By the time you read this, you would’ve known by now that the Berlinale’s most prestigious prize, The Golden Bear, has been awarded to Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice (an occasionally brilliant, gruesome Chinese noir that goes downhill in quality after a great first-half). Undeserving, if you ask me. It certainly pales next to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which was trumpeted as the festival favourite. Linklater triumphed with the Best Director prize, nonetheless, giving us a truly laudable and accomplished work that will have more chance making waves in cinema history than Yinan’s film. Our favourite King of Quirk Wes Anderson won the Grand Jury prize for his sterling The Grand Budapest Hotel, adding more heft to his belt, elevating his fine craft above whimsy.
So, on my first Berlinale, I’ve managed to see a scanty number of 16-and-a-half films (the half being Stratos, the dreary Greek hitman film I walked out of after droning my attention into near-oblivion), and ten of which were part of the main Competition strand. But the best film I’ve seen was, without a trace of doubt, Bong Joon-Ho’s magnificent allegorical sci-fi Snowpiercer, screened without Harvey Weinstein’s obstruction in full uncut version as the director originally envisioned it. To use ‘masterpiece’ might be an understatement. Let’s hope it’ll reach UK shores this year.
The worst film I’ve seen? I ask you to scroll down – but let me spoil you. It covers falcons and faith-healing, and sitting through commanded some eyeball rolling in Olympics proportion.
Check out my ranking below, according to score:
That concludes my Berlin adventure – high art consumption will plummet back again into the depths of winter until Cannes drags us back on sunny shores. I enjoyed my two weeks stay in the city fuelled with films, caffeine, weissbier and a shitload of schnitzel and bratwurst enough to drive anyone into a coronary thrombosis. Glad I avoided Dunkin’ Donuts near Postdamer Platz otherwise I’ll have diabetes, too.
Anything goes in Berlin – including an all-night rave in a public-toilet-turned-club the size of a cavernous basement, which I happened to take part of by accident (one thing a film critic mustn’t do especially if there’s a press screening the following morning at 9 unless you’re happy to skip, which is exactly what I did). It’s definitely a great city for bohemians, thriving with modernity and creativity. Plus they have the finest cinemas I’ve been throughout my exploits so far, incredibly sharp screens, beautiful curtains, red-carpets without any sign of wear-and-tear. I could go on. Let’s just say the Germans take their design precision and functionality seriously, and their cinemas will pull me back to Berlin, no doubt. Until next year. Tchüss!