We continue the coverage of Jio MAMI 2015 and given below is a roundup of films watched by the MAM team on days 3 & 4.
(for days 1 & day 2,check here)
Dr. Jose Mireles – a physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. While across the U.S. border, a veteran heads a paramilitary group working to prevent Mexico’s drug wars from entering U.S. territory. Director Matthew Heineman’s docu is a stunning depiction on the drug cartels and the politics that plays around it. The docu presents all the sides of the story in a convincing manner without taking sides and present a honest picture on the cartels that has made the citizens of Mexico reluctant victims of it.
Land and Shade/ La Tiera Y La Sombra
Vast sugarcane plantations, hard labour without much pay and a dying man. A broken family rallies around him, accomdating each other. The end is a foregone conclusion and the film takes a long time to get there. After being bored for one hour, I checked my watch, only 15 minutes had elapsed! The open fields make for great visuals but the film is a test of your patience. Directed by Cesar Augusto Acevedo.
Amidst all the heavy stuff being consumed over the past couple of days, Marry Me comes across as a small loo break. It isn’t the best in its genre, that of PIOs abroad caught in the crossfire of cultural diversity, but it will do. I never laughed out loud enough but was amused throughout. The story if you really want to know is about a grandmother visiting her granddaughters in Germany and forcing one of them to get married to her live in partner. Its fun to see non Bollywood directors, here Neelesha Barthel, interpret and spoof Bollywood cliches.
This film deserves more than a paragraph but this will have to do for now. Every once in a while a sucker punch of a film comes along that has your mind wandering back to it, even if you load it with more cinema. This is that film. Hours after I have seen it, I am still thinking about its scenes of police brutality, true to life performances, single take tracking shots inside the police station and a climax that drew a few audible gasps from the audience. Four migrant workers (from T.N) in Andhra Pradesh are apprehended by the police and asked to confess to a crime they have no idea about. I’ll reveal nothing else about the story; do not read reviews that profess to tell you more. While not a spoiler, they will for sure take something away from the movie for the first time viewer. With director Vetrimaaran, Indian cinema is in capable hands.
Journey Through China/ Voyage En Chine
A movie about a parent in an alien land after the death of his/ her son/daughter has been told many times in different languages. But it works each time due to its intrinsic emotional core. Journey Through China is no different then. A French woman lands in China after the death of her son. Language problems and cultural differences crop him. Yolande Moreau is good in the role of the mother who doesn’t give in to emotions easily. Directorial debut for Zoltan Mayer.
In the Shadow of Women/ L’Ombre Des Femmes
An extramarital affair rocks a marriage. That’s it. I have revealed the entire plot of the movie to you. Its that simplistic. And shot in black and white, by the way. The small budget is clearly visible. Having seen Philippe Garrel’s Jeolusy last year I wasn’t expecting much. Didn’t get much either.
Dheepan is a very good film that loses some of its sheen in the last reel. Some may not agree with me but its choice for the ending could have been better given it has a number if options before it. But lets not take away anything from Jacques Audiard’s vision that crafts a regular refugee drama into something else. A woman, a child and a man get together to form a fake family to escape the horrors of the civil war in Sri Lanka. After landing in France they realise life isn’t as easy after all. Audiard’s use of slow motion shots is brilliant, as are the performances by the cast. Highly recommended.
Sivapuranam/ The Strange Case of Shiva
Arun Karthick won the gap financing award for Sivapuranam at Film Bazaar last year and is in the news for his forthcoming film,Aasai Mugam which sees the Dheepan pair of Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan coming back together again.So Sivapuranam was a film which I was quite curious about,not having much idea of what the film was all about. But all the expectation turned out to be of no use as Sivapuranam unfortunately turns out to be a pretentious arty film,with no real rhyme or reason. The film talks of a youngster who is obsessed with the vision of a lady,only to go about aimlessly through the motions of his daily routine. With little or almost no dialogues,the film is quite a pain to sit through and is aimed clearly at the festival audience alone.
Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes this year,this sci-fi film by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has a stellar star cast which includes Colin Farell, Rachel Weisz, Lea Seydoux, Jessica Barden, Angeliki Papoulia etc. Set in a dystopian near future, The Lobster is an unconventional tale of how finding a romantic partner is a matter of life and death. With stellar portrayals from the cast and quite an unconventional yet interesting theme,this one is a good example of how festival films can reach out to the mainstream audience as well. Definitely one of the better films of the festival this year and a recommended watch.
From Afar/ Desde Alla
Winner of the Golden Lion at Venice this year,this Venezuelan film talks of a 50 year old guy Armando who picks up young boys and pays them just to put on a show for him so that he can pleasure himself. Armando goes on to meet Elder, a 17 year old gang leader and things go on to bring about a change in their lives.While the premise certainly is interesting, the end result is just above ordinary and the tale gets quite predictable as it progresses. Considering we are used to seeing films with bold topics at festivals, it comes across as a tad too underwhelming overall.
This Polish drama talks of an attorney, his daughter Olga and a psychiatrist Anna.Olga is still grieving the loss of her mother and is anorexic, so her daughter is worried that she might harm herself and puts her in therapy with Anna who is herself trying to deal with her own loss. Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director (Malgorzata Szumowska) at Berlin this year, this is quite an interesting tale which manages to hold our attention.
Manikandan who shot to fame recently with Kaakka Muttai comes up with his second film Kutrame Thandanai, which is in a totally different zone. A thriller with an interesting premise, the film talks of a credit card collection agent (Vidharth), who sees an unexpected opportunity in the form of the murder of a lady in his neighbourhood (Aishwarya Rajesh). What ensues is an engaging tale which eventually makes you wonder if crime really pays. Vidharth and Pooja Devariya impress and its nice to see Aishwarya Rajesh in total contrast here to her character in Kaakka Muttai. Nassar and Rahman also play significant characters in the film. The BGM by maestro Ilaiyaraaja unfortunately isn’t as wonderful as expected. Definitely Kutrame Thandanai is proof that Manikandan is no one film wonder, though it isn’t as good as Kaakka Muttai.
This stop animation film by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson has been crowd funded and been doing well in the festival circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Venice this year. Anomalisa talks of Michael Stone, an author of books on the subject of customer service who himself is struggling with his inability to connect to people. One night, while on a routine business trip, he meets a stranger who changes his world view. Easily one of the best animation films in recent times,this is a tale which perhaps could have easily worked as a live action film as well, the stop animation work only making it even better conceptually as a challenge to execute. Easily among the top 5 films of MAMI this year and a must watch indeed.