4 films playing at Berlin & Beyond

Remember going to the Castro Theatre to attend film festivals like Berlin & Beyond? Well, they’re back. The Castro’s new owners, Another Planet Entertainment, will rent the movie palace for the Bay Area’s annual celebration of new German-language cinema.

This year, Berlin & Beyond runs from March 11 to 16. The first three days be will be at the Castro. The final three days will happen at the Aquarius, the Shattuck, and the BAMPFA. Check the schedule.

I’ve previewed four of the films that are screening. Here’s what I think about them. None was a masterpiece, but there was no true stinker.

B+ Precious Ivie

What’s it like to be a native-born German citizen – but black. That’s Ivie, a young woman hoping for her dream job. Suddenly, another young woman, with much darker skin, comes to Ivie’s door with a surprise…she’s Ivie’s half-sister. Their no-good father dropped both to be raised by their separate mothers. Their father recently died, and now they must decide to go to the funeral of a man they never knew. Meanwhile, their mostly white friends don’t always understand the needs of these black women. Some interesting things go on in the background.

B+ Sweet Disaster

Is this a dramedy? Or could you call it a comma? Anyway, it’s fun to watch. Frida meets a great guy in an airport. Before long, she’s pregnant, and the great guy returns to an earlier girlfriend. Unsure of what she wants, Frida makes several mistakes and a few good choices. She befriends a brilliant young girl who hates her mother – possibly for good reasons. To make everything worse, there’s loud construction work right outside her apartment. A fun movie, but not exceptional.

B- Hinterland

The whole movie looks like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, if Caligari’s makers had 21st-century cinema technology. But that’s appropriate since Hinterland takes place around the time that Caligari was being made. A former police detective, now returning home after World War I, is trying to grab a hold of the new Vienna. But someone is murdering Peter’s comrades in especially gruesome ways.

C+ Tacheles – The Heart of the Matter

In this documentary, a young, Jewish, German wants to turn the Holocaust into a computer game. His parents and family, mostly survivors, don’t like the idea. As he travels through Germany and Poland, often with his father, he learns more about the Shoah. There are occasional moments of deep sadness, and others about the warmth of family. But quite often, it seems repetitive and goes off the track.