This month’s picks include a buoyant queer romance from Germany, a Malayalam-language mafia thriller and a South African horror flick.
‘No Hard Feelings’
Stream it on the Goethe-Institut website.
If you’re looking to watch something off the beaten streaming path this week, take a scroll through “New Directions: 20 Years of Young German Cinema,” a free online series hosted by The Goethe-Institut.
Among the gems in the lineup is “No Hard Feelings,” a sweet and sour queer romance from the Iranian-German filmmaker Faraz Shariat. Parvis (Benjamin Radjaipour), a young gay man and the son of Iranian exiles in Germany, lives a proud and carefree life. We first meet him when he’s vogueing at a nightclub, his bleached blonde hair and white mesh top sparkling in the strobe lights. Later, when a man he meets via a dating app makes a racist comment, an unruffled Parvis puts him in his place — “I’m not into man-child krauts” — and walks out.
But Parvis’s self-assured sense of belonging is unsettled when he’s assigned community service at a refugee detention center, and he befriends a pair of newly arrived asylum-seekers from Iran, Amon (Eidin Jalali) and his sister Bana (Banafshe Hourmazdi). As Parvis and Amon begin to fall in love, and Bana is faced with deportation, Parvis reckons with all the ways in which he’s similar yet different from his new companions, thanks to nothing but an accident of birth.
Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, “No Hard Feelings” delivers profound insights with a buoyant pop sensibility. Shariat’s characters may suffer precarity and prejudice, but the director doesn’t deny them queer joy, capturing them in bright pastel colors, sun-kissed scenes of sensuality and music-video-style montages.
This Malayalam–language mafia epic opens with a bravura long take: The camera winds through the rooms and hallways of a crowded house, dropping us in and out of stray, intrigue-laden conversations, before entering the office of Sulaiman (Fahadh Faasil), a grizzled gangster who’s decided to right his ways and embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The shot sets the scene for Mahesh Narayanan’s dense, breathless thriller, which plunges us with little exposition into its gritty milieu. The repentant Sulaiman is arrested when he tries to board his plane, and the police enlist his 17-year-old nephew, Freddy (Sanal Aman), to covertly kill him in prison. As the young man contemplates this fearsome task, he is visited by various relatives who recount the bloody story of Sulaiman’s rise from the poor son of a teacher to the righteous protector of a coastal village of impoverished Muslims and Christians.
A mob movie crossed with a Greek tragedy, “Malik” sets a moral test for viewers. As each new puzzle piece of Sulaiman’s sprawling back story is revealed, the film forces us to consider if his noble ends — uplifting his downtrodden community — justify his vengeful means. But “Malik” also invites us to widen our lens beyond individual actions to indict a whole system. Set against broader historical events in India — including the 2002 religious riots and the 2004 tsunami — the film unfurls as an audacious critique of opportunistic politicians who stoke internecine enmities for selfish ends.
Here are the latest films released: