Berlin films at Berlin cinemas

Despite their ever-decreasing numbers, Berlin still offers over 80 independent cinemas, the majority of which have managed to preserve their plush interiors from the 50s and 60s. Superb examples are the glamorous Delphi Filmpalast on Kantstraße in Charlottenburg, the beautiful Neues Off near Hermannplatz in Neukölln, and Dahlem’s own, the sophisticated Capitol, where you can have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee to go with your show. The Neues Off and Capitol, and indeed many others of their kind, show films in the original version with (German) subtitles, so you can enjoy the film and admire the craft of your subtitling colleagues. Continue reading

Films about Berlin

A bad photo of some posters for films that don't feature in this blog post

Berlin is a bit of a film buff, as cities go. Studio Babelsberg, just a short train ride away, has been responsible for masses of German films, from the likes of Metropolis in 1927 to Grand Budapest Hotel today. The city has also starred in all manner of productions, mostly as itself but sometimes as a body double for Russia. Then there’s the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). It’s held in February and pretty much everyone here goes nuts for it. In fact, it’s not unusual for people to turn up at the ticket desks at 4 a.m. with sleeping bags and flasks of tea. Berlin can get down to -20°C in winter, so they’re either super dedicated or just plain crackers.

With all that in mind, it seemed like a good idea to post a list of films linked to Berlin that will help you prepare a bit for August. I’ll keep my descriptions short, so hit IMDB etc. if you want more details. Or just watch the films! Continue reading

Cafe am Engelbecken

A wintry Engelbecken

View across Engelbecken

A moving day in Berlin is a rite of passage, and like any rite of passage, everyone (of a certain age) does it pretty much the same way. You hire a van with a blue sea lion on the side, get all your willing friends together, and then spend the day trying to organise everyone into some kind of chain up the stairwell and playing Tetris with your boxes and yucca plants in the back of the van. When everything is finally in the new place, you all sit around drinking beer and eating hunks of Turkish bread with budget cheese, ham, and paprika crisps. After a while, people start drifting off home. If anyone sticks around, you’ll usually end up in a bar or café, soothing your aching limbs with cake and/or more beer until you all start to doze off at about 7 p.m.

In my case, we ended up at the Café am Engelbecken. I had no idea the place existed, but it’s just around the corner from my (now not-so) new home. Engelbecken is the name of a small man-made lake that sits on what used to be the Luisenstadt canal. The canal was at the heart of decorative gardens designed by Peter Joseph Lenné around 1850. It later became stagnant, and work on filling it in began in the 1920s. The lake was kept as an ornamental feature, and now the former route of the canal is a green space that sits on the border between Kreuzberg and Mitte. Continue reading

Dresdener Strasse

If someone called me up and said I had ten seconds to pick just one street to visit in Berlin from now on, we’d still have nine left for a chat.

Dresdener Strasse in Kreuzberg is brilliant. If anyone tells you otherwise, send them to me. I’d bring them round by feeding them a nice piece of cake, taking them to the cinema, and then buying them a champagne cocktail that rocks as much as the street we’ve been on all this time.

That’s the thing with Dresdener Strasse: once you’re on it, you hardly need to go anywhere else. Tucked behind the sci-fi tower blocks at Kottbusser Tor and lined with pre-war buildings, it’s got everything you need for a morning/afternoon/night out. I can’t list all the bars and cafes here, so I’ll just go with my favourites. Continue reading