Berlinale 2019

roundup #2

The last Berlinale edition under the aegis of Dieter Kosslick  closed its doors last month - and as usual it’s really hard to tell if it was a qualitative good year or the exact opposite because the sheer amount of movies on display in the festival’s many sections is simply too overpowering. Nevertheless we found the courage to watch a lot more movies than we’ve ever intended to once again - and here’s the second round of flicks that somehow left an impact on us.

ALL MY LOVING by Edward Berger
Before the very talented Mr. Berger will follow Hollywood’s call for good, he gives us an incredibly well-realized piece of European auteur cinema as a parting gift. “All My Loving“ tells the tale of three siblings - played by Nele Mueller-Stöfen, Lars Eidinger and the excellent Hans Löw - via three homogeneous episodes that got framed by an epilogue and prologue. Reality is pretty much mind-bending and completely awful at the same time, therefore the film doesn’t really need any kind of über-dramatization, it simply invites us to spend some time with its protagonists and the heavy load of life they have to carry. Admittedly, this might not sound too intriguing - the result most definitely is though.

ACID by Aleksander Gorchilin
Actor turned director Gorchilin realized a satisfying debut with “Acid“, which uses a less-narrative driven structure to tell a rather different story about a group of lost twentysomethings in Russia’s capital, whose daily routine of high-end procrastination receives quite an overdose of food for thought through a friend’s suicide. The eponymous acid by the way actually works as a nod to club culture as well as being a very nasty corrosive substance - which somehow finds its way into a baptismal font during the film’s climax.

PIRANHAS by Claudio Giovannesi
Director Giovannesi probably was an obvious choice to adapt the novel by acclaimed writer Roberto Saviano since both successfully worked together on “Gomorrah“ already. This time around they focus on Neopolitan gang of youths, the rise and fall of fifteen-year-old Nicola, to be precise. And while the film does a lot of things right in portraying this rather complex character, and scores by having casted non-professional actors for authenticity reasons, it strangely enough isn’t gripping at all - even though its topic should upset the audience.

WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES by Makoto Nagahisa
Realizing a highly entertaining film about loss and mourning and the impossibility to do it right - sorrowing, I mean - is a tough task, but Japanese director Nagahisa easily manages this trick. “Little Zombies“ tells the story of four kids that befriend each other after they’ve all been orphaned, and how they form a band, and it does so with visual grandeur and more mind-bogling ideas than people should be allowed to put into one single movie. The whole thing feels slightly ADD, but in particular case it’s not necessarily meant in a negative way.

JESSICA FOREVER by Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel
Dystopian dramas are even more en vogue than ever due to the fucked up times we’re living in - but hardly any of them felt as idiosyncratic as this heavily ambitious piece of French sci-fi, which deals with a bunch of male, orphaned misfits searching for comfort and kindness in a society that declared them public enemy number one. “Jessica Forever“ is far from being a flawless film, it has a weird style and an even weirder understanding for pace - but somehow this is benefitting its otherworldly character.

Mesolongi, a small town on Greece’s West Coast that’s famous for eels, feels like a convict colony for the disillusioned in Tzoumerkas’ dark offbeat-thriller, a melting pot for castaways that seemingly overstated their welcome in any other city of the country. Everyone, especially local police chief Elizabeth, is far beyond being simply damaged goods - not necessarily the most golden circumstances to solve a strange murder case that seems to be connected to a rather disturbing video. Don’t let the sun-drenched scenery fool you, “Sargasso“ is an impressively dark piece of cinema.