With the 63rd Berlinale kicking of this week, LWLies sizes up this year's Golden Bear hopefuls.
Eighteen years after Sunrise and nine on from Sunset, Celine and Jesse are back. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke reprise their roles for Richard Linklater's trilogy capper, which takes place in sunny southern Greece. Will Before Midnight provide closure on their last rendezvous? Or will this new chapter be all long strolls and strained chit-chat? Either way, it'll be a treat catching up with old friends.
Shia LaBeouf plays a grieving traveller who falls in love with a Romanian hottie (Evan Rachel Wood) and vows to save her from her violent crime boss husband in Fredrik Bond's feature debut. What it sounds like: a dark, sexy romantic drama in the vein of True Romance. What it could be: a dark, sexy romantic drama in the vein of Slumdog Millionaire. NB Charlie Countryman also stars British actor James Buckley, aka Jay from The Inbetweeners.
'Freely adapted from the works and letters of Paul Claudel, the letters of Camille Claudel and medical records', Camille Claudel 1915 chronicles the reclusive life of an asylum-bound sculptor (Juliette Binoche) as she waits for her estranged brother to pay her a visit. Director Bruno Dumont is on something of a role after the deeply subversive existential double-header of Hadewijch and Hors Satan, and we're hoping for more of the same here.
South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo keeps up his record of having made a film (almost) every year since his 1996 debut The Day A Pig Fell Into The Well with a drama that focuses on a female college student's secret affair with her professor. Told in a diary-style format and incorporating the director's recurring themes of dreams and forbidden love, Nodoby's Daughter Haewon could be a decent outside bet for the Golden Bear.
Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green offers up a remake of the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way, with a little help from Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, who play odd-couple roadworkers who spend the summer of 1988 repainting traffic lines of the rural highways of Bastrop, Texas. Sounds like a hearty recipe for a bromance, but we're a little wary of that vaguely quirky Jared Hess-flavoured title.
Promised Land's pedigree speaks for itself. It's based on an original story by McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers (whose screenplay credits include Where The Wild Things Are and Away We Go), directed by Gus Van Sant and stars Matt Damon and Frances McDormand. But a film about two corporate salespeople who visit a small farming community with the aim of acquiring drilling rights from the locals hardly screams festival candy. Caused a stir in the US for its negative depiction of 'fracking'... Let us get back to you on that.
Completed 19 years after the tragic death of its young star, River Phoenix, halted production mid-shoot, Dark Blood will have its international premiere in Berlin, having been reedited by director George Sluizer after his own brush with death. Even if it doesn't turn out to be an almost-lost classic, there will inevitably be something bittersweet about seeing the James Dean of his generation back on the big screen in his last ever role.
Easily LWLies' most anticipated film at this year's Berlinale, festival opener The Grandmaster is Wong Kar-wai's hyper-stylised tribute to Ip Man, the legendary martial artist who taught Bruce Lee the ways of Wing Chun. Regular Kar-wai collaborator and Hero star Tony Leung plays the eponymous combat icon in what promises to be an epic 1930s-set action saga.
Little is known about Jafar Panahi's latest film, which was made illegally in his native Iran along with compatriot Kambuzia Partovi This Is Not A Film, we're eager to find out what wonders Closed Curtain holds.
After tackling Love and Faith, Austrian misanthrope Ulrich Seidl completes his (so far) excellent Paradise trilogy with a film set in a fat camp. The story centres around chubby teenster Melanie – who just so happens to be the daughter of Love's hormonal tourist and the niece of Faith's self-flagellating missionary – and her forbidden infatuation with the camp's fiftysomething director.
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