ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT – Review by Susan Granger

Adapted by writer/director Edward Berger from Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, it follows idealistic young Germans, caught in patriotic fervor, as they proudly enlist to serve for “the Kaiser, God and the Fatherland,” marching off to war in France, only to find themselves mired in muck, facing almost certain death.

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COCOON – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

As a Berlin teenager discovering her sexuality one summer, Lena Urzendowsky gives a rich and heartfelt performance in the coming-of-age drama Cocoon. Nora is a fourteen-year-old who sometimes narrates videos like diary entries into her smartphone. Early in Cocoon, she appears guileless until she feels the first sparks of attraction. Then we realize how guarded she is, watching her subtly transform. She tests her feelings, tentatively bolder, until she stands taller and glows with confidence, finally free.

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UNDINE – Review by Liz Braun

A fairy tale gets a modern retelling in Undine, a symbol-laden love story from German director Christian Petzold (Phoenix; Transit). The 19th century Undine (by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque) was a water nymph who marries a human to get a soul; there are strings attached, however. It’s the same territory as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, or any other dark fable prior to being Disneyfied.

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COPILOT (Berlinale 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Anne Zohra Berrached constructs a powerful, moving love story where politics hovers inescapably around the edges as young lovers struggle against external factors to find a way through together. The electricity between her two leads grants the film its emotional core. While their individual performances are admirable, it is the many scenes in which they appear together that light up the screen. Copilot is a captivating political love story, where all that is pure and good lies in precarious tension with a world gone mad.

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BUNGALOW – Review by Diane Carson

It’s certainly difficult to make an engaging film about aimless, shallow people, and German director Ulrich Köhler hasn’t. Witness nineteen-year-old Paul in Bungalow. In opening scenes he goes AWOL from his German army unit, apparently on a whim. For the remainder of the film, at his parents’ bungalow (of the title), he meanders, swims, lounges, lies, and dodges the army MPs.

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LUZ – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Luz is a sleepy, creepy slow burn that—like oh-so-many films about demonic possession—lives in the twilight zone of adolescent sexuality, a sleepy wasteland that breeds monsters of every shape and form. And like so many films whose origin lie in relationships between adolescent girls, Luz is rooted in the primordial horror of female sexuality that stops short of blaming female problems for all the troubles of the world.

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THREE PEAKS – Review by Jennifer Merin

German director Jan Zabeil’s beautifully crafted sophomore narrative feature, Three Peaks, is a truly disturbing film. It’s a horror story without gimmicks, ghosts, ghouls or goblins. There is no paranormality. In fact, the story revolves around a very normal modern threesome — two adults and a child — who take a family vacation in a relatively isolated cabin in a beautiful and pristine mountain setting.

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