We continue our coverage of the 16th Mumbai Film Festival with the update from day 5.
Arunoday tells the story of a cop named Joshi ( Adil Hussain) who desperately tries to track down his kidnapped daughter. The film is shot mostly in a dark light and rains begin an integral part of almost every scene. The dark lighting is used as a metaphor to describe the crisis going on in the protagonists life. Arunoday is a slow leisurely paced dark film, which may or may not appeal to you in its entirety. But the film is definitely worth a watch.
The Ambassador To Bern
On August 16, 1958 two Hungarian immigrants broke into the Hungarian embassy in Bern and took the ambassador hostage. As the Swiss police surround the building and a group of Hungarian immigrants turn up on the street to protest, Tension mounts behind the closed doors of the embassy. Based on a true story, The Ambassador To Bern is a taut and engaging political thriller, that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its entire duration. The Ambassador To Bern is one of the best films we watched this year at MAMI and is a highly recommended movie.
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears
I guess this is the first Russian film I have ever watched. The film traces the lives of three female friends over a period of 40 years in Moscow. At 2 hours 30 Minutes, the film could have been a drag, but it is not. The production values I guess given the budget are satisfactory. I was more interested to see Russian society at the height of its communist propaganda and guess what; the problem faced by females all over the world remains the same. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign language film in 1980. The film also boasts of some wonderful acting, even though I could not recognise the actors by the name. Director Vladimir Menshov manages to grip your attention for entire span of the film, thankfully without going overboard with melodrama.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
This was my first musical, I was glad to watch the restored version of this film at fest. It is such a pleasure to see one of the most beautiful women in the world of Catherine Deneuve. Initially I thought it would be an ordinary love story, but I was proven wrong. The film talks about how people make decisions in life which are more to do with practicality and survival. One of the best scenes of the film is the climax.
India remains one of those countries which treats homosexuality as a crime, probably the influence of Victorian morality. I was interested to know how gay rights moment started in UK and how it succeeds. Set in early 1980’s in the U.K. the film talks about a group of youngsters who start a gay & lesbian group who go on to support a mining community out on strike for their rights. In the process there’s friendship, humanity, values, pride and joy which are all looked at from a new angle. Pride is one of those movies which makes you laugh, think and cry at the same time. It is easily one of the best films at MAMI this year.
A tender and loving film about the transition to adulthood of a teenage black girl who would like to go to school and get a good job but is denied the opportunity. While the emotional transition to adulthood is well-represented in fiction, the actual logistical pains of the transition are not. This film is distinguished mostly by the fact that the heroine doesn’t really change that much during its course, even while she tries on different identities to see what fits. This in itself is enough to make it interesting and worth watching. As a bonus, it’s also extremely well-observed and engrossing.
Goodbye to Language
This is Godard being full-on Godard. Esoteric and symbolic to the extreme and throwing out so much information that it’s hard to see how anyone without a PhD in criticism is supposed to follow it, it would be intellectually dishonest to try to judge its effectiveness.
This film seeks to speak about the logistical necessity of language in communication and human connection. Which makes a dog the obvious recurring motif. It’s definitely an experience. Shot after shot of motif and symbol followed by a seemingly unrelated one and often even two different shots on two different eyes, it’s impossible to really understand but may well stay with you and even inspire some interesting thoughts.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A black-and-white Iranian vampire western love story, it’s definitely interesting as hell and a rather enjoyable watch. It’s soundtrack, especially, is marvellous. However, its success as a film is far less clear. The direction and tone are extremely uneven, there seems to be a fundamental gap between the bleak western tone it wants to have and the tone it actually has, and the decision to create momentum using dramatic irony as much as tension often falls flat.
While obviously made by someone with a great appreciation of the visual aspects of movies, it’s also obviously made by someone without much appreciation of the flow of story. But while that would make it merely bad, it is actually memetic poison, since its surface qualities may make you actually take its representation of village life and oppression seriously and that would be Bad for your mind.
Amar, Akbar and Tony
Directed by Atul Malhotra, AA&T is like a Bollywood film made the way a Bollywood film ought to be made. Funny at one instance and sentimental at another, it goes from emotion to emotion, never bogging you down with heavy duty drama. Despite having cliched plot points and a predictable looking setup, the director turns these cliches on its head, giving us a few surprises and an enjoyable film in the process. With uniformly good performances by the cast, its the perfect break for festival audiences feeling low after experiencing an overdose of dirge.
Life Of Riley
Amidst rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatics proponents Colin and Kathryn receive a disturbing news about their friend George being fatally ill and only having a few months to live. The entire film is shot on a single set and reminds you of a stage play. The film uses the illness of a character to bring out the complex relationships and equations the characters of the film share with each other. Filled with subtle yet hilarious moments, the film in spirit is much closer to traditional British comedies with regards to the nature of its humour.
Veteran English filmmaker Ken Loach’s latest film Jimmy’s Hall talks about the life and times of Jimmy Gralton, a 1930s Irish political activist. Jimmy and his friends re-open a dance hall which also acts as a community centre for the youth. Unfortunately the establishment and the Church see the hall & Jimmy Gralton as an Anti National communist and thus it becomes difficult for both Jimmy and the hall to survive. A true life story, the film virtually transports us to Ireland in the 1930’s as we see a plethora of fine performances, lovely visuals and strong moments in the film. Definitely among the best films of the festival this year.
First things first this is not a sequel to the very popular Marathi film, Dombivli Fast (2005). This is actually a Hindi movie directed by debutant filmmaker Mahendra Teredesai and features Sandeep Kulkarni in the lead along with Rajeshwari Sachdev and Hrishikesh Joshi. Sandeep Kulkarni is the only common link between both these films and here too he plays a simple middle class character, who is a harmless soul basically. The film tries hard to be a realistic gritty film but fails majorly due to various comprises done with a commercial viewpoint. Also considering the setting and the actors involved the film would have probably looked better if made and treated as a Marathi movie rather than as a Hindi movie.
Blind Massage (Tui Na)
Lou Ye’s film is based on a novel and talks about the employees of a Nanjing massage parlor who share a common trait: they are all blind. The film has quite a few interesting characters, all of them with their own quirkiness and intrigue in a way. The film is extremely well shot and makes us almost feel that it was shot on real locations and with real characters. At the end of the film you are affected in a way and that shows that the film has worked to a large extent.
Nymphomaniac (Volume 2)
This takes off from virtually where Volume 1 stops as Joe continues to narrate her tale to Seligman even as he continues bringing out various parallels and references in between. A little more bold and lot more tougher to stomach in terms of moments, the film is easily an interesting experiment in many ways.
Coming Soon- 16th Mumbai Film Festival Diary: Day 6 & Day 7