Continuing with our coverage of the ongoing 16th Mumbai Film Festival,here’s an update of the films watched by us on day 3 & 4.
(to check out the update for days 1 & 2 click here)
Broken Hill Blues
When the director herself calls the film strange, the reviewer’s job is pretty much done. Sofia Norlin tried valiantly to “explain” the film after the screening using terms like “crotchet structure”, “song-like” and “open for interpretation”. You get the idea, or rather dont. The plot would not even fill one sentence so let’s not bother with that. The imagery of a snow clad mining town is beautifully captured. Nothing else to say.
Playing with Fire
A documentary about actresses in Afghanistan who are courageous enough to be involved with theater arts and find themselves facing harsh criticism, social disapproval and even face death threats. Director Anneta Papathanasiou’s documentary is an engaging tale about women actors bravely fighting all the odds. The docu also sees some heartbreaking confessions made by women and some obnoxious statements made by males which may sound funny, but brings out all the hypocrisies out clearly.
Lessons In Dissent
This documentary narrates the true story of schoolboy Joshua Wong who fights to stop introduction of National Education. While his former classmate Ma Jai fights against political oppression on streets and in the courts. Despite a strong premise, the docu has an uneven pace and captures your attention only in brief phases of its duration. Ultimately , this ends up as a watchable docu which could have been better.
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
This Israeli drama talks of Viviane who wants a divorce from her husband Elisha. What’s the problem? Well Elisha isn’t keen to give her a divorce and the Rabbi Court seems to be lenient towards the husband. Gett is a powerful drama centered in a courtroom and brings out the complexities of the Israeli legal system and the complexities of a strained relations of a husband and wife quite well. Easily one of the best films to be screened this year at MAMI.
Buddha In A Traffic Jam
Vikram Pandit (Arunoday Singh) a postgraduate student finds himself getting attracted to the cause of fighting for rights of tribals after hearing professor Batki speak. Slowly he finds himself getting trapped and nothing is what it appears to be. Despite a good premise and a promising start, the film suffers due to poor handling and execution of the script. Ultimately, what one remembers after the film has ended are a couple of powerful scenes including the opening. Buddha In Traffic Jam is an average film which could have been better.
A once affluent family has a tough time concealing their present situation when a suitor comes to propose their daughter. Using this simple premise, Barf brings out the dynamics of a family and captures their angst, heartbreaks, mutual love, understanding and respect for each other very well. Despite a simple premise, Barf is a powerful and engaging films like most Iranian films.
The Night is Still Young
An old lesbian starts providing food, shelter and companionship to a nubile young straight beauty stuck in poverty. Romantic, right? This film doesn’t think so either.
Stations of the Cross
Dietrich Bruggemann’s German film won the Silver Bear for the Best Script at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. 14 year old Maria belongs to a fundamentalist Catholic community. Maria lives her everyday life in the modern world, yet her heart belongs to Jesus. She wants to follow the Lord, become a saint and go to heaven – just like all those holy children she’s always been told about. So Maria goes through 14 stations, just like Jesus did on his path to Golgatha, and reaches her goal in the end. The film is a tale that talks of religion and the thin line separating strict belief in faith/religion and having a practical outlook in life. This is a film that makes us think on the subject being addressed long after the screening is over.
Labour of Love (Asha Jaoar Majhe)
Debutant filmmaker Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s film has already been doing well in the International festival circuit and hence there was quite a bit of curiosity regarding the same. The film basically talks about a day in the lives of a married couple, both of whom have jobs in different shifts, thus limiting their daily personal interaction considerably. This dialogue less film is the type which can bring out extreme reactions from the audience. The film does boast of good cinematography and is an interesting experiment of sorts, just that the influence of European cinema looks a little too obvious. This is the quintessential film meant for festivals and festivals alone.
One on One (II-dae-il)
Veteran South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-Duk’s latest film is a thriller with multiple characters vying for our attention. The film begins with the murder of a teenage girl and later on all the people suspected to be involved with the operation get tracked down one by one by a secret group which is determined to find out the truth. The film takes some time to grip you,but it engulfs you soon. As seen in many Kim Ki-duk film’s, there’s quite a bit of philosophy thrown in too eventually for good measure.
Xavier Dolan’s Canadian drama won the Jury Prize at Cannes this yea and is Canada’s official entry to the 87th Academy Awards (under Best Foreign Language category). Diane Després (Anne Dorval), a widowed mother is overwhelmed by the difficulty of raising her troubled, sometimes violent son Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) as a single parent. Després then begins to receive assistance and support from her new neighbour Kyla (Suzanne Clément). Thus begins a strange yet interesting chapter in the lives of these 3 people. By far the best film seen this year so far at MAMI, the film is an absolute delight in every sense. From playing innovatively with the aspect ratio to the wonderful BGM, to the rock solid performances, the film is a winner all the way. This is a must watch.
2 Days,1 Night (Deux jours, une nuit)
Sandra (Marion Coutilard), a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. What happens over the course of these 2 days and 1 night is what the film is all about. This is a film which is very taut and engaging in its own way. Marion Coutilard doesn’t disappoint and makes the film a pleasure to watch. This is a film which holds universal appeal.
Coming Home (Gui Lai)
Veteran Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s drama is based on a novel and talks about 3 principal characters-Lu Yanshi, his wife Feng Wanyu and their daughter Dandan. The film clearly has a political background and yet steers clear of being a political propaganda film. The film takes some time to warm up to but later on the beautiful frames and the effective performances hook us quite well. This is a film which in a way reminds us of Malayalam Cinema of the 80’s and early 90’s.
A Most Wanted Man
Based on John Le Carre’s novel of the same name,this is an espionage-thriller made by Dutch filmmaker Anton Corbijn. Featuring late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, Rachel McAdams etc, this is a film based in Hamburg, Germany and talks about an attempt to nab a Muslim philanthropist rumoured to be bankrolling Islamic militant groups in the garb of his NGO activist profile. Considering the names involved, this is a way too simple tale and makes you wonder what’s so special about the film. Devoid of any major thrills, this is a disappointing film.
Nymphomaniac (Volume 1)
Popular director Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac has seen a regular cut of 4 hours split across 2 parts. Similar to other major festivals, MFF is screening the 5 &1/2 hour director’s cut split across 2 parts. A daringly bold experimental film (like many other works of Lars Von Trier), this one talks of a nymphomanic, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who is discovered beaten up in an alley way by an old, charming bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). He brings her home to his flat where he tends to her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe, over the next eight chapters, recounts the lustful story of her highly erotic life from infancy to the age of 50. In the process Seligman, a widely read man, connects and analyzes Joe’s stories with what he has read about. Though the bold theme and the associated sex scenes dominate, the film is quite interesting in its own characteristic way.
Attihannua Mattu Kanaja (Fig Fruit And The Wasps)
The film is about the journey of a documentary film maker who travels to the interiors of Karnataka to gather information on Music for a documentary. ‘The film is completely dependent on your perspective. It may or may not have happened”. This was the standard response given by the director to most of the question asked in the P&A post the screening. And perhaps that was the reaction audience had after watching the film. Despite duration of only 90 minutes, the film is a severe test of patience for the viewer. Hardly any scene makes any sense and till the end, one has difficulty in understanding what the director intends to convey.
The Lady From Shanghai
Michael O Hara (Orson Welles) falls in love with Mrs. Bannister (Rita Hayworth) the alluring, mystical wife of a wealthy lawyer after saving her from a group of thugs. Very soon he finds himself getting entangled in a dangerous murder plot with severe possible consequences. Directed by iconic film maker Orson Welles, The Lady From Shanghai is a stylish and well-made noir thriller. The film has some great dialogues, stunning visuals and keeps you hooked to the proceedings right upto its stylishly shot and much talked about climax. It was a delight to watch this film on the big screen at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival.
On The Waterfront
The story revolves around Terry Malloy ( Marlon Brando) an ex boxing champ who stands up against the corrupt bosses of his union. Directed by Elia Kazan , this classic film is highly powerful and engaging even after 6 decades down the line. Watching a restored classic on the big screen is always a pleasurable experience and so was watching On The waterfront at this year’s Mumbai film Festival
Coming Soon- 16th Mumbai Film Festival Diary: Day 5