Possibly the creepiest study of the relationship between sexual desire and physical discomfort outside the oeuvre of Catherine Breillat, Ulrich Seidl's "Paradise" trilogy (initially planned as a single film) follows a series of relatives on misadventures around the planet: "Paradise: Love" revolved around the family's matriarch exploring Kenya's sex industry, while "Paradise Faith" found the woman's sister exploring her religious urges. The trilogy concludes here by focusing on the overweight daughter of the family, who heads to a diet camp and falls for the middle-aged doctor. Seidl's films are thoroughly engrossing statements on societal alienation, and the consistency between these three films since they were made at the same time is unquestionable, so "Paradise: Hope" is certain to satisfy those already hooked by the earlier entries. [Eric Kohn]
A Single Shot (David M. Rosenthal, USA/UK/Canada )
Director David M. Rosenthal's "Janie Jones" was the rare sad musician/single dad drama that didn't fall back on a sea of clichés, favoring strong performances and tender exchanges that carried the movie along. "A Single Shot" sounds like another ambitious take on formula. The story of a hunting accident gone wrong, it co-stars Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy and Jeffrey Wright, actors who always deliver when provided with solid material. The synopsis suggests a dark, unsettling noir defined by mood -- which is true of the best of them. [Eric Kohn]
Canada made a notable appearance in the Berlinale competition last year with the sole film from the 2012 fest to get an Oscar nomination: "War Witch." The country is back with another offering from a Quebec filmmaker, Denis Côté's lesbian love story "Vic and Flo Saw a Bear." Following up Côté's 2010 film "Curling," the flm tells the story of Vic, a woman just released from prison hoping for a peaceful new existence. She heads to the Canadian forest to live at a relative's house, which is where she recieves a visit from her lover, Flo. The two womens' relationship evolves from there, offering us what the festival calls "an artificial world with its own completely unpredictable reality." [Peter Knegt]
Yesterday Never Ends (Isabel Coixet, Spain)
Isabel Coixet ("My Life Without Me," "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo") heads to Berlin with a film set in the very near future: 2017 Barcelona. It follows a couple (Javier Cámara and Candela Peña) who reunite after five years of not seeing each other (he moved to Germany in light of the economic crisis, she stayed in Spain), and after going through some seriously tragic incidents. Coixet said in an interview that the film "is a kind of return to the world of 'My Life Without Me,' mixed with aspects of the here and now of the situation we are facing as a country." Sounds promising to us. [Peter Knegt]
Indiewire will be offering full coverage from the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival beginning tomorrow.