Joan's Berlinale 2017 Blog - Day 8

Posted 20 February 2017

maudieCramming it in for the last few days of the festival!

Hong Sang-Soo's latest ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE is, as could be expected, very similar in theme to his previous work. The difference this time is that the relationship on screen is even closer to his reality than usual, as actress Kim Min-Hee (Handmaiden) is his former girlfriend and is here playing a young actress obsessing with her former director boyfriend. With two very impressive meal scenes - using the formula that Hong has mastered over time – arguments develop that are very believable, particularly the moments that seem to be self-aware confessions of Hong. It’s not his strongest film but is bound to please his fans. 

SAMI BLOOD - playing in the Native section of the festival where the focus in on indigenous cinema - is a real delight. It is the story of a Sami girl's desire to be seen as Swedish. Faced with being the subject of anthropological research, racist abuse and the general distrust and poor treatment of her people, Elle Marja yearns to be part of the world that rejects her. SAMI BLOOD is a fascinating insight into a community that is forgotten - or perhaps hidden - in general history: an indigenous people who deserve to be known to us all. 

MR LONG is an assassin. He is practically invincible: cool, charismatic, silent and without connections. When he finds himself sent from Taiwan to Japan to make a kill, things go awry and he is stranded. Whilst waiting for a boat home, he is adopted by a group of locals and it turns out that as well as being a highly-skilled killer, he is also an incredible cook. In this fairly unbelievable scenario, the assassin’s life seems to be torn between the world of street catering - and potential stability - or the life of crime that he knows. Despite the bizarre story this is a very watchable film, with food porn galore and very bloody action sequences. I had to eat straight afterwards to quench my need for noodles…

In the competition section I rarely attend the evening screenings with the celebrities in attendance. This is mostly because my ticket priority isn't high and it takes a lot longer than the film's run time due to the pre-amble and red carpet stuff. However, this year I treated myself to one red carpet moment with the Portuguese / Brazilian film JOACHIM. Joachim is a Portuguese officer in Brazil, surrounded by black slaves, indigenous Indians and corrupt Portuguese rulers. Narrated by his own head (on a spike following his execution) Joachim tells the story of his conversion to the cause of relocation and his gold fever expeditions. Viscerally stinking, covered in lice and convincingly gross, this film isn't particularly enjoyable to watch: it looks like Brazil may well have been living hell at this time for everyone other than the upper echelons but the treatment of Indians and slaves is disgusting. 

After jumping in a taxi and heading to Charlottenburg I am lucky enough to see MAUDIE, the story of Maud Lewis, a painter from Canada who suffered from severe arthritis her whole life. Her style of folk art is beautiful and this portrayal by the ever-brilliant Sally Hawkins is tender and enduring. Ethan Hawke is her gruff husband, Everett and he plays it well: their relationship is touching despite the trials they faced and his poor treatment of her during the early years. I was inspired to find out more about Maud when I got home, some of her pieces are beautiful and I may even order myself a print. Despite potential unfamiliarity with her work, the stellar cast and affecting story are sure to win over audiences.

maudie

joan parsons

Joan Parsons

Senior Programmer and Showcomotion Festival DirectorRead more posts by Joan Parsons

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