Monday, April 20: MUBI
Did you know that MUBI offers free subscriptions for film students?! It’s true! In partnership with Cilect, the streaming platform provides free access to its rotating selection of 30 hand-picked films to students from over 180 films schools around the world, including LMU. Head over to their Film Schools Program page to create an account using your LMU email address and start watching.
For the uninitiated, MUBI introduces a new film of the day every day, and every day they take one away. The selections are all hand-picked by actual human curators, and range from the classics to global arthouse gems to cult films to the best of the festival circuit–the only common denominator is quality. On top of their unparalleled streaming programming, the site features some of the smartest film criticism on the web, making it a great destination to bolster your film education in multiple ways. They even do their own theatrical distribution! We must stan MUBI!
Clicking play on any title on MUBI will introduce you to something interesting, even if it isn’t your cup of tea, but here are a few picks from the current lineup that might be of particular interest to student filmmakers. Listed in order of how much time you’ve got left to watch, from least to most.
Pharos of Chaos (Manfred Blank and Wolf-Eckart Bühler, 1983)
This MUBI exclusive is a fascinating documentary portrait of actor, writer, and seaman Sterling Hayden. Best remembered for his roles in Asphalt Jungle and Dr. Strangelove, Hayden had retired from his Hollywood career by the time the film was made and was living a solitary life on a barge in France. The hard-drinking, hashish-smoking Hayden here regales the filmmakers with tales of his life in Hollywood and on the high seas, often expressing ideas by reciting passages from his favorite literature. But the film goes deeper, eventually exposing fissures in Hayden’s grizzled masculinity and revealing a complicated and at times confounding subject who still wrestles with regret for having named names during the Red Scare. Filmmaker Wolf-Eckart Bühler was so captivated by this life and character that he adapted Hayden’s book Wanderer (1963) into a feature film called The Shipwrecker (1984), also available on MUBI right now. Why not make it a double feature?
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018)
We all need to find a little pleasure in these strange times, and–hear me out–this experimental feature about the global textile industry has it in spades. All texture and color and rhythm and music, The Grand Bizarre is at once a celebration of the beauty of textiles and an insightful, if abstract, look into the work it takes to create and distribute them. Presented in filmmaker Jodie Mack’s signature stop-motion 16mm style, the film was shot over five years and in fifteen countries; the result is a truly singular exploration of pattern and texture, accompanied by a propulsive electronic soundtrack featuring ten songs written by Mack herself. The film’s hypnotism is the perfect salve for our current moment, so give yourself over to it for 61 minutes, then emerge refreshed and with a new appreciation for the weavers of the world. Plus, it’s another MUBI exclusive title, so don’t sleep on starting that student account!
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
Part vampire film, part western, and all feminist reappropriation, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature is as sleek as it is disruptive to the traditionally masculine genres it embraces. The story is set in Bad City, Iran–a modern reimagining of the lawless, hedonistic towns of classical westerns–where a lone vampire (Sheila Vand) roams the streets preying on sleazy men of the underworld. Things change when she meets Arash, the hard-working son of a local heroin addict, and the unlikely duo finds connection under dour circumstances. Amirpour made the film via crowdfunding after her short of the same title did well on the festival circuit, making this feature an object lesson in that indie film hustle, in addition to being nothing short of a forever mood. If you missed it when it took the indie film world by storm in 2014, there’s no time like the present to catch up with this Sundance darling that seems to exist out of time.
With regular SFTV programs and events suspended through the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Movie Mondays program is moving from the Mayer Theater to the world wide web. Mondays from now through the end of the school year, SFTV’s Manager of Programs and Special Events Alice Royer will provide a film recommendation that you can stream at home, and highlight resources and platforms where you can find some of the best cinema the internet has to offer.