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2008 Berlinale Journal, Day 1 (Page 2)


2008 Berlinale Journal, Day 1 (Page 2)

Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, director Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood in "Shine a Light."

Paramount Pictures
As a farewell to New York and in order to cleanse my palate before the festival, Marcy and I had caught Cloverfield at Kaufman Astoria theaters. Nothing in that silly but effective rollercoaster of a movie terrified me as much as the stack of bear-logo imprinted lists, schedules, and tables in front of me now. Never mind the giant, weirdly double-jointed spider-mutant-spewing creature trashing New York City: the Berlinale is a real monster. Why hadn't I noticed sooner just how threatening that cuddly teddy truly was?

Consider this: over the next eleven days, the 58th Berlin International Film Festival will screen close to 500 films. There are 26 movies in competition, including new films by Isabel Coixet, Johnnie To, Hong Sang-soo, Michel Gondry, Mike Leigh, Errol Morris, The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, the European premiere of There Will Be Blood, and the festival opener, Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stone documentary Shine a Light.

In addition, Special, Forum, and Panorama programs feature promising films from Argentina, Uganda, and the Philippines , Madonna's directorial debut Filth and Wisdom, a documentary about Klaus Kinski's infamous 1971 "Jesus Christus Erloeser" tour, Transsiberian with Ben Kingsley and Emily Mortimer, Bruce LaBruce's gay zombie flick Otto; Or, Up With Dead People, and a seemingly endless list of films that mean nothing to me yet but whose descriptions all sound mouth-watering.

If that's not enough, there's a children's program that includes movies like Chop Shop, directed by Bahman Gobadi (Man Push Cart), which would be considered serious adult fare stateside. Perspektive Deutsches Kino shows a number of recent can't-miss hits from the host country, and a special program highlights delicious movies about food. On top of that, there are full-blown retrospectives of Luis Bunuel and Francesco Rosi, a sidebar with American movies about the Vietnam war, and another focusing on German auteurs of the 1970s.

All of this, in eleven days. The juggernaut that is the Berlinale claims to be the largest public film festival in the world, and who am I to argue. But how can one jet-lagged critic without a steady Internet connection possibly hope to report on it all?

Truthful answer: I can't. With a menu this packed, no two festival-goers could possibly have the same experience, and there are as many different Berlinales as there are visitors. The best I can do is to see as much as I can, make a few plans, hope for a lot of serendipity, and give you an honest account of my Berlinale.

For tomorrow, I've narrowed my options to six films: Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, preceded by Isabella Rossellini's short Green Porno, Scorsese's Stones movie (plus press conference featuring Marty and the band), CSNY: Déjà vuby Bernard Sharkey (a.k.a. Neil Young), the Bollywood spectacle Om Shanti Om (for which star Shah Rukh Khan is drawing fans from all over the world to Berlin), the Thai tsunami drama Wonderful Town, and from Russia, the Panorama opener Rusalka (Mermaid.) From what Filmbrain tells me, that's a light day.

But for now, there are only three things I want: a Schultheiss Pilsner, a Döner-Kebab, and a bed.

From Jürgen Fauth, for About.com.

Movies in this entry

  • Cloverfield. Matt Reeves, 2008. ***

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