Three (Drei)

Tom Tykwer has carved out one of the most agile careers in European cinema. From the delirious shock of his breakout film “Run Lola Run” to the arthouse chills of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” to the gloss of his transnational thriller “The International,” Tykwer has brought polish and new ideas to every film. With Three he makes another leap, back to the raw adventure of his early films and forward into something entirely new.

It begins at the beach, where Hanna and Simon engage in a scene of comically absurd miscommunication. He returns from the sea wanting to tell his partner about having just nearly drowned. She is so absorbed in her book that its fiction obscures his reality altogether. She either doesn’t hear him of doesn’t care to; it’s the middle of a beautiful relationship.

Pushing the story forward in a playful, intellectual style, Tykwer explores what happens to this educated, middle-aged Berlin couple as their disconnection grows. At a scholarly lecture, Hanna finds herself daydreaming about sex acts in Jeff Koons artworks, so it’s no surprise that when she meets Adam, she falls into a fast and furtive affair.

Simon also meets Adam. The two of them swim together at a spectacular indoor-outdoor pool in the city. Soon they too drift into a mutual attraction which also culminates in secret sex. Now these three Berliners find themselves in a literal love triangle, each one keeping it hidden from the others. But when Hanna discovers she is pregnant, the secrets can’t hold.

Tykwer seems at his most free here, leading his story in surprising directions that match the no-limits lives of his characters. At the same time, he allows himself moments of pure play with the form of the film, using all the visual and sonic sophistication he has developed in two decades of making films. It’s a delight to watch such smart eyes look at modern desire. [Synopsis courtesy of Cameron Bailey/Toronto International Film Festival]

We Are Young. We Are Strong.

1992—the former East German city of Rostock is still coming to terms with the aftermath of the recent fall of the Berlin Wall. Youth unemployment is high, and migrant workers are housed in Soviet-era high-rises on the outskirts of the city. The Roma and a sizeable Vietnamese minority have become targets of the locals’ discontent, which escalates into hostility and violence during the course of one day. [Synopsis courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival]

Mission Sputnik

Mission Sputnik is the adventurous story about the “real” happenings of Nov 9, 1989 in Germany, the day the wall came down. For ten-year-old Frederike, Oct 89 gets off to a disastrous start: her beloved Uncle Mike (27) is leaving the GDR. Inspired by her big idol Captain Kirk, Frederike and her friends Jonathan (10) and Fabian (10) construct a teleporting device to “beam” herself to West Berlin to bring back her uncle Mike. But the experiment dramatically fails. Instead of beaming Uncle Mike back, as they witness on TV, they end up beaming everyone in their town into West Germany! For a moment it seems that Frederike and her friends are the last remaining kids on earth. Only quick thinking and action can undo the experiment and prevent the worst from happening before the border guards open fire. A race against time and the nasty local policeman Mauder begins. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]

Age of Cannibals

Öllers and Niederländer are two highly paid consultants. For years they’ve been touring the world’s dirtiest countries seeking to satisfy their clients’ hunger for profit. Reality exists merely as a dusty silhouette behind the windows of their air-conditioned luxury hotels. Their goal seems to be within their grasp: to ascend to their company’s top echelon and finally be made partners. Both are well aware that, according to their firm’s unwritten rules in the hierarchy, they’ll need to secure their final promotion by their mid-thirties or else they’ll be sidelined: ‘up or out’. But then their old rival Hellinger is given the sought-after promotion and they find themselves forced to come to terms with his successor, the ambitious young Bianca. Gradually, they begin to lose control and their nerves are on edge: why did Hellinger throw himself out of a window? Why is the company being sold? And will the firm reshuffle the cards without them? Who can they trust? They are fighting their last battle. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]