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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BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ – Review by Diane Carson

German director Burhan Qurbani anchors his version in undocumented Guinea-Bissau immigrant Francis, adds surrealist interludes with psychedelic colors, and loses the complexity of the novel. Moreover, his simplistic, formulaic focus on drug dealers marginalizes women, granting them agency primarily as sex workers or inconsequential sex partners. An update to reflect a current oppressive environment, especially for undocumented immigrants, is a relevant, worthwhile endeavor. However, it requires an avoidance of clichéd scenarios.

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