Archiv der Kategorie: Isabel Coixet

Berlinale 2019: Day 7

By Sascha Krieger

Synonymes (Competition / France, Israel, Germany / Director: Nadav Lapid)

A young Israeli man turns up in Paris, leaving everything behind: his family, his country, his language, himself. Ar the start, he literally loses everything, stands there naked, ready to start a new life. Tom Mercier plays this nervous man as if continually haunted, daring himself to never look up, repeating French words obsessively, particularly negative adjectives for his native Israel, a kind of exorcism through language. He is repeatedly lashing out, freaking out, turning himself into  a god of vengeance. Repeatedly he revolts at perceived falsehoods. A madman or a saviour? Both? Noav is a man without a home, without an identity, looking for his own synonym. He meets a young French couple, begins a fragile, fluid relationship with them, calms down only to get lost again among his stories he tries to give up but cannot. Stories of heroism, violence, death, running away. Which he is, the hand-held camera always close. A personified state of emergency, a man constantly on the edge in a world constantly on the edge. Colours are pale, washed-out, the images always on the brink of exploding. Because he denies where he came from he has nowhere to. Sitting on the wire, he can smell a new home but never reach it. He arrives from a place about to be extinguished at all times at one that’s slowly reaching this point, too. The normal is always on the edge of turning into the bizarre, absurd, surreal. Director Nadav Lapid’s film is like a nervous breakdown permanently about to happen and happening. He puts things on too thickly at times but that, too, is part of the disease. Welcome to this world. It’s about to end. A demanding film, an annoying film. And one that haunts you.

Synonymes (Image: © Guy Ferrandis / SBS Films)

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Berlinale 2018: Day 2

By Sascha Krieger

Damsel  (Competition / United States / Directors: David and Nathan Zellner)

Once upon a time in the west. A man sets out to rescue his woman from a kidnapper. Along with a preacher (co-director David Zellner as a rather pitiable specimen) to officiate the wedding and his wedding gift, a pony, he goes forth. They reach her, kill the man and, well, things go south from here. For this lady, the „damsel in distress“, has no intention of being rescued. By no-one. And yes, by the end of the film, a few have tried. Several marriage proposals later, she sets out, alone, leaving behind several corpses and one beaten down fake preacher. No, Damsel is not your usual Western despite its imagery and musical score, it isn’t even a harmless Western comedy, this is the Western film’s #MeToo. For this lady, played by Mia Wasikowska, not only will not be controlled or subdued, she will demand her own space, sets her „personal boundary“, and no, she’s not joking. The film’s strength is that it’s several rolled into one. What it sets out to do, along with Robert Pattinson as its supposed rather ridiculously serious protagonist, gets thwarted pretty soon by Wasikowska’s Penelope. She usurps the film, breaks up the male narrative and sets her own. In a whirlwind, Western role clichés are – literally, at times – blown up, the initial sunrise exposed as an unattainable fantasy. Yes, some of the humour is not too complex, yes, the point is made fairly early on, but it works almost till the end, due to man’s inability to understand he’s not in charge. Not the first time, not the second, not ever. So it has to be brought home again and again and again. Great fun and a littler more than that.

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Black 47 (Image: © Berlinale)

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Berlinale 2015: Day 11 and Wrap-up

By Sascha Krieger

Eleven days have a rather annoying quality: they pass by rather quickly. Just now, it seems, you discussed the prospects of this year’s Berlinale, what kind of festival it would be, how high its quality – and already, it is time again to glance back at it as you enter the long, 12-month wait for its next edition. So, let’s do this in the fast, short, fleeting way the festival deserves. To put it shortly: it turned out to be a good one feature the strongest Competition in years and a fine and extremely diverse slate of entries in the other section. Strong women were supposed to be a major feature of the festival and they were – though their more impressive appearances were in the smaller, ordinary ones rather than the large heroine’s tales such as Isabel Coixet’s opening film or Werner Herzog’s artistic disaster Queen of the Desert, easily the Berlinale’s worst film this year. Oh yes, the big names: they tended to disappoint, such as Herzog, Terrence Malick, Wim Wenders (though this reviewer can only gather from hear-say). The Berlinale, however, is a festival of discoveries and this edition was no exception. A large number of first-time directors even in Competition impressed, some of the greatest and most insightful films came from countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam or Romania. The German film had a mixed year but at least Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria proved that German filmmakers occasionally dare experiment.

Winner of the Golden Bear: Taxi (© Berlinale)

Winner of the Golden Bear: Taxi (© Berlinale)

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Berlinale 2015: Day 1

By Sascha Krieger

Nadie quiere la noche (Competition / Spain, France, Bulgaria / Director: Isabel Coixet)

Nadie quiere la niche, the opening film of the 2015 Berlinale, tells the – partly fictional – story of Josephine Peary, wife of Robert Peary, long believed to be the first to reach the North Pole, who follows her husband before being stuck in the Polar winter with a young Inuit woman with whom she shares more than she thinks. Isabel Coixet fully embraces the opportunity to turn the still widely untouched – though far from unaffected by humans – everlasting snow and ice into entrancing images, at the same time beautiful and frightening. Coixet creates some powerful tableaus of the tiny, powerless creature that we are in the midst of nothingness, or everything. The film is at its strongest when the elements hit with full force and Peary and her companion are reduced to the core of their existence and their primal fears. For most of it, however, the film is a rather bland and unsubtle tale of a clash of culture in which, as usual, the pure child of nature teaches the arrogant product of civilization about life and nature. The melodramatic score, the somewhat forced unstable hand-held camera and the pseudo-philosophic off commentary are equally intrusive and turn this tale of human perseverance into a rather pedestrian and largely forgettable effort. Juliette Binoche’s stellar performance, however, will be remembered.

Nadie quiere la noche (© Leandro Betancor)

Nadie quiere la noche (© Leandro Betancor)