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Photo by Mollie Sivaram, public domain

Cinemas are closed again: time for Netflix picks

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In the middle of the French Film Days and just before the biggest movie theatre weeks of the year began, Saxony shut down all cultural events and institutions once again. So, in order to make sure we aren’t starved of great films while we hope and wait for a potential reopening, we once again put together a special selection of Netflix picks that rarely get recommended by their algorithm.


Creed

Arguably one of the best and my personal favorite boxing film, Creed builds on the mountainous legend of the Rocky franchise to create something completely unique and extraordinary. The film follows Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky Balboa’s biggest rival and later close friend, Apollo Creed. Anyone who has seen the old Rocky films will know the unique shadow that this character casts. Therefore, the film is as much about boxing as it is about a son tackling the larger-than-life legacy of his dad.

Adonis starts the film with the world at his feet.

Working at a financial firm and living in the luxurious villa of his late father’s widow (he was taken in by her out of juvenile detention as a young kid), he, unfortunately, has that same itch his father had. To put it all on the line in the ring, to risk his health and future on a constant basis and keep his loved ones worried. It’s a very tough story to tell with empathy.

However, Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale Station and Marvel’s Black Panther, is more than up to the task.

He pulls together so many threads, from Adonis’ complicated family life to his burgeoning romance with Philly native singer Bianca (played by the fantastic Tessa Thompson) to the crowning achievement of getting Silvester Stallone, of all people, to be authentically vulnerable as a chronically ill old coach going through chemotherapy. It all works and comes together to create one of the most accomplished films I have ever seen. I never would have thought that the seventh installment in a very uneven film franchise would end up being my favorite sports film and one of my overall favorite films, but there you go.

Creed is truly a marvel to behold.

I know a lot of you will scoff at the idea of watching a film about boxing that is even connected to the very wonky legacy of the Rocky franchise. But I guarantee you that this movie will move you and maybe even get some skeptics excited about the idea of watching a boxing match on film.


The VVitch: An American Folk Tale

This amazing first feature film by director Rober Eggers transports you into the harsh and fervorous times of the American settlement in the 1630s. Living under strict puritanical rules, we follow an outsiders’ family living in New England on a small farm with too little to eat due to bad farming yields. As circumstances become more desperate, scapegoats need to be found. The obvious choice is the teenage daughter, amazingly portrayed by superstar Anya-Taylor Joy in her first big role, who is quickly suspected of witchcraft.

The Witch is both extremely tense and often grueling horror and at the same time perhaps the most painstakingly detailed representation of 1630s American settlers’ living.

Director Eggers made sure that everything, from speech patterns to clothes and architecture is completely period-accurate. Only this degree of attention to detail makes it possible to play the concept of religious fervor against actual witchcraft.

The results of which are uniquely terrifying and make this American folk tale one of my favorite horror films of all time.


A Sun

This Taiwanese crime & family epic is an odd choice for Netflix to host. It runs 155 minutes and really takes its time to show you the family dynamic that is the center of this decades-long journey. Elegance and lyrical poignancy are the unique selling points of this drama. Sure, we also have some criminal plot points that keep up the momentum. Yet, A Sun is strongest when it gets to take a breath and let its characters process and figure out the many twists and turns they encounter.

Heiner Uebbing originally hails from rural Lower Saxony and is based in Leipzig. His passion for film dates back to his teenage years, when he started attending film festivals, writing and corresponding about his experiences. You can probably spot him in one of Leipzig’s OmU/OV screenings in the front rows.

With old friends and an ex-boyfriend in Tenby, Wales 2003
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