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THINGS ARE GOING TO GET NICE AND AWFUL

Michael Stadler
Michael Stadler

Desiccated cities, flooded planets, miracle pills, and miracle plants: the themes of some of the great science-fiction movies at the Filmfest will help us to appreciate the world we live in now.

THINGS ARE GOING TO GET NICE AND AWFUL

Time and again, movies dare to take a look at the future or at alternate realities, at worlds that more or less resemble ours, but in which things happen that people aren’t really comfortable with. Things that are only hinted at. That people dream about. Or have nightmares about.

At FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, we’re already screening some terrific science-fiction films that will be coming to theaters in the near or distant future. These films include some dystopian fantasies that won’t soon be forgotten. LAST SENTINEL by Tanel Toom, for example, takes us to the year 2063, to a rusty platform in an ocean that seems endless because the Earth is almost completely flooded.

A crew of four holds out on the last military outpost of a continent at war with another continent. There’s no relief in sight. What’s been happening beyond the platform? The greatest potential for conflict is among the crew, which is well-chosen, not least in terms of the actors. The cast includes Kate Bosworth and Thomas Kretschmann; Kretschmann and director Tanel Toom will be attending the two screenings on Thursday.

Sometimes there’s too much water, sometimes too little. In Paolo Virzí's DRY, Rome hasn’t seen any rain in three years, and human interaction has withered as well. This future might not be far away — oh, well. People are thirsting, especially for redemption from this situation. An all-star cast, including Monica Bellucci, takes us along for the ride in this magnificently directed scenario.

Siccità Online2

DRY

Little Joe Online3 (1)

Little Joe

Uki Online4

UKI

Shu Lea Cheang lures us to a landfill for electronic waste in the year 2060 in her latest film, UKI, which is premiering on Thursday as part of the homage to this versatile artist. Cheang is less concerned with water than with bodily fluids, which she lets flow proficiently (ejaculate as a drug in FLUIDØ, for example). In UKI, moreover, handshakes and red pills are used to trigger orgasms. Brave new world (of sex)? Shu Lea Cheang bases her cyberpunk visions in part on well-known works: some of her inspiration for I.K.U., the prequel to UKI, came from Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER.

Jessica Hausner’s LITTLE JOE, which we are screening as part of the retrospective in honor of the Austrian director, is a shrewdly funny version of the science-fiction classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. A plant is cultivated whose scent is said to make people happy — until the promise of happiness turns into the opposite. In the Moroccan science-fiction thriller ANIMALIA, a young woman from a modest Berber background has married into a wealthier milieu. However, she feels rather isolated in her marriage and becomes even more lonely when she is separated from her husband and his family at a time when supernatural events are rattling the whole country. Very pregnant, she must now find her own way — which might be a good thing after all?

Animalia Online1

Animalia

Paradise Online1

Paradise

Divinity Online1

Divinity

Happiness, indeed, perfection — that’s what people aspire to, isn’t it? Boris Kunz (HINDAFING) promises a glimpse of PARADISE in the title of his latest film. And it sounds good that in the not-too-distant future, people can buy additional years of life and stay young longer. But when a happy couple is suddenly confronted with insurance claims they’re unable to pay, the dream becomes a nightmare and Kunz’s film a riveting thriller.

Alongside youth, immortality is very much sought after, even if Freddy Mercury once sang, “Who wants to live forever?” In DIVINITY by Eddie Alcazar, a scientist has developed a serum called, well, Divinity, which satisfies people’s longing for eternal life. His son now controls this miracle drug and is playing fast and loose with it. Humanity could be wiped out, which sounds nasty, but is fun to watch, especially as Stephen Dorff, Scott Bakula (the time traveler from the QUANTUM LEAP series), and Bella Thorne are in this film. You look at a messed-up future, feel well entertained, and are still quite safe — inside the movie theater.

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