The 64th Berlinale kicks off tomorrow, and the masses are already foaming at the mouth in anticipation of Wes Anderson’s latest super-stylized celeb-stuffed spectacle, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which makes its debut amid the wintry splendor of Potsdamer Platz. Or maybe everyone’s just hoping to catch a glimpse of train wreck-du-jour Shia LaBoeuf in a mask, which he’s promised to wear to the premiere of Nymph()maniac: Volume I (long version) in an effort to generate hype for his upcoming performance piece. Bong Joon-ho’s crazy-popular futuristic action thriller Snowpiercer arrives hot on the heels of allegations that Harvey Weinstein was planning to dumb it down for U.S. audiences; meanwhile, magicien du cinéma Alain Resnais, at the age of 91, is still making movies. Other highlights include Sundance holdovers like Boyhood and the Zellner brothers’ Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter; two films from promising newcomer Josephine Decker; and a short by Dustin Guy Defa, whose feature Bad Fever blew us away at SXSW back in 2011. Below, the ten films—all, with the exception of Snowpiercer, having their world premieres here—we’ll brave the crowds for.
NYMPH()MANIAC VOLUME I (long version)
dir. Lars von Trier
Competition (out of competition)
You’ve seen the Nymph()maniac O-face posters, and you’ve probably come across the O-face homages put together by the major film critics from Denmark and Poland. We’ve seen the edited version of the film, which Lars approved (but did not cut himself), and it’s hilarious, engrossing, disturbing, and, of course, sex-filled—though not particularly sexy. So what can we look forward to in the “long” version? More sex, apparently, though hopefully not more footage of Shia LaBeouf perfoming cunnilingus; there’s only so much of that we can take.
dir. Bong Joon-ho
The internet went batshit when it was revealed that that Harvey Weinstein, who secured the rights to the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercerfor the the English-speaking world, was planning on cutting about 20 minutes from the film in order to speed up the tempo, potentially sacrificing some of the more cerebral material. Bong, screenwriter Kelly Masterson, and stars Tilda Swinton, Chris Evans, and John Hurt—as well as just about everyone else—were not pleased. Fortunately, the director optimistically told U.S. audiences to “have faith” back in November. Berlin viewers, fortunately, will be treated to the full version.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
dir. Wes Anderson
You’re either into Anderson’s hypercontrolled aesthetic or you find it revolting, but you’re bound to be a fan of at least one of the bajillion luminaries—Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, and we’re going to run out of space if we keep going—populating his latest, which is set in yet another hermetically sealed bizarro-universe. And let’s be honest: We could spend all day staring at that glorious poster, which also reveals that Futura is no longer Anderson’s font of choice! (It’s all about Archer Bold for this one.)
LIFE OF RILEY
dir. Alain Resnais
Nonagenarian auteur Alain Resnais (who directed Muriel, Last Year at Marienbad, Hiroshima mon amour, and other flicks you watched for that French New Wave seminar back in college) continues to investigate the interaction between cinema and other forms of art; here, he reimagines a stageplay by Alan Ayckbourn, marking his third adapation of the British playwright’s work.
dir. Claudia Llosa
Peruvian director Llosa won the Golden Bear back in 2009 with The Milk of Sorrow, a powerful magical realist portrayal of her homeland, and this year she’s back in the competition with a flashback-driven drama about a family dealing with mental illness on a remote farm. Shot in the gorgeous frozen wasteland of central Manitoba and powered by the likes of Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, and Mélanie Laurent, we think she’s got a pretty good shot at taking it home again.
SHE’S LOST CONTROL
dir. Anja Marquardt
Berlin-born, New York-trained Anja Marquardt sets her bold, kickstarter-funded feature debut in the cold chaos of Manhattan, where the young Ronah (Brooke Bloom) earns her keep by working as a “sexual surrogate,” a therapist of sorts who helps men overcome their inhibitions. This isn’t just about “the girlfriend experience,” though—Ronah goes way deeper into her clients’ personal lives, which is when things really start to get tricky.
THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY
dir. Josephine Decker
Brooklyn-based performance artist/filmmaker/actor Decker starred in, among other films, Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent, Autoerotic, andArt History; here, she turns the camera on him for this intimate, handheld erotic thriller set in rural Kentucky. Though her debut feature, Butter on the Latch, premiered at the Maryland Film Festival last May, it’s also having its international premiere here in Berlin—which is a pretty big deal for a new director. We’re excited to see what she’s all about.
dirs. Rebecca Chaiklin & Fisher Stevens
What happened to Occupy Wall Street? Now’s better than ever to revisit the anti-corporate fervor among the sleeping bags and makeshift lodgings in Zuccotti Park and the movement that gave us terms like “the 1%,” spurred copycat efforts all over the planet, popularized “human microphones,” and made “occupy” into an everyday word. Chaiklin and Stevens followed several protesters long after the chaos died down, chronicling their relationships as well as the protest’s aftermath and legacy.
TWO MEN IN TOWN
dir. Rachid Bouchareb
Oscar-nominated French-Algerian director Bouchareb (Outside the Law) transposes José Giovanni’s 1973 critique of the French judicial system to the high desert of New Mexico, replacing the original protagonist with a Muslim ex-con (Forest Whitaker) who wants to start afresh, even though he’s got a pissed-off sheriff riding his tail (Harvey Keitel). The film is the first in Bouchareb’s English-language trilogy that promises to take on the U.S.’s complicated relationships with Mexico and the Arab world. Also stars Ellen Burstyn, Luis Guzmán, and Brenda Blethyn.
TWO FACES OF JANUARY
dir. Hossein Amini
Berlinale Special Gala
The directorial debut of Iranian-British screenwriter Amini (Drive, The Wings of the Dove), an adaptation of a never-before-adapted Patricia Highsmith novel, takes us to a stylized version of sixties Greece where wealthy vacationers Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst encounter an American tour-guide played by Oscar Isaac—and get themselves into a Hitchcockian mess of sorts. We’re looking forward to checking in on Mortensen’s post-Lord of the Rings career, as well as seeing how Isaac and Amini fair together with Refn out of the way.