This year the Berlin Film Festival had a diverse group of films screening and Indiewire was on site to see as many of them as possible. Click through the links below to read all of Indiewire’s 19 reviews from this year’s festival:
Melissa Leo is Raw and the Mood is Haunting, but ‘Francine’ Still Needs a Story
While “Francine” distinguishes itself with atmospheric strangeness, Cassidy and Shatzky never create a satisfying whole.
Even With James Franco, Porn Tale ‘Cherry’ Bombs
While the character’s motives make sense, the movie as a whole struggles to understand them, setting “Cherry” on a downward slope to mediocrity and half-formed storytelling where even the supposedly enervating sex lacks any hint of joy.
Miguel Gomes’ ‘Tabu’ Delivers a Brilliantly Poetic Look at Colonialism, But What’s With the Crocodiles?
A head-scratchingly lyrical immersion into colonialist metaphor and historical memory, Portuguese director Miguel Gomes’ third feature “Tabu” reaches for the dreamlike experiences of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s oeuvre with a bold structure that defies genre specifics.
Ursula Meier’s ‘Sister’ is a Bittersweet Crowdpleaser
Evoking a lost childhood with bittersweet intent, “Sister” bears the mark of a filmmaker with supreme control over her material.
Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’ Isn’t As Terrible As It Looks
The best thing one can say about “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” Billy Bob Thornton’s loopy family drama about a group of eccentric American southerners in 1969, is that it’s not quite as bad as it looks.
Masterful Black Comedy ‘Everybody in Our Family’ Demonstrates the Best Qualities of Modern Romanian Cinema
A masterwork of black comedy and suspense, director Radu Jude’s “Everybody In Our Family” typifies the best qualities of contemporary Romanian cinema.
‘Captive,’ Brillante Mendoza’s Awful Kidnapping Movie, Makes the Case for a Dumber Version of Itself
At two hours, the best thing that can be said about “Captive” is that it makes you feel the sheer longevity that the hostages had to endure, but that’s not enough to salvage this mercilessly redundant thriller.
Italian Prisoners Do Shakespeare in High-Concept Doc ‘Caesar Must Die’
The prospects of criminals performing Shakespeare has been explored in conventional terms by the 2005 documentary “Shakespeare Behind Bars;” sibling directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s “Caesar Must Die” takes a far more provocative approach.
At 2.5 Hours, Does Kevin MacDonald’s Doc ‘Marley’ Add Really Anything New to the Rastafarian’s Tale?
Despite its breadth, “Marley” delivers little more than a well-crafted overview sure to please diehard fans while leaving others unmoved.
Immaculate Conception and Rock Music Are a Surprisingly Effective Combo in ‘Electrick Children’
While maintaining an amusing concept and sustained by the thoroughly sweet nature of its young protagonists, “Electrick Children” pulls of the neat trick of maintaining credibility, never allowing the magic realist hook to devolve into quirky American indie clichés.
Kirsten Sheridan’s ‘Dollhouse’ a Fun and Messy Improv Delight That Places Young Hooligans In an Unlikely Setting
“Dollhouse” contains a deceptively simple premise that benefits greatly from its free-form style.
‘Soldier/Citizen’ Gets to the Core of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict With Startling Precision
Despite the way it tussles with polemics, “Soldier/Citizen” is essentially an apolitical plea for better methods of social discourse.
Alain Gomis’ ‘Today’ Profoundly Captures a Dying Man’s Final Day, Then Struggles Along With Him
Writer-director Gomis front loads “Today” with good ideas and then promptly runs out of them.
Opening Night’s ‘Farewell My Queen’ a Smart, Personal Take on the French Revolution from Benoit Jacquot
Jacquot, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gilles Tauran from Chantal Thomas’ novel, hints at a fascinating conceit — namely, that it’s possible to analogize the French Revolution to the greater sexual one nearly 200 years down the road.
‘Young Adult’ Isn’t as Awkward as Jason Reitman Thinks
There are glimmers of dark brilliance in this rough assessment of a woman out of synch with the world around her; indeed, the movie falls short only by not following its disgruntled heroine far enough off the deep end.
Featuring some of the best onscreen hand-to-hand combat since “The Bourne Ultimatum,” Soderbergh’s relentless technique foregrounds Carano’s skill over the perfunctory narrative, which contains plenty of shadowy conspiracies rendered irrelevant by a payoff that mainly involves well-timed punches and kicks set to David Holmes’ brassy Bond-like score.
‘Extremely Loud and Incrediby Close’ is Not the 9/11 Movie You’ve Been Waiting For
First things first: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is not the 9/11 movie you’ve been waiting for. It’s not a reflection of some neatly demarcated passage of time that would allow a movie like it to exist. Such a movie doesn’t exist in any precise, objective way–but if it did, it would surely take the form of something different from the mopey and sloven drama of “Extremely Loud,” an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel buried in overweening pathos.
‘Keep the Lights On’ Taps Into a Personal Drama With Ease
Sachs’ quiet, observational style conveys the rich texture of the characters’ ever-changing behavior. It’s deeply affecting, even when nothing much happens.
‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ is a Surprsingly Effective Debut for Angelina Jolie
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” breaks no fresh ground in the tradition of staid, grim war dramas from which it hails, but Jolie successfully capitalizes on a juicy premise that finds Bosnia woman Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) falling into an affair with Danijel (Goran Kostic), the Serbian head of a prison camp where she’s held captive.