)war movie, but it has been accomplished when it comes to ’71. All the elements of the movie are really well made/performed. The plot/storyline is packed with suspenseful elements and is 100% ‘pathethic-kitschy-war-hero-scenes’ -free, what made the film as realistic as it gets. 9/10.

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A wider review can be found at Indiewire.com

First-Cow-Perspective: Thou Wast Mild and Lovely

Partially raised on Hitchcock movies – Josephine Decker premiered her directional debut ‘Thou wast Mild and Lovely’ (a movie that Hitchcock himself wouldn’t be ashamed of making) at the Berlinale last Friday. The film’s cast: Joe Swanberg and Robert Longstreet work amazing together, especially when their polarity changes. Sophie Traub’s performance as the frog eating nymphette is outstanding. The DP’s done her job really great, including the unconventional (hopefully not accidental) focus play and the ‘first-cow-perspective’ seduction flashback. Decent cross-genre cinema with a twist, that will keep you thrilled till the end of the movie. 8/10. thou1

The work of the living

Every of the last 3  Berlinale editions has a new movie form the Canadian filmmaker Denis Côté, this year we got another “film-essay”, which can also be categorized as documentary-fiction. If you are familiar with ‘Bestiaire’ you might have a clue what’s coming at you during a screening of ‘Que ta joie demeure’, however saying that the film is just  ‘Bestiaire’  but with people is kind of a underrating opinion about the new film.

You could also call this film an observational documentary with mockumentary elements, but there is more to it. At few moments I had the impression I was in a Godard film. No matter what you call it, the film was worth watching. If you’re looking for a new, fresh method to hypnotize the audience Denis C. found it for sure (and probably will not hesitate to use it again). My Rating: 8/10.

https://www.berlinale.de/en/programm/berlinale_programm/datenblatt.php?film_id=20147813#tab=video25

2030

Berlinale Day 01, the second movie of the kick-off day was the Vietnamese ‘2030’.

the official imd.com plot:

In a near future Vietnam where global warming and rising seawater levels have forced cultivation to be done on floating farms, a strong-willed woman has to make a critical decision about her ex-lover, a suspect of her husband’s murder.

The film has been shot brilliantly (for me it is the the best made element of it) and the universe that the story settles in has been created in a very intelligent way (on the screen). So we have great photography and nice scenery, the plot however is a bit to shallow (IMO). When you compare it to the quality of the other elements of the film you get the impression that the form overgrew the content. Yes, the movie is based on a short story, but it seemed like the short story is not long enough for a full length feature. 6/10.

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